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4 Important Things Travelers Need To Know About Visiting Iceland This Winter 

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The land of fire and ice has become popular for every type of traveler worldwide.

Wanderers looking to find solace amongst nature and photographers seeking out the most epic of landscapes find what they are looking for in Iceland.

It was reported by the Icelandic Tourist Board that in 2022, the country welcomed 1.7 million visitors! 

A small Nordic Island country out to sea, there’s something magical about the country that draws tourists each year. Known for its dramatic landscapes of lava fields and glaciers, friendly locals, and change of seasons, there’s really no bad time to visit.

iceland winter

During the summer months, travelers can expect to experience the midnight sun. 24-hour daylight, and parties until the wee hours of the morning, but there’s another season making headlines. 

In the past few years, with Iceland’s tourism ever increasing, flocks of people have been visiting during the winter months to see the natural phenomenon that is the Northern Lights. Hundreds travel to the country, hoping to catch a glimpse of the epic light show. 

With all the joys that winter brings also comes some friendly reminders from locals and important things to know during one of Iceland’s most dangerous seasons. 

Don’t Ignore The Warning Signs

When traveling, it’s very easy to feel as though we’re invincible in a world full of adventure, excitement, and new sites to be discovered, but in Iceland it’s more important than ever to keep your guard up.

Some tourists have the habit of ignoring warning signs, and in a country like Iceland, this is a big mistake you don’t want to make. The sheer power of the natural wonders here is unexplainable.

According to popular tour company ‘Reykjavik Excursions,’ there have been 12 emergency calls and 5 deaths at Reynisfjara black-sand beach in the last decade alone. 

An owner of a tour company in the country says, “In Iceland, a warning sign is put up because someone has died or multiple people have died. It's not just because something might happen.” Iceland is a beautiful country with unexpected storms, volcanoes, and rocky cliffsides – be careful. 

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Packing Appropriately Is Key

The ‘anything goes’ mentality doesn’t work in Iceland during the winter, especially when it comes to packing. Part of having a successful trip to the land of fire and ice is knowing what to bring!

IcelandAir suggests always packing “an under-layer or base layer of clothing – both top and trousers. Lightweight merino wool or synthetic thermal materials are recommended. A middle layer that provides insulation and retains body heat. Recommended materials include wool, fleece, down and synthetic.”

Layers are key when traveling through Iceland. Locals often say that the weather can change within seconds, so it’s important to prepare for every scenario.

I’ve personally traveled to the country 5 times, and always always bring multiple options! It’s always better to start with more layers, so that way you can remove layers if you get warm and add them if you get cold. 

northern lights

Practice VERY Safe Driving

Although the roads may seem barren at times, it’s important to note that there are speed cameras almost everywhere in Iceland. Fines are particularly expensive here if you’re caught – so don’t take any chances!

Throughout the year, roads are well-signed for locals and tourists, but the conditions definitely change a lot as the winter months approach. If you’re driving in Iceland you could be met with any of these possibilities: forceful winds, falling rocks, poor visibility, slippery roads, and frozen cars. 

According to Nordic Visitor, it’s wise to check weather and road conditions, download the 112 Iceland app, save the emergency services number, and do not only rely on your phone's GPS!  

winter scape in iceland

Be Prepared With Plans A, B, And C

Unexpected weather conditions also bring with them unexpected plans. While Icelanders and tour companies are prepared for every scenario, it’s paramount to understand that plans may have to be changed.

While the companies are well-equipped with trucks, buses, and safety kits, they can’t control Mother Nature! Always have a backup plan, or talk to companies before booking to understand the road and weather conditions, and what their policies are on cancellations, etc. 

woman in blue lagoon in iceland

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.