Iceland is a really hot (well not literally) family travel destination right now! I was worried when we went that it wouldn’t live up to the hype but I can happily report that it did not disappoint! So whether you are heading to Iceland and just planning on visiting Reykjavik and the golden circle or whether you have more time to go further afield we have a round up of all the best things to do in Iceland with kids!
Best Things to Do in Iceland with Kids
Things to Do in Reykjavik with kids!
The Blue Lagoon with Kids
Undoubtedly one of Iceland’s top attractions, you can’t be visiting Iceland with kids without visiting one of its many geothermal pools. The most well known (and expensive) geothermal spa is of course the Blue Lagoon. The blue lagoon is located just a short distance from the airport so can be the first or last stop on your Iceland trip! Your kids will love soaking in the warm mineral water, slathering volcanic mud on their faces, and floating around this natural paradise. However, don’t miss out on visiting one of the non-touristy geothermal pools frequented by the locals. These community swimming pools often feature water slides and other kid-friendly fun with a very wallet-friendly price tag. However, be aware that Iceland has very strict pool rules. Be sure to read one teenage girl’s account of Iceland’s swimming pool hygiene and locker room etiquette.
Visitor Tip: Be sure to wet your kids’ hair and apply conditioner before entering the pools. Otherwise, their hair will be a tangled mess!
An alternative to the Blue Lagoon of you are worried about crowds is the Secret Lagoon – you can make your reservations here!
Nominated by 4 worn passports
Walk The Reykjavik Seafront – a free thing to do in Iceland with kids
My favourite bit of Reykjavik to enjoy with the kidsis the city’s long waterfront and an added bonus is that its one of the top free things to do in Reykjavik. The promenade starts at the famous Harpa concert hall, in Reykjavik city centre, and stretches all the way to the impressive sculpture called the Sun Voyager and then the historical Hofdi house. Kids love the stroll as there is lots of space to run around (the area is also buggy friendly) and parents can see some of the city’s most important sites with reasonable ease thanks to the large car free lane, designed to make you enjoy the beautiful view over the bay. It truly is a wonderful spot!
A great thing to do for the budget conscious Iceland traveller and one of the best non touristy things to do Reykjavik!
Nominated by Learning Escapes!
The Bridge between Continents is located a little out of Reykjavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula
The Bridge of Continents separates the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates so in theory you can be in two continents at the same time. The fault line can be crossed by walking Leif the Lucky’s Bridge. The kids had fun running from one side to another saying in Europe now in North America now. Its a novelty destination that is fairly unique to any location in the world and a must for any trip to Iceland with kids!
A fabulous child friendly attraction in Reykjavik is the Perlan Museum. Located immediately outside of the city centre, the museum is a space dedicated to the nature of Iceland and it is a great spot to experience the Icelandic outdoors in a safe and fun environment. Here, kids can learn about volcanoes, earthquakes and even explore a real, albeit man made, ice cave! The museum has a wonderful restaurant at the top offering sweeping views of the city, something parents are likely to enjoy too at the end of the visit. Truly on of the best things to do with kids in Iceland!
Toddlers through teens can enjoy a short visit to the Viking World museum in Keflavik. Since it is only a few minutes from the airport, it makes a great stop on your way to or from the airport when you are killing time before checking into a hotel or before catching an afternoon flight. Inside you can climb aboard a full-scale replica Viking ship that has actually sailed the Atlantic. Kids can dress up like vikings and learn all about early Viking explorers. Upstairs, mythology fans will like learning about Norse Mythology (perfect for fans of Rick Riordan books!) Outside you can stop at the Viking playground and small petting zoo. It is not only a good thing to do with but is actually one fo the best things in Iceland for kids specifically!
Nominated by We 3 Travel
The Elf Garden Iceland
Icelandic people traditionally believed in legendary beings such as elves and hidden people. These hidden people would co-inhabit their world along with human beings. The little town of Harfnarfjordur which is effectively part of greater Reyjkavik is a recognised center of mystical activity in Iceland. Near the town center, there is an Elf Garden set in a volcanic park. The Elf Center was unfortunately closed when we visited so we didn’t have their famous Elf Tea. Neither did we see any mystical beings but my kids had a blast running around looking in nooks and crannies for elves. It’s a great way to expend some of their energy while also encouraging their imagination. This really is one of the best things in Reykjavik for kids!
Nominated by Just Go Places
Things to Do on Iceland Golden Circle with kids
Kerid Crater Lake with Kids by Wandermust Family
The Kerid Crater was one of our favorite places to visit with kids in Iceland when we went in March! There are several family friendly walks either round the top of the crater or walking down to the lake which are perfect for families. There are however some drops on the walk so you may want to consider taking reins for smaller children and having a good carrier if travelling with a baby!
The crater lake is located on the Golden Circle between some of the major attractions which means it is also perfectly located to let kids blow off steam by having a nice walk! This is a must for anyone visiting Iceland with kids!
If you would like to visit the crater without having to do a self drive we recommend this tour!
Strokkur Geyser with kids by Travelynn Family
Lava Tubes by No Back Home
One of the more unique things to do with kids in Iceland is to make traditional Icelandic rye bread in lava sand. Located on the Golden Circle between Þingvellir National Park and the Geysir area is Laugarvatn. This small village sits on a highly active geothermal area which produces enough energy to fuel the entire town’s heating, cooking and bathing! In addition to being the main source of heat in the town, this geothermal energy is used to bake bread in the ground overnight.Every day at 11:30 and 2:30, a pan of steaming lava bread is dug up out of the bubbling lava sand on the edge of the lake. A guide will give a brief introduction and explain the process before leading you back inside to slice up the bread and have a taste.The tour itself is pretty short so we recommend making time to also visit the hot springs that are also fed by the geothermal activity here or visiting in time for lunch. The attached cafe is a great place for a buffet lunch at a reasonable price (for Iceland!).
Reservations are not required for the tour, however it is recommended especially during the busy summer season.
Gullfoss Waterfall with Kids by Wandermust Family
The Gullfoss Waterfall is perhaps the most impressive on the whole of the Golden Circle. With its cafe, restrooms and gift shops it is one of the most easily accessible stops for families traveling to Iceland! The waterfall has several viewing areas that make great photo opportunities!
For our guide to the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland check out this guide!
If you would like to visit the Golden Circle without having to do a self drive we recommend this tour!
Things to Do with Kids in Iceland Beyond the Golden Circle
Seljakandsfoss waterfall with Kids by Curious and Rims
Seljakandsfoss waterfall was definitely my kids’ favourite waterfall in Iceland.
They loved it for so many reasons! When they heard that we could go behind it but we risked being wet, they didn’t even think twice and rushed to the start of the short and slippery path. They stopped behind the waterfall to contemplate the view.
We then followed the path to admire some of the other smaller waterfalls. We could follow a little stream and touch the cold water.
Lastly, the area was surrounded by a huge grass field where the kids could play, roll over or simply rest.
If you would like to visit without doing a self drive we recommend this tour!
Skogafoss Waterfall with kids by Wanderlust Family
Of the many waterfalls we visited in Iceland Skogafoss was my little girls favorite. Due to the way the light reflects from the water spraying from the waterfall means that you will see a beautiful rainbow in front of the waterfall! This makes for great photos and fascinated my daughter! On top of that you can get really close to the waterfall but be warned – you will get wet!
This is a must for anyone visiting Iceland with kids!
If you would like to visit without doing a self drive we recommend this tour!
Sólheimasandur plane wreck, Iceland with kids by Curious and Rims
Although it took us an hour to reach the plane, my son loved this site because of its surreal atmosphere: The plane is the only thing you can see in the gigantic beach. My son is a fan of planes and was really curious, wanting to learn the story behind the plane wreck, he looked everywhere, explored the remainings. He was relieved to hear that everyone survived.
Looking for more black sand beaches in Iceland – check out this post!
If you would like to do an ATV tour of the plane wreck then click here!
Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland with Kids by Family Can Travel
Kirkjufellsfoss and the majestic Kirkjufell Mountain are famous for being photographed together. Found near Grundarfjordur town on the peninsula in West Iceland, this is a great stop with kids. The short hike up to Kirkjufellsfoss is an easy walk for kids to do. The path leaves directly from the parking lot and along the river up to the top of the waterfall. From the top of Kirkufellsfoss you cross over a bridge then descend on the other side. Kids will love crossing the bridge over the waterfall. It’s on the far side where you get that iconic view of the waterfall and mountain together. Keep a close eye on smaller children to keep them on the trail and away from the edge as there is only a small rope that runs along the edge.
Tips: The trail doesn’t continue on both sides all the way back to the parking lot so you’ll have to backtrack to get back to your car. Get here early as the parking lot is small and will get crowded.
Would like to visit without having to self drive – we recommend this tour!
Whale watching in Husavik Iceland with kids by The Wandering Wagars
Whale watching is one of the most popular activities in Iceland. And while most visitors to Iceland spend their time in Reykjavik and the surrounding area, if you really want to have the best whale-watching experience in Iceland, you must make your way to the far north of Iceland. The bay surrounding the city of Husavik, Iceland is home to some of the most incredible whale experiences in the world! And while that may sound great all on its own, Husavik is also home to a small organization called North Sailing that gives you the chance to experience these magical water beasts from the deck of a schooner! Yes, that’s right, you can see Humpbacks, and sometimes even Blue Whales bubble-net fishing and breaching while nestled beneath the sails of an epic tall ship. And for those traveling with children, everything is supplied. They provide warm, waterproof gear that even kids will find comfortable. And there is a nice spot below deck in case all that Nordic air makes kids sleepy.
4WD Adventure on the Kjolur Route by the Family Adventure Project
To see the real Icelandic wilderness we recommend hiring a vehicle, saying goodbye to the Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle coach parties, and taking to the interior. The Icelandic F roads that lead into the highlands are strictly for 4WD traffic, and only in summer. In places the bleak volcanic landscape is like the surface of the moon and in other parts it is breathtakingly blue. The kids will love bouncing around in the jeep, doing exciting river crossings and staying in remote mountain huts or on campsites surrounded by shiny slabs of rhyolite. (Great for a game of Icelandic hide and seek.) We followed the Kjölur route for a few days, and also crossed the Eastern highlands to Askja where we swam in a hot volcanic crater lake and played catch with lava bombs scavenged from the earth.
Would you like to do this without self driving? We recommend this excursion!
Lake Myvatn, Iceland with kids by Kids and Compass
Lake Myvatn in the far north of Iceland is an awesome place to take kids and one of the best family things to do in Iceland! . There is so much to see, do and learn here. Pretty much all the activities at Lake Myvatn are outdoors so your kids will get plenty of exercise and get to fill their lungs full of fresh Icelandic air.
At Lake Myvatn you can take your kids walking on still-steaming lava, and see (and smell) sulphurous, bubbling mud pits. There are lots of fantastic hikes you can do in this area; around sapphire-blue crater lakes, through one of Iceland’s rare forests, over pseudocraters at the lakeside and up to the top of an extinct volcano. Or take them walking through bizarre lava formations at Dimmuborgir, where they can imagine that they’re in an eerie fairytale.
There is also a nature baths at Lake Myvatn – tickets should be bought in advance here!
The lake itself is a wildlife sanctuary, especially for migratory birds, so while there aren’t any water sports available here, you can go birdwatching or to the bird museum. You can even book onto a specialist birdwatching tour!
You can see a lot of Lake Myvatn in a day, but I’d recommend at least two if you want to do it justice.
Looking for a Lake Myvatn tour? We recommend this one!
Londrangar Basalt Cliffs, Iceland with kids by Meraki Mother
The beautiful Snæfellsnes Peninsula was a highlight of our Iceland adventure and the rugged seascape of Londrangar Basalt Cliffs a stand out of the area. As well as walks and hikes along the cliffs and black rocky beach there is plenty to see to keep the whole family entertained. You can explore the visitors centre ( also a toilet pit stop, because we all know how often we need those when traveling with kids), Malariff Lighthouse, and in the right season see Puffins. Our kids favourite though was going inside the little cottage and seeing artwork from the local school children as well as lots of treasures found on the nearby seashore. We learnt that farmers never used the area because they believe elves have made their homes here. There is also a fun outdoor adventure play area with a zip line where the kids can run free.
Fjaðrárgljúfur with kids by Curious and Rims
Fjaðrárgljúfur is one of the most beautiful canyons in the world.The hike to the end is short and easy even with kids. You can then stop for a picnic while admiring the view from the river. My kids loved this place; they were looking for fish, admiring the different colors, playing with small rocks and soaking their feet in the cold water.
Would like to visit without having to self drive – we recommend this tour!
Vatnajökull Glacier Hiking by Outside Suburbia
Iceland, fittingly called the land of Fire and Ice has some of the most remarkable landscapes on the planet. The scenery changes every 30 minutes when you are driving around the island on the well paved Ring Road and there are a gamut of easy adventures to be had. Our family favorite was Hiking on a Glacier, trust me, it was not as hard or scary as it sounds.
Vatnajökull is an 8,100 sq km dome of ice, about one twelfth of Iceland’s surface and up to 800m thick. To explore this gigantic glaciers, we hired a mountain guide, who will provided the gear and steered us safely through the many crevasses and pinnacles. Our guide from Icelandic Mountain Guides was pretty amazing, he showed us and the kids how to walk with crampons while we learnt more about the landscape and folklore. We explored the landscape of glacier ice, deep crevasses, and water cauldrons on Vatnajökull Glacier in Skaftafell National Park.
Glacier Hiking should only be undertaken with reputable companies – we recommend this tour!
Jökulsárlón, Iceland with kids by We Go with Kids
Jökulsárlón is a glacial lake that was so beautiful and different that we all agreed that our brief visit was a highlight of our trip. The drive from Vík was stunning, with the Eldhraun lava field, the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon and the Vatnajökull icecap. Jökulsárlón is full of icebergs broken off an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull. The ice is streaked with different colors caused by the age of each iceberg and the amount of sun exposure and moving in the water. Our kids loved the amazing views and particularly enjoyed watching some seals play in the waters. There are several parking lots on the North side of the Ring Road to view the lake, and each are each worth a stop. After sufficient oohing and aahing over the stunning icebergs, our we headed across the road to Diamond Beach. Here, kids can get up close views of the ice, which glitters against the black volcanic sand beach.
If you would like a day trip toJökulsárlón from Reykjavik Check out this tour What are your favorite things to do in Iceland with kids? We would love to hear what you got up to in Iceland with kids in the comments!
General Tips for Travelling to Iceland with Kids
If you are wondering is Iceland child friendly – you needn’t worry – we found Iceland to be very family friendly! However, as with anywhere with large geothermal activity, rough coastlines and generally being outdoors in extremes of weather there are a few tips and tricks that might help you make
- Don’t expect to cover everything on the list! Be sure to allocate plenty of time in your itinerary for children to explore and play so they don’t become overwhelmed!
- Pack layers as the Iceland weather is very changeable and nothing can spoil a day out than a grumpy cold child!
- Be sure to stay safe – don’t get too close to the sea at places like the black sand beach at Vik, where the waves are particularly hazardous! We also packed reins with us for using with our toddler around geysers!
- Consider getting accommodation with a kitchen. This will save money and means you can make packed lunches for those long days out on the road!
Are you planning to travel to Iceland with kids? What is on your Iceland Bucket List?
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