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explore iceland during iceland's coldest months

Winter Wonders: January Explorations in Iceland

Iceland in January is a magical wonderland just waiting for you to explore. With its snow-covered landscapes, unique winter activities, and awe-inspiring Northern Lights, the experience will be unforgettable. Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Let’s dive into what makes Iceland in January a truly remarkable destination.

Key Takeaways

  • Experience Iceland’s stunning winter wonderland scenery, unique activities & captivating Northern Lights in January!
  • Prepare for Icelandic winter with the right clothing and gear to enjoy an unforgettable adventure.
  • Follow safe driving practices and pack essentials like warm layers for a successful journey.

Iceland in January: Why Visit?

A view of Iceland in January with snow-covered mountains in iceland's south coast with aurora in the sky during cold temperatures

If you’re seeking a winter adventure like no other, look no further than visiting Iceland in January. This incredible month offers a unique winter experience with stunning landscapes, fewer tourists, and lower prices, making it a perfect opportunity for travelers to visit Iceland and experience something new. From exploring majestic ice caves to chasing the elusive Northern Lights, there’s no shortage of excitement waiting for you in this wonderland.

But it’s not just the breathtaking scenery and once-in-a-lifetime experiences that make Iceland in January so special. With an average temperature ranging from -10°C to +5°C, this is the perfect time to indulge in Iceland’s geothermal pools and hot springs, while also enjoying traditional Icelandic food and culture. So, pack your bags and embark on a winter journey that you’ll never forget!

Winter Wonderland Scenery

Imagine a world where landscapes are covered in a blanket of pristine snow, icy roads lead to enchanting destinations, and the sky dances with the mesmerizing Northern Lights. This is Iceland in January, a winter wonderland that promises breathtaking views and picturesque scenery.

One must-visit destination during this time is the stunning Diamond Beach, a black sand beach adorned with beautiful ice diamonds, offering an even grander and more gorgeous sight during the Icelandic Christmas season in January.

Unique Activities

January in Iceland boasts a plethora of exclusive activities that are simply not available during other seasons. Imagine embarking on an ice caving adventure, exploring the stunning blue ice formations within glaciers like Vatnajökull.

Or, perhaps you’d prefer the thrill of glacier hiking and snowmobiling on Iceland’s largest glaciers, such as Langjökull. These exhilarating experiences are just a taste of what awaits you on your January trip to Iceland.

Another unforgettable experience is a visit to the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, where the most incredible ice cave tours depart from. After exploring the majestic caves, don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in some traditional Icelandic food at nearby restaurants and warm up with a cup of hot chocolate. These unique activities are sure to make your winter trip to Iceland one for the books!

Northern Lights Magic

One of the most compelling reasons to visit Iceland in January is the chance to witness the magical Northern Lights. Due to the long, dark nights during this time of year, the odds of catching a glimpse of the aurora borealis are significantly higher. Imagine standing beneath the dancing lights, surrounded by Iceland’s extraordinary winter landscape – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience you’ll never forget.

To increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights, consider joining a guided tour. Options include bus tours, super jeep tours, and cruise. These tours are led by experienced guides who know the best viewing spots and can provide expert knowledge to make your aurora hunting experience truly memorable. So, grab your camera, bundle up, and prepare to be mesmerized by the magic of the Northern Lights!

January Weather in Iceland

January Weather in Iceland 2024

Weather graph from

While Iceland’s beauty is undeniable, its January weather can be quite unpredictable. In fact, Iceland’s weather during this month sees temperatures fluctuating between a chilling -10°C to a cozier +5°C, so you should prepare for a variety of weather conditions. Snow, hail, and rain may all make an appearance during your trip, adding to the excitement of your winter adventure.

But fear not, as long as you pack accordingly and stay updated on road and weather conditions, you’ll be well-equipped to enjoy Iceland’s winter wonders.

Preparing for Icelandic Winter

Packing the right clothing and gear is crucial for your comfort and enjoyment of Iceland’s winter weather. Essentials include:

  • Thermal base layers
  • Waterproof and insulated outerwear
  • Waterproof boots with a sturdy grip
  • Woolen or thermal socks
  • A warm hat covering your ears
  • A scarf or buff
  • Warm waterproof gloves
  • Swimwear
  • A waterproof backpack
  • A thermos
  • Sunglasses
  • Skincare products such as hand cream, lip balm, and moisturizer
January Packing list for Iceland

With the right attire and equipment, you’ll be ready to make the most of your Icelandic winter adventure, whether you’re participating in the Reykjavik International Games or exploring the breathtaking landscapes and savoring traditional Icelandic foods.

Top Winter Activities in Iceland

Iceland offers a plethora of unforgettable experiences during the winter months, with top activities including exploring ice caves, hiking on glaciers, and horseback riding through snowy landscapes. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or simply looking to immerse yourself in Iceland’s natural beauty, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during this magical time of year.

Ice Caving Adventures

A view of an ice cave in Iceland in January

Ice caving in January provides a truly awe-inspiring experience. Venture beneath Iceland’s largest glaciers, like Vatnajökull, and witness the stunning blue ice formations that can only be seen during this time of year.

These majestic caves offer a glimpse into the heart of Iceland’s frozen landscape, providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you won’t want to miss.

Glacier Hiking and Snowmobiling

If you’re looking for a thrilling adventure with breathtaking views, glacier hiking and snowmobiling on Iceland’s largest glaciers, like Langjökull, are the perfect activities for you. As you traverse the icy terrain, you’ll be surrounded by the stunning winter landscape, making for an unforgettable experience.

Just be sure to bundle up and stay safe as you embark on this exhilarating journey.

Horseback Riding Through Winter Landscapes

iceland weather winter conditions during january horseback riding

For a truly unique and enchanting experience, consider horseback riding through Iceland’s winter landscapes. Bond with the native Icelandic horse breed as you explore the beautiful snowy scenery and take in the sights and sounds of this magical time of year.

Whether you’re an experienced rider or new to the saddle, this activity offers a fantastic opportunity to appreciate the country’s beauty and connect with nature in a truly unforgettable way.

Hot Springs and Geothermal Pools

Relaxing in one of Iceland’s many hot springs and geothermal pools is the perfect way to unwind after a day filled with winter adventures. From the famous Blue Lagoon to the newly-opened Sky Lagoon, these soothing, warm waters offer a rejuvenating experience amidst the chilly winter weather.

Soak in the mineral-rich waters of the south coast and let the warmth of these natural wonders melt away any lingering winter chill.

Blue Lagoon

A view of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland in January

The Blue Lagoon, Iceland’s most famous geothermal pool, offers a luxurious spa experience in a stunning setting surrounded by lava fields. With its milky blue waters and rejuvenating treatments, the Blue Lagoon is the perfect place to:

  • Relax and unwind
  • Enjoy a soothing soak in the warm waters
  • Experience the healing properties of the mineral-rich geothermal mud
  • Indulge in a range of spa treatments and massages

After a day of exploring Iceland’s winter landscape, a visit to the Blue Lagoon is a must for ultimate relaxation and rejuvenation.

Just a short 40-minute drive from Reykjavik, this iconic destination should not be missed during your January trip to Iceland.

Sky Lagoon

A view of the Sky Lagoon in Iceland during winter season,in early january at the capital city

For a truly unique geothermal experience, look no further than the newly-opened Sky Lagoon. This impressive geothermal pool features:

  • A seven-step spa experience
  • Various treatments
  • Breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape
  • Surrounded by volcanic rock walls
  • An onsite waterfall
  • A grass-roof turf house

Making it a truly immersive and serene experience.

While transportation may require self-driving, the overall experience is absolutely worth it for those seeking a one-of-a-kind geothermal escape.

Local Geothermal Pools

Woman in a hot spring in Iceland watching the sun rises during a chilly weather

If you’re looking for a more authentic and affordable way to experience Iceland’s natural hot springs, consider visiting one of the many local geothermal pools scattered throughout the country. These pools offer a warm and inviting atmosphere, allowing visitors to soak in the mineral-rich waters while surrounded by Iceland’s beautiful winter landscapes.

As a beloved part of Icelandic culture, communal bathing in these local pools is a fantastic way to truly immerse yourself in the spirit of Iceland.

Chasing the Northern Lights

A view of the northern lights in Iceland in January in north iceland, just a just a few hours from reykjavik

Chasing the Northern Lights stands out as one of the most magical experiences in Iceland during January. With long, dark nights providing the perfect opportunity for aurora hunting, you’ll have a greater chance of witnessing this mesmerizing natural phenomenon.

So bundle up, pack your camera, and embark on a journey to see the dancing lights that have captivated the hearts of countless travelers before you.

Best Viewing Locations

When it comes to viewing the Northern Lights, location is crucial. The best spots are far away from city lights and light pollution, offering unobstructed views of the night sky. Some of the most incredible viewing locations include:

  • Vík & South Iceland
  • Vatnajökull National Park
  • Seltjarnarnes in Reykjavík
  • Snæfellsnes peninsula
  • Ásbyrgi Canyon near Húsavík

By venturing to these remote countryside areas, you’ll maximize your chances of witnessing the enchanting aurora borealis.

Guided Northern Lights Tours

For an unforgettable Northern Lights experience, consider joining a guided tour. With options ranging from bus tours and super jeep tours to Northern Lights cruises, these guided excursions are led by experienced guides who can help you find the best viewing spots and provide expert knowledge to make your aurora hunting experience truly memorable.

By opting for a guided tour, you’ll increase your chances of witnessing the magical Northern Lights and create lasting memories of your time in Iceland, especially if you choose a tour that includes the Golden Circle.

A view of a person going driving a car in Iceland in January

When planning your January trip to Iceland, considering the type of vehicle required for safe driving in potential icy and snowy road conditions is vital.

Renting a 4x4 vehicle, like the Dacia Duster, Toyota Rav4 or Toyota Land Cruiser, is highly recommended, as it offers superior traction and stability on icy roads. Moreover, Go Car Rental ensures that all their vehicles are equipped with studded winter tires during January, providing an additional layer of safety and grip on icy or snow-covered roads.

By choosing the right vehicle, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate Iceland’s winter landscape safely and confidently.

Tips for Traveling in Iceland in January

Being prepared for various weather conditions and winter challenges is key to fully enjoy your January trip to Iceland. Tips for traveling in Iceland during this time include practicing safe driving, checking weather and road conditions regularly, and packing appropriate clothing and gear for the cold weather.

By following these tips, you’ll be well-equipped to make the most of your winter adventure in this incredible country.

Safe Driving Practices

Practicing safe driving habits during your January trip to Iceland is crucial for a smooth and enjoyable journey. Stay updated on road closures and avoid driving on closed roads, as this can result in fines and rescue fees.

Additionally, drive cautiously on icy or snowy roads, and make sure to rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle with studded tires for improved traction. By following these safe driving practices, you’ll be well-prepared for any challenges the Icelandic roads may present.

Packing Essentials

When packing for your January trip to Iceland, including items that will keep you warm and comfortable during the cold weather is important. Essentials to pack include:

  • Warm layers
  • Waterproof clothing
  • Insulated boots
  • A thermos for hot beverages

Additionally, don’t forget to bring a camera to capture the breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable experiences you’ll encounter during your winter journey when visiting Iceland.


In conclusion, visiting Iceland in January offers a truly unique and unforgettable experience for adventurous travelers. From exploring ice caves and glacier hiking to chasing the Northern Lights and relaxing in geothermal pools, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during this magical time of year.

By following the tips and recommendations provided in this guide, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on a winter adventure of a lifetime in the land of fire and ice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is January a good time to travel to Iceland?

January is a great time to travel to Iceland with fewer tourists meaning uncrowded sites, snow covered ground and lots of cool winter activities. Enjoy the shorter days, colder temperatures and the aurora borealis, as well as warming up with burning wine in the frosty streets.

Can you see Northern Lights in Iceland in January?

January is the perfect time to catch a glimpse of the mesmerizing Northern Lights in Iceland. With longer nights, it's easier to spot them and get away from city lights for the best views.

Can you go in the Blue Lagoon in January?

You can absolutely enjoy the Blue Lagoon in January - the water temperature is comfortable and makes for a more relaxed and enjoyable spa experience!

What is it like to travel in Iceland in January?

Traveling to Iceland in January can be a truly magical experience, with frosty streets, dancing northern lights in the sky and three feet of snow covering the ground. The average temperature in Iceland in January ranges from -1°C (31°F) to +1°C (30-33 Fahrenheit), making it not as cold as you might think. Plus, there are plenty of fun tours available for exploration!

What type of vehicle should I rent for driving in Iceland in January?

Given the potentially icy and snowy road conditions in Iceland during January, it's best to rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle with studded tires for safe driving.

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