If you are heading on a family vacation to Iceland, there is a good chance you will be spending time in Reykjavik with kids. And the city will not disappoint. In this guide we will tell you the best things to do in Reykjavik with kids as well as how long you should spend in this amazing city!
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Although, the reason many poeple visit Iceland is for the natural sights such as its amazing waterfalls and black sand beaches, and the chances of seeing the Northern lights, it’s capital city should not be overlooked. But what are the best things to do in Reykjavik with kids and how long should you dedicate to it in your itinerary?
How Long Do you Need in Reykjavik with Kids?
Even if you are chomping at the bit to get out into Iceland’s wildlife and explore the Golden Circle with kids, we recommend leaving at least one whole day in your Iceland itinerary to explore the Capital.
With one day you will be able to see a lot of the main Reykjavik attractions as well as have an opportunity to visit the Blue Lagoon in the nearby Keflavik.
And if you are visiting in Iceland in Winter and are worried about driving, there is not reason why you couldn’t base the whole of your vacation out of the city and do day trips out to the main attractions of the Golden Circle and beyond.
Best Way to Get Around Reykjavik with Kids
Before we get into the best things to do Reykjavik with kids, let us tell you how the best way to get around Reykjavik with kids.
If you are visiting Iceland, then you are most likely flying into Keflavik airport. This is located a mere 45 minute drive from downtown Reykjavik.
If you plan on visiting things in central Reykjavik and taking day trips then you probably won’t need a hire car.
However if you plan on doing a self drive Iceland itinerary with kids, which I heartily recommend, doing, then you will need to make car hire arrangements in advance. But if you are hiring a car and staying in Reykjavik then you need to check that your hotel has parking.
Parking in Reykjavik is hard to find, and the closer you get to Laugavegur Street the more expensive it gets. For this reason we recommend finding a hotel with parking for your nights in the capital.
Best Things to do in Reykjavik with Kids
So know you have all of the practical information to visit Reykjavik with kids, here are our favorite things to do in the city with kids from toddlers to teenagers.
Explore Reykjavik Street Art on Laugavegur Street
No visit to Reykjavik is complete without a visit to the city’s Laugavegur Street. Laugavegur Street is one of the city’s main thorough fares and a great place to get your bearings.
But on top of that you can see some amazing street art. This street is very colorful and has some great art that will fascinate children of all ages.
The Sun Voyager
One of the best free things to do in Iceland is to head for a walk along the Reykjavik seafront. And one highlight of the waterfront walk is seeing Iceland’s most famous sculpture – Solfrar in Iceland or the Sun Voyager in English.
This metal sculpture resembles a viking boat and makes a great photo with the beautiful snow capped mountains in the distance across the water.
I recommend coming here early if you want to take photos as this is one of the most popular photo spots in Reykjavik.
And if you do get a photo here be sure to check out our favorite Iceland Instagram captions.
Hallsgrimkirkja is Iceland’s most famous building. This is the main church in Reykjavik and stands overlooking the city.
It’s hillside position means that the top of the tower gives you some of the best views of the city. If you plan to head up the tower we recommend heading there early as there can be queues for this.
There is an elevator that will take you up the tower but capacity is low and the journey can be slow. However once at the top you will be rewarded with a great view of the city and on a clear day can see out to the glaciers in the distance.
The church itself is quite a brutal looking building and is said to resemble the basalt columns such as those that you find on the black sand beaches of Iceland such as the one in Vik.
In front of the church there is also a statue of Leifur Eiriksson. For those that don’t know, Leifur Eiriksson is now believed to be the first European to have discovered the Americas and is thought to have done so around 500 years before Columbus and is another great photo point in the city.
Reykjavik City Museum
There are lots of amazing museums in Reykjavik but if you are looking for a good one with older children we recommend heading to the Reykjavik City Museum to see the Settlement Exhibition.
This is a great museum especially for kids who love Vikings. There is also an Open Air Museum section of this museum which is great for those visiting Reykjavik in Summer.
Whales of Iceland Exhibit
Another great educational exhibit for kids in Reykjavik is the Whales of Iceland Exhibit. This museum is centrally located and will take children on a voyage of discovery about the whales found in the waters of Iceland through hand on and interactive learning.
There are over 20 whale models in the exhibit with the largest being of the Blue Whale which is over 25 metres long!
For children under 7, admission is free.
Perlan is another fantastic Reykjavik Museum. It is a very interactive exhibit and will teach adults and children alike about the natural history of Iceland.
There are exhibits on geothermal energy and volcanoes and the museum utilises augmented reality and virtual reality to create an aquarium which all children will love.
There is also an observation deck on the 4th floor which offers spectacular views.
Reykjavik Botanical Gardens
If you are visiting Iceland on a budget and looking for a free thing to do in Reykjavik with kids then you could head to the Reykjavik Botanical Gardens.
We look out for botanical gardens wherever we are traveling, and this is a great one to visit to let kids blow off steam especially if you are visiting Reykjavik with toddlers.
Also next door to this which toddlers will also love is
This is a small zoo and park area which toddlers will love. There are lots of farm animals that kids can get up close to and a large playarea as well as some small fairground rides in summer which toddlers will love.
Harpa Opera House
Although the most famous building in Iceland is it’s cathedral, the second most popular has to be the Harpa Opera House. This is a glitter glass buidling located on the Reykjavik waterfront.
If Opera isn’t your family’s thing, not to worry it is still worth taking in the building. It is an architectural marvel that is made up os a series of hexagonal panels that sparkle and shine in the light.
You can also take a guided tour of this amazing theatre, however this is only suitable for older children and not really suitable if you are visiting Iceland with toddlers.
There are 4 large halls inside and a shop selling beautiful artefacts. You can take a guided tour if you like, which will allow you to see parts of the building that are off limits to the general public. In the summer months tours go pretty much every hour between 10am and 5pm and cost 1500 ISK per adult (kids under 16 go free).
And if you are lucky then you will also be able to catch one of the many children’s concerts they hold throughout the year. Be sure to check the website before your visit to see if you are lucky.
Wherever we travel we kids we always prioritise wildlife sightings and Reykjavik is no different.
There are a number of different tour companies operating out of Reykjavik Harbour and is a great addition to a family Iceland itinerary.
If you are lucky you can see:
- Minke Whales,
and even dolphins.
However this is a seasonal activity so be sure to check the schedule before travel if this is top of your Iceland bucket list.
If you are traveling with toddlers to Reykjavik then we recommend taking a large boat. However, if you have teenagers or children over the age of 10 years of age then you could consider taking a rib boat. This adds a bit more adrenaline to the excursion but only usually runs from April to October as good weather is needed.
Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach
There are lots of great beaches around Iceland but one in Reykjavik is Nautholsvik geothermal beach. This is a man made beach in central Reykjavik which also is home to a lagoon which is heated by pumping hot geothermal water into the lagoon.
This is by no means as fancy as the Blue Lagoon but it is a great cheap thing to do if you are on a budget.
Day Trips From Reykjavik with Kids
Depending on the time of year you are visiting Reykjavik with kids will depend whether the best idea is to start and end your vacation in the capital or if it is better to base yourself out of it for the whole trip. and do some day trips.
If you do decide to base yourself out of Reykjavik and do day trip our favorites are:
The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is perhaps the most famous day trip to take from Reykjavik. The Golden circle is the place to see some of the best waterfalls and geysers in Iceland.
You can either do a self drive day trip and if not there are lots of excursions which will take in the main Golden Circle sights.
Another popular day trip from Reykjavik is the Blue Lagoon. Many people mistakenly believe the blue lagoon is in Reykjavik but it is actually in the nearby town of Keflavik, which is where the main airport for the city is.
The Blue Lagoon is the most well known (and expensive) geothermal spa in all of Iceland but also one of the most convenient to visit.
If you are visiting Iceland with kids the good news is that you can indeed the Blue Lagoon with kids, however if you are visiting Iceland with a toddler then this isn’t allowed until children are above the age of 2 years old.
Horse Back Riding
Icelandic horses are some of the most beautiful horses in the world and for my horse mad daughter horse riding in Iceland is at the top of her bucket list.
Though there aren’t any stables in central Reykjavik there are lots of stables that are in a short driving distance from the city.
And if you don’t have access to a car there are many excursions that offer transfers from your Reykjavik accomodation.
Vik is probably about as far as I would want to go on a day trip from Reykjavik given the time it takes to get there. However if you do go on this long day trip there are so many amazing things you will see on the journey from waterfalls such as my favorite Skogafoss, the black sand beach at Vik, the plane wreck on the beach and of course the Strokkur Geyser.
Snaefellsness peninsula is another really popular day trip from Iceland and take you a bit more off the beaten path.
The Snaefellsness peninsula is located on West Iceland and is basically Iceland in miniature as you can see a bit of everything Iceland is famous for such as beaches, glaciers, waterfalls, wildlife and more.
FAQS About Visiting Reykjavik with kids
What to eat in ICeland with kids
You have probably heard that food in Iceland is expensive and that food is one of the big costs in your Iceland budget.
However if you are visiting Iceland with kids then you can not leave without sampling the famous Iceland hot dogs. Not only are these an institution for your bucket list but they are also some of the best value foods to eat in Reykjavik.
Is Reykjavik good for children?
We absolutely love visiting Iceland with kids and although Iceland is more famous natural sights we still think Reykjavik is great with kids.
There are lots of free things to do for families on budgets as well as some amazing museums. We recommend spending at least one night in the capital on any visit to Iceland.
Can you see the Northern Lights in Reykjavik with kids?
One of the things about the northern lights is that you need to have the right conditions.
The first thing is the weather, i.e. a clear night but you also need dark conditions sometimes known as dark skies.
Reykjavik generally is too bright for the lights to be seen in the capital city but it isn’t unheard of.
However if you want to try and see the Northern Lights from Reykjavik we recommend staying in a hotel with a northern lights alarm to help increase your chances.
Otherwise you can do a trip out to try and catch a glimpse but this might be too cold for smaller children to enjoy.
What is the best thing to do Reykjavik with toddlers?
If you are visiting Reykjavik with toddlers there are plenty of things to do. Although you can’t do the Blue Lagoon with children until they are over 2 years old there are still lots they will enjoy including the Church, The Zoo and a walk along the seafront. And a Golden Circle Tour is great with kids of any age including toddlers.
Have you visited Reykjavik with kids? We’d love to know what your favorite things to do were in the comments below!
And before you go why not check out our other Iceland travel guides: