Having the kids along for your vacation should be a source of pleasure, not stress. Luckily, Akureyri is a family-friendly destination and finding tours, activities, and restaurants that cater to families of all ages is easy.
What to do
You could go ice skating! Take a spin on the skating rink Skautahöllin at Naustavegur 1 is a perfect way to spend the day with your family. If you didn’t bring your skates, you could always rent a pair. If you’re looking for more action, check out Akureyri’s indoor skatepark Braggaparkið. Bring a board of your own or rent one there. For even bigger thrills, check out The Akureyri zipline and take a thrilling flight over some beautiful natural areas.
Speaking of winter sports, Akureyri is also one of the best places in Iceland for cross-country and downhill skiing, most notably at Mt. Hlíðarfjall. In summer, the ski lifts still operate, allowing hikers a chance to enjoy the views despite the lack of snow. For other seasons, the Akureyri festival calendar is another thing to keep an eye out for. Firm favourites include The First Day of Summer (end of April), National Day (June 17), and Motorbike Days (June 18-20).
Swimming in one of the town’s thermal pools is a great way to unwind and relax for the parents while the kids splash about in the pool or take several trips on the waterslide! Going horseback riding is bound to be thrilling for any kid old enough to ride, and there are plenty of options around Akureyri, ranging from short tours for beginners to longer ones for people with some experience. If the kids are more interested in other kinds of animals, go on a whale-watching cruise!
Where to go
How do you feel about Christmas in July? Despite the name, The Christmas Garden is open all year round and only a few minutes’ drive from the centre of Akureyri. The Scandinavian lifestyle boutique Tante Grethe’s Backyard is right next door, and Eplakofinn (The Apple Hut) sells coffee and food on sunny days.
Iceland doesn’t have a lot of wooded areas, but the Kjarnaskógur forest, just outside Akureyri, is the exception that proves the rule. It’s 800 ha of forest – complete with two playgrounds, a volleyball field, and plenty of hiking paths ranging from leisurely walks to advanced hikes. The perfect venue for a day out with the family.
If the forest sounds a bit too wild for you, there’s also the Akureyri Botanical Garden, the perfect spot for a picnic. The garden contains nearly all plants that grow wild in Iceland, along with a host of others, including some that only grow in Greenland. Have a coffee at Café Lyst, a cosy coffeehouse located inside the Botanical Garden.
For a day of adventure, why not take the ferry to Hrísey Island and spend the day exploring? Visit an exhibition dedicated to shark fishing or take a swim in the island’s great pool. The island has lovely hiking trails and plenty of birdlife.
Siglufjörður, a town about an hour’s drive north of Akureyri is another fun outing. The Herring Era Museum has exhibitions set up to look like scenes from a time gone by. One of these tableaux is a pier, complete with boats from the era. A walk on the pier is encouraged, and you even get to climb aboard the boats themselves!
When it rains
Rainy days don’t have to be a damper on your trip. Akureyri has a multitude of museums, most of which will appeal to a younger audience as well. Akureyri Museum is a great place to start, with its visual history of the evolution of Akureyri. Close by is the Toy Museum at Friðbjarnarhús, featuring vintage toys from the 20th century.
Another great museum is Nonni’s House, the childhood home of Nonni, or Jón Sveinsson. He is the author of several autobiographical children’s books about his childhood in Akureyri, and the stories of his escapades with his brother Manni in 19th-century Akureyri have been translated into over thirty languages. For parents of budding engineers, there’s also the Aviation Museum, filled with aeroplanes of all shapes and sizes, and another one dedicated to motorcycles.
Last updated on 8 May 2023.