Travel to Iceland and Scotland via the IcelandAir stopover program to walk on a Glacier, visit a hot spring, spend time on an Icelandic farm and stay in a Scottish castle. Read on to learn a few reasons why this trip to Iceland and Scotland is perfect for kids.
Castles, pools and glaciers: Why to visit Iceland and Scotland with Kids
I’ve finally found the destination unicorn for kids, and it happens to be to two lesser-traveled spots for tweens: Scotland and Iceland are perfect for kids. But my kids are obsessed with pools, spas, farm animals, castles, glaciers and having their own butler (one that would do a better job than me). And I found all of this and more when I did the IcelandAir stopover program recently to Iceland and Scotland. Check out these reasons I believe your family would enjoy a trip to Scotland and Iceland, too!
Parents and tweens alike will love the hot springs.
There are hot springs dotted throughout Iceland, from the infamous Blue Lagoon to other smaller (and significantly less expensive) spots. And they all embrace children. These springs are warm (hot tub level warm), beautiful, relaxing and ideal for this age group.
We spent half a day at the Krauma Spa, which is about 2 hours from the airport. We were rewarded by a semi-empty spa overlooking fields of green with roaming cows. They also did an amazing dinner there, and we had the best lamb I’ve ever eaten.
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You can stay on a working Icelandic farm.
Talk about a cool experience. At the Bjarteyjarsandur farm, which specializes in sheep, you can stay in the actual farmhouse with the owners when you visit. The most popular time for families to come is in September, when they herd their sheep, and the children do the herding, literally. All the food in their tiny restaurant comes from their farm or from adjoining farms, so this is truly an immersive experience.
You can go inside a glacier.
Now that’s truly Instagram-worthy (and isn’t that what counts?). Into the Glacier provides a glacier, where you’re surrounded by ice on all sides. You can even hang out in the glacier bar or in the spot where people get married. It’s an experience unlike all others, which makes it the coolest (literally and figuratively). They’ll even provide cold suits – almost like a sleeping bag that you can wear – so you don’t have to drag endless amounts of cold-weather gear with you.
You can ride mini-horses.
Icelandic horses, bred and developed in Iceland, are tiny – some are even pony-sized. Still, they’re strong and hardy, so adults, teens and kids can all ride them safely. They’re super cute, and my kids felt very safe riding them despite their complete lack of skills. At the end of our ride, the stable gave each child a used horseshoe as a souvenir, which was fantastic, as I wasn’t planning on spending anything on the expensive Icelandic souvenirs in the actual shops. Iceland is ridiculously expensive.
You can live in a castle.
Glenapp Castle in Scotland is a real castle. No joke. And they actually love it when children come to stay. Hide and seek is encouraged (I got lost in that castle more times than I can count, so I can vouch that it’s an excellent place to play this), and they have plenty of activities designed with children in mind: archery, stargazing, boat rides, fishing, the Highland games and more.
Oh, and imagine having a real tea party at a working castle? Because it can happen. Plus, each room at the castle comes with gigantic soaking tubs, which are perfect for tired parents and active kids alike.
You can have your own butler.
At the Glenapp Castle, you can stay in their newly created 3-bedroom apartment on the top floor of the castle (under construction now but ready to rent soon). It comes with an entertainment room, a sauna, a spa room, a kitchen . . . and a butler. Your own butler. If you want to get really royal, you can also opt to have your own chef. That way, he can deal with your children’s picky eating preferences at all hours of the day. The apartment was designed for families, so there’s enough room to run, play and get a little crazy without annoying any of the other guests in the castle, who will be on a completely different floor.
You can eat sheep’s lung
AKA haggis, which is banned in the United States because sheep’s lung is not allowed to be consumed here. So now is your big chance, and it’s a bragging right for the kids! (Pro tip: Truth or Dare is a great way to get haggis into your kids’ mouths. After a bite, chances are, they’ll be hooked.). Haggis is a Scottish food made from sheep’s heart, liver and lungs. It’s combined with oatmeal, spices and salt, and then it’s cooled inside a sheep’s stomach. It tastes good. Trust us.
Before you go: Nervous about visiting a castle with kids? We have all the tips you need to know:
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Don’t skip across the pond without reading about our tips for visiting Europe with kids without complaints: