The best season to visit Iceland is between May to September, although Winter can have its perks too. The flights are cheaper and the country offers numerous activities and festivals.
Here are just a couple of things to do in Iceland during winter;
Iceland has well-equipped ski resorts that are open from November to May. Skiing in Iceland is good for beginners as the slopes are not downhill enough. Cross country skiing is especially popular. Although skiing in Iceland cannot be compared to the rest of Europe, here you will get a real sense of remoteness and beautiful scenery.
Photo: Snæfellsjökull by fran-42 on Flickr under CC
You might be asking yourself what snowshoeing is? It’s the fastest growing winter sport in the world! It’s just like hiking but with snowshoes. Imagine walking through the vast snow, passing the active volcanic zones and admiring the landscape. Obviously, Iceland is an ideal place for that. If you love walking you should consider a walking holiday in Iceland.
Photo: Hollyburn snowshoe by kcxd on Flickr under CC
Ice Caves and Glacier Hiking
The ice caves in Iceland’s glaciers are another beautiful natural phenomenon. Vatna glacier was formed thousands of years ago and is the largest in the country. The blue light seeping through the ice gives it a unique feel that you’ll remember for a lifetime. You also have to try glacier hiking in Iceland! Walking on ice that formed thousands of years ago, is another popular activity for adventurous buffs, but this requires a professional guide and equipment.
Photo: Sólheimajökull Glacier Hike by Justin LaBerge on Flickr under CC
Iceland Airwaves Festival
The first thing that comes to mind when you hear about Iceland is the nature and a number of different activities the country offers. Iceland is in fact known for its prominent music scene as it is a birth place of many talented artists, most famous one being of course, Bjork. In an effort to cultivate its youth and support local artists, there are a lot of different festivals and cultural events. Maybe the most popular one is the Iceland Airwaves Festival. This year the festival will host acts such as Santigold, Warpaint, Bjork a festival native, and many others. You can see this year’s full lineup here.
Reykjavik Dance Festival
If you happen to be in the Icelandic capital during November, be sure to check out the Reykjavik Dance Festival. You can see performances, take part in workshops, lectures, formal discussions and go to thematic parties. It’s one of the festivals that are a must for anyone, you don’t need to have a dance background or a special interest in dance, it’s just as interesting for newfound lovers of the art.
The Christmas Village
A little town near Reykjavik called Hafnarfjörður hosts nice Christmas Village during Advent. As every year they have a Christmas market open on the weekends, starting November 28th till Christmas. Take your family to Hafnarfjörður to experience true Christmas magic. Walking through its Christmas market and enjoying the warm hospitality of its locals, makes you feel as if every second you’re going to wake from a perfect dream. You can try traditional Icelandic delicacies, check out items for sale such as hand-knitted hats, hand-painted ornaments, wooden decorations etc. If this doesn’t hold your interest, the town also has some interesting museums – the most famous one is the Museum of Local History.
Iceland is a great place to see the Aurora Borealis. Iceland’s popularity is never going to diminish for that sole reason. The only downside is that nobody can guarantee you that you’ll be lucky enough to see the extraordinary weather phenomenon. It is very important to do some research beforehand about the weather forecast for the days that you’ll be spending there, to find out if you need to hire a car and drive outside of the city for a better view etc. The best time to see Aurora Borealis is between September to April, although weather here can be very unpredictable and it depends on different factors. Dark skies and clear weather is necessary and the longer you spend the time in the country, higher the chances are that you will see them. Take this into account if seeing Northern Lights are one of the primary reasons of your visit.
The country is famous for the geothermal activity and the large number of hot springs and geysers. The most famous one is Blue Lagoon near the capital Reykjavik. The Blue Lagoon is something that cannot be missed. If you’re in Iceland you shouldn’t dare to miss it! The hot spring is located inside of a lava field offering a view of fantastic scenery. Also a side note, it has a reputation of having healing qualities and is rumored to cure many skin diseases, as psoriasis i.e.
If you’re a fan of adrenaline and love a good ride you might want to consider a snowmobile tour. You can race on the snowy plains and enjoy the surrounding landscapes. These tours are usually mixed with sightseeing so they are a great way to see some attractions and at the same time have fun.
Photos: Iceland.Is and Flickr under CC