Heading to Iceland with kids? You’re in the right place. Iceland is a fantastic place to visit as a family. With tourism based around nature, exploring Iceland is all about spending time outdoors and appreciating an otherworldly beauty that can’t be found anywhere else.
Now, I’ll be honest – my oldest daughter turned 7 during our trip to Iceland, and it wasn’t her favourite trip, for a few reasons:
- There were a lot of long car rides
- She enjoyed the beautiful landscapes, but wasn’t as captivated as we were. (A kid can only see so many waterfalls before it seems repetitive)
We were travelling with my mom, and my brother, so our trip to Iceland wasn’t as kid-friendly as I’d recommend. I still believe that Iceland really is a great place to bring kids of any age, with a few modifications and things to keep in mind. The natural beauty is stunning and otherworldly. If you love natural beauty, then you’ll certainly want to put Iceland on your list with your kids.
So I’m going to share with you the things to do to plan the most fulfilling, breathtaking and memorable trip to Iceland for both you and your kids.
So, let’s jump in – tips and things to do in Iceland with kids!
3 Tips for Travelling to Iceland with Kids
Here are 3 tips for having the most successful trip to Ireland with your kids that is fun for them, but also fulfilling for you
1. Plan your itinerary so there isn’t too much driving in one day
After reading this article and having an idea of what you want to do, make sure you have an idea of driving distances so that you can minimize round trips. Here is a sample order of how you might be structuring your trip to Iceland.
- Reykjavik – 3 days (city centre with museums, Golden Circle, horseback riding tour, etc)
- Vik – 3 days (Black Sands Beach, waterfalls nearby, Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon and Glacier Lagoon)
2. Book accommodations with space to move around, and ideally, a kitchen
If you’re spending a lot of time on the road, then neither you or your kids want to be cramped in a small hotel room. Being all stuck in the same hotel room doesn’t give you or your children a lot of space, it can also be challenging sometimes sharing a sleeping area with kids.
I recommend staying in places that have an outdoor area where they can play (bonus if there’s a playground!) and even a kitchen, so you can save money by cooking some of your own meals. One of our favourite places that we stayed in Iceland at was Hellisholar Cottages. The cottages are about halfway between Reyjavik and Vik so they are good rest after finishing off in one place and heading to another. They have large grounds, a kid’s playground, and they’re also close to the Gullfloss waterfall.
Pro Tip: Staying in Iceland accommodations that have a small kitchen is also a great way to save money, since Iceland isn’t the cheapest destination. Read more of my family travel budget tips for Iceland and other destinations
3. Keep in mind that there are not a lot of ‘danger’ signs
There are waterfalls, canyons, and beaches, and cliffs. Iceland is stunning. Keep in mind that the Icelandics don’t put a million ‘CAUTION’ signs like some of us are used to, especially in North America. Just because you don’t see signs, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t watch your step, keep an eye on children and be cautious.
The Icelandics have done their best to maintain the natural beauty and keep it looking natural. Wear decent shoes for walking, and assess the terrain before plunging in.
9 Best Things to Do in Iceland with Kids
Here are the best things to do in Iceland with kids
1. Relax in a a geothermal bath
Geothermal baths are one of the many natural phenomenas that exists in Iceland. Some of the best geothermal baths in Iceland to visit with kids are:
- Blue Lagoon, near the Reyjavik airport. (Go before, or after your flight – I recommend after, when you arrive in Iceland.) The minimum age is 2 years old, and children under 13 are free of charge.
- Laugardalslaug – kids of all ages are allowed, and under 5s are free. Its not a ‘natural’ setting, but it is an outdoor pool located just outside the Reykjavik city centre
- Secret Lagoon, located in Flúðir (90 minute drive east of Reykjavik)- kids of any age are allowed
2. Watch a geyser shoot out of the ground
Geyser’s are an exciting natural phenomena. The best place to see a geyser is the “Geysir” which is the geyser of all geysers which you can find on the Golden Circle. Its very predictable, with water shooting out every 15 minutes or so.
The Geysir is about an hour and a half drive from Reyjkavik. Aside from the Geysir, the other two things to do on the Golden Circle are the Gulfloss Waterfall, and the Thingvellir National Park. You could see everything in the Golden Circle with kids in about 1 day.
I recommend this kid-friendly day tour from Reyjavik to see all three attractions on the Golden Circle, including the Geysir
3. Hike a Glacier
There are a number of glacier hikes in Iceland. Its an opportunity to show children something they likely haven’t seen before, teach them about global warming and looking after our planet, as well get some breathtaking, otherworldly looking photos.
Not all of the glacier tours in Iceland are kid friendly, but the ones that are are only available to older children. (The one we did actually, was only for 10+ but they didn’t say anything when my 7 year old showed up!)
Glaciers can only be visited with a guide, and you need to wear special equipment – helmet and special boots, or at least crampons. Guides visit the glacier regularly and know what the conditions and safest way to visit for the day would be.
Try this 3-hour kid-friendly tour for ages 8+ in a small group.
4. Meet Icelandic Horses
Icelandic horses are a unique breed to Iceland. They’re the only type of horse thats allowed to live in Iceland, as the country doesn’t allow other breeds to move in. (And yes, they’re considered horses even though they’re closer to the size of a pony.)
During our road trip, we stopped along the side of the road whenever we saw these gorgeous Icelandic horses to allow my daughter to pet them. This is not what we’d recommend.
I found out after the fact that stopping along the road in Iceland to meet the horses isn’t the safest thing to do, for a few reasons. For one, farmers don’t want strangers constantly stopping to touch their animals. Also, many of the roads are only one lane, so pulling over is a hazard.
There are two much safer and fun options to spend some time with these adorable horses:
- Book an Icelandic horseback riding tour, such as this one out of Reyjavik for children 7+ years old.
- For children 2+ years old, there is a “Date the Icelandic Horse” experience offered by Hestasport
5. Explore waterfalls
There are so many beautiful waterfalls in Iceland that your kids may get sick of seeing them. Most waterfalls have a parking lot that is quite close to the falls area, so you don’t have to walk too far. Some of them have wooden viewing decks and rails going around the falls.
Some of the best waterfalls in Iceland you will definitely not want to miss are Skogafoss and Seljandsfoss (pictured above.) Both of these are located 30-45 minutes west of Vik, and are the most popular waterfalls for tourists in Iceland (but for a good reason – they’re both incredible.)
Both Selkandsfoss and Skogafoss are located close to the car parks, and are safe to visit with kids. (I wouldn’t recommend a stroller at Seljandsfoss however.)
For the details on visiting more of the most captivating waterfalls in the country, read my post on the Best Waterfalls in Iceland.
6. Visit the ‘yoda cave’
Any kids familiar with Yoda, or parents who are Star Wars fans will get a kick out of this cave which is almost perfectly shaped like Yoda that its hard to believe it isn’t man-made. The cave was almost undiscovered until Rogue 1 was filmed in Iceland. This cave was made of volcanic eruptions during an ice age. It doens’t just look cool – its quite an impressive piece of natural phenomena.
The official name of the Yoda cave is “Hjörleifshöfði” cave. Its located only about 20 minutes outside of Vik. You are going off the beaten track, quite literally and at first it will look like you’re driving into the middle of nowhere.
7. Spend some time in Reyjavik
I wouldn’t recommend staying in Reyjavik, but it is worth it to give yourself 1-2 days to explore here. What we did, is we stayed close to the Golden Circle. It was just a short 1-hour drive into Reyjavik, so we were still able to take advantage of many of the attractions.
Here are the attractions I’d recommend visiting in Reykjavik with Kids
- The Whale Museum (pictured above) filled with life-size states of whales and learning exhibits
- The settlers museum – learn about the Vikings, and their early settlements in Iceland
- Perlin museum– Meet the Northern Lights, step into a fake Ice Cave and learn about protecting the planet
- Stroll through old town; there are many souvenir shops, places to eat and stroller-friendly walks
8. Grab a hot chocolate, and take a walk at Black Sand Beach
Blacksand Beach is a must-visit destination in Iceland. Its popular, but you’ll see why. It has the most otherworldly feel. Walk from Black Sand Beach over to the Reynisdrangar Cliffs. The stacks are quite busy, and there is a visitor centre nearby with washroom, selling snacks, such as hotdogs. It is quite pricy.
Of course, be careful with small children near the cliffs (which look more like stacks.) They will naturally want to climb these stacks, as its almost a giant nature-made play structure. Of course just caution that they don’t go too high on the columns or lose control. You can get some nice family pictures here.
9. See the Northern Lights
Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland with kids will be fascinating and memorable, especially for older kids!
The best times to see the Northern Lights in Iceland are in the winter months (November through February) but its possible to see them anytime between September and April. The summer months are possible, just much less likely than other times of the year.
Pro Tip: Check out the kid-friendly exhibit at Perlin in Reykjavik about Aurora Borealis. You will ‘see’ them there too
Iceland with Kids: FAQs
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about travelling to Iceland with kids
Is Iceland a good place to visit with children?
Iceland is a great place to visit with kids. For one, its one of the safest countries in the world. Two, most of the attractions involve discovering the natural world, or learning about it in interactive exhibits – this is highly educational, and fascinating for children. Iceland is also very child friendly, with a lot of amenities for babies and toddlers everywhere around the country.
How many days do you need in Iceland for kids?
To see almost everything in Iceland with kids, you should give yourself about one week. This gives you enough time to see all the highlights, and be able to take in the natural beauty without being rushed.
Can kids go to the Blue Lagoon?
Kids can absolutely visit the Blue Lagoon, but they need to be at least 2 years old. There are other geothermal baths in Iceland with no age limit, but the Blue Lagoon is conveniently located, being right next to the airport. Keep in mind, children under 13 are free at the Blue Lagoon, and kids 8 and younger must wear floaties.
Iceland with Kids: Final Thoughts
Natural beauty is one of the biggest draws to Iceland, but its also something that young children may not appreciate as much as we do. Make sure that during the trip to Iceland with kids, you’re finding things to do that relate to what they’re interested in, and they’ll be more likely to engage with the other things they might not find as interesting at this age.
With that in mind, I hope that my list of the most fun child-friendly things to do in Iceland and tips for having the most amazing trip there with young travellers helps your family to have the most amazing time. You won’t see any other country like Iceland anywhere, and it is still one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.