11 Helpful Tips for Visiting Iceland with Kids

Think Iceland is just about wild adventures and lone travelers? Surprisingly, visiting Iceland with kids is doable, a great experience and one you should seriously consider.

Below are our 11 top tips for traveling to Iceland with, or even without, kids.

Tips for Visiting Iceland with kids

Reynisfjara Black Sand-Beach, Iceland
Reynisfjara Black Sand-Beach iceland

Select Your Iceland Accommodation Wisely

Trips to Iceland can be notoriously expensive. Accommodation costs play a huge part in that, especially when you start looking for larger, family sized places to stay in Iceland.

Don’t think you automatically need to stay in Iceland hotels. There are some amazing places to rent in Iceland on Airbnb. Check out the available properties in Iceland here.

Another option is to hire a campervan. We adventured for 10 days in a six berth campervan on Iceland’s Ring Road. It has become one of our families travel highlights.

The added bonus with both these options and one of our top Iceland travel tips is you can prepare your own food and save even more! Make sure you check out budget supermarkets like Bónus or Krónan.

Slow Your Iceland Itinerary Down

Plenty of wide open spaces when visiting Icenad with kids
Plenty of wide open spaces for the kids

There are so many incredible things to see in Iceland, it can be tempting to try and fit everything in.

It’s important to bear in mind that distances can be vast between destinations and some road conditions poor.

What google maps may say is a 2-hour drive can easily turn into a 4-hour adventure with road conditions and stop offs to see unexpected sights along the way.

Another one of our top Iceland travel tips is to pick a few of your must-see sights and then allow room for some surprise destinations.

There are also plenty of wide open spaces and alien-like landscapes for the children to explore and burn some energy.

Need some help picking the best places to visit in Iceland? See our post, 11 Amazing things to do in Iceland that will make you never want to leave.

Check out this detailed Iceland Golden Circle itinerary and map for your trip to Iceland!

Pack for the Weather Conditions in Iceland

Seljalandsfoss waterfall - one of the best things to see when visiting Iceland with kids
Seljalandsfoss waterfall

Forget the hand luggage only packing when visiting Iceland. Especially with children.

We guarantee you are going to get wet. Either from the unpredictable weather or from exploring behind amazing waterfalls like Seljalandsfoss.

You will need to make sure you have adequate wet weather gear, as well as good quality hiking footwear.

Iceland is also extremely windy (we heard plenty of horror stories about doors being bent backwards on hire vehicles) so make sure you bring along wind-proof jackets too.

We were in Iceland early to mid-September and experienced weather ranging from 16 degrees Celsius to 2 degrees with wind and rain so heavy it stung your face.

If you hope to go searching for the Northern Lights in Iceland you will also need warm clothes as temperatures drop dramatically at night.

Take Advantage of the Free Things to do in Iceland

Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon
Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon

Yes, food is expensive and fuel costs will make you cringe, but there are so many things to see in Iceland that are free.

From exploring US planes that crash landed on black sand beaches to chasing waterfalls in Iceland, to finding secret hot springs and exploring street art in Reykjavik.

We only booked Iceland tours for a few locations, like a boat trip on Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, for the rest we explored on our own at no cost.

Safety First

Iceland Volcano
Walking along the rim of a volcano

It is important to remember when visiting Iceland that it is a wild and adventurous place. Safety fences are few and far between in most areas. Stick to the paths and watch children carefully.

The ocean is also unpredictable.

In places like Reynisfjara the currents are deceptively strong and ‘sneaker waves’ can take even the most watchful people by surprise.

Do not let children play along the shoreline – even if it looks calm.

Read More: 15 safety tips for travel with tips

Get a Taste of Iceland

Luckily some of the fun things to do in Iceland are not only child-friendly but cheap.

You will find hot dogs everywhere from service stations to fancy restaurants. They make a delicious, family-friendly meal that won’t break the budget.

We were also a big fan of skyr – this mild tasting diary product comes in a wide variety of flavors to try.

Timing is Everything

For once, those early morning wake up calls by your children can come in useful.

We found a lot of the best places to visit in Iceland tended to get busy after mid-morning when the tours started to arrive. Head to popular Iceland attractions like the Blue Lagoon for opening time to have a much calmer and enjoyable visit.

If you love photography, an added bonus is the early morning light always makes for beautiful images.

Make Time for Some Wildlife

Icelandic Horse - one of the best experiences when visiting Iceland with kids
Icelandic Horse

Iceland is a haven for some great animal spotting.

You can venture out on a boat tour to see whales, explore sea cliffs for the comical puffin and see seals splash amongst Icebergs in lagoons like Jökulsárlón.

By far our favourite animal encounter was the Icelandic Horse.

These sturdy creatures are amazingly friendly with a sweet nature. They love companionship so will always come over to say hello.

Iceland As An Education

Lava centre, Iceland
Lava centre

Although your kids might not be interested in the fact that Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park was the site for the worlds first parliament, the Althing, they will soak up all the adventures and stories about Vikings.

Places like the 871+/-2 Settlement Exhibit in Reykjavik and Viking World are great places to get a taste of the Viking life.

The natural wonders of Iceland are also an amazing opportunity for geology lessons.

Not only did our children get to walk along an extinct volcano and see boiling mud pools but they also learnt all the science behind these in the great interactive Lava Centre.

Make it Magic

Black Sands of Reynisfjara - Iceland
Black Sands of Reynisfjara

Iceland is a place of folktales and mystical beings. Have some fun looking for Elves and Trolls.

Still, to this day, the locals take elves very seriously and there is even an Elf School.

Discovering local legends about the sites you see is a wonderful way to weave some magic into your trip, especially since many of them involve a troll or two.

Explore and Make Memories

Although it may be hard to do with all the breath-taking scenery, remember to put away the camera sometimes and stop worrying about your ‘things to see in Iceland’ list.

Take the time to see all the little things your children notice and create some amazing memories together.

It’s why you travel with kids after all, isn’t it?

For more ideas about things to do on that road trip, planning information, beautiful photos, and practical maps to help you plan your travels, check out ZigZag On Earth’s eBook:

Planning a Trip to Iceland

Accommodation in Iceland

  • Booking.com has over 1,500 properties in Iceland. You get free cancellation on most rooms and a best price guarantee.

Flights to Iceland

  • Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees).
  • You can find awesome flight deals through Scott’s Cheap Flights

Car Rental in Iceland

  • RentalCars.com is the world’s biggest car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, and Europcar.

Tours of Iceland

 

More tips for Iceland

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If you have already visited, do you have any tips on what to do in Iceland? Share in the comments.

16 thoughts on “11 Helpful Tips for Visiting Iceland with Kids”

  1. Hello Kirsty,

    Thanks for this Helpful tips, I think to visit Iceland with my kids but I don’t know which is the best month to visit Iceland ?! What is your suggest?!

    regards

    1. Hi Khaled,

      I guess it really depends on what sites you would like to see. The weather will be kinder in the summer months like June, but it will also be busier ( so you will need to book well in advance) and it will be unlikely to see the Nothern Lights if that is a big drawcard. We went early Sept which is nearing the end of the peak season. It was still busy on the Golden Circle but fairly quiet on the ring road. We also saw the Northern Lights ( which was early as the season is usually Oct-March) and the weather was mostly very good. Hope that has helped a little. X Kirsty

  2. This was very helpful! We have some low-cost airlines near us that fly to Iceland, but the bag fees are enormous. You made me rethink what all I’d need to pack with my kids and it sounds like it may be better to just fly a traditional airline.

    1. Hi Leah,

      Not sure if it is just my children but if there is mud or water they will always find it,ha,ha. I’m glad that this helped you and I hope you get to have your own Iceland adventure soon.

  3. I love Iceland! I agree about the hot dogs-some of my favorite food memories from Iceland were getting hot dogs either at the famous stand by the art museum (can’t place the name) or at the gas station.

    1. Thank you Vanessa, I really hope you get to go with your four soon. I can just imagine those pops of yellow you always have in your beautiful photos against the landscapes in Iceland. The black sand beaches especially!!!

  4. Thanks for sharing your tips, Kirsty. I’m currently in the midst of planning a week in Iceland next June (without kids) as part of a longer European trip. Although it will be warmer in the other European countries we visit, I can see that I’ll need to pack some warm and waterproof clothing.

    Your photos are stunning and the Icelandic horses look so cute!

  5. It was still busy on the Golden Circle but fairly quiet on the ring road. We also saw the Northern Lights ( which was early as the season is usually Oct-March) and the weather was mostly very good.

  6. This is fantastic thank you for sharing this. Iceland has long been on my bucket list, I am finally heading up there sometime in 2018 when I do my long-awaited European backpacking trip. I love these tips and will definitely keep them handy…..

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