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December 30th: Arrival

Highlights: Reykjavik Hallgrimskirkja Perlan

Arrival in Iceland.  Transfer to your hotel in Reykjavik.  Transfers are not included, but we are happy to book a scheduled or private transfer for you.

The day is free for you to explore. Reykjavik is decked out in its festive lights and decorations for the Christmas holiday season.  It’s fun to walk through the streets and enjoy the atmosphere.   Enjoy a stroll down main streets of Laugavegur (the “shopping street) and Skolavordustigur (the “gallery street.”)  Visit the trendy Old Harbor district, location of artisanal restaurants, craft shops and exhibits like the Volcano House, Maritime Museum and Whales of Iceland.  Head to the Pearl (Perlan) for the wonderful interactive exhibits about Iceland’s volcanoes, glaciers and star-filled skies. The new FlyOver Iceland experience is also a great introduction to the breath-taking wild nature of Iceland.    There are also several geothermal pools that are a wonderful way to shake off the jetlag.  It’s also a great way to meet Icelanders since the swimming pool is the place where Icelanders come together to chat.  After a trip to the swimming pool, an Icelandic tradition is to have a hot dog, and there often is a hot dog kiosk near the pool!  Another tradition at this time of the year is to enjoy a mug of hot chocolate or mulled wine and gingersnaps at one of the coffee houses in the downtown area.

If you arrive earlier in the day and want to enjoy outdoor action, we can help book you on fun activities such as cave explorations, glacier hiking, horseback riding in a lava field or winter whale watching.

Overnight in Reykjavik

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December 31st: New Year's Eve

Highlights: Reykjavik Hafnarfjordur

Breakfast at your hotel. If you are staying at the Grand Hotel Reykjavik, you’ll board a bus for an unguided transfer to the CenterHotel Arnarhvoll to meet the guide for this morning’s cultural city tour.

The locally based guide will meet all of you at the CenterHotel Arnarhvoll for a great introductory tour to Reykjavik and New Year’s Eve traditions.  You’ll enjoy a combination of bus sightseeing and walking tours to get a good overall Reykjavik area experience.  You’ll explore the special spots around Reykjavik and discover special traditions and Icelandic folklore related to the magical New Year’s Eve in Iceland.  The tour puts an emphasis on tales about elves (also known as the Hidden People).  There are many legends about encounters between Icelanders and elves that took place between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

The first stop is to purchase fireworks, which are only available through the Icelandic Rescue Teams. The proceeds from the fireworks sale help support the amazing work of the rescue teams, whose employees are mainly volunteering. Each year on December 31st, Icelanders light up over 600 tons of fireworks — that’s nearly 5 lbs. (2 kg) per inhabitant!

Then it’s off to Hafnarfjordur, “The Town in the Lava” famous for its elf population. You’ll visit an elf stone but remember to treat the area with respect– the mystical Hidden People roam freely on New Year’s Eve! The excursion ends in a beautiful clearing where your group will light a small bonfire, enjoy a toast to life and love and say farewell to the passing year in traditional Icelandic fashion!  (Note: Tour is conducted in English). The tour ends in downtown Reykjavik, where you have the rest of the afternoon to yourself.  Please keep in mind many shops and restaurants will close after noon and the city bus services stops around 15:00 (3:00pm).   Many places will remain open for visitors, though.  A list of open places is available at many hotels and from the tourism board.

In the evening, delight in a New Year’s Eve dinner at your hotel.  Menu items are carefully crafted from fresh local ingredients straight from Icelandic farmers and greenhouses and the neighboring ocean. Enjoy also the festive music and atmosphere of the evening.

Fireworks go off  all night long, reaching a high point at midnight, when the sky lights up for a few minutes as fire trucks and docked ships ring their bells and blow their horns to welcome the New Year.

After midnight, the nightclubs and pubs are open for business and the downtown area becomes a veritable catwalk of Icelanders outfitted in their finest holiday glitz, with dancing and celebrations going well into the morning. The biggest party night in a city renowned for its nightlife, the New Year’s Eve celebration in Reykjavik is the stuff of legends.

The Festive Evening Program at Grand Hotel Reykjavik:

  • 19:00-22:00 (7:00-10:00pm) – New Year´s Festive dinner buffet with live music.   Dinner is served in the Grand Brasserie and Setrid areas of the hotel.
  • 23:45 (11: 45pm) – Hateigur Room on the hotel’s 4th floor opens. Sparkling wine and canapes served. Watch the fireworks from the balcony. Countdown to midnight.

Grand Evening Program at Grand Hotel Reykjavik (upgrade):

  • 17:00 (5:00pm)  – Aperitif – Sparkling wine and strawberries.
  • 17:45 (5:45pm) – Five -course dinner begins, including selected wines
  • 20:30 (8:30pm) – Guided coach visit to view the bonfire in the suburb of Kopavogur. This is one of the largest New Year’s Eve bonfires in Iceland.
  • 21:45 (9:45pm) – Return to hotel.
  • 22:00 (10:00pm) – Icelandic charcuterie and dessert course is served
  • 23:45 (11: 45pm) – Hateigur Room on the 4th floor opens. Sparkling wine and canapes served. Watch the fireworks from the balcony. Countdown to midnight.


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January 1st: New Year's Day

Highlights: Reykjavik

Happy 2020!  Breakfast at your hotel.  The day is open for your own activities.  This is a holiday in Iceland, but there will be some restaurants and travel services open today, and many day tours are available. This is a great day for visiting places like the Golden Circle, the South Shore or chilling at the Blue Lagoon.  Another suggestion for an Icelandic-style spa relaxation is to take Golden Circle tour that visits the Laugarvatn Fontana steam baths or the Secret Lagoon.

It’s a tradition in Iceland to enjoy a nice dinner on New Year’s Day, so several restaurants, including the one at the Grand Hotel Reykjavik, offer festive dinners tonight.  Reservations are recommended.

Overnight in Reykjavik

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January 2nd: Departure

Highlights: Reykjavik

Breakfast at your hotel.  On your own transfer to Keflavik airport for your international flight.  We would be happy to book a transfer for you for this day.

We recommend departing your hotel no later than three hours before your flight.

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