Iceland is a magical place in winter. Watch the Northern Lights, visit ice caves, or go hiking on a glacier. These and other incredible experiences will make your winter trip to Iceland unforgettable. Find out about the most incredible things to do in Iceland in winter that will get you booking a flight right away!
Sure, it is cold in Iceland in winter and you will have to face the elements if you decide to visit the Arctic during winter months, but it’s definitely a once in a lifetime experience that I would recommend to everyone!
What makes Iceland so special and what can you expect of your winter trip? Here is my selection of the most unforgettable things to do in Iceland for an adventurous winter break.
Read also: Our one-week Iceland winter trip itinerary
Bucket List Worthy Winter Activities in Iceland
1. Watch the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights are one of nature’s greatest displays. It’s a dazzling experience that is difficult to describe in words, because every performance is so unique. No two aurora displays are ever the same and I don’t think you could ever tire of watching it.
For many people, the chance of seeing Northern Lights is the prime reason to travel to the Arctic regions, despite the high cost and the cold. But as with all the natural phenomena, it can never be guaranteed. With luck you will see the sky turn green and purple and it will be one of the most humbling experiences you could imagine, but don’t get obsessed with auroras and don’t let it spoil your vacation even if you don’t see them. There are so many other exhilarating winter experiences that make a winter trip to Iceland worthwhile.
You don’t need to go on an organized tour in order to see the Northern Lights in Iceland, but knowledgeable guides and years of experience might come in handy when it comes to aurora hunting.
✓ Discover some of the best small-group Northern Lights Tours from Reykjavik!
2. Experience true winter wonderland
The cold and the wind turns Iceland into a true winter wonderland, so you’re in for a real treat. Frozen waterfalls, icebergs, water that turns into ice as you watch…
Don’t miss the black sand beach, also called Diamond beach, at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon if visiting Iceland in winter! Diamond beach is located just across the road from the famous glacial lagoon. The scenery changes all the time so make sure to check on both sides of the bridge. To me, this was the most special winter experience in Iceland. I could have stayed on that beach the whole day!
You can drive to Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon with a rental car, or take an organised tour. Note that Jokulsarlon is really far from Reykjavik and if you decide to do a one day tour, it will be a very long day in the car.
3. Discover the ice caves in Iceland
How amazing would it be to walk inside a glacier?! This is one of the winter-only experiences in Iceland, so don’t miss it. Every cave is different and you never really know what you’ll get to see before you go in, but they are a truly mesmerising wonder of nature and definitely a bucket list experience.
Ice caving is not something you can experience on your own, but no worries, there are knowledgeable guides that will take you on this epic journey under the blue ice. There are several places in Iceland where you can do ice caving, the most popular tours go to Vatnajokull glacier in South East Iceland or at Langjokull glacier in South West Iceland.
TIP: Note that ice caving tours in Iceland are extremely popular and are often fully booked months in advance. So if you are traveling to Iceland in winter, this is one experience you definitely want to book beforehand.
✓ Don’t miss this incredible experience. Book an ice cave tour in Iceland today!
4. Go glacier hiking
For those who want to get up close and personal with the ice in Iceland, I can recommend glacier hiking. Experience a truly surreal landscape with the most spectacular scenery!
Glacier hiking was one of my favorite activities in Iceland in winter. It’s a humbling experience, one that makes you truly appreciate the vastness and the power of nature.
Glacier hiking is not strenuous, but don’t attempt it on your own! You do need appropriate gear and a guide who is familiar with the area and the ice. Just as many other Iceland winter activities, glacier hiking is something you probably better book in advance. Here you can read all about our glacier hiking experience.
✓ Book your glacier hike in Iceland today!
5. Bathe in Iceland’s geothermal pools
Bathing in a hot geothermal heated pool in winter is definitely a bucket list experience. The Blue Lagoon is a very popular option because of its proximity to the Keflavik airport and to Reykjavik, but Iceland has many other natural geothermal pools all over the country.
There is no better way to end a day full of exhilarating winter activities than taking a dip in a hot pool on a cold winter evening.
TIP: Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik is very popular and so it’s also best to book this experience in advance.
✓ Book Blue Lagoon tickets, discover the less known Laugarvatn Fontana Geothermal Baths or go hiking and discover the secluded hot pools of Reykjadalur.
Other great winter activities in Iceland
The five previously mentioned winter experiences in Iceland are each worth a trip to Iceland in winter. Of course, there are many more things to do and experience in Iceland in winter! Here are some more ideas for fun winter activities in Iceland:
- Snowmobile day trips
- Super jeep and snowmobile winter excursion
- Icelandic horse riding through lava fields in winter
- Holiday and seasonal tours in Reykjavik
TIP: to make your Iceland trip truly enjoyable, you need to travel well prepared. Check our tips for packing for Iceland in winter.
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