Iceland in November: The Ultimate Guide

Iceland in November: The Ultimate Guide

Leah BIlquist Leah BIlquist
2. Nov 2022 (Updated: 6. Dec 2022) ∼ 23 min. read


November can be one of the best times to visit the land of fire and ice. A time of the year when it starts to get cold, but not frigid, and the maximum daylight hours sit at eight. There are plenty of things that you can take advantage of during this time of the year. From dog sledding to finding the Northern Lights, you will truly be soaking up everything Iceland has to offer. We are going to break down some common questions as well as some of the best things you can do when visiting Iceland in November!

What time is sunset and sunrise in November?

November is when there are significantly fewer daylight hours in Iceland. At the beginning of the month, you can expect around eight hours of daylight. Towards the end of the month, that number goes way to around five hours of sunlight a day. You can expect the sunrise around 9:33 am and set at 4:48 pm at the beginning of the month. The hours will get shorter as the month goes on. 

What is the average temperature in November?

The temperature during November is an average of 10°C or 40°F. That means you can expect cold days and even colder nights at 1°C or 30° F. It is a comfortable temperature if you stay bundled up with proper winter weather clothing. 

It is important to know that November is the transition between fall weather and winter weather in Iceland. This means that the weather can sometimes be a little wild. Always check the forecast before heading out. You should also set up weather alerts on your smartphone, in case of any unexpected changes. 

Does it snow in Iceland during November?

Yes, it does snow in November in Iceland. Reykjavik normally gets about three inches of snow in November. This is six times more snow than they would get in October. You can also expect Northern Iceland to have a heavier amount of snowfall during November. Be prepared if venturing out, check local weather, and speak to locals about any concerns. 

view of Vestrahorn mountain during winter in Iceland.

Are roads closed in November?

Iceland takes very good care of its roads. This means exploring in both fall and winter can be relatively easy. You should always be cautious, especially when snow is in the forecast. Main roads that bring you along the Ring Road and the Golden Circle are generally clear to travel along this time of the year. F roads and H roads can be closed since they are on rougher terrain and are normally near the mountains. You can view current road closures at Road.is to be fully prepared. 

What to pack for Iceland in November?

You should pack a little bit of everything! Bring a few t-shirts in case you get lucky and you experience warmer days. Layers are an absolute must though. You want to make sure you are more than warm, especially if you are exploring the South Coast or any snowy areas. A nice base layer is always a good investment. Top this with a comfortable fleece and rainproof jacket and you will be good to go. Wool hats and gloves can provide extra warmth too. 

Traveler making friends with Icelandic horses

Hiking boots are necessary any time of the year due to slick conditions, especially near waterfalls. It is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared when visiting Iceland during the Fall. Packing a reusable water bottle is a great hack when visiting, thanks to Iceland’s delicious drinkable water. 


Best Things To Do in Iceland In November

Dog Sledding

Spend your day with some adorable Icelandic dogs at Dogsledding Iceland. The company was founded in 1997 under the name Dog Stream Tours. It became Dogsledding Iceland in 2007 when the ownership was transferred. This family-owned business is the only dog sledding tour operator that runs all year near Reykjavik. They are only a 30-minute drive from the city. 

sled dogs running on a snowy wilderness road in Iceland

You have to indulge in their Snow Tour which begins with a husky dog ride. You will be able to watch the sled dogs harnessed up as they get excited about the run. The dogs will pull you through the snowy winter landscape. Your musher will drive you through the majestic scenery while telling you all about the passion and knowledge of dog sledding. About halfway through the tour, you will have an opportunity for a photo shoot with the pups. This is also where you are allowed to cuddle and pet the dogs.

These are working dogs and they love pulling the sled. You will see the excitement they show as they are getting geared up. You can expect to see Greenlandic Huskies, Siberian Huskies, and Alaskan Huskies. All of these breeds are super strong and live for the sport. 

Attend The Icelandic Tattoo Expo

Attend the Icelandic Tattoo Expo which is held from November 4th - November 6th this year in Reykjavik. Tattoo Artists will be hosting this educational artistic event.  Sanur is a tattooist that  has been conducting conferences for 11 years in Scotland, the UK, Germany, the USA, and mainly Scandinavia. He has been the annual judge at the Stockholm tournament, which is the second largest in Scandinavia and also Norrköping. 

Andrés has been attending conferences with Alex Rites of Passage and has attended all Scandinavian conferences along with Berlin for the last several years. At the merchant conference, he is also on the right of Alex Rites of Passage.

Enjoy over 30 artists and their talented artwork. There will also be entertainment and live shows during the event

Go Surfing

Yes you read that right, Iceland has a surfing scene and it is a popular activity among locals.  There are even some famous surfers such as Olafur Palsson and Atli Gudbrandsson, who have done it as an extreme sport. Iceland’s surf scene is commonly known as Arctic Surfing and many may think it is downright crazy. However, there is an average of fifty surfers living in Iceland.

Even though November is colder, it is one of the best months for surfing in Iceland due to its higher wind speeds.  This creates bigger waves for the surfers to enjoy.  The most popular area to surf in Iceland is off the coast of the Reykjanes Peninsula due to its volcanic shoreline.

Cold winter and surfer in snow

If you want to try Arctic surfing in Iceland you can during your next visit. There are few surf schools located throughout the island. Arctic Surfers provides tours and surf schools. You can also rent your board and wetsuit from them. So you don’t have to worry about flying yours in. Tours range from private lessons to a five-day surf school. A truly once-in-a-lifetime bucket list opportunity. 

Enjoy Live Music At Iceland Airwaves

If you are a live music lover then you have to attend Iceland Airwaves! This worldwide famous music festival is held in Reykjavik annually in early November. This year the festival spans multiple days from Thursday, November 3rd to Saturday, November 5th. Its main focus is showcasing new music, both Icelandic and international. You can expect hundreds of acts, ranging from unheard-of up-and-comers to headline-status artists. The festival's main sponsors are Icelandair and the City of Reykjavík.

The shows are held at different indoor locations and stages in the city. All of the locations are conveniently located within walking distance of each other.  The confirmed venues so far this year are the Art Museum, Gamla bíó, Iðnó, Fríkirkjan, Gaukurinn, and Húrra. This year’s lineup features over 100 bands, including Yot Club, Vök, Bríet, The Vintage Caravan, Systur, and Júníus Meyvant,

Get ready for the Festival by listening to their lineup playlist on Spotify. That way you can get familiar with artists before seeing them live. 

Have An Icelandic Thanksgiving Dinner

Icelanders do not celebrate Thanksgiving, but you still can. This American holiday is primarily just celebrated in the United States. It is also a popular time for Americans to travel since they have a long holiday weekend to enjoy. Americans are used to a hot turkey with gravy, cranberry sauce, and a delicious sweet potato casserole. While you aren’t going to find any turkey here, you can get creative this year.

We recommended expanding your horizons and indulging in a Traditional Icelandic Thanksgiving instead. That means taking advantage of all the tasty and sometimes weird Icelandic cuisine. Popular Traditional Icelandic Dishes include Icelandic Fish such as Atlantic Cod and Svið which is Sheep Head. 

Have dinner at Old Iceland which is located in Reykjavik. The restaurant was established in 2014. They highlight traditional dishes while using Icelandic produce. They also use herbs and spices from the mountains of Iceland. If you want to try Icelandic Fish this is the place to do it. They use the base of traditional fish dishes and then amplify them by using their flare. 

Try the creamy shellfish soup which has fish pieces, white wine, and dill oil. The filet of cod has herb and garlic mashed potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and champagne sauce. Arctic char, salmon, and fish are some other seafood options. This is the perfect location to celebrate American Thanksgiving in an Icelandic fashion.

Fly Over Iceland

November is the perfect time to take a flight over Iceland. All from the comfort of your chair at this indoor experience. That’s right, Fly over Iceland provides you with a unique flight using state-of-the-art technology to give you the feeling of flight. You will hang suspended, feet dangling, in front of a 20-meter or 65-foot spherical screen. The film will bring you all across Iceland while using special effects such as wind, mist, and scents, combined with the ride’s motion.

Before taking off, visit the Icelandic storyteller who will show you an ancient Viking longhouse. He will tell you a historic story that includes shadow-play projection, bringing it all to life. You can purchase tickets in advance for ISK 4,990 or $34. 

Find The Northern Lights

November is one of the best times of the year to have the opportunity of viewing the Northern Lights. This is one of the benefits of shorter daylight hours and less sunlight. If you are visiting in early November you will have a decent opportunity to spot them, late November being even better.  You truly can’t be wrong during the whole month.  It is important to note the Northern Lights are never guaranteed and November could be a hit or miss. But we like to go into the month with a decent amount of optimism, thanks to Iceland's dark skies. 

While they are never guaranteed, there are a few ways to enhance your chances of seeing them. Driving out to less populated areas with minimal light pollution will help. This includes Grotta Lighthouse, which is only an eight-minute drive from Reykjavik. You can also take a winter road trip along Ring Road to Diamond Beach. There are so many locations to view the Northern Lights. Be sure to download the Aurora Tracking app so you can check the percentage of aurora before heading out.

Soak In Hrunalaug Hot Spring

November is a fantastic time to soak in a natural hot spring. We think that Hrunalaug Hot Spring is a perfect place for you to do it. This intimate and small spring is a beautiful place to get away for the day. Hrunalaug is one of the oldest pools in Iceland and one of the least crowded hot springs in the country. The hot spring is an old stone-walled pool with an even smaller pool next to it. It is located on private property but luckily, the Icelanders who own it still allow visitors to use the pool. 

You can expect the water temperatures to be around 100-38°C or 100°F. This means it is ideal for soaking as it won’t get unbearably hot. The temperature stays the same year-round, perfect for November. Enjoy the crisp late autumn air on your face as your body heats up and relaxes. 

View of Turf house and geothermal hot spring in Hrunalaug.

You can reach the hot spring by driving an hour and a half from Reykjavik. It is located near the adorable town of Flúðir. You will take road number 344 until you see a sign for Hruni. Continue on the road for two miles and then turn on road 345, continuing towards Hruni. Then you will see a road sign for Sólheimar. Once you do turn toward the sign. Then it is just a short 0.2 miles until you reach the parking lot for Hrunalaug hot spring. 

There is no sign since the location is secret. However, the “No Camping” sign in the parking lot can be found. That is how you know you are in the right place. From there it is a quick two-minute walk to the isolated hot spring.

Café Babalú

While the weather gets colder in November it is the perfect time to nestle up in a cozy cafe in a warm sweater. Reykjavik is home to Café Babalú, a local’s favorite coffee spot. Coffee drinks range from Espressos, Lattes, Swiss Mokka, and Chai drinks. You can also try one of their delicious Hot Chocolates. 

Pair your beverage with a Sweet Crepe! Flavors range from chocolate, banana, berry mix, and caramel pie. The crepes are topped with whipped cream and syrup, yum. Did we also mention they are known for their “World Famous Cheesecake”? Café Babalú is a relaxing place to read a book or surf the web on their free wifi. An excellent stop on a chilly November day in Iceland.

Black Friday Shopping

This Americanized holiday of getting up at 3:00 AM and standing in line for six hours for a chance to shop the deals of the season, is also popular in Iceland. The term “Black Friday” actually came from the Philadelphia Police Department which symbolized the dread they felt dealing with the crowds the day after Thanksgiving. While Icelanders do not celebrate Thanksgiving they do partake in Black Friday Deals or Svartur föstudag Deals. 

You can plan to see deals at clothing stores, food stores, and even tour operators. While there may not be tons of stores participating you will find a decent amount. The best part is, you do not have to worry about getting trampled or standing in line for hours as you do in the United States. Icelanders keep it classy during this normally chaotic day.

Visit The Waterfalls

November is an exceptional time of year to visit popular waterfalls in Iceland. You can expect fewer crowds than in summer while taking in the same beauty. The waterfalls by the coast do not freeze, even in the coldest conditions. However, you may see some of them partially frozen in other parts of the country. 

Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Gljúfrabúi waterfall, and Skógafoss waterfall are all stops you should make. Located right off Route One on Iceland's South Coast, is the gigantic Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. With a 200 feet drop, you truly can’t miss this magnificent landmark that sits between the town of Selfoss and Skogafoss near Hvolsvollur. It is one of the most photographed waterfalls in the country.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall iceland 

Located next to Selijandandsfoss is Gljufrabui Waterfall. This waterfall is 131 feet tall and is mostly hidden by a cliff rock. You can find the waterfall by taking on the short and sweet 1.2-mile out-and-back hike. The hike will first bring you around Seljalandsfoss waterfall, which is a visual bonus for your proposal hike. When you get to the other side you will end up making a right which will bring you off of the Seljalandsfoss trail and onto the Gljufrabui Waterfall Trail. Both waterfalls are located two hours from Reykjavik.

Lastly, visit the infamous Skógafoss waterfall. The waterfall is located on the Skoga River, with a  width of 25 meters or 82 feet, and a drop of 60 meters or197 feet. This waterfall is a vision, producing both single and double rainbows. You can take on the 4.2-mile hiking trail with a 1,145-foot elevation gain. The intense staircase will bring you to the top of the waterfall, providing once-in-a-lifetime views of the area. This waterfall is also located a little over two hours from Reykjavik. 

Dine At A Michelin Star Restaurant

Reykjavik is home to a famous Michelin Star Restaurant that certainly lives up to the hype, known as Dill. It is the first restaurant in Iceland to be awarded a Michelin Star. This award is very prestigious as it is known to be the highest of culinary excellence. The restaurant opened in 2009 and was later awarded the Michelin Star in 2017. 

Dill specializes in Nordic cooking. Their dishes tell stories of the wilderness and farmers throughout the Icelandic countryside. Their menu frequently changes to keep up with the fresh ingredients of Iceland. Some dishes featured have been smoked trout, braised goose legs, and oland bread. If wine is a devotion of yours, then you will highly enjoy Dill’s wine list. Their bottles are “organic and provocative wines” that match their distinguishing cuisine. 

Dill is more than just a restaurant, it is better described as a culinary journey. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you to partake in. It is also a fun date night spot or luxurious dinner option when visiting Iceland in November. The cost to dine at Dill is 17.900 ISK or $123 per person. To add on a wine experience, it would be an additional 4.900 ISK or $100. It is a pricey experience but also one that you will never forget. 

See Icelandic Turf Houses

Let's explore Laufás Turf House, which belongs to the National Museum of Iceland. This historic place showcases actual turf houses that housed 20-30 people in Laufás back in the 1900s. You can admire the houses and get a glimpse into how Icelanders used to live. 

Laufás Turf House

A turf house is constructed of flat stones, wood, turf, and soil. First, a wooden frame would be built and used as the foundation. Then a few layers of turf would be laid down on the frame. Iceland only had 30% of its land forested during this time. Wood was in high demand, so the locals had to get creative. This helped provide shelter from Iceland’s frigid climate.  

While turf houses are normally a bit smaller, Laufás was considered a wealthy area. Parts of the turf house date back all the way to 1840, a truly historic site. You can purchase tickets at the visitor center upon entry. We recommend taking a walk around and looking inside these amazingly built turf homes. 

Visit The Perlan

The Perlan is known to showcase the “Wonders of Iceland''. Located in Reykjavik, the exhibit is a unique experience that is perfect for a November day.  The museum is home to different exhibits that will engage your adventurous spirit. 

The Ice Cave Exhibit is the first of its kind in the entire world. It is 100 meters or 328 feet long, built with over 350 tons of snow. You can wander through the Ice Cave while learning about the glacial environment.

The Glacier Exhibit provides insight into Icelandic glaciers, their bleak future, and the effects of global warming. Learn all about Iceland’s glaciers and what will happen if, or when, they disappear. 

The Virtual Fish Tank is an opportunity for you to snorkel, without going into any water. You can explore Iceland’s oceanic wonders, in a Cinematic Underwater Journey, and watch in awe as whales swim below their feet.

These are just a few of the many interactive exhibits the Perlan offers. It is an educational stop that stimulates your brain. You can purchase tickets on their website

Explore The Blue Diamond Cave

November is a great time to visit Iceland’s ice caves. We recommend visiting the Blue Diamond Cave which is one of the glacier caves that sits in Vatnajokull

The cave has a stunning vivid blue color and is known to be bluer than the famous Crystal Cave. Is a moulin cave which is also known as a glacier mill, this means it is normally vertical. Instead, the Blue Diamond Cave is horizontal, making it even more unique.  It was once formed by snow and was not carved out by a glacial river like the Crystal Cave.

Ice cave interior in Iceland

Take the Ice Cave Tour with the Local Guide of Vatnajokull. Your tour will depart from Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. From there you will hop on a Super Jeep transfer to the base of the glacier and then up to the ice cave. You will not have to walk far to enter the ice cave, but once there you can enjoy the gorgeous blue ice. Spend your time taking pictures of the Blue Diamond Cave. This place is so beautiful it is known to bring the guides and visitors to tears. 

Reykjavik Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

One of the top-rated activities to do in Reykjavik is the hop-on-hop-off bus tour. This is a fun way to see the city without having to find parking for every attraction you want to see. This bus pass is valid for 24 hours so you can take your time at your stops.

The bus departs from Harpa every 45 minutes and will bring you to some of the top sightseeing attractions in the city. Stop include and are not limited to, Reykjavik Old Harbor, National Museum of Iceland, Lækjargata Hard Rock Café, Laugavegur Shopping Street, Kjarvalsstaðir Art Museum, Hallgrímskirkja Church and so many more. 

There is Free Wifi and audio guide commentary in eight languages (German, Italian, Swedish, Icelandic, French, Spanish, English & Japanese). The full tour takes about 80-85 minutes to complete and starts from Harpa. The last departure is from Harpa at 4:15 PM. For only $30 a person, it is truly a steal and makes a fun day trip without all the hassle. 

Visit The Cave People

Yes, you read that right! Only one hour east of Reyjavik is The Cave People. This museum allows you to take a tour that explores how the cave people lived in the wild nature of Iceland less than 100 years ago. The Caves have since been rebuilt to look exactly like they did when the last Cave People in Iceland lived there only a century ago.

The caves you will be visiting are called Laugarvatnshellir. They are two man-made caves located between Þingvellir National Park and Laugarvatn. There is no idea who or how the caves were formed or when they were. Nevertheless, there is a tale that they were Irish monks before the settlement which began in 874.

The tour will bring you into the caves as the guide tells the tales of the Icelanders. They went through so many struggles but were very happy and grateful. The tour is 25 minutes long and is offered every thirty minutes. You can even grab a cup of coffee and some treats before or after in the Cave Cafe. An educational and nostalgic visit, just a quick drive away from the city of Reykjavik. 

Take A Day Trip To The Snæfellsnes Region

Located an hour and forty minutes north of Reykjavik is the charming area of Snæfellsnes. There is so much for you to explore during November in this Western Iceland region! The most famous tourist attraction here is Kirkjufell Mountain, also known as “Arrowhead Mountain'' in Game of Thrones. The 1519-foot mountain sits on the coast of Iceland's Snæfellsnes peninsula, near the town of Grundarfjörður. The mountain is famous for its one-of-a-kind peak and surrounding landscape. Waterfalls cascade in front of the mountain into a lake, providing a majestic photo opportunity. 

Kirkjufell mount and waterfall snow in iceland

Then head over to the “Fortress of Fire” also known as Eldborg Scoria Crater. It is located between  Snæfellsnes Peninsula and Mýrar in West Iceland. The crater was actually at its most active around 5,000-8,000 years ago.  You can get to the Crater via a hike that is rated as easy. The trail is out and back with a mileage of 3.7. The unique path goes through the lava field that has very rocky terrain, so wear your hiking boots.  The height of the crater is .6 miles above sea level and the ascent is .3 miles. You will also be able to see the other craters in the area from the top of Eldborg. But Eldborg Scoria Crater is the biggest one!

After, Get ready to play around on large hexagonal rock structures, known as The Gerðuberg Basalt Columns. These massive rocks are excellent for climbing around on and are completely natural. Be careful climbing in November as there could be frost on the rocks. If there is, just admire them from the ground as they are still insanely beautiful. 

The Nutcracker At Harpa Concert Hall

Harpa is a concert venue located in Reykjavik that showcases not only concerts but also exhibitions, conferences, ballet, and more. Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center provides classy orchestra-type shows in a beautiful setting. The building is quite stunning and features a distinctive colored glass facade inspired by the basalt landscape of Iceland. 

Harpa is home to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Icelandic Opera, and Reykjavík Big Band, which hold regular concerts throughout the year. This November they are putting on a majestic show, The Nutcracker with Kyiv Grand Bal­let from Ukraine.  The Nutcracker is one of the most popular ballets composed and it is one to get you in the holiday spirit. The wonderful music by Tchaikovsky brings us the Christmas fairytale spirit. Numerous ballet companies around the world stage this famous ballet every year leading up to Christmas. The collaboration between the Symphony Orchestra and Kyiv Grand Ballet will take your breath away! The show will run from November 24th till November 26th. Tickets are 12.900 kr or $89 per adult and can be purchased online.


FAQ

What is the cheapest month to visit Iceland?

Whenever it is not the peak season. Peak season is normally during the summer months, due to longer daylight hours. This means September through May tends to be cheaper. This can be ideal as you can still get the benefits of Iceland on a cheaper budget and with fewer crowds.

Are 3 days enough to visit Iceland?

Yes and no. You can do a bunch of things in three days. You could indulge in hot springs, waterfalls, and a black sand beach, or two. We do recommend doing a longer trip, such as The Ring Road. This trip could take anywhere from 7-10 days.

Should I take jeans to Iceland?

You can bring your jeans on your trip to Iceland. While you may not want to hike in them, they could be good for a museum or night out.