If you’re planning your next family vacation, you might wonder if Iceland is a good destination for kids. Even though there are no big theme parks, Iceland has a lot of fun outdoor activities for young ones and teenagers. In this article, we will talk about how old your kids have to be to go on some of Iceland’s most popular day tours. Read on for an overview of tours you can do with your kids in Iceland.
On a clear day, glacier hiking is one of the most amazing things you can do in Iceland. Glacial tongue Sólheimajökull on Iceland’s south coast offers excellent options for hikes with a breathtaking view over the glacier and the south coast of Iceland. From far away, a glacial surface might look smooth, but glaciers are dissected by crevasses and cracked with ice caves. This tour is therefore only for adventurous kids, and of course it’s only safe to go on a glacier hike with a certified guide.
Minimum age: 10 years old
If your kids really want to go on a glacier, but are not yet 10 years old, there is another option. You can enjoy Europe’s biggest glacier, Vatnajökull, from a customised superjeep. During a 3-4 hour tour, you will be driven on the glacier, and explore Sultartungugil glacier valley. You will also head to Brókartindur peak, from where you can see the highest mountain in Iceland. There is snow on the peak year-round, so you will not need crampons or special gear. Because there’s less hiking and more time inside a superjeep, this tour is suitable for younger kids.
Minimum age: 5 years old
If glacier hiking isn’t your thing, you can also go snowmobiling. This is possible on the glaciers Langjökull, Mýrdalsjökull and Vatnajökull. Before going snowmobiling, you will get a short instruction and you will get a warm overall and helmet. After this, you are ready to go on an exhilarating ride over the snow. You’re only allowed to drive a snowmobile if you have a valid driver’s license, and you can have one kid per snowmobile as a passenger. It’s the coolest way to enjoy the beautiful view of the glacier and its surroundings.
Minimum age with perfect weather conditions: 6 years old
Minimum age otherwise: 8 years old
If you are travelling with older teenagers, snorkelling will probably spark their interest. Increasingly popular in recent years, snorkelling or diving in the Silfra fissure in Þingvellir National Park is an amazing experience. The lava-rock filtered glacier water is some of the cleanest in the world, providing amazing visibility. What daredevil would not enjoy exploring the underwater world while floating in water that is 2-4 degrees Celsius?
Minimum age: 14 years old
Iceland is one of the most volcanic places on earth, so there is lots of lava. When a lava stream runs from a volcano, the first part to cool down and harden is the outermost layer, which can form a crust around the liquid lava underneath. Then, if the volcano stops erupting, sometimes the lava will continue running, until you’re left with only an empty crust of lava. This is how lava caves are formed.
Caving tours from Reykjavík usually take you to the famous Leiðarendi tube cave just outside of the city, and on the way there you will stop at lake Kleifarvatn and geothermal area Seltún. This caving tour will take about 4 hours in total.
Minimum age: 6 years old
Tours organised in the beautiful Raufarhólshellir cave, about half an hour driving from Reykjavík, take either 1 hour or 3-4 hours, for the standard tour and extreme tour respectively. If you are travelling with younger kids, the standard tour is recommended.
Minimum age standard tour: 3 years old
Minimum age extreme tour: 12 years old
Do you want to have a whale of a time? Then go on a whale safari while you’re in Iceland. The waters around Iceland are the natural habitat of these gentle giants. Baleen whales are a migratory species, and most travel long distances to tropical waters in winter and back to polar regions in summer. The best season for whale watching in most parts of Iceland is therefore between April and October. Cetaceans often sighted are minke whales, humpback whales, sei whales, fin whales and blue whales. Going on a whale watching tour and searching for whales is an exciting and unique experience for the whole family.
Minimum age classic whale watching: there is no age requirement
Minimum age RIB tours: 10 years old
If you have a couple of hours to spend, go on a horseback riding tour through Icelandic nature. Icelandic horses are a small and sturdy breed (pony-sized, one might say, but Icelandic breeders always refer to them as horses), known to have few diseases. They are famous because they have five natural gaits, up to two more than most horses. They are honoured for their bounce-free strides. It is supposedly possible to drink a cup of coffee while riding, without spilling a drop. This makes Icelandic horses ideal for inexperienced riders, but you will also get a riding lesson before going on a tour.
Minimum age: minimum ages vary per tour, from 6 years old for shorter family adventures to 15 years old for tours of several days. Contact What’s On if you need information about a specific tour.
Northern lights hunting
Northern lights tours run from late August or early September, until mid-April. Northern lights can be seen everywhere in Iceland (you don’t need to go up north, despite the name), but in order to get a good look at them, you need to be far away from the city lights dimming your view. Northern lights tours take you away from the city and towards wherever there are no clouds, on a night when the auroras are active.
Minimum age: there is no age requirement. Please let tour operators know if you need a booster or baby seat.
Iceland has some of the best geothermal spas in the world. Of these spas, the Blue Lagoon is the most famous, known for its milky-blue water and skin-healing properties. Swimming, relaxing in the water and trying out silica masks are fun for the whole family.
Minimum age: 2 years old. For safety reasons all children of 8 years and younger are required to wear arm floats while in the lagoon.
Please note that for some of these tours you need to climb, crawl, and walk on uneven surface, or be outside in bad weather. Make sure everybody in your family is aware of this and is appropriately dressed. Please contact What’s On at [email protected] if you need more information, or if you would like to book a tour. Read this article for suggestions on things to do in Reykjavík with kids.