Guide to visiting Iceland in the winter with kids

Now that you know WHERE to go, it’s time to figure out what to wear, how to plan your meals, and how to navigate hot springs and pools in Iceland.

Clothing for Iceland in winter: 

  • In the winter all the paths and walkways to waterfalls and other sites are very icy! We bought wire crampons we could slip onto our shoes.
  • Even though we weren’t skiing and it didn’t snow hard, we took and wore, snow pants and jackets. The waterfalls give off a lot of spray and it is easy to get wet. Also, if it is windy, the snow pants are much warmer.
  • Hats, gloves, warm socks and snow boots or hiking boots. Again, we weren’t tromping through snow, but it could get wet and windy.


Lunch tips:

Timing our outings with lunch was tricky since we didn’t want to waste any daylight hours sitting down to eat. We ate late breakfasts at local bakeries, and then weren’t hungry for lunch until around 2:00. I would recommend you pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, crackers, cheese and fruit, etc. to eat in the car. It was a bit too cold for picnicking, but there were plenty of spots for that if the weather is nice.

Geothermal hot springs/tubs/pools:

The short answer for navigating geothermal hot springs and tubs: they are everywhere and you should go to one every day. There are many websites that show where they are located but the official Iceland travel website is excellent for hot spots as well as museum information. Another good hot spot map website is

You can rent towels, so you don’t have to lug around wet towels. Most have some kind of food service, but it is mostly snack-type. Some have bathing suit “dryers” that spin your suit around to get all the water out. Look for those. They all offer free water. You have to shower without your suit on before entering the pools.

Planning your daily schedule:

We planned our day around the daylight, arriving before tour busses at the popular sites out in the country. Because we often just snacked our lunch, we ate early dinners when it got dark, then headed to a local hot pool for our evening activity. This way the kids didn’t get to bed until almost 10:00pm but they slept in until after 9:00am. It worked out great!

Organized tours:

There are many day tours you can take from Reykjavik out to the Golden Circle, but we liked the flexibility of stopping when we wanted and having all our warm clothing in the car with us! Driving in Iceland is not hard, but do not rely on GPS—take a map.

The only tour that might be worthwhile would be the northern lights tour. We did not see the northern lights because of cloud cover, but some tours go out in the night and drive all around until they find a clear spot. Of course this would not be great for kids.

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