The Iceland weather in January is indeed cold and dark. Now, it’s these weather conditions that make what’s left of this Christmas winter wonderland worth a visit. If you can embrace the elements and prepare for unpredictability, there are many reasons why a trip to Iceland in January might be the most memorable one yet.
In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about the Iceland weather in January, the benefits it brings, and how to plan for your trip.
The Iceland Weather in January
As we already mentioned, you should be expecting a lot of darkness and freezing cold when visiting Iceland in January. You can expect snow, rain, ice, and those legendary Icelandic winds that will beat any wolf to blowing down three pigs’ houses.
The Iceland temperature in January varies between as low as -10 degrees Celsius to 5 degrees Celsius. The average temperature in Iceland in January tends to hover around the -1 degree mark.
It has long since been a misconception that Reykjavík weather in January is somehow better than in the rest of the island. This is completely false. The reason why this myth started in the first place is that the city’s buildings offer a certain amount of shelter against the harsh external elements outside the city borders. Therefore, it can often feel like the temperature in Reykjavík in January is warmer.
There is a local saying on the island that states, “you can experience all four seasons in a day in Iceland”. This saying has never been truer than during the most unpredictable Iceland weather in January. That’s why you always need to keep a close eye on the Icelandic weather forecasts as well as the Icelandic road conditions before heading out.
Benefits of the Iceland Weather in January
It may be cold and dark, but this is precisely what makes this winter wonderland so special during this time. The cold doesn’t just call for hot cocoa by the fireplace! It has not only draped itself over the landscape to leave gushing waterfalls looking like frozen tentacles draped over cliffs, either. It has also made certain activities such as exploring the ice caves the safest it’s been all year.
But this is not the only perk the Iceland weather holds in January. The dwindling daylight hours, plunging the island into darkness for 4-7 hours every day throughout January, can also work in your favor. Because of the darkness, you are almost guaranteed to see the Northern Lights. Just remember to move out of the blinding city lights to see the phenomenon in its full splendor.
By the second week of January, the last of the festive season crowds are also leaving the island and prices return to normal. That means savings, savings, savings! You get to do and see everything that the festive season gang got to do and see, but just at a fraction of the cost!
What to Pack When Taking the Iceland Weather in January Into Account
Because visitors are well aware of how harsh the Iceland weather in January can be, they often tend to overdo the packing a bit. So, before you pack everything and the kitchen sink, use this helpful packing list as a guide:
Long, waterproof winter coat
Warm woolen sweaters (we’ll leave these on the list as a reminder. Yet, we highly recommend that you purchase these on the island – Icelandic woolen sweaters are simply phenomenal!)
Informal pants (when just walking around the city)
Waterproof hiking boots (whether you go hiking or not)
Warm, woolen socks
T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts
Warm hat (we suggest beanies)
Toiletries & medication (just remember to double-check flight restrictions. That will help avoid dumping a bottle of expensive conditioner at the airport)
Electronic devices: cables, chargers, adaptor, power bank, etc.
Iceland Weather in January May Guarantee the Best Trip Ever!
As you can see, the Land of Fire and Ice lives up to its reputation. Even during one of the coldest and darkest months, the island is absolutely on fire with all sorts of once-in-a-lifetime things to do and see.
So, instead of letting your perception of the Iceland weather in January scare you off, follow our advice. You'll recognize why it might be the best time to rent a campervan in Reykjavik, and discover everything the island has to offer.