Iceland

Land of fire and ice, glaciers, geysers, waterfalls, and hot springs

Overview

Come for the chance to disconnect in this other-worldly place and feel alone amidst breath-taking scenery, lava fields, black sand beaches and rare natural phenomena. The summer is by far the most popular period for visitors to this northern isle when a circular trip around the whole of Iceland is possible. However, low season travellers have overwhelming reported a positive experience in the off peak October to April months when crowds are few and prices are lower. So long as you research your trip well and are prepared, there are fabulous winter adventures to be had at this time.

So, what are the issues to be aware of?  Yes, it will be cold, with highs of around 2°C in December and January, and days are short. There’ll be snow and ice as well, meaning some areas, such as the highlands, are inaccessible through the period, with others becoming blocked after a night’s snowfall. However, if you plan your activities around Reykjavik and the south with the possibility of domestic flight to the Akureyri and Lake Mývatn area in the north, and stay aware of changing local conditions, you will not go far wrong. If you rent a car, you should be a confident driver and ensure you take a good 4×4, or else opt for one of the many excellent professionally guided tours. On the up side, you’ll be treated to stunning winter wonderland snowy landscapes, spectacular frozen waterfalls, the chance to partake in skiing, snowshoeing and dogsledding. Not least, low season is when you’ll have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

Golden Circle

This wonderful series of sites are all located within about 60 miles of Reykjavik and can even be toured within one day. Thingelvir National Park is the site of Iceland’s historic parliament and sits within a rift valley caused by the separation of two tectonic plates which is covered by snow in winter and superbly quiet. You’ll also find hot springs such the Secret Lagoon, and the Geyser Field with Strokkur erupting every 8 to 12 minutes. Don’t miss Gullfoss Falls, absolutely stunning in any season, Kerid Crater, and Skaholt, a sleepy town in the middle of a lava field with its beautifully decorated church.

The Southern Coast

The winter views are a photographer’s dream with teams of wild Icelandic ponies surrounded by snow covered landscapes. Elegant Seljalandsfoss, mighty Skogafoss and the less frequented Gljúfrabúi waterfalls are lovely to visit in the afternoon when the sun shines through the streaming cascades, but do remember waterproofs as the spray can be drenching. Walk across the black sand beaches around Vik, where you can view the Solheimasandur plane wreck. On a clear day you will have amazing views across the beach and all the way to the mountains with the black dunes forming an incredible contrast with the blue sky and white peaks. Continue your exploration to Diamond Beach on the edge of the Breidamerkursandur glacial plain, where icebergs from the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon wash up on the jet black sands.


Low Season Saving

Up to 35%


Tourist:Local Ratio

Peak Season

Low Season

6:1
3:1


Major Airport

Keflavík Airport KEF

Low Season Months

Jan
0°C
50mm
1hrs
Feb
0°C
40mm
2hrs
Mar
0°C
40mm
4hrs
Apr
3°C
20mm
5hrs
May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov
3°C
30mm
1hrs
Dec
2°C
40mm
0hrs

Hotels

Top Experiences

Northern Lights Tour

In the company of experts and travelling by bus, jeep or boat, you’ll have the best chance to find a location with a great view of the phenomenon on that is aurora borealis. Be warned, they often appear white and smoky, while the green effect is visible on long exposure camera.

Geothermal pool bathing

Relax and enjoy the scenery from one of Iceland’s many pools heated by natural hot springs bubbling below the earth’s crust. Blue Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Krauma, Mývatn or a local swimming pool are all good spots. Go after dark for a chance to spot the Northern Lights.

Glacier Ice Caves

These astonishing frozen caverns are accessible only in the low season. The often produce a stunning electric blue colour mixed with the black, reddish or copper coloured streaks of the earth. Never attempt to enter without a guide and check with experts as to up-to-date accessibility.

Insider Tips

  • Several of Iceland’s best festivals take place in the low season - Airwaves music festival in November, Food & Fun in March), the Winter Lights in February, and fashion and design shows in March.
  • Pretty much everywhere you’ll pay for purchases with debit or credit cards, hardly using cash at all. Parking and petrol are completely cashless so arrange a credit card with a zero foreign currency fee.
  • Seljalandsfoss Falls and the Sólheimasandur plane wreck can be seen in Justin Bieber’s stunning music video for his song ‘I’ll Show You’. Don’t try to copy his irresponsible dance moves though.

Good To Know

  • As you are likely to be using Reykjavik as an entry point anyway, spend a little more time in the city and enjoy great shopping, a vibrant arts & culture scene, world-class restaurants, and fun nightlife.
  • If travelling by rental car round the Golden Circle, try visiting the sites in an anti-clockwise order, going south first and ending at Thingelvir National Park. Tour companies tend to travel clockwise.
  • Park only in designated parking spots. Many drivers pull over to the side of the road to take a photo only to discover the road had ended abruptly and they are suddenly stranded in a deep snow drift.

Food & Drink

The Grillmarket

££££

Trendy Reykjavik venue working closely with farmers and local producers to serve up delicious grilled meats and fish. Favourite dishes are Angelica lamb, ocean perch and horse tenderloin.

Fridheimar Tomato & Cucumber Greenhouse

£££

A lovely place close to the Golden Circle. It’s a family run horse and horticulture business serving delicious lunches at reasonable prices right inside the greenhouse itself. A unique culinary experience.

Fish Company

££££

Fresh seafood and meat in a warm and cozy yet elegant atmosphere in the cellar of a late 19th century Reykjavik building. Does some terrific set meals. Try the ‘Around Iceland’ seasonal menu.

Reviews

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