Only a few years ago tourism in Iceland did mainly concentrate on the summer period. This has recently changed with an increasing number of tourists wanting to see the Northern Lights during the cold time of year. With Iceland being located in the middle of the North Atlantic there are some things to keep in mind to have a happy and safe trip.
Below you find some advise for when you are travelling in Iceland in winter.
Even if you are not planning on going on an adventurous glacier hike we recommend good shoes. During „normal day tours“ such as the golden circle you may encounter some very slippery spots. Sturdy hiking boots which protect the ankle should be fine. They also allowed you to put some crampons over them in case it gets very slippery. These can be bought at most gas stations and supermarkets during winter. Also this type of shoes should keep your feet dry and warm. Especially during northern lights tours where you may spend a while outside waiting and hoping for the aurora borealis.
Keep your head warm. The body loses most of its heat through the head. Especially during stops you will spend some time outside while enjoying nature.
It is recommended to dress in layers when in Iceland. The outer layer should be wind and waterproof. This applies especially to you pants, the best jacket does not help if you are just wearing jeans. Jeans get very wet and heavy in case of snow and if the temperature is low may even freeze.
Under the outer layer you can wear some fleece or wool to keep you warm ( depending on how cold you get you can have more layers, just think of your self as an onion).
The days are very short with the shortest day being right before Christmas. This does however not mean that you won´t see anything. If you for example join a golden circle tour you will leave Reykjavik in darkness but arrive at your first stop at the first glimpse of daylight. It is however a good advise to go for the shorter trips in the second half of December.
If you are not used to driving in icy and snowy conditions you may be safer joining a tour with a professional driver who is used to so when visiting Iceland in winter. Also in a tour you have your guide tell you about what your are seeing. Furthermore the higher weight of the vehicle compared to a rental car offers some additional stability when exploring Iceland.
Due to this the tourism concentrates on the golden circle with gullfoss waterfall and the Geysir hot spring area, the south coast and blue lagoon. Some of the main attractions on many peoples bucket lists. The ring road can be closed due to snow storms or other natural obstacles during the shortest days in Iceland.