Iceland doesn't offer many activities especially aimed at youngsters – but its magical appeal is so evident it doesn't have to. The landscape is like a fantasy game rendered real in rock, fire and ice – so just put your kids in the middle of it on hikes, horseback or super-Jeep jaunts, learning how the planet makes and breaks itself along the way. Water-lovers can soak in natural geothermal pools, while adrenaline-junkies can learn to surf the world's coolest (literally) breaks. Young 'uns will love riding gentle Icelandic horses as small as the landscape is big. Then give their imaginations a workout with epic – and often bloodthirsty – sagas lived out here when Vikings held sway.
Activities for families in Iceland
What to do with little ones
Pint sized horses Imported by Vikings over 1,000 years ago, Iceland's unique pure-bred horses are small, calm and have a unique smooth gait (called tolt) – perfect for kids. Top riding areas include the wild Snaefellsnes, Hella flatlands and Skagafjordur, with options ranging from one-hour trots to multi-day treks.
Iceland is a living lab. Continental drift becomes clear when you can watch America and Europe pull apart. Geothermal pools provide lessons in energy creation and use, as well as blissful baths. Calving icebergs and melting glaciers teach global warming better than any book, while volcanoes reveal how a planet's very stones evolve.
Ancient soap opera Iceland's historic sagas have been called the world's first novels – with thrills and emotion to entrance any adventure/soap-loving kids. Written down in the 12th and 13th centuries, these timeless yarns deal in bitter disputes, doomed romance and big characters – while offering hard-earned tips for coping with woes! Museums offer fantastic mementoes, from longships to beautiful ancient manuscripts.
Traveling in Iceland with kids
responsibletravel.com asks the experts
Emmanuelle Bluman from supplier Equipe Alkemia reveals why Iceland for kids works well:
“Iceland is a really good destination for families with children from seven up. It's a good place to enjoy nature, safe, and full of beautiful landscape. They can also see so many nice animals! Whales, reindeers, puffins.”
Laura Greenman from supplier Magnetic North reveals a few reasons why she is a fan of Iceland for kids:
“Iceland offers families with older kids and teenagers a great deal. Accessible outdoor adventures provide life-long memories. Horse-riding, hiking, boat tours, bird-watching and whale-watching are excursions for families. They also enjoy the hot springs, whatever the weather and time of year.”
David Philips of supplier Astronomy Tours shares some Iceland for kids suggestions:
“Iceland is a very family friendly nation. Children love activities such as riding the diminutive Icelandic horses, super jeep rides, cross-country skiing and whale watching. And like adults, they can be enthralled by the landscape which is an open-air geography lesson.”