I think we can all agree that traveling with one’s family is a wonderful opportunity to create memories and open up the world to our children. But, catering to a wide age gap, finding something that everyone will enjoy and can participate in (with minimal stress) can be a challenge. Therefore, the question: what can I do with kids in Iceland? has been coming up more frequently with our fellow adventurers. There are so many different things you can do, see, try and taste in Iceland but knowing which ones are just right for you, now that’s the hard part. That’s why we have put together this blog, in an effort to help! So, without further ado, here are our best attractions and activities to do when visiting Iceland with kids.
Let’s start with the basics, which you can find no matter where you are in the country:
- Local Swimming Pools. Affordable, available all around the country, and ideal in any kind of weather. There is usually at least one big swimming pool, a few hot tubs and a sauna or a steam bath. If you choose well there might even be a slide! Some of the best geothermal pools in Iceland include the one at Akureyri, Selfoss, Vestmannaeyjar islands and Laugardalslaug pool in Reykjavik!
- Try Skyr. This local delicacy has hit the market all around the world but Iceland is still its mecca. Nowhere will you find as many different flavors of Skyr as in Iceland. Why not taste them all! They are also amazing for road trips as the smaller containers come with a disposable spoon. Easy and delicious, the perfect combo!
- Renting a car. Taking your family on a road trip is the perfect day spent in Iceland. You can explore some of the must-sees, like the Golden Circle with its glorious Gullfoss waterfall, powerful Strokkur geyser and historic Thingvellir National park. Or, you can simply start driving and see where the wind takes you. Iceland is a safe country and the perfect place for an adventurous family vacation. If there ever was a time to be explorers, it’s when traveling in Iceland!
Things to do in Reykjavik with Kids
Explore Nature Inside at Perlan
Perlan is one of Reykjavik’s most famous landmarks. Composed of six water tanks supporting an internal structure and glass dome, Perlan is renowned for an amazing restaurant, great café, stunning 360 views, and last but most certainly not least, the Perlan Exhibition.
There you’ll find Iceland’s largest man-made ice tunnel, an almost perfect replica of Latrabjarg bird rock and a 360° observation deck over the whole of Reykjavik and even to the next peninsula. This place is sure to intrigue!
Explore the Family Park and Zoo
In center Reykjavik, you’ll find a small zoo and fun park, a local gem called Fjolskyldu- og Husdyragardurinn. There, visitors get a chance to meet some Icelandic horses, cows, sheep, hens, seals, foxes and so many other friendly animals. The staff members are very knowledgeable and always ready to answer your questions. At the end of the animal exhibitions, you’ll find a fun park with playground facilities.
Adjoining the zoo in the nearby gardens, you’ll find Flóra, a lovely greenhouse café where you can fill up on some lovely cakes and bakes before or after petting at the zoo.
Visit the Whales of Iceland Museum
This is one of the most state of the art museums you’ll find in Iceland. Every single whale has an interactive explanation board to teach visitors about them and the replicas are in life-size and frankly, unbelievably real! The café offers a whale themed menu and so does the gift shop. I love taking my nieces and nephews here, the Whale Museum gets five stars from me!
Things to do on the Ring Road | Family Friendly Iceland
Join a Whale Watching Tour
Many of the tours offered in Iceland have been deemed too hazardous for young children. Glacier climbing or snorkeling in between continental plates is something you’ll have to wait to do once the kids get older. However, there are plenty of other exciting options that are family-friendly. Whale Watching has no age-limit and is a fantastic way to spend a couple of hours. You can even join whale watching tours from Reykjavik city center! Hitherto has this been my number one tour tip for families with young children and it’s always a hit!
Iceland offers endless trails, mountains and landscapes for a variety of fitness levels. Some of which, like mt. Esja, you can actually visit with a public bus from Reykjavík. Esja has excellent markings that you follow to the top and is one of the more popular outdoor work out spot with the city folk!
Others might like to go a bit further out of the city and explore the hiking trails of the island even better. For the outdoorsy families, a trek over the highlands with an experienced guide might just be the perfect holiday. The most popular of the longer hikes are the Laugavegur hiking trips. Going across the highlands from the magical Skogafoss waterfall to the geothermal bathing paradise of Landmannalaugar!
Visit Icelandic Farms
There are so many amazing farms scattered around Iceland that invite families to come for a visit and get to know the animals. Some of them even offer accommodation, taking the farm experience to a whole other level. Moreover, many of these farms also sell their home-made produce right from their farms. Thus, giving you a chance to taste freshly made cheese, ice cream and other yummy treats right then and there.
Meet some Icelandic Horses
The Icelandic Horse (not a pony, very important if you don’t want to insult the locals) is one of the island’s most loved creatures. These Friendly spirits have been with us through it all and the bond is strong. In winter they grow thick fur coats to stay warm. Simply turning them into complete fur balls and frankly, it’s adorable. However, in summer the horses shed their fur and again become the beautiful stallions they are meant to be.
Visit Fákasel horse park and check out their amazing show, introducing the Icelandic horse in the most entertaining way! Or if you are feeling adventurous, plan to join a horseback riding tour. The Icelandic horse is famous for its fifth gate unique to their breed, it soft yet it can be fast. The gate is tölt. To ride on tölt is truly an experience you’ll never forget.
Go Berry Picking (August-September)
Every local will wait in excitement for the berry season. When the hills are covered in blueberries and crowberries. And, anyone can indulge as much as they want in those sweet anthocyanins-giving super berries. Some people even pick kilos upon kilos and simply pop it in the freezer for winter. Enjoy!
Visit Interesting Museums
When the weather isn’t on your side, it’s good to have a good list of museums to visit for curious minds. The museums range from archeological to historical to the niche interests like the museums of witchcraft in Holmavik, Rock and Roll in Keflavik to the Lava Museum at Hvolsvollur.
See the Northern Lights
During the winter months, the Northern Lights honor the Icelandic people with their dancing neon lights strutting across the dark frosty sky. The tours tend to run later at the beginning and the end of the season but if you manage to keep the little ones awake the joy of seeing them is well worth it! In the middle of the season the operators do pick up around 8, or 9 pm usually lasting until midnight.
There are so many different Northern Lights tours to try offered all around the country guided by light experts to give you the best opportunity of seeing them. The Northern Lights should definitely be on your bucket list!
Explore a Natural Ice Cave
Luckily, the age limit for natural ice caves is usually pretty low. This has to do with the Super Jeeps utilized to reach the cave’s mouth. Every year they are different but never do they cease to amaze! This is one of the many perks the locals get to enjoy from their glaciers and truly a sight you’ll never forget.
English to Icelandic Dictionary for Family Friendly Travel
Interesting Facts for Parents Traveling to Iceland with Kids
- You can purchase diapers and formula at even the smallest grocery shops. But, if you are planning on heading into the highlands, you miiht want to consider stacking up.
- Many amazing Icelandic children’s books have been translated into English, French and German. If you have the chance to pick one up I personally recommend Guðrún Helgadóttir’s books. They are filled with amazing tales of trolls and hidden people. Perfect to get the imagination going in the Icelandic nature scene!
- Breastfeeding is something the locals consider the most normal thing. No one will stare or ask you to cover yourself. If this happens, it’s usually a tourist. Enjoy the liberty and feel the freedom of being able to feed your baby anywhere anytime!
- You shouldn’t be alarmed if you see toddlers or even infants sleeping outside in baby carriages. This is a perfectly normal part of raising a child in Iceland. Actually, it is said to help with their immune system. Additionally, the children are well dressed up in wool and quality materials to keep them warm and baby monitors are placed in the carriages.
- Kid’s in Iceland love a local bread topping called mysingur. It could probably pass off as the Icelandic Nutella, but it tastes more like caramel and is made from milk. This truly is yummy!
- There are two websites essential to any travel in Iceland, but especially when traveling with your most precious cargo. These are en.vedur.is (the weather) and road.is (the road conditions). If you are traveling in winter, their importance becomes even more significant!
- The world-famous Blue Lagoon nature baths have an age limit of 2 years.
- Lovely Icelandic clothing brands designing kids clothing include 66 North, Cintamani, Zo-on, Tulipop, As We Grow, Farmer’s Market, Moi, and Iglo+Indi. Many of those shops sell their goods on Laugavegur, the main shopping street in downtown Reykjavík.
- Iceland Travel offers special kid-friendly tours with hand-picked activities the whole family can enjoy.