If you’re not yet sure where this winter’s travels are taking you, Reykjavik is a fantastic place to choose for your next city break. This winter wonderland is full of mystical things to uncover. Whether you’re hoping to spot some whales, take a dip in a geothermal spa or want to see some dramatic landscapes with glaciers and volcanoes, there’ll be plenty for you to experience. Here are my top five things to do in Reykjavik in winter:
1. See the Northern Lights
The top thing to do in Reykjavik has to be watching the Northern Lights. I recently returned from a last-minute holiday here. Before reaching 30, I was determined to tick seeing this natural phenomenon off my bucket list, and I did it!
Before I went to Iceland, I wasn’t entirely sure what caused this spectacular light show. So it was all the more magical to find out it’s created by gas from the Earth colliding with charged particles from the sun’s atmosphere while searching it out. The closest place to see the Aurora Borealis from Reykjavik is in the incredible woodland area known as Öskjuhlíð. In the daytime, it’s a beautiful place to explore, but by night, it was transformed with a green glow.
Did you know that the Northern Lights are visible from space? While I was surrounded by trees, looking up at the thousands of stars, I felt like a child again. I tried to imagine myself as an astronaut looking down at this display from a spaceship. If you can’t see the green or red lights dancing in the night sky, don’t spend night after night searching for them; face north and try taking some pictures with your camera as the Northern Lights are more visible through a lens.
2. Snap away during the golden hour
Keen photographers and Instagrammers will have probably heard of the ‘golden hour’, which is when the sunlight has a warmer tone. It usually happens just before dawn or dusk and is a brilliant time to take snaps of some of Reykjavik’s beautiful architecture like the iconic Hallgrímskirkja Church.
The Arctic Circle can even have ‘golden days’, where the light produces a warm glow from the moment the sun comes up until it goes down. This will give your photos a natural look and leave your friends and family with holiday envy.
3. Go to Reykjavik’s Winter Light Festival
Put your phone down and live in the moment at Reykjavik’s Winter Light Festival. The three-day event in February transforms the capital into a light spectacle to celebrate art, history, sports and culture.
If you want to see the magic unfold, you won’t have to travel far as the light installments are projected on buildings in various public places, museums and swimming pools. In previous years, it’s featured on prominent places like Reykjavik City Hall.
4. Try snowmobiling
Do you consider yourself a bit of an adrenaline junkie? Snowmobiling is a great way to try something new on your holiday in Reykjavik. Not only will you be able to see many of Iceland’s attractions by taking a snowmobile ride, but you’ll also get a chance to take in the beautiful snowy landscapes.
For me, it really was a once in a lifetime experience as I combined it with a guided tour of an ice cave. This natural wonder was like a cathedral of ice and was like nothing I’d ever experienced before.
5. Swim in the thermal pools
One of the most popular things to do in Reykjavik in winter is to chill out in one of the thermal pools or hot tubs. Don’t let the thought of this activity leave your teeth chattering, whether it’s snowing, raining or sunny, the temperature in the pools will stay at around 28°C.
My favourite was the Sundhöllin, and as the oldest pool (built in 1937), it felt like I was experiencing a real piece of Icelandic history. If you’re travelling with your family or looking for more of an active daytrip, the Laugardalslaug will be perfect for you. With an indoor pool, hot tubs, a cold bath, Finnish sauna, water slides and a mini-golf course, you’ll be entertained for hours.
Are you going to Reykjavik in December? You can enjoy something even more extraordinary at the Blue Lagoon. This geothermal spa is about a 30-minute drive from the capital, and the water contains natural minerals that are great for your skin. Whether you want to indulge with an in-water treatment or just