I know, I know, everyone wants to come to Iceland for the green grass, flowing waterfalls, and the multi-colored mountains of Landmannalaugar.
I can’t argue, Iceland on a warm summer day is hard to beat (mind you…”warm” in Iceland is around 14 degrees celsius…it’s the arctic remember!) With breathtaking mountainous landscapes, never ending waterfalls, and black sand beaches, Iceland is an outdoor paradise.
In the past few years, there has been a 30% increase in tourism in Iceland. Photos on Instagram highlight Iceland’s hidden gems to the palm of your hand. More airlines are offering routes to Iceland. Even Good Morning America has done sent reporters to broadcast from a glacier and an active volcano!
When planning a winter getaway, I’m sure Iceland isn’t the first place that comes to mind. It’s just dark and cold there, right? Well I’m here to show you why winter in Iceland is definitely worth a trip!
The Icelandic Horse
As if these guys weren’t adorable enough already, now they just look awesome against a white background. Bonus, they are super friendly! This one just walked up to me and would have let me pet him all day!
Natural Geothermal Pools
Fact: Icelanders LOVE their pools, and when they are naturally heated from nearby hot springs, it’s even better. Iceland is filled with hot pots that are out in the middle of nowhere. This is the oldest pool in Iceland and is situated at the base of a glacier. This pool is slightly hidden and requires a short hike to get to, but totally worth it. It is highly likely that you would be the only one there!
Golden hour sunsets that last for days
Turns out there is a positive side to the long dark hours of winter. During winter, the sun doesn’t get very high in the sky, and as a result, the golden hour seems to go on forever. I can’t even count how many breathtaking sunsets I have seen so far!
Waterfalls like you’ve never seen them before
The first time I saw Gullfoss I was like “wow, that waterfall is so big and beautiful!” But the second time I saw Gullfoss, I was like “OMG that is out of control goregous!” The combination of the clear blue water, the ice around the falls, and then the sunset was an amazing sight to see.
The Northern Lights
Of course one of the BEST parts about visiting Iceland in the winter is the breathtaking Northern Lights. In fact, I think this is a big reason why people visit in the winter, and with good reason! These wonders of nature were the number one thing on my bucket list for a long time, and Iceland is an incredible place to see them. There are a lot of factors that make for good Aurora viewing, but if you’re lucky you will be able to see these green beauties dancing across the sky!
Read more: How to See the Northern Lights in Iceland
Here are some helpful tips to make your Iceland winter vacation the best it can be!
The best thing about visiting Iceland in off-peak tourist season is there will be less people at all of the popular stops. This means you don’t have to want 10 minutes for people to clear the area, and thus your waterfall photos will be prime! Since most attractions in Iceland are smack dab in the middle of nature, everything is still “open” during the winter season. I recommend using extreme caution when approaching these areas. Often times there will be signs telling you where to avoid, listen to them. Waterfalls are particularly dangerous because they form ice along the walkways. Be a smart traveler!
Because they aren’t in as high of demand, certain accommodations might be slightly cheaper during the off-peak months. If you’re really looking to save money, I recommend a guesthouse or hostel. This also allows you to cook your own meals which will save you a lot of money!
Read more: 19 ways to Save Money in Iceland
Like I said, the weather in Iceland can change very quickly, and this can affect travel around the country. Be extra careful when driving, and always check road conditions.
Contrary to what you might think, Iceland in the winter is actually not that cold! The jet stream effect means that the coast of the island hovers around -5 to 3 celsius on average. (The interior gets much colder!) However, the weather in Iceland is ALWAYS changing, so be prepared for all conditions! One thing to note: because Iceland has very few trees, wind is often the biggest and most inconvenient factor during travels. The high winds of Iceland are nothing to take lightly, especially when it comes to drifting snow.
Question: Would you consider visiting Iceland in the winter?
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