If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, look no further than Iceland. You are guaranteed snow at this time of year and while the nights are long and dark, the twinkly lights sparkle with Christmas cheer. Head to Reykjavík, the country’s capital, if you want to spend your Christmas holidays in Iceland whizzing across ice skating rinks, feasting on delicious Icelandic food and attending countless concerts. Perhaps you are after a more adventurous Christmas in Iceland? If so, venture into the wilderness for snowmobiling safaris, glacier hikes and hot spring soaks, followed by an obligatory roll around
in the snow – an Icelandic tradition that you need to experience at least once. For an added touch of magic on your Christmas holidays in Iceland, go hunting for the glorious purple, pink and green glow of the Northern Lights, before warming up with a stay in a remote cabin complete with a crackling fire.
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Spending Christmas in Iceland is like stepping into a winter wonderland straight out of a storybook. The entire country comes alive with festive cheer and holiday magic, creating an atmosphere that is both heart-warming and unforgettable. As you walk through the streets of Reykjavik, you'll see the city adorned with twinkling lights and decorations. The smell of cinnamon and gingerbread fills the air and the sound of Christmas carols echoes through the streets. The whole city is transformed into a cosy and welcoming wonderland. But it's not just the city that is magical during Christmas in Iceland…
The natural beauty of the country is also at its best during the winter months. The snow-covered landscapes are breath-taking, with towering mountains, glistening glaciers and frozen waterfalls that look as though they're made of crystal. Head to Skogafoss to get a glimpse of one of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland, especially in winter when its surroundings are blanketed by a layer of icicles and snow. For even more icy exploration on your holiday in Iceland at Christmas, climb aboard a snow mobile for an adrenaline-fuelled tour of a glacier, or if you fancy something even more spectacular for your Christmas adventure, hop into a helicopter for a bird’s-eye-view sightseeing trip, even landing on the glacier for a glass of bubbles or two. If a bit more relaxation is what you’re after, then the Blue Lagoon is of course a must. Lie back and let the hot, milky waters embrace you. Try out a mud mask or head for the steam caves for a relaxing moment alone, before floating over to the lagoon-side bar for a drink or two.
No Christmas holiday in Iceland would be complete without experiencing the Northern Lights (or at least trying to!). The clear winter nights provide the perfect backdrop for this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon, where dancing lights paint the sky in shades of green, pink and purple. Head out with an expert guide to try and seek out the very best Northern Lights spotting spot or hunker down under a blanket with a hot chocolate in hand as you watch Mother Nature’s light show unfurl in the dark skies above you.
Traditions to look out for while spending Christmas holidays in Iceland
One of the most beloved traditions during Christmas in Iceland is the Yule Lads, 13 mischievous trolls who come down from the mountains one by one in the thirteen nights leading up to Christmas. They are said to be the sons of two ogres, Grýla and Leppalúði, who are known for cooking and eating naughty children. Each one has its own unique personality and brings a different kind of gift (or prank) to leave in the children’s shoes, adding to the excitement and anticipation of the holiday.
Food plays a large part in Icelandic Christmas celebrations. Rather than the traditional turkey with all the trimmings, Icelanders tuck into hangikjöt, a smoked lamb that is slow-cooked for hours until it falls apart, accompanied by pickled red cabbage and boiled potatoes. As well as this delicious meat feast, laufabrauð is a particular favourite: a decorative flatbread that is fried until crispy and served with butter.
The most beloved tradition that you’ll find on a Christmas holiday in Iceland is the Christmas book flood, or Jólabókaflóð (don’t worry, we can’t pronounce it either). Families exchange books as presents, before snuggling down for the evening with their new reads and a mug of something hot. The whole country seems to be in on this tradition, as bookshops are flooded with new releases in the weeks leading up to the holidays. And of course, there are the Christmas lights that adorn every street and every window, illuminating the dark winter nights with their twinkling colours. It's a truly magical time to be in Iceland, where tradition and day-to-day life blend seamlessly to create a one-of-a-kind Christmas experience.