In many countries, Christmas is over now; shops and services return to regular operating hours and the post-holiday sales begin. It may not come as a surprise by now, that in Iceland, we do things differently.
‘Annar í jólum’ (‘Second Christmas’) is what Icelanders called the 26th of December and it is a national public holiday. It is savoured by the population in a very similar way as Christmas Day by visiting family and enjoying newly unwrapped gifts.
Second Christmas might not make total sense as it the third day of public holidays and you might be finding yourself slightly peeved that things still aren’t quite running as usual. Not to worry! There’s actually far more places open and things happening on the 26th in comparison to the past few days, you just need to know where to find them and we’re here to help!
Good to Know
Although some restaurants will keep their doors closed, many will be opening theirs after a well-deserved Christmas break. Approach the 26th in Reykjavík much like a Saturday night; you will most likely still need to make reservations and places are bound to be busy.
City buses will be running again, however, they will be operating on a Sunday schedule so be sure you have the right times.
The swimming pools are open from 12:00 until 18:00 so why not spend the afternoon unwinding in one the many geothermal baths of Reykjavík?
Many of the city’s museums and exhibitions will have limited opening hours, just be sure to check them before you travel.
Book a Tour
Although a public holiday, the 26th December is not held in the same hallowed regard as the 24th and 25th and many tour operators will be functioning as normal.
If you’re looking to see a variety of natural features, look no further than the Snæfellnes peninsula, nicknamed ‘Iceland in Miniature’ for its diverse natural features. Enjoy glaciers, mountains, dramatic coastlines, sea stacks as well as waterfalls all in one great value day tour. Book now.
Consider combining sightseeing with a trip to one of the world’s most famous spas, the Blue Lagoon. You will explore the natural wonders and quaint fishing villages of the nearby Reykjanes peninsula for a day of wonder culminating in soaking in azure blue waters in the middle of a lava field. Book here.
For a Boxing Day you won’t forget, why not hop aboard a plane and fly over the South Coast of Iceland to explore a natural ice cave inside of a glacier? Since you will be skipping the 6-hour drive, you will have plenty of time to enjoy this natural feature as well as visit the stunning Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Diamond beach. Book here now.
Go Out in the Evening
It used to be the custom that Icelanders were explicitly banned from enjoying anything fun from 18:00 on the 24th to the same time on the 26th. To celebrate, many Icelanders would go out to party on the evening of the 26th and many still do! It’s a common half-joke that part of the motivation to leave the house is to escape relatives after just a tad too much family time.
Live events and rock bar Gaukurinn will be hosting a Christmas karaoke evening from 20:00 onwards. Songs can be from any era or genre (so long as a karaoke version exists!) so don’t worry about being confined to Christmas songs or having to hear them again!
Fancy a bit of a giggle? You can head over to English-speaking Open Mic stand-up comedy at the Secret Cellar. Join wizened and fresh comics alike as they try out new material, revamp old gags and, occasionally, a brave soul trying it for the very first time!
Are you a bit of a Lord of the Rings fan? Why not test your Middle Earth knowledge at cosy locale Bravó and enter their themed pub quiz! There are mystery prizes for the victors and a DJ for the party that follows. Even the smallest person can change the course of the future!