Find out which restaurants are open for Christmas dinner in Reykjavik and plan your holiday season meals. While many restaurants close for winter, they reopen during this time of year and offer Christmas buffets and fantastic meals. Continue reading to learn which restaurants are open for Christmas and New Year’s in Reykjavik.
Christmas in Iceland is a beautiful time. Snow starts falling around the country, buildings are adorned with sparkling lights to counter the short daylight hours, and the smell of delicious Icelandic cuisine wafts from every window.
Stories of the troll Gryla and the thirteen Yule Lads are a great introduction to Icelandic Christmas culture, while many tours tailor their activities to the season. The festive season coincides with the appearance of the northern lights and visits to the ice caves, which makes Christmas a popular time for travel to the country.
An ice cave tour is the ultimate winter adventure
Visitors who want to indulge in Iceland’s culture over the Yuletide wouldn’t want to be unprepared and find their plans foiled because of the public holidays! On the 24th, 25th, and 26th many shops, services, and attractions will be closed, and though New Year’s Eve is not an official holiday, many companies treat it as one.
This is even the case in the capital, Reykjavik. Though it's an increasingly modern and bustling city with plenty of diverse and unique cuisine, it's still small. Because of this, its services over public holidays suffer. During the festive season, you’ll want to know which restaurants are closed and which are open.
Though not all will be open over Christmas, many are. Many restaurants adapt their menu to the time of year, using seasonal ingredients to allow you to enjoy both festive Icelandic and international feasts. Combine this with the decorations most restaurants invest in, and there are few better places to get into the Christmas spirit.
Although restaurants in Reykjavik are generally expensive, those open cover a range of budgets, some are upmarket, Michelin-star winning venues with meals cooked by world-renowned chefs; others are affordable cafes or bars that sell classic pub food.
Regardless of the food or price, almost all restaurants require you make a reservation around Christmas, with some booking up quickly. Be sure to do this as early as possible, especially on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. If you don’t, you’ll be put on a waiting list with no guarantee that anyone will cancel.
If you book a culture tour that includes a restaurant meal during this period, a reservation is made for you. Of course, these also fill up quickly, so plan well in advance.
Despite much of Iceland’s capital shutting down on the public holidays, some of its finest restaurants continue to welcome guests.
Those who don’t want to miss out on a massive traditional dinner with all the trimmings on the actual day have nothing to fear. Even those who don’t celebrate Christmas will be able to find a convenient place for a pizza or pasta.
Suppose you want to see Reykjavik’s incredible fireworks display on New Year’s Eve. In that case, you'll have a place to fill up before midnight, which will be particularly rewarding for those planning to enjoy the city’s thriving nightlife.
One of the most spectacular things to see in Iceland is the firework displays on New Year's Eve
One of the most spectacular things to see in Iceland is the firework displays on New Year's Eve.
The table below lists the best Reykjavik restaurants open on Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve. The table also details what kind of cuisine they offer and any additional notes.
Where To Have Christmas Dinner in Reykjavik
Reykjavik Restaurants Open on Christmas Day
A statue of the poet Tómas Guðmundsson by the pond in Reykjavik
As many restaurants in Reykjavik will shut their doors for some of the winter season, you may be wondering if Iceland is open on Christmas Day. Many restaurants will still be available for Christmas lunch or dinner on Dec. 25.
Some will have specific menus presenting classic Icelandic Christmas staples, such as smoked lamb and ptarmigan. Others will keep their standard menus, which may be preferable for those with specific dietary requirements.
Because these restaurants will only be open for Christmas dinner in Reykjavik and are closed throughout the rest of the season, we highly recommend booking a table early.
On New Year's Eve the night sky in Reykjavik lights up with fireworks
On New Year's Eve, the night sky in Reykjavik lights up with fireworks
You may have noticed that while some Reykjavik dining spots are open on Christmas Day, they are not open on Christmas Eve. In general, if you’re wondering if Iceland is open on Christmas Eve, the answer is no. In Iceland, Christmas Eve is the night when Christmas is officially celebrated, and families open their presents.
Many families spend the evening reading books they were gifted for Christmas. This tradition is part of the Icelandic Christmas Book Flood. Iceland is one of the world’s most literate nations and has been throughout much of its history. One in ten Icelanders have a published work, and over the Christmas season, book sales rise.
Restaurants Open on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve
Downtown Reykjavik covered in snow
Many of Iceland’s restaurants close on Christmas Day, either as a mark of the Christian holiday or simply to let their staff spend time with family. Some, however, promise to be open for at least a part of the holidays. This allows you to enjoy a meal in a warm, ambient environment on Christmas Eve or before your New Year's Eve celebrations.
The restaurants cataloged below are generally only open in the evenings over the Yuletide. While this suits the plans of travelers who have tours planned during the day, To those with northern lights tours booked, you may have to do some rescheduling. The shorter opening hours also further necessitate you getting a reservation early.
The number of restaurants open on Christmas in Reykjavik provides a wealth of choices for those who book early enough.
Even though some of the city’s most popular restaurants, such as The Cuckoo’s Nest, Askur and Geysir Bistro, are closed. They can still be visited in the days leading up to Dec. 24 and from Dec. 27 to 30. You won’t have to miss out on the best culinary experiences in Iceland.
Eating out in Iceland may be a little pricey, but it's an essential experience. The restaurant industry has blossomed in recent decades, and the country has become quite the destination for foodies. Many Icelandic restaurants only use locally sourced ingredients in their dishes, allowing you to have a Christmas dinner that is delicious and sustainable.
We hope you’ve found the perfect restaurant in Reykjavik to dine out on Christmas. As previously stated, remember to book early at one of the restaurants open on Christmas Day in Iceland. Happy holidays from Guide to Iceland!
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