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The 10 Best Things for Families to Do on the Reykjanes Peninsula

Choosing a destination where everyone in the family can have a good time is a tall order. Some places are great for kids but can be pretty dull for teens or adults, while the opposite is true for other destinations. Yet making memories together is such an important aspect of family life. These are the things your kids will remember long after they’ve left home and have families of their own. It’s worth seeking out somewhere that has a chance of keeping everyone happy.

Few places are truly suitable for every stage of your life, but we think Iceland is a pretty good fit. There’s something compelling about its raw and rugged scenery that will inspire just about anyone, while the country’s love of childish things like elves and ice cream will appeal to kids of all ages. Iceland is the kind of place that will put a smile on your faces for a whole host of reasons and isn’t that what you’re looking for when planning a family holiday?

Iceland is a very family-friendly destination and the same can be said for the first region of the country most people see: Reykjanes. If you’re travelling with children in tow, there are a number of things that you might want to bookmark for an itinerary. We’ve put together a list of some of our favourites. Why not take a look? Here are our ten best picks for things for families to do on the Reykjanes peninsula.

Go swimming

Swimming is a large part of Icelandic culture and each town has a pool, which is a place where locals come to socialise and hang out as well as swim. In summer especially, the swimming pool is likely to also be very popular with visiting families. There are a number of pools within the Reykjanes peninsula; some are indoor pools and others are outdoors. Even when it’s chilly, warm water means that swimming here is a pleasure.

Why not consider calling in before you all drive off to Reykjavik and beyond? Try Vatnaveröld water park, a covered pool with play equipment that will delight younger members of your family. The sheltered, child-friendly pool in Vogar is also a treat, while the fun slide at Sundlaugin Garði in Suðurnesjabær will also be well-received.

Eat ice cream

Children of all ages will enjoy ice cream in Reykjanes. No matter what the weather is like, Icelanders love to eat it. That means there are many places where you can buy ice cream all over the country – including within a short drive of the airport. Call in to the Keflavik branch of Ísbúð Huppu – you’ll recognise this ice cream parlour from its pink logo with a cute cow.

There, you can opt for scoops of ice cream in a cone or cup, but the local kids will tell you to order a bragðarefur. This dreamy concoction is a generous dollop of soft serve ice cream blended with your choice of sweets, fruit pieces and other toppings. Icelanders will tell you liquorice is the best but really you can add anything you wish. The result is a little like the McFlurry dessert you get at home from your local McDonalds only much, much better.

Meet the Giantess in the Mountain

Kids will love Icelandic folklore tales no matter where they are from. Collectively known as Huldufólk, a sizeable population of elves, trolls, ogres and giants live alongside humans. Icelandic author Herdis Egilsdottir wrote a series of books in the 1950s about a girl named Sigga and her friend, the Giantess in the Mountain.

This particular ogress is aged 400 years (or thereabouts!) and measures more than 5 metres tall. She’s a friendly giant that has eyes the size of footballs and a big heart. You and your children can visit a model of her in her cave on the edge of Keflavik town and see how tiny your feet look in her rather large shoes. Grab some fun selfies before you say goodbye to your new friend.

Introduce your kids to plate tectonics

Our sense of awe and wonder at the planet’s natural beauty begins when we’re small, so give your children a head start during your time in Reykjanes. This part of Iceland could perhaps be described as an open-air school, though we’ll bet learning science has never been this much fun.

One of the most accessible places to visit is the Bridge between Continents. It’s easy for even the smallest child to comprehend that the ground is slowly yet imperceptibly moving as they can see the rift in the landscape. Those that are a little older will be able to appreciate the idea of convection currents in the magma in a way that’s far more exciting than any classroom-based lesson.

If it’s clear from their reactions that they’re keen to see more, make the Seltún Krýsuvík Geothermal Field your follow up stop. This place boasts mud pots, fumaroles and hot springs. The boardwalks that lead through this steamy landscape are suitable for all ages, but keep a tight hand on the little ones to make sure they don’t wander off as the water and mud here are very hot indeed.

Take a look at a very special boat

Science isn’t the only school subject that’s better in Iceland – history is too. Embrace the chance to go back in time and bring the Viking era to life. Specifically, when it comes to Reykjanes, there’s a replica of a longboat which will delight any children that are fascinated with the past. You’ll find it at Viking World in Reykjanesbær.

The ship is called the Íslendingur (the Icelander). It’s a copy of a Viking longship that was excavated in Norway more than a hundred years ago. Though it’s housed in this modern museum, it too has made an ocean voyage, sailing all the way to North America just as those early adventurers would have done a thousand years before. There is also some interesting information about the way people would have lived back in those days.

Go to the beach

Iceland’s perhaps not the first place that springs to mind for a beach holiday but nevertheless there are some great stretches of shoreline to visit. This is not a fly and flop destination, more a bundle up and go for a walk kind of place. But the coastline is fabulous, particularly where it’s at its wildest, like at Brimketill where the waves have battered the lava into the shape of a bowl.

The weather in Iceland wouldn’t be warm enough to swim even if the waves were calm. However even so, that doesn’t mean you should rule out a trip to the beach. We suggest the black sand of Sandvik or the white sand of Garðskagi. Both are ideal for a windswept stroll and the chance to look out for sea birds or maybe even spot a distant whale passing by offshore.

Introduce your children to a new activity

Sport and exercise are both great ways of putting a smile on your face and bringing families closer together. You might spend an afternoon playing golf, for instance, or going on a hike through a forest. But as Reykjanes is surrounded on three sides by water, why not make that your adventure playground? There are a number of ways you can get out on the water as a family during your stay in Reykjanes.

During the summer months, children aged five or over can participate in a guided sea kayaking trip with local firm Reykjanes Seakayak. They’ll supply the dry suits, rubber shoes and life vests; all you need is enthusiasm and a willingness to join in. Meanwhile, if you’re keen on keeping a little more distance between you and the ocean, then you might prefer whale watching on one of Iceland’s most beautiful fjords, Faxaflói, with Voga Sea Tours a Reykjanes-based provider.

Get your groove on at the Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Does your family love music? Perhaps you know a little about singers like Björk or the King of Icelandic Eurovision, Dadi Freyr. Even if you don’t, this museum is for you, showcasing the very best of pop and rock music from Iceland. Its exhibits cover the history of music in the country, but the best part of any visit will be when you discover how interactive this place is.

You’re going to want to allow plenty of time to visit the museum’s Sound Lab. There, you can try a selection of instruments that includes an electric drum kit, electric guitar and electric bass. There’s also a karaoke booth. You can compete as a family and record yourselves singing to compare who performed best. If your kids are so inclined, there is also information about what it takes to become a sound engineer as you play around with a mixing desk.

Head over to a bakery for some sweet treats

If your children are always badgering you for some cakes, biscuits or pastries, then they’ll be able to do the same while you’re in Iceland. There are some great bakeries close to the airport, which is great news if you want to begin or end your trip on a (sugar) high. Among the best are Sigurjónsbakarí and Kökulist bakery.

Both of these places have a wide selection of sweet treats and even if you don’t usually give in to the pressure while you’re at home, there’s no excuse not to spoil all the family while you’re away on holiday. The adults will also be pleased to hear that these bakeries also serve very good coffee.

Marvel at the Aurora Borealis

Depending on the age of your children and how much they like the cold, you might consider a Northern Lights chase as an activity you can do together. During the darker months, they sometimes show up early in the evening, though you can boost your parent popularity rating by promising the youngsters that they get to stay up late. Managing expectations is crucial, as the Northern Lights are often fickle and don’t show up to order. But when they do, it’s a most special moment and one you’ll look back on many years later.

Of course you’ll have done your homework and picked a clear night with a strong chance of solar activity. Now all you need is a dark spot from which to view the north, and as Reykjanes is quite sparsely populated that isn’t too tricky. Try the Bridge between Continents or out by the lighthouses at Garður where you should be relatively untroubled by light pollution.

As you can see, there are not only plenty of things for all the family to do together, but also a wide variety of activities to try and places to visit. It’s well worth planning to spend some time in Reykjanes before heading off to see the rest of Iceland.