(All credit to the photo goes to this beautiful blog)
Contrary to popular belief, Icelandic winters aren't as cold as the name would suggest. The average temperature rocks around 0 degrees and usually the worst months are January and February. And not because of the temperature. Because of the wind.
Iceland is an extremely windy place due to it's location and the fact that it is an island (which you probably already knew). But usually it's not that cold when you can find shelter from the wind. So good luck with that!
What is your typical Icelandic winter?
Rather than there being a lot of snow, the winters are mostly made up of very slippery ice. The name gives it away... But I recommend buying those pins or "buttons" that you can fasten to the bottom of your shoes, even if you're just going to be walking around in the city. Slipping is very easy and can be dangerous. And if you're renting a car or have managed to get a hold of one, make sure they have winter or whole year tires on them!
Traveling during the cold months.
When driving outside the city, be very careful. Some of the roads here are bad enough as it is and can be impossible to drive on during the worst kind of conditions. People get stuck on the highland and sometimes there are casualties. Please make sure to always heed the warnings if there are any and if you absolutely must travel, make sure your route is known to someone else who would call for help in the worst case scenario.
The fun stuff!
NOW that that part of the post is done, let's talk about how fun the winters can be here! On good days we have a lot of snow. Everybody loves fresh snow right? The city is beautiful dressed in white and once a year or so we're even blessed with calm weather at the same time! Going downtown while the christmas decorations are up to get some cake and hot chocolate is a wonderful way to spend an evening as there are plenty of cafés to choose from. The nightlife is just as strong as it is during the summer so no worries there. And new years eve is a spectacular experience for foreigners (I am told). There are no restrictions as to who can light fireworks on new years eve here so at 12 a.m. the skies are glowing in all colours as the explode. The party scene is crazy but a lot of Icelanders also stay at home with their families and stay up until the early hours, often playing board games. And many of them welcome foreigners into their home, a close couple of mine invited two Canadians to spend New Year's with them and their baby. Everyone was happy and a new year was welcomed with new friends.
Finally, for those who want to get out of the city during the winter, there are some tours although there's much more variety in summer. And for those who want to see the northern lights this is the time (although clear skies is a must!):
For those very serious about enjoying the lights, this is a 5 day tour...:
Northern lights by Lake Mývatn
and for those who don't have enough time on their hands, there are also evening trips:
Caving, fresh seafood and the northern lights, does it get any better?:
Northern lights and fresh Icelandic seafood!
The ever popular Golden Circle tour beginning with caving: