Iceland Christmas: How to Have the Best Trip Ever

An Iceland Christmas is one of the most magical experiences you can have. While you’re sitting beside a warm fire with the radiant northern lights as a backdrop, you’ll be amazed as the festivities swell around you. With Icelandic Christmas characters spilling into the streets, you’ll have a holiday you will never forget.

We’ve put together a short guide to help you get the most out of your Reykjavik Christmas.

hallgrimskirkja in chrismas

Why You Should Celebrate Christmas in Iceland 

Winter in Iceland is marked by short days and long nights. However, this only lends itself to the ambiance as the island is illuminated by lights and adorned with Iceland Christmas ornaments. If the sky is clear, your Iceland Christmas can even be enhanced by the dazzling display of the Northern Lights as it reflects across the snow-covered landscape of this fantastic place.


Iceland Christmas traditions last for nearly a month. The holiday season begins on the 11th of December and continues until January, ending on the sixth. While most of the world is treated to one Santa, Icelandic Santa Clauses are plentiful, with 13 (Yule Lads) making their way into towns, one for each day. The first Iceland Santa trip makes his way on the night before the 12th of December, prepared with pranks or treats. These Santas (or Icelandic Christmas elves) are ready to give children a nice present in their shoes if they’ve been good, or a potato if they’ve been naughty. 


When the season begins on the 11th of December, many families will start with a tree in the living room and begin making official decorations. However, many people string up lights as early as October to lighten up the early evenings.


This is also the time when Iceland Christmas food starts coming out. If you’re curious about traditional Icelandic food, you can try a bite of fermented skate (boiled fish) on the 23rd of December. While it might be an acquired taste, it’s something you should try at least once. If that isn’t up your alley, then you can always feast on laufabrauð (Icelandic leaf bread) instead.


The season is concluded 13 days after Christmas Eve, and the event is marked off with dancing and bonfires.

traditional icelandic chrismas food

Things to Do During an Iceland Christmas

The long Icelandic nights can be filled with many activities. Bundled up, then enjoy outings such as:

Ice Skating

Take a trip to Reykjavík Pond in the city center and spend the day gliding around the ice pond. Bring your own skates if you have some. Or, if you need to rent a pair, make your way to Ingólfstorg square, which is converted into a skating rink. 

Horse Riding

While you might confuse them with ponies, Icelandic horses have served as trusted mounts since time immemorial. There are fewer ways to spend your day that are better than riding a horse over the winter wonderland of Iceland. 

Snowmobile on the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle refers to the route between the main tourist sites in Iceland. While you’ll want to definitely visit Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, and the geysers Geysir and Strokkur in the geothermal area in Haukadalur, a snowmobile makes it the trip that much more memorable.

See the Aurora Borealis

One of the most impressive sights you’ll witness in Iceland is the Northern Lights. The Aurora borealis isn’t always on display, but you should definitely carve time out of your Iceland Christmas to try and see them.

Dip into a Geothermal Bath

Iceland is volcanically active. This leads to some interesting natural phenomena. One of the best ones that you can capitalize on is a hot spring bath. You’ll feel the stress from your day fade away as you gaze up at the stars while relaxing in a geothermal bath.

chrismas in reykjavik

Where to Stay 

Experiencing an Iceland Christmas is a huge draw for many tourists, which can make it difficult to find lodging until well-after New Year. 


If you book Christmas trips to Iceland in advance, you may be able to find a picturesque cottage with a hot tub and a fireplace. However, to get the best location, you have to move fast.


For those that prefer to experience the most Iceland has to offer, a campervan is the best choice.


The country is vast with one fairytale site after another. With a campervan, these natural wonders will be at your fingertips. Unshackled from the burden of searching for reservations at a central hotel, the wilds of Iceland is waiting for you to explore them.


Traveling around Iceland in your campervan allows you to have total control over your Icelandic Christmas vacation.

To make sure you have a Gleðileg jól (Merry Christmas in Icelandic), contact As you soak in the Christmas season through the Icelandic wilderness, you can do so in style in an Iceland camper rental. We have a variety of vehicles that are fully loaded to make your Icelandic vacation the best one ever.

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