It can be stressful traveling with children if you are unsure what to expect. We don’t want you to be stressed, so here are a few tips on what to bring and what to do in Reykjavik as a family.
What to bring when traveling with children in Reykjavik
While traveling with children in Reykjavik, you probably want to walk around and get to know the city. Bring a stroller with a rain cover if travelling with a small child. It just makes everything easier. Then you have to make sure the children are always warm.
The best thing is to dress in layers. That also goes for grown-ups. Even during summer, it can get a bit cold. We highly recommend wool base layers, regular clothes, and overcoats according to the weather. There are many outdoor activity stores to buy warm clothes, for example, Ullarkistan in Skeifan. It is a bit out of the city centre but worth the visit. There you can find soft merino wool for both children and adults.
We also recommend you bring swimwear for the whole family as there are many geothermal pools to visit!
Food stops with kids
Reykjavik has a variety of food and snack stops when traveling with children. Restaurants, cafés, small shops, bakeries, and supermarkets are on every corner where you can pick up bread, yoghurts, fruits, and other snacks.
Familiar supermarkets like Bonus and Kronan have baby food by brands like Ella’s Kitchen, Hipp, and Semper if you are looking for baby food.
You won’t find any McDonalds in Iceland, but we have KFC and Taco Bell. But we must recommend Icelandic fast food options as well, such as Búllan (Burger Joint), Hamborgarafabrikkan, Steikhúsið,
and several pizza and kebab places.
Restaurants and cafés in Reykjavík are generally very child friendly. If you are traveling with a small child, you can be sure that the restaurant has a high chair for your baby. We like, for example, Laundromat Café, which has a great play area on their ground floor where you can also get food service. Kaffi Laugalækur, close to Laugardalslaug, is a very family-friendly coffeehouse with food options, which we recommend.
If you want to select your restaurant based on food rather than toys, you’re in luck. Most restaurants here claim to be family-friendly and should be able to cater to your needs. There are at least 3 to 4 vegan restaurants around our main street Laugavegur, including one called Mama Reykjavik.
For mothers breastfeeding, you can breastfeed anywhere, anytime, as breastfeeding in public is very much accepted. So please feel comfortable feeding your little one without any worries about your surroundings.
Things to do when traveling with children in Reykjavik
For activity, we love going to the public swimming pools. They are indeed for all ages. When we first brought him, our baby boy was just a few months old.
Laugardalslaug is the largest and most popular, with many hot tubs, a good swimming pool, a large play area, and a few slides for both the smallest and older kids. The pools are heated, so don’t let bad weather stop you; we go all year round.
Another pool we want to recommend is the Vesturbæjarlaug on the west side of Reykjavik.
There are many pools scattered around the city, so you can even go to more than one. The price is only around 9 USD for parents, 1 USD for 6-17, and finally free for 0–5-year-olds. The opening hours are also good. They are generally open between 8 am and 10 pm. That makes them an excellent option after a day of sightseeing, for example. Finish the day enjoying the geothermally heated hot tubs.
Just by Laugardalslaug, you have The Reykjavik Zoo. There you will find domestic animals, seals, and arctic foxes. There is also a great family park with a play area and rides. The coffee shop is open all year long. The zoo is popular, especially during the summer holidays, so often it’s better to show up early.
Public libraries are a great place to catch your breath. The downtown library is popular among the locals who bring their children to play in a small but lovely play area, look at picture books, try on costumes, or just read books. Great to meet other children as well. This is all free of charge.
Playgrounds in Reykjavik
There are several open playgrounds in Reykjavik. There is one at Arnarhóll, the hill overseeing the concert house Harpa. It’s hidden behind trees and bushes, perfectly located and well maintained. Then there is Hljómskálagarður, the park on the opposite side of the pond (Tjörnin) from City Hall. Great for running around, playing ball and there is a small playground as well.
A bit further out by the art museum Kjarvalsstaðir, you have Klambratún, a charming park with a fantastic play area, frisbee golf, basket and volleyball courts, the museum and a coffee shop. Great for sunny days.
There is also a playground for a bit older children and teenagers on the harbour, in front of Kolaportið flea market. There you will find basketball hoops and a skateboard rink, which can also be used for scooters, roller skates and other wheeled contraptions.
Toys and Books for Kids
Iceland does not have a toy or book rental (apart from libraries of course, but you need a library card for that). However, Reykjavik has quite a few second-hand markets where you might fight toys and books for just a few krónur.
Góði Hirðirinn is the biggest such market. It is located both on Hverfisgata in downtown Reykjavik and near the Skeifan shopping district a few minutes out of the centre (by car). Then we have a few Red Cross second-hand stores but they do not all carry books. The Red Cross store by Hlemmur has toys and books as well as the one in Mjódd (Reykjavik suburbs). Kolaportið Flea Market could also be worth checking out.
When you have finished using the books and toys, you can donate them back again by going to Sorpa near Grandi.
Opening times for Góði Hirðirinn:
Fellsmúli 28, 108 Reykjavik
Weekdays 12:00 – 18:00, Saturdays 12:00 – 16:00
Hverfisgata 94-96, 101 Reykjavik
Weekdays 11:00 – 18:00, Saturdays 12:00 – 16:00
Opening times for the Red Cross:
Hlemmur (Laugavegur 116, 101 Reykjavik)
Mondays 12:00 – 18:00, Tuesdays 10:00 – 18:00, Wednesdays 12:00 – 18:00, Thursdays 10:00 – 18:00, Fridays 12:00 – 18:00, Saturdays 12:00 – 16:00
Mjódd, 110 Reykjavik
Weekdays 10:00 – 18:00, Saturdays 12:00 – 16:00
Opening times for Kolaportið Flea Market:
Tryggvagata 19, 101 Reykjavik
Weekends 11:00 – 17:00
Reykjavik City Museums
Another fun activity is to visit the Open Air Museum called Árbæjarsafn. It is a small village with more than 20 buildings which form a town square, a village, and a farm. It was an established farm well into the 20th century. There you can learn about life in Iceland, meet the animals, see the artwork, relax with a coffee and a traditional Icelandic pastry, or shop in the two museum shops. Great place for children to run around and play and even learn some history on the way.
Other Reykjavik City Museums, such as the Maritime Museum and the Settlement Exhibition, are family-friendly and have play areas. They are, of course, great to learn about the history of Iceland as well.
Reykjavik City Card
When traveling with children in Reykjavik, the Reykjavik City Card is an option worth checking out. You get free access to many of Reykjavik’s museums, the swimming pools, Reykjavik Zoo, and the public bus system. Additionally, you get discounts at many other places. You can choose between one-, two-, or three-day cards. Please note that admission to the museums is free of charge for children under 18. So there is not much need to buy a City Card for anyone under 18. However, depending on the child’s age, you might have to pay a small fee to the city bus services, the thermal pools you get a discount, and the Reykjavik Family Park and Zoo.
Wonders of Iceland
The Wonders of Iceland in Perlan is another highly recommended experience. Everything from a glacier cave (made from real glacier ice) to a VR of Europe’s largest bird cliff and a planetarium where you can experience the Northern Lights. All of the exhibitions are interactive. There is also a café, a restaurant, and a 360° viewing deck to see Reykjavik and the capital area.