Between city breaks and wildlife adventures, Iceland has a lot to offer big kids and little ones alike. If yours are a little older, consider a road trip to visit the country’s spectacular waterfalls, continental rifts and huffing geysers in its Golden Circle of sights.
Don’t let its size fool you, the Icelandic capital packs a lot in. Prime among any visit is a trip to one of 18 geothermal pools dotted about the city; the Blue Lagoon’s surreal cobalt waters shrouded in mist and surrounded by snowy banks are a particular highlight. Come winter, revel in the festive spirit of Hafnarfjörður Christmas Village and, in April/May, the Children’s Culture Festival brings internationally acclaimed workshops and performances in a range of art disciplines to the city. There’s something for every taste from puppetry and film workshops to dance schools and circus lessons. For more traditional education, head to any of Reykjavik’s fantastic Viking museums including Saga where the story of these hardy, battle worn settlers is brought to life with fascinating life-like displays. And, don’t forget to get stuck into the local fare with hot dogs covered in lashings of sauce, soft ice cream and local liquorice. There’s also the excellent Reykjavik Family Park & Zoo where there’s a focus on Icelandic farm animals.
However, if you want to see animals in their natural habitat, head to Reykjavik’s harbour for a whale watching tour. Spot everything from 8 tonne minke to 50 tonne sperm whale giants as you pass white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises. For the best whale watching in Iceland – and Europe – make your way to Húsavík on Iceland’s north coast. Here, you’re almost guaranteed to make a sighting so long as you stay in season (mid-April to mid-October).
But there’s much more than marine life in Iceland. The Látrabjarg cliffs in the country’s northwest are home to an astounding collection of birds – including millions of impossibly cute puffins – whose flocks have been recognised by National Geographic as one of the world’s most arresting phenomena. Flitting about an archipelago of 3,000 tiny islets, it’s a sight to behold as seals sun themselves on the rocks below and arctic terns build nests in the vertical rock faces. Back on land, the Icelandic horses – still used for sheepherding – are a delight to spot in fields and in shows alike.