It’s only appropriate that the closest legitimate tourist destination to the North Pole would do Christmas up big. Reykjavik feels like almost like a mini-New York in December, with the Oslo Christmas tree standing sentinel over the city and a public skating rink in Ingolfstorg Square. Seeing the Northern Lights is never a guarantee, even during days of near-perpetual darkness, but who needs ‘em when you have 13 official Santas walking around town posing for pictures?
A huge exhibit in the City Museum is devoted to Nordic Christmas, where you’ll hear some songs that sound somewhere between Viking war chants and familiar carols. The iconic Harpa performing arts center has over 35 concerts during the season, and the Christmas Village at Hafnarfjordur is a top weekend destination for both locals and the newfound throngs of American visitors. Though the famous $99 fares might not always be available, as Hopper’s fifth-most-discounted December destination, it’s still a fairly cost-friendly time to go. Locals will be friendly, too -- just beware their holiday tradition of eating ruinously smelly fermented skate.