Top Things To Do in Reykjavik With Kids
Some parents will tell you that their kids’ idea of the perfect holiday simply involves a pool and plenty of ice cream. You can find both of those things in Reykjavik. However, with Iceland’s dramatic landscapes on your doorstep and a rich cultural heritage, here’s your chance to broaden your children’s horizons and add an extra dimension to your holiday. We’ve put together a list of ideas for things to do when visiting Reykjavik with kids that are sure to put a smile on their faces.
1. Take a whale watching tour
Wildlife encounters are perennially popular with children and in Iceland that most probably means taking a whale watching tour. Trips from the capital focus on Faxaflói Bay, where sightings of humpbacks, minke whales and dolphins are common. Your guide will also point out some of the local seabirds too, such as guillemots and gannets. The best time of year for spotting whales is in summer but many don’t leave when the colder months approach making it possible to take a tour at any time of year. That said, it’s advisable to check the weather forecast before booking. Try to pick as calm a day as possible so you don’t have to deal with travel sickness.
2. Make time to visit Perlan
City breaks can be challenging when all the kids want to do is let off steam. Luckily, if you visit Öskjuhlíð’s woodland, they can do just that, as there are numerous opportunities for running around or cycling. Perlan, too, has loads to offer families. Children of all ages will be awestruck by the manmade ice cave that forms part of the glacier exhibit. They’re also guaranteed to be impressed at the sight of the Aurora Borealis at the Áróra show – a far better option than having to contend with the late night tiredness and complaints about cold feet you’d get if you set out on a Northern Lights tour in the open air.
3. Book a cycle tour
Explore Reykjavik with kids using only pedal power. The flat promenade along the northern edge of the Icelandic capital is ideal for families; be sure to pose for a selfie with your bikes in front of the iconic Sun Voyager sculpture. Specialist outfits such as Reykjavik Bike Tours can kit you out with the right sized bicycle for each member of the family, including Trail-Gator hook ups to help those with the littlest legs. They can suggest itineraries, but there’s also the option for you to book by the hour and go at your own pace.
4. Attend class at Elf School
Some Icelanders believe that they share their country with elves known as huldufólk, or hidden people, live alongside their human neighbours. Perhaps it’s understandable, in a land that’s still actively being created and where the magical Northern Lights periodically dance overhead, that some people are unwilling to dismiss their presence. Youngsters will delight in finding someone to talk to about these supernatural beings, making quirky Elf School one of the best things to do in Reykjavik with kids. Learn about possible encounters, myths and legends as you find out how to recognise the clues to their presence.
5. Dip your toes into the water at Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach
For summer fun in Reykjavik with kids in tow, go one better than the local swimming pool and instead take the children to Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach. If you’re holidaying in Reykjavik with kids, then they’re going to love this place. It’s a manmade lagoon with an artificial beach made of golden sand. In summer, geothermally heated water is mixed with the sea until it reaches a temperature of around 19°C. A warm water pool near the service centre maintains a temperature of about 38°C. Unsurprisingly, it’s packed in summer. If the children are really badgering you for a fun day at the pool, try Laugardalslaug, Kópavogslaug or Breiðholtslaug, all of which have slides.
6. Board a boat in search of puffins
Puffins, with their colourful beaks and squat dumpy bodies, don’t have to do anything to appear comical. But if you see them in flight, the sight of their tiny wings flapping like crazy will bring a smile to everyone’s face, as will their clumsy landings on offshore islets. Boat trips from Reykjavik’s harbour depart regularly for their breeding grounds in Faxaflói Bay. Expect to see a plethora of sea birds, not just puffins. Puffin season typically lasts from late spring to the middle of August. This is a guaranteed hit if you’re looking into things to do in Reykjavik with kids. However, check the small print before booking as some tours – such as those on high speed RIBs – don’t accept younger children.
6. Eat ice cream – no matter what the time of year!
Icelanders know that ice cream shouldn’t be reserved for summer, making a trip to an ice cream parlour one of the essential things to do in Reykjavik with kids. The Ice cream parlour on the 4th floor of Perlan museum makes fresh ice cream to ensure the greatest quality and are constantly changing flavours so frequent visitors can always find something new to taste. Ísbúðin Valdís has been drawing a crowd since it opened in 2013. Located in a convenient spot down by the harbour, it has served more than 400 different types of ice cream. Alongside perennial favourites like vanilla and chocolate, look out for more unusual flavours on the constantly changing chalkboard menu: salted liquorice, bacon, lavender, curry and Turkish pepper, for instance. Other good ice cream parlours to seek out include Ísbúð Vesturbæjar, Eldur og Ís and Ísbúð Huppu
What’s the best hotel for kids in Reykjavik?
Singling out the best hotel for kids in Reykjavik isn’t easy as most welcome families. For a top notch location a few minutes’ walk from the harbour, a family room at the Reykjavik Marina Hotel is hard to beat. Alternatively, rent an apartment which will give you the added benefit of kitchen and laundry facilities.
What are the best kid-friendly restaurants in Reykjavik?
Some kids can be picky with their food and if so, dining out can be a challenge. For familiar favourites, try the burgers at Hamborgarafabrikkan, fish and chips from Reykjavik Fish Restaurant or a takeaway hot dog from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. The Laundromat Café has a children’s play area downstairs.
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