Travel à la Mode: 5 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Iceland in Winter
I have said it before and I'll say it again: Iceland is one of my favorite places on earth. It's a magical wonderland where you can't help but pull your camera out every 5 feet. My husband and I recently went back for a second time this past December, and it has now become the trip to beat for us. Since I have been to Iceland now during the summer and winter, I want to tell you why going during the winter is a far better option. Have you been in either season (or both)? Do you agree with my points? Let me know in the comments!
Outside of Tourist Season
It's not difficult to assume that winter is not the season that people visit Iceland - hence why I am writing this post! When we went, we were able to experience some of the most amazing landscapes on the planet almost completely alone - that is not a luxury you typically get during the summer. There are some downsides to this (that I have warned about in this post), but as long as you plan around them and are aware, it can be a great time. All the snow during the winter turns Iceland into a magical winter wonderland, and the exploring feels so much more satisfying without crowds of people at every stop. We visited the Mývatn Nature Baths and there were no more than 20 people with us there the entire two hours we were there, and we were able to get stunning photos of popular sites with minimal to no crowds.
The Lighting is Perfection
Iceland in winter is under a perpetual state of golden hour. You just cannot take a bad photo in Iceland! (Maybe unless there's a snowstorm...) But all of our photos turned out so much better than the ones we took during our previous summer trip. We only had real daylight from maybe 10am to 3pm, but those hours were beautiful. It also forced us to relax more after our hikes and utilize our accomodations' pools or grab a glass of wine at the bar and go to bed early haha. And if you sleep in, you can still catch the sunrise! I actually thought this would be a frustrating element to our trip, and at times it was, but I ended up appreciating this cool universe of ours and what it can do. I would recommend under-planning your days to allow time to wander instead of having to race against the sun to see certain sights. Trust me, you'll wish you had planned more time.
This was one of the highlights for me when we were there last December. I love dogs and have always wanted to try dog sledding! The company we used, Inspiration Iceland, is the only company in Iceland (at least at the time when we went) that allows you to mush your own sled. It was so much fun to get to try it, but be prepared to fall once or twice! They ride on skis alongside you and help you if you need it, and you won't be by yourself. During the summer, you can still go dog sledding, but it likely won't be on snow.
Ice, Ice, and More Ice
They don't call it the country of Fire and Ice because they feel like it. One of the true downsides to going to Iceland in summer is never getting to experience the crystal ice caves inside Iceland's glaciers, because the melting ice makes it too dangerous. Even during the winter you should only go with a tour or someone who know what they are doing and where they are going. Another great beauty along the way is Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, which is where the meet-up point for some glacier tours are - and a short walk away you will find Diamond Beach. Icebergs are sprinkled across a beach of black sand, and they look like diamonds.
The Northern Lights
If there are no other reasons to visit in winter, let it be this one. The season for the aurora borealis is typically October to March in Iceland, so the chances of catching a peek is much, much higher during those times. We saw the aurora 3 nights on our trip (sometimes very faintly, but still!!) and it is something everyone should experience. Our world is an amazing place, and watching colored lights dance across the sky is an experience we should all have.
Plus, you can still do most of the summer activities during winter as well: hot springs, beaches, waterfalls, snorkeling (yes, snorkeling), and sightseeing. There are some downsides such as increased weather variability, closed restaurants, and a lack of daylight. However, the good will far outweigh the poor every time. These reasons will keep us coming back to Iceland, especially during the winter. Do you agree? Let me know down in the comments!
Coat #2 / North Face
Boots / Sorel
Hat / Free People *last seen here*
All photos were taken by me or my husband.