GuidesWeatherWhat to Expect: Weather in Iceland in January
iceland weather january: The girl climbing the glacier in Iceland
Go Car Rental Iceland travel writer Aron Freyr
By Aron FreyrMay 10, 2024 • 10 min read

What to Expect: Weather in Iceland in January

Iceland is known for its stunning landscapes, unique culture, and unpredictable weather. And if you're planning a trip to this Nordic island in January, you may be wondering what kind of weather to expect.

January is one of the coldest months in Iceland, with temperatures dropping below freezing and snowfall becoming more frequent. But don't let that deter you from visiting this beautiful country. In this article, we'll dive into what you can expect from Iceland's weather in January and how to prepare for your trip.

What is the Weather Like in Iceland in January?


January is the coldest month in Iceland, with average temperatures ranging from 28°F (-2°C) to 37°F (3°C). However, temperatures can drop as low as 14°F (-10°C) in some areas, especially in the northern and eastern parts of the country.

Iceland Weather

Iceland is known for its unpredictable weather, and January is no exception. You can expect a mix of rain, snow, and sleet throughout the month. On average, Iceland receives around 3.5 inches (9 cm) of precipitation in January, with the majority falling as snow.

Daylight Hours

Daylight hours in January in Iceland

One of the unique aspects of visiting Iceland in January is the limited daylight hours. Due to its location near the Arctic Circle, Iceland experiences long periods of darkness during the winter months. In January, Iceland gets only 4-5 hours of daylight. The sun rises at around 11:00 am and sets at around 3:30 pm.

What to Pack for a January Trip to Iceland

When packing for a January Iceland weather, it's essential to prepare for cold, wet, and windy weather. Here are some essential items to pack for your trip:

Warm Clothing

Layers are key when it comes to staying warm in Iceland's winter weather. Be sure to pack thermal base layers, a warm fleece or sweater, and a waterproof and windproof jacket. Don't forget to bring a hat, gloves, and a scarf to protect your head, hands, and neck from the cold.

Waterproof Boots

Adventure hiking boots of outdoor adventurer, weather and waterproof with red laces stand on top of rock

With the potential for snow and rain, it's crucial to have a good pair of waterproof boots for your trip. Look for boots with good traction to help you navigate the icy and snowy terrain.

Camera Gear

If you're planning on capturing the stunning landscapes of Iceland, be sure to pack your camera gear. But remember, cold weather can make your camera's battery die fast. So, bring some extra batteries and keep them warm in your pockets.


Blue Lagoon in a snow fall weather in January in Iceland

If you're planning a winter trip to Iceland, make sure to pack a swimsuit. You'll definitely want to visit the country's famous hot springs, like the Blue Lagoon, and other geothermal pools. These attractions are even more fun during the winter months.

What Activities Can You Do in Iceland in January?

Northern Lights

photographer man with camera and tripod photographs northern lights

One of the main reasons people visit Iceland in the winter is to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. With the long periods of darkness, January is an ideal time to see this natural phenomenon. Head to a remote location away from city lights for the best chance of seeing the lights dance across the sky.

Winter Sports

Iceland offers a variety of winter sports, including skiing, snowmobiling, and ice skating. Many tour companies offer guided excursions for these activities, making it easy for visitors to participate.

Whale Watching

a humpback whale in front of an iceberg in Iceland

While whale watching is a popular activity in the summer months, it's also possible to see these majestic creatures in the winter. January is a prime time for whale watching, with the highest chances of spotting humpback and minke whales.

Cultural Experiences

Iceland's unique culture and traditions are on full display in January. The country celebrates Þorrablót, a mid-winter festival, with traditional food, music, and dancing. It's a great opportunity to immerse yourself in Icelandic culture and try some local delicacies.

Rent a 4x4 Vehicle

If you plan on driving in Iceland in January, it's essential to rent a 4x4 vehicle. The roads can be icy and snowy, and a 4x4 will provide better traction and stability.

4x4 rental car in iceland with snow on the ground in January

Check the Weather Forecast

As mentioned earlier, Iceland's weather can be unpredictable. Be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out for the day, and plan accordingly.

Dress in Layers

Pretty Woman on Winter Vacation: A Woman on Winter Vacation in Iceland

Layering is key to staying warm and comfortable in Iceland's winter weather. Be sure to pack thermal base layers, a warm fleece or sweater, and a waterproof and windproof jacket.

Stay Hydrated

The cold weather can be dehydrating, so be sure to drink plenty of water during your trip. It's also a good idea to bring a reusable water bottle to refill throughout the day.


While January may not be the warmest time to visit Iceland, it's still a beautiful and exciting time to experience this unique country. With the right preparation and packing, you can enjoy all that Iceland has to offer, from stunning landscapes to cultural experiences and winter activities. So bundle up and get ready to embrace the chill of Iceland's January weather.