On our trip to Scandinavia earlier this year, we had 24 hours in Iceland. This is a pretty typical stopover for many people looking to find inexpensive flights to Europe. Between the free stopovers offered by Iceland Air, and the super cheap flights now with WOW Air from North America, more people are taking quick breaks to Iceland than ever.
I thought I’d give a little insight into what I did with Andrew during our 24 hours.
Now, this isn’t my first stopover in Iceland. Over many years heading to Europe I’ve touched down in Iceland at least six times. With another 2 stops coming up this summer on our way to Italy. I’ve spent my time there in many ways.
If you find yourself having 24 hours in Iceland, here are some great options for how to spend your time with a little one.
This most recent trip we took a guided tour around the Golden Circle. While I’m not always up for guided tours, this was a great option for us. We didn’t have to rent a car seat (we didn’t bring one with us to Europe), we didn’t have to worry about renting a car, and with the length of the tour—more than 8 hours— I didn’t have to worry about staying awake after being jet lagged to safely drive us around. The best part is Andrew was free and they even provided a car seat.
We went with Sterna Travel. They picked us up near our hotel (we were in the very center of Reykjavik and busses can’t go down most small roads), took us around to the major highlights:
- Thingvellir National Park
- The Geyser Geothermal Area
- Gullfoss Waterfall
- Secret Lagoon
You can also search for tours on Viator to see other options that work for you.
The Blue Lagoon might be the most common place for people to spend their stopover. Between being close to the airport, easy to get to, and a great place to relax after a red-eye. The only problem is that the Blue Lagoon has an age limit of 2 years old. So if you’re with a younger child you’ll either need to take turns with a travel companion or try to find another hot spring.
On our tour, we went to The Secret Lagoon. It’s not exactly close to the airport so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have plenty of time, but the more standard hot springs allow younger babies in. Andrew had a fun time floating around in the hot water. Just make sure your baby has plenty to drink before and after, stays well away from the hottest parts of the spring (where the water enters the pool), and that you don’t stay in too long to overheat.
Another option for Hot Springs near the Airport:
Shop in Reykjavik
If you want to just stay in Reykjavik, there are plenty of small shops and restaurants to last you most of the day. Wandering around the tiny streets of Reykjavik
The easiest and least expensive way, to get into Reykjavik is by the Reykjavik Excursions bus. They run along with the incoming flight schedule so there should always be a bus leaving shortly after you arrive. For your return trip, make sure to book ahead. They run on a schedule and you’ll need to make a reservation, especially if you are a bigger family.
This is something I personally did on one of my stopovers, though not with a baby. If you know that your baby is okay on boats (or even not), this could be a fun option for your family to get out on the water and to experience something new.
Again, Viator is a great place to start looking for options.
Where to stay:
Here are some great locations for you to stay if your stopover includes an overnight I’ve either stayed at these places both with and without Andrew (I note where I stayed with him and how they’re prepared for children.) They should have a pack n play or crib available if you need one, but definitely double check with them in case anything has changed since I last stayed with them.
The great thing about this hostel is that it’s so close to the airport. You don’t have to pay the high bus fee to get to Reykjavik, don’t have to wake up super early to get to the airport for an early flight, and can experience a little of what it’s like to be out in one of the least densely populated countries in the world. I liked staying here when I had a very early flight. Another thing that puts this place high on my list is the free airport shuttle. I’m not aware of any other (except very luxury places) that have a free shuttle in Iceland.
These apartments are right in the center of Reykjavik. Not only will you have restaurants and shopping right outside the door, but you’ll also an apartment—depending on the room you book. This is nice when staying with little ones to have some separation, a little bit of privacy, and a kitchen to store snacks/ drinks that infants often need.
We stayed at Hotel Cabin after we missed our connecting flight in Reykjavik earlier this year. So I can’t speak to how well-priced this place is—or how convenient it is to get to and from the city center or the airport (we had special shuttles from the airline) but it was exactly what we needed at the time. They had a pack n play for Andrew which was pleasantly unexpected seeing how packed they were with other people who missed their flights. There was a fridge in the room as well as a huge bathtub that was convenient for both Andrew and me.
So I stayed at this hostel pre-children so I don’t have personal experience bringing a baby. However, it was clean, quiet, and located in a nice area. They have private rooms that would work well with a little one and help you stay on budget in a pretty expensive country.
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