Our favourite family-friendly activities in Reykjavík

By: Catharine
Last Updated: 06/11/2017

The Nordic countries are all pretty family-friendly. Children of all ages can be spotted out and about in cafés and shops along with their parents, and sometimes even left alone sleeping in their prams outside of shops and cafés... much to the amusement and/or distress of those to whom this is a very foreign concept.

But assuming your child is awake and tagging along on your day out in Reykjavík, what are some of the things that are sure to keep them entertained?

Here are a few of our favourite family-friendly things to do in Reykjavík.

Parks big and small

For a small city, Reykjavík boasts a lot of green space. The central pond, Tjörnin, is surrounded by gardens and a walking path and, at its far end bordering Hringbraut, you'll find Hljómskálagarðurinn, a big park area, with play structures for kids and a big climbing rope web. The park is also equipped with barbecue pits for public use, so bring over some coals and hotdogs and make a day of it.

Reykjavík Family Friendly - Austurvöllur
Austurvöllur is a green space in front of parliament that is a beacon for sun-seekers in the summer months.

In the Laugardalur area of Reykjavík you'll find both the Fjölskyldu- og húsdýragarðsins (Family Park and Petting Zoo) and Grasagarðurinn (Reykjavík Botanical Gardens). At the Family Park, kids can get up close and personal with some of Iceland's wildlife -- cows, horses, sheep, goats! -- and enjoy some small amusement-park rides. The Botanical gardens, on the other hand, are a great place for families looking for a quiet stroll and for lots of open space to run about and enjoy the ever-changing Icelandic weather. Both the Family Park and Botanical Garden are equipped with cafés to pop into should that weather not be to your liking!

Reykjavík Family Friendly - Tjörnin
Tjörnin is surrounded with green space and parks for little legs to run around.

Central Reykjavík is also dotted with many neighbourhood parkettes, so a stroll around the city can easily be made more entertaining for the more playful of your travel companions with short breaks to test out a slide, play hop-scotch, or take a spin on a carousel.

Hot dogs

What kid doesn't love the delicious simplicity of a hotdog? In that respect, Icelanders are all kids at heart, because a walk through Reykjavík (or any other Icelandic town, for that matter) would make you think that they just can't get enough of'em. Sate the rumbling of little tummies with a stop at the famous Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, or grab a dog on the go at pretty much any kiosk, convenience store or gas station you pass by. Pair it with a box of kókómjólk (Icelandic chocolate milk) for a real treat.

Reykjavík Family Friendly - BBP
A delicious dog from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur.

Beach & Bunnies

Walk around central Reykjavík and you're sure to see many a cat, lounging on windowsills, darting out from below parked cars, or just strutting along sidewalks. But head over to Öskjuhlíð and you'll be sure to run into another aspect of Reykjavík's wildlife. Bunnies! The wooded mound that houses the glass dome Perlan is home to a very large population of rabbits that are so used to the presence of people that they'll sit calmly along the area's walking paths, nibbling at foliage, rather than dashing away at the sound of approaching visitors.

Reykjavík Family Friendly - Öskjuhlíð
The view from Perlan, atop Öskjuhlíð.

Take your little ones on a bunny safari through Öskjuhlíð  area (it's also just a nice place for a stroll) and end up on the shore at Nauthólsvík for a splash in the sea -- yes, really! -- or a soak in the geothermal hot pot. In the summer months, the sea at Nauthólsvík is warmed by geothermal water, and the golden beach is a popular spot for locals and visitors to soak up the sun and build sand castles.

Swimming pools

The thought of a dip in the North Atlantic not appealing to your little travel companions? Maybe a splash in one of the city's many heated public pools is more their speed. Laugardalslaug is equipped with a water slide and many of the city's pools also have kiddie pools for little ones to goof around in without getting in the way of serious lap swimmers.

Reykjavík Family Friendly - Pools
A dip in one of the city's pools will please just about all of your travel companions.

Have you been to Reykjavík with kids? What were some of your favourite family-friendly activities in the city?

Post by: Catharine

Catharine Fulton is a journalist and travel writer. Though born and raised in Canada, she found herself stuck in the Nordic region since moving to Finland in 2007 to pursue her MA and then migrating to Reykjavík, Iceland in 2009, where she lives with her Icelandic husband and tries (albeit unsuccessfully) to master the Icelandic language.

Find Catharine on LinkedIn.

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