Forget Berlin, London and Prague – Iceland’s Christmas markets top them all. Whether you want to buy presents, food or both, Reykjavik has plenty of options. First, there’s Yule Town. Based in Ingólfstorg Square, this festive pop-up has an ice rink at its heart, surrounded by a maze of handmade gifts, tree decorations and tummy-warming treats.
If you’re a foodie, though, there’s one place you should definitely be going – Jolakras. The weekend before Christmas, this food market takes over Fogetagardurinn Square. You’ll be truly spoilt for choice as the best chefs in Reykjavik come together to sell Christmas-themed street food, crafted in their restaurants and cafés.
Families, meanwhile, should head to the town of Hafnarfjorður. Here, you’ll find a full-on Christmas Village, centred around a towering tree. Little ones can meet Father Christmas, and all ages will enjoy the live entertainment, arts and crafts, and steaming hot chocolate.
If you thought pigs in blankets and mulled wine were the pinnacle of December, get ready to be surprised. Iceland takes Christmas dining to a whole new level. As with most Icelandic food, the festive favourites are largely meat or fish-based, with recipes often handed down through the generations. Topping most Christmas menus is the traditional meal of Hangikjöt – smoked lamb served with peas and potatoes, smothered in Béchamel sauce. On Christmas Eve, though, it’s all about Ptarmigan. Similar to pheasant, this roasted game dish is Iceland’s equivalent of turkey with all the trimmings.
For pudding – if you have room – you can tuck into Risalamande. Adopted from Denmark, this rice pudding-like dessert is a delicious end to your alternative Christmas meal. But Laufabrauo, or Leaf Bread, is the real Icelandic essential. This deep-fried, wafer-thin bread looks similar to a crepe, except for one crucial detail – it’s covered in intricate hand-carved patterns. Like homemade paper snowflakes, but edible.
You’ve wandered around the markets, filled up on delicious food, and are feeling very festive – but also slightly chilly. Whilst Christmas is a magical time to visit Iceland, there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s rather cold. But there’s one place that’s always warm – the famous Blue Lagoon. This geothermal spa is one of Iceland’s most visited attractions, and it’s easy to see why. At a steamy 37 degrees, this milky-blue pool is the perfect place for a relaxing dip in the middle of winter. The water is rich with minerals, too, which will help revitalise your skin after exploring in the cold. Give your face a treat with a silica mud mask, or swim over to the spa and unwind with an in-water massage.
When you think of Iceland, there’s usually one thing that springs to mind – the glittering Northern Lights, spread across the night sky. Well, if you go to Iceland in December, you have a good chance of seeing them. At this time of year, the nights are classed as ‘full dark’ which means you’ll have much better visibility, especially on a clear night. What better way to add some sparkle to your Christmas? Plus, all our holidays to Iceland include a Northern Lights tour. On your first night, we’ll pick you up from your hotel and whisk you away to the countryside, away from the brightly-lit skies of Reykjavik, in search of the Lights. If they’re hiding behind some cloud, though, you can go on the tour again another evening – for free – in the hope of catching a glimpse of this incredible natural phenomenon. If you look closely, you might see Santa zooming across the sky, too…
Ready for a magical Christmas?
Find out more about the food in Iceland and book your holiday to Iceland today. Or, read about the best Christmas markets you’ve never considered.
Author: Sarah Reeves
Alda Hotel boasts design-led interiors and has an unbeatable postcode on Reykjavik’s bustling main street, Laugavegur.
Highlights at the Grand Hotel Reykjavik include a contemporary Icelandic restaurant, plus a location that puts Laugardalur Park and Reykjavik within striking distance.
The Storm Hotel makes a great base for exploring Reykjavik, as the restaurant-lined main street is just around the corner.
Our top deals tailored to you, straight to your inbox Sign up for offers
More from TUI
About TUI MyTUI app Cookies Notice Manage Cookie Preferences Privacy Notice Terms & Conditions Media Centre Travel Jobs Affiliates Discover Lakes & Mountains Discover Weddings App Store for Ios Google Play Store Travel Money Holiday Budget Calculator TUI Group First Choice Holiday Brochures Travel After Brexit Holiday WeatherNHS Discounts
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and National Travel Health Network and Centre have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad.
For the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information check www.gov.uk/travelaware and follow @FCOtravel and Facebook.com/FCOtravel
More information is available by checking /destinations/info/travel-aware
Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting www.travelhealthpro.org.uk.
The advice can change so check regularly for updates
All the flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Some of the flights on this website are also financially protected by the ATOL scheme, but ATOL protection does not apply to all flights. This website will provide you with information on the protection that applies in the case of each flight before you make your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.caa.co.uk. ATOL protection does not apply to the other holiday and travel services listed on this website.