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Iceland Christmas Holidays

Exploring Family Friendly Activities for Iceland Christmas Holidays

Iceland is a truly incredible place to visit – and it’s not just for adults! Over the festive period, the snowy landscapes, Christmas traditions, winter outdoor activities and streaks of green, purple and pink shining in the night sky make it a unique holiday destination, with something for visitors of every age.

If your ideal Christmas break is a white winter wonderland, Iceland will not disappoint, with an excellent chance of snow, especially if you join an excursion into the wilderness to see the Northern Lights in all their glory.

The Baltic Travel Company has put together this list of the best activities and day trips for families visiting Iceland with children – and some tips to ensure you have an unforgettable winter holiday.

Iceland Christmas Holidays

Planning a Winter Family Holiday to Iceland

Our first advice is to consider the ages of your children when you plan to travel, choose activities that everyone will enjoy, and build in time for resting and relaxing. It’s also wise to check that you’ve packed plenty of warm clothes.

Most activities are great for all ages, although longer walks might be unsuitable for smaller children, and some of the incredible landscapes, such as those in Thingvellir National Park, aren’t appropriate for little ones in buggies.

The great news is that Iceland offers a diverse array of things to do, from visiting towering waterfalls and seeing rare species of wildlife to trying your hand at skating, snowmobiling, or even husky sledding. Below, we’ve summarized some of the highlights from our top-selling Iceland winter packages to give you a flavor of the experiences on offer.

Iceland Christmas Holidays

Swimming in the Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is world-famous, a hot spring with healing waters on the Reykjanes Peninsula about 30 minutes from Reykjavik. The warm waters are rich with natural minerals like sulphur and silica – considered restorative and healing – and also a lot of fun.

You’ll find an on-site restaurant, café and spa, can relax with a massage while your kids swim, or try the various open-air, private and smaller pools – towels and swimsuits are available to rent if you haven’t brought them with you.

Children under 13 can visit the Blue Lagoon free of charge, although tiny toddlers under two years old aren’t allowed to swim due to the water’s high mineral content. Kids aged eight or below are also asked to wear floats as a safety precaution.

Iceland Christmas Holidays

Visiting the Incredible Waterfalls

Gullfoss and Dettifoss are mighty waterfalls, and a spectacle that will capture the attention of any child. Part of the Golden Circle route, Gullfoss is often a featured stop-off in tours of Thingvellir and the geysers at Haukadalur and is a short distance from Reykjavik. The power and might of the waterfall are breathtaking.

Dettifoss is even more astonishing, as the most powerful waterfall in the country; you’ll need waterproofs as the spray will reach you even from a distance. This 330-foot wide waterfall is a sight to behold, close to Dimmuborgir and Ásbyrgi if you’re visiting on a day trip.

Many guests opt for a guided tour, especially during the winter when the likelihood of snow is higher. In the depths of winter, Dettifoss is sometimes inaccessible if the road is closed due to poor weather. Gullfoss is accessible year-round, and the partial frozen spray and snow make it a marvel worth visiting.

Iceland Christmas Holidays

Heading to the Water to Spot Arctic Wildlife

Boat trips and tours take you on a cruise through the icy waters, where you can look for animals such as seals, musk oxen, eagles, puffins, and even enormous whales! There are regular trips that leave and return to Reykjavik, some offering sea angling.

Another great option is to head to Dalvik, a tiny fishing village next to Eyjafjörður Fjord, where the bay is a brilliant place to see blue whales, minke whales, porpoises and white-backed dolphins. 

Wildlife-loving children will also love walking tours and day trips to see the stunning Icelandic horses and Arctic foxes, which live primarily around the Westfjords and in beautiful settings like the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve.

Iceland Christmas Holidays

Outdoor Winter Sports

Whether you’d like to try ice-skating at one of the rinks in Reykjavik, dream of visiting a reindeer park to meet the Icelandic herds or want to grasp the chance to experience dog sledding, learning about the beautiful teams of huskies, there are tours to suit every taste.

Some winter activities, such as snowmobiling, are best suited to adults since age restrictions apply, and you’ll need to have your driving license with you. However, kids are very welcome to join in as passengers, following an experienced guide while you traverse the snowy landscapes of the Icelandic countryside.

Iceland Christmas Holidays

Icelandic Christmas Traditions for Kids

After all the excitement and adrenaline, it’s a great idea to teach your little ones about how Icelandic people celebrate Christmas, particularly if your holiday extends over Christmas Day itself. The traditional holidays start the day before Christmas Eve when people honor Thorlak Thorhallsson, Iceland’s patron saint. There are often gatherings and large feasts featuring delicacies like fermented skate.

On Christmas Eve, the food remains a big focal point, with families opening gifts after dinner, often exchanging books, or heading out to join in with carol singing.

In Iceland Christmas Day is all about relaxing and spending quality time together, enjoying cakes and cookies, watching festive movies and resting in preparation for the parties and celebrations that usually happen on Boxing Day.

If you’re visiting with children, you can get into the spirit by making a wreath, tasting delicately patterned laufabraud, booking a table in a restaurant to sample the sara, a festive almond biscuit dessert, or festive shopping at the Ingólfstorg Square Classic Christmas Market.


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