Christmas time in Iceland

Have you ever thought about exploring Iceland in December? It’s honestly the perfect time to go. Why, you ask? Well, it’s prime time for catching the mesmerizing northern lights and getting into that cozy holiday spirit.

Let me break it down for you. In this travel guide, I’ll dive into what the weather’s like (spoiler: it’s chilly but magical), the must-visit destinations, and all the fun stuff you can do. And let’s not forget about the tours – there are some real gems out there waiting for you.

December in Iceland gets pretty chilly and dark. The snow piles up all over the place, and you’re lucky if you catch the sun for more than a handful of hours each day. But don’t let that get you down! Christmas time brings out the festive cheer big time, making things a whole lot brighter.

Surprisingly, many of Iceland’s famous spots and tours are still open in December. Plus, this is the prime time for cool activities like exploring ice caves and chasing the northern lights. If you’re into planning, you can easily find the top tours and vacation packages for winter in Iceland. And hey, if you’re up for driving yourself around, there are some sweet winter self-drive tours to check out too!

Just a heads-up, though: there are a couple of things to keep in mind to make sure your trip is as awesome (and safe) as possible. Stick with me, and I’ll walk you through everything you need to know.

And hey, if you’re there for New Year’s in Reykjavik, you’re in for a real treat – it’s an absolute must-do!

Fancy a Christmas in Iceland?

christmas in Iceland

Now, about Christmas in Iceland. Being mostly Lutheran, they’ve got some really unique and beautiful Christmas traditions. There’s this amazing vibe all through December, making it a top time to visit. They call Christmas ‘Jol’ (kinda sounds like ‘Yule’, right?), and it’s all about celebrating light – especially since the days start getting longer after the winter solstice. Walking through Reykjavik, you’ll hear “Gledileg jol!” – that’s their warm way of spreading holiday cheer. It’s something you’ve got to experience firsthand!

So, diving a bit into Iceland’s history, they officially switched to Christianity way back in 1000 AD during an Althingi session – that’s their big historic assembly. But here’s a fun fact: the old heathen ways didn’t just vanish overnight. They kind of lingered on the down-low, even getting a nod of approval by law, as long as they were kept hush-hush. Fast forward to today, and there’s still a fascination with those Old Norse Gods. Did you know about 1% of the folks there follow the Asatru religion? Pretty cool, right?

Now, about Christmas in Iceland – it’s this incredible blend of Lutheranism and old Pagan traditions. The whole festive season kicks off during Advent. The country literally lights up with Christmas trees from the fourth Sunday before Christmas Eve. And in Reykjavik, they’ve got this massive tradition: the Oslo Christmas Tree lighting in Austurvollur square. It’s a big deal and a total crowd-puller. The tree’s a gift from Norway – talk about neighborly love! It’s the official signal that Christmas season has started, and trust me, it’s a sight to see.

As Christmas approaches in Iceland, you might spot these cool characters called the Yule Lads wandering around town. They’re a mix of merry and a tad bit scary, especially for the kids. Forget the usual Santa and his reindeer; here, it’s all about these 13 brothers!

These guys start their rounds on December 11, popping into towns one by one, each day. They’re like your secret gift givers, sneaking presents into kids’ shoes left on window shelves throughout December. By the time Christmas Eve hits, those Icelandic kiddos already score 13 small surprises! But hey, if they’ve been naughty, it’s just a boring old potato for them.

These Yule Lads aren’t always angels themselves. They’re a mischievous bunch with names that match their antics. Take “Door Slammer” for instance, he’s loud and bold. Then there’s “Skyr-Gobbler,” who’s all about munching on skyr and won’t think twice about snatching it if he’s hungry. Oh, and “Doorway-Sniffer”? He’s got a nose for sniffing out this special fried bread called laufabraud, a Christmas delicacy. These guys sure keep things interesting!

Other Yule Lad characters are guys, like “Spoon-Licker”, “Pot-Scraper”, and “Candle-Stealer” – not your typical holiday names, right? They used to be more like trolls, straight out of parents’ spooky bedtime stories to keep kids in line. But now? They’ve mellowed out, dressing up in Santa-like gear and hanging around downtown Reykjavik.

But their mom, Gryla? She’s a whole different story. This troll lady is still pretty intimidating, ruling her family with an iron fist, alongside her bumbling, much older hubby, Leppaludi. Gryla is the one who’s still out there, according to legend, snatching up naughty kids – and maybe even adults – during Christmas. If you’re ever in Akureyri, check out the figures of Gryla and Leppaludi.

And then there’s the Yule Cat, Gryla’s pet. This enormous black cat has a taste for kids who don’t get any new clothes for Christmas. It’s a quirky way to make sure kids appreciate all gifts, even the “boring” ones like socks or shirts. Every year in Reykjavik, they put up this massive, lit-up Yule Cat statue in Laekjartorg square – it’s pretty wild to see!

But December in Iceland isn’t just about the Yule Lads and their antics; it’s a whole festive vibe! Picture this: restaurants dishing out these awesome “Christmas buffets” that everyone—families, colleagues—can’t get enough of. And hey, shops extending their hours till 10 PM from December 15 to 23! Even bars get in on the action with Christmas gigs and shows.

But, here’s the catch: during the peak Christmas buzz, some places might shut their doors or have shorter hours. Typically, it’s a downtime between December 24-26 and December 31-January 1. Icelanders go all out on Christmas Eve, swapping gifts after a big dinner—it’s a tradition.

Now, if you’re up for exploring beyond the capital, there’s this spot called Obyggdasetrid, the Wilderness Center. They’ve got these ‘Nostalgia of Christmas’ tours all through December. You get a dose of Icelandic Christmas history while munching on homemade Christmas grub. It’s a pretty cool way to soak up the season!

Weekend opening at the Reykjavik Family Park and Zoo

When visiting in December and having your kids with you then  you should defiantly check out the weekend opening at the Reykjavik Zoo and Amusement Park (Húsdýragarðurinn). It is a nice place to go to in the evening when fully lit with all types of Christmas decoration and lights. Just take care it is only open in the weekends and opens around 10am and closes around 8pm. This might of course change in the coming years so be sure to check the link above for the current opening time.

Happy Happy New Year's Eve in Iceland

Now, let’s talk New Year’s Eve in Iceland. Trust me, it’s a whole different level of celebration, especially in Reykjavik. Think of it as the highlight of the year – the city comes alive like you wouldn’t believe.

As midnight approaches, it’s like the entire population hits the streets. And the fireworks? We’re talking about the biggest show in Iceland. Here’s the cool part: locals buy their fireworks from the Icelandic Search and Rescue team. Yep, it’s their way of funding these heroes! And then, they light up the sky pretty much anywhere and everywhere, all evening and way into the night. It’s like the whole city turns into one massive party. Definitely something you’ve got to see at least once in your life!

Lets talk about Winter Solstice

winter ball

Aside from the big Christmas and New Year’s bashes, there’s something else in Iceland during December that’s pretty special – the Winter Solstice. It’s a big deal in those long, dark winter days. Every year on December 21st, over on Videy Island, they relight the Imagine Peace Tower, and it stays lit until the end of the month. You can hop on a ferry to catch the ceremony – it’s a serene, beautiful experience.

Here’s a fascinating bit: Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow, came up with this idea. It’s a tribute to Lennon. The base of the tower has the word ‘Peace’ inscribed in 24 different languages. And the light beam? On a clear night, it shoots up to 2.5 miles into the sky – absolutely mesmerizing. You can even spot it from all over Faxafloi bay and the capital area. It’s like a beacon of peace lighting up the winter darkness, a pretty profound sight if you ask me.

December Delights

So, it might be chilly and some roads are closed, but don’t let that fool you – there’s a ton to do in Iceland in December, especially in Reykjavik.

Stay in the capital in the Christmas

reykjavik christmas lights

Talking about Christmas in Reykjavik, it’s a huge deal. To get the most out of your trip, keep an eye on the Visit Reykjavik website. They start posting Christmas opening hours for shops, restaurants, and other spots from November.

Now, for a real Christmas vibe, you’ve got to visit Hafnarfjordur. It’s this charming town in the greater capital area, just 15 minutes from downtown Reykjavik. The place is steeped in Icelandic folklore and tradition, and they really go all out for Christmas. The hip town center transforms into this enchanting Christmas village, complete with a weekend market. And Hellisgerdi park? It becomes this magical realm of Christmas lights. Trust me, it’s like stepping into a fairytale!

But you know where the Christmas spirit really comes alive? The Arbaejarsafn Open Air Museum, just on the outskirts of Reykjavik. This place is usually a summer-only destination, but they open up on weekends in December, from 1 to 5 PM.
This museum is like a time capsule – it’s got turf houses and old churches, set up to show how Icelanders from different walks of life used to celebrate Christmas. It’s a deep dive into Iceland’s yuletide history, and you can do it all while sipping some hot cocoa.

There’s this cool exhibit where you can see how tallow candles are made. These candles were a big deal back in the day, not just for light in the long winters, but also as a favorite item for our friend, the Yule Lad “Candle-Sneaker” to swipe. And when you start feeling peckish, you’ve got to try the traditional Christmas dinner items: smoked lamb, known as hangikjot, and leaf bread, or laufabraud. This bread is a work of art, with intricate leaf-like patterns – and no, it’s not made from actual leaves!

It’s a unique experience, mixing history, tradition, and some really tasty treats. Definitely a must-visit for a taste of authentic Icelandic Christmas.

At 1 PM, they’ve got these cool guided museum tours kicking off, followed by a cozy Christmas service in the turf church at 2 PM. And guess who’s dropping by from 2 to 4 PM? Yep, the Icelandic Yule Lads, ready to entertain the crowd. At 3 PM, get ready to groove at the town square’s dance celebration—sounds like a blast, right?

Now, snagging tickets is easy. You can grab them right at the museum or, here’s the nifty part, snag a Reykjavik City Card. It’s your golden ticket to all sorts of museums and galleries across the city. Trust me, the museum vibes in December? Off the charts!

If you’re all about diving deep into Icelandic culture and those magical folktales, here’s a quirky idea: head to a wool workshop. Yeah, wool’s been a big deal here forever, and at this workshop, you can create your own monster! Talk about inspiration galore—those surreal Icelandic landscapes will fuel your imagination for sure.

Ring in the New Year in Iceland

fireworks display

New Year’s Eve in Reykjavik? It’s a blast, literally, with fireworks lighting up the capital. The top spots to catch the show are around Hallgrimskirkja church and Perlan.

Hallgrimskirkja church is the place to be. It’s this iconic church that offers a fantastic view of the city. But honestly, wherever you find yourself in Reykjavik, you’re in for a great view of the fireworks. A little tip: you might want to pick up some protective glasses sold around the city as the night approaches.

And there’s more – Reykjavik hosts this 6.2-mile (10-kilometer) run on New Year’s Eve. It’s a big hit with the locals. Picture this: people running in costumes, all for the fun of winning prizes. The race starts and ends at the Harpa Concert Hall, and it’s a sight to see.

Then, after the run, or maybe after you’ve warmed up with some pre-partying, Reykjavik’s famous nightlife is there for you to dive into. Trust me, it’s the perfect way to ring in the new year!

Ice Caves in Iceland are so much fun

ice cave

But hey, there’s more to Iceland in December than just the holiday cheer. It’s also prime time for some really cool activities – and I mean that literally. Take ice caving, for instance. It’s one of those experiences that’s just out of this world.

Beneath the glaciers, there’s this secret world where water flows and creates tunnels. It’s like stepping into a fantastical ice kingdom. And every December, three of these glaciers become the perfect destinations for exploring these icy wonders. It’s a rare opportunity to see the inside of an ice cap and learn about how these stunning natural phenomena come to be.

But here’s the thing – these caves are totally at the mercy of nature. They’re not always what you’d call ‘tourist-friendly’. Heavy rains can lead to floods, messing with the caves’ structure. So, tours only happen when it’s safe – no compromises there.

And really, if you’re thinking about ice caving, do it with someone who knows their stuff. An experienced glacier guide on an official tour is a must. It’s all about keeping the adventure awesome and safe.

Now, for the hotspots – Vatnajokull, Europe’s largest glacier, is where it’s at. The area around it, with all its incredible sights, is accessible all winter. You could start at the Jokulsarlon Glacier lagoon and then head into the heart of the Vatnajokull glacier for your ice cave expedition.

Another cool spot is the Skaftafell Nature Reserve. In December, the glaciers there transform into this stunning shade of blue, and they creep right into the reserve, making your hike to them pretty easy. Want a tip? Try a small group ice cave tour that includes all the glacier gear. It’s a more intimate, fun way to do it.

And if you’re near Vik, check out a tour that combines ice caving and glacier hiking at Katla Volcano in Myrdalsjokull. They even sort out your transfer. It’s all about getting up close with these icy giants in a way that’s safe, fun, and just a bit thrilling.

See the Northern Lights dance in Iceland in December

southcoast northern lights

So, in those weeks around the winter equinox in Iceland, the sun’s pretty much playing hard to get – you get about four hours of daylight. But here’s the cool part: this makes it the ultimate time to catch the northern lights. Imagine, 20 hours of darkness each day – it’s like nature’s prime time for an aurora light show.

Now, for the perfect aurora experience, you need two things: a sky full of solar activity and as few clouds as possible. A little tip: keep tabs on the Icelandic Meteorological Office website for the aurora forecast. If the solar activity’s buzzing and the clouds are taking a break, your chances of seeing those magical lights skyrocket. It’s all about timing and a bit of luck, but when it all lines up, it’s an unforgettable sight.

If catching the Northern Lights in December is on your radar, Iceland’s got a few ways to make it happen.

First off, you can hang around Reykjavik and scout for them in the darkest spots, like Grotta lighthouse or Klambratun Park. Sometimes, if they’re really kicking, you might even catch a glimpse from areas with a bit of city glow, like a quiet street.

But here’s the hitch: city lights can dim the show. They kinda hold back the full glory of those auroras. Plus, you’re stuck in one place; can’t just zip off to dodge pesky clouds like you could in a vehicle.

Another way to chase those magical lights is by taking matters into your own hands—literally! Rent a car and become your own Northern Lights detective. Check out the aurora forecast and zoom off to the countryside, dodging all that pesky city glow.

Here’s the perk: no city lights messing with your view, and you can snag those perfect, crowd-free spots. But hey, big disclaimer: this plan’s for the confident drivers out there. You’ve got to know your stuff about those routes; getting lost or stuck isn’t the kind of adventure you’re after! Safety first, folks!

The easiest and most foolproof way? Opt for a Northern Lights tour—it’s like having your own aurora expert by your side!

These tours are the real deal. Led by seasoned guides who knows their way around Iceland’s roads and, more importantly, in finding those elusive lights. They’re like encyclopedias when it comes to the aurora borealis. They’ll unravel all its mysteries and even help you nail those perfect camera settings.

Here’s the kicker: if the weather’s a downer or the lights decide to play hide-and-seek, no worries! You can hop on another tour for free until you catch those dancing lights.
And hey, don’t think these tours will break the bank. There are some sweet deals out there. Hop on a comfy bus, get to those prime spots, and soak it all in.

But wait, there’s more! You can go the VIP route with private tours, some even using super jeeps to reach those off-the-grid spots. That means no crowds, just you and the awe-inspiring lights. Oh, and here’s a quirky one—how about a Northern Lights boat cruise from Reykjavik? Talk about a unique way to witness nature’s show!

Lava Cave Exploration

icelandic cave

Winter adds an extra dash of wonder to exploring lava caves in Iceland! Why? Well, inside these caves, ice sculptures pop up like nature’s own art installations. The porous lava rocks soak up water, and when it freezes, voila! You’ve got stunning stalactites and stalagmites.

There are three go-to caves you can hit up anytime, but they’re especially cool in winter. There’s Leidarendi cave on the Reykjanes peninsula, Vidgelmir cave in the Hallmundarhraun lava field, and Raufarholshellir cave near Hveragerdi.

But let me tell you about Raufarholshellir—it’s like stepping into a secret underworld. Imagine walking through tunnels formed 5,200 years ago by molten lava. This classic tour unveils a hidden world beneath your feet, and trust me, it’s pure magic.

If the idea of tight spaces gets your nerves going, no sweat! There are family-friendly options for checking out these lava caves. Take the Vidgelmir cave tour or opt for a guided exploration of Raufarholshellir cave—they’re more open and spacious: Wide entrances, easy steps leading to wooden pathways and plenty of headroom.

Now, let’s talk safety. Lava caving isn’t super risky, but having the right gear is key. A good torch, a helmet, and crampons (those spiked shoes for icy surfaces) are must-haves. Plus, never underestimate the importance of a knowledgeable guide—they’re your ticket to a safe and awesome adventure underground.

Aquatic Adventure

iceland aquatic adventures

Snorkeling in Iceland isn’t just a fair-weather activity—it’s equally intriguing during winter, especially at the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir National Park.

This fissure sits snugly between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates and gets its water supply from Langjokull glacier’s melt. As these plates slowly shift, they carve out an exceptional underwater realm.

Silfra stands out for its clear and pure water, thanks to its passage through lava fields. Despite the cold, this water holds a steady two-degree Celsius temperature underground, only freezing once it reaches lake Thingvallavatn.
The snorkeling scene at Silfra is something else! There are massive, cathedral-like spaces and the water is so intensely blue. In winter, the whole vibe gets even cooler.

When you’re diving in, the dry suits are your fortress against getting wet, and thick undersuits are your cozy armor against the cold. Now, if you go for wetsuit hoods and gloves, sure, they let some water sneak in, but don’t worry—it heats up pretty fast. And these guides? They know every cold-water trick in the book. They’ll set you up with all the right gear for the best underwater adventure.

When it comes to diving in Silfra’s world, there are some ground rules for safety. To join in on the Silfra diving or snorkeling fun, you’ve gotta be at least 16 years old, weigh around 110 pounds (50 kilograms), and stand at least four foot nine inches (150 centimeters) tall. These standards are all about keeping everyone safe while diving into the wonders of Silfra!

Lovely Winter Whales

whale watching during winter

December adds its own charm to Iceland’s whale watching scene. While the larger baleen whales that usually visit during summer have mostly headed south for their mating season (although a few linger around year-round), there’s still a lot to witness.

For a great winter whale-watching experience, Faxafloi Bay in Reykjavik is the place to be. Tours start from the Old Harbour, just like any other time of year, offering a two to three-hour expedition.

Leading the show? The energetic white-beaked dolphins steal the spotlight with their playful moves—leaping, diving, and surfing in groups. Keep your eyes peeled for the rare harbor porpoise and, if you’re lucky, a pod of magnificent orcas might make an appearance!

Glaciers Tours in Iceland

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Hiking on Iceland’s glaciers is a fantastic pick for a December visit. The Solheimajokull glacier and Skaftafellsjokull glacier are perfect for hikes during this time.

The Solheimajokull sits along the south coast, nestled between Skogafoss waterfall and Vik. You can join a Solheimajokull glacier hiking tour here. And guess what? Some of these tours even offer ice climbing to add an extra thrill to your adventure!

Exploring the Skaftafellsjokull glacier, tucked away in the Skaftafell Nature Reserve, offers some breathtaking vistas along the South Coast.

In December, most tours for this area kick off right there—like a Skaftafell glacier hike (medium difficulty). You’ll need to meet up with your group at the park, where the adventure begins. Or, you could opt for a two or three-day package that not only includes guided glacier hikes but also takes you to incredible nearby spots like the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon or the majestic Seljalandsfoss waterfall.

Glacier hikes aren’t just about the views; they’re a whole adventure! And rest assured, these excursions are led by experienced guides who not only showcase the beauty but also delve into the fascinating science behind these icy giants.

Winter Thrills - Snowmobiling


You’ve got the chance for an epic snowmobiling adventure too! From Reykjavik, there’s a day trip zooming off to Langjokull glacier, packed with a visit to the famous Golden Circle. Another option? Grab a transfer from Gullfoss waterfall for an hour of snowmobiling excitement right on Langjokull glacier.

Picture this: you’re cruising across fresh snow, feeling the thrill for about an hour. The tour team sets you up with all the gear you need to stay cozy and safe, but make sure you’ve got your winter layers underneath and a valid driver’s license if you’re taking the wheel.

At Langjokull, there are human-made tunnels carved into the glacier’s stable parts—a sort of ice castle filled with stunning ice sculptures and separate rooms.

Now, the Ice tunnel day tour at Langjokull is an all-year-round gig, but the natural ice caves are a short-season wonder. The perk with the ice tunnel tour? It’s less likely to get canceled due to tricky weather conditions.

Winter Wonderland. Some must see places.

vik iceland

Looking for the best places to explore in Iceland come December? There’s a bunch of spots perfect for sightseeing during this time! The iconic Golden Circle, Iceland’s South Coast leading to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, the stunning Snaefellsnes peninsula, and the Reykjanes peninsula are mostly open for adventures.

You’ve got options—pick from various tours or grab a four-wheel drive to navigate yourself around (more on that below). If you’re staying within the city, a compact car rental might do the trick.

Now, those self-drive tours? They’re all about chasing the Northern Lights! You call the shots on where and for how long you hunt for this jaw-dropping phenomenon, boosting your chances of catching it in action.

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Southeast Iceland is a gem—icebergs floating in crystal-clear waters create a stunning sight. Plus, it’s a top spot for seal-watching, especially during winter.

Many South Coast package tours kick off from Vik village, swinging by the Reynisfjara black sand beach, the striking Reynisdrangar sea stacks, and the Dyrholaey rock arch.

Now, this area? It’s awe-inspiring, but the waves crashing along the shore are massive and unpredictable. They’re a sight to behold, but it’s essential to keep a good distance of over 100 feet (30 meters) away from the water. Those sneaker waves are notorious here and can be seriously risky.

Heading to the South Coast means passing by some iconic Icelandic sites—think Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, which might just be frozen! If you’re up for fully soaking in the beauty of the south, better book your hotel in South Iceland real soon!

eastern iceland

Venturing into the highlands solo won’t cut it—unless you’re up for joining a day tour in a super jeep. The snow piles up thick on the roads, sometimes even hiding the road signs completely.

Now, here’s the deal—the weather and road conditions might put a damper on exploring North Iceland, East Iceland, and especially the Westfjords.

But hey, don’t lose hope! There are package tours that let you cruise through various destinations for an epic road trip. They keep things flexible because, let’s face it, December weather in Iceland can throw some serious surprises.

Explore Hot Springs

Is the Blue Lagoon still open in December? Absolutely! But as expected, it’s still super popular. If snagging Blue Lagoon tickets feels like trying to catch a shooting star, don’t sweat it—check out some of Reykjavik’s top-notch swimming pools instead. Or hey, consider diving into the relaxing Hvammsvik Hot Springs for a soothing soak.

In the Greater Reykjavik Area, you’ve got the fantastic Sky Lagoon—imagine lounging in its infinity pool with ocean views. And up in North Iceland, don’t miss a chance to unwind at the Myvatn Nature Baths—a stellar geothermal spa nestled in an incredible natural setting.

After your winter adventures, dipping into warm geothermal waters is an absolute treat. And let’s admit, it’s kind of thrilling to soak it up in the hot springs while a snowstorm paints the scene outside!

Things To Know About Visiting Iceland in December

December in Iceland is more than just Christmas and New Year’s—it’s a winter wonderland waiting to be explored! But prepping for a trip here means being savvy about two major things: the weather and the roads.

Is December A Good Time for an Icelandic Adventure?

a fancy house in Iceland

You betcha! It’s one of the liveliest times, with the holiday spirit in full swing. Plus, with the winter solstice, you’ve got extra-long nights—perfect for chasing those elusive northern lights.

And hey, all those glacier and ice cave tours? They’re at their absolute best. Just remember: your winter gear is the real MVP for this journey!

Planning Tip for a Trip to Iceland in December

woman planning on a trip

When gearing up for a December jaunt to Iceland, a few nuggets of wisdom can save the day. First off, be a weather watcher and stash those cozy clothes in your bag. Oh, and mark this: December means fewer daylight hours, so plan your adventures accordingly.

But here’s the real deal-breaker: driving in Iceland in December—brace yourself for that!

Driving around Iceland in December

driving during winter

December in Iceland means icy roads are on the menu, thanks to the cold. So, if you’re planning to rent a car in Reykjavik or at Keflavik Airport, go for the four-wheel drive option. It’s a game-changer, especially if you’re up for an adventure beyond the city.

But hey, if icy roads aren’t your thing, skip the car idea and jump on guided tours instead. Let the pros steer while you soak in the scenery minus the stress.

Tours? They’re your hassle-free ticket. And don’t sweat it, getting from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik is a breeze!

To dive deep into Iceland sans driving, snag a guided winter package tour—those cover all the must-sees. But if you’re up for driving, there are tons of winter self-drive packages to ponder.

Now, if you’re steering yourself through Iceland in December, plan your route before you hit the road and let someone know your game plan. Heads up: the roads to the Highlands and Westfjords will be off-limits. Trust me, being stranded in the snow isn’t part of the adventure. Always check road conditions before hitting the road.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office is your go-to for all things weather-related in December.

Some roads, like Route 1 along the South Coast, get wild with high winds. And after heavy snowfall, there’s a risk of avalanches, so stay adaptable and plan smartly to keep safe on the roads.

December Weather in Iceland

weather during december

December hits Iceland with a serious chill—it’s one of the coldest months! The winds kick up quite a fuss, too. That low-pressure system from autumn? It’s still doing its thing, so bundle up in cozy layers and rock those sturdy shoes. But here’s a tip: Reykjavik’s a bit more forgiving in December, thanks to those city buildings giving some wind cover.

Darkness? Yeah, it’s in full swing. Pair that with the cold and dampness, and it can be a bit of a mood dampener. So, stick to a routine—rise and shine early, hit the sack early. And don’t miss out on the magic: the festive city lights and those elusive northern lights!

Chilly Vibes: December Temperatures in Iceland


Curious about Iceland’s December temps? Think hovering around freezing—usually between 34°F and 39°F (that’s -1°C to 4°C). Oh, and get this: it’s one of the wettest times, dishing out around 3.8 inches (97 mm) of rain.

Snow Galore: Iceland's December Snowfall

December snowfall

Snow’s a regular guest in December. Time to gear up! Grab your cozy headgear, snug gloves, thermal layers, and waterproof outerwear. Oh, and don’t forget those trusty hiking boots if you’re planning to explore. And hey, if you’re short on winter gear, Laugavegur shopping street in Reykjavik’s city center’s got you covered with winterwear stores aplenty.

Winter Vibes in Reykjavik

winter in Reykjavik

Wondering about Reykjavik’s December weather? Picture this: while the rest of Iceland might be rocking a snowy blanket, Reykjavik’s usually steering clear. Thanks to its warmer vibes, snow only pops in sporadically from January to April. Plus, here’s a cool hack—many streets here have a heated secret, keeping them snow-free and slip-proof.

Cozy Nesting: Where to Stay in Iceland in December

cozy indoors

If you’re eyeing Iceland for a December getaway, Reykjavik’s your cozy destination. Why? Well, the weather might play some tricks on roads up North and East or in the Westfjords, but the capital and South Iceland? Top picks. For the inside scoop on recommended stays and Reykjavik hotels, plus a guide on the best spots to hunker down in Iceland, we’ve got you covered.

Iceland in December: A Romantic Getaway

date in winter

December in Iceland is like walking into a wonderland. There’s this buzz in the air, with snow dusting everything and the northern lights teasing you overhead. The towns turn into these magical scenes straight from a holiday movie, all aglow with lights and cheer.

It’s the perfect time for cozying up in quaint cafes, wandering hand in hand through the charming streets, and catching those breathtaking northern lights. It’s like falling into a romantic fairy tale!

Recommended Itinerary for a Trip to Iceland in December


Spending about eight or nine days for your vacation in Iceland in December can be a total adventure. Some folks might want to make Reykjavik their hub, while others aim to soak in every bit of Iceland’s natural beauty.

Everyone’s got their vibe and budget, so think of the suggested itinerary below as a rough sketch, something you can mold and shape to fit your style. But hey, the big decision lies in whether you’ll be zooming around in a four-wheel drive. Iceland’s got some nifty self-drive packages that can get you to all the hotspots in a week if that’s your jam.

For a taste of adventure, you’ve got options like a two-day self-drive tour to the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, which even includes ice caving. If you’re up for more, there’s an epic six-day northern lights winter self-drive tour along Iceland’s South Coast, packed with sights and, yes, more ice caving. All these goodies wrapped up in about a week, with enough time to soak up the vibes in Reykjavik during the festivities.

And for the really intrepid explorers out there, consider stretching the adventure with a nine-day winter self-drive tour exploring the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and South Coast. That’s a journey that’ll make the stories last a lifetime!

Driving in Iceland during winter is not for the faint-hearted. It’s all about icy roads and tricky conditions. So, this trip idea below will focus more about tours and packages that’ll save you the hassle.

Picture this: an eight-day winter wonderland travel package. Yep, it’s like a smorgasbord of Iceland’s best bits. You’ll hit the Golden Circle, wander along the South Coast, check out the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, explore the Snaefellsnes peninsula, and hey, you’ve even got a free day to roam Reykjavik or hop over to Akureyri and hang out at Lake Myvatn.

Ice-caving, northern lights tours or cruises, plus your pick of horse riding, snowmobiling, or snorkeling—this package has it all. And since it’s December, the festive vibes are real. If you’re digging Reykjavik’s scene, mix and match a few packages to strike that perfect city-nature balance. Cool, right?

Day one’s all about landing at Keflavik Airport, hopping on the Flybus, and starting your holiday super relaxed—Blue Lagoon style! Picture soaking in those soothing waters till you’re all set after the flight, then heading to your pad in Reykjavik.

Once you’re settled, get ready to dive into the holiday feels! Downtown Reykjavik during Christmas? It’s like stepping into a festive movie. Laugavegur and the whole downtown scene? Lit up with twinkling lights and decorations. Perfect for strolling around and soaking in the vibe!

Once you’ve taken in Reykjavik’s city buzz, it’s time for a countryside adventure! Strap in for a two-day South Coast tour—you’ll chase waterfalls and explore sights en route to the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. If luck’s on your side, catch the aurora borealis dance over the icebergs. Day two? It’s all about ice-caving fun before heading back to Reykjavik.

Day four’s all about diving into Reykjavik’s charm! History buffs? Kick off with the Reykjavik Maritime Museum or maybe a quirky visit to the Phallological Museum (yep, it’s a thing!). Then, head over to the Arbaejarsafn Open Air Museum, opening at 1 PM, for a peek into Iceland’s past.

On days five and six, you’re in for a treat with a two-day exploration of the West Coast and Snaefellsnes Peninsula. I mean, we’re talking epic sights like Mt. Kirkjufell, Snaefellsjokull glacier, and those impressive Londrangar sea stacks. Plus, you might even catch some seal watching and explore lava caves. It’s like a nature lover’s dream come true!

On the seventh day, we’re hitting up the Golden Circle – the last shot at soaking in Iceland’s countryside. But here’s the twist: we’ve got choices! Horse-riding, snowmobiling, or snorkeling – which adventure grabs your fancy?
Then, on day eight, it’s time to head back to Keflavik Airport. Got a bit of time left? Why not squeeze in some more Reykjavik fun or tie up those Christmas shopping loose ends?

Starting to think more about a dream vacation to Iceland in December? I hope this guide has set the stage for your Icelandic plans!

Robert Robertsson

Hey, I'm the founder of Airmango. My love affair with travel and entrepreneurship kicked off in 1994 in Iceland. Fast forward through two decades, and I've been lucky enough to weave my career through five different countries. Each place has left its mark on me, not just in my personal life, but in how I approach business too. With Airmango, I'm bringing all those global insights and experiences to the table – it's like seeing the world through a business lens.