Looking for things to do in Reykjavik with kids? You’re in the right place. Iceland is a safe and beautiful destination for a family destination, and Reykjavik should be on your list as apart of your trip. Its a small city with a lot of really neat things to do with kids as a family.
My 7-year old daughter’s favourite moments during our week in Iceland was the time we spent in Reykjavik because of the fascinating things she saw, and learned.
While the rest of Iceland is full of natural beauty; volcanoes, geysers, waterfalls, cliffside mountains on the ocean – Reykjavik has a lot of interactive activities that kids can get truly engaged with. So, I would highly recommend adding a couple of days in Reykjavik to your Iceland itinerary.
I’d recommend spending time in Reyjavik to any tourist while on their trip to Iceland, but especially for tourists visiting Iceland with kids. Whether you’re travelling with a baby, toddler, school age child or teenager, there’s plenty in Reykjavik that will have them engaged.
So, let’s jump in – your complete guide to Reykjavik with kids!
What You Need to Know About Reykjavik
- Reykjavik is a small city of about 140,000 as of 2023, and about 60% of Iceland’s population lives in Reykjavik. So in terms of cities, its actually quite small!
- Reykjavik is very safe, with a low crime rate
- Downtown Reykjavik is very walkable, mostly flat and stroller-friendly which is great if you’re there with young kids
- There are some fantastic museums, and some natural-beauty related activities to do as a family in Reykjavik
- Reykjavik is a short drive to some very scenic sights that are about an hour away (such as the Golden Circle, and several waterfalls along the Ring Road)
Things to Do in Reykjavik with Kids
Here are the best things to in Reyjavik as a family that are fun and engaging for kids, but also adults too
1. Visit the Whale Museum
Whales of Iceland museum in Reykjavik is the largest whale museum in Europe, and allows you to see live-size whale statues and get a true perspective of how big these majestic creatures are compared to humans.
You can get up close and take photos with the whales, and there are exhibits that allow you to learn more about the whales, including an interesting video showing you how they move and interact in the wild.
Give your family at least two hours to walk around examining the different whales. There is also a play structure for young kids to climb and burn off a bit of energy. The museum is all on one floor, so its completely stroller friendly and suitable for kids of all ages.
Whales of Iceland is open daily from 10 am – 5pm and is located on the north harbour, which is just a short 15-minute walk from downtown Reykjavik. Advanced tickets are recommended, especially if you’re in Iceland during high season in the summer months.
Grab your advance tickets to Whales of Iceland here for your preferred dates
2. Learn about Rekjavik’s history at the Settler’s Exhibition
The Settler’s Exhibition in Reykjavik was created by the Rekjavik City Museum, and allows you to see the history of Reykjavik dating back to the year 800 through a variety of visual and interactive exhibits. The exhibition is based on the archaeological excavation where they found ruins of the first ever house in Reykjavik.
Since the museum is very visual, it’s interesting for kids to look at and learn from. My 7-year old daughter was interested in looking at what the city we are in once looked like many years ago. In addition, there’s a play area for kids in the museum at the end, as well as a gift shop where you can find some interesting souvenirs.
Many of the souvenirs have the ancient alphabet, Runic writing, on them – such as bookmarks, notebooks, and even some books that will teach you about the Runes. It’s fascinating to think of how long Iceland has been inhabited.
The Settler’s Exhibition is located right outside of Old Town, so you can easily walk there if you’re exploring the city centre. There are a few public parking areas just down the street.
Book your skip-the-line to the Setter’s Exhibition here
3. Go birdwatching at the Tjörnin
Tjörnin (meaning “pond” in Icelandic) is a small lake in the centre of Reykjavik, next to the Reykjavik City Hall and the National Museum of Iceland. Referred to by locals as “The Biggest Bread Soup in the World” the Tjörnin is a body of water that formed naturally in 800 AD.
Today, several species of birds can be found at the Tjörnin such as swans, geese and ducks. In the winter especially, when the lake is frozen, these birds like to convene at the edges, hoping to be fed by people – so you have a good chance of seeing them upclose.
Getting to the Tjörnin is pretty easy from downtown Reykjavik because it’s accessible from multiple pathways around the lake. There is a circular pathway around the lake where you can walk around, and see many views of the city, and reach several parks. Overall, its a great place to spend an afternoon with the kids.
4. Relax at Hljómskálagarður Park
Hljómskálagarður Park is located right beside the Tjörnin, so you could make an outing out of both of them. Hljómskálagarður Park has green space, some artistic statues and a play structure for kids. From the park, you have some gorgeous views of Reykjavik, as well as the lake. Its a serene setting that gives you some opportunity for peace and quiet, and for the kids to run around and blow off steam.
Hljómskálagarður Park is within easy walking distance of the rest of the city. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the Hallgrímskirkja (Reykjavik’s iconic church) and about 15 minutes from the Settler’s Museum.
5. Walk through Old Town
Spend some time walking through Reykjavik’s Old Town. The Old Town is over 300 years old; although it was settled in 874 CE, its thought to be first be built as a town in the 1700s.
In the Old Town, you’ll find souvenir stores, restaurants (some international cuisines as well as some more traditional Icelandic food), museums and art galleries. Laugavegur, one of the oldest streets in the country and known for its boutique stores.
Fun Fact about Reykjavik Old Town for Kids:
- The Prime Minister’s office is located in Old Town!
- The Old Town of Reykjavik is nicknamed “101”, which is the postal code for the area
6. Witness Icelandic Wonders at the Perlan Museum
If you didn’t get a chance to see puffins, ice caves, glaciers or the Northern Lights during your trip to Iceland- then no worries – this is your chance to have children experience and learn about them through captivating, interactive exhibits!
Perlan Museum of Iceland features a planetarium show for you to witness the Aurora Borealis, a real ice cave in the basement, as well as several really interesting exhibits about Iceland’s climate, wildlife and facts through interactive exhibits.
Of all the things we did in Iceland, the Perlan Museum stood out to my daughter as one of her favourites.
The Perlan museum is very English-friendly, with exhibits and descriptions available in English. Its located just on the outskirts of the city, so the easiest way to get there is by driving or calling an Uber. There is plenty of parking if you bring your own car. Give yourself at least two hours to spend at Perlan, but you will likely need more.
Grab your advance Perlan tickets here for the planitarium show and ice cave
7. Visit the Hallgrímskirkja
The Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran Church is hard to miss in Reykjavik. At 244 feet talk, its one of the city’s most iconic buildings, and a symbol of Iceland’s national identity. Its famous largely for the way it looks (unique to other churches) and construction took 40 years- finishing in 1986 – so the Hallgrímskirkja is not old as far as churches go.
Good to Know: What many people don’t know is that you can climb to the top tower (which can also be accessed via a lift) and get a spectacular view of surrounding Reykjavik. Children under 7 are free of charge. Their website displays their opening hours, events so that you visit at a time where you can go up the tower.
Hallgrímskirkja is located right in Old Town, and you can walk there from anywhere in Old Town. The streets surrounding the church are busy, with a lot of traffic, so take caution if walking with young kids.
You can also get to the Hallgrímskirkja by driving, but you might have to fight for a parking spot (free parking is provided on-site.)
8. Walk along the ocean
The shore walk along Reykjavik’s shoreline is 5 km (3 miles) long and gives you pretty views of the city and the harbour, as well as several landmarks along the way. The route is pedestrian only, flat and stroller-friendly.
Along the way, you can see the Sun Voyager, Iceland’s most famous sculpture of a Viking Ship. Other landmarks you can see along the way are the Harpa Concert Hall, murals, and other sculptures such as the Cairn and the Partnership.
You can do as much or as little of the shore walk as you’d like, and a good starting point is the Harpa Concert Hall (although you can begin and end the walk at any location – its accessible from multiple entry points along the shore.)
9. Attend a kid-friendly event at the Harpa Concert Hall
The Harpa Concert Hall is a stunning modern building that glitters in the sun and glows different colours at night. Its located right on the waterfront, and is a beautiful structure to look at at any time of day. There are events and shows held here, some which are specifically aimed at kids, and many that are in English.
The best way to see if an event is playing at the Harpa during the time you’re in Reykjavik is to visit their website to check out their schedule of events.
Whether you see a show at the Harpa not, its worth it to take a walk over to admire the outside and inside of the building. I recommend trying to head here after dark so you can see the vibrant, glowing colours. Bonus: it also has a public washroom, which costs 200 ISK per person.
10. Blow off steam at Reykjavik’s indoor playground
Fljölskylduland is a holistic indoor playground in Reykjavik, the first of its kind in Iceland. There’s a sandpit, play structure and lots of interactive, ‘pretend’ play to engage children from babyhood up to around 6 years old.
Fljölskylduland is located on the outskirts of Reykjavik, so depending on where you are downtown, it would be around a 10-15 minute drive from the city centre. There’s lots of free parking. The indoor playground is open daily from 9 am – 4 pm, except for Saturdays when it closes early and closed altogether on Sunday.
11. Go on a whale watching tour
Being in the North Atlantic ocean, Iceland is a popular place for whales to hang out. These majestic, intelligent creatures can be found not too far off the country’s coastline. There are many humpback whales, but also blue whales, fin and sperm whales.
Sightings of whales is not ever guaranteed, but to have the chance of seeing them, its best to head out on the ocean with a knowledgeable, professional guide. Similar to how forest guides in Costa Rica know where the animals are hanging out, the guides in Reykjavik have the best chance of knowing where to find the whales on any given day.
Click here to book this family-friendly whale watching tour with a professional guide
12. Swim in one of Reykjavik’s public outdoor pools
Reykjavik has a number of pools (both indoor and outdoor) where you can take your kids, and they are all very child friendly. One thing I admire about Iceland is their commitment to making swimming accessible to children, so that they become strong swimmers. As of August 2022, Reykjavík city swimming pools are free of charge for all children until they turn 16.
Here are the swimming pools in Reykjavik that you have to choose from:
- Sundhöll Reykjavíku – a historic indoor swimming pool built in 1937 (don’t worry, it is very well maintained.)
- Laugardalslaug – consists of both indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs and kids pools and even a waterslide. Short drive from Reykjavik city centre
- Vesturbæjarlaug – outdoor pool with saunas and hottubs, located near the city centre
Good to Know: All of the above swimming pools are open all day, every day until 10pm. As of 2023, the cost for adult visitors over 18 is the same for all three of them as well – ISK 1,200 which is equivalent to $9 USD.
13. Go for a kid-friendly hike at Rekjarnesfolkvangur Nature Reserve
Reykjanesfólkvangur is a 300-square km nature preserve unlike any other that you have at home – it has an active volcano, lava formations, crater lakes, cliffs and geothermic fields. Its home to many seabirds who nest along the shoreline. There are family-friendly hikes on a wooden boardwalk, or on the padded dirt ground.
Rekjarnesfolkvargen is probably only suitable if you’ve rented a car, because it’s a 40-minute drive outside the city. It makes a good full-day or half-day trip from the city while you’re in Reykjavik with kids.
Good to Know: The active volcano’s eruption is over as of August 2023, and it is now safe to hike in Rekjarnesfolkvargen. Visit their website for updates and information.
14. Soak in the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is a large outdoor bath which is heated by geothermal energy. It is quite large, with multiple different pool areas, as well as restaurants and swim-up smoothie bars on-site. The water temperature sits between 37 and 40°C (98 and 104°F.)
Being only 22 minutes from the Keflavík International Airport, (the airport you’ll fly into when you visit Iceland from international) the Blue Lagoon makes a great stop before or after a long flight. The Blue Lagoon was our first stop after getting off the plane, and it was a great way to enjoy some sun, and relaxing warm water, and get an introduction to Icelandic natural beauty.
Children over the age of 2 are permitted to enter the pools, but anyone under 8 years old is required to wear floaties, which are provided. Kids under 13 years old enter free of charge. When you arrive, you’re given supplies you need such as towels and shampoo.
You can get to the Blue Lagoon by picking up your rental car at the international airport and driving, but you can also book a private transfer for a whole family.
Good to Know: I advise covering any long hair, on yourselves or your children with a bathing cap. The Blue Lagoon dried out my and my daughter’s hair so badly, that we couldn’t get a brush through it during the remainder of our trip to Iceland. It took weeks for our hair to return to its natural state.
Best Places to Stay in Reykjavik with Kids
When visiting Reykjavik with kids, you ideally want to be in a quiet area that is close enough to walk to some of the main attractions. Its also ideal to have amenities that make it comfortable for a family, such as children’s cots, heating and laundry. Here are some of the places that I’d recommend in Reykjavik with kids.
- Budget: The Swan House Apartments – These bright and airy apartments are affordably priced right in downtown Reykjavik and offer lots of useful amenities for families.
- Mid-Range: Igdlo Guesthouse – Choose between a twin or studio apartment right in downtown Reykjavik. Conveniently located just minute’s walk from several of city landmarks
- Luxury: Iceland SJF Villa – Have a 3-bedroom villa to yourself just 3.5 km from downtown Reykjavik. You have a garden and terrace with sea views, as well as hiking and skiing nearby
Best Month to Visit Reykjavik with Kids
Reykjavik can be visited any time of the year, but generally, the best time to go to Iceland is between March and September when the weather is warmer, and there are possibilities to see the Northern Lights.
Reykjavik in Summer
Summers in Iceland are not as hot as many of us are used to elsewhere in the world. The temperatures in June and July sit at a high of 12°-14°C ( 53.5 -57.2°F) on average, and a low of 7°-9°C (44.6-48.2°F). Bring warm clothing to wear for yourself and kids, even if you’re there in the summer. We were there in August, and I don’t think I have any photos of us wearing T-shirts or summer clothes – all rain jackets and sweatshirts!
Good to Know: Be aware that Reykjavik, along with the rest of Iceland, experiences a midnight sun from mid to end of June each year. During that time, it is light 24/7 (a bit dimmer than during the day, but still not dark.) If you’re visiting during this time, be sure to plan for nigh shades and sleep masks to help yourself and children sleep.
Reykjavik in Winter
In the months of December and January, the average temperature in Reykjavik drops to 3°C (37.4 F) as a high, so it is quite chilly! It is also dark for nearly all day in mid to late December. The sun rises around 11 am and sets by 3-4pm.
Reykjavik with Kids: FAQs
Here are the most commonly asked questions about Reykjavik and visiting there as a family
Is Reykjavik good for children?
Yes, Reykjavik is a great place to spend some time during a family trip to Iceland. While the majority of Iceland’s attractions are outdoor-based activities and sights such as waterfalls, hiking, geysers and hot springs, Reykjavik gives children and their families an opportunity to witness the history of Iceland which dates back to 800 CE. There are interactive museums and a 400-year old Old Town, as well as activities specifically aimed at kids, such as an indoor playground.
Can kids do the Blue Lagoon?
Yes, kids can visit the Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik. Children are welcome at the Blue Lagoon and can visit for free until the age of 13. Children under the age of 8 are required to wear floaties, which are provided. Be aware that the minimum age for visiting the Blue Lagoon is 2 years old, so it’s not suitable for babies. There are other geothermal baths in Iceland that do allow babies and toddlers.
Is Iceland good to take kids to?
Yes, Iceland is a great place to bring kids. Visiting Iceland allows families an opportunity to experience majestic, otherworldly sites which are impossible to find anywhere else in the world. Between hiking, spotting wildlife like whales and puffins, visiting ice caves and meeting the adorable Icelandic horses, there are a lot of family-friendly activities in Iceland.
Reykjavik with Kids: Conclusion
By now you have a good idea of what the environment of Reykjavik is like, and all the things to do in Reykjavik with kids. Between parks, interesting museums, and historical landmarks, there’s a lot to do as a family in Reykjavik. Reykjavik was my daughter’s favourite part of Iceland, and I think there’s a good chance that it will be your children’s favourite too.
The doubt that most families have about visiting Iceland usually comes down to the weather and the cost. Iceland is known for being an expensive destination for families, but with good family travel budgeting tips, a trip to Iceland can be an affordable place to travel to.
With good planning, Iceland will be a fun and epic family vacation, and one you’ll remember for a long time.