Waterfall Gullfoss in winter, Iceland.
Northern lights Kirkjufell in west Iceland.
Ice cave in Iceland.
Thingvellir in winter, Iceland.
Super Jeeps in Landmannalaugar in winter, Iceland.
Kleifarvatn in winter, Iceland.
Reykjavik in winter, Iceland.

Winter in Iceland

Iceland is a magical place to visit in winter. Witness the Northern Lights while soaking in hot springs, visit ice caves, enjoy frozen waterfalls, experience the polar night, and be fascinated by the exceptional beauty in Iceland in winter.

December is Iceland's darkest month, but Icelanders respond with a festive atmosphere, Christmas markets, concerts, and New Year celebrations. In January and February, the country is dark, cold, and strikingly beautiful under its snow cover. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, winter in Iceland is still mild. If you visit Iceland this time of year, you will be able to enjoy natural wonders covered in snow and magical light, making Iceland's landscape even more stunning. It is also a quieter time of the year with fewer tourists and more attractive prices. 
 
Things to see and do in Iceland in winter
Daylight hours are shorter in winter and the weather is a bit chillier, but you can still enjoy the Icelandic nature around you. Join a snowmobile tour on a glacier, take a glacier walk, chase the northern lights, soak in the blue-milky waters at the Blue Lagoon, go ice caving, snorkel between tectonic plates in Silfra, visit the Golden Circle, or go horse riding. If you are lucky, you will catch the aurora while enjoying a hot bath in one of the natural geothermal pools in Iceland. 
 
For those travelers who would like to undergo a self-drive adventure through a wintry Iceland, it is also possible, but we highly recommend renting a bigger 4x4 car. Taking a self-drive in Iceland in winter is the perfect way to experience the magic of the winter season and feel the power of wild nature. Why not spice it up further and get behind the wheel of a super jeep and explore the South Coast and the Golden Circle on your own. 
 
The Northern lights in Iceland
The thrill of witnessing the Aurora Borealis is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many. Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights and in warmer temperatures than other countries in Scandinavia. The chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland are very high and the choices for fantastic backdrops are endless. 
 
But remember, the hunt for the northern lights is just one of the countless attractions in Iceland. The country is a heaven for adventurers and nature lovers alike! Combine the search for the magical lights with sightseeing to Iceland’s scenic landscapes and thrilling winter activities. While some more off-the-beaten-path attractions are closed or inaccessible during winter, you have many places to visit. Golden Circle, Snaefellsnes, Reykanes, and Jökulsárlón are all easily accessible during winter.

WHAT DO TO & SEE IN ICELAND IN WINTER

We’ve picked out our 6 favourite unforgettable winter experiences in Iceland.

DISCOVER THE ICE CAVES IN ICELAND

Exploring the Icelandic ice caves is only possible in wintertime when the glacial rivers have frozen. Undeniably, one of the biggest wonders of mother nature.

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Ice cave in Iceland.

HEAD TO NORTHERN ICELAND FOR REAL WINTER WONDERLAND

If you are looking for winter magic, go to Myvatn, the jewel of northern Iceland. Astonishing northern lights displays, natural wonders and plenty of outdoor winter activities await you.

Godafoss in winter, north Iceland.

GO HORSEBACK RIDING IN WINTER WONDERLAND

Riding an Icelandic horse is an incredible activity anytime, but in wintertime, the snowy landscape adds another dimension to it.

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Winter horseback riding in Iceland.

SOAK IN A WARM HOT SPRING ON A WINTER DAY

Bathing in a hot spring while gazing at the northern lights is one of the most beautiful experiences you can do in Iceland in winter.

Geothermal bathing under the northern lights in Iceland.

CELEBRATE NEW YEARS EVE IN REYKJAVIK

Reykjavik is often cited as one of the best places in the world to celebrate the New Year and attracts people from all over the world.

New year celebration in Reykjavik, Iceland.

HUNT THE NORTHERN LIGHTS IN A PRIVATE SUPER JEEP TOUR

Go for a northern light hunt in a private group with an expert guide only for you. Invite friends and family to join!

Northern light hunt in super jeep in Iceland.

Is winter the best time for you to visit Iceland?

With our infographic, you´ll get an overview of each winter month, the daylight hours, the maximum and minimum temperature, the most popular activities, sights and places to visit.

6 reasons why you should visit Iceland in the winter

Glacier walk in Iceland.

ikon snowflake

The snow
The snow completely transforms the entire country and wraps the landscapes in a white silence with the only sound of the snow crunching under your feet.

Ikon sunset

The light 
Winter has the most beautiful light for photography, as the sun is so low on the horizon, creating a soft and golden light.

Ikon northern lights

Northern lights
Winter gives you longer nights for hunting the northern lights. The snow will reflect the Northern lights, illuminating up the entire scene making it magic.

Ikon hat

It is less cold than you think
Dress in layers and wear appropriate footwear and you will be safe!

Ikon happy face

Fewer tourists
There are fewer tourists in Iceland during winter. You might be lucky to have more places for yourself!

Icon price tag

Cheaper
Winter in Iceland falls within the low season, so you´ll get much better prices on accommodation and car rentals.

EXPERIENCE WINTER IN ICELAND WITH US

THE WEATHER IN DECEMBER, JANUARY, AND FEBRUARY IN ICELAND

Skogafoss in winter, Iceland.

Despite its name and close proximity to the Arctic Circle, Iceland is not as cold in winter as most people would expect. A branch of the Gulf stream brushes its southern and western coasts bringing mild Atlantic air across the country. In the south and west, the warming influence of the Gulf stream keeps temperatures around 0°C during winter, but it can plummet to -20°C or more in North Iceland or the interior, especially when you factor in the wind chill. In general, there is quite a bit of snowfall in wintertime. Always be prepared for changeable weather and pay close attention to the weather forecast and road conditions.

Weather in Iceland in December
December is one of Iceland’s coldest and darkest periods when you can expect only 4-5 hours of daylight and temperatures between -2°C and 4°C. The 21st of December is the winter solstice in Iceland and the shortest day of the year, around four hours of daylight. In Reykjavik, the average rainfall is approximately 32 mm in December, which can be rain, snow depending on how cold it is. Despite the shorter and colder days, the winter days in January in Iceland can be quite pleasant if you dress properly. The crisp, clean winter air and the white snow create a cozy atmosphere. 

Weather in Iceland in January
The average temperature in Iceland in January is only -1°C, and it rarely drops below -10°C which is milder than in other Scandinavian countries in January. Normally, it hovers between 0°C and 4°C. January can however have strong winds that will make the weather feel a lot colder. In January it also snows quite a lot, the average rainfall in Reykjavik is approximately 41 mm, which is the highest of the year. With the winter solstice behind, the days in January are getting longer for each day that passes, gaining a significant amount of daylight. For those travelers that want to travel in January but want the maximum of daylight, we recommend visiting Iceland later in the month.  On 1st of January, there are 4 hours and 23 minutes of daylight and on the 31st there are over 7 hours of daylight.  

Sources: The Icelandic Meteorological Office: Time and Date ASNorwegian Meteorological Institute