A family-friendly introduction to Iceland
A Day Out in Reykjavik with a Local Family
Created by Nawel Rojkjaer
Live like a local family in Reykjavik for a day with a mix of local favorite stops, a boat ride and nature!
This trail is appropriate for babies and up
This trail is completely stroller accessible
This is a sunny day trail
About the Day Out in Reykjavik with a Local Family Trail
Reykjavik is one of the greenest cities in the world, and Iceland is by far one of the most unique landscapes you’ll ever encounter. It’s the perfect place to explore, spend time together as a family and reconnect with nature. We love Reykjavik’s small population, friendly people, and breathtaking natural beauty. This trail was created by Nawel, a local mum to four children. This is her idea of a lovely Sunday out with the family! Follow in her footsteps as she takes you to some of the typically local spots of Reykjavik.
After an energetic morning at the pool, you’ll head to the local favorite brunch place Cafe Vesturbaer where you’ll love everything on the menu. If you’re still hungry after brunch, Nawel recommends a delicious Icelandic bakery.
On your way back into town, you will cross through City Hall where there is a a massive 3D replica of the island where you can see all the glaciers. It’s a great introduction to Iceland for parents and your children. Even toddlers will be intrigued by the glaciers. As you walk back out, cross over the footbridge to Tjörnin Pond to feed the ducks, a local attraction.
If you want to get the truly local experience, follow Nawel as she takes you to Vesturbaer Pool. It’s hard to overstate how major pool culture is here. Reykjavik pool culture is unique, as it’s all outdoors, regardless of the season and the weather. Most pools include hot tubs, steam rooms, steam and ice baths. The pools are heated with geothermal energy and are very low chlorine. Be prepared to shower (fully, naked and communally) before entering. It’s a social and invigorating activity here. Kids are usually thrilled by the experience of swimming outdoors in bad weather.
Arrive at the Old Harbor where you might want to check ferry departures to Videy Island first. If you have the Reykjavik City card, the ferry to the island is free. Grab a bite at one of the food trucks, hop on the ferry and head to the beautiful Videy Island! Coming here for the afternoon will give you a lovely little preview of what the rest of Iceland is like. It will take you about 30 minutes to get there and you should plan about 1-2 hours on the island. There’s a playground, lots of green space to run around, and an old and beautiful coffee house. Videy Island actually has a lot of history attached to it, as it’s the location of the first Icelandic Parliament and you can also find a wall commemorating John Lennon here.
Make your way over to Harpa Opera Hall, near Old Harbour, offering lovely views of the sea. Here you can opt to take a tour or just wander around the music hall. Children love building cairns right outside!
On your way to Old Harbour stop at the old locomotive that commemorates the building of the Old Harbor some 100 years ago. Climbing is strictly prohibited and yet done by all kids! During the winter months, the locomotive is moved indoors.
Take the ferry back for dinner at the harbour at Kaffivagnin, where you can enjoy a typically Icelandic dinner with a view. The menu is amazing with traditional seafood stew, lobster soup, Danish open-faced sandwiches, hot fish pan dishes and more. The staff is super friendly and provide coloring kits for kids. If for some reason you don’t make it here, just next door you will find a brand new food hall which is incredibly delicious. Grandi Matholl is also a perfect low key place to unwind with kids.
Finish off the day with a stop at Valdis, a local favorite ice cream parlor. Try the salty licorice flavor and enjoy it in front of a gorgeous sunset.
What You Should Know Before Taking This Tour
While Reykjavik is a super stroller friendly city, for the boat and island portion of the tour, you might be happier with a baby carrier, depending on your child’s age and what you’re used to. The island has some paths that strollers could roll on, but it’s basically all nature, so baby carriers might be a better fit.
Iceland is notorious for sudden weather changes, so make sure to dress in layers and bring along rain gear.
Iceland is really expensive. As an example, a pastry from a bakery is typically just under $5. Most of the places listed on this trail are off the tourist track, so more reasonably priced places.
Meals should cost between $15-20 a person, but the street trucks are cheaper, of course.
The pool is very inexpensive and free for young children.
Cards are accepted for payment everywhere – although you often see that American Express may not be.
You can technically start this trail anytime, but we recommend starting early. The pool, which is the first stop on the trail, opens early and is a great plan for kids who wake up before the usual things open.
In terms of the ferry to the island, here is the schedule:
1 October – 14 May
Winter departures: Saturdays and Sundays 13:15, 14:15 and 15:15
Winter return ferry: Saturdays and Sundays 14:30, 15:30 and 16:30
15 May – 30 September
Summer departures: Everyday at 10:15, 11:15, 12:15, 13:15, 14:15, 15:15, 16:15, 17:15
Summer return ferry: Everyday at 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 13:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30, 18:30
In the summertime, there are daily ferry departures both from Skarfabakki pier and Ægisgarður harbour. The winter service runs on Saturdays and Sundays from Skarfabakki to Viðey.
You should call Cafe Vesturbaer ahead if you’re planning on doing this trail on a weekend.
The ferry to Videy Island is actually part of the city’s public transportation, so if you have the Reykjavík City Card, you can walk right on.
This is a an all season trail, but try to avoid a day with rain. Best if it’s a sunny day! Between May 15 – September 30, you can do this trail every day for the island portion, but during the winter, you will have to do it on a weekend.