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Advent & Christmas Holidays in Akureyri (December)

Enjoy the magical advent!

Visitors coming to Akureyri during the Advent, Christmas and New Year can enjoy the cultural festive celebrations of the holidays along with colourful Christmas lights & decorations.

The Advent in Akureyri normally begins on the Saturday before the first Advent. In 2022 it begins on 26th of November when the lights on the Christmas tree on the town’s square are beeing lit.
The Advent programs lasts until 23rd of December, with plenty of events such as concerts, exhibitions and markets, for more ideas visit the event calendar - but note that many event’s just appear with only short notice prior to date.

During this time of the year people enjoy going out dining either for some typical Christmas buffet or just some other good food – brows the overview of restaurants to find the one of your likings here. After strolling the town, shopping or just relaxing make sure to drop in at one of the town’s cafés which invite to Christmas inspired refreshments, cakes, and drinks.

Christmas Eve and the following days are quit quiet as Icelanders enjoy these days at home celebrating with their families and friends. While New Year is quit the contrast, with parties, bonfire and firework.  

Hotels and Restaurants: Hotel Kea offers accommodation and restaurant service during the holidays and many smaller guesthouses and apartments offer accommodation with self-catering facilities. Note that the hotel restaurants must be pre booked for dinner over Christmas and New Year´s Eve. 

Opening hours in other restaurants, shops etc. varies during the holidays, most close around noon on the 24th December and reopen on the 26th December the same applies to New Year´s Eve. For further details - see the overview for Christmas and New Year.

For information on available activities and opening hours during the holidays and the winter season in general.

How to get there:
Icelandair (www.icelandair.com) flies to Keflavik Airport in south Iceland from many European and North American destinations. These flights can easily be combined with a domestic flight from the domestic airport in Reykjavik to Akureyri. The domestic flights take about 45 minutes and are offered several times a day (www.icelandair.com).
Niceair offers direct flights to Akureyri from e.g., Copenhagen. Visit their webpage for further information www.niceair.is
It is also possible drive between Reykjavík and Akureyri approx. 400 km along the main road no 1. Scheduled busses run daily www.straeto.is and the bus ride takes about 6-7 hours. By private car the drive takes about 5 hrs.

Beside all what the event calendar “What’s on” has to offer then we have created an list of things that one can do - when it suits you!

What to do:
Christmas is quite a family thing in Iceland so during 24th and 25th of December locals are mostly occupied with their closest relatives and friends.  Most stores are closed and few if any events.  But it is still possible to find interesting things to do. Here we have suggestions for what to do.

  • Walk around town. Akureyri has quite a few interesting walking routes, check suggestions here.
  • Check out the Christmas lights and decorations. Have a walk or a drive around town and look at the decorations. Note that the town’s busses are free and all make circels so the all begin and end in the town’s centre – so you can just jump on the first one you see (see the routs here, at the bottom of the page). Also remember to visit the Christmas cat at the town square.
  • The Botanical Garden has a romantic atmosphere this time of year with all the lights in the garden.
  • Play in the snow, make snowmen and -women, or build a snow house.
  • The Christmas House. A visit to the Christmas House brings the festive spirit. Only 10 minutes’ drive from Akureyri. Open daily from 12 - 18..00
  • Kjarnaskógur woodland. All the main trails are groomed during winter when there is snow making it easy to walk the paths and go cross-country skiing. Also, there are slopes made for sleigh rides and there are several playgrounds for kids. Find more information on the area here.
  • Akureyri Art Trail. Do a hike through town and find the outdoor art - to help you track these you can use this online brochure as a guide.
  • Krossanesborgir. A nature reserve on the town’s northside. Trails are not cleared or groomed so dress according to weather and wear good shoes. The trails are not lit so when hiking outside daylight hours you need to bring your own light. A great area for northern lights hunting.
  • Go swimming – Akureyri has two public pool areas – Akureyri pool is the largest with 2 outdoor pools, 1 indoor, slides, whirlpools ect. Also, just outside of town approx. 5 min driving you find the new Forest lagoon.
  • Folf (frisbee golf) This is a great sport when there is not too much snow, just dress warmly and enjoy exploring the frisbee golf areas in town – they are 4 fields in Akureyri and if you would like to check those found in the islands Hrísey and Grímsey – they both got each their field. Look for more info here
  • Explore the old town enjoy a stroll in our oldest part of town and visit a museum or more while there.
  • Museum visit Akureyri Art Museum, Akureyri Museum and the Industry Museum all are open most days if not daily. Others are open at least on Saturdays.
  • Sledge hills. There are several hills that are popular for sledding – the most popular is the one you find in Lundahverfi, the so-called „Jólasveinabrekka“, which is lit up outside daylight hours.
    Another popular hill is in Giljahverfi, with the best access from the streets: Vættagil or Valagili, the sleigh hill is just by the end of the street Vættagil. The hill is lit outside of daylight hours. In the woodland Kjarnaskógur there are also suitable sleight hills.
  • If you need further info pop by the Library, the Akureyri Pool or the Art Museum.
  • The largest ski area in Iceland Mt Hlíðarfjall ( www.hlidarfjall.is/en ) is open during most of the winter holidays and most of the tour operators in town offer various tours during the holidays. 
  • Information regarding activities and opening hours look here.
  • Whats On 2022 – brows through the event calendar.