Winter in Iceland

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In the middle of the northern Atlantic Ocean, Iceland is a unique destination for a fascinating vacation. It is an excellent choice for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers, and no matter when you travel, Iceland will not disappoint. Winter in Iceland, though, provides an extra mystical element, with long dark nights and a low, orange sun during the few daylight hours. The mountains are covered in fresh snow, the waterfalls and lakes freeze over to create natural spectacles, and the northern lights put on a mesmerizing show. 

Why should I visit Iceland in the winter? 

Comprising mountains, volcanoes, dramatic coastlines, glaciers, caves, rock formations, and forests, Iceland offers a wide variety of landscapes and experiences. What's more, visiting Iceland in winter gives a new perspective on the usually black, volcanic landscape, when rural areas are transformed into glorious snowy scenes. Short days when the sun is low in the sky transform the country, creating an almost perpetual sunrise before darkness falls again. A challenging but spectacular time of year, winter is a brilliant time to visit Iceland. 

The best things to do in Iceland in winter 

Despite the cold, there’s still plenty of reason to visit Iceland in winter. Here are the top activities. 

Seek out the northern lights 

Winter is the best time to see the Northern Lights, with the colder weather providing a better environment to witness the colors. During this natural phenomenon, the sky is painted with gorgeous green spirals of light—an extraordinary natural show. Take a tour with a reputable company from Reykjavik and they’ll take you out into the countryside for the best viewing opportunity. 

Attend a musical festival 

There’s always a party going on somewhere in the Icelandic capital, but in winter there are lots of music celebrations. Time your trip with the Dark Music Days, held at the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik, or the Reykjavik Jazz Festival. Art museums and galleries also organize orchestra, opera and other musical events featuring international performers as well as local artists. 

Get your thrills with some winter sports 

If you enjoy skiing, ice skating or bobsledding, Iceland is the ideal destination for these winter sports. The largest ski resort is in Iceland, just 30 minutes driving from the capital city, Reykjavik. The winter months also bring exciting sports events into the city, like the Reykjavik International Games, featuring dog sledding, wrestling, athletics, and even karate. 

Explore ice caves and glaciers 

Winter is the ideal time to explore a natural ice cave or ice tunnel. Here you will have the opportunity to walk inside beautiful glaciers and ice tunnels and witness their striking blue colors. Go with an English-speaking guide and you’ll learn about the formation of the ice caves and the geological landscape around you. 

Bathe in hot springs 

Relaxing in warm water in winter is a heavenly feeling, especially when the outside air is cold. There are plenty of natural hot springs all across Iceland's countryside, where you can relax your muscles and unwind. The steaming hot springs are an integral part of Icelandic culture, and they are fed and heated by volcanic activity underground. 

What's the weather like in Iceland in winter? 

The temperatures during winter in Iceland often get incredibly low. Expect chills of around 13°F to 22°F, as well as wild winds. Thick winter coats are essential here, and you might well encounter snow, hail or rain on your trip. Iceland is a popular road trip destination, but in winter roads can be treacherous, so it's best to book onto an organized tour.

When to go in Iceland?


The best time to go to Iceland is in the summer: the temperatures are pleasant and the days are long. Depending on the region you are going to, you can also go in May or September, when there are fewer tourists and the climate is still pleasant, but be warned: some trips and sites are closed during these months. Between October and April, the country is nearly always in darkness, but you can see the magnificent aurora borealis if you are ready to brave the cold and the night.

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