5 Reasons to Travel to Iceland in the Winter

andrewling

Iceland is the dream destination of millions around the world, for a good reason. However, this can lead to summer being overcrowded. Here are five reasons why you should travel to Iceland during the winter, instead of summer:

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Photo: Andrew Ling and Connor Surdi

1. It isn't as cold as you think

Despite its name, Iceland isn't as cold as you think because it actually isn't that high up latitude wise. Thanks to the warm Gulf Stream, its termperatures are actually comparable to New York City, or London. New York winters can even be much harsher. You'll be just fine!

2. It's a lot more budget friendly in the winter

Iceland can be relatively expensive no matter what, because it is so hard to everything to be supplied/shipped there. As a result, prices in the winter can still be high. However, relative to summer, they are much cheaper. Things like renting a car, staying a hotels, and even airfare can be up to/near 50% off than summer rates! Oh, and don't forget fun guided tours!

3. It's so much less crowded

Iceland in the winter was like heaven on earth for me. I do not like traveling to crowded places, or maybe I just enjoy being alone in nature! Because Iceland is such a popular destination in general, there will still be a reasonable number of tourists in downtown Reykjavik (the capital city of Iceland), and the attractions close to the main (and only) highway, the Ring Road. However, if you continue out further, you will definitely see far less people!

If you are a fan of hostels, you may book a dorm bed for 8, and end up having your own private apartment!

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Photo: Visit Iceland

4. Perfect light and amazing sunsets/later sunrises (sleeping in!)

Although the time/amount of daylight in Iceland during the winter is very short (only 4-5 hours a day!) it hovers low for a LONG time, sometimes more than an hour. Basically imagine sunsets and sunrises that last for hours on end. Whether you are a professional or amateur photographer, your pictures will be even better!

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Photo: Heckla

5. Chase the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights are something almost every traveler would love to see. Seeing the magical beauty of the Aurora Borealis for the first time is an unforgettable experience, almost surreal. When is the best time to see them? WINTER of course!

You can check the Aurora forecast/certain websites for predictions (http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/).

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Photo: Expert Vagabond

6. ICE CAVES ICE CAVES ICE CAVES

Did someone say ICE CAVES?!?! I still remember my first time stepping into an ice cave, something I'll never forget. I've had the pleasure of stepping into more than a dozen ice caves now, but each time is still spectacular and unforgettable. I even remember the exact feeling when I saw a PICTURE of an ice cave in Iceland for the first time. I just knew I had to see it. I am not a huge fan of organized trips, but at first this was definitely a necessity. It is really hard to navigate yourself around a new country, let alone find ice caves safely/efficiently. Good news is they are relatively inexpensive for the experience!

Please note that the tours will sell out, and to book well in advance!

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Photo: Icelandic Photo Tours

7. Icelandic horses are some of the most beautiful and sweet animals in the world

Be ready to scratch/pet lots of horses! I'll leave this one mostly to the photos. Look at how cute they are! In the cold season they develop a thick winter coat/fur which protects them from the cold, snow, and rain, and yes makes them even cuter!

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Photo: Guide To Iceland/Blue Lagoon

8. Hot springs, hot pools!

The Blue Lagoon is something you've likely seen in pictures, but there's so much more to Iceland than just the Blue Lagoon! (Although it is wonderful). If you do decide to go to the Blue Lagoon, it is right by the airport and you will need reservations, so plan ahead!

You can also go look for geothermal spots in the mountains and valleys. I wanted a more intimate place, so I hiked the trail to the hot springs in Reykjadalur (Smoke Valley). On the way it was very windy and rainy, but that just made it all the merrier when we finally got into the pools. We never wanted to get out. Sometimes you may have to walk along the streams to find different pools with different temperatures, to find the one with the perfect temperature for your frozen bodies! PS don't forget to bring some refreshments/water as you will definitely be thirsty after soaking for hours on end!

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