Easter is a great time to visit Iceland. If you’ve chosen to do so, here are some things which are useful to know ahead of your journey to Iceland.

Can I see Northern Lights during Easter?

northern lights

Aurora Borealis. Photo: Iurie Belegurschi.

A classic question from prospective visitors to Iceland is whether their trip is at the right time of year to sneak a peek at the Aurora Borealis. Lucky for you, Easter is.

There is still a fair chance to see the Northern Lights in Iceland in April. Wait for nightfall and get out of the light pollution of the city and you might see the spectacular light display.

We wish you a happy Easter and the best of luck in your aurora hunting. 


See also: Skiing Tours in Iceland


Opening hours during Easter

kirkja

Hallgrímskirkja. Photo: Iurie Belegurschi.

Because Easter is a public holiday in Iceland, businesses might be closed or have shorter opening hours on the following days:

Maundy Thursday – April 18th

The day commemorating the Last Supper is a public holiday, and therefore many shops are closed, it’s best to get any shopping done on Wednesday the 17th since Friday is also a holiday.

Thursday being a public holiday also means that bars in Reykjavík will operate on weekend hours on Wednesday evening, which means they’re open until at least 3 am.

Good Friday – April 19th

By law no shops are to be open on Good Friday, so go to the shop on Wednesday if you need anything. Additionally, no gambling, dancing, drinking or other enjoyable activities are permitted. Some atheists rebel against this law by hosting games of bingo on Good Friday.

To honour Christ’s suffering at the crucifixion people are meant to do nothing fun on Good Friday. Which means that bars close on midnight the day before and remain closed until midnight on Good Friday, which doesn’t bother Icelanders, who never turn up to the bar early anyway.

Easter Sunday – April 21st

Easter day itself is another day of closed shops, so get to the store on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter to get what you need.

Easter Monday – April 22nd

The Monday after Easter Sunday is also a day off for most Icelanders. Not every shop will be closed, but there might be shorter hours.

Weather during Easter

hofskirkja

The sun low in the sky over Hofskirkja. Photo: Iurie Belegurschi.

The weather in Iceland can be mighty unpredictable, especially around Easter.

Sometimes there is snowfall, which is lucky for those who use their Easter break for a spot of skiing. It can also be nice and sunny, giving Icelanders hope that summer is just around the corner. Sometimes both happen at once!


See also: What to wear in Iceland in April


If it’s both sunny and snowy, make sure to pack sunscreen. The sun’s UV rays are especially dangerous at this time of year, and people tend to forget to apply a bit of SPF.

Remember to be thorough when applying sunblock since the sun reflects off the snow and can give you sunburn in creative places, like under your chin, which is not nice.

Religious celebrations at Easter

dómkirkjan

Reykjavík Cathedral in the snow. Photo: Dómkirkjan facebook.

Iceland is a Lutheran nation and Easter is, therefore, a national holiday. Not many Icelanders are regular churchgoers, but there are some, especially during big holidays like Easter. If you celebrate Easter, there will be church services for you to attend.

If you celebrate Passover, you can contact the Jewish Centre of Iceland for information on services and other events. 


See also: Iceland in April


Icelandic Easter traditions

Egg

Easter eggs from Nói Síríus. Photo: Nói Síríus facebook.

It is a tradition in Iceland to eat a roast leg of lamb on Easter. Families gather together and eat a delicious meal together. The Icelandic lamb is a dish not to be missed during your time in Iceland.

Another delicious thing eaten at Easter is, of course, chocolate Easter eggs. In Iceland, these eggs are full of sweets, and all have a proverb on a little yellow note inside. Make sure to get one of these sweet treats while you’re here, and ask an Icelander to translate the proverb for you.

Many Icelandic teenagers aged 13-14 years undergo the rite of passage known as a confirmation around Easter time. Either a religious one or a civic confirmation. Which means many Icelanders are busy with family gatherings around Easter.