Winter in Iceland is amazing. Waking up to a view of mountains covered by a fresh blanket of snow is the best start to the day. Some of Iceland’s natural wonders are only visible in winter, as the northern lights and ice caves.
Even though Iceland doesn’t have high mountains like Switzerland, it is a ski paradise – if you know where to go. Bláfjöll is a popular ski area situated just half an hour outside of Reykjavík. It’s the largest ski resort in Iceland, with runs of varying difficulty levels. Hlíðarfjall in North Iceland is Akureyri’s top-notch ski resort. Floodlit slopes guarantee skiing in the dark winter months. Iceland also has a lot to offer for cross-country skiing and heli-skiing enthusiasts.
Take a walk on the ice side
On a clear day, glacier hiking is one of the most amazing things you can do in wintry Iceland! The glacial tongue Sólheimajökull offers excellent options for short, easy, and beautiful hikes, with a breathtaking view over the glacier and the south coast of Iceland. Glaciers are beautiful but tricky; that’s why it’s only safe to go on a hike with an experienced guide!
If hiking isn’t your thing, you can also go snowmobiling, which is possible on the glaciers Langjökull, Mýrdalsjökull, and Vatnajökull. You will be brought to the snowmobile starting point on top of the glacier by either glacier truck or super jeep. After putting on a warm overall and helmet, you are ready to go on an exhilarating ride over the ice. It’s the coolest way to enjoy the beautiful view of the glacier and its surroundings.
Snorkelling in Silfra
Iceland offers great opportunities for underwater adventures, as you can snorkel between two tectonic plates. Snorkelling or diving in the Silfra fissure in Þingvellir National Park is a fantastic experience; the lava-rock filtered glacier water is some of the cleanest in the world and provides impressive visibility. The water is 2-4°C all year round, but don’t worry, a dry or wet suit will protect you from (most of) the cold.
Explore the world beneath
An ice cave tour is a great winter activity. You can only visit natural ice caves in the wintertime since they are unsafe in summer. You can find ice caves in different areas of Iceland, even (an artificial one) in Reykjavík! The longest man-made ice tunnel in the world is available any time of year. It’s in Langjökull glacier and offers a unique glimpse of the insides of a glacier!
Spot the northern lights
Northern lights can be seen everywhere in Iceland in winter, but you need to be far away from the city lights dimming your view to get a good look at them. Northern lights tours take you away from the city on a night when the auroras are active. Remember to wrap up and be patient; it might take a while for them to show. If the northern lights don’t cooperate on the night of your tour, you can usually try again for free.
Keep your plans flexible
The weather in Iceland is fickle, and the most important thing is to stay safe. By all means, make plans, but be prepared to change them if the weather is acting up. Check the weather forecast before you set off, and don’t risk driving far if the weather is bad! If you’re not used to driving in wintry conditions or feel uncomfortable, take a guided tour instead.