Iceland has been on our family travel bucket list for a long time, and we were finally able to visit! The land of fire and ice did not disappoint, and we managed to time our visit with the eruption of Fagradalsfjall volcano outside of the capital city. We spent several days exploring Reykjavik before heading out on a week-long Windstar Iceland cruise, and found there are plenty of things to do in Reykjavik with kids!
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How to Travel from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik with Kids
Iceland’s airport, Keflavik (KEF), is quite far from the Reykjavik City Center (51 kilometers or 31 miles to be exact). Probably the most cost-efficient option is a rental car. A private transfer averages $300 USD round trip and a taxi costs about the same.
To save money, I suggest booking with Flybus, a shared bus transfer service. Round trip is approximately $60 USD per person and it’s very easy to use. We picked up the bus just outside the arrivals terminal, and it drove us to the BSI Bus Terminal in the city center.
From there we changed buses to a “hotel zone” bus that dropped us off at the door of our hotel. There are several stops available, and you will need to select your hotel when you book your tickets.
Note: If you plan to visit the Blue Lagoon, you’ll want to visit after you leave the airport as it’s 20 minutes from KEF versus 50 minutes from Reykjavik city center.
Where to Stay in Reykjavik
**Note: The majority of hotels in Iceland do not have air conditioning. If this is important to you, make sure to do your research before making your reservation.
- Center Hotels – there are several Center Hotels throughout the city center. The properties are quite comfortable and have breakfast included. We stayed at Miðgarður, and had a lovely stay with a great breakfast.
- Iceland Parliament Hotel by Hilton – we also stayed at this centrally located property. Our corner room was spacious and each of us had a full-size bed. Excellent location for accessing shopping and restaurants.
- Alda Hotel – this property is about a 15-minute walk to the town center, but they offer a family room that can sleep up to 4.
- Fosshotels – there are several Fosshotel properties throughout Iceland, with seven of them in Reykjavik. Many have family rooms that are perfect if you’re traveling with kids. Fosshotel Barón is centrally located and within walking distance of downtown and the harbor.
- Vacation rentals – many families are more comfortable staying in vacation rentals so they have more space. We recommend looking at VRBO or Booking for ones that will work for your group.
Amazingly Fun Things to Do in Reykjavik with Kids
Iceland is all about outdoor adventures and Reykjavik is the perfect place to begin any Iceland trip. In the summer months, you can enjoy sunshine all day long. It definitely made the jet lag adjustment easier.
There are some main attractions in Reykjavik that shouldn’t be missed, especially Hallgrimskirkja and Lauravegur Street, a pedestrian-friendly zone with tons of shops and restaurants. Our favorite thing to do in Reykjavik was simply walking through the streets, admiring the street art, sampling the food, and people-watching.
Here are some of our favorite things to do in Iceland’s capital city:
1. Perlan: Interactive Nature Museum
Perlan Museum is outside the city center, so you will want to have a rental car or take a taxi to visit. This unique museum showcases the natural wonders of Iceland and offers some amazing interactive exhibits that kids of all ages will love.
Don’t miss the man-made ice cave where kids can learn about glaciers, the Northern Lights film, and the lava show that gives insight into the Geldingadalir eruption at Fagradalsfjall. There’s also an observation deck with 360° views of the city and a restaurant, café, and ice cream parlor in case anyone gets hungry.
2. Sky Lagoon
To visit Sky Lagoon, children must be at least 12 years of age, so if you’re visiting Iceland with teens, you won’t want to miss these geothermal pools (note – the Blue Lagoon allows children ages 2 and above).
It takes about 15 minutes by car to reach Sky Lagoon, but once you arrive, you’re transported to another world. We recommend booking the Sky package which gives you private dressing rooms and the lagoon’s signature “Ritual”. This involves going through seven stations, including steam baths, a sauna, and a plunge pool.
Drinks are available at the lagoon bar (cocktails and cocktails) and there’s a café to enjoy after your swim. This is a good place to relax and soak up the Icelandic bathing culture.
3. Lake Tjörnin
Located in the center of downtown, Lake Tjörnin is the perfect spot to take young children. They can run around the lake and see the ducks and swans that call the area home. There is a playground at one end of the lake and several areas to sit and have a bite to eat.
Other great places to walk are the coastal paths (they stretch for miles) that go past the Harpa Concert Hall (a gorgeous building that’s home to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra) and The Sun Voyager sculpture.
There are playgrounds on Laekjargata near the Icelandic Art Center and another is Mæðragarðurinn near Lake Tjörnin. Kids who are into skateboarding will like the Reykjavik Skate Park near the harbor.
4. Whales of Iceland
This natural history museum is the largest whale museum in Europe and if your kids love learning about these majestic creatures, you won’t want to miss it. Whales of Iceland has life-size models of various whale species found in Icelandic waters. Families are sure to find it educational and entertaining.
5. FlyOver Iceland
Don’t miss the thrilling experience of FlyOver Iceland, an incredible flight simulation ride. Sit in a suspended seat as you take an aerial journey through Iceland’s stunning scenery and natural landscapes.
You will feel the wind in your face and the location-specific scents that transport you to another place as you “fly” over glaciers, lava fields, volcanoes, and waterfalls. This is a great way for kids to experience all of Iceland’s epic landscapes in one place.
6. Hallgrimskirkja Church
This iconic church can be seen from most places in Reykjavik. Kids will marvel at the impressive facade and unique design, inspired by the basalt columns found in Iceland.
The highlight is the panoramic view from the church’s observation tower, which offers a bird’s-eye view of the city and its surroundings. Access to the viewing platform is via elevator so it’s accessible for everyone.
7. Reykjavik City Museum
Reykjavik City Museum is actually several sites throughout the city. There are the Exhibitions at Árbær Open-Air Museum, The Settlement Exhibition, exhibitions at the Reykjavík Museum of Photography and Reykjavik Maritime Museum, and the Artworks on Viðey Island.
The Reykjavik 871±2 Settlement Exhibition is a favorite as it allows kids to step back in time and explore Viking-age ruins dating back to the 9th century. The interactive displays and artifacts provide a fascinating insight into Iceland’s history and culture.
8. Free walking tour of Reykjavik
If you really want to see what Reykjavik is all about, join one of the free city walking tours led by a local tour guide. We would recommend this with grade school children or older as your family will visit iconic landmarks, learn about the city and its history, and discover hidden gems.
These tours are designed for everyone to go at a leisurely pace which is perfect for most families. You will need to reserve a time slot if you’re interested in joining a guided tour.
9. Reykjavik Family Park and Zoo and Botanical Gardens
While Reykjavik’s zoo may not house an extensive number of animals, it offers a unique opportunity to learn about the animals that can survive Iceland’s harsh conditions. If seeing an Icelandic horse is on your must-see list, you can see it here as well as arctic foxes, reindeer, and seals. There’s even a petting zoo kids will enjoy.
The Family Park area is a lively haven for family play, with areas for kids to climb, jump, and indulge in endless fun!
Adjacent to the zoo lies is the Reykjavik Botanical Garden. It isn’t massive, but it does offer a unique variety of local plants and flowers. Combining a visit to both these remarkable sites promises a delightful and fulfilling afternoon for all ages.
10. Magic Ice Bar
If you have the chance, be sure to visit Magic Ice Bar, where everything is made entirely of ice. The bar provides warm jackets for everyone, and kids can experience this winter wonderland, complete with ice sculptures and dazzling lights. Kids can sip on non-alcoholic beverages served in ice glasses, making this a unique and memorable family-friendly activity.
11. Saga Museum
This kid-friendly museum tells the story of the Icelandic people by recreating moments in the country’s history. The seventeen exhibits take you through the events that shaped this place and its people. It’s a fun place to visit on a rainy day in Reykjavik.
12. Whale-watching cruise
If you’re visiting Iceland in the summer months, you’ve found the perfect time of year for whale watching. Several cruise companies head out from the Old Harbour in search of minke whales, dolphins, and humpback whales. This is one epic experience in Reykjavik you won’t want to miss!
13. Lava Show
Lava Show is a can’t-miss on a family trip to Iceland. A volcanic eruption is created by superheating real lava up to 1100°C (2000°F) and then pouring it into a showroom full of people. It is the only live lava show in the world and has received multiple awards and recognition for its educational and cultural value.
Don’t miss this opportunity to get close up to real molten lava, see it flowing, hear it sizzling, and feel the incredible heat it creates.
14. Sample Icelandic treats
Many people talk about a few things when they talk about Icelandic food – fish, ice cream, and hot dogs. I know!
I had to see what all the hype was about so we headed to Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog stand. The line was over 30 people deep, waiting for pyslurs (hot dogs). These happen to be one of the most affordable foods in Iceland and perfect for hungry kids and parents.
If you want the best hot dog you have to order like the locals and get the one with everything. It’s called Ein með öllu and it’s a lamb hot dog, sweet mustard, fried onions, raw onions, Icelandic ketchup, and remoulade. This place has been around since 1937 and we promise it’s worth a visit!
No family vacation is complete without ice cream. Icelanders love it and some of the best spots are Gaeta Gelato, Valdis, and SKUBB. Try some unique flavors like licorice, pepper, and cheesecake.
If you can’t get your kids to try traditional fish stew or fermented shark, head to one of the city’s food halls. We tried Pósthús which has tacos, hamburgers, sushi, and more. Don’t miss Pizza Popolare where you can try some of the best pizza in the city!
15. Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach
This geothermal beach is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Hot water is constantly being pumped into this man-made lagoon which stays between 59 and 66°F through the summer months. This is not for long-term swimming, but it’s the ultimate cold plunge!
Note: It costs around $6 USD to enter and you’ll need to bring your swimsuit and towel. There’s a cafe with snacks, changing rooms, and lockers available to rent. It’s an 8-minute drive from downtown Reykjavik.
16. Reykjavík Maritime Museum
The Reykjavik Maritime Museum encourages kids to learn about Iceland’s seafaring heritage. All ages will love the interactive displays, fascinating artifacts, and the opportunity to board a real Coast Guard vessel.
17. Horseback Riding
If your family wants to ride Icelandic horses, there are plenty of tours available in Reykjavik. Most include transportation to and from your hotel. Viator and Get Your Guide have several options to choose from.
Easy day trips from Reykjavik with kids
From Reykjavik, you can take all sorts of tours of Iceland to enjoy the country’s raw, natural beauty.
18. Golden Circle Tour
This popular route in Iceland includes stops at Geysir (after which all geysers are named), Thingvellir National Park where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates split, and the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall! BOOK YOUR TOUR HERE
19. Snaefellsnes Peninsula
If your kids are older and can manage the long drive or bus tour, head to Snaefellsnes. With THIS TOUR you will see the volcanic craters of Kirkjufell and Ljósufjöll, stop in charming fishing villages, walk on the black beaches of Djúpalónssandur, and explore the Budir Black Church and the surrounding lava fields. This is an easy way to see a lot of Iceland’s highlights in a short amount of time.
20. The South Coast
Iceland’s south coast offers waterfalls, glaciers, and more, so if these are on your Iceland bucket list, be sure to make a visit. Some of the best spots include Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, the black-sand beaches of Reynisfjara, and the breathtaking Sólheimajökull glacier. You might even be able to see a volcano (from a distance) and puffins if you’re lucky. BOOK YOUR TOUR HERE
21. Puffin Island
Many families want to see puffins in Iceland, as these birds are simply adorable! One of the best places to see them is taking a cruise to Akurey, just one hour from Reykjavik’s harbor. Your nature guide will tell you all about these seabirds as you get to watch them in their natural habitat.
22. Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach
For an unforgettable experience, head to Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach. The Glacier Lagoon, Jökulsárlón, is an opportunity to see icebergs floating in the crystal-clear glacial waters. Just a short walk away is Diamond Beach, where pieces of ice wash ashore and sparkle like diamonds against the black sands. You can drive here yourself or book a tour.
If you’re planning to explore outside Reykjavik, use this Iceland Ring Road itinerary to find the best spots!
As you can see, Reykjavik (and Iceland in general) has plenty of opportunities to create a once-in-a-lifetime family vacation. To make the most of your trip, we recommend a visit during the summer months when the weather is a bit more predictable and you can enjoy long hours of daylight. Once you visit, we are sure will agree, Iceland doesn’t disappoint!