Traveling can have different meanings. Some people think it is a way to escape and shake away the stress of daily life. For most of us, it means making new friends, learning new languages, discovering new cultures and having new experiences. But besides that, traveling means planning for all of us. Heading to Iceland can be a once in a lifetime experience for many, so planning properly is a must. This is especially true if you’re traveling during the winter season! But fear not, we have some tips and tricks that will make the tough part of travel easy!
What’s the Weather Like in Winter in Iceland?
Here is a little introduction. Weather can greatly affect your trip, and your planning will, of course, depend on the forecast. Since it is a bit complicated to know the exact conditions months ahead before traveling, we will provide a rough idea of what the weather is like in winter in Iceland.
The first thing you all need to do is forget everything you heard about winter in Iceland. I bet that you think Iceland is some kind of impenetrable icy, frozen land. Well, the name of the country is Iceland! It couldn’t be any other way, right? The truth is, Iceland’s wintry weather is not as cold as most people think. Thanks to the Gulf Stream that bring warm currents to our coastline, the wintertime is milder and not as harsh as it should be for our location and latitude. The coldest month in Iceland is January, with an average temperature of 32°F (0°C). Not too bad for being so close to the North Pole, right?
But with good news, sometimes there’s also bad news. Iceland is not excessively cold, but it can get very windy here. That means that the “real feel” temperature from the wind chill can be much lower. So here are some useful tips for your winter travel and preventing those freezing winds from ruining your trip!
Winter Travel Tips For Iceland – Packing the Right Stuff
Icelandic winter is not too bleak, but it’s no joke either. If you are not well prepared, your whole trip will be a complete mess. The wind is the real enemy here, so you better be ready to fight it. The trick to preventing wind from ruining your vacation is bundling up with layers. The more layers, the better. But make sure to place them wisely. Looking like an obese onion is not the point here; layer order does count. So what layers do you need for winter dressing in Iceland?
First layer: It should be wool or a synthetic fiber shirt. This way, your body will be able to breathe and perspire. The sweat will not get stuck and will instead be wicked away from the surface of the skin. It keeps you dry and will cool you down.
Second layer: A fleece will do here. It will provide insulation and retain body heat.
Third: This would be your outer shell. It must be waterproof and should include a windbreaker. Quick-drying, breathable materials are essential here.
And don’t forget about your pants! Avoid cotton and use an on-off second layer. It should also be waterproof and a windstopper.
Accessories are also important: hats, gloves, scarves and a good quality pair of boots are a must. They should be waterproof as well!
Most activities available in the country are in the outdoors so making the right combination of clothing and accessories is the key to stay warm in Iceland.
Winter Travel Tips for Iceland – Traveling the Right Way
Most travelers that come and visit us in Iceland will discover our country by renting a car, a motorhome or a camper. Safety is always a must, but during the winter time, and extra precautions are always welcome.
You’ll find a lot of snow, ice or sleet on the road. Be sure to check with your rental company to know if they provide studded winter tires, regardless of the type of vehicle you rent. For those traveling with a camper or a motorhome, it is a must to have a vehicle with a Webasto-like heating system that can run even if the engine is turned off.
And finally, for those traveling in a motorhome, you have to do it in a winter RV. Winds in Iceland can be fierce and dangerous and driving wide or tall vehicles can be risky. Most Icelandic companies will not rent motorhomes during the winter as they do not provide winter friendly models. If your rental company does rent a motorhome, feel free to ask if it is a winter model. Otherwise, we do not recommend it. And be aware that when temperatures are low enough, the pipes might freeze and you won’t have running water. This is just a reality of RV travel in cold temperatures. Unfortunately, the rental company can’t do anything about it.
Winter Travel Tips for Iceland – Heading to the Right Places
Just imagine, driving for hours, doing some trekking and making the most out of your day. After that, you only want to head to your accommodation, campsite, parking area…etc. To rest, sleep and get ready for your next adventure. But when you show up, all you find is a closed sign hanging on a door. A complete nightmare!
Winter in Iceland is the low season for the tourism and accommodation industry. The weather and road conditions are also a bit tougher, so many campsites and designated areas close during the coldest time of the year. One of the most important tips we can provide is to select your accommodation and campsites before coming to Iceland. Be sure to check those that open all year long and their business hours.
Winter Travel Tips For Iceland
These are our most basic winter tips for Iceland. If you stick to them and plan your trip accordingly, chances of having a great vacation will indeed be higher. Iceland is a dreamland during this time of year. The raw beauty of the country’s nature and landscapes will blow your mind. The snowy scenery will remind you of those fairy tales you read as a child. So give it a go and don’t be afraid of visiting Iceland in the winter. It’s definitely worth it.
Have you visited Iceland in winter already? If you have other useful tips or tricks, you can share them with us! We would love to hear from you.