Iceland in November: Everything You Need To Know

Iceland in November: Everything You Need To Know

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Discover everything you need to know about visiting Iceland in November. Whether you're interested in learning about the weather in Iceland in November or how to increase your chances of seeing the northern lights, we've got the answers. With a list of the best things to do, fun itineraries, and the best tours to go on, this is your ultimate guide to visiting Iceland in November!

There is a wide variety of November tours you can embark on, including ice caving and aurora hunting. If you want to look for the northern lights yourself, we recommend renting a car in Iceland and heading out to the countryside. To ensure a great place to stay at low prices, check out the largest marketplace of accommodations in Iceland and find your haven in the land of ice and fire.

November is a fantastic time to visit Iceland. It's the perfect opportunity to try your hand at adventurous and outdoorsy activities like ice caving and snowmobiling, but you can also participate in activities you might not expect, like diving and snorkeling!

Well, before you pack your bags, let's answer an important question: What's the weather like in November in Iceland?

November Weather in Iceland

There's a saying in Iceland: If you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes. It sounds funny, but there's definitely some truth behind it. Iceland's weather can vary hugely at any time of year and is very unpredictable. 

The same can be said of November in Iceland, as the weather can change from one extreme to the other over a very short space of time. Some days can be warm and dry, others wet and chilly, and others snowy and cold. With that said, compared with other winter months, November tends to be a little more stable, making it an excellent time to visit Iceland.

Temperature and Daylight Hours in Iceland in November

Kirkjufell, "The Mountain shaped like an arrow head..." The Hound, GOT

In November, the average temperature in Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, hovers between a brisk 33 F and 46 F (between 1 C and 8 C). Outside the city, temperatures tend to drop even lower, particularly in high-altitude places like the Icelandic Highlands.

November also sees more cloud cover across the country than earlier in the year, rising from a 66% to a 72% likelihood.

It's also worth remembering that in November, there are only so many hours in the dayliterally! Early November still has around eight hours of daylight each day, but that reduces fairly quickly over the course of the month. From November 16 onward, the sun doesn't rise until 10 AM, and it sets at 4 PM. By late November, daylight hours drop even further; on the last day of the month, there are only five hours of daylight.

These limited daylight hours are a lot to get used to if you're unaccustomed to it, but that doesn't mean you can't get out and enjoy yourself. Plan your time wisely, and you should be able to do everything you want during your trip. If you're hoping to catch the northern lights, you could even view the limited daylight hours as a plus. The more hours of night skies, the more likely you are to see the aurora in action!

Rain, Snow, and Sleet in Iceland in November

Precipitation levels in Iceland are on the rise in November. Reykjavik usually sees around 3.4 inches (8.7 centimeters) of snow during November. This is six times more than in October, but still only half as much as usually falls in December. Rain, sleet, and hail are also typical during November, so make sure you dress accordingly. Thermals and a warm jacket are essential!

Aldeyjarfoss waterfall in the snow.

It's important to take extra safety precautions, as high levels of rain and snow can easily cause hazards.

To combat these hazards, Iceland's mountain roads (known as "F roads") are closed to all traffic. This is due to the potential for avalanches, the instability of the terrain, and the chance that roads might be blocked on the way back, leaving a vehicle and its passengers stranded.

Remember, venturing up closed roads independently is strictly illegal, and it's very unsafe. The fines for driving on a closed road are enormous, and you could end up stranded in the wilderness. Car rentals in Iceland can also monitor if their cars are driven outside of legal parameters, so you might face a hefty fine when returning the car. Whatever you do, don't put yourself at risk.

If you want to visit a certain place but can't find an accessible route, consider booking a tour instead of driving yourself. Tour operators have both the experience and heavy-duty vehicles needed to safely traverse the rough terrain.

Things to Do in November in Iceland

Despite the slightly unpredictable weather conditions, November is a wondrous month! Winter's arrival brings with it the possibility to try out ice- and snow-related activities, but the wintry conditions haven't become too severe, and the southern parts of the Ring Road are usually easily accessible.

Here is a round-up of the top things to do in Iceland in November.

Ice Caves in November in Iceland

Ice Caving is one of the most unique experiences available during your winter stay in Iceland.

The single most popular activity during the winter months in Iceland is visiting one of the country's many ice caves. Ice caving is a fantastic mix of adventure and wonder. Stepping inside one of these bejeweled caverns, the pale-blue ice glittering around you is dreamlike. Don't forget your camera! 

Ice caves are formed inside Iceland's glaciers during the winter months. New caves and networks are made every year, meaning that every visitor to Iceland gets to witness something unique.

However, ice caving is a specialized activity that requires a tour operator—you can't go caving without a tour guide. Tour operators ensure you're safe and provide you with all the equipment you'll need for your descent, including crampons and a helmet. One of the best ice-caving experiences is this tour into ice caves in the Vatnajokull glacier, starting from the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon.

Not all the ice caves in Iceland are natural, as some were man-made. There's a spectacular natural ice cave underneath the mighty Vatnajokull glacier, and a human-made ice tunnel is built into the Langjokull glacier. This large-scale ice sculpture has rooms, statues, and even ice furniture, all made from ice. It's quite a sight and worth a visit!

Visiting Iceland's Golden Circle in November

The Golden Circle is a sightseeing route that encompasses some of the most famous attractions in all of Iceland. The main route consists of three places in Southwest Iceland: 

It's possible to visit all three of these spectacular sights in November, whether you want to go on a self-drive tour or an organized excursion. If you plan to drive the route yourself, make sure you rent a car that's well-equipped for wintry road conditions: 4X4s Jeeps or SUVs are a good idea to help ensure your safety on possibly slippery roads.

If you aren't confident driving in the winter, there are several tours from Reykjavik that can take you to all three sights. You can try a one-day trip like this Golden Circle tour, which includes snowmobiling, or a multi-day tour like this three-day Golden Circle and South Coast tour with ice caving and glacier hiking.

Northern Lights in November in Iceland

Northern Lights and starlight over Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.

November in Iceland is one of the best times to see the elusive northern lights because of the steady decrease in the number of daylight hours.

As the days get shorter, the likelihood that you'll spot the northern lights dancing in vivid greens, purples, whites, and yellows, increases. 

The solar winds that cause the northern lights occur throughout the year, but it's not visible when the sky is bright. Winter is the best time to see the beauty of the aurora borealis, so keep your eyes open and look up!

Anyone who's lucky enough to have seen this amazing spectacle will be quick to tell you that there are two requirements to spot the aurora in Iceland: a high solar activity level and minimal cloud cover.

It's also a good idea to travel out of the city—this will help you avoid light pollution, increasing your chance of spotting the lights even more. The best way to do that is to take a northern lights tour with a transfer from Reykjavik and into the countryside.

Having said that, it is possible to spot the aurora from Reykjavik in November. There are a few quiet corners of the city where the lights are more likely to be visible. Head out toward Klambratun Park or Grotta Lighthouse to see what you can spot.

Before booking a tour or driving out to chase the northern lights by yourself, you should routinely check the aurora forecast on the Icelandic Meteorological Office website to get an idea of their intensity, cloud cover that might obscure them, and the best times and places to see them.

Photographing the Northern Lights in November in Iceland

Person standing in nature looking at the northern lightsEnthusiastic nature photographers will want to make the most of their northern lights experience, particularly because the lights never appear the same way twice. With each sighting, they reveal a new version of themselves.

Given the low light conditions, you'll want to do a bit of prior research before you try photographing the northern lights. Besides your camera, the most important piece of kit to bring is a sturdy and reliable tripod.

One way amateur photographers can make the most of this opportunity is by booking a northern lights tour with an experienced photographer. Not only will they be able to take you directly to the best places to see and photograph the lights, but they'll also offer handy tips and advice on camera settings, focus, and perspective.

Another plus is that Icelanders are known for bringing along a thermos of hot chocolate when they search for the northern lights. Yum!

The Blue Lagoon and Natural Hot Springs in November

Natural hot spring bathing is lovely in November.

One of the most intoxicating experiences in Iceland—except for maybe the Reykjavik nightlife—is bathing in one of the country’s naturally heated pools. These springs are dotted all around Iceland and are loved by visitors and locals alike.

Picture this. The weather is cold, maybe even a little snowy. You ease yourself into a natural hot spring, feeling the water warm your cold fingers and toes. You recline, rest your head on the edge, and chat with friends as the sun goes down.

Icelanders spend hours this way, chatting and immersing themselves in the joys of nature. Relaxing in a hot spring is a local ritual that you simply have to try!

What's more, the majority of Iceland’s natural hot springs are in the countryside, away from the city's light pollution. If you spend your evening recharging in a natural hot pool, you might even be lucky enough to see the northern lights.

Getting into a hot spring is simply lovely, but be warned: getting back out into the cold air is nowhere near as pleasant! It's always a good idea to leave your clothes very close by so you don't have to spend too long exposed to the cold Icelandic air.

Visiting the Blue Lagoon in November

Woman relaxing in the Blue Lagoon in IcelandBy far, the most famous hot spring pool in Iceland (and maybe the whole world) is the Blue Lagoon. It's well known for its striking, pale-blue waters that are rich in natural minerals. Its water is said to have healing properties, so it's no surprise that the pool has become such a popular spa resort.

The Blue Lagoon is open all year round, so you can definitely visit in November. However, it's one of the busiest and most popular places in the whole of Iceland, so you'll want to make sure you book your Blue Lagoon tickets well in advance. If you turn up without a reservation, you're likely to be turned away.

There's also a popular geothermal spa located within the capital region, so it's highly accessible from the city center of Reykjavik. Sky Lagoon was opened in 2021 and has already established itself as a unique experience with a hot infinity pool overlooking the ocean and a 7-step ritual to rejuvenate your senses.

Horseback Riding in November in Iceland

The Icelandic horse is strong, intelligent and reliable, having been bred on the island over centuries.

Horseback riding in November is excellent fun, but it's important to consider the weather's variability. You could be trotting through grassy farmlands or snow-covered meadows, crossing frozen stretches of land or flooded rivers. But wherever your route takes you, you can guarantee that when it comes to Icelandic horses, you're on reliable hooves.

The Icelandic horse is particularly well suited to a harsh climate. They have a double coat for insulation from the cold and are muscular and hardy. They're also a friendly and personable breed, so don't be surprised if you get a bit attached to your horse.

Your riding tour guides will provide you with all the right gear to ensure you have the most comfortable experience possible. They'll also run through the basics of horseback riding with you before you start, so you can ride even if you're a beginner. Once that's sorted, it'll be time to pick a horse and head out into the Icelandic countryside.

Horseriding tours in Iceland are available all across the country, and each route offers unique sights. You can also go on a horse riding tour with a transfer from Reykjavik, which keeps planning very simple. The minimum age for horse riding is usually between 8 and 10 years old (depending on the tour provider), and it's common for rides to last between one and two hours.

Whale Watching in November in Iceland

Whale Watching in November is one of the most exciting trips available during the winter months.

Photo fromThe Reykjavik Whale Watching Tour

Whale watching is another activity that's available all year in Iceland and one that makes for a pretty exhilarating morning or afternoon. Whales are very common off the coast of Iceland, so it's practically guaranteed that you'll spot some of the marine life that thrives in these waters. In fact, boat trip operators will give you a second trip for free if you don't see any whales on your excursion.

The Icelandic waters are home to numerous whale species, including humpback whales, orcas, minke whales, blue whales, sperm whales, and fin whales. You might also spot harbor porpoises or white-beaked dolphins. 

Whale-watching tours are available from several ports in various parts of the country, but the most popular are in Reykjavik and the 'whale-watching capital of Europe' Husavik, in North Iceland.

However, due to their northern locations, it can be tough to reach Husavik in the winter, so you might be better off sticking closer to the capital during November. Luckily, there are several tour operators running boat trips out from Reykjavik Harbor, such as this 3-hour whale-watching tour.

Avid birdwatchers will also enjoy a whale-watching trip, as you can spot several interesting Icelandic birds soaring above the nation's waters. You could encounter several seabird species, including gulls, fulmars, puffins, and ducks.

If the weather looks too grim for a three-hour boat trip, you can always visit the cozier Whales of Iceland museum instead. This wonderful natural history museum aims to educate visitors about the whales that are particular to Iceland as well as those in the rest of the world. It's well worth a visit and features life-size models of the whales in Iceland's waters, including the largest animal on earth, the blue whale.

Dog Sledding in November in Iceland

Dog sledding is one of the most exhilarating and unique experiences available in Iceland.Photo from Incredible 2 Hour Siberian Husky Dog Sled Sightseeing Tour by the Myvatn Area

Animal lovers visiting Iceland in November can also take part in a rather unexpected sport: dogsledding! Iceland is the perfect place to try this exhilarating experience (and meet some cute pups while you're at it!).

The dogs pulling your sled in Iceland will be Greenland Dogs or Siberian Huskies. Both breeds are strong, intelligent, and reliable, and they've been transporting people across snowy plains for centuries.

Greenland Dogs aren't quite as fast as their Siberian counterparts, but they have higher endurance. In fact, Greenland Dogs are so reliable that hunters in their native Greenland still prefer to use dog sleds over snowmobiles. Pretty cool!

Dog sledding offers up the perfect opportunity to make some new furry friends.Photo from Meet on Location 45-Minute Dog Sledding Tour Near Reykjavik

During your dog sledding tour, your musher will share their passion with you, teaching you the basic commands and techniques that will allow you to steer the sled safely without hurting the dogs. Normally, four or five dogs pull a sled, but that number increases if two people are riding.

The fastest dogs can pull the sled at speeds of up to 20 kilometers per hour. It's fantastic fun and an amazing way to experience Iceland's sweeping, snow-covered countryside.

Age limits for dog sledding in Iceland vary from company to company, but the standard age is generally around 16 years old. Children aged 12 and over may be allowed to operate a dog sled, but this will be up to the guide operating your tour.

Glacier Hiking in Iceland in November

Glacier hiking on Sólheimajökull

If you're keen on exploring Iceland's great outdoors, a fantastic option is to go glacier hiking. The winter months are obviously the best time to explore Iceland's gigantic ice caps.

Hiking the country's glaciers is an amazing experience. Hikers come face to face with these enormous natural formations, and this truly is the best way to understand the ice's sheer size, power, and age. This 5-hour glacier hiking tour offers everything you would want from a glacier hike in the beautiful Skaftafell Nature Reserve.

All glacier guides in Iceland are well-trained and highly experienced, and they'll be able to ensure your safety and enjoyment during the hike. Glacier hiking operators in Iceland will supply you with all the necessary equipment, including ice axes, crampons, helmets, and harnesses. They'll take you out onto the glaciers and share their extensive knowledge of glaciology with you. It's fun and fascinating. 

Panoramas from the top of Iceland's glaciers are genuinely extraordinary. The vista increases and gets broader the higher you hike. Seeing Iceland from this perspective is a beautiful thing to behold. The most accessible glaciers are located in the south, so make sure to book a hotel in South Iceland to be close to the action.

Snowmobiling in November in Iceland

Snowmobiling amidst Icelandic nature is something only a privileged few ever get to experience.Photo from Snowmobile Adventure | Golden Circle and Langjokull Snowmobiling

Thrill seekers rejoice! November's wintry weather presents the perfect opportunity to go snowmobiling across glaciers. If it's exhilaration you're looking for, you'll be sure to find it. Nothing gets your blood pumping like gorgeous sights at high speeds across snowy plains.

There are a number of different snowmobile tours to choose from. Trips on glaciers such as Langjokull and Myrdalsjokull or on the Trollaskagi peninsula ("Troll Peninsula") are just a few options. Each tour differs from the others, but all of them allow you the opportunity to reach high speeds and get your heart beating faster, like on this snowmobile adventure tour on Langjokull glacier.

Your guide will tell you how to safely and correctly operate the snowmobile and will provide you with thermal outerwear, helmets, and gloves. However, it's still recommended that you wear some warm layers under them, as it gets cold out here! To snowmobile in Iceland, you must hold a valid driver's license… and have a taste for speed!

Surfing in November in Iceland

It might not be the first activity that comes to mind when planning a trip to Iceland, but it's one that will have massive appeal for high-stakes adventurers: surfing.

Surfing in Iceland is becoming increasingly popular, and the country's surfing community continues to grow as local surfers are bringing this extreme sport into the mainstream.

Fancy giving it a try? Well, you're in luck. November is one of the best months for surfing in Iceland. With wind speeds picking up, so too do the waves, making surfing in Iceland's frigid waters as thrilling as surfing in Hawaii or California.

The biggest difference, of course, is the temperature of the water. You can't just hop in your swimming costume and get in the water. You'll need a 5- to 6-millimeter wetsuit, hood, and gloves if you want to keep your body temperature up while surfing in Iceland.

The vast majority of surfing in Iceland is done off the Reykjanes peninsula, where the North Atlantic thunders against the craggy volcanic shoreline.

One of the best spots along the peninsula for surfing is the beach Sandvik, where conditions are reliable enough to offer beginner-level breaks and waves, as well as fantastic panoramas of the surrounding landscapes.

Even so, surfing requires a high level of respect for the ocean, as well as a high degree of physical fitness and an unabashed thirst for adventure.

If you are an already experienced surfer, reach out to the local surfing community in Iceland. They'll be able to offer you the best tips and recommendations about safely maximizing your time and finding the waves to match your skill level.

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving in November in Iceland

A scuba diver in Silfra Hall.Photo from Incredible 3-Hour Guided Drysuit Diving Tour in Silfra.

The idea of diving and snorkeling in Iceland might seem strange, maybe even unbelievable, especially during winter. But Iceland is home to the world-famous Silfra Fissure, one of the greatest snorkeling sites on the planet. Silfra Fissure is the single most popular diving and snorkeling spot in Iceland.

Snorkeling and scuba diving tours are available all year at Silfra Fissure, meaning there's no reason to pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, even if you're visiting Iceland in November.

Silfra Fissure is not world-famous for its wildlife, nor its caves or potential to explore, but for its crystal clear visibility. Centuries-old glacial water trickles down from the mighty Langjokull glacier, being purified as it winds its way through the dark volcanic rock networks at Thingvellir National Park before spilling out into the fissure to form a spellbinding canyon of blues and greens.

Thanks to the light current that runs through it, Silfra Fissure never freezes—not even in the dead of winter!

The current of light also helps keep Silfra's water clear. Even if a snorkeler or diver in the group in front of you accidentally kicks up some sediment, the water will be clear again in just a few moments. With the sun's rays pouring down from the surface, visibility can often reach up to 100 meters.

If you plan to take a snorkeling or diving trip in Silfra Fissure, you'll be in good hands. All the guides at Silfra Fissure are experienced and personable. They'll stick to a six-to-one customer-to-guide ratio to ensure a safe and personalized experience.

Before you enter the water, your guides will give you a thorough briefing on what to expect in the water, including how to use your equipment and how to stay insulated from the cold. They'll even help you to get dressed to make sure you've done it right. 

Diving in Iceland is an amazing opportunity and one that shouldn't be missed.

Lava Caving in November in Iceland

Lava caving in Iceland is one of the best ways to understand the country's geological history.Photo from Amazing 8-Hour Caving & ATV Combo Package with Transfer from Reykjavik

November is one of the best times to go lava caving in Iceland. Lower temperatures cause delicate ice sculptures to form against the rock, creating a compelling contrast between fiery red and sky blue. Caving is a fascinating activity for the winter as you'll be sheltered from the cold and tumultuous weather outside.

Visitors to these caves will also have the chance to see ancient stalagmites and stalactites, magma columns, and paleochannels—the petrified paths of ancient underground rivers. Some caves even have remains from the Settlement Age hidden deep inside the cavern, remnants of early Icelandic animal husbandry.

Those who dare to enter this enchanting subterranean world will gain deeper insight into the geological makeup of Iceland. Your guide will teach you about the formation of the caves and how mythical Icelandic outlaws used them for shelter.

They may even sit everyone down in the bowels of the cave and instruct you to turn off your headlamps to experience the pitch-blackness surrounding you.

How To Get Around Iceland in November

So, now that you know what you might want to do in Iceland in November, you might be wondering about the best way to get around.

Arriving in Iceland

If you're traveling to Iceland in November, you're in luck—flights to Iceland at this time of year are usually considerably cheaper than at other times of the year. If you book your tickets a few months in advance, tickets shouldn't cost too much at all.

For round-trip flights from the US, the summer rate is usually double the rate in November, so it's definitely easier on the wallet to travel to Iceland during this time of year. The price dip also goes for the vast majority of international gateways, so there's an opportunity to save money for everybody.

Given that November is not in the peak season for tourism in Iceland, one will find flights to be a lot of cheaper than normal.

The reason for this discrepancy? November isn't within the peak season in Iceland. But don't let that put you off visiting. Those who arrive in November will find fewer crowds, a wider choice of hotels in Iceland, and a unique winter wonderland almost entirely to themselves.

Traveling Around Iceland in November

Once you've arrived in the country, you'll want to think carefully about the best way to get around. Since the weather in November is wintry and unpredictable, the roads can be dangerous. The Ring Road is usually cleared of any snow and ice on a regular basis, so you should be able to drive around Iceland in November without too much trouble.

However, if you're heading to the northern parts of Iceland, where weather conditions can be worse, you'll want to take extra precautions. Driving in Iceland can be dangerous, and you'll need to be particularly careful if you plan to leave the Ring Road, as these roads aren't usually gritted.

If you're nervous about driving in wintry conditions, it's a good idea to stick to organized tours instead. These are safe and convenient ways to explore all areas of Iceland.

Tours that Operate in Iceland in November

Most tours that run in summer are still operating in November, so you should be able to enjoy most types of activities. Winter excursions often present Iceland’s most popular tours and activities in an entirely new way, showcasing both the diversity of this country’s seasons and its sheer potential for fun and adventure.

Despite the occasionally cruel temperatures, tour operators are on hand to provide you with thermal wear that makes outdoor activities, such as winter horseback riding, scuba diving, or glacial hiking, just as comfortable as they are in summer.

What’s Going On in November in Iceland?

November is a good month to visit for those who want to get deeper into the local culture, especially if you're a big music lover. The weather in November might be cold, but the venues of Reykjavik are ablaze with events to keep things hot! 

Iceland Airwaves

Iceland Airwaves attracts artists, fans and journalists from all over the world.Photo by rickkidsunite

Iceland Airwaves is the country’s biggest and most beloved festival, attracting both local and international talent, as well as music fans from all over the world. For three melodious days and nights, the country transforms into a musical composition itself, with almost every establishment—cafes, bars, art galleries—showcasing incredible performers.

Rolling Stone writer David Fricke called Iceland Airwaves "the hippest long weekend on the annual music festival calendar." Jonah Flicker of Pitchfork Magazine cited the festival's "unbelievable zest for music and celebration." What more could you want?

The festival has come on a long way since its first appearance in 1999, which was held in an aircraft hangar at Reykjavik airport. These days, it's known for its good-time atmosphere, intimate performances, and wealth of new talent. Iceland Airwaves has become one of the premier events of Reykjavik's social calendar, attracting music journalists and scouts worldwide.

Previous line-ups have included a mix of Icelandic artists—Bjork, Of Monsters and Men, and Sigur Ros, to name just a few—and international artists, including The Flaming Lips, Fatboy Slim, and Vampire Weekend.

Grab a ticket and get ready for great music and great fun!

Icelandic Language Day: November 16

A rainbow over the Lutheran Church, Hallgrimskirkja

November 16 is Icelandic Language Day, a celebration of the country's unique language and a reminder of the importance of preserving it in a global age. The holiday has been celebrated since 1996, and its name translates literally to "day of the Icelandic tongue."

Icelandic is a remarkable language with an incredibly complex declension system. It's noted for its use of neologism (as opposed to using foreign loan words). For example, the Icelandic term for a computer is "tölva," comprised of the words "to count" and "oracle."

Icelandic Language Day coincides with the birthday of the beloved Icelandic poet and naturalist Jonas Hallgrimsson (16 November 1807 – 26 May 1845). He was one of the founders of the Icelandic-language journal Fjolnir, published in Copenhagen between 1835 and 1847. This journal played a key role in obtaining Iceland's independence from Denmark.

On November 16, Icelanders—especially Icelandic youth—are encouraged to speak only in Icelandic. Many cultural and educational exhibitions are hosted at venues around Reykjavik, including the beautiful Harpa Concert Hall. There are also many awards handed out to those who have helped promote Icelandic literature and language over the last year. 

Advice for Visiting Iceland in November

It's never good to be caught unaware when traveling, but this is particularly true when visiting a near-Arctic country in winter. Good preparation is key if you want to have an enjoyable trip, so here is some good advice for anyone visiting Iceland in the early winter.

Pack Your Thermals

Lopapeysur are fashionable, practical and a symbol of Icelandic identity.Photo by Jorunn

It should go without saying, but Iceland in November is cold. It's the beginning of winter, and as your trip progresses, the temperature is going to drop.

With that in mind, you'll want to wear several layers of thermally protective clothing if you want to ensure that the harsh climate doesn’t get in the way of enjoying your time here.

In fact, November is as good a time as any to purchase a "lopapeysa", a traditional Icelandic sweater. The wool that's used for lopapeysa is woven from unspun Icelandic sheep wool, called lopi. It's fantastically warm (the sheep need to protect themselves from the cold, too!) and water-resistant, so perfect for days out in the snow.

The lopapeysa has since gone through a few fashion revivals. For example, in 1944, when it became a national symbol celebrating Iceland's independence from Denmark. The second followed the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis.

The lopapeysa is an Icelandic tradition and is often used to celebrate Icelandic identity.

Avoid Mountain and Gravel Roads

Iceland has dangerous roads in winter.

During November, you won't be able to access Iceland's interior highlands. However, the vast majority of attractions are still on offer, especially those dotted around the Ring Road.

Driving in November comes with hazards. Thanks to the deteriorating weather, you're likely to encounter thick fogs, blizzards, and heavy rainfall at some point along your journey.

To keep safe in these treacherous conditions, it's important to always leave ample room between your car and the car in front and to refrain from speeding. Iceland’s main country roads are often long, empty, and temptingly wide, but it's crucial that you drive carefully.

It's also worth noting that off-road driving in Iceland is illegal. If you do it, you'll be punished with a hefty fine. Not only is driving off-road unsafe, but it also irreversibly damages the delicate balance of the country’s natural environment.

Don’t Assume that You'll See the Northern Lights

Northern Lights on the Reykjanes Peninsula.

Practically everyone visiting Iceland wants to see the northern lights, and it's easy to see why. In general, November is an excellent time to see the aurora, but there's no guaranteeing what the cosmos will be up to on any given night. The lights are notoriously elusive, and there's always a chance that you'll be disappointed.

Northern lights tour operators always let their customers know well in advance if the hunt for the lights is likely to prove fruitless. Although it can be disappointing to pay for a tour and not see them, try to make the most of it and enjoy learning about the starry night sky above.

Explore Reykjavik Cafe Culture

Reykjavik has a thriving cafe culture.

Icelanders are avid coffee drinkers, with the average Icelander getting through almost 20 pounds (9 kilograms) of coffee beans every year.

In fact, Icelanders love their coffee so much that you’ll sometimes find free coffee in local supermarkets, banks, and retailers. Some Icelanders even use the leftover grounds to scrub their skin after a wintry dip in the North Atlantic!

It should come as little surprise, then, that there are some top-notch cafes on almost every street corner in downtown Reykjavik. Starbucks and Costa are nowhere in sight, as Icelandic coffee culture is personalized, community-driven, and fiercely competitive.

This means you're pretty much guaranteed to enjoy a cup of some of the highest-quality roasted coffee found in the world.

Many cafes in Reykjavik offer free refills, so guests can sit back, soak up the city's creative atmosphere, and while away the hours in a cozy corner. Heaven!

Recommended Itineraries for November

Whether traveling for four days or three weeks, following an itinerary is a great way to ensure you're getting the best out of your time in Iceland. To help you do just that, we've put together a list of some of the best itineraries for November in Iceland. Check them out.

Are you planning to visit Iceland in November? If you've already been, how was your holiday experience in November in Iceland? We'd love to read about your time here in the comment box below. 

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