What To Do In Reykjavík With Kids

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Though the birth rate in Iceland has dropped in the last few years, it remains higher than the European average, and you could say the society is family-oriented. That’s good news for those travelling with kids and teenagers, as there is plenty to keep them entertained year-round. Here are a few suggestions of activities in and around Reykjavík with kids. All are accessible by foot, public transportation, private vehicle or pickup service. None take longer than four hours total and driving time is minimal. Scroll to the end for food suggestions!

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Photo by ÍTR

Go Swimming!

Age range: 0-99
Season: year-round
Price: Free (0-5 yrs), 150 ISK (6-17 yrs), 950 ISK (18+) 

Reykjavík’s thermal pools are mostly outdoor and water temperature in the pools and hot tubs ranges from 27 to 42 degrees Celsius to keep you warm even on the coldest days. They’re a popular activity among local families as they’re fun, healthy, and affordable. The showers have kiddie bathtubs and child seats to make washing up easy for the littlest members of your family, floaties for those who are learning to swim, and pool toys for the young (and young at heart). Most have shallow kiddie pools and many have water slides as well. Check out this brochure for information on each pool’s facilities, opening hours, and bus routes.

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Photo by Elding

Go On a Whale Watching Cruise!

Age range: 0-99
Season: year-round
Price: Free (0-6 yrs), 4950 ISK (7-17 yrs), 9,900 ISK (18+)

Being out on the water with the chance to see wildlife is exciting for all! Though summer is the high season for whale watching (and the only season to see the popular puffins), whales can be seen off the coast of Iceland year-round. Ships have heated indoor areas for chilly days and provide warm overalls and blankets as well. Book here.

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Go Ride an Icelandic Horse!

Age range: 6-99
Season: year-round
Price:  3300 ISK (6-15 yrs), 6600 ISK (16+), 1000 ISK extra for pickup/dropoff

The Icelandic horse may be small, but don’t call it a pony! These friendly purebreds are a national treasure and love to meet people. Íshestar Horse Farm provides a riding tour for families that is short enough for the young’uns and appropriate for all levels of experience. Email [email protected] for details.

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Photo by Iceland Expeditions

Go Caving!

Age range: 5-99
Season: year-round
Price: 6450 ISK (5-14), 12900 ISK (15+)

Explore a 2000-year-old cave that was formed by a volcanic eruption. The lava is no longer active, but you and the kids will be as you venture in to experience the unique and colourful stone formations firsthand. Kids must be able to walk on their own and keep pace with the group. Book here.

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Go To the Volcano House!

Age range: 0-99
Season: year-round
Price: Exhibit: free; Documentary: free (0-6 yrs), 1000 ISK (7-14 yrs), 1990 ISK (15+)

Iceland is one of the most volcanically active places on earth. The exhibit of volcanic rocks and minerals at the Volcano House is hands-on, giving you a break from saying “don’t touch that!” and the documentaries about Iceland’s most recent eruptions and their effects on the country are short enough to accommodate the attention spans of the youngest while exciting enough for the most bored teenager. The Volcano House is also a great place to get out of the only occasionally bad weather we experience here in Iceland (don’t quote me on that). Get documentary tickets here.

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Go Duck Watching!

Age range: 0-99
Season: year-round
Price: Free 

Every Icelander has fond memories of childhood trips to the downtown pond to feed ducks with breadcrumbs. Nowadays feeding the ducks is frowned upon (bread is actually not good for them), but you can still drop by and say hello! Though ducks are the popular draw, you’ll also see swans, geese and seagulls. When you start to get cold, you can step into the City Hall to check out the large topographical model of Iceland built to scale.

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Photo via mu.is

Go Spend a Day in Laugardalur!

Age range: 0-99
Season: year-round
Price (Family Park and Zoo): Free (0-4 yrs), 650 ISK (5-12 yrs), 860 ISK (13+) 

The Laugardalur Valley has several activities for the whole family. The Family Park and Zoo house specimens of most of Iceland’s animals, such as sheep, cows, horses, reindeer and seals. There are several rides open in the summer and play areas are open year-round. Laugardalur also houses ice-skating and roller-skating rinks, the largest thermal pool in the city, and the Ásmundarsafn sculpture collection, which includes an outdoor sculpture garden (for those who can’t handle the decorum of an indoor museum… no matter their age). You can stop for a bite or a coffee at the leafy Flóran Garden Bistro.

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Photo via Árbær Open Air Museum

Go To a Museum!

Age range: 0-99
Season: year-round
Price: varies

Many of Reykjavik’s museums are child-friendly, housing activity rooms and interactive exhibits.  For example, the National Museum of Iceland has a children’s room on the second floor where kids can dress up in Viking attire, including trying out swords, shields, chain mail, and helmets. There are historical objects and models they can play with and a reading section where they can read or listen to stories in English and Icelandic. The Maritime museum also offers a chance to board a National Guard ship from the fifties and Árbær Open Air Museum, a collection of old Icelandic houses, is always popular.

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Photo via travelwayoflife

That Was Great, Now We’re Hungry!

No need to panic, Reykjavík has many food options that are quick, affordable, and kid-friendly. The famous Icelandic hot dogs, a delicious mix of beef, pork, and lamb, can be found at most gas stations and convenience stores. You can grab one or twelve at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur’s red and white stand in the centre of Reykjavík. Try one with everything! If you’re looking for a quick sit-down meal with no fuss, there are several Fish and Chip shops by the Old Harbour. Grab some ice cream at Valdís afterwards, where you can choose from dozens of flavours, including several made with local candy or fruit. For a sit-down restaurant with kids’ meals and a diverse menu, try Vegamot. The Laundromat Café has a downstairs play area to entertain the restless. Finally, Kolaportið, the weekend flea market, will have a selection of traditional Icelandic candy, and don’t worry: not all of it has salty Icelandic liquorice.

If you’re spending a day or two exploring Reykjavík’s museums and swimming pools, consider the Reykjavík City Card. Available for 24hr, 48hr, and 72hr periods for kids and adults, it gives you access to museums, swimming pools, public transport, and more, at one low price.

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