In 2019, just over 400,000 tourists made their way to experience the incredible sights of Iceland. Iceland is one of the best tourist destinations for a family vacation, with amazing natural wonders, outdoor activities, and a ton of fun. These are some of the best places to visit in Iceland with teenagers.
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What Not to Miss in Iceland with Teenagers
If your family loves adventure, Iceland is the place to go. With breathtaking waterfalls, natural geothermal pools, lava fields, and even the opportunity to snorkel between tectonic plates (in the Silfra fissure), a vacation to the “land of fire and ice” is one that will have teens asking to extend your family trip!
We are sure you’re familiar with the Golden Circle tour, the gentle Icelandic horses, and the glacial ice caves, but what needs to be on your Iceland adventure trip? Here are some of the best things to experience with older kids in Iceland.
Meet The Icelandic Gentle Giants
Even if you don’t technically speak whale, Icelandic whale watching is one of the most popular activities for the whole family. If you and your family are planning to bring a camera, double-check if it is either waterproof or comes with a water protective case.
Be sure you hold on tight to your phone or camera when you are hanging over the edge when spotting your first whale. You will not be the first teen (or parent) that drops their new iPhone into the water due to heavy wind or a big wave.
Much like the Northern Lights, the best time to see the whales is between April and September. With the help of an experienced tour guide, you’ll get to see whales in their natural environment – happy and right in the water where they should be!
Whale Watching tours bring you up close and personal with nature… And it’s about as up close and personal as you could possibly get!
Note: Iceland is most famous for its vibrant whale population, and it’s far more friendly to book a whale watching tour than to support the unfair, often violent restaurant industry that partakes in whale slaughter.
Thankfully, a few years ago Iceland started focusing on ethical and animal-friendly whale tours that focus on animal welfare and is making an effort to educate tourists on which restaurants are whale-friendly and do not participate and the whaling industry.
Game of Thrones Iceland Tour
If anyone in your family is a fan of the legendary television show “Game of Thrones”, don’t miss an official tour through some of the show’s filming locations in Iceland.
Season 4 was partially filmed throughout Iceland, and the tour takes you to see the filming locations up close and personal to bring the magic of “Game of Thrones” to life. Some of the filming locations in Iceland used are Hengilssvæðið (mountain), the black sand beach at Vík, and the famous Thingvellir National Park (also referred to as þingvellir national park).
These are the perfect locations for teens to take an Instagram-worthy photograph or make a funny Tik-Tok dance video for their friends.
The legendary waterfall that you’ll see in Game of Thrones is right here in Iceland, and the tour will take you straight to it. See the best of Iceland, and the best of your favorite hit show combined in the same unforgettable experience.
When you book a group for the Game of Thrones tour, you are allocated your very own expert Icelandic tour guide who can tell you more about the locations used in the show.
Also, don’t forget that once you finish the tour you can stream the show straight from Amazon Prime to complete your experience! How cool is that?
See the Northern Lights in Iceland with teenagers
The Northern Lights is one of the world’s most famous and incredible natural phenomena. The Aurora Borealis is a natural event that happens between September and April, and Iceland is one of the best places you can be to experience the magic for yourself. It’s one of the best things to do if you’re visiting Iceland in the spring.
While some daring travelers just hire a rental car and set out to go on a long drive to find the Northern Lights on their own, it’s recommended that you book an official Northern Lights tour if you want to make sure you see them at their best. During the harsh winters, it is easy to get lost if you do not know the roads or have little experience driving in a snowstorm.
And let’s be honest here. The last thing you want is being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a group of teenagers that will remind you at every subsequent family holiday how you did not want to join a tour and try to hit the roads by yourself.
But all jokes aside. Unless you and your group know Iceland very well, it’s never recommended to take on an experience like this without the help of an experienced tour guide or group! Some tours stick to solid ground, while other tours take a different approach to seeing the Northern Lights with the help of a boat instead.
It’s more than just the most incredible photo opportunity for your social media profiles: it’s an experience that your family will never forget.
Fun fact: Aurora Borealis is named for the goddess of dawn (Aurora) and Greek for the Northern wind (Borealis). Literally, Aurora Borealis means dawn wind.
Experience Arts and Culture in Reykjavik
Reykjavík is the capital of Iceland and it has one of the most vibrant arts and culture scenes you will find anywhere. If you or your teenagers are fans of visual art, you can start off your trip with one of the largest visual arts museums in Iceland – the Reykjavik Arts Museum.
If you are going to the Reykjavik Arts Museum, you should know that there are technically three locations to the museum. (No, the whole museum isn’t in one spot, but spread out to give each form of art enough space for expression!) The Arts Museum occupies the Harbor House, Kjarvalsstadir, and the Ascension Museum.
Each of these great three locations makes up the larger Reykjavik Arts Museum, and to experience the full extent of local arts, you’ll simply have to visit all three of them!
The museum has everything that you would like to see, including some of the most incredible paintings, sculptures, and visual art pieces from history to modern times. Even if this isn’t your normal vacation stop, you are encouraged to see the Reykjavik Arts Museum in all its glory at least once in this lifetime.
According to the Museum’s official website, incredible art still gets donated to the museum to this day, so you’ll never see the same exhibition twice. We recommend visiting with one of their dedicated tour guides, in order to learn a lot about the individual pieces of art and their creators.
We would also recommend a downtown Reykjavik walking tour to see the highlights of this capital city.
Visit the Blue Lagoon in Iceland with teenagers
Have you ever seen the footage or photos of incredible and luxurious hot springs in Iceland? If so, we think you’ll agree that it looks straight out of a Hollywood movie. People all over the world come to soak in the famous Blue Lagoon and it’s a must-visit for families. It’s also easy to reach if you have a stopover from the United States. The lagoon is only 20 minutes from Reykjavik airport.
The Blue Lagoon is located in the Icelandic town of Grindavik, and it’s one of the most beautiful places in Iceland. Even better news yet, it’s surrounded by some of the best restaurants and spas you could hope to experience.
Visit the Lava Restaurant, the Moss Restaurant, or the Retreat at Blue Lagoon for an unforgettable meal, a fully guided tour or a couple-day stay in one of the most beautiful sights in the whole of Iceland.
The Blue Lagoon also sells some great merchandise, including themed clothing, that will both keep you warm and make sure you can take the experience home with you in serious style. These could be great souvenirs from your trip to Iceland with teenagers.
We are sure teens will love a trip to Iceland with an opportunity to see breathtaking landscapes, and animals in their natural habitats, as well as a chance to meet some amazing people. What are you waiting for?
About the author: For the last 17 years, Niels Thomas has been working as a marine mammal specialist and wildlife expert. With his work, he focuses on aquatic wildlife conservation in Iceland. Protecting whales, dolphins, seals, and manatees and educating the public have always been a top priority for him.