Winter in Iceland
Winters in Iceland are not as cold as you might think, temperatures are usually between -10° and 5°C thanks to the Gulf Stream. Of course, the strong winds will make you feel colder but, with the right clothes, winter is a great season to visit Iceland.
If you come to Iceland between November and February, you should expect both snow, ice, storms and sometimes beautiful cold sunny days. Driving around Iceland in the winter can be a challenge if you are not used to driving on icy roads so I would suggest taking tours where expert guides will take care of everything and you will just have to enjoy yourself and the beautiful nature.
Another thing to keep in mind if you are visiting Iceland in the winter is that there are a lot of hours of darkness. There are only 4 to 5 hours of effective daylight in the middle of winter, which might sound a bit depressing but I swear there are some pretty good reasons to come to Iceland in the winter and I am going to list 5.
1. Great Tours and Activities
The popular Golden Circle and South Coast Tours are available all year round and seeing famous waterfalls like Gullfoss or Seljalandfoss covered in ice is pretty impressive.
One of the most exciting activities you can only do in the winter is ice caving. The beautiful blue, natural ice caves which form every winter in Vatnajökull, Europe’s biggest glacier, are only accessible between November and March and they are something I don’t think you should miss.
Glacier walking, glacier climbing and snowmobiling are also very popular winter activities.
2.Bathe in Geothermal Pools and Hot Springs
Of course you can bathe in hot water all year round in Iceland but I particularly like to do so in the winter. I love sitting in a hot tub when it is cold outside, especially if there is snow all around. Whether you want to enjoy the public swimming pools where the locals go, natural hot springs or the big spas like the Blue Lagoon or the Secret Lagoon, geothermal pools are great for relaxing after a day of sightseeing and they are even good for your skin!
3. Northern Lights
Winter is the right season to come to Iceland if you want to try and see Aurora Borealis.
I already talked a bit about Northern Lights in my blog “6 Reasons to come chase the Northern Lights in Iceland” https://icelandpremiumtours.is/2017/10/20/6-reasons-to-come-chase-the-northern-lights-in-iceland/ but I will never get tired of saying that they are very unpredictable! In order to see them you will need perfect weather conditions, a lot of patience and a lot of luck, so you should consider them a bonus to your already great vacation in Iceland.
4. The Fireworks on New Year’s Eve.
If you want to experience a crazy display of fireworks, you should definitely consider spending New Year’s Eve in Reykjavik. Icelanders are crazy about fireworks and after their dinners with friends and families, they go out and light a crazy number of fireworks that you will see going in every direction and in every corner of the city around midnight…a crazy show you will not forget!
5. Meet the Icelandic Yule Lads
While children in most parts of the world wait for Santa Claus to bring them presents on Christmas day, Icelanders can enjoy presents from thirteen “Santas”, the Yule Lads. These thirteen lads are very different from the Santa we all know: their parents are trolls and in the past they used to be very mischievous but nowadays, starting thirteen days before Christmas, they pay a visit to Icelandic kids leaving presents (or potatoes for naughty children). You can meet them where they live, in Dimmuborgir, a natural lava fortress in the noth or Iceland, near Lake Myvatn.
Winters see less tourists, prices are lower, and you can have an amazing time in Iceland.
Do not let the cold and dark Icelandic winter days scare you away, pack warm clothes and layers, hats, scarves and gloves and book some tours to experience the best Iceland has to offer!
Text: Elisa Maccagnoni – Iceland Premium Tours