Wintertime is once again upon us, and it is this time of year that I am reminded of my trip to Iceland. Winter is a great time to visit Iceland, the beauty of the Northern Lights in a crisp, clear starlit sky is something to behold. The snow capped mountains and frozen waterfalls give the place a truly unique and magical feel.
I also remembered a few practical points to keep in mind when travelling in Iceland in the winter. Here are my top five tips:
Don’t give up on the Northern Lights
If you are travelling in Iceland in the winter months then you are sure to have more than a passing interest in the Northern Lights. Your chances of seeing them are good, but bear in mind that they are an unpredictable natural phenomenon. You may get unlucky and not see them at all. You can increase your chances by heading out of urban areas (light pollution can seriously hinder your view) and by being diligent. Sightings are possible from early evening through to the early hours – so be prepared to stay up late and you just never know!
Remember the weather can change
The weather is notoriously changeable in Iceland. If you are heading out for the day check the weather reports – and be prepared for the exact opposite conditions to prevail. The good news is that Iceland is surprisngly mild in the Winter thanks to the warm air from the Gulf Stream. Temperatures in the capital area usually hover around 0 degrees.
If you do hire a car in Iceland over winter then it goes without saying that you need to drive carefully, observing the speed limits and road signs, and keeping a close eye on the (possibly changing) road conditions. Driving within the capital area should present no problems, but when you venture further afield you are strongly advised to check the road conditions, (vegagerdin.is gives you a comprehensive overview of the state of the roads in Iceland in English) and take extra special care. Your vehicle should be provided with studded tires which will make it much easier to handle in slippy conditions.
Make use of the hot springs
There is something really special about bathing in warm water whilst sat outside. Especially in winter. Geothermally heated hot pots are plentiful, both of the natural and man made variety. It is a wonderful way to relax after a long day, and no trip to Iceland would be compete without visiting one.
Pack warm layers
This one is important! Good quality clothes that you can wear in layers as oppose to thicker clothes is the key here. The oxygen between the layers helps keep you insulated and you can add or remove layers as the weather dictates. A warm waterproof coat and good quality boots are essential in winter. It is worth mentioning that the pavements of downtown Reykjavík are heated in winter, so walking about can be done in whatever footwear you desire!
Travel Guide Iceland Team – Reykjavík (Iceland)