Things to do in Iceland during Winter

Things to do in Iceland during winter

Visit Snæfellsnes Peninsula

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is one of my favourite part of the country. The nature is stunning, combining lava fields, basalt cliffs, high glaciers and black beaches. It is also the setting of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. So if you have a chance to do one tour in Iceland, whether with a tour operator or solo, this is the one to do! Spending 2 days there is perfect in order to drive the whole Peninsula with nice stops along the way. Most of the interesting sights are located close to the main road, making it easy to explore. Places worth visiting are Arnarstapi, Hellnar, Búðir, Djúpalónssandur, Ólafsvík, Kirkjufell mountain and Stykkishólmur.



Visit Búðir at Snæfellsnes

Búðir is a small hamlet in Búðahraun lava fields on the westernmost tip of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. The old black church is the ionic symbol of the place. In our opinion this is the most magical “wedding spot” of Iceland. The dramatic looking church surrounded by a lava field and tall mountains is just unreal!

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Go Glacier Hiking

One of the best ways to experience Icelandic nature is definitely by going glacier hiking. You will have to go with a guide since the glaciers are always changing and can be really dangerous. The most dangerous part is the big cravas that can lie under the snow and people fall through. However if you go with a guide he will know how to lead you through the area.

Anyone can do the hike and it doesn’t require any experience. But as soon as you are on the glacier you will be totally surrounded by majestic scenery and experience the power of a living glacier.

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Experience the northern lights

The best thing about visiting Iceland during winter time is the chance of seeing the northern lights. The lights come at night, when the sky is dark and there are no clouds. When you see them it’s like witnessing a celestial ballet of light dancing across the night sky! The feeling is indescribable and makes a perfect scene for picture taking, just make sure to bring your tripod!

northern light


Visit Dyrhólaey and Reynisfjara beach

When visiting Reynisfjara beach you will witness one of the most dramatic landscape of the country. The black beach is surrounded by beautiful cliffs where extremely powerful waves are hitting the rocks all around. This place is truly magical but it can be deadly! It has been happening more often in Iceland that travellers are going to close to the waves and getting pulled out to the ocean. It has caused some travellers to loose their lives. So when visiting make sure to stay far away from the ocean because sometimes every 12th wave is the powerful one.

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Witness arctic sunrises

Because of how close Iceland is situated to the arctic circle, the nation gets the full on effect of seasonal changes on a unique scale. During the summer we get long, sunny days and, as expected, winter comes with complete darkness. However the sunrises and sunsets during high winter can be really incredible! The colours in the sky will sometimes last for almost an hour and the snowcapped mountains become bright red and pink!

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Iceland in winter

Go Snowboarding

Iceland doesn’t have tall mountains but going skiing or snowboarding can be a great way to mix in with the locals. It’s definitely not a tourist attraction, still we have a skiing area situated only 40 min drive from Reykjavík and 20 min drive from Akureyri. All the skiing areas will rent out gear like, snowboards, ski, boots and helmets. However they do not rent out clothing, so you would need to bring your own.

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Meet the Icelandic horse in it’s winter coat

The Icelandic horse is truly special for few reasons, they are smaller then most horses but what makes them really unique among all other breeds are the 5 different gaits (most horses have only 3). The most famous is “tölt”, where at least one foot touches the ground at any given moment. The result is the smoothest ride you’ll ever experience! You could easily have a cup of tea while riding without spilling a drop.

They are extra cute during winter when they have their winter coat on and get really fluffy. Travelling by horse is a great way to experience the nature of Iceland.

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Get lost

There is no better place then Iceland to just jump into a car and start driving into the wilderness. What’s unique about the country is that there is stunning nature everywhere. I’ll bet if you just start driving it will lead you to an adventure.

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Drive the Hvalfjörður

Hvalfjörður is a fjord situated close to Reykjavík. The fjord is extremely beautiful and has some great hiking trails, like Glymur waterfall. But what is really special about the fjord is that it almost looks like it’s abandoned. The Icelandic government built a tunnel under the fjord so the locals wouldn’t need to drive the extra 45 minutes to get across. For that reason you will not see many cars or people there nowadays and each time we go we feel like we have the place to ourself.

Iceland in Winter 13

Visit Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir national park is a site of historical, cultural, and geological importance and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland. It lies in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This is where the Icelandic Parliament, was established in 930. At Þingvellir you can clearly see big cracks from the continental drift between the  North American and Eurasian Plates.  The cracks and rifts are really beautiful and sometimes filled with crystal clear water, which you can go snorkelling and diving in!

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Check out the red cliffs in Heiðmörk

Heiðmörk is situated 10 min drive out of Reykjavík. It’s a place where many locals go for long walks or even horse back riding. There are many beautiful places to be found in Heiðmörk, like small woods, lava fields, and lakes.

Iceland in Winter 14

Visit Seljarlandsfoss Waterfall

Seljalandsfoss is one of the best known waterfalls in Iceland. It’s situated between Selfoss and Skógafoss close to the ring road. The waterfall is wonderful but during wintertime you have to be careful. The paths are icy and they can get really slippery. During summer time it’s possible to walk behind the waterfall, but do not attempt to do that in winter unless you have crampons.

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Visit Skógarfoss Waterfall

Skógafoss waterfall is one of the biggest waterfalls in the country and definitely one of the most picturesque waterfalls of Iceland! Due to the amount of spray the waterfall consistently produces, a rainbow is normally visible on sunny days. You can get view of the waterfall from above and below. Be careful though during winter the stairs can be frozen and it get’s really slippery.

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Visit the airplane wreck

At the South Shore of Iceland lies a picture perfect airplane wreck. In 1973 a United States Navy DC plane ran out of fuel and crashed on the black beach at Sólheimasandur, in the South coast of Iceland. Fortunately, everyone in that plane survived. The scenery around the airplane is stunning and makes perfect for photos. The plane lies on the black sand with Eyjafjallajökull glacier behind it. Go here to find the tour to the Sólheimasandur plane wreck.

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Visit Harpan music hall

When you stroll around downtown Reykjavík you will easily spot Harpa music hall that is situated on the harbour. It’s a big shiny building with an interesting architecture that can be nice to observe. The house is open to everyone with few coffee shops and design stores.

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Visit Kerid volcanic crater

Kerid is a volcanic crater that is a popular stop when traveling the Golden Circle. It doesn’t require any hiking so it’s really accessible. In the middle of the crater lies a bright blue lake that is usually frozen during winter time.

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Explore the amazing nature around Mývatn

Mývatn is a shallow lake situated in a volcanic area the north of Iceland. Because of the volcanic activity there are a vast number of sights for visitors around the lake. Here you will find endless craters, caves, thermal areas and the famous Krafla volcano.


Visit the glacier Lagoon

One of our favourite spots in Iceland is the magical glacier lagoon, called Jökulsárlón in southeast Iceland. Usually large icebergs are floating on the lagoon since blocks of ice are constantly breaking off the neighbouring glacier, Breiðamerkurjökull. The lake is up to 250 meters deep which makes it the deepest lake in Iceland.

Sometimes the lagoon is full of big ice bergs but sometimes it’s empty. It really depends on the weather, like direction of the wind and so on. In both cases the lagoon is beautiful and usually it’s easy to spot a lot of seals here. Last time we were there we saw hundreds of them trying to warm up in the sun.

Just remember not to try to step on the icebergs that are floating in the lake since it’s extremly dangerous. There have been incidents where the icebergs are flipping over and travellers fall into the lagoon.


Visit the black glacier beach

When visiting the glacier lagoon travellers tend to forget about the black beach right next to it. The place is magical and often full of ice bergs that have washed to shore.

Visit the North of Iceland

The North of Iceland is full of interesting places. Its long valleys and peninsulas are interspersed with mountains, lava fields and smooth hills carved out by rivers. The North is famous for excellent whale watching, thermal areas, beautiful hot springs and the second largest city of Iceland – Akureyri.

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Try to spot some reindeers in the East of Iceland

Today the wild reindeers live only in East of Iceland. During summer time they are usually at higher elevations but during winter time they tend to seek lower grassland, closer to the coast. That’s why they are more easily spotted during wintertime. Last time we saw them they where running around close to the glacier lagoon – Jökulsárlón.

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  • Reply
    March 18, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Stop it! Haha I’m looking forward to my trip more and more and it keeps getting longer and longer in my mind. Unfortunately, I’ll only have around four to five days 🙂 I didn’t know Icelandic horses have 5 gaits! I’m bookmarking your post because I’m sure I’ll need it when I go!
    Dominique recently posted…Bonaire – Kralendijk and RinconMy Profile

  • Reply
    April 6, 2016 at 3:50 am

    I’m pretty excited to check out Iceland this year! Thanks for all the highlights 🙂

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