When talking about Iceland there is a common fact that comes up regularly. It is dark for almost 6 months during winter. When planning a winter visit to Iceland people may be afraid to not be able to do anything. Or if they do not to see anything; except for the northern lights of course.
So what do people do in winter and is it totally dark?
Over the last 4 or 5 years winter traffic has significantly increased. Most people stay shorter than people coming during in summer and their trails focus more on the south of Iceland. This is because the highlands are closed and also the roads in the north are harder to pass if not even closed. Taking and visiting the golden circle and south is however possible and does not happen in total darkness. The sun comes out around 11:30 and goes down about 15:30, four hours later. What often is forgotten is dawn so the hour before and after also have some increasing or decreasing daylight. So, if you start a golden circle tour at 9 you reach your first stop around 10 in the beginning of brightness and leave the last one with the last rays of light.
And of course, if the sun is down and the land is dark you have a chance to encounter Iceland´s main attraction in winter: The Northern Lights.
In December the earliest evening tours from Reykjavik start at 19:30 so just around Dinner and the lights to not disappoint to show up early. A great way specially when travelling with kids; they get to experience the lights and to bed at a reasonable time.
Of course, never forget that Iceland in winter can be rough. So if a tour is cancelled or the northern lights do not show up it is part of the Icelandic experience.