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Easter in Iceland: A Unique Blend of Tradition and Nature's Beauty


Easter in Iceland

Easter is a time of renewal, reflection and celebration for many around the world, and Iceland is no exception. In this remote Nordic island nation, Easter takes on a unique and captivating character, blending age-old traditions with the stunning natural beauty of the land.

As we delve into the heart of Easter in Iceland, we'll discover the customs and traditions that make this Icelandic holiday special. Let’s take a closer look at everything to do with Easter in Iceland, including all you need to know about visiting Iceland during Easter.

When is Easter in Iceland?

With a different date, each year, Easter is celebrated across the world on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. This means that Easter usually falls between the end of March and the end of April. If the full moon falls on a Sunday, Easter is then celebrated the following Sunday.

Iceland Easter Holidays

As with the rest of the world, those Icelanders who celebrate Easter observe this holiday over several days: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Easter Saturday and Easter Monday.

Iceland Easter holidays run for the whole five-day duration of the celebration, so there is a national holiday from Maundy Thursday to Easter Monday. This is good to keep in mind if you plan to visit Iceland during the Easter holidays, as opening hours of stores and attractions will likely be affected by the vacation.

easter in iceland

Easter in Iceland 2024

Easter in Iceland 2024 falls on Sunday 31st March 2024. This is the date of Easter Sunday, but, as we’ve mentioned, Iceland Easter holidays run for five days across Easter weekend.

So, if you’re planning an Easter 2024 Iceland vacation, keep in mind that the Iceland Easter holidays run from Thursday 28th March to Monday 1st April 2024.

History of Easter in Iceland

Easter was introduced to Iceland during the Christianization of the country in 1000 AD, when Christianity became Iceland’s official religion by law. Whereas most of the settlers on Iceland during the 9th and 10th centuries were pagans who worshiped the Norse gods, this all changed when Olaf Tryggvason became the King of Norway in 995 AD and enforced Christianity across the Nordic nations.

Norwegian and Irish missionaries brought Christian customs to Iceland over the ensuing decades and centuries, including the celebration of Easter. Nowadays, Easter in Iceland is a time to spend with family and friends, often enjoying the great outdoors and a meal together, plus a church service for those Icelanders who are religious.

easter traditions in iceland

Easter Traditions in Iceland

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular Easter traditions in Iceland to get a feel for what Easter is like on this magical Nordic island. 

  • Paskaegg or Easter eggs in Iceland – As a universal symbol of Easter, chocolate eggs are traditionally exchanged by Icelanders during this holiday. You’ll find a whole range of beautifully crafted chocolate eggs in Icelandic stores around Easter. These eggs come in various sizes and are often filled with a surprise, such as candies or small toys, along with an old Icelandic saying or proverb. One of the most important Easter traditions in Iceland is the giving and receiving of these eggs as a token of goodwill and affection.

  • Easter egg hunts – Another exciting Easter tradition in Iceland is having an Easter egg hunt, either indoors or outdoors if it’s warm enough. Families and friends will often gather for an Easter egg hunt, especially if the weather is favorable. Children eagerly scour gardens, parks and even hiking trails in search of hidden chocolate treasures. This delightful activity combines the joy of exploration with the sweet reward of chocolate – yum!

easter in reykjavik

  • Religious services – Although Iceland is not a particularly religious country in the 21st century, Easter is a predominantly Christian holiday, so there are religious services held across the island. Some Icelanders attend church services on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, as this is seen as a time for reflection, prayer and connecting with one's faith. Many churches also hold special Easter-themed events, including concerts.

  • Icelandic lamb Easter dinner – Food is an important part of the long-standing Easter traditions in Iceland, with families often sitting down for a special meal together on the evening of Easter Sunday. This Easter meal usually consists of Icelandic lamb, caramelized potatoes and gravy. You might also find some red cabbage or green beans on your plate, too!

  • Easter skiing trip – Easter in Iceland is a time for spending time with friends and family, with many Icelanders opting to take a trip during the extended public holiday. Iceland’s ski resorts are a very popular choice for a vacation during the Easter season, with the Westfjords and North Iceland being the destinations of choice.

  • Aldrei for eg sudur music festival – Since 2004, the Aldrei for eg sudur music festival has been held every Easter weekend in Iceland. This special music festival during Easter in Iceland is always free and is broadcast on Icelandic national TV, so you can also enjoy the live music from the comfort of your own sofa if you prefer!

  • Lighting bonfires – A traditional Viking Easter celebration is the lighting of bonfires, which symbolizes the sun’s rebirth and the arrival of spring. As a time of renewal and new life, Easter is often celebrated in Iceland by lighting a bonfire at the end of the long, dark winter season.

Iceland easter bonfires

Visiting Iceland at Easter

Easter is a wonderful time to visit Iceland to enjoy this special season among spectacular natural landscapes and get a taste of the authentic Icelandic Easter traditions for yourself. With the warming weather and longer daylight hours, you’ll be able to spend time visiting some of the country’s most incredible natural wonders during Easter in Iceland. 

Fancy taking a dip in a geothermal pool, strolling along a volcanic beach and enjoying a hearty Easter dinner on the same weekend? You can do just that in Iceland by visiting the amazing Blue Lagoon, the charming coastal town of Vik and its black sand beaches and sampling a traditional Icelandic Easter dinner in one of the country’s top-rated restaurants.

During Easter in Iceland, you can: 

  • Go bird watching – As nesting season approaches, many birds return to the island to make their nests on the cliffs and rocks around the coast. Easter is a great time to go bird watching, either on a self-guided trip or an organized tour. 

  • Take a whale watching tour – April is the time when blue whales and sperm whales make their way back up north to feed in the rich Icelandic waters, so if you’re visiting Iceland in Easter, you have a great chance to spot these majestic marine mammals for yourself! Two of the most popular places in Iceland to take a boat tour to watch the whales are Reykjavík and the city of Husavik in North Iceland.

  • View the Northern Lights – You might even be lucky enough to spot the spectacular Northern Lights during your Iceland Easter vacation! This dazzling light show dances across Iceland’s skies from September to April, meaning Easter often falls within the Northern Lights season in Iceland. You can choose to take a guided Northern Lights tour or go hunting for the aurorae by yourself.

Northern Lights in Iceland

  • Drive the Golden Circle – One of the country’s most popular road trip routes, the Golden Circle in Iceland is a wonderful trip to take during your Easter vacation in Iceland. As spring approaches, you’ll be able to enjoy the amazing waterfalls, national parks, volcanic craters and other geological wonders along the Golden Circle route in all their glory – exciting!

And, of course, it’s not Easter without eating your weight in chocolate!

Easter in Reykjavík

So, you’re thinking of spending Easter in Reykjavík this year? Amazing choice! There are lots of things to see and do during your Icelandic Easter vacation in the capital, so we’ve compiled a few of our favorites to give you some inspiration: 

  • Book an Easter dinner at one of Reykjavík's best restaurants – In the capital, you’ll be able to find many top-quality restaurants serving an authentic Icelandic Easter dinner. Sample the tender Icelandic lamb, tasty caramelized potatoes and hearty gravy for yourself during your Easter weekend by reserving your table during Easter in Reykjavik.

  • Buy yourself a beautiful Icelandic Easter egg – Reykjavík has no shortage of stores with amazing Easter eggs to choose from. One such store with their own chocolate factory is the artisan Omnom Chocolate Store, which also serves ice cream and makes their own chocolate bars straight from the cacao bean – delicious!

easter traditions in iceland

  • Visit Reykjavík’s award-winning museums – While in Reykjavík, you can soak up a bit of Icelandic culture and history in one of the many brilliant museums and galleries across the capital. Whether you’re interested in Iceland’s incredible geology or want to learn more about Icelandic folklore, there’s certainly a museum in Reykjavik for you.

  • Attend an Easter service at Hallgrimskirkja – Easter is the perfect time to visit the striking Hallgrimskirkja: the largest church in Iceland. Located in the city center, this incredible building is definitely worth a visit to admire the impressive architecture, even if you don’t fancy attending an Easter service during the weekend.

Experience Easter in Iceland For Yourself

Inspired to book your own Iceland Easter vacation? A great place to get started with your planning is by renting a car in Iceland, which is perfect for getting around the island to visit all the must-see spots during your time in Iceland.

Take advantage of the warming weather during Easter in Iceland by taking a fun road trip to discover the island’s incredible landscapes for yourself. If you’re looking for more amazing places to visit in Iceland, take a look at our guide to the top historical sites in Iceland to get inspired. We can’t wait to welcome you to our island soon!