ICELAND IN WINTER
WINTER (November – March)
Winters can be brutal and are characterized by frequent rain, snow, and long nights with only 3 hours of daylight each day. Daytime temperatures hover around 35°F to 38°F. However, numerous winter festivals and reduced prices might make it worthwhile. What's more, for those who hunt the northern lights, these months offer the greatest chances of seeing the aurora borealis.
Many roads become impassable and driving conditions become challenging this time of the year. However, for those not comfortable with driving, there are plenty of organized tours.
THINGS TO DO IN WINTER
Iceland offers all kinds of incredible glacier adventures! You can head out on a glacier hike on one of Icelands many glaciers, try your hand at ice climbing on Breiðamerkurjökull, or at Skaftafell National Park, explore a glacier by Super Jeep, or venture into an ice cave. While some of these tours can be done throughout the year, some are limited to the colder months when glaciers are firm and steady.
Eleven percent of Iceland is made up of glaciers, which are covered with snow for the greater part of the year. Snowmoble tours are available year round in Iceland and they offer a unique and exhilarating way to explore these breathtaking landscapes. Driving on a glacier, surrounded by mountains and snow, is certainly something no one can never forget. Vatnajökull and Langjökull glaciers are the biggest in all Europe and both are true gems.
Snowmobile options are unlimited and very varied. Snowmobiling can be done independently or can be included in other tours, such as a South Coast or Golden circle tours, visiting sites such as Gullfoss waterfall, Thingvellir national parks and Geysir hot springs. They can also be combined with combine Super Jeep tours and cave explorations for a full day out on the snow.
Snowmobile tours are suited for experienced riders and novices alike, and are a great activity for the whole family.
Glaciers with snowmobile tours:
Dog sledding offers one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have in Iceland and it can take place in a great variety of environments – even dry land. During your tour you will be a passenger and won’t be in control of the sled, as this takes years of experience to master and will be left to the musher. Dog teams vary from between 4 – 10 dogs, based on the experience and weight of the musher and passenger.
There are three different dog breeds used for dog sledding (or mushing) in Iceland, Alaskan Huskies, Siberian Huskies and Greenlandic dogs. None of these breeds is native to Iceland, nor are they a common breed. Huskies are typically social, intelligent and loyal dogs, that are known to be noisy and excited and you can expect to hear some ecstatic barking when visiting the kennels.
For mushing you’ll typically wear the same clothing as you would for skiing or snowmobiling.
As with snowmobile tours, it’s possible to combine Dog sledding tours with other experiences, such as the Golden Circle tour or glacier tour, for a fully immersive experience.
Tours in northern Iceland will most likely be centered around the Lake Mývatn, allowing you time to see the areas other attractions. While other tours are in the lush countryside near Akureyri.
Although dog sledding is usually experienced on snow, it is possible to do a ‘Dry-Land Tour’. Here skis of the sledge are switched out for wheels, reigns are changed for a steering wheel and a handbrake is inserted, meaning you can take to the road or a lupin filled meadow. Dry-Land tours are an ideal way to the see the Icelandic countryside’s without getting your feet wet.
Northern Lights Tours
The Aurora Borealis is a startling electromagnetic phenomenon in which shafts and swirls of green, blue or sometime orange light spreads across the night sky. If you’re looking to see the Northern Lights, you’ll want long, cold nights. Although you may still see them in early fall and late spring, your best chance will be the long, dark nights from November to March. There’s no guarantee, however, as winter also brings storms and cloudy skies which can obstruct your view.
Three essential factors are needed to see the Aurora Borealis: darkness skies, clear conditions, and a surge in solar activity. Viewings are often infrequent and to avoid disappointment your visit shouldn’t be for the sole purpose of seeing the Aurora. The best way to optimize your chances of seeing the Northern Lights in to get out into the countryside, to reduce the amount of ambient light.
It's always a good idea to book Northern Lights tour well in advance as they fill up fast.