December is one of the best times of year to visit Iceland. The crowds of summer have dispersed. Locals and tourists alike flock to the mountains and national parks to take part in a wide range of outdoor activities. Snowmobiling, skiing, snowboarding, glacier hikes, and ice cave exploration are among the top things to do. But what’s the weather like in Iceland in December? How cold does it get? Is there a lot of snow or is there regular precipitation like rain and sleet? If you’re driving in Iceland in the winter, or just visiting, this is important information to have.
Average December Temperatures in Iceland
First and foremost, let’s talk about just how cold it really gets in Iceland in December. I know what you’re thinking. Iceland is close to the Arctic, so it’s going to have sub-zero temperatures in the winter. It’s not true! While parts of the island can dip below freezing when there are overnight lows, Iceland’s December temperatures are not all that bad. The relatively warm currents of the Gulf Stream keep the island surrounded by waters that are not completely freezing. Many people compare Iceland’s December weather to somewhere like New York City. It’s cold, but it’s not unbearable. The high rises to about 39 ºF (4 ºC) and lows drop to around 28 ºF (-2 ºC). The south is the warmest, wettest part of Iceland and the north is colder.
Average High in Reykjavik in December: 39 ºF (4 ºC)
Average Low in Reykjavik in December: 28 ºF (-2 ºC)
So Iceland in December isn’t exactly warm, but it isn’t completely inhospitable either.
Does Iceland Have Snowfall, Rain, Sleet, or Hail in December?
The answer is D: All of the above. December is one of the wettest months in Iceland. This combined with temperatures that hover around the freezing point means that all of this precipitation will end up on the ground in the form of ice, snow, or something in between. It’s important to dress warmly and well when visiting Iceland in December. Keeping out the chilly dampness is extremely important, especially in a place where you might experience frostbite if you’re out in the elements for too long.
Iceland’s Daylight Hours in December
So is Iceland completely dark in December? Well, the sun rises quite late (between 10:45 am and 11:22 am depending on the date). It also sets quite early (between 3:28 pm and 3:47 pm). These sunrise and sunset times combine to make for “days” that last around four or five hours. If you factor in civil twilight, the time during dusk and dawn where there is light, you’ll have closer to seven or eight hours of light.
December 1st: The sun rises at 10:45 am and sets at 3:47 pm. Civil twilight starts at 9:35 am and ends at 4:57 pm.
December 15th: The sun rises at 11:16 am and sets at 3:29 pm. Civil twilight starts at 9:58 am and ends at 4:47 pm.
December 31st: The sun rises at 11:20 am and sets at 3:41 pm. Civil twilight starts at 10:03 am and ends at 4:58 pm.
Iceland’s December Weather: Average Temperatures, Snowfall, Daylight Hours
Even though Iceland is cold in December, it’s still a great month to visit. You can do all kinds of fun outdoor activities like glacier hikes, skiing, and ice cave exploration. You’ll even have a white Christmas if you decide to come over the holidays and take a road trip. Whatever you do, pack well and come with a sense of adventure.