Our family guide to visit Reykjavik with kids: top things to do in Reykjavik with children, where to stay in Reykjavik with kids and best family friendly tours to make the most of your time in Reykjavik with kids in tow.
Small, safe and friendly, Reykjavik is a lovely city to visit with kids.
Iceland’s capital is often overlooked as a destination: visitors use it as a base for day trips more than a city to explore in its own right and often the question ‘what to do in Reykjavik with kids’ comes up in frustration, when stranded in town by uncooperative weather.
Missing out on tours is always annoying but in terms of kids activities, Reykjavik is not a bad place at all. These are our tips to make the most of your time in Reykjavik with kids.
Top things to do in Reykjavik with kids
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Run along the waterfront
Reykjavik is a city on water and its long waterfront makes for a lovely stroll. The area is organised with two lanes, one for pedestrians and one for bikes (be careful!) and has a lot of space for kids to move around freely while taking in some of Reykjavik’s main sights.
Here you have the Harpa concert hall and farther down the road the famous Sun Voyager, a sculpture representing a dream boat, overlooking the ocean.
The waterfront is not a kids attraction per se but unless it is battering rain, it is a lovely spot to enjoy with kids.
On a clear day, the view over the snow capped mountains in front of the city is a a dream!
Local families flock to Tjorning pond, a small lake in the city centre inhabited by a vast number of birds and ducks kids can feed. The pond is bordered by lovely parks, great for picnics in summer, and has a peculiarity: part of it is always warm so even in the depths of winter you can come here and find ducks enjoying its lovely waters!
The ice cave in Perlan museum
Outside of the city centre but connected to it by a free shuttle service, Perlan is an exciting museum to visit with kids. Inside they have recreated an ice cave and visitors of all ages can go in an learn the secrets of ice and glaciers without having to venture outside the city!
The museum welcomes families and has special discounts for young kids.
Perlan is also famous for having a gorgeous observation terrace with views over the city. Access to the terrace is included in the admission ticket for the ice cave and glacier exhibition or can be visited independently. Kids up to 15 years of age go free.
An exciting addition to the Perlan museum is the planetarium, which is due to open in spring 2018. You can find all updated info about the museum and this new development here.
If your kids love tall, record breaking buildings they may enjoy Hallgrímskirkja church. The building towers over Reykjavik and has a viewing terrace on top offering views over the city and its beautiful natural setting.
The tower is accessible by lift only and tickets are available for purchase in the church shop. There are some steps between the lift and the terrace so just be aware of this in case you are travelling with a stroller.
Hallgrímskirkja is a working parish church and sometimes closes to allow services to take place, including Sundays at service time (10.30 to 12.15).
Reykjavik’s city library
A lovely place to visit in Reykjavik with the kids is the city library. This has several branches in town and they are all family friendly: each branch has a children section with books in several languages and caters for their smaller visitors with board games, puzzles and of course reading material.
On Sunday they also often organise art and crafts events and family morning are a regular event. You can find more information here
Reykjavik’s geothermal pools
Iceland’s most famous geothermal pool, the Blue Lagoon, is outside of Reykjavik but the city has some lovely and lesser known pools that are perfect for families. They are popular with locals and some very well organised with both indoor and outdoor facilities. You can have a look here and here for some of the most popular options
Go on a whale watching or puffin spotting tour
Whale watching and puffin tours happen during spring and summer months and depart from Reykjavik’s old port. These ones are some regularly receiving excellent reviews.
Please do take into account that boat trips can be cold and rocky, even in summer and may therefore not be suitable for all kids. The tours are weather dependent and weather in Iceland changes quickly, even in summer: companies emails in case of cancellations so make sure you keep your phone handy.
Go on a city tour
Reykjavik is a compact enough city and we visited it at our own pace following this itinerary.
If you prefer to have a guide, there are several good tours of the city that are also family friendly. While we did not take one, we did have a guide on our Golden Circle tour who gave us lots of tips about what to see in Reykjavik so I do recommend them to get a deeper understanding of the city.
Have the best hot dog in town
Icelandic food can be hard for kids to enjoy (many adults feel the same way!) but there is one type of food in Reykjavik that is likely to get their seal of approval: hot dogs!
The place to go for hot dogs is at the old port and has a name that translated means ‘The best hot dog in town’. The thing to order here is ‘the works’, which is the hot dog all the fuss is about.
Where to stay in Reykjavik with kids
The best area to stay in Reykjavik with kids is close to the centre. This allows you easy access to pretty much all the attractions mentioned and puts you walking instance from tour pick up points, should you have oganised day trips to join. These are some of our favourite family hotels in Reykjavik:
Canopy by Hilton I love Hilton hotels and this one makes no exception. This Hilton is in a great location and caters for families with children menus in the onsite restaurant, cots and high chairs on request. Baby sitting service is available.
Icelandair Hotel Marina Located at the old port this is a great hotel in terms of location and services. Their family studio welcomes up to 6 people, which is an unusually high number for Reykjavik’s hotels
Odinsve Hotel Another hotel offering rooms to larger families (up to 6 people, two bedroom suite) and restaurant on site.
Center Hotel Plaza In a perfect location in Reykjavik city centre, the hotel welcomes young children: all children under 7 stay free when using existing beds.
Apartments are a great choice for families in Reykjavik and a more budget friendly option than hotels. Great addresses are:
Rey Aparments, with apartments for up to 6 guests
Odinsve Hotel Apartments, also catering for larger families
A room with a view luxury condo hotel offering apartments of different sizes to cater for family groups big and small
What to pack for visiting Reykjavik with kids
Reykjavik knows 4 different seasons but in terms of packing I find is useful to think simply about a long cold winter and a mild summer.
If travelling in winter, the main things to pack for Reykjavik a good thermal layer (find my selection of the best thermal underwear here), a warm mid layer and a waterproof winter jacket. For both adults and kids make sure you have waterproof trousers and shoes. I found ski trousers and snow proof shoes priceless: the wind and the rain in Iceland can be wild!
For summer, you can also do with a waterproof layer but you don’t need any exceptionally warm clothes. For adults and kids I do recommend a light jacket and a windbreaker plus comfortable shoes as well as an extra jumper, just in case.
Reykjavik is easy enough to explore with a stroller but when the wind picks up, you want to find refuge because it can really be intense!
If travelling with a baby, I do recommend to bring a stroller but also a baby carrier, which ensures better protection. You can find my selection of the best strollers for travel here and or check out my baby carrier of choice here.
How to get around Reykjavik with kids
The easiest way to get around Reykjavik is on foot. Reykjavik city centre is a bus free zone and there are designated pick up point for tour buses around town.
If you stay in the centre, you can easily explore without the need for public transport and reach the pick up points with a short walk.
If you are driving from the airport, you can leave the car both at designated on-street parking areas in town or in parking lots, for an hourly or daily fee. Car seats are compulsory in Iceland and the country has very clear rules on what seats are or are not suitable for each age. You can find all the official info here also useful if you are planning on using taxis (handy but very expensive in Iceland).
I hope you enjoyed this family guide to Reykjavik with kids. Safe travels!
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