Family holidays in Iceland

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Iceland’s incredible infrastructure, including a ring road taking you to all the best sites, make it the perfect family self-drive destination. While children under the age of eight might find it difficult to appreciate the adventure and the beautiful nature, parents love it as a family travel destination because Iceland is one of the safest countries in the whole world. Self-drive trips are the perfect answer for families with younger children, since they give you and your kids all the freedom you could possibly want, without worrying about a strict schedule. This stunning country transforms with each season and so a tour to Iceland seems to offer two destinations in one. In the winter you can even swap the car for a dog sled for the ride of your lives. In the summer, pack up a picnic and pull over at one of the stunning national parks where your kids can swim, climb and play to their hearts’ content in a stunning setting.

Best things to see and do in Iceland with kids

It doesn’t matter if you self-drive or if you just stay in Reykjavik, there’s something for everyone in Iceland, especially teenagers. Tourists are often shocked — sometimes so shocked that they call the police — to see buggies left outside cafés in downtown Reykjavik, but for Icelanders, this practice is quite normal. First stop for families in Iceland is the famous Blue Lagoon where you can freshen up from your flight and relax together in the fun and therapeutic warm waters. Younger and older kids alike will love splashing around here or slathering themselves with the therapeutic mud that is put out in buckets all around the main pool. The Golden Circle is a popular choice among families, whose children will love seeing the dramatic boreholes and hot springs as they shoot spouts of water high into the air. Gullfoss waterfall is also an unmissable attraction, which is beautiful and striking in equal measure.

The natural world is best seen and appreciated in Skaftafell National Park or Jokulsarlon Lagoon and of course, the famous Godafoss Waterfall, the waterfall of The Gods. Equally breathtaking, take a boat trip to go and see the whales that swim not far off the coast, or even a helicopter tour to see all of these incredible sites from above on a thrilling tour. Kids will love seeing the native Icelandic horses as they roam around the countryside. You can even go horse riding to see the landscape or coastline on an unforgettable family day trip (making time to try some of the famous local ice cream). You may even see some of Iceland’s most famous animals; the puffins, as they huddle up on the rocks and cliffs overlooking the sea. These animals are always a favourite with children and parents alike, who love seeing the cute species as they travel from place to place. Iceland is one of the safest countries in Europe and so you’ll be able to travels stress free with children of any age. For children eight and up, whale-watching, horse riding, and ATV (all-terrain vehicles) adventures are perfect for the entire family. 

Best time to visit Iceland as a family

Iceland’s northerly location means that its seasons are drastic and the difference between Winter and Summer here can be drastic. The time of year you choose to go will depend on what you want to see and do during your trip. Snow can fall from as early as September, welcoming in the winter months which are so perfect for spotting the incredible Northern Lights and doing all the snowy activities you could dream of. If you and your family want a self-drive trip, however, visit in the summer, when roads are clear and temperatures are usually around 20°C. This is also the best time for whale watching. To combine any of these activities, visit during the linking periods, such as September, when Autumn turns to winter and you will have the chance to see both whales and the Northern Lights whilst avoiding and extreme cold. The warmest months of the year, July and August are also the most crowded and so, if you choose to travel during this period, you will need to plan a little in advance to ensure that accommodations don’t get booked up.

Family holiday tips for travelling to Iceland

With a little research and knowledge you can ensure that you are as prepared as possible for your family trip to Iceland, here a few tips and tricks to ensure that everything runs smoothly on your holiday.

  • You don’t have to avoid the winter months due to the cold. If you do want all the benefits of visiting Iceland as a winter wonderland, all you need to do is ensure that you pack good quality thermal gear which will keep both you and your kids warm and happy as you see Iceland’s most amazing winter attractions.
  • As a small island and a now popular tourist destinations, Iceland can be pricey. Be prepared to spend during your time here and book things a little in advance to try to save a bit of money where you can.
  • If you do choose to rent a car and plan a self-drive trip, it may be worth getting extra insurance, since weather can be harsh on tires, paint and engines.
  • The water here, including water from the tap, contains sulphur and so be prepared for  bit of a smell when you turn on the tap, however, you can drink it since this is actually one of the cleanest types of water in the world. Knowing this could save you some money, since bottled water can be expensive.

When to go in Iceland?


The best time to go to Iceland is in the summer: the temperatures are pleasant and the days are long. Depending on the region you are going to, you can also go in May or September, when there are fewer tourists and the climate is still pleasant, but be warned: some trips and sites are closed during these months. Between October and April, the country is nearly always in darkness, but you can see the magnificent aurora borealis if you are ready to brave the cold and the night.

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