Winter in Iceland

Winter in Iceland

Winter in Iceland is simply magical – picture snow-capped mountains, icy glaciers and the shimmering Northern Lights (if you’re lucky). If you’re prepared to brave the teeth chattering temperatures, Iceland's winter season offers a fabulous range of outdoor adventures, cultural experiences and natural phenomena that make it a popular destination for travellers from around the world. From soaking in hot springs to exploring ice caves, there's no shortage of unique experiences to be had during a winter trip to Iceland.

Why Visit in the Winter?

Don’t let the Artic temperatures and long dark nights put you off; there are many reasons to spend winter in Iceland. The country’s already awe-inspiring landscapes take on a truly magical quality when covered in snow and ice – think frozen waterfalls and shimmering glaciers. Iceland’s winter season also offers a plethora of outdoor activities, like soaking in one of the country’s many hot springs, exploring ice caves and witnessing the mesmerising Northern Lights. For the adrenaline junkies there are winter sports like skiing and snowboarding to get stuck into, plus more sedate experiences like visiting the many traditional Christmas markets and sampling seasonal Icelandic cuisine.

Iceland in December

December is the month to experience Iceland in full festive swing. The month kicks off with the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in Reykjavik's Austurvöllur Square, which marks the official start of the holiday season. Throughout the month, you can enjoy a range of festive events and activities, like visiting traditional Christmas markets, attending holiday concerts and shows and sampling wintery Icelandic cuisine – think steaming bowls of fresh fish soup, hearty helpings of plokkfiskur (fish and vegetable stew), and, for the bravest diners, svið (sheep’s head). December is also one of the best times to witness the Northern Lights, as the long nights and clear skies provide optimal viewing conditions. While the temperatures can be chilly, the warmth of the holiday spirit and the beauty of the winter scenery are reason enough to spend winter in Iceland.

Iceland in January

Iceland in January is characterised by crisp, clear days, snowy landscapes and long nights. Take your pick from winter activities like skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling, and warm up afterwards with hot spring soaks. January is also the time of the annual Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival, a celebration of light and darkness that features light installations, art exhibits and cultural events throughout the country’s capital. While January in Iceland is cold, the exciting experiences on offer at this time of year more than makes up for the chill.

Iceland in February

February in Iceland is a time of contrast – the cold temperatures and long nights linger but there’s the promise of spring on the horizon. As the days begin to gradually lengthen and the first signs of thawing begin to show, festivals and celebrations marking the upcoming warmer months spread throughout the country. Take part in the ongoing Winter Lights Festival, as well as the popular Food and Fun Festival that showcases Icelandic cuisine and international chefs. And of course all the best winter activities like ice skating, snowshoeing, Artic hiking and dog-sledding are still on offer if you’re not ready to wave goodbye to the festive season fun just yet.