Iceland is an awesome destination and if you are trying to decide where to take your family on holiday next year there is no doubt that Iceland with kids will an absolute winner.
For older kids there are hiking opportunities, while for younger ones the opportunity to get into lots of hot water will be hugely appealing. The stunning landscapes and incredible wildlife make it fun for all the family.
Read on to find the Wandering Kiwi family’s top five best things to do with kids in Iceland, all enjoyed from our base in Reykjavik:
Go on whale watching cruise
Kids love animals and seeing magnificent whales in their natural habitat makes for a truly memorable day in Iceland. We booked a tour and headed out from Reykjavik’s Old Harbour on a fairly large vessel, which had good stability and viewing decks.
Iceland is one of the best places in the world to go whale watching. Look out for tour companies that follow the IceWhale code to conserve the natural environment. Some tours are more educational than others so make sure your kids will get to find out all about the whales and birds you will see.
We saw beautiful Minke whales but there are over 20 species that can be seen in Icelandic waters at varying times of the year and off different parts of the coastline, from orcas to the mighty blue whale.
The birds are also part of the attraction, particularly those cute, colourful puffins, which nest on cliffs and island around Iceland during the spring and summer months. Just don’t tell the kids that Icelandic people eat puffin…
Image via Iceland Tourism
The best science lesson, ever
Travel is educational in so many ways, teaching kids (and adults) a wider perspective of the world that you could ever find in a school classroom. But sometimes a travel day comes along that is an actual specific lesson.
The ‘Golden Triangle’ is a 300-kilometre day trip that is probably the single most famous thing to do in Iceland. Well with kids, it becomes the world’s best earth science lesson. Arranging car rentals in Iceland is probably the best way to do the golden triangle route, in order to give you the flexibility needed when travelling with kids.
First stop is the Thingvellir National Park, where you can see the tectonic plates on the Earth’s crust. Yes that’s right, you can see the continental drift happening between two plates (the North American and the Eurasian) with your own eyes. The Almannagja rift is the most impressive.
Other incredible stops on the golden circle tour include the stunning Gullfoss waterfall and the Haukadalur geothermal area, where you can see the Strokkur geyser erupting every five to 10 minutes.
Image via Iceland Tourism
You can even cook an egg at Hveragerði (which means Hot Spring Town). The charming gift shop, Icelandic ponies and steaming lakes make this a popular stop on a tour of Iceland. The natural hot water is due to the proximity of magma to the earth’s crust in this part of the world.
Wandering Kiwi Jr was amazed to see the guide loading up her net with raw eggs. That’s right, the water is so hot that you can cook an egg in it. Not in three minutes but in as long as it took for the guide to do her talk and us to walk around briefly. And we got to eat them.
Iceland with kids: Water fun park
Travel with kids should always involve some downtime and as my daughter has grown we have started to offer her choices about what our travel itinerary includes. Top of the list for her is usually some kind of water park.
Iceland is well able to oblige, with most towns having excellent heated swimming facilities thanks to the country’s rich geothermal energy resources.
We recommend the Laugardalslaug water park in Reykjavik, one of the biggest in Iceland with a series of indoor and outdoor pools. The facilities are immaculately clean and there are a variety of hot tubs, steam baths, saltwater tubs and ice tubs. But of course we were more interested in the waterslide, which is an 86-metre, curling construction of watery fun.
Walk in a lava worm hole
How about entering a wormhole that could be a portal to another dimension or the creation of a prehistoric monster? In Iceland’s vast lava fields there are many of these ‘worm holes’, natural underground pipes created by molten lava as it rushed towards the sea.
This one probably isn’t for the under-fives but one lava tube cave that is easily accessible to tours is called Leidarendi. It’s in the Seltún geothermal field about half-an-hour’s drive south of Reykjavik.
Clambering down into it is a spooky and disconcerting experience. At times the walls are smoothly black, while at others the roof becomes spiky with lava stalactites. The guide showed us beautiful blood red patches on the lava formations.
Swim in the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most iconic attractions but it’s not just for grown ups. Children over the age of two are allowed to swim here, although they are expected to be well-behaved. Free flotation arm bands are available for children aged eight years and younger because the lagoon is up to 160 centimetres deep in places.
After the soaking, take a 40-minute tour to find out all about Iceland’s volcanic activity and the lava fields surrounding the Blue Lagoon. The Earth Science lessons just continue! And as a bonus, entry is free for children up to the age of 14 years.
Iceland is an amazing destination for travel with children. Its unique landscapes and geology make it fun for all ages and Iceland with kids will be a truly memorable family holiday.
By Natasha von Geldern
What do you recommend to do in Iceland with kids?
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