Iceland Mag

1 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Local Recommendations

5 ways to get into the Icelandic festive spirit

By Sara McMahon

  • The Yule tide Visitors get a chance to experience Christmas as it was long ago at the Árbæjarsafn Open Air Museum. Photo/GVA

Here are our tips to get you in a festive mood for Christmas in Iceland.


1. Tíu dropar is a small and friendly café situated in the basement of an old house on Laugavegur shopping street. From early morning and until 6 PM it is a cosy café, but after that it transforms into Le Chateau des Dix Gouttes, where one can enjoy a nice glass of wine (or coffee) and live jazz music by candle light.
The café serves delicious hot chocolate and mouth-watering Belgian waffles with whipped cream that is sure to fill your tummy with the festive spirit. Or you could order a Christmas beer, if you are feeling exceptionally festive.


2. Anyone in the mood for an old fashioned Christmas are advised to visit the Árbæjarsafn Open Air Museum in Reykjavík where visitors get a chance to experience Christmas as it was long ago. This includes the preparation of traditional Icelandic Christmas food and crafts such as candle making.  

Árbæjarsafn, jól

Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Traditional Christmas sweets will be on offer in the old General Store, hot chocolate is served at the Museum’s coffee shop and the Yule Lads will pay a visit to entertain the youngest guests.
Admission fee for adults is 1300 krónur (8 euros/ 10 US dollars) but free for children.

Read more: The best Christmas buffets in Reykjavík

3. Ingólfstorg square, located at Aðalstræti in downtown Reykjavík, has been transformed into a temporary ice skating rink for Christmas. 
Opening hours are between 12pm-8pm from 2-11 December, and between 12pm-10pm from 12-22 December. Entrance is free of charge and guests can rent a pair of ice skates and a helmet for 990 ISK (7 Euros/7.4 USD)


4. One of the favourite Christmas traditions in Iceland is getting together to make ‘laufabrauð’ – paper-thin, fried bread decorated with leaf-life patterns.  


Laufabrauð, or leaf bread, originated in North Iceland at a time when wheat was an expensive rarity. Many families will gather together before Christmas to carve beautiful patterns into laufabrauð. Why not immerse yourself in the Icelandic Christmas traditions and try your luck at making laufabrauð? One can buy ready-made laufabrauð dough in supermarkets and can carve the patterns into the dough by using a sharp kitchen knife. The bread is deep-fried and quickly flattened between two cutting boards when plucked out of the frying pan.


5. Try the annual Christmas buffets, known as “jólahlaðborð” in Icelandic. They are a huge part of the Icelandic Christmas celebrations. Starting in November, many restaurants and hotels will offer Christmas buffets that include seasonal dishes to spread the Yuletide cheer. 

Related content

Editor's Picks