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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Peter & Berglind Rós Iceland24 2015