12 Helpful Tips For Visiting Iceland With Kids

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When people think about Iceland, their mind conjures up images of volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, ice sheets and dazzling light displays of the Northern Lights.

Most people think of it as a destination for adventure, and not the most ideal place to take your kids.

But those would be wrong to leave their kids at home when visiting the rugged land of Iceland. There are plenty of reasons to visit Iceland with kids, and the children will love their time there.

But there are some things you need to know before you go to Iceland with children, especially if they are toddler or baby age.

To help you out, we’ve listed our top tips for traveling to Iceland with kids so you can make the most out of your experience.

Tips For Visiting Iceland With Kids

people walking on Reynisfjara Black Sand-Beach, Iceland
Reynisfjara Black Sand-Beach iceland

If traveling outside of Reykjavik, you will probably need a rental car. We like DiscoverCars for their easy search capabilities, competitive prices and excellent customer service. See rates and availability here.

1. 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 hotels in Iceland, there are some amazing places to rent in on vacation rental sites.

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

You can use sites like IndieCampers, where you rent a campervan from a local who isn’t using it, which drastically saves on costs.

The added bonus of a campervan or vacation rental is that you can prepare your own food and save even more money (food is also very expensive)!

Make sure you check out budget supermarkets like Bónus or Krónan to save money on food costs.

2. Slow Your Iceland Itinerary Down

kids in red raincoats running on black dirt with green hills in the background
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 this guide on the most 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 family trip to Iceland!

3. Pack for the Weather Conditions in Iceland

kids in red raincoats looking at Seljalandsfoss waterfall
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 that you can wear in layers, as temperatures drop dramatically at night.

4. Take Advantage of the Free Things to do in Iceland

kids looking at 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.

5. Think Safety First

people walking on rim of 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.

6. Get a Taste of Iceland

Luckily some of the fun things to do in Iceland are not only child-friendly but cheap, including finding Icelandic food.

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.

7. 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.

8. Make Time for Some Wildlife

girl patting an Icelandic Horse
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.

9. Iceland As An Education

people lying on floor watching movie at the 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.

10. 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.

11. 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 young children notice and create some amazing memories together.

When out there whale watching, or horseback riding, or even watching the hot water shoot from the geysers or swimming in geothermal pools – put down your phone and enjoy these moments on your family vacation.

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

12. Get Eye Masks

One thing that we were unprepared for on our visit to Iceland was the daylight hours.

The midnight sun is not a joke in the summer, it can be very bright and disturb your sleep pattern if you don’t have black-out windows.

There is nothing worse than cranky kids on a holiday with lack of sleep, especially in a camper, so be prepared for this and make sure your kids get plenty of rest.

Best Time To Visit Iceland With Kids

view of Reykjavik city with snowcapped mountains behind
Reykjavik Source: Deposit Photos

The best time of year to visit Iceland is the summer. The months of June and July provide extended daylight hours, ideal for exploring the breathtaking landscapes.

Winter, specifically December, offers a chance to witness the mesmerizing aurora borealis, otherwise known as the Northern Lights.

Any time of year is a good time to visit, but you do need to be mindful of the cold weather in the winter. Pack warm gloves, scarves and hats etc.

Each season in Iceland has its unique charm, ensuring a memorable trip regardless of the time of year chosen.

Final Thoughts

The land of fire and ice is a place that lights up children’s curiosity and sense of wonder and there’s no doubt that Iceland’s natural beauty will leave kids awe-inspired.

The opportunity to observe playful puffins, ride Icelandic horses, and go whale-watching, marvel at ice caves, see lava tunnels and hot water spray out of geysirs will create cherished memories that they will talk about for years to come.

With its magical landscapes and unique adventures, Iceland is not only an extraordinary, but also educational journey for families.

Tours of Iceland

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If you have already visited, do you have any tips on what to do in Iceland or have any tips for visiting with kids? Share in the comments.

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