Travelling to a new country with your family is an exciting adventure, but sometimes you don’t know where to look to find the family-friendly side to a foreign place. Iceland‘s close-knit family culture and emphasis on outdoor activity is tailor-made for those travelling with children. Here are tips to make sure you enjoy the best of what family-friendly Iceland has to offer.
The Icelandic way of life puts focus on getting back to nature and this is reflected in the pastimes of Icelandic families. Everywhere you go there’s something to do and learn, from interesting geographical or historical facts to fun activities for you and your young’uns.
First of all we’ve got to talk about the pools. Pretty much everywhere you go in Iceland will have a swimming pool nearby. The pools are mostly outdoors and are heated with geothermal energy that makes them warm all year round. Locals love going to the pools where the adults can have a friendly chat while the kids go on the slide or play a round of pool basketball. Just ask around for the nearest swimming pool for the two-in-one package of bathing and having fun.
For those staying in Reykjavík, the city is full of exciting opportunities for families. The Reykjavík Park and Zoo is a classic destination. The zoo has all the main species of animals found in Iceland and gives kids the opportunity to see farm animals, like horses, cows and pigs up close, as well as visiting the ever popular seals, reindeers and arctic foxes. Attached to the zoo is a theme park with rides and activities for children of all ages. The park also has a picnic area where people can bring their own food to barbeque. The Reykjavík Park and Zoo is located in Laugardalur Valley where you will also find a beautiful botanical garden, an ice skating rink and, of course, a swimming pool.
Family friendly museums like The Whales of Iceland and Sögusafnið History Museum are great choices for those staying in Reykjavík. For those on the move, The Whale Museum in Húsavík is worth a look, as is the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft in Hólmavík and the Earthquake exhibition in Hveragerði. And though technically not a museum, the Christmas Hoúse just outside of Akureyri is a must-see for those travelling up north. If you happen to be in North Iceland around Christmas, you can go and visit the Icelandic Yule Lads in Dimmuborgir and learn all about their exploits around the holidays.
Downtown Reykjavík has a big pond in the centre, appropriately called The Pond, where families love to gather and feed the ducks and swans who live there. On one end of The Pond is the Hljómaskálagarður park, ideal for a picnic on warm days and Nauthólsvík beach is a man-made white beach with hot tubs and heated areas of seawater that’ll make you feel like you’ve landed somewhere a bit further south from the Arctic Circle.
If you’re travelling further, there’s plenty to see and do around the country. Stop off in Borgarnes where there is a lovely playground known as Bjössaróló, famous for its unique use of recycled materials in the swings, sea-saw and slides. Also close to Borgarnes is the Troll Walk, a fun walking path with troll sculptures, stories and games for children and adult troll fans alike.
For the aspiring farmer or animal enthusiasts, a visit to one of these farms and petting zoos is a dream come true. The Slakki petting zoo in Laugarás, is a fun place that focuses on small farm and domestic animals that children can hold and pet. They also have mini golf, a playing area and a restaurant. The Háafell Goat Centre works to maintain and protect the Icelandic goat stock. The friendly goats will give you a warm welcome and there are also horses, sheep, ducks, chicken, dogs and cats there to meet and play with. The Erpsstaðir dairy farm will give you the unique opportunity of seeing how cows and calves live while enjoying the various dairy products, like skyr and ice cream, produced right there at the farm.
This is just a fraction of the fun activities families can enjoy around Iceland. For more information check out our family packages.