Skip to content

Staying Warm this Winter in Iceland – Tips and Tricks

Bonfire Reykjavík

Iceland is not exactly known for its good weather, especially in winter. But Icelandic winter is actually pretty mild and only a bit colder than countries in Western Europe. Temperatures in Reykjavík can drop down to about -10°C, but the average temperature is just above freezing. There is quite a bit of snowfall in wintertime. The more isolated towns can get snowed in for a while, making them only accessible by air travel. Even though temperatures can be considered mild, it’s still cold and Icelandic weather is infamously changeable. Especially a cold sea breeze can throw a spanner in the works. So, how do you warm up while you’re in Iceland this winter? In this article, we will tell you.

Winter Iceland

Snuggle up in a sweater

The Icelandic wool sweater, lopapeysa, is worn by almost all Icelanders, and they are also popular souvenirs. They are made from Icelandic wool, lopi. Icelandic sheep have fleeces that are divided into two layers. The upper layer is made up from long and coarse hairs, and the lower layer has shorter and softer hairs. Lopi, made from both layers, is light and warm, and durable and waterproof. The Icelandic lopapeysa is knit in the round so it doesn’t have any seams and it has a circular patterned border around the shoulders. They come in all kinds of colours, styles, and sizes, but they all have a decorative pattern around neck and shoulders, and sometimes also around the wrists. They don’t have a particularly long history, as they were first made in the 1950s, but they were an instant hit with Icelanders and have been extremely popular ever since.

Icelandic Wool

Warm up in a hot tub

Believe us, going to an outside pool is one of the best things you can do in winter. It’s the perfect way to warm up in the middle of winter. The thermal pools usually keep a temperature of 30°C, perfect for swimming. But the best part are the hot tubs, with temperatures ranging between 36°C and 44°C. Icelanders love soaking in hot tubs while chatting, discussing, or arguing about daily life. The most famous pool is the Blue Lagoon, but Reykjavík also has some great thermal pools.

Swimming Pool Reykjavík

Drink a hot cup of coffee

Whether you’re looking for a warm cup of coffee, a comfy couch to sit down on and read, or a place to meet with all your friends, you will find cosy coffeehouses all around Iceland. These are perfect places to take shelter from the weather. Icelanders are big coffee drinkers, and there are many kinds of brews available on this arctic island, from caffeine-free soy cappuccinos to double espressos and from a simple black coffee to a caramel frappé with cinnamon drizzle.

Stofan

Increase your blood flow with Brennivín

A glass of alcohol can make you feel warmer quickly, so why not try some Icelandic schnapps when you’ve been out and about in the snow? If you need to warm up, go to the first bar you see and get yourself a glass of Iceland’s signature drink, Brennivín, also known as Black Death. It is the traditional drink for the midwinter feast of Þorrablót. Brennivín is made from fermented grain or potatoes and is flavoured with caraway fruits, and has an alcohol percentage of 40%. A popular combination is eating a piece of hákarl (fermented shark) before drinking a shot of Brennivín. Skál!

Brennivín
Photo: Vínbúðin

Warm your hands at a New Year’s Eve fire

According to Icelandic folklore, on New Year’s Eve, it’s necessary to burn away the old year to make room for the new one. This explains Icelanders’ love for fireworks this time of year, but also manifests itself in the New Year’s bonfires, or Áramótabrenna, an Icelandic custom dating back to the late 18th century. For the last few years, Reykjavík has hosted 10 of these bonfires varying in size. The New Year’s bonfires are lit at 20:30 unless stated otherwise. These bonfires do not have any official schedule, but people gather around the fire and celebrate the end of the year. These events are especially popular with families and children.

Campfire