Ever dreamed of stepping into a real-life snow globe? Iceland in December is your chance!
December is truly a magical time to experience the land of fire and ice.
It’s a winter wonderland and with Christmas right around the corner, the air is buzzing with excitement and activities.
If you think it’s too cold to experience anything worthwhile, think again my friend.
Iceland is a remarkable place. Every month offers something truly special – and December is no exception.
Want to find out more? Let’s get straight into it.
Table Of Contents
- Is December a Good Time to Visit Iceland?
- Daylight in Iceland in December
- Iceland in December: Northern Lights
- December Weather in Iceland
- What To Wear in December
- Sightseeing Availability
- Driving in Iceland in December
- December Festivals + Events
- Things To Do In Iceland In December
- Iceland in December Itinerary
Is December a Good Time to Visit Iceland?
If you’re captivated by the look of dreamy snow-covered landscapes, straight out of a fairytale book, then Iceland in December will not disappoint.
Fewer tourists: It’s not as busy as the summer months, and while it does start to pick up in December because of the holidays, you can still enjoy the sights without feeling like you’re in a crowded snow globe!
Winter excursions: You’ll get to experience some of the tours that are only available in the wintertime.
Natural Beauty and Golden Hour: Iceland is famous for its amazing scenery, especially in winter. Because of the limited daylight hours, there’s a beautiful golden light that makes every photo you take look exceptionally stunning. ✨
So if exploring a magical, other-worldly, winter wonderland sounds right up your alley, Iceland in December is calling your name!
Daylight in Iceland in December
You already know what I’m going to say, don’t you? If there was ever a time to keep on top of the daylight hours, it’s now. It’s probably the most important month to plan out your itinerary – because exploring time is extremely limited.
The beginning of the month starts with about five hours of daylight and by the end of the month, it’ll be down to four.
The sun rises around 11:00 and sets at about 15:30.
December 21st marks the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. It’s celebrated because we know that after it, the days start getting longer, bringing us one step closer to summer.
It goes without saying that if you’re visiting Iceland in December, daylight is the number one factor you need to consider when planning your winter itinerary.
Iceland in December: Northern Lights
Witnessing the northern lights is a truly spectacular sight to behold and one of my all-time favorite Icelandic experiences.
Northern lights season kicks off at the end of August and peaks in September/October.
I must warn you though, that seeing the northern lights in December can be a bit of a wildcard, as the weather tends to be stormy and cloud cover may block visibility.
In my personal experience, I’ve had some difficulty spotting them in December, so you’ll want to check local forecasts diligently.
➡️READ MORE: How To See The Northern Lights In Iceland
December Weather in Iceland
Ah, December in Iceland, when winter really shows us what it’s got!
This month can be a real mixed bag – one day you’re walking in a winter wonderland, and the next, you’re bracing against snow storms and high winds.
Heck, sometimes it’s just a few degrees above freezing, and all that lovely snow turns into a slushy mess. It’s an adventure, to say the least!
So, if you’re coming, come prepared. Iceland in December definitely keeps you on your toes!
Temperatures In Iceland In December
I’m not going to sugarcoat it friends, It is cold! The temperature in Iceland in December can range from -1 to 4 degrees Celsius or 30-39 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also expect it to be colder in the North and The Golden Circle.
Does it snow In Iceland In December?
The snow in Iceland in December can be anything from soft snowfall to full-on blizzards, especially in the North.
The weather is notoriously temperamental and rapidly changing.
It’s dramatic – but then again, doesn’t a little drama make life more interesting? 😜
What To Wear in December
Now is the time to invest in the proper outdoor gear and warm layers, friends. December in Iceland is no joke, and trust me, a light jacket just won’t cut it.
Wondering what to wear in Iceland in December? Warm fleece layers are your friend and a waterproof jacket is not optional. Pack good quality hiking boots and again, everything should be waterproof.
If you’d rather not look like a forgotten potato in the pantry, don’t forget to pack moisturizer. The cold air can really dry out your skin. You’ll thank me later.
That being said, bring your swimsuit if you plan on visiting the natural hot springs.
Pro tip:If there’s one thing you NEED to bring with you that could easily be overlooked, it’s crampons.
Not sure what they are? Imagine your boots wearing braces – that’s what crampons look like! They’ll help you grip the ice and avoid any slips or falls.
They could mean the difference between having a trip of a lifetime or quite literally breaking a bone or two.
There will be ice everywhere, whether you’re exploring the waterfalls or strolling along the sidewalks. They don’t always get to salting the ice, so come prepared.
Two of my favorite types of crampons are:
- The YakTrax type, where the coil stretches over your boot (these are perfect for walking around Reykjavík! )
- And the more heavy-duty hiking spike, which you can easily attach to your boot for winter sightseeing and hiking.
So, don’t leave home without them, kuh-peesh? !
Sightseeing Availability In December
Reykjavík, the Golden Circle and Ring Road: These areas are still easily accessible!
Northern and Eastern Iceland: You’ll have more difficulty getting into these parts of the country, where the weather gets colder, snowier and icier.
Highlands and Westfjords: ❌ You’ll want to remove these from your itinerary in December because it won’t be possible to travel there.
Glacier hikes and ice caves: Vatnajökull and Katla ice cave are accessible in December. This time of year the ice takes on an incredible blue color, be prepared to take amazing photos!
Despite December not being peak season, you may want to consider a few things: People like to come here for Christmas and New Year, so it may be busier than you’d expect.
Make sure to book hotels and excursions in advance to secure your spot and avoid disappointment.
🎥LEARN MORE: 5 Mistakes When Booking Iceland Accommodation
Driving in Iceland in December
I’m not going to lie – driving in Iceland in December is difficult!
If you are not used to driving in very windy, slippery and snowy conditions, you’ll need to think carefully about renting a car to see the Ring Road, it can be risky, even for the most experienced drivers.
The conditions can be unpredictable and with December being such a stormy month, you may plan to go out, only to find there was a huge blizzard and now the roads are impossible to navigate. Make sure to always have a plan B in case roads are closed and they issue do not travel advisory!
If you’re nervous about driving in these trickier winter conditions, the best option for you is to opt for a guided tour. If you are an experienced driver, make sure you’re renting the safest possible vehicle – a 4-wheel drive is the way to go.
I know that you may only have 4-5 hours of light for exploring, but if you’re going to be driving, take your time. Conditions can be brutal so you’ll want to take it slow and steady.
One site you need to be checking daily is Road.is. They tell you all about the road conditions, closed roads, and weather in Iceland so that you can safely plan your travels.
December Festivals + Events
December is one festive month, so buckle up for a whirlwind of vibrant celebrations!
Christmas markets: You’ll find the locals set up shop in various towns and cities, including the capital. It’s the perfect place to buy local crafts, food and gifts for your friends back home!
Lighting of the advent candles: Families get together on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. They add a new candle to a wreath each symbolizing hope, peace, joy, and love.
New Year’s Eve: Reykjavík hosts an impressive fireworks display. Locals love to get together and light bonfires to ring in the new year.
Live concerts and performances: Keeping with the holiday spirit, there are usually various live performances taking place, especially in Reykjavík.
Want to learn more about Iceland’s holiday season?
➡️ READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide To Christmas In Iceland
Things To Do In Iceland In December
You’ll be surprised how busy your itinerary can get. If you’re wondering what to do in Iceland in December here are a few suggestions:
Blue Lagoon Spa: If you want to visit the Blue Lagoon in Iceland in December, I’ve got great news – it’s open year-round, even on Christmas day! As one of the most popular attractions, it can book out fast, so I always recommend booking well in advance to secure your spot.
Outdoor skating: Many of the towns take advantage of the cold weather and set up ice skating rinks. Could it be any more postcard-perfect?
View icebergs: This is the perfect time to visit the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and see icebergs floating in the water. It’s easily accessible from Reykjavík by car and located in the southeastern part of Iceland, near Vatnajökull National Park.
Chasing the Northern Lights: After sightseeing during the light hours, you’ve got about 20 hours left to chase the aurora. December is the darkest month in Iceland, so technically you should be able to see this incredible natural phenomenon.
Winter sports: If you like to stay active, there are many winter sports available, including snow tubing, and fat biking. Where you rent a bike with thick tires and explore the snowy trails. Bláfjöll is a mountain range located about 30km from Reykjavik and there they offer downhill skiing and snowboarding.
Whale watching: This is another popular activity in December becauseit’s a great time of year to see humpback whales and they are often spotted in Húsavík.
Iceland in December Itinerary
As you can see, traveling to a destination in the winter is obviously very different from the summer months. Especially in a country like Iceland with such extreme weather conditions and limited daylight hours!
Planning an itinerary for a December Iceland trip is going to look vastly different than planning a trip in July.
There are so many nuances to consider 🤯
If you want to experience as much as you can, but don’t know if you’ll fit it all in, fear not! I’ve done all the work for you.
I’ve put together Winter Itineraries you can choose from that’ll make your trip a breeze. They’re your personal cheat sheet to experience all the awesomeness Iceland has to offer!
In the words, of one of my happy customers, Lauren:
“When you are juggling a family and an unknown country, having an itinerary and suggested route/sequence of activities is a lifesaver!”
I’ll show you which areas are accessible, where you can stay, how long to spend at the must-see attractions, and all the hidden gems and juicy insider tips that only the locals know.
👉If you’re traveling to Iceland in December you’ll want to check out these Winter Itineraries.
Cheers to frosty noses, cozy jackets, and experiences of a lifetime!