12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children
Iceland Ring Road Travel Lists and Advice

12 Tips For Driving Iceland’s Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

With waterfalls, volcanos, black sand beaches, glaciers, and hot springs, Iceland is fast becoming one of the world's most popular travel destinations. Some travelers might hesitate at the thought of bringing their babies, toddlers, or children along for a trip with such seemingly demanding outdoor activities, but Iceland is actually an incredible place to visit with kids. We toured around Iceland for two weeks with an infant, and in this post, I'm going to share 12 helpful tips for parents looking to follow in our footsteps. 

With waterfalls, volcanos, black sand beaches, glaciers, and hot springs, Iceland is fast becoming one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. Some travelers might hesitate at the thought of bringing their babies, toddlers, or children along for a trip with such seemingly demanding outdoor activities, but Iceland is actually an incredible place to visit with kids. We toured around Iceland for two weeks with an infant, and in this post, I’m going to share 12 helpful tips for parents looking to follow in our footsteps.

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

Nearly all trips to Iceland will start in the capital city of Reykjavik. I recommend renting a vehicle to get the most out of your time on the island. If you need help and information on things to see, how to rent a car, how to save money on food, or have other general Iceland questions, make sure to check out my comprehensive guide post. In this guide post, I share all the tips and tricks to optimize your time on Þjóðvegur 1, also known as Iceland’s Ring Road.

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1. Make Sure Your Rental Is Comfortable And Capable

The first step to having an enjoyable visit to Iceland with kids, is making sure you rent a car that is comfortable and capable. Make sure to read my car rental guide for Iceland, as there is a lot that goes into this decision. At the bare minimum, I suggest getting a 4×4 (AWD) SUV or crossover SUV, so that you have enough space to spread out and so you can take on some of the rougher un-paved side roads.

The entire Ring Road is 827.7 miles long, but we logged close to 1800 miles with all of the side trips and backroad exploration on offer. There is no way we could have driven on some of those roads without a decent amount of undercarriage clearance. The interior cabin of our vehicle was also nicely sized and fairly quiet, which helped our infant nap during longer stretches between sites.

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

2. May To September Offers The Best Weather

Iceland is well known for having near total darkness in the winter, and 24 hours of sunlight in the summer. On top of the wild daylight hours, Iceland is notorious for its harsh and unpredictable weather. When we picked up our rental car, our rental agent made sure to remind us of the sand and ash storms that can strip paint, and about wind storms that can rip an open car door off of its hinges!

Having mentioned the extremes, the best time to visit Iceland is from May to September. These months offer lots of sunlight, which allows for long days of exploration. They also offer the best chance at pleasant weather. There is no guarantee though, our first three days in Iceland were nothing but cold rain and wind. The downside to visiting from May to September, is that this is when the majority of tourists visit. So be prepared for higher prices on hotels and car rentals.

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

3. Come Prepared For The Light!

As I mentioned above, summer travel in Iceland means nearly 24-hours of sunlight each day. This can be really tough for children, as not all hotels or campervans have blackout curtains. Some kids can sleep anywhere or anytime, but if yours are sensitive to light, bring eye shades or a dark sheet to block windows.

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

4. Bring Your Own Snacks To Save On Food Costs

Food is very expensive in Iceland, and can put a huge hole in the family travel budget on the first day if you’re not careful. For this reason, I suggest packing as many snacks in your luggage as possible. When you do buy food, stick to markets and grocery stores to save on the expense of eating out. I’ve put together a post detailing 7 ways to save money on food in Iceland.

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

5. Gear Up And Come Prepared For Any Weather

The weather in Iceland can be harsh and unpredictable, so come prepared for a little bit of everything. On our drive around the Ring Road, we started with rainy and windy 40 degree days, then ended with sunny and cloudfree skies on 70 degree days. Make sure to have water and windproof gear for your children, with insulated down layers underneath. You’ll also want to make sure they have quality footwear if you plan on doing any hiking with them. The wind is so fierce in Iceland, that umbrellas are pretty much useless, so don’t bother bringing one and opt for a quality rain coat instead.

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

6. Keep A Loose Itinerary To Allow For Naps And Exploration

I’m the kind of guy that likes to plan out every day of a trip before leaving home. I’ve had to become a lot more flexible since having a child, as strict itineraries don’t always mesh with my son’s interests or body clock. To make the most of your time on the Ring Road with a child, keep a loose and flexible itinerary to allow time for long naps and self guided exploration. There were times we visited churches, and I had seen more than enough, only to have my son want to hang around and pick blades of grass. It wasn’t my ideal afternoon, but it kept him happy and engaged, which made for an optimized day for everyone.

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

7. Bring A Kid Carrier, Strollers Won’t Take You Far

Outside of Reykjavik, strollers are virtually useless on the Ring Road. If you plan on enjoying many of the sites in Iceland, you’re going to have to do a little hiking to get to them. If your kids aren’t at the age where they can manage hiking trails on their own two feet, you’ll want to bring a capable kid carrier like an Ergo or Osprey. We hiked all over Iceland using an ErgoBaby Carrier, which meant our son didn’t have to miss out on anything.

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

8. Save Money By Focusing On Free Activities

Iceland has a ton of amazing guided activities like whale watching, cave exploration, super jeep tours, and helicopter rides. These tours can get expensive while traveling with kids on a budget, so focus on the multitude of free activities available in Iceland. Of all the trips and sites we explored in Iceland, only a small handful required payment or entry fees. Make sure to check out my guide post if you’re looking for fun and free things to do.

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

9. Be Safe And Never Let Your Guard Down

Iceland is a beautiful country without a doubt, but the sharp rocks, boiling geysers, crashing surf, and pounding waterfalls can all present a safety hazard as well. Being safe and taking precautions goes without saying for most visitors, but every year a few tourist refuse to listen and lose their lives because of it. Children are still figuring out the rules and limits of their bodies, so make sure to be overly cautious for them. Iceland is not the place to let them ‘figure it out’.

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

10. Take The Time To Teach And Learn

Iceland is a geologists dream land, located on a ridge between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Iceland is one of the most active volcanic areas in the world, and is a host to glaciers, geysers, hot springs, rift valleys, basalt formations, lava fields, rhyolite mountains, and more! The opportunity for kids to learn in Iceland is virtually endless.

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

11. Stop And Meet The Horses

Just like ice cream, summertime, pools, and balloons…kids love horses! Lucky for parents, there are a ton of them in Iceland, and nearly all that we met were incredibly friendly. On just about every daily stretch of driving, we would pass horses, sheep, goats, and cows. Naturally, my son wanted to get out and say “hi” to all of them.

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12. Enjoy The Magic And Make Memories

The most important advice I can give about a family trip of the Ring Road, is to try and take it all in. The magic of Iceland is truly special and can seem otherworldly most of the time. Like most great trips, it all flies by too fast, and before you know it the trip will be over. The beauty and charm of Iceland only seems to amplify this effect, so do your best to hold your children tight and soak it all up.

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

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12 Tips For Driving Iceland's Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

I'm Drew, creator of Trail to Peak. Trail to Peak brings content to life on the web through breath-taking photography and captivating video. I launched Trail to Peak in 2014 with a goal to inspire readers to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. I have traveled to 19 countries, walked Camino de Santiago, hiked the John Muir Trail, trekked through the Andes of Peru, and am constantly seeking new adventures in my home state of California. Joining me on my weekly adventures is my partner, Julia, our son, Owen, and our two goldendoodles, Isla and Lilly.

1 comment on “12 Tips For Driving Iceland’s Ring Road With Babies, Toddlers, And Children

  1. Informative post that at the same time shows the magic of Iceland. Beautiful!

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