Having trouble deciding when to visit the land of Fire and Ice? Can’t decide between the ice-covered landscape and the northern lights shimmering in the early hours of the winter nights or the full flowing summer waterfalls and snow melt reflecting under the midnight sun? Winter travel to Iceland should be on your radar. Europe travel expert, Cammie, tells us why winter is one of the most magical times of year to visit Iceland…
Winter in Iceland is actually milder than you might think. The temperatures usually do not dip below 0 degrees Celsius, thanks to the Gulf Stream. December is the darkest month in Iceland with about five or so hours of daylight. Five hours is plenty of time to fit in adventures, and is a great time to view those magical northern lights. During these winter months, the crowds dissipate, the snow-capped mountains lining the horizon are all yours to explore and sunrises seem to blend directly into sunsets leading to brilliant colors in the sky throughout the day.
Iceland has one of the most extraordinary and diverse landscapes in the world ranging from volcanoes, to glaciers, black sand beaches, waterfalls and ice caves. Iceland will always leave you wanting more, there are endless natural features to discover and each day will bring a new and exciting adventure.
In December, the excitement of the Christmas season can be felt in the air. Christmas folklore in Iceland revolves around the 13 Yule Lads that descend from the mountains to cause havoc and mischief in the days leading up to Christmas. This is an especially fun time for families to visit, starting on the 12th of December, one by one the Yule Lads leave a present for the children for 13 days. Children will leave shoes in their windowsills and the well-behaved children will receive a present, while naughty kids will receive a potato. This is just a slice of the magical and mythical folklore of Iceland, and there are endless stories and much more history to learn about on this incredible island.
Following Christmas, New Years is an incredible experience in Iceland. I recommend ringing in the New Year in the capital of Reykjavik. Fireworks for New Year’s Eve are only sold by the Icelandic Associate for Search and Rescue. This is a self-funded group, and the proceeds from the fireworks sales goes straight back to this team of heroes. There is nothing comparable to a New Year’s Eve fireworks show in Reykjavik. It might not be the most organized fireworks show in the world, but it is sure to be the most entertaining. On New Year’s Eve you can find bonfires around the city, that bring locals and travelers together and bars and restaurants are known to stay open into the late hours of the next morning.
Along with the celebration of winter festivities, there are endless adventures to participate in, during winter. Your days will be full of exploration and your nights will be spent watching for the magical northern lights. If you are looking for an off the beaten track, unique winter vacation, Iceland is the destination for you.