FX Excursions

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Explore the Magic of Iceland in Wintertime with Kids

by Susan Finch

Nov 10, 2017

© Daria Medvedeva | Dreamstime

Age Specific / Kids

Wintertime in Iceland doesn’t always rank at the top of a wintertime vacation with kids, but can be a completely magical experience. Aside from the scant sunlight hours and chilly weather, a wintertime excursion in Iceland can be full of intrigue, a warm water swim and mystical beings. Here’s where you should start.


The Northern Lights (aurora borealis) as seen from Iceland

Photo: Chakkree | Dreamstime


See the Northern Lights

Iceland has an otherworldly quality that will blow your children’s minds with legends of elves, trolls and Mother Nature at play. A visit to see the Northern Lights is a must on your Icelandic winter trip. Guided tours from September through April are usually your best bet to see the Aurora Borealis and watch your children be amazed. However, if the auroras are strong, you may be able to see them on your own from Reykjavik or a less light-polluted area like Thingvellir.


See the Site of the First Democratic Parliament

Thingvellir is also on the list for things to do in Iceland with kids, but not just to see the Northern Lights. Thingvellir is the site where the Vikings set up the first democratic parliament and is a magical place to explore. Thingvellir is part of the popular Golden Circle tour that includes lava caves, Geysers At Haukadalur, Gullfoss waterfalls and Kerið Crater Lake. You can see them all or pick and choose depending on your family’s interest. But not only is Thingvellir historic and breathtaking, it’s also the place where the boundary of the North American tectonic plate and Eurasia meet. It makes for fantastic diving between the fissure in warmer months.


Gullfoss waterfalls in Winter

Photo: Colin Young | Dreamstime


Visit Santa Klaus

It turns out Santa’s real workshop isn’t in the North Pole after all, but in the Icelandic city of Akureyri. The man in the red suit who runs it is suspiciously realistic, making parents and children alike think there’s something to this Santa in Iceland legend after all. His workshop features toys and goodies, some for sale as keepsakes. Your children can also pen a letter to leave behind in a mailbox that only Santa can read.


Mother and son in hot spring

Photo: Elizaveta Galitskaya | Dreamstime


Take a Soak in a Geothermal Pool

Swimming in Iceland isn’t just possible during the wintertime, it’s also a favorite pastime in the country’s warm, geothermal pools. Older kids will love the Blue Lagoon with trays of white silica mud the family can slather on their skin. Parents can also stay and get a massage and do other fun grown-up stuff. Other must-sees on your list are the Secret Lagoon in Flúdir and Seljavallalaug for a family-friendly swim. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of warm water swimming options. Even downtown Reykjavik has heated swimming pools near its urban center.


Hang Out with the Vikings

Kids can see how the vikings lived in the Viking World Museum in Reykjavik with a replica of an old Viking ship. Families get a look at the Viking’s crafts, fishing and tools used to survive and thrive in ancient times. There’s also a section where the kids can dress up in fun Viking costumes, perfect for a selfie for social media fodder.


Go on an Elf Sighting Tour

Hafnarfjördur is famous for its elf, dwarves and mystical beings no one has yet to capture on film. Maybe your kids can be the first with a tour through Hafnarfjördur. The centuries-old folklore says the elf clans are hidden away in rocks and are part of the town’s center. You may think it’s silly and fun and games, until you see all of the rock outcropping and completely mystifying landscape Iceland has to offer. Your big takeaway from Iceland will be that its magic is alive and well.


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