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The Winter City: Enjoying Reykjavík In The Dark Months

The Winter City: Enjoying Reykjavík In The Dark Months

Alice Demurtas Hannah Jane Cohen
Photos by
Art Bicnick

Published November 14, 2017

‘Tis the season to… be jolly, sure, but also to clip snow cleats onto your shoes so you don’t slip and break a tibia as Reykjavík becomes a slippery ice sheet of death. But hey, as well as being potentially hazardous, it also gets incredibly Christmassy around here—the long nights mean lots and lots of Christmas lights to brighten up the streets, and there are some super fun winter activities to take part in around the city. Here are a few of our favourites.

Ice Skating at Ingólfstorg Square
Show off your inner Tonya Harding with a jaunt around the ice-skating rink that pops up annually at this time of year at Ingólfstorg. Delicately float around the rink as you hold hands with your lover, mother, or lover’s mother. There’s nothing more Christmassy than ice-skating, or more Reykjavík than Ingólfstorg, and this is the only time of the year that you can potentially fall and break your leg on it (unless you’re a skateboarder, that is). HJC

Hot Chocolate at C Is For Cookie
The winter weather in Reykjavík is notoriously awful. From slippery sidewalks to shiver-inducing windchill, it’s imperative that you take breaks often and replenish yourself with sugar regularly if you plan on venturing outside. Café C Is For Cookie is the perfect spot to do so. It has the best hot chocolate in the city, plus a warm and cosy atmosphere to drink it in. They’ve also got amazing cookies, if you want to add some sugar to your sugar. HJC

Bláfjöll Ski Resort
The largest ski area in Iceland is, conveniently, only a 30 minute drive from the city. Bláfjöll is suitable for every type of rider—whether you’re a newbie or one of those people that likes to test their mortality by dropping out of a helicopter. While skiing/snowboarding in the dark might sound intimidating, you’ll feel 100% more hardcore than those losers who do it in the light, and seriously, who skis or snowboards for any other reason than to look hardcore? Don’t lie. Warning: opening is very dependent on the weather, so check ahead. HJC

Northern Lights Gazing in The City
If paying for a Northern lights tour isn’t your thing, don’t despair—there are plenty of places right in town that are just a stroll away from the intrusive city lights. Grótta is the most popular; situated at the end of the Seltjarnarnes peninsula, it’s accessible via car or bike and it’s a great spot to take pictures of auroras with the Reykjavík harbour in the background. If you’d prefer to take a romantic walk, the shoreline promenade bordering the city centre is about 30-40 minutes long. If you do have a car, however, head towards the outskirts of Reykjavík and stop by Lake Elliðavatn for a clean view into the lit-up skies. AD

A Wander Through The Snow
Reykjavík is beautiful when it’s draped in snow. There are some beautiful spots to wander around within a short walk or bus ride of the city. You could make your way up to the Grótta lighthouse on the western end of the peninsula, take a stroll through the beautiful hilltop forest of Öskjuhlíð next to the Perlan (“The Pearl”) visitors centre, or make your way to the Laugardalur park. If you have a car with snow tyres, head the Heiðmörk, the forested area on the edge of the city that’s crisscrossed with hiking trails—it’s a real winter wonderland. JR

Read more city guides here.


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