Touring Iceland in Winter
Worried that Iceland will be dark, cold, windy & isolated any season other than summer? Read further...
Have you been reading blogs recommending Iceland as a winter destination? Have you noticed friends of yours visiting Iceland in the winter and mentioning how great it is? Are you wondering if the world has gone crazy and people need a reality check?
Logic would indicate that Iceland is not supposed to be a winter destination. After all, it had to be called ICE-land for a reason! It‘s also located near the Arctic Circle. It‘s cold. It‘s dark. Everything shuts down for visitors at the end of the summer and Icelanders hibernate until the sun comes out again.
We understand these concerns, and we think they are a perfect opportunity to show why Iceland is actually an ideal place to visit during the winter.
“Iceland is so dark!“
– Yes, Iceland is darker in the winter months. We like that because the darkness makes it even easier to hunt for the northern lights! You have more opportunity windows to see northern lights.
Also true: There is actually daylight in most of Iceland during the winter months. Even on the shortest day of the year (winter solstice) there is enough daylight to enjoy a good day of sightseeing and outdoor fun —topped off by some northern lights hunting.
Check out our Northern Lights tours to Iceland
“Iceland is so cold!“
Iceland‘s cold weather means 11% of the country is covered by glaciers, including the largest one in Europe. You can enjoy authentic experiences like glacier hiking, visiting a glacier national park or possibly stepping into a rare ice cave. Winter is also an ideal time to visit the amazing Into the Glacier Ice Tunnel. Don‘t forget that there are always hot spring-fed pools and hot tubs to warm yourself up after a day of winter fun.
Also true: Though not far from the Arctic Circle, Iceland (& Norway's coast) in the winter is actually the same or warmer than many areas in North America and Europe, thanks to the Gulf Steam.
“Iceland is so windy!“
It adds something extra to your travel experience, especially when you can see the bizarre beauty of a waterfall running upside down or of the snow falling horizontally. After all, travel is about more than sightseeing. It is also about coming back with great stories and images to share (and, of course, bragging rights). Later months of winter tend to be less windy, if you want to take that into consideration.
“Iceland is so isolated!“
Winter is perhaps the best time to make friends and meet Icelanders. It‘s typical for Icelanders to take holidays abroad in the summer. During the winter, you are more likely to meet Icelanders and have the opportunity to chat with them about life in Iceland.
“Iceland has nothing to do in the winter!“ Winter is the season for cultural activities, festivals and nightlife. The Icelandic Symphony Orchestra have their performances during the fall and winter months. Guided tours of the Harpa Opera house are available during winter from 3.30pm. There is also live musical entertainment at pubs and nightclubs. Winter is the season for events like Iceland Airwaves-November, Sónar Reykjavik-February and the Iceland Winter Games-March (March or April). Don‘t forget the festivities surrounding the Christmas holidays (late November- December) and New Year‘s Eve. Read more about visiting Iceland at Christmas.
In fact, many of the activities that are available in the summer can also be enjoyed in the winter. The important thing is to make sure you are dressed for the weather and activity. We provide you with a packing list before you travel and if you are doing an adventurous activity during your holiday, you will be provided with outer gear. If you are nervous about driving in Iceland in the winter months, we have small group escorted tours such as the Hidden Powers and Northern Lights.
Thanks to the author, Deirdre Gibbons for this insight into travelling to Iceland in winter. Image credits to Shutterstock.