Visiting Reykjavík, Iceland for Christmas and New Year’s Eve

Published on: 2015/12/22
Visiting Reykjavík, Iceland for Christmas and New Year’s Eve

I’ve gathered information, basic tips, links and more for travelers visiting Iceland over this Christmas and New Year’s Eve. If you haven’t already planned a trip, then keep on reading and you might end up booking a trip for next year. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked if I recommend visiting Iceland during summer or winter. There is no simple answer to the question as both seasons offer great opportunities for travelers. However, December is one of my favorite months and I believe December in Iceland is magical! December is the darkest month of the year in Iceland, with only 4-5 hours of daylight each day. The Winter Solstice is December 21st, with daylight of just over four hours. 

The holiday spirit is all over the capital and the surrounding suburbs, and as well if you have time to spare I recommend you walk around the downtown area of Reykjavík and try to find all the Christmas creatures set up by the City of Reykjavík. The creatures include the Icelandic Santa Clauses and their parents (FYI if you didn’t already know, the Icelandic Santa Clauses are not one but thirteen - read my post here). Five of the Santa's are in the downtown area, and the rest is located at the Reykjavík Art Museum, Hafnarhús. 

The Christmas Creatures illustrated by Gunnar Karlsson

Unfortunately there are not many restaurant's open on December 24 and 25th but most hotel restaurants are open. Opening hours for restaurants, museums, and more are HERE 

For restaurants, café and bar hopping during December I recommend visiting KOL restaurant, Vegamót, Den Danske Kro, The English Pub, and Lebowski Bar. Plenty of locals and travelers to hang out with while drinking an Icelandic Christmas beer.

Image via Reykjavik.com by Roman Gerasymenko

Activities

On Winter Solstice, December 21st the Imagine peace tower will be relit! The tower will be lit for one week until December 31st to remind Icelanders that the long winter days are over and from December 21st will start do get brighter day by day (a few minutes every day). The Imagine Peace Tower by Yoko Ono is visible from the capital, live stream at www.imaginepeacetower.com and you are able to take a short ferry ride to Viðey island from Reykjavík’s harbor. 

The telecommunication company Nova, along with Samsung and Reykjavik City opened an ice skating ring on Ingólfstorg square during the month of December. It’s open until January 3rd from 11AM - 8PM*. Admission is free and they offer skates to rent for a small fee. (*closed Dec 24,-25th and Jan 1st)

Doesn’t this looks cool?! 

Ingólfssvell opið til 3. janúar

Júhú og hóhóhó! Við höfum framlengt opnunartíma Ingólfssvells til 3. janúar! #novajól #samsung #Ingólfssvell

Posted by Nova on Tuesday, December 22, 2015

You can book tours via Tiny Iceland by clicking here. I recommend you: 

  • Enjoy the Blue Lagoon - More details here
  • Go snorkeling in one of the clearest waters in the world, Silfra in Þingvellir national park - More details here
  • Hunt the northern lights - More details here
  • Visit the film location where the TV show Game of Thrones was partly filmed - More details here
  • Put your adventure hat on, and explore waterfalls, ice caves and glaciers - More details here

If you are spending New Year’s Eve in Reykjavík then you're in for a treat! Icelanders celebrate with family dinners, bon fires and a fireworks for hours all around the island and especially the capital. As everyone can buy fireworks, it's not hard to spot them in the sky on NYE. For the best view visit Hallgrímskirkja church, the harbor area, Perlan, or go a little bit outside of the city lights. There are several bon fires in the Reykjavík area, see list here. After midnight Icelanders flock from their family parties and head downtown to bar hop around Laugavegur street. I recommend you attend Lebowski Bar and/or Vegamót NYE party (btw free entry).

You can book three tours for NYE night via Tiny Iceland (operated by Grayline Iceland). I highly recommend you book them if you have no fixed plans!  

Bonfire & Fireworks tour // Fireworks on New Year's Eve tour // Bonfire on New Year's Eve 

For those who won't be in Iceland for NYE then you might be interested in watching the live stream from Reykjavík at midnight. All details here

If you haven't read my blog about the Icelandic Santa Clauses then put it on your reading list. The Icelandic Yule Lads are descended from trolls and their original role was to strike fear in the hearts of children. The thirteen brothers are the sons of two of the most hideous ogres ever known in Iceland, Grýla and Leppalúði. Read more here

More information abour Christmas in Reykjavík can be found here

If you are visiting for a few days for example on an Icelandair Stopover then I recommend you rent a car and drive around! I would pick West or South Iceland because the roads are more easir, compared to other areas to drive during winter. Three websites you need to bookmark and check frequently when traveling in Iceland: The Icelandic Met OfficeThe Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration and Safetravel.is

Click here to read my blogs about South Iceland

Click here for West Iceland tips and I recommend you read my Sixt Iceland car rental review here.

Have you visited Iceland in December? If yes, what would you recommend people to do? :) 

A few key websites to use when in Iceland: Icelandic Met OfficeThe Icelandic road and coastal administration ans The 112 National Emergency Number

Don’t forget to follow Tiny Iceland via social media for frequent updates. TwitterInstagramFacebook and Tiny Iceland's Pinterest profile is filled with boards and pins to get more ideas what to see & do when planning your #TripInIceland. Tag using Tiny Iceland’s official hashtag #TripInIceland. Cheers and happy travels, Inga, founder of TinyIceland.

Mailing list

Top 5 most read posts