Just outside of Akureyri city you will find a Christmas House - Jólahúsið - in Hrafnagil in Eyjafjörður fjord. It is a must-visit while in this area. It is ever so lovely, like a magical world. Last time I visited it was in August and the temperature was 20 degrees C so it was quite strange entering the Christmas House.
The Christmas House is on two floors and sells everything imaginable related to Christmas. And downstairs you will find a cave with Grýla inside, but Grýla is a cannibal troll much feared by us Icelanders. You cannot see her that well but I put my camera inside her cave and got a bit startled when I looked at her photo ;) She is the mother of the Icelandic Yule Lads and eats children who behave badly.
The owner of the Christmas House tells children, who ask him why he is celebrating Christmas in the summertime, that he is making sure that Christmas will not get lost :)
I know that people visit the Christmas House only to have a look inside while travelling in this area, but then always end up buying something - one just cannot resist it - it is like a fairy-tale world in there.
You can find Christmas stuff from all over the world, but also a lot of Icelandic Christmas handicrafts. And if you wonder what the lovely smell is upstairs, then it is smoked lamb "hangikjöt", which sometimes hangs by the fireplace.
Around the Christmas House, you will find Jólagarðurinn or the Christmas Garden with benches and a lot of Christmassy "stuff". Behind the Christmas House, you will find a miniature replica of a turf church. In the olden times, our houses and churches were made of turf and there are only 6 turf churches left in Iceland now.
I have written another travel-blog on the turf houses and turf churches in Iceland if you want to see what they look like :)
In the garden is the Tower with what might be "heimsins stærsta dagatal" or the World's largest calendar.
It is so lovely visiting it. Inside the tower is painted in beautiful colours with different fairy tale paintings. And numbered windows to open - just like on a Christmas calendar - but on a much larger scale.
The creator of this artwork is Sunna Björk Hreiðarsdóttir (2003).
I had visited the Christmas House so many times, but it wasn't until 2013 that I eventually walked up into the tower.
Also, behind the Christmas House, there is a hidden away WC, very lovely with candles and Christmas music. There is another WC outside on the premises, but this one is ever so lovely and only visible if you walk around the Christmas House.
A new house was added a couple of years ago next to the Christmas House. It is called Svarta húsið or the Black House, and shows the backyard of Tante Grethe - a lovely store with a Nordic atmosphere.
There are so many nice things in here that I would allow for 1.5 hours visiting both the Christmas House and the Black House. I visit the Black House every time I visit Akureyri to stock up on my favourite hard candy, which I cannot get anywhere else :)
The latest addition to the Christmas House is Eplakofinn - the Apple Shed, a lovely addition, where you can buy sugar glazed apples. This is for sure a magical world.
I never visit the Christmas House without buying something as I want this magical place to stay open all year round for decades to come. So let's always leave a little something to support it :)
The opening hours of the Christmas House are:
June - Agust: 10:00-21:00
September - December: 14:00-21:00
January - May: 14:00-18:00
These opening hours can change, so better verify them before driving to the Christmas House.
You will find a beautiful wishing well opposite the Christmas House in Eyjafjörður. It is called the Wishing Well of Unborn Children - in Icelandic Óskabrunnur ófæddra barna.
On a sign is written: "Walk to the well and make a silent wish. Touch the surface of the water and your wish will join all good wishes in the wishing well for children of the future".
The white tree next to the wishing well with stars on top of its branches represents unborn children. On a sign is written: "A child is a star in the sky of life. A wish for a child is a wish for a star".
I can tell you that one can get very emotional there, especially if you can't have children, like me. But I recommend going there, it is a lovely little grove.
The Christmas House is open all year round, and it is lovely visiting it both in the wintertime and in the summertime. It is so close to Akureyri that driving down there is well worth the trip. And if you drive a little further into Eyjafjörður fjord, you will find some lovely historical churches.
Eyjafjörður fjord just never ceases to amaze me and that is why I have written some 9 travel-blogs on this longest fjord in Iceland.
The Christmas House is located a little over 14 km away from Akureyri. You can either rent a car to visit the Christmas House or go there by taxi from Akureyri as there are no buses going there. You can contact Bifreiðastöð Oddeyrar taxi services to find out the price of a return trip by taxi from Akureyri to the Christmas House.
The miniature replica of a turf house by the Christmas House
I found one tour which includes the Christmas House in its December tour:
Winter Wonderland of the North | Christmas Tour from Akureyri, which also includes a visit to Dimmuborgir in Mývatn, where the Yule Lads live.
While you are visiting this area why not join some of the amazing tours from Akureyri with Saga Travel. I have joined several of their tours and can recommend them, as they take you to places which you cannot visit on your own, f.ex.:
This is Part VII in my series of travel-blogs on Eyjafjörður fjord - now join me on a further exploration of Iceland's longest fjord:
Have a lovely time in North-Iceland :)