Iceland is not the destination for families looking to relax. But if you are outdoor explorers up for a little adventure, then Iceland needs to be on your “must visit” list. Of course, the activities vary depending on age and ability, but whether traveling with toddlers or teens, all families can enjoy the landscape that is so unique to this country.
With a myriad of choices to pick from, here are our recommendations for the best activities to do in Iceland with kids.
Waterfall hunt. Iceland is the land of ice and fire, but when the ice melts, it turns into waterfalls roaring and raging over mossy-green cliffs. Two of the most popular drives in Iceland bring visitors up close to beautiful waterfalls. On the famous Golden Circle drive, you’ll encounter the double falls of Gulfoss. View them from above, or walk alongside the thundering water. A day trip along the South Coast is another popular drive that leads past two of Iceland’s most famous falls: Seljalandsfoss, where you can walk behind the falls; and, a bit further, Skogafoss, where you can walk right up to the pounding falls or climb steps to view them from above.
Glacier Lagoon tour. Kids can’t help but be wowed by the many different shapes, sizes and colors of the icebergs floating in the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Younger kids can climb aboard an amphibian boat for a short tour through the icebergs, while children over 10 can don an inflation suit and jump onto a zodiac boat to get closer to the glacier itself.
Buggy adventure. Families with kids age 6 and up can strap into a two-seat buggy for a ride across hills and rivers. This will satisfy thrill-seekers who don’t mind getting a little wet and dirty while traversing some gorgeous landscapes.
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Horseback riding. The Icelandic horse is a unique breed and a big part of the Icelandic culture. Horses and sheep dot the landscape at every turn, and no visit to Iceland would be complete without getting up close and personal with these unique creatures. Horse lovers will enjoy rides, from one-hour to multi-day treks. But even if you don’t take a ride you can stop by Fakasel, just off the Ring Road, for a horse theater show or barn tour.
Glacier walk. It is hard to come to Iceland and not step out onto its namesake ice in one fashion or another. It really isn’t safe to walk onto a glacier on your own, but families with children ages 10 and up can join a glacier hike. Not only will everyone get a workout, but you will also learn about geology, volcanoes and the impacts of global warming.
Dog sledding. Animal lovers will have a blast being a part-time musher for a day! After trekking out to the Langjokull glacier, families help the mushers gear up the dogs and then head to the pristine glacier for a leisurely sled ride.
Super Jeep tour. For families with kids too young to do too much adventuring, a super Jeep tour is a great way to explor the interior of the country in style. Ford rivers, climb glaciers, take a dip in a hot spring or climb into an ice cave or lava tube.
Geothermal pools. Whether it is the famous Blue Lagoon or one of the many other public pools, spas or outdoor hot springs found throughout Iceland, kids will enjoy swimming in the warm water when the air is chilly outside.
Helicopter tour. If you want to splurge, a helicopter tour is a fun way to see the country from above by soaring over volcanoes, waterfalls and glaciers. Make sure you do it right by choosing a tour that includes a glacier landing!
Editor’s Note: Photos by Tamara Gruber.
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