Last Updated on November 15, 2023 by Suzy
Iceland is such a unique and beautiful country to visit. We love it so much we’ve been there twice already with our son on holiday. Direct flights from the UK take just under 3 hours. Iceland is such a great country to visit with kids as they will most likely never have been anywhere quite like it before (and most probably neither will you).
Yes, the weather is pretty cold, much colder than the UK. But depending on when you go there is the chance to enjoy some fun times in the snow or even some warmth in the sun. Swimming in hot thermal baths may quite possibly end up being another one of their highlights. For my son, it is the highlight.
Iceland is somewhere to take life slowly. You can’t drive more than 55mph anywhere and most roads are just standard, but great quality roads. Advance planning is essential and just remember to allow more time for getting around.
A lot of families choose to have Reykjavik as a base and to go on tours from there. We prefer to rent a car, a 4×4 is recommended, and make our own way around as it’s such a pleasant country to drive in. Do be careful in winter and please make sure your hire car has the correct tyres. I’ll break the top things to do in Iceland with kids down into the area and we will start the list with Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik.
Top Things To Do in Reykjavik With Kids
Reyjkavik as capital cities go is pretty small, in fact as cities go in general it’s pretty small. I had no issues driving into the centre and parking. It’s a lovely place to visit with children and there is plenty there to keep you occupied for a day or two. Please check out our 1-day itinerary for visiting Reykjavik as a family.
This is a great option for seeing Reykjavik with little legs. The city isn’t too difficult to walk around but a bus is even better. You can purchase 24-hour or 48-hour hop-on hop-off bus tickets. There are 16 stops on the route.
A great spot for a family photo. Close to the Harpa concert hall is the famous Solfa Sun Voyager Sculpture. Don’t miss it on your visit.
There are a number of whale-watching boat tours that depart from Reykjavik’s harbour. Daily departures are from early April until late October and the best time of year to spot whales is during those months. In the winter their boats take people out on Northern Lights cruises.
One of Reykjavik’s most famous landmarks and quite an imposing church which enjoys wonderful views from the top of the tower. There is a small charge to take the lift to the top which is more than worth it for the views 74.5 metres high up.
An expensive-to-visit exhibition of life-size models of whales. You can touch the whales and inside you will get a true feel for these majestic creatures. There is a small play area for children.
Located a short boat ride from Reykjavik’s central harbour area is Videy Island. It is home to historical ruins and over 30 species of birds. There are old turf houses, a monastery and the 12th-century home and church of Skuli Magnusson who is known as the Father of Reykjavik. Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower is also located on the island.
The ferry operates daily from mid-May to early September, out of these times it only operates at weekends.
Located in the new Grandi Harbour Complex is this state-of-the-art attraction. It is an interactive movie experience suitable for ages 5 and over. You will hang suspended, feet dangling, before a 20-metre spherical screen while our film whisks you away on an exhilarating journey across Iceland. Special effects, including wind, mist and scents, combine with the ride’s motion to create an unforgettable experience.
The city’s largest swimming pool with a 50m outdoor pool, an outdoor children’s pool and paddling pool. Plus two waterslides, numerous hot tubs, a steam bath and a mini-golf course.
Perlan is a hands-on museum with parking or a free shuttle bus ride from Reykjavik. There is a Planetarium with a film of the Northern Lights, a man-made ice cave, a 4-D show with earthquakes and more.
Located in the Laugardular Valley is a farm animal zoo open for most of the year with an action-packed amusement park open in the warmer months. Apart from the obvious farm animals, you can visit arctic foxes, reindeer and seals, in addition, you can see a small selection of exotic animals.
Things To Do With Kids South West Iceland
11. The Blue Lagoon
The most iconic and famous of all the thermal pools in Iceland and somewhere your kids aren’t likely to forget. The milky waters are rich in minerals and incredibly warm. Make sure you get a drink from the swim-up bar – most entrance tickets include your first one free. Children under the age of 8 must wear the armbands that they provide. We have a review post for the Blue Lagoon and visiting it as a family.
Located close to the Reyjkavuk is an otherworldly landscape. There are large towers or steam that rise from oddly coloured rocks amid mud pools and sulphur deposits (which makes it a bit smelly). A well-maintained boardwalk winds through the geothermal fields. There are educational signs along the way that explain the area’s geology.
There are toilets in the car park.
Things To Do With Kids – The Golden Circle
One of the most famous things to do in Iceland is to visit the Golden Circle. This is a road that takes 3-hours to drive in a full circle. There are 3-4 main places to visit along the route which I will mention below. The Golden Circle is located in the southern uplands of Iceland. We have a helpful post with further information on touring the Golden Circle as a family in a day.
Your visit here starts by walking past a few boiling mud pits some of which spurt boiling water into the air. The highlight of the lively Stokkur Geysir is further along behind a roped-off area. This spurts hot steam and water high into the air approximately every 8 minutes although you will often see smaller eruptions. The larger eruption may be a longer wait.
If you need petrol then this is the place to get some. There is also a visitor centre with a cafe and toilets.
Wrap up warm as Gullfoss was one of the coldest places we visited as it’s very high up. The waterfall is located in a spectacular backdrop of mountains and glaciers. There are separate viewing platforms where you can view the 32-metre-high waterfalls. Or you can get closer and feel the spray of the waters of the glacial River Hvítá as it plummets down into the crevice.
There is a visitor centre with toilets and a restaurant.
A spectacular National Park with a long stunning drive from the entrance to the visitor centres. There are waterfalls, some spectacular views and a rift valley with rocky cliffs and fissures. It’s an amazing sight. It is currently the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Iceland. t is the only place in the world where you can stand between two continental plates, in a distinctive geological landscape that changes every year. You can walk in the seismic rift valley that marks the border between the two continents which is stunning to see. There are two visitor centres with toilets. The larger centre has an interactive exhibition with a small charge to visit. There is a charge to park.
As we were visiting the Blue Lagoon this place wasn’t on our to-do list. It’s a smaller but cheaper version of the Blue Lagoon located south of Geysir. The hot springs are set in natural surroundings with steam rising into the air to give the place a magical feeling.
17. Kerid Crater
The Kerid Crater is a 3,000-year-old volcanic crater that is now inactive. It is famous for its milky blue-green water and stark black and deep red slopes. This was a very cold place to visit!
There is a small charge to visit and there are no on-site facilities.
If you are staying in Reykjavik without a car there are some excellent 1-day Golden Circle tours that depart from the city centre. This full-circle tour includes the Kerid Crater. The tour takes 8 hours and a pickup is offered at select hotels and official bus stops in central Reykjavik only. It is also available from the cruise port. The tour also includes Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir and Thingvellir National Park.
Things To Do With Kids in Southern Iceland
There is so much to see in Southern Iceland and surprisingly some are around 3 hour’s drive apart from each other. We have included some of the best things to do with kids in South Iceland which are mostly all doable in a day.
18. Lava Centre
A state-of-the-art centre dedicated to all things LAVA with some excellent interactive displays. The centre is quite pricy to visit but it’s entertaining for all the family. You will learn about the volcanoes of Iceland and how they have formed this lunar-like landscape. Watch the latest eruptions in the cinema and see them with your own eyes from the observation platform.
There are on-site toilets and a cafe.
19. Caves of Hella
Twelve man-made caves have been discovered on the land of Ægissíða by Hella on the South coast of Iceland. On this one-hour tour, you will visit four of them in the company of a local guide who will tell you all the stories about them and the people who made them. This historical site is without a doubt Iceland’s oldest still-standing archaeological remains. The wonders of the Caves of Hella include ancient crosses, wall carvings and carved seats.
Set a little way back from the road and easy to walk to is the stunning Skogafoss Waterfall. You can take photos from the bottom or for the fitter members of your family there are some very steep steps which take you to the top of the waterfall. The sound of the waterfall is one you won’t forget in a hurry.
There are toilets and free parking.
Located near Skogafoss Waterfall with an entrance fee is this wonderful museum. It is home to 15,000 regional artefacts plus 6 historical buildings. The Skógar Open Air Museum has a large site, which includes examples of many periods of Icelandic architectural history. A full visit can take around 2-3 hours.
There are toilets and a cafe plus free parking.
Seljalandsfoss is a waterfall that can be fully encircled. It has a drop of 60 metres (200 feet).
There is a small fee to park which is supposed to be going towards the building of a visitor centre although this has never happened. It is impressive but not as impressive as Skogafoss Waterfall.
There is a cafe and toilets in the car park.
23. Visit to Vik
This is a town with a stunning volcanic backdrop and a pretty wooden church from 1929. It is by the sea and if you can brave the winds there is a black sand beach.
Facilities and some amazing doughnuts can be found at the large modern shopping complex in the town.
Located close to Vik is one of the newest attractions in Iceland, the Icelandic Lava Show. Inside you can learn all about lava and see real molten lava in action. The show takes about 45 minutes and it is easy to get to. Get to the show early to grab some good seats and purchase a cool drink. Witness the recreation of a volcano eruption, similar to what the Eyjafjallajökull and Katla volcanos are famous for.
Also known as the Black Waterfall the Svartifoss Waterfall is one of the highlights of Southern Iceland’s Coast. It is located in the Skaftafell Nature Reserve and it is a 1 mile hike uphill. It’s not a challenging climb though. A walk there and back takes around 1.5 hours. It is a popular but busy hike.
There is a small charge to park plus a visitor centre with toilets.
What a place. A drive there is hard going so make sure you have a car that can handle it. It’s a much smaller version of the Folk Museum and somewhere where it feels like time has truly stopped with the turf houses, church and graveyard.
It is free to visit in winter as you can’t look inside the buildings during this time. There are no facilities.
27. Lava Tunnel
The fourth-largest lava tube in Iceland is open to the public. It’s one for sturdy legs and can be slippy in icy weather. They are quite a sight though and well worth a visit. A standard tour takes around an hour. You will marvel at the ever-changing colours, landscape and geological formations. Plus you will hear entertaining tales of Hollywood adventures and other enjoyable tidbits about the cave’s history.
There are toilets on-site. Read our experience of the standard Lava Tunnel tour.
You can choose to explore some or all of the 3km long trail here. It will take about 1 hour each way but you don’t have to commit to do all of it and you can turn back if you’ve had enough. The valley is filled with hot springs and mud pools including a hot river in which you can paddle.
There is a restaurant and toilets in the car park.
This is a popular place to go hiking but if you venture onto the glacier you must do so as part of a tour with a guide. If you aren’t going on a tour it is worth seeing it from close by and the walk there is via a path. You can also go kayaking on the lagoon here. With icy crevasses, deep blue colours and rugged scenery, Solheimajokull is a top South Iceland glacier attraction.
There is a car parking area with toilets and a 15-minute walk on a path to get to the glacier.
This is one of the most Instagrammable locations on the South Coast of Iceland. A US Navy aeroplane crashed here in 1973. Luckily everyone survived. The scenery makes a great backdrop to the wreck. Make sure you book on the shuttle in advance otherwise, it’s a 2.4 mile walk (each way).
There is a charge to park and there are no toilets.
Things To Do With Kids South Eastern Iceland
This glacial lake is filled with icebergs that come from the nearby glacier and the scenery changes here all the time. You can walk along the eastern shore where you should see seals and plenty of icebergs. From May to mid-November you can also take a boat tour. It is free to visit the Glacier Lagoon but the boat tours aren’t cheap.
There is a cafe with toilets.
32. Diamond Beach
Just a 5-minute drive from the Glacier Lagoon is a strip of coastline where icebergs wash up onto the jet-black volcanic shoreline. It is quite a sight to be seen.
You can only visit the puffin colony on a tour but it’s worth it. An open tractor-pulled kart takes you to the island where you will walk over a black sand landscape and visit cliffs that are home to puffins. Tours run between the end of May and mid-August when the puffins are around.
Animals include kittens, puppies, piglets, mice, rabbits and parrots. There are also pool tables, a playground, an arcade and a mini-golf course. It is open every weekend of April and every day from May until August.
Things To Do With Kids in Western Iceland
In the Snæfellsjökull National Park is the lava cave Vatnshellier. It is an easy-to-navigate and colourful underworld where children as young as 5 can join in with the excursion.
36. Fossatún hiking trail
Fossatún is a well-known site in Borgarfjörður, where you can find hiking trails related to folklore heritage
and troll books, written by the local keeper, where the stories are set in west Iceland. Fossatún is located in between large summer house areas, where Skorradalur and Húsafell lie on either side of Fossatún.
You can walk from the service area at Fossatún and walk along the Grímsá River. There are information signs, including signs about the Saga´s legends and trolls. The trail is accessible to a wide range of visitors although not as accessible towards the lake.
Things To Do With Kids Northern Iceland
This is an extraordinary lunar-like landscape with mud pots that belch, colourful sulphur crystals and smoking fumaroles. It smells a lot like rotten eggs but kids will love playing and running around after the escaping steam.
By Lake Myvatn are lava stacks and caves where according to legend 13 trolls live. It is a dramatic expanse of lava and it is one of the most popular destinations in Northern Iceland. It has even appeared on Game of Thrones.
Here you can walk into man-made tunnels that have been carved into Iceland’s second-largest glacier. A visit is by a guided tour in specially modified glacier vehicles. You move from one man-made chamber to another with its own theme and lighting.
You can catch a tour from Gullfoss Waterfall, they’re not cheap though. Most trips also include snowmobiling.
40. Pretty Much Anywhere in Iceland – The Northern Lights
Iceland is one of the best places to see the Aurora Borealis, otherwise known as the Northern Lights. The sky is lit up on a clear night, sometimes you can see them with thin clouds. The lights can be seen mostly in winter-time and they are caused by solar particles that enter the Earth’s magnetic field and ionize high in the atmosphere. The ionization shows usually as a green colour but sometimes purple, red, pink, orange and blue.
It isn’t always guaranteed that you will see the Northern Lights, even on a clear night. Iceland does however sit at a high enough altitude to make them easier to spot. The best time to see them is between September and April.
Ideally, you want to find a place with as little light pollution as possible. We have stayed at Hotel Ranga both times we’ve been to Iceland. It is away from any lights and best of all they have an optional wake-up call for when the northern lights are most likely. This is great for families as you don’t have to drag your kids out late at night not knowing if they are going to show or not.
I took this photo from outside at Hotel Ranga. This photo has not been messed about with like a lot of ‘professional’ photos of the Northern Lights. You can find out more about Hotel Ranga in this post.