Good ol’ Fashioned Family Fun at the Reykjavik Zoo
Now that we’ve started doing some serious travel with Stink I’ve tried to provide a good balance between family-friendly activities and grown-up activities (i.e. shopping, museums, etc). During our 3-day stopover in Iceland we decided to dedicate a full day to exploring Reykjavik. It’s a fairly small city compared to American cities but Reykjavik is still chock-full of stuff to do with the added bonus that everything is close together.
A few of the grown-up activities on our itinerary that day included visiting Hallgrimskirkja church, shopping, and lunch at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, a famous hot dog stand that we never found. We came across another one so at least I was able to cross “Icelandic hot dog” off my foodie list (it wasn’t something I would try again). The highlight of the day, however, was our family-friendly activity: the Reykjavik Zoo and Family Park. This tiny zoo is located in the heart of Reykjavik in the Laugardalur park so you may hear it called “Laugardalur Zoo” or “Husdryagardurinn”, the Icelandic name.
The entrance to Reykjavik Zoo was a little difficult to find because there were no signs, English or Icelandic, to point us in the right direction. Eventually we found a small green building on the edge of the park and noticed a tiny gift shop and information counter inside that marked the entrance of the zoo. After paying for our tickets we were handed a zoo map and shown the path to see the animals.
The zoo section of Reykjavik Zoo is rather small, consisting of farm animals along with local Icelandic wild animals such as reindeer, harbor seals, foxes and minks.
Huge green pastures house animals like reindeer and horses but due to the chilly weather we had to visit the piggies and cows inside their building. The chickens braved the cold, though, and Stink had fun following them around to see what they were up to.
There are feeding and milking schedules posted at the zoo but we didn’t have the chance to see any of the animals being fed. There are no opportunities to feed the animals but you can touch the sheep, goats and horses if they let you get close enough.
The highlight of Reykjavik Zoo, however, is not the zoo itself but the neighboring playground and rides. Ride tickets can be purchased separately at the small cafe in the center of the zoo or at the entrance. Stink thoroughly enjoyed riding the small carousel that played Icelandic renditions of popular Disney songs.
Other rides include a racing track, water rides, jumping pillow (think trampoline/bounce house) and other small attractions that one might find at a family amusement park. Stink chose to stick with her carousel, though, and afterward she spent the rest of our time there on the giant playground.
The playground at Reykjavik Zoo is one of the best I’ve ever seen. A giant ship forms the “big kid” playground but there’s also a smaller, less attractive playground for Stink-sized children. The large ship even has a long ramp that can accommodate children with disabilities.
Next to the playgrounds are a row of miniature houses where kids can also have fun playing. There’s a few pieces of furniture inside each house but since no other kids were playing in them it didn’t hold Stink’s attention for very long. It’s not fun playing house by yourself!
Stink spent most of the afternoon playing on the giant ship and was having so much fun that she didn’t notice the nearby dig pit. I was relieved she didn’t see it though, we had packed light for this trip and I didn’t want to have to do laundry!
The Verdict: The Reykjavik Zoo is a great place for families to go to let their kids run off a little steam but it can be pretty disappointing for solo travelers and couples. There aren’t any exotic animals to wow the adults, it’s really more like a petting zoo with a really nice playground and a few rides. If you do get bored there’s an excellent geothermal swimming pool in Laugardalur Park that’s worth a visit too!
Good to Know: Admission to the zoo is really cheap, only 680 Icelandic krona (about $5 USD) for kids ages 5-12 and 900 krona (about $7 USD) for adults as of 2019. Ride tickets are much more, though, almost $20 USD for a pack of 10. Explore the playground and check out the rides first before deciding how many tickets to purchase.
When to Go: Our local zoo usually brings many animals inside and away from viewing during the winter so it’s hardly worth it to visit. Not in Iceland, though! At the Reykjavik Zoo you’re still able to see (and sometimes touch) the animals in their indoor pens during cold weather so don’t be afraid to visit just because it’s cold. Some rides may be closed, though.
Winter hours (from the end of August to the end of May) are from 10 am to 5 pm daily and summer hours (June through August) are 10 am to 6 pm. There are horse rides at 2 pm on the weekends during winter and weekdays during summer.
Child Friendly? Yes! In fact, I wouldn’t recommend coming here unless you have kids as it can be a little underwhelming. Even older children might find this zoo a little boring but it’s a great place to let the younger ones release some of those wiggles before heading back to the hotel or hopping on an airplane.
Pet Friendly? No
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