Christmas is a magical time in Iceland. Often the volcanic island is covered under a blanket of snow, and it looks like a true winter wonderland. The Christmas mood in Iceland can be felt all throughout December. More and more travelers have come to Iceland for the Holidays in recent years. And why wouldn’t you – Iceland has unique Christmas traditions, making it a fun trip for both adults and children. Here are five things you should include in your itinerary:
Did you know Iceland has 13 Santas? Well, not the Santas as many of us know it. The 13 Santas are trolls or Yule Lads, and they are pretty naughty. You can tell it by their names – Sheep-Cote Clod, Gully Gawk, Stubby, Spoon-Licker, Pot-Scraper, Bowl-Licker, Door-Slammer, Skyr-Gobbler, Sausage-Swiper, Window-Peeper, Doorway-Sniffer, Meat-Hook, Candle-Stealer. Anyway, Dimmuborgir is where they live, it is unlikely you will see them in summer, but you might meet them if you come in December. Oh, bonus fact, they only bathe once a year, in Myvatn Nature Baths, so you might get lucky and meet them in the pool.
Yes, December is the darkest time of the year. To be fair, we still get some daylight, just not much (for more information, check out our post on weather and daylight hours in winter). Nevertheless, there is a silver lining – more darkness means better chances to catch some dancing Northern Lights. Gear up with some hot drinks and warm clothes and go on a hunt to find Aurora.
If you are spending New Year in Iceland – Reykjavik is where you want to be. On New Years’ night for a couple of hours, the city turns into a massive firework show. Yes, not too great for the environment, but Icelanders take a lot of pride in buying A LOT of fireworks. This is because all proceeds from the sales go to support Iceland’s Search and Rescue Team.
Throughout December, especially on weekends, many towns hold Christmas Markets. It is a great place to feel a cheerful Holiday spirit and find some unique souvenirs or gifts handmade by small local creators and taste local foods. The biggest and most popular ones can be found in the capital area, such as the Christmas Village in Hafnarfjordur or Christmas market at Ingolfstorg Square in downtown Reykjavik.
Bright blue glacier tongues, waterfalls covered with icicles, and mountains resting under white snow – just driving around on the Ring Road is enough to see some breathtaking views. The Golden Circle and the South Coast are two very popular routes in the wintertime. However. if you have time and the weather allows – get out of town and explore Icelandic nature in winter. Remember to follow updates and road conditions on the go.