10 of the Best Things to Do in Iceland in Winter
Updated: May 10
Looking for your perfect winter paradise travel adventure? Iceland offers a range of captivating winter activities. From ice lagoon tours and dramatic glacier hikes to amazing Northern Lights shows in the sky.
With plenty to see and do, we recommend planning your Iceland winter activities carefully. That’s so you can fit everything into the limited daylight hours during winter in Iceland. Also, you can make sure you have time for everything that you’d love to experience.
So, what fun adventures await you? Let’s dive right into our list of the best things to do in Iceland in winter!
1. Explore the Ice Caves
Visiting awe-inspiring ice caves is the perfect activity for a winter trip to Iceland. In fact, this is an activity that can only be experienced in the winter. Between the months of November and March, those lucky enough to visit Iceland can experience the raw and striking beauty of these caves.
The ice caves in Iceland are formed in a glacier when melting water passes through or beneath the glacier. It causes the ice to melt and leave openings, tunnels, and ‘caves’ in their wake. Guided tours of otherworldly caves offer unforgettable experiences and unparalleled photo opportunities.
2. Go on a Snowmobiling Tour
Ever tried snowmobiling before? Whether you have or haven’t, taking a snowmobiling tour in Iceland is one of the most fun things to do in Iceland during winter! Luckily, there are plenty of options for snowmobiling in Iceland. The most popular tours take adventure enthusiasts across some of Iceland’s most formidable glaciers, like Lankgjokull or Myrdalsjokull.
Snowmobile tours are suitable for all ages and fitness levels. They provide the opportunity to explore Iceland's mammoth glaciers while covering a lot of ground in one day. A snowmobile tour is a brilliant group activity, so gather your family and friends together to make some amazing winter memories!
3. Take a Glacier Hike
If you’re looking for something a bit more active, you can experience the majesty of an Icelandic glacier on foot through a hiking or ice climbing tour. Hiking a glacier brings you up close and personal with the power and magnitude of these impressive natural wonders.
Covering 11% of the country’s landmass, seeing a glacier in person is a must for your trip to Iceland. Some glacier hiking tours also offer an ice climbing option, which makes for the thrill of a lifetime. You’ll get the chance to suit up with capons, harnesses and an ice ax, ready to encounter some of the most impressive ice walls.
4. Soak in the Hot Springs
What could be a better way to unwind than soaking in Iceland's natural hot pools filled with mineral-rich waters? Iceland is a hotbed for volcanic activity, which has created many natural geothermal pools that visitors can enjoy.
Popular hot springs in Iceland, like the Blue Lagoon, offer convenient facilities like changing rooms, cafés, and even hotels. If you’d prefer a more remote geothermal pool, you can experience bathing in the Secret Lagoon or Gudrunarlaug. There you can connect with nature while you soak away your day.
Note that some natural hot springs are actually too hot to swim in, so don’t enter any pools that are not clearly signposted.
5. Seek out the Northern Lights
Of course, for many, seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland is the ultimate reason to visit this incredible island in the wintertime. Visible between September and April, this dancing light show illuminates the sky with an impressive array of colors.
While there is no guarantee, the long, dark winter nights provide the best chance to witness the stunning Northern Lights. You can join Northern Lights tours, or take a self-drive tour to some of the best places to watch the Northern Lights in Iceland.
Top tip: Check out the aurora forecast in Iceland before you head out to see how likely it is that you’ll be able to spot the Northern Lights.
The aurora forecast rates how visible the aurora will be that night, taking into account factors like cloud cover and solar activity. The rating ranges from 0 to 9. A number between 0 and 3 means the Northern Lights will most likely be visible.
6. Enjoy Award-Winning Indoor Experiences
For those days when the weather just won’t cooperate with your plans, there are plenty of amazing Iceland winter activities you can do indoors. Most of them will help you replicate the outdoor beauty of the country. If you’ve been struggling to catch the Northern Lights, there are plenty of places you can go to see an aurora simulation. They are, honestly, almost as good as the real thing.
Visit the award-winning Perlan museum in Reykjavík. You'll get to experience different parts of the country that may not be accessible during winter. Here, you’ll find an impressive number of attractions and recreations of some of Iceland’s most popular landmarks. And yes, that includes the world’s first indoor ice cave!
7. Drive the Golden Circle
When traveling Iceland by campervan or car, you’ll have plenty of flexibility to explore wherever your heart desires, whatever the season. One of the best winter road trips in Iceland is the famous Golden Circle route. It takes you to three incredible natural wonders: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area and Gullfoss Waterfall.
With quieter roads during winter, you’ll find your trip around the Golden Circle in Iceland is much more peaceful during the colder months. It takes about 3 hours to drive the route, but you’ll need to schedule in time to make stops and enjoy the sights along the way. Make sure to leave plenty of time to experience the beauty of Iceland’s scenery during the shorter daylight hours.
8. Enjoy an Iceland Skiing Experience
If you love to get out and about, one of the top things to do in Iceland in winter is to spend a wonderful day on the ski slopes. Skiing in Iceland is a popular pastime for both visitors and locals. And, although there aren’t Alps-scale ski resorts, you’ll find plenty of slopes located in incredible settings across the country.
Iceland's mountains are beginner-friendly with heights around 1000 meters above sea level. That's perfect for those who want to avoid crowds while enjoying skiing. It is certainly an ideal way to enjoy Iceland’s spectacular snowy landscapes. Skiing is a super fun winter activity to schedule into your Iceland winter adventure!
9. Visit an Ice Lagoon
If you’re a fan of glaciers, you’ll also love ice lagoons! Jokulsarlon is one of Iceland’s most famous ice lagoons (also known as glacial lagoons). There you can watch massive icebergs floating across the water against a serene icy backdrop. Formed by the melting of a glacier, ice lagoons are spectacular winter wonderlands!
Across the road from Jokulsarlon, you’ll also find the dazzling black sand Diamond Beach, which is dotted with icebergs from the lagoon. These ice diamonds glistening in the winter sun make a favorite spot for photographers.
10. Check Out Festive Reykjavík
Planning to visit Iceland in the month of December? If so, you’ll be able to enjoy the magic of Reykjavík in the Christmas and New Year period! Think picturesque Christmas lights and crispy snow underfoot. Also bustling Christmas markets that bring the city to life during this festive time.
From experiencing a Christmas concert at Harpa, to enjoying Reykjavík’s famous New Year fireworks, this time of year is magical in Iceland! A white Christmas in Iceland is almost guaranteed. You’ll be able to appreciate the beauty of the island covered in a blanket of snow during the festivities and celebrations.
Discover Iceland’s Wonderful Winter Activities For Yourself
Ready to explore all Iceland has to offer during winter? When planning to drive in Iceland during the winter months, it is highly recommended to rent a 4x4 camper to ensure your safety and comfort.
Enjoy your dream winter vacation in Iceland this year by booking ahead now. That will guarantee your accommodation, flights and rental vehicle. We can help you out with securing your campervan in Iceland, so you’ll be able to experience all the top things to do in Iceland in winter for yourself with the ultimate freedom and flexibility. It’s time for the trip of a lifetime!