Best Things to Do in Reykjavík in Winter

A picture of a rainbow-coloured street in Reykjavík.

As the nights get longer and the mercury dips, Reykjavík’s enchanting winter activities offer the perfect opportunity to enjoy the season. Whether that’s walking on rainbow-hued streetscapes, soaking in a thermal tub, doing some Christmas shopping, or exploring an ice tunnel, each has its own charm.  

Make the most of your winter trip to Iceland’s capital with the best things to do in Reykjavík during the winter.

1. Go Ice Skating on Lake Tjörnin 

During the cold months of winter, Reykjavík’s Lake Tjörnin becomes a popular venue for ice skating. This beloved winter tradition in Iceland started when the city’s residents first realised that the lake could freeze over. The frigid temperatures turn it into a sturdy ice rink, making it safe for people to skate on.

Aerial view of Reykjavík in late winter

2. Discover Frozen Lava at Kolaportið Flea Market 

At the heart of Reykjavík lies the biggest flea market in the city known as Kolaportið. From vintage clothes and books to antique furniture, and even winter rarities such as frozen lava from Eyjafjallajökull to take home as a souvenir, Kolaportið offers almost everything under the Midnight Sun at competitive prices. This hidden gem in Reykjavík is housed in the huge industrial building on Tryggvagata 19. It’s a perfect winter weekend activity, being open from 11 am to 5 pm.

A pair of vintage boots with stars at the Kolaportið Flea Market in Reykjavík

3. Explore the Perlan Ice Tunnel

No visit to Reykjavík is complete without a visit to one of the most spectacular buildings in the city - Perlan. Translating to “The Pearl” in English, this iconic museum’s Wonders of Iceland exhibition is a must-try on a winter trip to Reykjavík. As you step into the Perlan Ice Cave - a man-made tunnel - you’ll feel like you’re walking on a glacier. The tunnel is lit up in colourful lights which makes the experience so much more enriching. Just remember to wear warm layers before you visit.

The exterior of the Perlan Museum’s dome in Reykjavík

4. Enjoy the Winter Lights Festival 

The Winter Lights Festival is one of the most prominent festivals in Reykjavík. Taking place in February each year, it is a celebration of both winter and the growing light after a long period of darkness. Although Museum Night, Pool Night, and Light Art are the three main pillars of the event, there are over 150 events in total allowing artists to create a unique atmosphere for visitors. You can also enjoy the beautiful light installations that illuminate the city around this time. 

Blue Lagoon in Iceland

5. Warm up in the Blue Lagoon  

The Blue Lagoon is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Reykjavík. Just half an hour’s drive from the city, a dip in its mineral-rich waters feels refreshing in winter. In addition to its healing properties, the surrounding scenery itself is a feast for the eyes: As snow blankets the surrounding lava fields, the steam rising from the warm, milky-blue waters creates a striking contrast that is both mesmerising and serene.

Northern Lights over Reykjavík, Iceland

6. Spot the Northern Lights 

A lot of visitors to Iceland want the Northern Lights to be the highlight of their trip. Although the phenomenon is dependent on specific solar conditions, the long nights and prolonged darkness of the winter months increase its possibility. Not only does Reykjavík have some hidden gems to spot the Aurora Borealis from, but it's also an ideal base for a lot of tours

Fireworks near Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral in Reykjavík on New Year’s Eve

7. Celebrate Christmas and New Year

A winter trip is a perfect opportunity to enjoy Christmas and New Year in Icelandic style! You’ll get to experience Iceland’s Christmas traditions such as the annual book flood known as Jólabókaflóð. Keep an eye out for the striking statue of the Yule Cat on Lækjartorg Square while doing your Christmas shopping. There’ll be plenty of bonfires to keep you warm, not to mention fireworks across the Arctic sky!

Aerial view of Reykjavík in late winter

A winter trip to Reykjavík is an unforgettable experience. The city takes on a magical character as snow begins to fall and colourful lights illuminate the streets. You can complete your winter activities bucket list to your heart’s content.

So what are you waiting for? Plan your perfect trip starting with a stay at Reykjavík’s top hotels.