Iceland’s Top 8 Winter Wonders

Sure, Iceland’s winter weather can be challenging. But you’ll be rewarded with these truly unique experiences that make it all worthwhile.

Northern Lights over a moss-covered lava field
Seeing the northern lights sparkling overhead is an incredible experience. Photo © Dreamstime.

1. Hunt for Northern Lights

The main season to see northern lights is October to March. You can book a guided tour or venture out on your own.

people soaking in Iceland's Blue Lagoon
A rejuvenating soak at the Blue Lagoon is a great way to kick off your trip or end it on a relaxing note. Photo © Ivanguart/Dreamstime.

2. Soak in the Blue Lagoon

The most popular tourist attraction in Iceland is popular for a reason—it’s a soothing, special experience. The winter is no exception. The Blue Lagoon is eerie and beautiful to soak during light snowfalls or while watching northern lights dance above on clear nights.

Horses in a field in Iceland
Horses in southern Iceland. Photo © Kunthika Panyawuthikrai/Dreamstime.

3. Ride Majestic Icelandic Horses

Icelandic horses are hardy creatures that are beautiful to ride along the snowy white landscape. Akureyri-based tour company Saga Travel offers horse-riding day tours from Akureyri and Mývatn.

Winter in Iceland
Winter in Iceland. Photo © Jenna Gottlieb.

4. Go Cross-country Skiing up North

Iceland isn’t known for its skiing, but it does have a well-maintained ski area up north, not too far from Akureyri. The Hlíðarfjall ski area has more than a dozen well-kept trails.

A glacier cave at Kverkfjöll volcano.
A glacier cave at Kverkfjöll volcano. Photo © Filip Fuxa/123rf.

5. Take a Glacier Walk

Tour operators offer the unique opportunity to hike on a glacier. They supply all the necessary equipment and provide pick-ups at your hotel or guesthouse. Icelandic Mountain Guides offers a year-round guided tour walking on a glacier in Skaftafell National Park.

a man sitting under the ice at Vatnajökull glacier.
Sitting under the ice at Vatnajökull glacier. Photo © Anna Omelchenko/123rf.

6. Ride Snowmobiles

It’s spectacular to glide atop the pristine white snow on crisp and clear winter days. Vatnajökull Travel features a year-round tour that includes snowmobile rides on Vatnajökull glacier, the biggest glacier in Europe.

A lively square in Reykjavík
A lively square in Reykjavík. Photo © Paanna/Dreamstime.

7. Embark on an Art Museum Crawl in Reykjavík

If the weather outside is frightful, head indoors to explore Iceland’s modern artists, like Erró, and old masters such as Jóhannes Kjarval at the Reykjavík Art Museum.

Waterfalls of Gullfoss in winter
Gullfoss in winter is also gorgeous. Photo © Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee/123rf.

8. Tour the Golden Circle

Iceland’s number one tour is available year-round. Book a bus tour or drive the 300-kilometer route yourself. The frozen Gullfoss falls and the vast landscape in winter white are gorgeous.

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