The family guide to Reykjavík
Where is the tallest waterslide in Reykjavík? Are the Viking helmets for viewing only? Is ice cream the national diet of Iceland? It is time to answer some pressing questions with the youngster's guide to Reykjavík.
Circuleight at Harpa
The Harpa Concert Hall has partnered with the New York based Artechouse to create a multi-sensory immersive show well suited for all children over the age of four. The 30-minute show is titled Circuleight
Circuleightand features designs and real-time interactive visuals inspired by eight elements: lava, basalt, glacier, water, flora, algae, microorganism and volcanic gas.
The show is 20 minutes long and can be accessed every thirty minutes from 11-18 every day. Tickets are available online.
Fjölskyldu- og húsdýragarðurinn
The Family Park and Zoo
The Family Park and Zoo, known as the Fjölskyldu- og húsdýragarðurinn, is a local favorite. Operated by the City of Reykjavík, the park has modest admission and activities for children of all ages.
The zoo includes foxes, seals, pigs, reindeer and horses along with the exotic showroom: spiders, cockroaches, snakes and turtles. Another delight is watching the zookeepers give herring to the seals around 11am and 4pm each day.
Further into the park is the amusement park of Reykjavík. Funfairs such as the carousel and the drop tower are open only over summer but the park itself is yet for all seasons, with a playground boosting of a giant pirate ship and a tree house resembling the home of some Astrid Lindgren character.
On whale watching tours people see flukes, flippers, and fins but hardly ever the entire whale. For children, this tiny glimpse captures their imagination and provides scale to these ocean giants. Just consider this: the blue whale beats the length of any dinosaur ever lived and has a heart the size of a mini car.
But check the forecast. Children over the age of six have hypersensitivity to motion sickness compared to adults. Studies suggest the sensitivity peaks around the age of nine. But if the weather conditions are good, like most summer days, there is no reason to worry.
For backup, the exhibition Whales of Iceland
Whales of Icelandfeatures 23 live-size models of North Atlantic species.
The open-air museum
All museums welcome children – even the famous penis museum – but some try harder than others.
To get children to run around, visit the open-air museum Árbæjarsafn
Árbæjarsafnon the outskirts of Reykjavík. The museum is a field of old houses, and inside some of them are exhibitions on Reykjavík's past. The playroom is huge with vintage toys and costumes.
Close to the city center, the National Museum
the National Museumhas a fun playroom with costumes and wooden swords to pose with.
The (kid-friendly) public pools of Reykjavík
Reykjavík makes up for the lack of interesting playgrounds with its selection of outdoor public pools. The best of pools are, in fact, like neatly structured playgrounds with waterslides of various heights, shallow leisure pools, and balls to play with.
Meanwhile, parents can enjoy a soak in the ‘hot pods’.
In Reykjavík, the Laugardalslaug Árbæjarlaug Lágafellslaug
Laugardalslaughas the tallest waterslide. For families with children of varying age, the massive Laugardalslaug can be hard to navigate. Instead, the suburban
Árbæjarlaugis very neatly designed as a family spot.
Lágafellslaugin Mosfellsbær has arguably the best – and the most colorful – set of water slides. Sundlaug Seltjarnaness an excellent leisure pool for young children.
Around here, any weather is good for ice cream
One of the hidden pleasures of Icelandic life is the possibility of having ice cream whenever you want
having ice cream whenever you want– not just when sunshine allows. In Reykjavík, Ísbúð Vesturbæjar, Eldur og ís and Ísbúð Huppu lead the way in soft serves mixed with sweets and flavors; kids especially love the bragðarefur made with three “ingredient” picks from the candy bar. For quality over quantity, sold by the scoop, the downtown establishments Valdís, Skúbb, Gaeta Gelato and Omnom have quite the colorful selection, plus plenty of gray-ish liquorice options.
The Nordic House
An architectural landmark by the University of Iceland campus, designed by the acclaimed Finnish modernist architect Alvar Aalto, the Nordic House
Nordic Househas an excellent indoor playroom for young children, located in the basement, with Legos from Denmark, Mumin characters from Finland, wooden Ikea toys from Sweden and books about elves and trolls from Iceland and Norway.
Libraries are also popular among local parents. Borgarbókasafnið Grófinni
Borgarbókasafnið Grófinnihas a great program for children and a playroom for the youngest.
‘The Wonders of Iceland’ at Perlan
The Wonders of Iceland
The Wonders of Icelandis an interactive and immersive exhibition on the elements of Iceland’s nature. Guests first enter a vast ice cave, some 100 meters in length. From then on it is volcanoes and earthquakes, with options for children to engage with. Augmented reality - the integration of digital information – is on display at the Látrabjarg bird cliff model. A state-of-the art planetarium shows the Northern Lights.
The exhibition is located inside Perlan, an iconic building originally made from old water tanks, with a great vista on top. And hot chocolate.
The Rush Trampoline Park
On a rainy day, the Rush Trampoline Park
Rush Trampoline Parkis something to consider – maybe! The park is set inside a 2200 sq meter warehouse with multi-size trampolines in vivid colors. Prepare yourself for a workout.
Getting around with kids
City buses, known as Strætó, are free for children under the age of twelve. Strollers and bicycles are allowed on board.
Buses no longer accept cash or bank cards on board; riders have to pay with special KLAPP tickets