Reykjavik is a city where modernist architecture meets stunning natural landscapes, drawing visitors for its unique culture and outdoor activities.
During December, the city hosts several Christmas markets, such as the one at Ingólfstorg, featuring a variety of crafts, foods, and Icelandic traditions.
In this article, I’ll provide you with all the essential details, including 2023 dates, opening times, locations, and the local treats you can expect to find at Reyjkavik Christmas Market.
Christmas in Reykjavik provides a unique experience as the city capitalises on its Nordic location, often illuminated by the Northern Lights during winter nights.
Public squares and buildings feature eye-catching light installations that serve as contemporary twists on traditional holiday decor.
Reykjavik Christmas Market 2023
As the first Sunday of Advent arrives, the lighting of the Christmas tree at Austurvellir opens the Christmas festivities in Reykjavik.
Adorned with decorations from the charity for the disabled, the tree signifies the cultural heritage and unity of the city and the longstanding friendship of Reykjavik and the city of Oslo.
Following this event, you’ll find the city alive with Christmas markets. The main Christmas market in Reykjavik is Jólakvosin in the Kvosin district, the city’s historic centre.
The Kvosin Christmas Market coincides with ice skating at Ingólfstorg Square, a popular winter activity for both locals and visitors.
Further afield, the Christmas Village in Hafnarfjörður offers live entertainment and an array of Christmas houses selling Icelandic crafts, artwork, and seasonal treats.
Dates and Location
Reykjavik Christmas Market dates: 3rd to 23rd December 2023.
Location: Ingólfstorg (Ingólfur Square).
Opening times: 11am to 4pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Christmas lights: Yes, tree lighting date at Austurvellir: 3rd December 2023.
Ice skating: Yes, at Ingólfstorg from 26th November 2023.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten-free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended during busy periods.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Traditional and modern Icelandic culture blend, historic square location, stunning scenery.
Recommended tour: Sightseeing walking tour with a Viking.
Specialities: Gromperekichelcher, Icelandic hot dogs, kleina, smoked lamb, sugar-coated almonds, Christmas ale.
Where to stay: Kvosin Downtown Hotel is a popular hotel, 3 minutes from Ingólfstorg.
Hotels near Reykjavik Christmas Market
To be close to the Christmas market in Ingólfstorg, consider staying in the Kvosin area of Reykjavik. This central location places you within walking distance of the market as well as other city attractions.
I recommend Kvosin Downtown Hotel for its excellent location near the Christmas market and high sustainability rating.
Location of Reykjavik Christmas Market
Recommended Walking and Food Tours
A city tour of Reykjavik provides an excellent opportunity to familiarise yourself with Iceland’s vibrant capital.
I’d suggest the Sightseeing Walking Tour with a Viking for anyone new to Reykjavik or looking to rediscover it.
With a local guide at your side, you’ll visit notable landmarks such as Harpa concert hall and Hallgrímskirkja Church, while also being introduced to less-known spots that you might otherwise overlook.
Along the way, you’ll learn not only the history of these sites but also the current goings-on in the city, including local dining and drink spots.
For those interested in Icelandic cuisine, the 3-Hour Foodie Adventure Walking Tour should be on your list.
On this tour, a local guide takes you to 4-6 restaurants around Reykjavik, allowing you to sample up to 8 distinct dishes that locals enjoy. It’s a way to explore Reykjavik’s culinary landscape while also getting to know the city.
To extend your knowledge of holiday celebrations in this Nordic country, check out my Iceland Christmas markets 2023 guide, which provides detailed information on market locations, opening hours, and the types of products you can expect to find.
Hafnarfjörður Christmas Village
When you visit Hafnarfjörður, you’ll encounter a Christmas Village that features live entertainment and the appearance of Icelandic Yule Lads.
You can browse various Christmas houses selling crafts, Icelandic designs, and a range of snacks and hot drinks.
The village also includes a recent addition: an ice skating rink called Hjartasvellið. Here, you can rent skates and enjoy some time on the ice before warming up with hot chocolate and snacks from local vendors.
Situated about 20 minutes from downtown Reykjavík by bus number 1, Hafnarfjörður itself is a vibrant seaside town surrounded by rugged lava fields and rich natural beauty, making it an inviting setting for your Christmas festivities.
Hafnarfjörður Christmas Village dates: 3rd to 23rd December 2023.
Opening times: Friday: 5pm to 9pm. Saturday and Sunday: 1pm to 6pm.
Lækjartorg Christmas Market
Set in the heart of Reykjavik, Lækjartorg Christmas Market brings the square to life with festive cheer each year.
As you navigate through the market, you’ll discover a wide array of Icelandic goods, including handmade jewellery, ceramics, and traditional wool items.
The market also hosts food vendors, tempting you with the aroma of Icelandic Christmas delicacies.
Lækjartorg Christmas Market dates: 16th and 17th December and 19th to 22nd December 2023.
Opening times: 4pm to 8pm.
Christmas in Reykjavik
The following video provides an informative look at what the Reykjavik Christmas Market has to offer. It serves as a useful guide to the various stalls, activities, and atmosphere you can expect when visiting.
Christmas Specialties in Reykjavik
Hákarl: One of Iceland’s most infamous dishes, hákarl is fermented shark that’s dried and served in small pieces. Though an acquired taste, it’s considered a traditional Christmas delicacy in Iceland. You’ll often see it at the Reykjavik Christmas Market, and adventurous eaters might want to give it a try.
Laufabrauð: A staple at Icelandic Christmas tables, laufabrauð is a crispy flatbread decorated with intricate patterns. It’s deep-fried and often enjoyed with butter. You’ll find this treat at the Christmas stalls and it’s worth sampling for its unique texture and design.
Rjómaís: Icelandic soft-serve ice cream mixed with various toppings is a year-round favourite. Even in the colder months, you’ll find locals and visitors indulging in a cone. It might sound counterintuitive, but no visit to an Icelandic market would be complete without trying rjómaís.
Hot Chocolate: This might not be unique to Iceland, but the chill of the Arctic air makes hot chocolate particularly comforting. Some stalls even offer a splash of Icelandic schnapps to give it an extra kick.
Pylsa: The Icelandic hot dog is a popular quick eat, made from a blend of lamb, pork, and beef. Served with a range of condiments like fried onions, raw onions, ketchup, mustard, and remoulade, it’s a must-try snack.
Kleinur: These Icelandic doughnuts are twisted into a specific shape before being deep-fried and sugar-coated. They make for a sweet, satisfying snack as you browse the market.
Glögg: This is the Icelandic version of mulled wine, typically made with red wine, spices, and sometimes raisins and almonds. It’s a popular way to stay warm while exploring the market.
Smoked Lamb: Known locally as hangikjöt, this is smoked meat that is usually served as part of a main meal but can sometimes be found in sandwich form at the market. Its distinct smoky flavour makes it a unique culinary experience.
Bolludagur Cream Buns: These are sweet, fluffy buns filled with cream and jam, then topped with chocolate glaze. Traditionally eaten on Bolludagur, or ‘Bun Day,’ they are sometimes available during the Christmas season as well.
Apple Cider: A warm cup of apple cider is another international favourite that makes an appearance at the Christmas markets in Reykjavik. Some stalls offer a local twist by adding Icelandic herbs or berries.
Rúgbrauð: This is a traditional Icelandic rye bread that is dense and dark, often served with butter or hangikjöt. You can find it pre-sliced at the market, and it serves as a hearty snack or accompaniment to a meal.
Kókosbollur: These are coconut-covered chocolate balls that offer a sweet reprieve from the market’s otherwise meat and fish-heavy options. They’re easy to eat on the go and are quite popular among children.
Skólabollur: Another sweet treat, these are cream-filled choux pastry puffs, often topped with chocolate and sprinkled with coconut flakes. They’re a popular dessert in Iceland and can be found at various food stalls.
Icelandic Christmas Ale: This festive brew, known locally as Jólaöl, is a mix of a non-alcoholic malt beverage called Maltextrakt and an orange fizzy drink known as Appelsín. While not traditionally a street food, it’s often available at Christmas market stalls for a refreshing change.
Christmas Gifts and Stocking Fillers
Icelandic Wool Products: Known for their quality and durability, Icelandic wool products like sweaters, hats, and mittens are a common find. Made from the fleece of Icelandic sheep, which have a unique dual-layered coat, these items provide excellent insulation against the cold.
Einstök Beer: This Icelandic craft beer has gained a following for its unique flavours and high-quality ingredients, making it an excellent gift for beer enthusiasts. Vendors usually sell them in aesthetically pleasing gift packs, perfect for holiday gifting.
Birch Syrup and Liquor: Sourced from Iceland’s native birch forests, these products are popular for their unique, woody taste. Whether in syrup form for culinary use or as liquor for a warm drink, they offer a taste of Iceland’s flora.
Volcanic Stone Sculptures: Local artists often work with Iceland’s abundant volcanic rocks to create sculptures. Ranging from small, portable items to larger pieces, these sculptures capture the island’s geological marvels in tangible form.
Icelandic Chocolate: Produced locally, Icelandic chocolates often feature novel flavours, such as sea salt from the Westfjords or berries from the Icelandic wilderness. They’re a sweet way to bring a piece of Iceland back home.
Books on Icelandic Folklore and Sagas: Iceland has a rich literary tradition that dates back to the sagas. Books on Icelandic folklore, myths, and sagas make for a thoughtful gift that allows people to delve into the nation’s history and imagination.
Skincare Products: Due to the harsh climate, Iceland produces a range of skincare products made from natural, local ingredients such as seaweed, geothermal mud, and mineral-rich water. These items are designed to nourish and protect the skin.
Mug with the Northern Lights Design: A popular item, these mugs usually feature an intricate depiction of the Northern Lights. Not only functional but also decorative, they remind you of Iceland’s natural beauty every time you have a drink.
Lava Salt: Harvested and processed in Iceland, this unique seasoning adds both flavour and a visual element to dishes. Often sold in stylish jars, it’s a practical and attractive gift option.
Icelandic Recipe Book: For those who’ve fallen in love with Icelandic cuisine, a recipe book can be a perfect gift. These often feature traditional dishes as well as modern interpretations, allowing one to recreate Icelandic meals at home.
Reusable Shopping Bags with Icelandic Designs: As an eco-friendly choice, these bags often feature designs inspired by Icelandic landscapes or culture. They’re practical, easy to carry, and make for a nice, casual gift.
Icelandic Candy: Licorice is particularly loved in Iceland, often found combined with chocolate in various sweet treats. An assortment of these treats, or a packet of the popular ‘Omnom’ chocolate made in Reykjavik, would be an ideal gift for those with a sweet tooth.
Viking-inspired Items: Given Iceland’s rich history, you can often find Viking-inspired crafts. These can make interesting and unique gifts, whether it’s a horn drinking vessel, a replica Viking sword, or jewellery featuring traditional symbols like the Vegvísir.
Christmas Decorations: As with most Christmas markets, you’ll find a range of festive decorations. From traditional Icelandic Yule Lads figurines to handcrafted tree ornaments, these festive items can bring a touch of Icelandic Christmas to any home.
Things to Do in Winter
For the most up-to-date information on winter activities and current events in the city, I recommend checking out Visit Reykjavik, the city’s official website, where you’ll find a plethora of reliable details to enhance your trip. This Christmas itinerary is a great place to start.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Here are a few tips on how we can travel more responsibly in Reykjavik at Christmas.
Renewable Energy: While staying in Reykjavik, opt for accommodations that use the country’s renewable energy resources. The city is powered largely by geothermal and hydroelectric energy, which are sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels.
Reduce Food Waste: Be mindful of portion sizes when ordering food, particularly at the Christmas markets where tempting food stalls are abundant. To cut down on waste, try sharing dishes with your travel companions.
Ethical Consumption: Choose to purchase items made by local artisans at the Christmas markets in Iceland to support the local economy and reduce the environmental impact of shipping goods from overseas.
Sustainable Diets: Make a point to sample local food products, as importing goods can lead to a larger carbon footprint. Reykjavik is known for its fresh seafood and locally sourced lamb, both of which are sustainable choices.
Sustainable Transport: Reykjavik is a compact city, and many of its key attractions are within walking distance of each other. Opt to walk or bike when possible or make use of the city’s efficient public transport system.
Support Eco-Friendly Businesses: When dining or shopping, look for businesses that are committed to sustainability. Some restaurants in Reykjavik, for instance, pride themselves on using locally sourced, organic ingredients. Similarly, consider shopping at stores that sell products made from sustainable materials.
Participate in Clean-Up Activities: If you’re spending a bit more time in Reykjavik, you might wish to join local initiatives aimed at keeping the city clean and green. Some organisations arrange regular clean-up events, contributing to a healthier environment.
The Reykjavik Christmas Market 2023 dates are 3rd to 23rd December 2023.
The Christmas Market in Reykjavik is primarily located at Ingólfstorg Square in the city centre, with additional markets at Lækjartorg and Hlemmur Square. The Christmas Village is located in Hafnarfjörður, a 20 minute bus ride from Reykjavik city centre.
Reykjavik Christmas Market usually opens around 11am to 4pm.
Reykjavik experiences cold and dark winters, with temperatures usually below freezing. There’s also a chance of snowfall, adding to the festive atmosphere.
Reykjavik is a compact city, and many of its main attractions are within walking distance. For longer distances, you can use the efficient public transport system.
You can take a city tour to explore Reykjavik’s attractions, dine at local restaurants, try a traditional geothermal spa, or even go on a Northern Lights tour.
If you want to leave a Reykjavik Xmas Market review, comment below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Reykjavik, Iceland. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.