You are going to Iceland with your kids and the excitement is mixed with uncertainty. What are things to see in Iceland with kids? Does the weather play a trick on us? What is the best way to travel in Iceland with kids, and what should you know before traveling?
Iceland with kids – 5 things to remember?
Traveling to Iceland with kids can be successful, indeed, it can be an adventure of our life, if we take into account a few most important factors.
1) Weather in Iceland
There is one certainty on the island – the weather changes like in a kaleidoscope. Are you afraid it will rain? Sure it will. That it will blow hard? Will certainly be. When traveling with a child in Iceland, you must have clothes that will allow you to enjoy the trip even in such conditions. As they say, there is no bad weather, there are only badly dressed people, so maybe it is worth thinking about the fact that a child trekking in wet shoes will not necessarily be bursting with joy.
Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world. If the weather does not hurt you (see previous point), then people (or the ubiquitous sheep) will not.
3) Accessibility of tourist attractions
You drive along the road, get out of the car, walk a few steps … and reach a waterfall or hot springs, which you would expect rather in the wilderness than here, almost next to the parking lot? Anyone who has seen pictures of Icelandic waterfalls or thermal pools on the Internet may think that they are located in quite remote places. Some – yes, but many of them lie right on the road and are surprisingly accessible to all motorists. Therefore, if we have a car, in Iceland with a child it will not be as difficult for us as some people try to convince us.
4) Planning a trip
If, instead of living in one city and visiting its surroundings, we want to travel intensively and get to know different parts of Iceland (definitely worth it!), Remember about the long distances between towns. It’s a good idea to plan the next day or two and make sure we have the necessary supplies of food, fuel or other necessary things. It may turn out that in the larger town where we are at the moment, we will get them, but on the way we will not have anywhere to buy them.
While most of Iceland’s best attractions, such as waterfalls or geothermal pools, are free of charge, the stay itself (accommodation, shopping, fuel, food in restaurants or admission to cultural institutions) can cost you a lot. If we do not have a large sum at our disposal during the trip, let’s consider in advance how to reasonably distribute these costs.
Things to see in Iceland with kids
Iceland is like one big playground, full of free attractions to stimulate your imagination and discover your love for nature. But which ones really shouldn’t be missed?
Seljalandsfoss, Gulffoss, Svartifoss and other waterfalls
There is little where we can see waterfalls so powerful, and at the same time providing additional impressions, other than just a nice view. Seljalandsfoss in the south is famous for the fact that we can enter the path behind the mighty curtain of water. Right next to it, there is Gljúfrabúi – talk about hiding, because you can reach it only by sneaking between the rocks and walking along the brook (not everyone knows about it anyway). 30 km from Seljalandsfoss is Skógafoss – another spectacular waterfall with a nice surprise, which is the beautiful Fimmvorduhals walking trail starting right next to it.
Take a few dozen steps with your kids and take a short walk along the Skóga River, which then flows down the mighty Skógafoss cascade – the stream meandering along the canyon and the typically Icelandic moss-covered landscape will impress you. Of course, there is also Gullfoss with the nearby Slakki Small Animal Zoo and absolutely unique because it flows down the black, basalt columns of Svartifoss in the Skaftafel National Park.
Reynisfjara, Breiðamerkursandur and other beautiful beaches
In the south there is also Iceland’s famous Reyjnisfiara black beach, which looks as if someone crushed hundreds of kilograms of coal above it and then scattered them along the coast. In addition, there are two caves and basalt poles that serve as large natural climbing walls for kids. Good news? There are more such black beaches in Iceland. It is also worth seeing such gems as the diamond beach of Breiðamerkursandur by the Glacier Lagoon, the red beach of Rauðasandur very close to Keflavik or the beaches of Sandvík and Búðir near Reykjavik. It will be a really interesting attraction for children who are used to fine, light brown sand.
Lagoons Jökulsárlón and Fjallsárlón
On the list of the most interesting attractions for kids in Iceland, meeting the icebergs in the Jökulsárlón and Fjallsárlón lagoons is very high. We have already written about the fact that the local beach is impressive. But the very sight of huge, melting ice lumps against the background of Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe, remains in your memory for a long time. In addition to admiring this unusual sight, children can look for seals swimming in the icy waters or learn the art of photography trying to capture their parents against this unique landscape.
Golden Circle – geysers and other attractions
About an hour and a half by car from Reykjavík, there is a very interesting area, which will again provide us with attractions very characteristic of this country. Above all, in the Haukadalur Valley, two of the only active geysers in Europe await us – Geysir and Iceland’s largest Strokkur, and plenty of other bubbling thermal springs to help understand why Iceland is called the land of ice and fire. In addition, there are also, among others, in the area the mighty waterfall Gullfoss, the azure lake of the Kerið volcano crater and the UNESCO-listed Þingvellir National Park. Children will have a truly unusual experience while waiting for the geyser to erupt and then watching the water bubbling, lazily creating a large bubble that bursts a moment later and throws water up to 30 meters high into the sky.
Hot springs – a bath like no other
A swimming pool overlooking the fjord or mountain valley, a pond for two people, or maybe … a hot river? The hot springs in Iceland will make the word “bath” take on a different meaning. There are many places in Iceland where we can experience this with kids. The most interesting? Very close to the capital, it is worth checking out the hot river in the Reykjadalur valley near the town of Hveragerði. An hour-long trekking separates us from the place where we can jump into the river and feel the warmth spreading throughout the body.
Another famous place is the Seljavallalaug swimming pool in a beautiful mountain valley – here, too, a short walk in beautiful natural surroundings is enough to take a bath in warm water. Thermal pools in the area of the Westfjords are another must see. They are unique in that they are located almost next to the road, and guarantee unique views of the fjords. We recommend here, for example, the Birkimelur and Hellulaug ponds almost right next to the fjord’s water, the large Reykjafjarðarlaug swimming pool or the slightly smaller Pollurinn, or the ponds near the very spectacular Gerðuberg Cliffs, maybe slightly less popular than those mentioned earlier. If you are wondering where to go with your child in Iceland, be sure to include these places and a hot spring bath on your list.
North Atlantic symbol. Easiest to catch in Iceland between mid-May and mid-August. They are especially fond of the basalt cliffs of Reynisfjara and Dyrholaey, but also the island of Heimaey. They also often appear in the charming town of Vik in the south of Iceland, which you will probably get to anyway by visiting the most popular waterfalls of the south.
Although there are fewer of them than sheep, when traveling around Iceland, we have the impression that they are everywhere. They graze along the roads, are exceptionally beautiful and unique in their race. Once exported from Iceland, they cannot return there due to Icelandic law prohibiting their importation to the island. Meeting with them will be special for kids.
Whales – a cruise in search of large mammals
Akureyri and Húsavík, two port towns in the north of Iceland, are a great base for cruises where you can see whales up close in their natural habitat. In turn, the nearby Mývatn, the land of geothermal pools, cosmic volcanic landscapes and Mývatn Nature Baths – alternatives to the famous, often overcrowded and much more expensive Blue Lagoon, is a great starting point for getting to know this part of the country.
Icelanders love swimming pools. Although, as mentioned, they are lucky enough to use hot springs, there is a swimming pool in almost every city. Best Children’s Pools in Iceland? Lágafellslaug in Mosfellsbær has a very good reputation, and no wonder, because there are many water attractions waiting for children there. Popular and liked by families with children is also Sundlaug in Kópavogur and Laugardalslaug, located near the only campground in Reykjavik.
Traveling to Iceland with a child does not necessarily mean staying away from cultural institutions. This country has a lot of interesting things to say on this point as well, even if we consider Reykjavik itself. Museums worth visiting with a child include Árbæjarsafn open-air museum with historical houses covered with grass, which will show us how the inhabitants of Reykjavik used to live, the exhibition Reykjavík 871 +/- 2 presenting the history of the first Icelandic settlers, the exhibition Tales of Iceland with 4-year-long films about life on the island or the multimedia Center of Northern Lights. It is also worth visiting the National Museum, the Whale Museum or the Vikin Sea Museum.
Capital Reykjavik with kids
Those who have visited Iceland, as a rule, think that its capital is worth visiting, but there is definitely no point in staying there for a long time. If we do the same and we want to see the most interesting places of Reykjavik with our kids in a short time, we won’t have to think long. While walking around the city and the main street with Laugavegur pubs and restaurants, it is worth seeing the city panorama from the Hallgrímskirkja church tower, the Harpa concert hall in a modern, glass building, which is a showcase of Reykjavik.
There is also an interesting attraction in the city, near Reykjavik University – the golden beach of Nauthólsvík. It is here, on hot days, where you can bathe in the bay where warm thermal waters mix with those of the ocean, but those who are thirsty for heat can bask in hot tubs with hot springs. In addition to the museums that we have already mentioned, it is also worth adding the Adrenalin Reykjavik rope park, the Smáratívolí entertainment center with trampolines, games and activities or the Family Park and Zoo with Icelandic animals to your list of attractions.