Iceland is on everyone’s travel wish list. Tourism is now the island’s biggest industry and the number of tourists has risen rapidly. Visitors come for myriad reasons but mostly they come to experience the magic.
This, the land of fire and ice, is a country where legends are woven into the cinematic landscape. A place where geothermal wonders appear around every bend in the road and where the midnight summer sun bathes everything in a warm, pinkish glow.
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For families, there are lots of things to do in Iceland with kids. Kayak among icebergs, chase the northern lights, ride a horse across the volcanic landscape and more.
When travelling to Iceland here are seven can’t-miss activities!
Things to do in Iceland
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It’s hard to go wrong when choosing what activities to do in Iceland with kids. This is a country whose history and geography conjured up the perfect setting for giants and elves – some of the population still believe in magical creatures today. But if you had to choose the top things to do in Iceland then the following eight experiences should definitely make the cut.
Drive the Golden Circle
This popular 300km drive runs from Reykjavík to central Iceland and back. The Golden Circle is a great way to see some of the main sights. The route includes Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. It’s an easy introduction to Iceland but does not scrimp on mind-boggling landscapes or fun, adventure activities.
[author] [author_info]This post has lots of ideas on things to do in Reykjavik with kids. [/author_info] [/author]
Swim in a lagoon
There’s a reason why Iceland is often called the land of fire and ice. Positioned on a “hot spot”, the country is home to lots of geothermal activity as well as plenty of glaciers.
This unique topography has resulted in numerous hot springs and geysers all over the country. There are lots of pools in Iceland but the most famous is the Blue Lagoon, located halfway between the centre of Reykjavík and Keflavík International Airport.
Kids will love splashing about in this giant, warm bath, and the lagoon even provides arm bands for under 8s. There’s a swim-up bar for adults and mud treatments are offered.
If you’re looking for something a little wilder then there are plenty of other lagoons to choose. Try the Secret Lagoon near Flúðir, one of Iceland’s oldest pools.
[author] [author_info]Make sure you read these 10 top tips before going swimming in the Blue Lagoon with kids. [/author_info] [/author]
Be wowed by the waterfalls
You don’t have to look far to find a waterfall in Iceland and Gullfoss (a main stop along the Golden Circle route) is one of the most popular.
Gullfoss means “Golden Waterfall” in Icelandic, so called because of the golden-brown appearance of the roaring glacial water on a sunny day. Rainbows often appear over the spray, making for a truly magical sight. It’s an easy destination for families and paths allow even young children to walk down for a closer look at the thundering falls. Be aware, however, that guard rails are little more than thin ropes.
For more waterfall inspiration take a look at this post on chasing waterfalls in Southern Iceland.
Say hello to the wildlife
Forget zoos or aquariums, when visiting Iceland with kids it’s the great outdoors that is the real showstopper. Home to majestic horses, wild puffins and more than 20 different species of whales, it’s a wonderful way for kids to see animals in their natural habitats.
Iceland is known for its beautiful breed of Iceland horses that more closely resemble ponies than stallions. Farms and ranches are everywhere along the highways and can easily be visited with children. Some also offer riding tours and can last anywhere from a half day to 10 days.
The best time to see whales is from April to October but whale watching tours from Reykjavik are operated all year. Peak season is from June – August when over 20 species of whale can be seen in the North Atlantic and Artic oceans on either side of the island. These include the Orca, Minke, Humpback and Blue Whale,
During summer months over 60 percent of the world’s puffin population are found on this island. They arrive in late April to breed and leave at the end of August. These cute birds can be seen at locations all around Iceland. However, the best spots for sighting them near Reykjavík include day trips to the islands Akurey and Lunday, both just a short ferry ride from the city center.
Watch the geyser’s blow
The highly active Geysir Hot Spring Area is a favourite stop along the Golden Circle route where boiling mud pits and exploding geysers providing a natural kind of entertainment. Strokkur is the more active geyser, spouting clouds of water 30 metres into the air ever few minutes. A simple rope barrier allows you to get up close to the splash zone. Learn all about how this geothermal activity occurs in the on site Geysir Visitor Center.
See the floating icebergs
Watch the beautiful blue-and-white icebergs float slowly around the large glacial lake of Jökulsárlón. Located at the edge of Vatnajökull National Park, the easiest way to experience this otherworldly landscape is by joining a tour from Reykjavík; some of these include boat tours that sail among the floating icebergs. If you’re feeling really adventurous, join a tour that includes ice caving and glacier hiking.
Marvel at the Northern Lights
Thousands of visitors flock to Iceland annually for the chance to see the magical green and purple lights of the Aurora Borealis dance across the night sky.
However, as well as being one of the islands biggest draws, they are also one of the country’s most elusive attractions.
The best time of year to see them is from October to April when there are long dark nights. Boat and bus tours can take you to the best spots; check with tour operators to determine the best time to go and then keep your fingers crossed!
Getting around Iceland
The easiest way to get around the island is by renting a car. If you’re visiting during the winter months then you may want to have a driver unless you are experienced at driving in snowy conditions.
There are several car rental agencies on the island. Cars can be booked through a travel agent, at the airport or directly after arriving in Iceland. This is your best bet for the cheapest car rental options in Iceland.
The best time to visit Iceland
There’s a reason why most tourists visit Iceland from mid-June to August. Weather-wise, these summer months are the easiest for a family vacation.
But don’t discount other seasons; the winter months create a snowy wonderland and off-season rates make this time of year a considerably cheaper time for a family holiday.
Christmas is a big deal in Iceland and you also have more chance of seeing the famed Aurora Borealis.