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Going To Iceland for New Years 2016

Hi - This will be our first time to Iceland. I will be taking my nieces who are 21 & 23. We will land Dec. 29 at 6:30AM and depart for home on Jan. 2 around 5:30PM. I was thinking of taking a two day tour to do ice caving, hunt for the Northern Lights and do the Golden Circle. I thought it would be nice to celebrate New Years Eve in Reykjavik. Any recommendations on tours, hotels, restaurants? Also, any special events being held for New Years that we should get tickets or reservations for? Many thanks. Robert

Posted by
6882 posts

There are no better resources than the Reykjavik and Icelandic national tourism websites (just google them). Iceland feels like a very small place and has one of the most comprehensive tourist infrastructures I've yet encountered. Use the online resources and perhaps also the Lonely Planet Iceland book. I was there twice many years ago so cannot recall where I ate or stayed but the one aspect I recall is very high prices, so just prepare for that. Although expensive, the quality of the food (especially seafood) was top notch. I used Reykjavik Excursions for all my day trips and was satisfied with them (I can't compare against others). Seeing the Northern Lights is a total crap shoot - since you're only there a few nights, I would skip it...it really does require patience, luck, and repeat tries.

Posted by
29 posts

Thank you for your reply Agnes. I have purchased Lonely Planets book and it should arrive tomorrow. I will try the tourism website. Robert

Posted by
334 posts

Bear in mind that you'll only have about 4.5 hours of daylight at that time of year. With whatever activities you wish you to do, make sure that they fit into your slim window of daylight, or just make sure that they can be done during twilight or at night.

As far as restaurants go, my favorite in Reykyavík is Sjávargrillið. I was there in 2013 and it is still rated quite highly on TripAdvisor. It is on the expensive side, however.

Posted by
29 posts

Thanks, Mike. I have been trying to plan for the four hours of light. Trying to look at how far things are from Reykajavik and looking at booking tours or finding a private guide. It's a short time and with it being New Years can make things a little bit harder.

Posted by
110 posts

The Imagine Peace tower will still be lit when you arrive. (Tribute to John Lennon) They light it up every night between December 21st and New Years Day.

Not so much something to go out to the island and see, but if you're wondering what that bright light out in the bay is...

Posted by
351 posts

Reykjavik is crazy popular for New Years, so make your hotel reservations as soon as possible.

An overnight trip for Northern Lights is a good idea, because you'll be further outside the city sooner and get more time to see the lights. If they happen, which there are no guarantees. :)

We were there at the end of December 2015 (returning home Dec 30). There were about 4 hours of useful daylight per day, at least when it wasn't overcast. You also have about 45 minutes before dawn (11:30am) and after sunset (3:30pm) of gloaming.

Stuff doesn't open very early in the winter. 10am was a common opening time for restaurants - even coffee shops! And the streets are pretty deserted until 10am or so. I don't know if this was due to the short daylight, the late opening hours, or the winter holidays, or a combo of all of them.

Posted by
1856 posts

Hi again Robert,

We stayed at the Skuggi Hotel in Reykjavik. It is one street over from the Main Street (Laugurvegur). It's clean and new and has a great breakfast (including bacon which is always a plus in my book). The staff is also wonderful there. Glo is a really good restaurant that I would recommend. If you have time, visit the National Museum in Reykjavik. It's not very big and gives you a good overview of life in Iceland over the centuries.

Posted by
29 posts

Thank you, Mary. I will look into the Skuggi and the Glo. Just watched Anthony Bourdain's Iceland - WOW. It was kind of scary. But you got to make the best of what you got. What did you do in the dark hours? I will bring games, but I don't want to go drinking with my nieces for 8 hours a day. Are the Spas open? Shopping?

Thanks, Motogirl. I am looking for an over night excursion where we can do ice caves and maybe a glacier on Dec. 29 and come back on 30 or 31.

Thanks, Hamlet. Now we will know what that shining beacon in the water is. It will be our candle on the water.

Does anyone know if restaurants or hotels offer a New Years dinner? I have been reading about the boom fires on the beach. Do you purchase tickets to go to them or one of them?

Posted by
1856 posts

Hi Robert,

We were in Iceland this past June so we had 24/7 daylight and I can't tell you what activities would be good after dark. You could always go swimming as there is a big swimming pool in Reykjavik or perhaps go to the Blue Lagoon for a swim. They may have ice skating on Reykjavik's Lake Tjornin but you would have to google that. Check Audur's website iheartreykjavik.net as there may be some suggestions there that would help you. I hope you get to see the northern lights. That would be so cool.