Iceland in Winter
If you're reading this; Then you’re most likely on your way to Iceland during winter and looking for some ideas, tips and useful information!
I'm happy to say that you’ve come to the right place.
My name is Daníel Andri (You can call me Dan, it's easier to remember.) I’m the owner of Wake Up Reykjavik and I’ve lived in Iceland for my entire life.
Fun fact: I’ve experienced more than 28 winters here in Iceland so I can definitely give you guys some insights to what it's like.
My idea for this blog post was to make a short / condensed blog about visiting Iceland during the winter:
No fluff and not a long read.
But instead; Just useful, practical and local information which will give you absolutely everything you need before your exciting trip ahead to Iceland during winter.
- Practical winter info & tips
- How to see the Northern Lights in Iceland
- Best winter activities
- Average Temperature / Weather
- How much daylight we have during winter, what to pack and so on and so on.
Now we have a lot to cover and I mentioned that this will be a short post - so let’s get started!
Let’s start off with 4 practical tips which will result in a better trip to Iceland:
1) When you fly to Iceland; You won’t be flying to Reykjavik.
That's right, you won’t be arriving to Reykjavik when you fly to Iceland. (Reykjavik is our capital and where you'll want to be.)
Instead, you’ll be flying to Keflavík Which is 45 minutes away from Reykjavik.
Up until recent, every flight ticket to Iceland would have KEF (Keflavík International Airport) as the arrival destination in Iceland. I've heard that some tickets today have 'Reykjavik' as the arrival destination on the ticket - which can be confusing.
But make no mistake, you will arrive in Keflavík.
Now there are a few ways to get to Reykjavik from the airport:
- Rent a car: Pick car up at the airport and drive to the city.
- Take a taxi (makes sense cost wise if you’re travelling with a group of 4-8). A taxi will take you directly to your accommodation which is nice. You don't need to order taxi ahead of time, there will be a long line outside the airport.
- If you’re group size is 1-4. Then taking the Flybus is the least expensive option. The Flybus is a bus that departs frueqently from Keflavík to BSÍ bus terminal in Reykjavik. It's possible to get tickets to the Fly Bus online - or at the arrival hall when you land.
2) Book your accommodation in central Reykjavik
The reason being that you’ll be within walking distance to all the shops, restaurants, bars, cafés and pick up spots for tours.
If you’re searching for accommodation on airbnb; many of them will say that they’re in or very close to downtown Reykjavik when in reality - they’re not. They might be a 25-30 minutes drive away which can be a headache.
A good trick is to insert the name or address of your hotel or airbnb accommodation to google maps and see what the walking distance from your hotel to Harpa Concert Hall.
If it’s within 10-15 minutes walking, then the hotel is centrally located.
I'll post a video blog of my favorite hotels in Reykjavik soon on our Youtube channel. I recommend subscribing there for useful Iceland videos along with the video of hotel when it arrives.
3) You don’t need Icelandic cash while in Iceland.
It’s possible to pay everywhere using debit or credit cards - or apple pay.
You can bring along some USD if you’re super happy with your service and would like to leave a tip at a restaurant or for your tour guide.
There is a strange rumour going around that Icelandic people will get insulted if you offer to tip them - that’s a lie, we love money.
4) The weather can vary during winter.
From past experience; January and February tend to be stormiest of our winter months. It vary much varies from year to year. When Iceland receives heavy snow or heavy wind/rain it'll usually be during these two months.
In regards to snow; We’ll often not experience the first snowfall of the winter until December / January.
Regardsless; Dress warmly. Bring along a hat, gloves, warm jackets etc etc.
If you don’t have any, it’s possible to rent: There is a shop called 'Iceland Cover' which is located in central Reykjavik. They have warm parkas and boots (if you’re doing a glacier hike for example). It can be far less expensive to simply rent for a day then to buy.
Average temperature for each winter month:
- October: 41 F
- November: 40 F
- December: 33 F
- January: 30 F - 33 F
- February: 28 F - 37.5 F
- March: 28 F-38 F