If you’re looking for somewhere amazing to spend New Year’s Eve this year, look no further than Iceland. One of my favorite countries in the world, Icelanders know how to party. While I’ve been to Iceland in both the summer and winter, I think there’s something magical about visiting Iceland when there’s snow everywhere. Here are some tips for spending New Year’s Eve there!
Book Your Hotel in Advance
As in now. Iceland has done an amazing job with promoting their country, but that means more and more people are coming to visit it every year. I booked my hotel four months in advance and had to stay in a hotel that was a 20-minute walk away if I didn’t want to spend $200 a night.
The first time I was in Iceland, I was traveling by myself and didn’t have the money to stay at a fancy hotel. Hlemmur Square was a great choice, as it’s only a 5-minute walk into town. They also have a restaurant and bar on the first floor if you’re looking to meet other travelers.
Maybe you want to treat yourself since it is New Year’s Eve, after all. The Grand Hotel Reykjavik has a view of downtown and the water, and the rooms are comfortable. There’s a spa, fitness center, and a restaurant/bar if you feel like staying in one night.
Buy Your Alcohol at the Airport
I arrived on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve and felt like half the country was at the duty-free store buying their booze for the evening. I even saw multiple pilots getting bottles to take home! This will be cheaper than anywhere else, so get your hard alcohol, beer, wine, and even champagne here to save money. Alcohol is very expensive in Iceland (as in $10-15 USD for a pint of beer), so drink before you go out.
Buy Food for New Year’s Day in Advance
Another mistake I made was thinking I could buy breakfast, water, and snacks at the local grocery store the next day. I was definitely wrong on this – I walked to store after store in the snow, only to find out they’d be closed for the entire day. Starting off the New Year hungry and dehydrated is not the way to go.
Participate in Local Traditions
The bars will be packed with many tourists, but to hang out with more of the locals, find a bonfire. They usually do this early in the night and have massive fires, so it’s a great way to meet people. At 8 PM, everyone goes home to watch the comedy show that’s on local television. After that, it’s out to the bars!
Visit the Blue Lagoon
Winter is the best time to visit the Blue Lagoon, as the warm water feels amazing as the cool breeze comes in. Learn from my mistake and do not go on New Year’s Day. You’ve likely had a few drinks the night before and stayed up late, and you don’t want to be feeling sick when you’re in a giant hot spring for half the day. Hopefully you’re in Iceland for at least a few days, so book your time at the Blue Lagoon the next day (but do this well in advance as well).
Watch the Fireworks at Park Arnarhóll
I was having so much fun meeting people at the bars that I almost forgot the midnight countdown. People started running outside to Park Arnarhóll, where you can see fireworks for miles all around the town. They were over the harbor, from places around town, and even in the mountains.
Where’s the best place you’ve celebrated New Year’s Eve from?
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