One of the first things you learn about things to do in Reykjavík is what isn’t available. You can’t buy beer in the supermarket. You can’t attend a boxing match. And the city zoo doesn’t have any jungle animals.
But don’t let a lack of tigers and elephants dissuade you from visiting the capital’s zoo (actually called Húsdýragarðurinn, which refers to domesticated animals rather than wild ones). For those raised in the city, seeing pigs, cows and the Icelandic horse for the first time can be fun. My personal favourite place, though, is probably the birdhouse. Chickens are hilarious.
Kids will of course enjoy this place, and not just because of the animals. There are a few carnival-esque rides across this sprawling estate, none of them too scary or outlandish for even the smallest kids. You can take a little train that snakes its way through the grounds, or you can also take a little boat around a pond on the grounds, or relax with some grilled lunch at the nearby café. For the nerdy child of all ages, there’s even a science tent, replete with physics-based games such as that one where you stand on a disk while holding a spinning bicycle wheel.
The seals are probably the main animal attraction at the zoo, and they seem to be flourishing so well that they’re actually running out of room for them. But if the mayor gets his wish, and polar bears are moved in, maybe that little problem can be solved the natural way.
The zoo is a great place to go alone, with friends, or with your kids. Don’t let it be said it’s not a “real” zoo. You get the zoo experience, and a lot more.