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Top Things to Do in Iceland for the Winter Holidays

If you’re looking for a unique and adventure-filled vacation for your winter holiday, look no further than Iceland. While the country has a reputation for being brutally cold in the winter months, there are many activities that you can still enjoy. In fact, traveling to Iceland for the winter holidays may be one of the most unique experiences you can have.

There are so many different things that you can do on a trip to Iceland in the winter. To help spur your trip planning, we’ve compiled a list of the top experiences available to enjoy during the winter months.

1. View the Northern Lights

People from all over the globe flock to Iceland during the winter months to catch a glimpse of  the Aurora Borealis. Aurora Borealis is commonly described as a naturally occurring light show present in the north and south Polar Regions of the Earth. But, what does that really mean? 

Scientifically speaking, the Northern Lights are the result of the sun’s electrically charged particles hitting the Earth’s magnetic field. When this happens, the energy that’s released from the collision is released and the result is the glowing colors you see in the skies. The intensity of the color changes, as it’s dependent upon the sun’s activity and the velocity of the particles. The hue of the color also changes—Aurora Borealis can be white, pink, purple, blue and green—it just depends on what elements are involved.

If you want to see the Northern Lights, there are plenty of tools and tours available to you. One popular idea is to drive around and chase the Northern lights in a campervan. Cozy Campers is the only campervan rental company in Iceland that offers a luxury camper called the Aurora Explorer particularly made for Northern Lights viewing. Its panoramic sunroof makes it the best way to see the Aurora Borealis in Iceland. Consider booking the Aurora Explorer for a full experience of the Northern Lights.

Northern lights iceland

2. Tour an Ice Cave (Or Two!)

Open from mid-October through mid-March, Iceland’s ice caves provide a one-of-a-kind experience for adventures of all skill levels. This activity is usually the top thing people want to do when they travel to Iceland in the winter.

With the help of a certified and professional tour company, you can safely explore glacial ice caves. Please note that you cannot tour ice caves on your own—you need to tour with the experts for your own safety! So, while the initial fee of going on an ice cave tour seems expensive, you can’t put a price on your safety.
While each tour company offers different experiences, they’re all structured relatively the same way. Your tour will most likely consist of a ride in a Super Jeep to the caves and then you’ll be able to explore the caves with the help of your experienced guide.

3. Go Glacier Hiking

While this might initially sound like an extremely strenuous activity, rest assured that hiking  across a glacier is an activity that those ages 8 and up all the way through the elderly are able to  enjoy. 

What makes this activity more exciting and why it ends up on the top of most people’s must-do list is that Iceland is home to Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull. There are many different glacier hiking tours that you can sign up for that are available at different price points.  

Be sure to read the fine print and choose one that fits your budget and desires. Also, you should dress appropriately in warm and water-resistant and wind-resistant clothing to keep yourself  toasty and protected from the elements. 

4. Go On A Whale-watching Tour

If you visit Iceland in the summer, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be able to see whales.  However, just because you’re planning to visit in the winter doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to see whales; it just means that your options are more limited. Orca pods are known to frequent the Snæfellsnes peninsula in the winter months, and you can also have luck taking a boat out on the waters to see Humpback whales.  

If you’re looking to knock out multiple excursions with minimal travel, especially if you’re traveling to Iceland in the winter, you’re going to want to go to the Snæfellsnes peninsula.  Here, you’ll be able to book a whale-watching tour that is in a prime location to view killer whale pods. As a perk, you’ll be extremely close to the Game of Thrones shooting location, Kirkjufell, the country’s most famous mountain. 

5. Visit A Game of Thrones Shooting Location

If you’re a GOT fan, you’ve more than likely seen Kirkjufell, Iceland’s most famous mountain, on the show. It’s not only a GOT shooting location, but beyond GOT, it’s the country’s most photographed mountain. It’s iconic steep point is the subject of many Aurora Borealis pictures. In the daytime, you can book guided hikes and tours. It’s a truly breathtaking sight to see.

6. Take a Dip in Hot Springs

Going for a dip in natural baths or hot springs when it’s negative temperatures outside might seem counterintuitive, but it’s an experience unlike no other. One of the most iconic spots to get wet in Iceland is the Blue Lagoon—surely you’ve heard of it. If you’re planning on going to The Blue Lagoon, you’re going to want to book tickets far in advance so that you can reserve  your spot. Note that these tickets typically sell out fast. 

If you missed your chance to purchase tickets to the Blue Lagoon or if you want to visit somewhere that isn’t as busy, perhaps, don’t fret. There are plenty of other options that are equally as beautiful as the Blue Lagoon. Here’s a great list of places to check out: 

  • Secret Lagoon: This “secret” location boasts a lot of the same perks as the Blue Lagoon without all that foot traffic. It’s easy to find and you’ll most likely be able to get a reservation without an issue.

  • Mývatn Nature Baths: If you’re in northern Iceland, you’ll want to check out the Mývatn Nature Baths. They’re very similar to what the Blue Lagoon can over, but a little more private. There’s also a variety of different experiences, including algae-filled sections and extremely steamy sections, so it’s something you’ll want to check out for sure.

7. Check Out the Golden Circle

A popular tourist attraction throughout all the months of the year, Iceland’s Golden Circle is the ultimate destination. This 300-km iconic driving route is famous for including three of Iceland’s most popular sites, Thingvellir National Park, Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall.

Unless you’re extremely familiar with the landscape and are comfortable driving in wintry conditions, it’s recommended that you book a tour to check out the Golden Circle. The three main stops on the Golden Circle, as previously mentioned, include Thingvellir National Park, Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall. Each stop brings its own unique addition to the experience. For example:

Thingvellir National Park is located on the meeting place of two tectonic plates, making for unique geological information and experiences.
Geysir is a scenic location and features lots of geothermal energy.
Gulfoss is a stunning waterfall that is both powerful and beautiful.

Each of the three locations feature bespoke activities and opportunities to immerse yourself further in Icelandic culture by enjoying local fares. Your tour will probably have pre planned activities since it’s a lengthier activity to do in Iceland. However, if you’re to only do one thing during your time here, it needs to be visiting the Golden Circle.


Visiting Iceland in the winter will provide you with a breadth of experiences that you didn’t even know existed. From natural wonders such as viewing glaciers and the Northern Lights, to enjoying some relaxing time at the hot springs, there’s so much to do—this list was just the tip of the iceberg (pun intended!). We can’t wait to see what you think of Iceland in the winter!

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