When I dreamed of visiting Iceland, I imagined wild adventures like scuba diving between two continents, ATV riding, paragliding, and sky diving, and it is all possible in Iceland, but maybe not with a five year old child. She’s adventurous and loves to push the limits but I have a few years before she can jump out of planes or dive between continents. So what are the best experiences in Iceland with kids? We spent a few days discovering Iceland to find out for ourselves. These are are top five suggestions for Iceland with kids. With bountiful natural beauty, spectacular sights, and unique, soft adventures, Iceland with kids is magical.
Top Five Suggestions for Iceland with Kids
Number Five – The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is one of the most epic road trips in the world with geysers, waterfalls, and volcanic craters. The circular route covers about 300 km and loops from Reykjavík into central Iceland and back. If you’re looking for natural diversity, the Golden Circle will quench your thirst. You can join organized tour groups around the Golden Circle, but to get a real sense of the landscape and spend time at some of the sights along the way, plan your own road trip with kids instead of hopping on a tour bus. Without being on someone else’s schedule, you and your kids can set the pace.
One of the most memorable stops on the Golden Circle is Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site where you can find lakes, waterfalls, natural formations, and Silfra Fissure, where you can scuba dive between two continents. There are plenty of family-friendly hiking trails around Thingvellir National Park. You can also camp in Thingvellir National Park between June 1st and September 1, and kids under 13 can camp for free.
Also on the Golden Circle, you can find Strokkur Geyser, one of the two large geysers in the area and the only one that is currently active.
The dramatic Gullfoss Waterfall is a common place to stop as well. Since Gullfoss is one of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls, the route is well marked. It’s a good idea for everyone in your family to wear a waterproof jacket when you get close to the waterfall and be aware of the slippery ground near the falls. Also, it’s important to note for families with young children, you can’t push a stroller right up to the waterfall so infants will need to be taken in carriers.
Kerid Crater is a nearly neon-blue lake sitting in a volcano surrounded by rare red volcanic rock and is part of the Golden Circle. Its bright rainbow of colors look unearthly, and it’s a safe way to visit a volcano with kids. You can park your car close to the lake and it’s a short walk along a path to the edge of the crater. You can walk almost all the way around the crater on the path and down near the water’s edge inside the crater as well.
Number Four – The Blue Lagoon
Known as one of the most epic swimming pools in the world, the Blue Lagoon’s water temperature averages 37°C and 40°C year round making it one of the most popular destinations in Iceland. It’s also one of the 25 Wonders of the World.
The lagoon renews itself every 40 hours and the warm waters are rich in minerals, silica, and sulphur. Bathing in the Blue Lagoon is said to have healing and rejuvenating benefits for your skin.
The Blue Lagoon welcomes children 2 years and older. Entrance is free of charge for all children from age 2-13 years, when accompanied by a guardian. Children of 8 or younger must wear inflatable armbands. These are provided free of charge by the entrance to the bathing lagoon.
In addition to bringing your bathing suit and flip flops, you’ll want to bring your own towel and sunglasses. I also strongly suggest utilizing as much of the hair conditioner as possible before entering the water. You will thank me! All of the above are recommended for kids as well; additionally, small goggles for your child will help with avoiding eye contact with the salt and minerals in the water.
You are expected to shower naked before entering the pool. Neither you nor your kids can skip that part, even if they don’t want to be naked in front of strangers, but there are a few showers with curtains to pull closed if you’re willing to wait.
The Blue Lagoon is as beautiful as you’d hoped, but it is much better when you’re properly prepared.
Number Three – Northern Lights
It’ll mean staying up past bedtime, of course, but seeing and photographing the northern lights with kids is even more magical. You can plan entire Northern lights vacation packages around the best spots to experience the lights. At five years old, Athena is fascinated with the magical lights dancing in the sky, but it’s important to be prepared for extended periods of waiting in the chilly darkness for the magic to happen. For really young children, make sure you have a warm place set up for them to sleep while you wait for the lights.
I usually suggest traveling on your own with kids to enjoy things that are unique to your individual interests, but for northern lights viewing in Iceland, I’d suggest going with a guide. They are better prepared for such experiences.
Number Two – Skogafoss Waterfall
Skogafoss Waterfall is one of the prettiest in the county and you can drive right up to it. Skogafoss is perhaps most famous for its rainbow, which is almost always visible on sunny days.
Pushing a stroller at the waterfall is difficult. I’d suggest a baby carrier for infants.
Also close to Skogafoss is another waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, that you can walk behind. It’s the only known waterfall in the world that it is possible to walk behind.
Number One – Rent a Vehicle and let the Adventure Find You
One of the best ways to discover hidden gems and natural wonders in Iceland is to rent a car and let the road take you to the unknown. During our drive to the Blue Lagoon, we found a small cave on the side of the road. It wasn’t the main attraction or busy tourist destination but it was one of our favorite stops during the trip. It was like it was put there for families to discover and experience together.
Another one of our favorite stops was when we saw Iceland horses alongside the road. Rather than driving by, we stopped and spent some time with them next to the road. Renting a vehicle in Iceland allows you to experience the stunning Icelandic nature, the beauty of the rugged landscape, and the hidden gems on your own time.
Iceland with kids allows you to experience the natural wonders like the northern lights and waterfalls and see the beauty of them through the eyes of a child. This is just a taste of some of our favorites in Iceland for families, but there’s plenty more to experience and discover. Iceland stands out as a family-friendly destination. It’s safe and laid-back with new wonders around every corner.
Our visit to Iceland was during the fall but Iceland is a beautiful place to visit any time of year. If you’re visiting in winter, 5 Things To Know Before Visiting Iceland In Winter is a helpful guide.
What a wonderful trip – thank you for your fabulous pics:))
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My son Aaron and I went to Iceland right after his high school graduation–– part of a “Viking-Game of Thrones” tour of Iceland, Denmark and Sweden. We loved all the sites you’ve listed here, and did glacier climbing and iceberg viewing as well. We LOVED riding the Icelandic ponies down to Gulfoss! I’m sad to hear that only one geyser was spouting when you were there, we had some smaller ones, and the 2 main ones at the park going. We were there in the summer (did you go just recently?) so no Northern Lights, as it was daylight until about 2am every day!! It is an incredible place, and I can’t wait to go back! Great photos!!
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Children ground you, certainly…this is an fantastic list. Where is the waterfall with the basaltic columns? I see you purchased an sweater in Iceland?
VERY cool! and Much like the beach, letting kids climb, explore and make their own adventures is always the best kid vacation! But now I REALLY wanna go!