WOW Air is having some great fares right now from as low as $69 one way from the U.S. to Iceland and Europe. If you plan to take advantage of these awesome fares to Iceland and are going during winter, there are some things you should know about traveling there. Winter in Iceland lasts until late March and sometimes early April. Based on our recent trip to Iceland in December 2016, we have compiled a list for top 5 tips for winter travel in Iceland.
Dress in layers
When it comes to winter time travel in Iceland, dressing in layers is essential to staying warm and comfortable. Many people make the mistake of packing too heavy by bringing bulky sweaters and multiple jackets. By packing and dressing in layers, you can easily add or remove clothing if it becomes too hot or too cold. You can also avoid the extra baggage fees if your bag becomes too heavy.
We recommend on dressing in breathable thermal layers underneath your regular clothing. You can find these thermal layers inexpensively from retailers like Costco and Target. If you’re jacket does not already come with a fleece layer, a fleece jacket is also highly recommended. Should you need winter clothing in Iceland, know that you will have to pay much more than you would in the U.S. especially if you’re wanting an Icelandic wool sweater. Those sweaters can start from $100! Though the are awesomely warm, that’s a little too much for a sweater in our opinion.
Wear the Right Boots
Bring waterproof winter boots! We can’t stress this enough! There will be a high chance that there will be rain and snow in the weather forecast during your visit to Iceland in winter. One thing to note is that the rain and snow does not fall down sideways rather than straight down. This means that waterproofing is critical to keeping your feet dry. When it isn’t snowing, there will be slush which can stick to your shoes as well. Finding a good pair of winter boots also gives you better traction while walking on icy surfaces.
Ladies, we know how you want to look good in your pictures during your trip. Don’t sacrifice your safety just to get a few cute pics! During our past visit, we saw so many people with tennis shoes and fashion boots that were doing the slippery ice dance. You don’t want to be caught doing that dance in public, or worse breaking your ankle from falling!
Don’t Drive Unless You Are Really Experienced
While Iceland does not have much traffic, it is not really recommended that you rent a car and drive in Iceland during the winter unless you REALLY know what you’re doing. If you don’t regularly drive in high wind and snow conditions in the winter back at home, skip the headache that is winter Icelandic driving. During our trip, we booked tours on minibuses which allowed us to worry less about driving off a snowy road. The locals are great drivers and know the roads better. They know where the potential hazards are and generally know how to get out of a sticky situation should one arise.
But if you’re really insistent on driving, make sure to rent a car that is in good condition with winter tires which are usually studded. Having an all-wheel drive car is also highly recommended. You also don’t necessarily have to rent from internationally known brands like Hertz or Avis. There are local car rental companies at the Keflavik airport and in downtown Reykjavik that provide prices that are sometimes better. Make sure, though, to inspect the car well for damages before you rent and document it so that you are not charged. Taking pictures around the car is a good way to make sure you don’t get ripped off.
Book Ahead for the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is pretty much a must-do item if it’s your first time in Iceland. It is the largest tourist attraction in Iceland, meaning it can get very busy. A good thing about the Blue Lagoon is that they limit how many people are admitted during a given day to ensure that they can provide the relaxing atmosphere that is expected of a spa. While this is great, it makes a spontaneous visit there near impossible.
The key to vising the Blue Lagoon is to book in advance. Like months in advance. During our recent trip, we booked a 9am entry on Christmas day in October. You would think that was pretty far in advance…but it wasn’t. It was literally that last time slot left. So if you plan on visiting, make sure to book as far in advance as possible to get the date and time that you would like.
During our recent visit to Iceland, the weather did not play nicely at all with our itinerary and planned tours. We usually like to have planned things to see and do per day and found that we had to switch up our plans daily due to tours being cancelled. We would highly recommend that you incorporate at least two free days,also known as flex days, in your itinerary if you plan visiting Iceland for 5-7 days. This will allow you to change your tour dates should they cancel due to bad weather. Since we had two free days in our 6 day trip, we were able to reschedule a cancelled Golden Circle tour easily. We were able to do all the things we had planned with the exception of one thing….
The Northern Lights!
That was the one thing that we missed during our visit! If you plan on seeing the Northern Lights on a tour, make sure that the tour allows you to rebook or get a refund if you don’t get to see it. We rebooked our tour every night during our trip but alas the stars did not align and we did not see it at all. Oh well! We will just have to come back or try a different country next year.
With any trip abroad, you want to maximize your time and enjoy yourself as much as possible in Iceland. Proper planning can help you worry less about the elements and let you focus on taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of the country. We hope that these tips will help you embrace the beauty of winter time in Iceland.