Winter in Iceland: 7 Activities You Need to Experience

By Michelle Yastremsky

Winter travel in Iceland has been increasing in popularity and it’s not hard to see why; fewer crowds, moderate winter weather, and the majestic Iceland scenery lightly blanketed in ice and snow.

From hunting for the Northern Lights to meeting Iceland’s 13 naughty versions of Santa Claus, there are a handful of experiences only available in the winter months – which will you try first?!

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Glacial Beaches

Leave the swim suits, bring the camera.

You can still visit the beach in the wintertime! While you may not be able to take a dip in the waters of Iceland’s famous black beaches near Vik, visitors during the wintertime will be treated to picturesque views of this natural wonder while pristine glaciers sprinkle the seas.

Northern Lights

Go on a hunt for the Aurora Borealis.

Those seeking views of the famous lights dancing across the sky will have the most luck during the dark winter months. Be sure to check out our top tips for seeing the Northern Lights before embarking on your hunt!

Glorious Glaciers

Iceland glaciers get the winter blues, too.

Visitors to Iceland can experience the country’s glaciers year-round, but during the winter months those natural beauties transform from their usual shades of white to pristine blues that make them appear more delicate than dangerous.

Geothermal Spas

So hot, especially in the cold.

No trip to Iceland is complete without a dip in the Blue Lagoon! While the geothermal springs beckon all year-long, there’s nothing quite like taking a dip in these naturally-heated lakes while the weather above water borders on freezing. The Blue Lagoon is a very popular thing to do in Iceland when it is cold.

Explore the Ice Caves

Go beyond (or below) the glacier.

Due to the danger of ice caves collapsing during the warmer months, ice cave season in Iceland is only from about November to March. Those hoping to descend the ice caves and explore the natural wonder should do so with a group for safety reasons. Keep in mind spots for these tours book up fast, so be sure to book your Iceland ice cave tour as far in advance as possible!

NYE in the Land of Fire & Ice

New Year's Eve fireworks in Reykjavik.

Once a year on New Year’s Eve, the Icelandic government lifts the ban on fireworks. Citizens in all walks of life stock up and put on their own show, turning the entire city into a spectacular shower of fireworks that can be seen from miles away!

Christmas Cheer in Iceland

Meet the 13 yule lads.

Originally meant to strike fear in the hearts of children and descendant from trolls, the yule lads stem from Icelandic folklore and are Iceland’s version of Father Christmas. Today, they are mischievous yet playful, but will still leave a gift of rotting potatoes to naughty children! During the holiday season, you can actually pay a visit to the Lake Myvatn and learn about the Christmas traditions as well as “meet” these yule lads for yourself!

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