7 Things to Do in Reykjavik, Iceland with Kids
Iceland offers plenty of natural wonders to explore. However, because of these many attractions, people often forget about Reykjavik, Europe’s northernmost capital. At Reykjavik, Iceland, one can find many beautiful scenery, culture and family-friendly attractions. Here are 7 fun things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland with kids.
What to do in Reykjavik, Iceland
1. Climb Hallgrimskirka
It’s hard to miss Hallgrimskirkja, one of the Lutheran churches in Reykjavik. This spaceship-looking structure is the largest church and one of the tallest buildings in Iceland. In front, you can also find a large Leif Ericsson (the Scandinavian Viking) statue.
However, the main attraction would be the observation tower, which offers a panoramic view of Reykjavik. The scenery here is beautiful because you can see the colorful houses, harbor, water and mountain backdrop.
2. Walk and Shop on Laugavegur
Reykjavik’s main shopping street is Laugavegur, named after the famous Iceland hiking trail. This street is filled with many unique shops and is where souvenir shopping is at its best. Be sure to look for Icelandic local companies like 66°NORTH and IceWear.
As you walk around, you never know what you’ll find. For us, we found some bizarre and interesting window displays. My kids loved posing by these Icelandic trolls found throughout the city. Try to pronounce some of the Icelandic street signs for fun. Vatnsmýrarvegur, anyone?
3. Visit Perlan
Perlan, translated in English as ‘the Pearl’, is a glass and steel dome built over six huge tanks. These tanks hold the city’s geothermal hot water. There is a revolving restaurant on top and a 360-degree viewing platform, where you can see the city. From here, you can also access Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach, the only beach in Reykjavik.
4. Go on Harbor Excursions
The Old Harbour is a pleasant place to walk and look at trendy shops, galleries and restaurants. My kids loved seeing all the boats and marine activities here. If you’re visiting between April and August, this is the place to board for puffin spotting and whale watching tours.
The Old Harbour is also a great opportunity for educational experiences. My kids were captivated by the realistic-looking wax figures at the Saga Museum. This museum brings Iceland’s rich history to life with an audio guide and Viking costumes for kids!
The Volcano House is another must visit. This is a Geology exhibition that has documentary films and interactive exhibits about Iceland’s volcanic eruptions. The Maritime Museum offers an insight into Iceland’s seafaring days and maritime history with artifacts and ships.
5. Hunt for Street Art
Reykjavik has many unique street art and murals throughout the city. I recommend you go street art hunting and find your favorite pieces! Besides art hunting, you can also find some interesting sculptures along the sidewalks. One of the most popular sculptures is the Sun Voyager near the water.
6. Visit Harpa Concert Hall
The glistening Harpa is a Reykjavik gem. You won’t see a concert hall quite like this, which was designed to reflect the nature surrounding Iceland. It has an amazing glass facade and worth exploring its unique interior for free. Be sure to check out the schedule ahead of time to see one of the numerous concerts and exhibits held there.
7. Play at Parks
Reykjavik also offers some wonderful natural escapes amidst the hustle and bustle. In the center of the city lies a natural body of water known as Tjornin (the Pond). My kids enjoyed feeding the ducks, geese and swans at the pond. There is also a botanical garden and plenty of open space to walk around.
A few steps away from the city lies the Hljomskalagardur garden. Hljomskalagardur garden is located on Tjornin’s south side. Here you will also find a kids’ play area and picnic facilities.
Another popular area is Ellidaardalur valley where families can wade in the salmon river during summer, walk and bike on trails, have a picnic, or explore the forest. Laugardalur (Hot Spring Valley) has Reykjavik’s largest outdoor thermal pool. It may not be the Blue Lagoon, but my kids would never pass off an opportunity to be in the pool!
Lastly, the Family Park and Zoo is also a great stop during the summer when they have events, rides and an open playground.
Reykjavik, Iceland is a wonderful city to explore with your family. It is also a great base to use for day trips to the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle. Need a place to stay? Hilton Reykjavik Nordica is conveniently located in central Reykjavik, allowing guests to have easy access to the rest of Reykjavik and its many attractions.
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Know Before You Go
- An Icelandic hotdog is known as a Pylsa.
- For some of the best views, you should pay a visit to the Hallgrimskirkja. The cathedral is one of the tallest buildings in Iceland and can be seen from all around the city.
- The Golden Circle Tour is one of the most popular guides in Europe. It includes stops at the volcanic crater of Kerio, Geysir, Thingvellir, and the Gullfoss Waterfall.