Here’s the rundown and how-to for our epic summer trip through four cities in Europe in twelve days – Oslo, Reykjavík, Paris and London. Tyler was six years old when we made this journey in June 2019.
I have laid out a day by day itinerary based off our actual trip notes and schedule, included links to videos of our experiences via my IG, and links to attractions/ websites featured, and pasted the 12 day itinerary itself at the bottom so you can just use that as a handy reference.
Here we go!
We kicked off our epic mommy-son trip in Oslo, Norway, as I decided I wanted to start in a city I’ve never visited in Europe. It’s also more cost-effective to fly in to a less mainstream city destination, e.g. Helsinki or Oslo compared to cities such as London, Milan or Paris, and a great place to kickstart a series of one way trips to various destinations in Europe.
OSLO, NORWAY (18-20 June)
Hotel : We based ourselves in the Grand Oslo Hotel, perfectly situated at Karl Johan’s gate where many attractions like the Royal Palace and Gardens, Stortorvet (Market Square), Akershus Fort and Waterfront, the Stromma Trains and day trip boats are located within walking distance.
18 June – 715am Arrive in Oslo
Take the express train to the city centre, it’s only 20-30 minutes away by train, very efficient and convenient.
We rested for a couple hours, then headed out for quick lunch in Sunny Side Up, an egg cafe along the street, before starting our day’s tour on an open-topped bus.
2pm It’s really important to keep kids awake in the day time if you can, to get over jet lag fast. I planned to arrive in the day and to keep him busy until a reasonable bedtime.
I opted for the Open-Top Bus Tour, as it’s fun for kids, and also helps you get your feel for a city, to later navigate your way around on your own.
We decided to make a stop at the Viking Ship Museum (estimate 45 minutes to finish this, try the chocolate-dusted soft-serve Ice cream in front, in the summer time!).
It’s not a very big museum, and its highlights on display are the remains of three Viking ships on display, along with some artefacts and weapons recovered from Viking tombs in the areas around the Oslo Fjord. Stay to watch the 5 minute projection light show “The Vikings Alive”, that they have for one of the ships. It tells the re-imagined story of one of the three ships, from creation, to battle and conquest, exploration of the seas and finally to its eventual retirement as a burial vessel, where it was consigned to its final resting place, buried along with animal sacrifices, tools and treasures for the afterlife when the powerful king passed away.
Tyler was quite intrigued by the ships, once I started telling him the stories of each one. So while the Viking wrecks may initially look unimpressive to little kids, it’s up to you as storyteller to bring them to life for them!
On the way back to town, you can also make a stop at the stunning Oslo Opera House (which we missed as Tyler was clearly suffering from jet lag by this time)
Another option, you can also stop by the waterfront (where the Nobel Peace Centre is located) and catch the Oslo Stromma Train, a cute little train that goes around the city.
We had an early dinner on one of the many cafes along Karl Johan Gate near our hotel, and put Tyler to sleep by 8pm, he slept straight through until 6am the next morning, a good start!
19 June Oslo
9am We started off with breakfast at Unity Bakery (Karl Johan Gate, a two minute walk from the hotel)
1030am Visited the Historical Museum (250m on foot from Karl Johan Gate). On display is the world’s only known Viking helmet in existence, as well as a variety of Viking weapons and accoutrements. There’s also a small section on the second floor with a couple of Egyptian mummy exhibits. It’s a little museum, not like the massive ones in London or Paris, but if you’re looking to see a little Viking culture, it’s nearby and with free entry, it’s worth swinging by!
230pm Post-lunch, we visited the Oslo Royal Palace, Palace Park Gardens and Children’s Park with the Rainbow sculpture (below) and many more awesome installations for children to explore. You can also enjoy guided palace tours in the summer.
430pm After spending an hour in the Palace Gardens, we took an Uber to Frogner Sculpture Park (also referred to as Vigeland Sculpture Park). There are a total of 212 statues, each one depicts a remarkable facet of humanity – going from birth to childhood, youth and love, to old age and death. Some are incredibly poignant, some are shocking, and many are open to interpretation.
We played a game, where I asked him to give each statue a name. His answers were humorous, insightful and also poignant. It shows you children have more emotional depth than we sometimes give them credit for. Anyway, this is a reminder for us to be their storytellers. If we don’t slow them down and share the wonder with them, they may never see it.
In this series of photos, he’s interacting with some of the sculptures from the Vigeland installation, where he asked if he could be part of the sculptures, and these are his emotional interpretations – playful, longing, thoughtful and in the last, wanting to be part of one that he calls “Love”
630pm We went back to the hotel for dinner at the Grand Oslo Hotel Restaurant, and put Tyler to sleep by 8pm to get over any lingering jet lag.
2O June Oslo
This was our third and last day in Oslo. We had Breakfast at our favourite spot at Unity Cafe, returning for big, fluffy croissants with strawberry jam, hearty eggs for breakfast and his favourite hot chocolate.
After breakfast, we headed on foot to Akershus Fort and Castle (a 10 minute walk from the hotel.
Akershus is a 700 year old fortress and castle built in the medieval ages. He enjoyed the audio tour, listening intently in every room, especially enjoying the ghost stories and the exterior areas of the fortress with the courtyard and cannons. Level up in sightseeing, when your kid can follow the audio guide tours!
1230 Head to airport (Train)
Right after our morning’s exploration of Akershus, we went back to get the luggage from our hotel and headed straight to the airport, once again by the very convenient train.
If you arrive earlier, there’s a little airplane playground in front of the Joe and the Juice at the Arrival Hall that Tyler really loved. I let him play for 20 minutes after we had checked-in and dropped off all luggage.
Last note on Oslo, and on the shortlisted activities which we didn’t get to visit in our short stay. You can also check out the Tusenfryd Amusement Park, EKT Riding School and Petting Zoo and the Bergen Train, a scenic train ride I’ve heard described as having stunning “jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery”,with views of fjords, waterfalls and rivers. There’s also a brand-new Viking Planet, interactive digital attraction that opened the day we left! Looks like we’ll have to make a return visit!
350pm Departure to Iceland
REYKJAVIK- ICELAND (20-23 June)
The hotel I would recommend would be Sandholt Hotel, located right in the heart of Reykjavík. We stayed there on our first trip a year ago with Jake, and I much preferred it to the Townhouse 41 Hotel where we stayed this time, which was much more like a hostel.
20 June – Oslo to Iceland (arrive 430pm KEF)
830pm Taking advantage of Iceland’s 24 hour sunshine while we were there, I booked the Midnight Sun Whale Watching tour (Elding’s) for the first night of our arrival in Reykjavik.
I might not recommended this for kids under eight, it can be underwhelming if they’re expecting to get up close and really see whales. Most of the time, it’s just a glimpse of a fin or tail. They mostly also spot Minke whales in these parts, you would be very lucky to see a Humpback. Minke whales are among the smallest of the whales, to set your expectations, they’re about 1/5 the size of their large cousins like the Blue whale and the Grey whale.
It’s still a pleasant experience taking a boat out to sea if it’s adults or older kids. The tour ended close to midnight, and I almost had to carry my sleepy boy off the boat.
21 June Reykjavík
9am Breakfast at Sandholt
10am Finally, for the main event! We actually made this trip so my little whale-obsessed boy could visit the Whale Museum of Iceland! Imagine more than a dozen life-sizes whales – from the sperm whale and humpback whale, and the smallest whales like Beluga and Orca to the great Blue Whale, largest mammal which ever lived in our planet’s history. They’re all here in the whale museum! We spent two hours here, as he was just delighted with the whales, a normal visit might take 45 minutes to browse all the exhibits!
After a visit to the museum, I can suggest lunch at nearby Icelandic Fish and Chips. We ate there with Jake in my last visit, but didn’t have time this time round as Tyler spent over two hours in the whale museum and we had another activity lined up after.
230pm Following lunch, I booked an ATV and Blue Lagoon Tour via Reykjavik Excursions. Please note that entry tickets to the Blue Lagoon itself, which are based on a specific timing (eg I booked for 4pm) weren’t included in the booking of the tour. Its advisable to book Blue Lagoon tickets online in advance if going in the popular spring and summer seasons.
The ATV tour was a fun, wild ride through the mountains near Reykjavík. The machines were well-maintained, and well-equipped to ride rough over the bumpy, lumpy mountain terrain. The ride might be a little rocky for a passenger, I would say it’s much more fun to be the rider than the pillion passenger! Nonetheless, we had an enjoyable one hour ride on these ATVs, before heading to the iconic Blue Lagoon.
Next up -Welcome to the Blue Lagoon! We’ve gone once in the summer time and once in early spring when it was much colder. It was pretty crowded both times, but the Lagoon is pretty large, so you don’t really feel the crowd. The surreal blue of the blue lagoon is what will hit you each time you see it. It’s a 38 degree Geo-thermal pool, and once you’re inside, it feels like you’re in a giant sauna. Arm floats are compulsory for kids, and there are several areas to explore, including a booth where you can get free face and hair masks to wear while enjoying the blue lagoon, another area with a “waterfall” that you can rinse your hair and face, and a bar in the water where you can get a beer or milkshake. You don’t feel the cold one you’re in, but getting in and out are different matters!
815pm We caught the last bus by our tour operator back to Reykjavic, and our hotel (about 45 minutes from the Blue Lagoon) and we slept very very well!
22 June Vik
For the highlight of our trip, I had booked a five hour shoot with www.shootmytravel.com with locally-based photographer Kevin Pages, and it was an “essential Iceland” in one day experience, perfect if you want to cover it all in a nutshell – with a waterfall, glaciers, Icelandic horse, the DC plane wreck and the black sand beach at Vik!
We made some arrangements with our photographer guide Kevin who took us around in his SUV, and decided to start with a horse ride at popular waterfall destination Skogafalls, Tyler rode the horse, which was a gentle, sturdy animal, great for first time or inexperienced riders.
Following the waterfall, and a lunch break at a local cafe, we drive up to Vik with a stopover to visit to the Glaciers at Solheimajokull
The glaciers were stunning of course, but I do have to share that’s it’s about a One KM hike in and back out over rough sandy, rocky terrain, and weather being unpredictable, it also started to rain while we were out getting some shots. Tyler found it hard to keep up after a while, and photographer Kevin had to give him a piggy back ride halfway, and we had to make stops for him to rest and play. You’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s worth the hike in and out to see the glaciers, and if you decide to skip it, there’s still plenty to see…
Following the glaciers, we wrapped up the day in Vik where we visited the DC plane wreck near the sea, and also the black sand beach famed for its dramatic wall of basphalt columns.
I have almost no words for the way Tyler interacted with the DC Plane Wreck in Iceland. He loves airplanes, seeing this one beached near the sea, a forlorn wreckage riddled with bullet holes and ripped apart was both exhilarating and poignant. Instead of Tragedy, I shared with him it’s story of Triumph.
Not one of its five crew died in the crash, miraculously, and it’s pilot was given an award for heroism, playing his role in landing this plane on the beach, meters from the sea he was aiming for. The plane was destroyed, but all five men walked away from the wreckage. Now what could be a more beautiful story, for this strange and beautiful behemoth stranded in stark incongruity against the lunar landscape of its final resting place.
The last stop was at the Black Sand Beach in Vik. It’s a stunning, surreal landscape, strangely more beautiful on grey cloudy days than in bright sunshine like the day we were there. The first time I saw it a year ago, it felt like we were on a different planet. Little wonder that it’s also been shot as a location for The Wall in the scenes of the Night Watch on Game of Thrones. I’m including photos of Jake shot a year ago, so you can compare a cloudy day with a sunny day, and see how different the beach looks!
Cloudy and slightly wet day above, with no other tourists around because of the drizzle. Photos shot in bright sunlight below, where we were unable to shoot certain angles because the beach was heaving with tourists!
We departed Reykjavík after too short a stay, we could definitely have done one more day, and headed to the airport via Flybus. Give yourself a full two hours at the airport, there were long lines for Iceland Air, and we only just cleared the check-in on time. There is a family lane if you’re traveling with kids under five, so you can look for that line or ask an attendant to direct you to it.
PARIS, FRANCE (23-26 June)
We stayed at the Le Bellechasse St Germaine, a boutique hotel which I chose for proximity to an underground station as well as its location in a neighbourhood with lots of cafes, near the Musee D’Orsay and a short walk from the River Seine.
4pm Retro Sidecar Tour – Tyler literally screamed with joy when he saw this retro sidecar pull up next to our hotel.
We zipped through the city, navigated the small streets in Montmartre, visited the Artist’s Square, paused for ice-cream, got a street portrait, stopped by the Sacre Couer and passed by grand monuments like the Opera House and the Louvre, all on a zippy Retro Bike with our guide Thomas, who was so great with kids!
Highly recommend this (if you’re not faint-hearted)! Oh, wear pants, you’ll probably be riding pillion behind the driver if it’s two of you; the sidecar only fits one passenger unless your kid is under two and can squeeze in on your lap. Alternatively, book two sidecars (but it’s more pocket-friendly to ride in one)!
24 June Paris
10am Museum of Natural History (this was in our itinerary, but I confess we didn’t make it, as I got lazy and we decided to sleep in and have a leisurely morning! I’ve visited the museum before on a previous trip to Paris, and do recommend it as a kid-friendly destination with beautiful architecture – well worth the visit.
230pm Tour with Julien… how to roll in Paris!
As we were traveling in the June peak summer season, all public transport and museums were heaving with crowds, so we decided to roll with the locals! We booked this cool buggy tour with Julian from www.withlocals.com
We avoided the big museums and tourist hotspots with their snaking lines, with Julian taking us down small neighbourhood streets, his favourite little bakery, sampling some gelato off the beaten track and visiting a mini-coliseum that I never knew existed in the city! (Here’s a code for a €15 discount valid for a booking on Withlocals)
All that walking can get too much for little legs, so this was just perfect!
715pm Finally, we booked a two hour sunset shoot with local photographer Meyrie, again on Www.shootmytravel.com as I wanted photos with the iconic Eiffel Tower and along the lovely River Seine.
Highly recommend this, as the local photographer is able to take you behind the scenes into all the back alleys and riverside where you’d be able to get amazing views of the Eiffel Tower, without any of the crowd!
We enjoyed our time with Meyrie, and I just love these keepsake photos she captured of me and Tyler. (Book before December and you can use my code TJIN25 for $25 off when you book with shootmytravel.com)
25 June Paris
1030am To start the day, I booked a Paris Kids Tour with Valentina on www.withlocals.com
It was a lovely kid-oriented walking tour to check out the play areas by the river and the Tuileries Garden.
Our guide Valentina was lovely, she took us to play areas by the river which we would never have discovered otherwise, we stopped for galettes and iced tea when Tyler got too hot, and ended up our tour in the Tuileries where she finally left us to play in the carnival.
Tyler and I rode bumper cars, he entered a four storey obstacle course, and went on a couple rides at the Tuileries summer carnival – loads of fun!
1pm Lunch at Angelina’s – this was a short walk across the street from Tuileries. This Paris institution is famed, of course, for its hot chocolate and sweet treats. We had burgers and soup, and saved our tummies for the treats! It was too hot for hot chocolate, so we had iced chocolate and desserts!
After lunch, it was still just too hot to be outdoors, so I had to abandon my plans for the Paris Open Top Bus and Louvre Museum – but this would be a great place to slot that in!
Instead I took Tyler to Galeries Lafayette and we explored the iconic shopping destination, made a trip to its toy department and kids fashion floor.
LONDON, UK (26 June – 30 June)
26 June London
The quickest way from Paris to London (and vice versa) is by the Eurostar. Interestingly, these train tickets cost more than any of my other connecting flights in Europe. The journey was fast and smooth, however, and we were there in just two hours.
In London, we stayed at the Ampersand Hotel. I really recommend this hotel!
It was really well-located in South Kensington, with friendly and great service staff, and a great base to visit all the museums and with the South Ken underground just across the street that’s a direct stop to many other attractions including Covent Garden, Leicester Square, British Museum (Holborn) and Tower of London (Tower Hill), to name just a few.
South Kensington Tube is a great base as it’s a direct train to many popular stations like Piccadilly Circus, which save you a lot of time changing trains
Being just a short walk from the London Natural History Museum and V&A Museum, we dropped out bags and headed straight out to explore the museums.
The British Natural History Museum remains one of my favourites. Not just for the dinosaurs and the blue whale, but the architecture in this gorgeous building has always been as much of an attraction for me as the exhibits. To be honest, some of the exhibits can be a bit dated, and our own Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum in Singapore has as impressive (if not more, in some ways) a catalogue of animal and insect specimens. BUT, the experience of the British Natural History Museum itself, never gets old; this museum is a cathedral to animal and human science, nature and evolution.
We wrapped up with Tapas dinner in South Kensington (so many cafes to choose from).
27 June London
9am We started our day nice and early with breakfast and people-watching at Kensington Creperie
10am Next we headed to THE Toy Store – Hamleys on Oxford Street, take the train from South Kensington to Piccadilly Circus, and a short bus ride will drop you at the doorstep of one of the world’s most famous destination toy stores!
Traveling with kids, this multi-storey toy store was filled with floors of all kinds of toys imaginable. It can be pricey to shop here, and they have loads of interactive demos and stations for kids to try the toys, it can be loads of fun, but you may end up going home with all kinds of toys you never knew you wanted (and wish you didn’t buy!) I suggest you go in the morning, we arrived at 1030am and it was entirely empty, just us… and thousands of toys calling his name.
After our visit to Hamley’s we took a train to Covent Garden where he spent two hours in the London Transport Museum.
4pm By this time, Mommy was in serious need of a break from toy shops and museums, so we took a breather with traditional High Tea at Balthazar (next door to the Transport Museum)
7pm We ended our day with a Ghost Bus Tour (I was meh about this). Tyler loves stories and has a little boy’s fascination with the macabre. This had good reviews online, but I found it so-so for kids.
28 June London
10am Today was the day to tackle the Mother of All Museums – The British Museum.
This Museum is HUGE, housing a vast collection of art and artefacts from all around the world, and will take you at least four hours to see the exhibits with any kind of depth. We went for the Ancient Egyptian mummies, and of course the British Museum has mummies in spades.
The gallery can get pretty crowded, I would probably book the special morning pre-opening tour next time, which takes place before the crowd comes in, you can book it on the museum website.
The Museum also has a range of Family Brochures/ Guide and Activity books, which you can pick up at the information desk in the main atrium. They try to make the exhibits more kid-friendly, although to be honest, many of the incredible and significant artefacts in the British Museum are lost on a six year old. He can’t appreciate the Elgin Marbles, or the incredible Greek relics and Roman artefacts … I will return with him when he’s older, and when I’ve had time to read him the stories and legends of Greek heroes and gods. The exhibits would carry far more significance for him then.
We didn’t get to make it down to the Tower of London this trip, Tyler was tired out by the British Museum – but I left in the itinerary here, as I highly recommend it – again, as with the Roman artefacts, it helps to tell the kids some stories of the Kings, Queens, princes and prisoners who once populated the tower before the visit, it will make the visit much more interesting for them.
3pm We came back to the our hotel to try the Sci-Fi High Tea!
3-2-1 Blast Off 🚀 Love the delight on his face when the rocket smokes up! We enjoyed an out-of-this-world high tea session at our hotel, inspired by the London Science Museum just next door.
The set also came with a chocolate astronaut to dip into hot milk to make your own hot chocolate, as well as ingredients in test tubes and little beakers to mix and create your own drinks!
7pm Dinner at The Ivy, Chelsea Garden. Book ahead for dinner at this iconic dining destination! If you can, ask for a table in the outdoor garden in the spring or summertime. It was so incredibly pretty outdoors, and the food is not bad too.
29 June Windsor
We spent a whole day at Legoland at Windsor. Ok, getting there was EFFORT. We took 3 trains, and I won’t spend more time talking about this, because it was fun… but we do have a Legoland next door in Johore.
If the weather was nice, it might have been a total different experience. But as London was having a 33 degree heatwave that day, I might as well have been in Legoland Malaysia. So, it was fun, but with the long lines and the scorching heat, IMHO, not worth the effort of a day trip to Windsor, if you’re going just for Legoland.
30 June London
And just like that, it’s the last day of our trip! I booked the night flight to ensure he would sleep at least some of the way, and here’s how we spent our final day in London.
10am Science Museum- Head to Wonderlab on Level 3. It’s a kid-friendly interactive gallery where kids can make smoke rings, explore static electricity, chase the sun, make their own flying machines, play with magnetic art, go down three different friction slides… AND check out the Shake Bar on the same floor for milk shakes and ice creams!
1pm We headed to Selfridges for our final lunch. I never leave London without a stopover at The Brass Rail in Selfridges for the must-try Salt Beef and Tongue Sandwiches!
530pm Finally we head back to the hotel to pick up our bags, and head to the airport for our flight home. It costs about GBP50 to take a car from London city to Heathrow, and well worth it on the final leg of our journey back home! The tube is quick, but be prepared to have to lug luggage up and down escalators and steps. We got the hotel to book a car, and got to Heathrow with a couple hours to spare, for the long flight home.
OSLO, NORWAY (18-20 Jun)
18 June Oslo
– Check into Grand Oslo Hotel
– Open-Top Bus
– Viking Ship Museum
– Options: Oslo Opera House and Stromma Train
19 June Oslo
– Breakfast at Unity Bakery
– Historical Museum
– Oslo Royal Palace (and Palace Park Gardens)
– Frogeland Sculpture Park (also referred to as Vigeland Sculpture Par
20 June Oslo
– Akershus Fort and Cast
– Departure to Iceland
REYKJAVIK- ICELAND(20-23 June)
20 June Reykjavík
– Elding’s Whale Watching Midnight Sun Tour
21 June Reykjavík
– Breakfast at Sandholt Bakery
– Whales of Iceland Museum
– Lunch at Icelandic Fish and Chips
– ATV and Blue Lagoon Tour
22 June Vik
All-day Photo shoot with Kevin Pages
– Skogafalls (with horse-riding)
– Solheimajokull Glacier
– Vik Black Sand Beach and Basphalt Columns
– DC plane wreck
PARIS- FRANCE (23 June to 26 June)
– Depart for Paris
– Check in to La Grand Bellechasse Hotel, St Germaine
– Retro Sidecar Tour
24 June Paris
– Tour with Julien (Golf Buggy)
– Eiffel Tower shoot with local photographer Meyrie
25 June Paris
– Paris Kids Tour with Valentina
– Lunch at Angelina’s
– Visit to Galeries Lafayette
– Optional – The Louvre, Paris open-top bus sightseeing
LONDON, UK (26 -30 June)
26 June London
– Paris to London (Eurostar)
– Check in to Ampersand Hotel
– London Natural History Museum and V&A Museum
27 June London
– Breakfast at Kensington Creperie
– Hamleys on Oxford Street,
– Covent Garden – London Transport Museum and High Tea at Balthazar
– Ghost Bus Tour
28 June London
– The British Museum
– Option: Burrough Market, Tower of London, Tate Museum of Modern Art
– Sci-Fi High Tea at Ampersand Hotel
– Dinner at The Ivy, Chelsea Gardens.
29 June Windsor
– Legoland at Windsor
30 June London
– Science Museum- Wonderlab
– Selfridges Lunch at The Brass Rail in Selfridges (Salt beef and Ox tongue sandwiches)
– Depart for Heathrow