Winter in Iceland is a magical time. Over the past few years, Iceland has been getting more and more popular by tourists. Nicknamed the Land of Fire and Ice because of its many volcanoes and glaciers, there are endless opportunities of gorgeous natural wonders to explore. Over 60% of the people that live in Iceland, live in the capital city of Reykjavik.
If you are not renting a car to avoid the intimidation of the slippery roads during winter, all of the activities below can be done right in Reykjavik or by a tour with transfer. If you are renting a car, you, of course, can still visit all of these beautiful sights. Without further ado, let’s get to exploring:
1. Relax In Blue Lagoon
Duh, I know this one’s already on your list. As one of the top 25 wonders of the world, this is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the entire country. Blue Lagoon is located between Reykjavik and Keflavik Airport, making it an easy stop on your way. Check out this post for what to know before you go to Blue Lagoon.
2. Explore The Lava Tunnel
The Lava Tunnel is another great sight to explore not far from Reykjavik. Just a 30 minute drive away, you can squeeze this adventure in before lunch. See where the lava once flowed during an eruption over 5,000 years ago, leaving a rainbow tunnel behind. Exploring this feat during winter in Iceland is especially gorgeous, as you’ll be able to see stalagmites and stalactites of ice formations. For more information on the lava tunnel and its history, check out this post.
3. Snowmobile Over A Glacier During Winter In Iceland
This was hands down one of the coolest experiences I had in Iceland. It was a full-day trip and included transportation. However, I will warn you: This adventure is not for the weak! An Icelandic storm ended up hitting us on the way back, making it an scary, yet exhilarating and unforgettable journey.
4. Explore An Ice Cave
An ice cave tour was actually included on the tour I did while snowmobiling. However, you can explore ice caves without fully diving into the adventurous snowmobiling tour. Each year, experienced guides go out and find the new ice caves that formed after the melting ice during the summer to find a safe and accessible route for you.
5. Do A Northern Lights Cruise
I know, I know, you don’t need to pay to see a natural phenomenon. However, it sure does help. If you’re like me and you’re not renting a car due to the slippery roads during winter, a northern lights cruise is a great way to explore outside of the light pollution in Reykjavik. Experienced guides will point out the aurora borealis formations before you can find them yourself, as well as help you get that perfect shot. If, for some reason, the weather doesn’t cooperate for a show, almost every tour will allow you another chance at the tour for free.
6. Ride An Icelandic Horse
If you’re not familiar with an Icelandic horse, imagine a pony and you’ll get the picture. These horses are much smaller than what most are used to. They’re also extremely exclusive in Iceland. Once a horse leaves the country, it is never allowed to come back. This is mostly due to the various diseases that could wipe out the entire population. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can do as I did and combine your horse-riding tour with a trip around the Golden Circle.
7. Watch Strokkur Geyser Soar Into The Sky
Strokkur is one of the first stops you’ll hit while on the Golden Circle. This geyser bubbles up and shoots a jet 15 feet above you, nearly every 10 minutes. It’s a quick, easy and accessible sight to stop at for any age or level of fitness.
8. Bundle Up At Gullfoss Waterfall During Winter in Iceland
Gullfoss Waterfall was perhaps the most impressive natural wonder I laid eyes on in Iceland. It reminded me of my visit to Niagara Falls in the United States, the way the powerful water poured over the edge like a wedding veil. If you stop here during winter, I highly recommend bundling up because the wind can get extremely harsh. In addition to this, make sure you have crampons as the path was very slippery and hard to navigate once the wind joined the party.
9. Stand on Two Continents At Once
Thingvellir National Park is famous because you are able to walk between two continents. Long ago, the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia drifted apart, causing a fissure. You can now take a paved path over Almannagjá canyon through the area, which demonstrates this monstrous feat. If you can, try to arrive here while it is still light outside. That way, you’ll fully be able to enjoy the sight and its natural surroundings without needing a flashlight.
10. Feed The Whooper Swans During Winter In Iceland
The Whooper Swans are the only type of swans that live in Iceland. Though many of them migrate to Britain for the winter, you’ll still be able to find plenty down at Tjörnin pond in Reykjavik. If you have trouble finding the pond, take a moment and listen to your surroundings. Their honks will almost always lead you right to them.
11. Hear The Church Bells Ring At Hallgrímskirkja
You’ll find that Hallgrímskirkja is one of the most impressive architectural feats in all of Reykjavik. In fact, it would be pretty hard to miss. Though the outside is gorgeous enough on its own, take some time to check out the inside as well. If you time it right, you may be able to hear the organ being played or the church bells ringing through the alleyways of Reykjavik.
12. Rainbow Street
Rainbow Street is exactly what it sounds like: A street that’s been painted like a rainbow. This is a popular photo spot that you probably won’t even need to route your GPS to in order to run into.
13. The Sun Voyager Sculpture
The Sun Voyager Sculpture is a spectacular metal sculpture that resembles a viking ship on the waterfront in Reykjavik. One of the best times to view this work of art is at sunset.
I hope this list of things to do in Iceland during winter gave you a good start on planning your adventure. If you have any questions or comments about the sights listed above, or other inquiries about Iceland, feel free to comment and I will answer them all as best as I can.
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