Winter in Iceland
Iceland is a really popular tourist destination but it is also super expensive. So visiting Iceland in the winter can be ideal particularly because things like accommodation can be a lot cheaper. While some sites might be closed due to the weather, most of the main attractions like the Blue Lagoon are still open. And of course there is way more chance of seeing the Northern Lights in the winter so that is always a plus.
There is a lot going on in Iceland in November. For starters November is when the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival is held. For three days and three nights at the beginning of November all the pubs and venues are filled with bands and musicians performing. If you aren’t into music though you will probably want to avoid being in Reykjavik at the beginning of November as accommodation prices can get a little more expensive because of the festival.
December in Iceland is when people start getting excited for the holiday season. And with those long dark nights it means way more time to enjoy the Christmas lights. Reykjavik really shines with all the Christmas lights and holiday cheer. It is worth noting that particularly in the last couple of weeks in December things get booked quite quickly including restaurants and tours so at this time of year it is best to book ahead.
So there is no guarantee that you will see the Northern Lights at all, but winter in Iceland is the best time to try.
There are a lot of great bars, pubs and cafes. In fact cafe culture is a huge deal in Iceland so make sure you order a coffee and some pecan pie and indulge! If you are looking for drinks, we recommend the Lebowski Bar It is based on the movie the Big Lebowski and is completely decorated in Big Lebowski memorabilia.
See Reykjavik from above- Hallgrimskirkja
One of the best places to see Reykjavik from above is Hallgrimskirkja, a very unusually designed church which is the largest in Iceland. Whilst it is quite minimalist inside, it is really beautiful. One of the best things to do is to head up to the observation tower, and the views are amazing. You get to see the colourful houses and the gorgeous mountains that surround Reykjavik.
Of course no trip to Iceland is complete without visiting the Blue Lagoon.. Or at least some sort of hot spring. The Blue Lagoon isn’t cheap but it sure is beautiful.The water is of course heated and the cold weather creates a steamy mystical environment.
Whale Watching tours
Departing from the harbour in Reykjavik this tour is a great opportunity to see some of the wildlife Iceland is famous for. The tour is done ethically so as not to scare or hurt the whales, and you are also given a thermal suit to keep you warm and toasty!
What to pack for Iceland in winter:
One thing to factor in to the weather in Iceland is wind chill. November particularly is quite windy and so even if you think it is 4 degree Celsius it might actually feel like minus 1. Therefore you need to pack appropriately. Some of the must haves are:
- Layers – it is important to layer up as the wind chill really can get to you. Definitely pack your thermals!
- A solid pair of shoes – you will do a lot of walking so solid warm shoes are a must
- Thick socks – again because of the cold these are a must when visiting Iceland in winter
- Gloves, scarf and a winter hat – Make sure you bring a good scarf and a winter hat to cover your ears. Wind chill is a nightmare.
- A good coat – I brought a really cheap coat that was nowhere near warm enough and I really struggled. Make sure you bring a proper winter coat with a good bit of padding
- Lip Balm – Trust us, your lips will thank you
- Swim Shorts – you will definitely be grateful you packed this when you are soaking in a nice hot spring.
- A small backpack – Especially important for carrying a bottle of water around and snacks, because everything is so expensive otherwise