Iceland in winter? Why not? A winter sale highlighting a three-night trip to Reykjavik from NYC passed through our email, and it was booked the next day. Sure, Iceland in late November was dark, with daylight only from 11am-4pm, and there were some miserable weather moments involving cold rain, but in the end, we still wished we could have extended the trip.

We spent our four days in Iceland walking around downtown Reykjavik, shopping for unique Christmas presents in the shops that line the main street, sampling pylsurs (hot dogs) from street food carts, tasting Icelandic beers, and learning about Viking history at a few of the many museums. We also took advantage of Reykjavik's proximity to the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle and booked day trips to those locations to change up the scenery and check out the island's volcanic activity.

Accommodation: Center Hotel Plaza

Adventures: Reykjavik Grand Excursion Tour {Hallgrímskirkja Church, The Pearl, Höfði House, The Sun Voyager sculpture}, Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa, The Golden Circle Tour, The Settlement ExhibitionNational Museum of Iceland

Takeaways: 1) November might not be the best time to visit Iceland in terms of weather. We'll admit we were cold and wet (i.e., miserable) on one of our tours. 2) English is widely spoken. No language barrier here. 3) Free wifi is everywhere - even on the tour buses. 4) The darkness is a bit strange at 10am. 5) Credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere - even the street food carts would accommodate plastic payment. 6) The weather needs to be favorable (cold with clear skies) to see the Northern Lights, which isn't favorable for tourists. Our tour was canceled on all three nights. 7) There's something special about being in Reykjavik during the holiday season. 8) Food is expensive. 9) The city felt like our hometown in Michigan with its prominent downtown bar and restaurant scene.

Memorable Moments: 1) Applying silica mud masks at the Blue Lagoon. 2) Checking out the local goods at the grocery store. 3) Sampling Icelandic beers and pylsurs.

Reykjavik offered a large assortment of international eating options, but we mostly survived on fish and chips, lobster/lamb soup, pylsurs, and skyr.
  • Pylsurs are Icelandic hot dogs made with lamb, pork, and beef and served with ketchup, sweet brown mustard, fried onions, raw onions, and remoulade, a mayonnaise-based sauce with sweet relish. Locals eat them with the works (Icelandic: með öllu).
  • Skyr is a soft cheese with a consistency similar to yogurt. It's amazing stuff and eaten alone or as a sauce.
Tourists will also find fermented shark (hakarl), puffin, and whale on the traditional restaurant menus. We opted out of these dishes this time.

Restaurant Picks:
Street Food Carts//Snacks or Lunch::
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur ("the best hot dogs in town")
Tryggvatagata 1, 101

Pylsuhúsið (hot dog house)
Ingólfstorg Square, 101

Tryggvatagata 11, 101

Reykjavik Fish Restaurant (try the fish and chips with lemon-pepper dill sauce)
Tryggvatagata 8, 101

Saegreifinn (order the lobster soup!)
Geirsgata 8, 101

The Drunk Rabbit Irish Pub (order the pizza romana if you're hungry)
Austurstræti 3, 101

^^Icelandic mustard.^^

1) Consider taking advantage of the Icelandair Stopover program on your next transatlantic trip.
2) Stay in downtown Reykjavik.
3) Don't bother exchanging a lot of money. Credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere.
4) Pack and dress in layers. Pack boots, a hat and mittens, and a warm, water-resistant coat in the wintertime.
5) Eat from street food carts and visit the grocery store to save money.
6) Consider renting a car and exploring the countryside.
7) Visit the Blue Lagoon.

Next Time: 1) Sign up for another Northern Lights tour. 2) Sign up for whale watching. 3) Climb the Hallgrímskirkja Church Tower. 4) Visit the Iceland Phallological Museum.

Good Reads:


This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services, to personalize ads and to analyze traffic. Information about your use of this site is shared with Google. By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies. Click here to LEARN MORE