How to get the most from a winter visit to Iceland, and how to stay safe | Icelandair
Pingdom Check
01/04/2022 | 10:00 AM

Winter travel in Iceland: advice for staying safe

Don't be daunted by winter travel to Iceland. There’s so much to love about winter here – including the short and softly lit daylight hours, the long nights potentially filled with northern lights, and the beautiful snowy landscapes. Sunrise happens late, so you don't have to get out of bed early to catch the pink dawn skies, and sunset can last for hours.

Gullfoss waterfall in winter snowGullfoss waterfall at sunset

Christmas and New Year's Eve are big celebrations that do a great job of brightening the darkness. Then there's all the traditional knitwear, cozy gatherings, books to read, geothermal pools to soak in, ice caves to exlpore, skiing adventures, and so much more…

Winter is a great time to visit, but it should also involve a little extra planning. It’s important to do your homework before a winter vacation in Iceland, so you know how to stay safe and be prepared for anything the elements can throw at you.

aerial view of Blue Lagoon in winterThe Blue Lagoon with a dusting of snow

Resources for traveling safely – a project of the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue. – the website of the Icelandic Met Office has everything from weather and aurora forecasts to earthquake reports. – the official source for information on road conditions. – a handy place to see sunrise and sunset times, and how many hours of daylight you can enjoy. Look for twilight times too, when there is some light but the sun is below the horizon.

Tourist standing in ice caveIce caves are generally accessible between November and March

Average temperatures & daylight hours

Did you know that Reykjavík winters are surprisingly mild? The average January temperature in Reykjavik (-0.6°C / 31°F) is similar to New York City and Berlin.

There's not a lot of daylight hours for exploring in winter (especially in December and January, with 4 to 7 hours of light), but the  abundant dark skies bring a greater chance of viewing aurora.

Read more about the seasons in Iceland, and how they impact the best time of year to travel.

an illustrative graphic showing the average temperature and daylight hours during winter in Iceland. Text overlay has been placed upon an image of the Northern Lights

Safety matters

Watch our short video for information on winter travel in Iceland.

And we've got advice for driving in Iceland, with useful year-round tips.