Is December the right time to visit Iceland ?

Is December the right time to visit Iceland? It largely depends on what you’re seeking in your travel experience. December transforms Iceland into a winter wonderland, offering stunning snow-covered landscapes and unique activities like ice caving, glacier hiking, and the chance to witness the ethereal Northern Lights. The festive atmosphere in towns like Reykjavik, with Christmas markets and holiday events, adds a magical touch to the visit.

However, December also brings challenges, including limited daylight hours, cold temperatures, and unpredictable weather that can affect travel plans and accessibility. For those who enjoy winter activities, can dress warmly, and plan with flexibility, December can be an enchanting time to explore Iceland’s natural beauty and cultural richness.

Ultimately, if you’re drawn to winter adventures and the allure of festive celebrations, December is an excellent time to visit. Just be prepared for the weather and shorter days to fully enjoy the unique experiences Iceland has to offer in this season.

The weather in Iceland during December?

In December, Iceland experiences cold and wintry weather conditions, characteristic of the winter season. Here’s an overview of the typical weather in Iceland during December:

  1. Temperature:
    • Daytime temperatures range from around 1°C to 4°C (34°F to 39°F) on average.
    • Nighttime temperatures drop, with lows ranging from -3°C to 2°C (27°F to 36°F).
  2. Daylight Hours:
    • December has some of the shortest daylight hours of the year in Iceland.
    • Daylight hours vary depending on the specific date and location, with only a few hours of daylight each day in some regions.
  3. Precipitation:
    • December is characterized by increased precipitation in Iceland.
    • This precipitation often falls as snow, especially in the northern and inland regions, although rain is also common, particularly along the coast.
  4. Wind:
    • Strong winds are common in Iceland during December, especially along the coast and in open areas.
    • Wind chill can significantly lower the perceived temperature, making it feel colder than the actual air temperature.
  5. Weather Variability:
    • Weather conditions in December can be unpredictable, with rapid changes and occasional snowstorms.
    • Travelers should be prepared for varying weather conditions and dress accordingly for cold and potentially wet or snowy conditions.

Overall, December brings cold temperatures, limited daylight hours, and the possibility of snow and strong winds to Iceland, creating challenging but picturesque winter landscapes for visitors to explore.

Table that provides an overview of the average temperatures in different parts of Iceland during December:

Region/CityAverage High Temperature (°C)Average Low Temperature (°C)Average High Temperature (°F)

Where should we visit in Iceland during December?

In December, Iceland transforms into a winter wonderland, offering unique experiences and stunning landscapes. Here are some top places to visit in Iceland during December:

  1. Reykjavik:
    • Explore the vibrant capital city, which is beautifully decorated for the holiday season.
    • Visit Hallgrímskirkja Church, Harpa Concert Hall, and the bustling Christmas markets.
    • Enjoy local cuisine and festive events in the city’s many cafes and restaurants.
  2. Golden Circle:
    • Take a day trip to see the Golden Circle’s iconic attractions: Þingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall.
    • Experience the beauty of these sites with fewer crowds.
  3. South Coast:
    • Discover the stunning waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, which are even more magical when partially frozen.
    • Walk along the black sand beach of Reynisfjara and admire the basalt columns and sea stacks.
  4. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon:
    • Witness the surreal beauty of icebergs floating in the glacier lagoon.
    • Visit nearby Diamond Beach, where ice chunks from the lagoon wash up on the black sand shore.
  5. Vatnajökull National Park:
    • Explore the park’s glaciers and consider a guided ice cave tour for a unique adventure.
    • Experience glacier hiking with proper gear and guidance.
  6. Northern Lights Viewing Spots:
    • Head to remote locations with minimal light pollution for optimal Northern Lights viewing, such as Þingvellir National Park, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, or the remote Westfjords.
  7. Blue Lagoon and Other Hot Springs:
    • Relax in the warm, geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon, surrounded by snow-covered landscapes.
    • Explore less touristy hot springs like the Secret Lagoon or Reykjadalur Hot Spring River.
  8. Akureyri and the North:
    • Visit Iceland’s second-largest city, Akureyri, and enjoy its cozy cafes, shops, and festive atmosphere.
    • Explore nearby attractions like the Mývatn Nature Baths and the stunning Goðafoss Waterfall.
  9. Snæfellsnes Peninsula:
    • Discover the diverse landscapes of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, including the iconic Kirkjufell mountain, lava fields, and charming fishing villages.
  10. Christmas and New Year’s Festivities:
    • Experience Icelandic holiday traditions, such as the 13 Yule Lads and bonfires on New Year’s Eve.
    • Join local celebrations and fireworks displays in Reykjavik and other towns.

These destinations offer a mix of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and winter activities, making December a magical time to visit Iceland.

Some Frequently asked questions about Iceland visit in December ?

Can I see the Northern Lights In Iceland in December?
Yes, December offers excellent opportunities to witness the Northern Lights in Iceland, as the long nights provide optimal viewing conditions. However, visibility depends on factors such as solar activity and weather conditions.
What should I pack for a trip to Iceland in December?
It's essential to pack warm and waterproof clothing, including insulated jackets, layers, waterproof pants, sturdy boots, gloves, hats, and scarves. Additionally, bring thermal underwear, as well as hand warmers and toe warmers for added comfort in cold temperatures.
Are tourist attractions open in December in Iceland ?
Yes, most tourist attractions in Iceland remain open in December, although some may have reduced hours or closures during the holiday season. It's advisable to check the operating hours and availability of specific attractions before planning your itinerary.
What winter activities can I do in Iceland in December?
December offers a variety of winter activities in Iceland, including snowmobiling, ice caving, glacier hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, and Northern Lights tours. Many tour operators offer guided excursions to explore Iceland's winter landscapes and experience its unique winter activities.
How cold is Iceland in December?
Iceland experiences cold temperatures in December, with daytime highs averaging around 1°C to 4°C (34°F to 39°F) and nighttime lows ranging from -3°C to 2°C (27°F to 36°F). However, wind chill and weather conditions can make it feel even colder, so dressing warmly is essential.
Are there any special events or festivals in Iceland in December?
Yes, December is a festive month in Iceland, with Christmas markets, holiday concerts, and cultural events taking place in Reykjavik and other towns. Additionally, Icelanders celebrate various holiday traditions, including the lighting of Advent candles and the consumption of traditional holiday foods.
Is it safe to Self drive Iceland in December ?
Self-driving in Iceland in December can be challenging due to winter weather conditions. While roads are generally well-maintained, weather can change rapidly, leading to icy roads, strong winds, and snowstorms. Limited daylight hours and remote areas with few services add to the risks. However, with proper preparation, including a suitable vehicle with winter tires, knowledge of road conditions, and caution, self-driving can be safe. It's essential to check weather forecasts, road conditions, and travel advisories regularly and adjust plans accordingly. Consider guided tours or public transportation for added safety and convenience, especially in more remote regions.

Pros and cons of Visiting Iceland in December

Table outlining the pros and cons of visiting Iceland in December:

Northern Lights: December offers ample opportunities to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights, with long nights providing optimal viewing conditions.Winter Weather: December brings cold temperatures, strong winds, and the possibility of snowstorms, making outdoor activities challenging and road conditions unpredictable.
Festive Atmosphere: Experience the holiday season in Iceland with festive decorations, Christmas markets, and cultural events taking place in Reykjavik and other towns.Limited Daylight: December has some of the shortest daylight hours of the year, with only a few hours of daylight each day, limiting outdoor exploration and sightseeing opportunities.
Snow-covered Landscapes: Enjoy the picturesque beauty of Iceland’s landscapes blanketed in snow, creating a magical winter wonderland perfect for photography and outdoor adventures.Limited Accessibility: Some remote areas and highland roads may become inaccessible due to winter conditions, limiting travel options and outdoor activities.
Winter Activities: Embrace the winter season with a variety of activities such as snowmobiling, ice caving, glacier hiking, and skiing, offering thrilling adventures amidst Iceland’s stunning winter scenery.Crowds and Prices: December can be a popular time for tourism due to the holiday season, resulting in higher prices for accommodations and attractions, as well as larger crowds at popular tourist sites.