Friday, 13 March 2015

Visiting Iceland with children

Iceland is a superb family holiday destination because all the things that make it merely unique and special to you will make it an amazing world of adventure for your kids.

Most of the Iceland holiday highlights mentioned elsewhere on this website are very much suitable for children of all ages; the main exception to that rule being the kicking Reykjavík nightlife scene.

Visiting Iceland with children

As you can see in our article on childhood in Iceland, kids pretty much rule the country and enjoy an amazing level of freedom. But living somewhere and visiting there on holiday are two very different things; so here is a random, unscientifically compiled selection of our highlights for children visiting Iceland:

1. Head up to Perlan in Reykjavík, with its spaceship-like dome and incredible water fountain inside. The kids will especially enjoy the manmade geyser outside and they will be chuffed to discover the obstacle course hidden in the forest.

Visiting Iceland with children

It is more of a collection of old wooden exercise equipment for adults than it is a specially-designed children’s playground. But that doesn’t stop it being a fun diversion. You can walk from Perlan, through the forest and down to Nauthólsvík:

2. Nauthólsvík is Reykjavík’s geothermal beach and it is the perfect place to take kids on a nice day. The water is toasty warm and the sands are golden. There is also an ice cream shop, showers and changing rooms. And talking of beaches, we would highly recommend some beach combing around many of Iceland’s beaches. Children love finding unusual stones, sea glass and odd creatures and plants!

Visiting Iceland with children

3. Skemmtigarðurinn is the name of a company running two ‘theme parks’ near Reykjavík. One is indoors and the other outdoors. This being Iceland, they don’t have any rollercoasters so to speak; but they are both geared up to keeping families entertained. Read more about them here.

Visiting Iceland with children

4. Most towns and villages across the country have children’s playgrounds for residents and visitors alike. But two that particularly stand out for mention here are the hand-built Bjössaróló park in Borgarnes and the high adrenaline family garden, Raggagarður in the Westfjords village of Súðavík.

Visiting Iceland with children

5. As above, most towns and villages also have swimming pools which are an unrivalled place to relax, play and exercise for people of all ages and eternally popular with families. A few of our favourites for those travelling with children include the biggest pool in Reykjavík at Laugardalur, and the suburban haven with commanding views of the city over in Árbær. Away from the city, your children will love the pools in Akureyri and Neskaupstaður. All of the above have fun things like water slides and toys. For the record, lots of other pools not mentioned here also have excellent slides.

Visiting Iceland with children

6. While at Laugardalur, be sure to explore the park itself. Here you’ll find not only adventurous play opportunities, but also Iceland’s only zoo. Well, we call it a zoo – but you’ll probably consider it more of a farm park than anything else. There are no giraffes or lions; but there are reindeer and seals. It tends to be a real hit with everyone – especially if you get to feed the animals.

Visiting Iceland with children

7. Horse riding is clearly not suitable for young children. However, Iceland’s strong, small and steady breed of horse makes it an ideal place for that first-time equestrian adventure a kid will remember for life. Iceland has lots of riding stables staffed by experienced and enthusiastic experts, so give it some serious consideration.

Visiting Iceland with children

8. As mentioned above, Iceland’s rugged scenery and natural wonders are no less inspiring for children than adults; but you can really go out of your way to blur the lines between reality and fantasy by taking a duck boat tour at the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Drifting among icebergs and playful seals in an amphibious boat is a genuine-fake Arctic experience and will be sure to bring the North Pole from books and fairy tales to life in unforgettable fashion.

Visiting Iceland with children

9. On the cheaper front, a visit to central Reykjavík’s Tjörnin pond is a surprisingly rewarding experience for four reasons: feeding the ducks, geese, swans, pigeons, starlings, seagulls and terns is a more intense experience than most places due to their large numbers and tameness. Then you will notice Reykjavík’s modernist city hall and the interesting things inside. The pond is surrounded by pleasant parkland, and finally there is a small adventure playground and climbing net at the far end.

Visiting Iceland with children

10. Finally you’ll be wanting to take a trip out to the capital region municipality of Mosfellsbær. There are many good reasons to do this (including the pool, the Laxness museum, the walking trails and farmers market); but for this article we are only concentrating of the two children’s adventure parks on offer. One is a nature park, and the other is a Viking park. Enjoy!

Visiting Iceland with children

Peter & Berglind Rós
Iceland24 2015


  1. Hi!

    I'm pouring over all of your information in this great blog thank you!

    I'm having a really difficult time trying to decide what I should do with my 8 nights in Late May in Iceland.

    I have a cheap place booked in Reykjavik for those 8 nights, and will have a rental car. But I want to see so much of the things I read about (outside of Reykjavik) that I'm not sure what's possible. I'm willing to spend a night or two somewhere else if that means I can see more things.

    Do you think anything besides the South (as far Jökulsárlón) is feasible when based in Reykjavik? (keeping in mind that I can spend a night or two outside of the city). The south seems super doable but that is only 1, maybe 2 days worth of activities.

    You seem so knowledgeable, hopefully you can help me :) I'm looking everywhere but it's really hard to find this information.

    Please let me know if you're available via email or IM to discuss this further or I'll take any tidbits of knowledge you can throw my way here! Thanks for any help!

  2. Hello,

    If you have 8 nights, I would recommend you this itinerary:

    Day 1: Arrival in Keflavík - Reykjavík (tunnel) or trough Hvalfjördur – Glymur – Borgarnes – Landnámssetrið – Hraunfossar – Sleep at Borgarnes area.

    Day 2: Ytri-tunga – Arnastapi - Hellnar (nice trekking here) – Lóndrangar – Djúpalónssandur – Ólafsvík, Kirkufellsfoss – Bjarnahöfn (eat Hákarl) – Stykkishólmur – Sleep at Hvammastangi or Blönduós.

    Day 3: Blönduós (church) – Glaumbaer (museum) – Hófsos – Öxnadalur – Akureyri (church, botanic garden & christmas house) – Godafoss – Dimmuborgir – Sleep at Mývatn (night bath at Mývatn jarðböð).

    Day 4: Mývatn – Skútustaðir – Námafjall ( Hverir) – Husavík (Whale Watching) – Ásbyrgi – Dettifoss – Krafla – Sleep at Mývatn.

    Day 5: Mývatn – Möðrudalur – Egilsstaðir – Lagarfljót – Hengifoss – Sleep at Höfn.

    Day 6: Höfn – Vatnajökull Region –Jökursárlon – Skaftafell ( Sjónarnipa, Svartifoss) – Sleep at Vík.

    Day 7: Reynisfjara – Dyrhólaey – Seljavallalaug – Skógafoss – Seljalandsfoss – Golden Circle – Sleep at Reykjavík.

    Day 8: Reykjanes peninsula – Krísuvík – Blue Lagoon – Reykjavík.


    That is my answer, I would never stay 8 nights in Reykjavík!

  3. Wow that is awesome thank you! I'm going to keep referring back to this for the places you mentioned. :)

    Sorry to keep bothering you :( But now I am strongly considering canceling my Reykjavik reservation and just renting a motor home as you suggested in an earlier post.

    The current plan is that I would drive straight to Reykjavik on my first day and spend about 5 hours there, then leave for the ring road at about 5PM on May 26th. Then on June 1st I would return my motorhome at 5pm. This would be five full days and two half days for the ring road. (7 hours on May 26th, and 17 hours on June 1st). All my research says that 5 days is doable but not recommend. But since I do technically have 24 hours of extra time. do you think that I can have an enjoyable experience in this time frame? I just don't know if I'll ever be able to go back to Iceland, and everything I see indicates that the ring road experience is something that I'd rather do.

    Sorry for the block of text! I do have one more direct question, if you don't mind. In your write up on motorhomes and campers you mention several companies. I would like to rent from 'Motorhome Iceland', but I can't find any reviews on the internet for it.

    Maybe I'm being paranoid but they list the same physical address as, and both companies registered their websites within a couple months of each other and each are hosted by the same domain company.

    Not having any reviews out there really makes me hesitant about

    Thanks for any advice you can give me on this!

  4. Hello,

    - I will really use all your days for the trip around Iceland... It is important not to do it with stress!
    - I know Motorhome Iceland, it is a big company who operates them and they are 100% secure to work with...


  5. Hi -- we're planning on visiting Iceland in February (17-22) and we'll be travelling with a three year old. Most articles tend to focus on visits in the summer -- what activities/itinerary would you be able to suggest for a visit during the Winter? We basically arrive early in the afternoon on the 17th, then have four full days and nights and then leave in the early evening on the 22nd. We'd love to visit an ice cave -- is there any possible way that we would be able to do so? Most tours I've come across require a minimum of 8+ years although I've read articles about families travelling with small children mentioning that they visited ice caves. We're really looking forward to our trip and any help or information would be much appreciated. Thank you! :)

  6. It is going to be difficult to visit the Ice Cave in February... I would recommend you to check our suggested itineraries and "copy" the one you like more...

  7. Hi David
    We have 8 full days to spend in early May. I have looked at your suggested itinerary and it seems very attractive. My only fear is it would mean too much driving.
    Will all the roads for the suggested itinerary be open in early May? Is it advisable to pre-arrange accommodation or is there ample space to book on the spot?
    Many thanks,

    1. It is quite a lot driving to be honest but you can always add an extra day so it will make things a bit easier... I recommend you to pre-book your accommodation!

  8. Many thanks for your reply, David. Unfortunately, we will not be able to add an extra day, as we will have to get back home. We are considering staying in the South-West only.