For the active ones
Reykjavík is perfect for a romantic city-break but not everyone has the same idea about what romance is. Even if you aren’t the active type, it’s hard to deny the allure of trying something new or unusual together. In December, go ice skating on the Christmas ice rink on Ingólfstorg square downtown and, with a little luck, you’ll fall into each other’s arms. Sledding is also a lot of fun. Most supermarkets will sell cheap plastic sleds, or in a pinch, you can go down on a big plastic bag. Alternatively, enjoy a day out in the snow making snowmen and snow angels.
On the outskirts of Reykjavík, Heiðmörk Nature Reserve offers great activities such as horseback riding through lava fields or cross-country skiing in spectacular scenery. Ullur or Everest rent skis, and The Icelandic Horse is a horse rental situated right across from the beautiful red lava hills Rauðhólar in Heiðmörk.
Closer to the city’s center is the Elliðaárdalur Valley with its river and small waterfalls, and forest trails to follow.
For some nice views of Reykjavik, take the ferry to Viðey Island where you can see the Imagine Peace Tower, an outdoor piece of art made by Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon. Finally, if you really want to splurge, a helicopter tour over town, perhaps with a landing on the top of Mt Esja at sunset and a bottle of prosecco in hand, is a surefire way to impress (or propose!)
Reykjavík’s most romantic restaurants
When it comes to romance, you can’t beat great dining and a fantastic view. Grillið, one of Iceland’s famed restaurants, perched on the top floor of Hotel Saga has a spectacular view. Be sure to make reservations in advance and get a table right by the window. Their wine selection is superb, but if you’d rather just go for a drink with a great view, head over to Ský Bar or the Peterson Suite.
For a little romance without breaking the bank, check out the lively atmosphere at the local food markets at both Grandi Mathöll and Hlemmur Mathöll. For a seafood feast and bubbly, there’s Lax at Grandi and for a mix of street food and fine dining, there’s Skál! at Hlemmur.
For a cozy brunch or lunch, head towards Kaffi Vest, Coocoo’s Nest or Café Paris, or enjoy the fish of the day for lunch at Sjávargrillið, where it’s like you’re stepping into an alpine cabin. For something sweet late at night, Eldur & ís serves some of the best hot chocolate in town, perfect before a stroll up picturesque Skólavörðustígur Street towards the lit up, towering Hallgrímskirkja Church.
Nothing says relax like a jacuzzi
Reykjavík has a total of 17 incredible, public swimming pools, each boasting several hot tubs and a sauna or two besides their indoor or outdoor heated pool. This is the cheap option for a relaxing time, and believe it or not, the best jacuzzi experience is during a snowstorm! Snuggle up in the warm water, with snowflakes melting on your face, or, on a clear night, search the sky for stars and Northern Lights.
For a real spa, a pricier but also a more secluded option with an opportunity for a massage head to Sóley Spa or Nordica Spa.
The dazzling display of Iceland’s night sky
Of course, one of the most romantic things you can do during Iceland’s winter nights is to admire the Northern Lights. When the sky is clear and the lights are active on a cold winter night the best way to stay warm is to head towards the lighthouse at Grótta, and sit down by the Kvika hot footbath (there’s no entry fee). This is also the local hotspot to watch the sunset, and equally as good to stay out late and watch the night sky.
All the clever conversations
Exchange opinions while you soak up the local culture by visiting Reykjavík’s art house cinema Bíó Paradís located on the charming Hverfisgata Street. At Harpa Concert Hall, you might be able to catch a show, anything from ballet or a symphony to rock concerts or stand-up comedy. It’s jazz on the top floor on Wednesday nights!
Reykjavik has several museums, but the Árbær Open Air Museum is by far the most enchanting one. Learn about life as it really was in the past, with a guided tour in English available daily at 1 PM.
If your timing is right, you might be able to catch some local bonfires that take place both on New Year’s Eve, and on the 6th of January, the last official day of the Icelandic Christmas.
And finally, something different
The days are very short in December and January in Iceland, so you could plan a sunrise to sunset date. Drive to Reykjavík’s ski resort Bláfjöll in time for the sunrise (that will be between 10 and 11 am, depending on the date). On Saturdays and Sundays, the ski resort opens at 10 am (weather depending), so you might get some downhill skiing in. Or simply ride to the top in a chairlift to take in the scenery, and hop back on it to go down. Find a lovely place in the city to enjoy lunch, then stroll around town. Go for a dip in a swimming pool or visit one of the city’s museums before heading to Grótta to watch the sunset with your loved one, sometime between 3:30 pm and 5 pm.
For an evening stroll, visit the city’s central cemetery, a romantic experience, as it’s filled with trees and in an old part of town near the city’s pond. Icelandic cemeteries take on a special charm in winter time during the holidays when locals fill them with flowers, Christmas lights, lit up crosses and decorations.
WOW air is happy to help you get as romantic as possible by offering cheap flights to Iceland from several big cities in North America and Europe. We'll get you there but the romancing is up to you.
by Nanna Gunnars