Iceland is always dark in the winter right? This is a question I get very often and well, it is not always dark but there is a lot of darkness in Iceland in the winter and, for a foreigner, this might be a little hard to get used to.
Because of the country’s high latitude, if Icelandic summer days are never ending and the sun never really sets, Icelandic winter days only have 4/5 hours of daylight, with sunrise around 11am and sunset around 3 or 4 depending where you are in Iceland…the further North you go, the shorter the days.
What to do when it is so dark outside?
If you are planning to come to Iceland in the depth of winter, do not let darkness scare you because Iceland can be a great place in the winter, too.
Of course, you should keep in mind that the weather might be crazy and awful in the winter, with snow storms and blizzards but dark winters in Iceland also have their pros.
1. You can sleep in and enjoy your vacation.
In the summertime, when it is always bright, you might have problems sleeping, r you might want to be up early in the morning to take advantage of the long bright days. During the dark Icelandic winters, however, you don’t really have to wake up early in the morning, it is so dark you won’t see much anyway, so you can sleep in without missing much of this beautiful country and then start exploring when the light comes around 10.30/11.
2. There is a special light.
Winters in Iceland have a special light. Winter sunsets and sunrises give Iceland some amazing colors you cannot find in any other season. The skies turn pink and purple and red and you can take some pretty amazing pictures! Also during the day, the sun is so low in the sky that it illuminates Iceland with a different light.
3. More chances to see the Northern Lights.
These spectacular shows of dancing lights can be seen when it’s dark, so more hours of darkness mean more chances to spot the lights. Being a natural phenomenon, it is never guaranteed that you will see the Lights but if you do, it will be a magical experience that will definitely brighten up the dark Icelandic winter days.
4. Nature is amazing.
Icelandic nature is amazing all year round but it a bit more special in the winter, when snow makes it look like a magical winter wonderland.
There are not as many tourists and people as in the summer, everything in the countryside is more quiet and peaceful, nature is silent… it’s almost magic.
5. It is great time to bathe in hot springs.
Bathing in a hot pool or hot spring in Iceland is great in every season but I think it is a bit more special in the wintertime. I love sitting in a hot tub in one of Reykjavik’s public swimming pools when it is cold and dark outside. Some pools even have saunas and steam baths. You can enjoy public swimming pools almost in every town and village in Iceland and if you can, you should also try some natural pools like the Secret Lagoon, or why not indulge in luxurious spas like the Blue Lagoon or Fontana Baths?
You will surely enjoy them!
6. The Christmas Lights.
Days can be short but Icelanders sure know how light up their towns in the winter. Since electricity in Iceland is so cheap, Christmas lights and decorations are put up quite early in November and are kept well into the new year. All the towns and houses are decorated, there are candles in the windows, which gives the dark winter days a special feeling and atmosphere.
So if you decide to see Iceland in the winter, don’t let the cold or the darkness scare you away. Bring a lot of warm clothes and layers, proper boots, gloves and hats and get ready to experience the magic that comes from Iceland’s dark winters.
Text: Elisa Maccagnoni – Iceland Premium Tours