What is the winter like in North Iceland, and what can you do there during that time? How long does the winter in Iceland last? Read on to learn all there is to know about the winter season in North Iceland.
If there is one time of the year that Iceland truly lives up to its name, it’s the winter.
Though dark and cold, the season is famous for ethereal Northern Lights, snow-swept landscapes, and exciting outdoor activities. The wintertime is so beautiful—so breathtaking, quite literally, in climate and scenery—that many guests prefer visiting Iceland during this time than the long, sunlit summer days.
In many ways, people’s misconceptions about Iceland’s climate are understandable. The island is home to immense glaciers, icy lagoons, and crystalline-blue ice caves, best experienced in the winter when the conditions add to the authenticity of the experience. And yet, from May onwards, the island is transformed with green farmlands, auburn mosses, seemingly endless light and surprisingly warm summer breezes.
Witness the Auroras
While most of the country’s most famous natural attractions are in the west and south of the country, many fascinating points of interest can be seen in the north.
One of the most exciting prospects for winter visitors is the chance to observe the elusive Aurora Borealis. For centuries, native Icelanders considered the lights prophetic given their spectre-like movement and dazzling colour schemes.
This cosmic phenomenon appears in dancing strands of red, purple, green, yellow and is best seen in areas free of light pollution. Therefore, North Iceland is the perfect region to observe them, thanks to the great distances between its various urban settlements.
Celebrate with the Icelanders
Icelandic winters typically fall between September to March. So naturally, this includes the Christmas and New Year periods, adding a further layer of fun and festivities to your visit. Xmas offers an insight into the unique celebrations and traditions Icelanders have become accustomed to each year.
You will learn about the frightening Yule Cat—said to stalk the countryside stalking for naughty children to snack on—as well as the 13 mischievous Yule Lads, who could be considered this island’s version of Father Christmas.
New Year’s Eve is another story altogether, and it is well known that Icelanders go all out with their celebrations. The typically jet-black night sky becomes illuminated with fireworks of all varieties and colours, creating an all-night visual spectacle that perfectly compliments drinks, food, and good times with the people you care most about.
How to prepare for winter in Iceland
If you’re planning on visiting North Iceland during the wintertime, there are a few crucial points to keep in mind. First of all, make sure to pack your bags efficiently. A thick beanie hat, scarf, and a pair of gloves should all be staple items to bring along, as well as thick woollen socks and a sturdy pair of hiking boots capable of pushing through the snow. In addition, it is best to avoid clothing items made of denim during this period as it is notoriously hard to dry.
It is also essential that you drive slowly and carefully. Iceland is a large country, especially when one considers how few people live here, which means many routes and roads often become thick with ice and snow.
Keep below the speed limit and always ensure you have left ample room between you and the car in front. Should snow, rain or fog make driving conditions too dangerous, try rescheduling your sightseeing and activities for another day.
Does it get cold in North Iceland?
North Iceland is a particularly delightful place to spend time during the winter. Seasonal weather transforms the region into a bejewelled white paradise that twinkles beneath the weak glare of an elusive sun.
The regions biggest town, Akureyri, becomes a picture of postcard perfection with its quaint, festively-lit shops, cosy cafes and surrounding snow-capped mountains.
With that said, North Iceland is closer to the Arctic Circle than any other region, making it far colder than what you might expect. Temperatures in the south average at 0 °C (32 °F), which feels positively tropical compared to the −10 °C (14 °F) common up north.
Can you go skiing in North Iceland?
There are a variety of activities one can partake in when visiting North Iceland in winter.
First, we have to mention the incredible skiing opportunities close to Akureyri and on the dramatic peninsula, Trollaskagi. Backcountry trails, virginal slopes, and sweeping views of nearby coastlines and mountains make for genuinely unique skiing, made all the more thrilling with a helicopter arrival.
You heard us right!
The north is the best region in the country for Heli-Skiing, putting it above and beyond for the majority of adventure-seekers. Such daring escapades are only available to intermediate skiers, and you will have an experienced local guide accompany you from the start of the tour to the end.
If you choose to book a multi-day Heli-Skiing tour with us, you will spend your nights in luxury accommodation, with breakfast and dinner served up by a highly-acclaimed chef. Soti Lodge treats each of its guests with devotion and offers insightful advice on what to do in the local area.
If you are interested in trying out a little skiing for yourself, feel free to look through the selection of tours on our website here.
So… how is next winter looking for you?
All in all, the winter is a fabulous time to pay a visit to the Land of Ice and Fire, offering a unique holiday experience that includes dramatic frozen scenery and a wealth of exciting things to do.
Don’t let the cold put you off! Iceland is still one of the coolest travel destinations on earth, made all the more remarkable when wearing a winter coat.