Photos to Inspire You to Visit Iceland in Winter

Iceland in winter…hmmm. As someone who hates the cold, this was the last place I thought I’d find myself. However when deciding where to go for my vacation over New Years, Iceland kept popping up. Amazing fireworks in Reykjavik, the Aurora Borealis, winter wonderland conditions.  These things sounded pretty cool. That combined with a relatively short and inexpensive flight equals me freezing my tush off in Iceland.

There are many pros and cons to visiting Iceland in winter, which I will expound upon in a future post. The magical lighting and stunning scenery are definitely pros. People told me I was crazy to go in winter, that it would be dark all day. Yes, you have limited daylight hours, but the light is ethereal; it’s like a constant sunrise and sunset.

Here are some of my favorites.

Gullfoss

Iceland in Winter

The name means “Golden Falls” in Icelandic. This amazing two tiered waterfall is in the Golden Circle.

Pingvellir

Iceland in Winter

This national park is also in the Golden Circle.  It is a UNESCO world heritage site because of its historical, cultural and geological significance. I’m about to completely dork out on you, are you ready?  So, this area is a rift valley which means that two tectonic plates that were once connected, have moved apart. Iceland is a young country in geological terms so you can still see the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, because they aren’t very far apart. Cool right?

Iceland in Winter

Can we talk about this dreamy lighting? If the sun decides to come out, you get purple, pink, orange or all three at once. This was one of my favorite part of visiting Iceland in winter.

Icelandic Horses

Iceland in Winter

These pony sized, adorable horses are a breed developed in Iceland and known for unique gaits, sturdy builds and heavy coats. They are friendly and docile. These were in the Golden Circle and I had to pull over and play with them.

Reykjavik

Winter in Iceland

This cute city is even cuter decorated for the holidays and dusted with snow.

Iceland in Winter

Jon Gunnar Arnatson designed this incredible sculpture to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Reykjavik. It represents a ship voyaging to undiscovered territories, always guided by the sun. I love the throw back to a viking past. It looks like reindeer antlers, doesn’t it?

Svartifoss

Iceland in Winter

Meaning “black falls’, this stunning waterfall is in Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park. It is approximately a thirty minute hike to reach it. The dark lava or basalt hexagonal columns around it are responsible for its name. It is truly a winter wonderland around this area.

Random Pretty Scenes

Iceland in Winter

I really have no idea where exactly these places are. Part of the fun of driving around Iceland is that you can stop anytime you feel like taking pictures. It’s just so freaking pretty everywhere that you end up stopping a ton! I took these pictures somewhere in the south between Selfoss and Vik.

Iceland in Winter

I mean, this is just “random on the side of the road waterfall”.  Maybe it’s more famous and I don’t know but nobody was stopping at it.

Vik

Iceland in Winter

The black sand beaches of Vik are best at sunset, which is kind of all day in winter. I thought this looked like Mordor in Lord of the Rings, if it had a beach.

Jökulsárlón

Iceland in Winter

The name means “glacial river lagoon” and is a huge glacial lake in southeast Iceland, on the edge of Vatnajökull national park. Glacial melting formed this lake. I was awe-struck at these large chunks of glacial ice, floating around in the lagoon.

Iceland in Winter

Again, these gorgeous pink and orange skies and blue ice, all typical of Iceland in winter.

Glacier Hiking

Iceland in Winter

Is winter in Iceland the only time you can hike on a glacier? No. Is it the same in summer? Hell no! First of all, if you are not so cold that you are shocked to come home with all your fingers and toes, than you are not getting the full experience!  Secondly, it doesn’t look quite as icy in the summer, nor do you have the blue ice. Can I dork out again about why the ice is blue? Ok, so the density of the ice is higher in winter, resulting in less air bubbles, and less scattered light. This compactness of ice allows for light to penetrate. Absorption of all other colors happens while blue reflects to the human eye. Physics, my friends. Don’t you wish you paid attention in high school? (I had a cute physics teacher and definitely paid attention!)

Winter in Iceland

 Sólheimajökull is a mere tongue off of the massive Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which covers the big bad Katla Volcano. This volcano erupts every 60-80 years but it’s been 100 years since its last eruption. Kind of scary, considering the much smaller volcano, Eyjafjallajökull is the one that erupted in 2010, spewing ash and pumice and shutting down flights in Europe for a week!  Also scary in terms of climate change, is that this glacier has shrunk a kilometer in the past decade.

 Solheimasandur Plane Wreck

Iceland in Winter

In 1974 a US Navy DC plane ran out of fuel and crashed here. And it’s still here. It is a 45 min walk from the parking lot. I will be sharing more details about this in another post, but this striking place is a time-consuming venture and uncomfortable if the weather is not in your favor. I was lucky with sunrise lighting  (at 11 am) and a dusting of snow, but the walk back was through a vicious hail storm that was not the least bit fun!

Diamond Beach

Iceland in Winter

Also called “Ice Beach” or Breiðamerkursandur, this area is formed by fire and ice, like most things in Iceland. Volcanic black sand and ice chunks that glisten like diamond, especially at sunset. The glacier lagoon across the street sends glacial ice to the ocean where they wash up on shore.

Iceland in Winter

The sky did that Iceland in winter cotton candy thing  (this is around 3:30 pm, aka sunset in winter). I honestly didn’t mind the cold and could have stayed for hours.

Sadly, I can’t share Blue Lagoon or Northern Lights pics. I visited the Blue Lagoon, but had such bad weather that it was like night-time lighting conditions! The nights were only clear enough to see the Northern lights one night out of the entire week, but this happened to be New Years Eve. I had already consumed a bottle of champagne by nighttime  so that’s that!

Iceland in Winter

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csaradar

45 COMMENTS

  1. Things You Should Know Before Visiting Iceland in Winter - WanderingRedHead | 28th Jan 17

    […] Read More: Photos to Inspire You to Visit Iceland in Winter […]

  2. stylelullaby | 24th Jan 17

    Wow Cherene! These photos of Iceland are so stunning. I wish I was there to experience it for myself! xo, sharon

    • csaradar | 25th Jan 17

      Thank you! It really blew me away!

  3. annalisanuttall | 18th Jan 17

    My husband and I are talking about going to Iceland next year. It look amazing and so beautiful. Quick question, while you were there did you see the Northenen light?

    • csaradar | 25th Jan 17

      Sadly I didn’t because it was too cloudy. I heard fall may be better than winter to see them because clearer skies…

  4. Candy | 17th Jan 17

    O, how I adore Iceland. I am in love with Iceland and have been twice. I will most likely go again 🙂 I love the horses, the northern lights, the plane crash site, etc. I pretty much can’t find a reason not to go back 🙂

    • csaradar | 25th Jan 17

      For real! so many things I want to go back for!

  5. nycgingeronthego | 16th Jan 17

    These are all such beautiful photos, but next you need to show me what I need to WEAR to survive winter in Iceland. haha I do not like being cold. But it might be worth a few days of suffering for these views.

    • csaradar | 16th Jan 17

      Haha I hate being cold too! I’ll work on that “what to wear” post for you. All I can say is…lots of layers!!!

  6. globalfashionfiend | 16th Jan 17

    What a truly magical experience and even more breathtaking images. You are one lucky girl!

    • csaradar | 16th Jan 17

      I definitely am lucky. It was an unforgettable experience for sure!

  7. Style & Life by Susana | 16th Jan 17

    You are such an amazing photographer!!! So beautiful and picturesque your photos! I always look forward to seeing you posts x

    • csaradar | 16th Jan 17

      Ahh thanks Susana. That’s so nice to hear. I am constantly trying to get better at photography. So glad you enjoy my posts:)

  8. Shasha | 16th Jan 17

    Your photos are absolutely stunning! I would love to visit! Those horses look so beautiful!

    • csaradar | 16th Jan 17

      Thank you! The horses are special. I wanted to play with them all day! Next time maybe I can ride them:)

  9. Amber Moore, EVA | 16th Jan 17

    What beautiful scenery! I have yet to make it to Iceland, but its on the list! I love the blue ice, however I was not as lucky and had a middle aged woman as my physics teacher haha

    • csaradar | 16th Jan 17

      haha. Everyone should have a cute physics teacher. We’d have a lot more inventions and stuff. LOL

  10. Laura Tenekjian | 15th Jan 17

    Cherene,
    Sean and I loved reading about your Iceland trip and seeing your wonderful photos! Proud of you for braving the cold and always being up for adventure! Another awesome trip indeed!

    • csaradar | 16th Jan 17

      Thanks Laura! The cold was a challenge for my thin Miami blood. Luckily I was very motivated to see things. LOL

  11. Anna | 15th Jan 17

    Wonderful ! I want play with the snow right here!

    x, Anna

  12. Amanda Tran | LVV Travel | 15th Jan 17

    Ahhhh I love Iceland so much!! It’s pretty much the only country I’ve ever enjoyed despite being FREEEEZING (cannot handle the cold). Great photos!

    • csaradar | 16th Jan 17

      I feel the same. I hate being cold but somehow it was tolerable in Iceland!

  13. Amandas_Wanderlust | 15th Jan 17

    You have some really beautiful pics here and this post brought back some wonderful memories as this time last year I was in Iceland.

    • csaradar | 16th Jan 17

      Wow you went the same time. Did you have similar weather? I feel like I was lucky half the week and the rest… not so much.

  14. Monica | Not a nomad (@notanomad) | 15th Jan 17

    I have a trip booked to Iceland for end of Feb, beginning of March, and I am so excited to see all these sights! The photos look truly otherworldly. Thank you for sharing your experience, I hope I don’t have the same hail predicament!

  15. Ella | 15th Jan 17

    These photos are stunning!! I can definitely see why Iceland has become more popular recently. Maybe I should consider making a visit, although I don’t know how well I’d do in the cold haha.

    • csaradar | 16th Jan 17

      It really is incredibly popular. I couldn’t believe how many tourists there were in the winter. The cold is challenging but if you have the right clothes….it’s not too bad. As long as you don’t lose you glove. lol

  16. Aubrie Engman | 15th Jan 17

    Iceland is so gorgeous, but it definitely looks really pretty in the winter! Cold..but pretty! Awesome post!

    • csaradar | 16th Jan 17

      Thanks Aubrie. I remember seeing your pics on IG and was so impressed. Winter looked totally different. I want to go back in a different season.

  17. 33andfree.live | 14th Jan 17

    Wow! These photos were beautiful. I have wanted to go back to Iceland (was only there for 24 hours last time) and this makes me not care when I go as long as I get there!

  18. Jennifer | 14th Jan 17

    Your pictures are beautiful!!

    • csaradar | 14th Jan 17

      Thanks Jenny!

  19. todd lowe | 14th Jan 17

    Well done. Great shots. And I really love the sculpture.

    • csaradar | 14th Jan 17

      Thank you. It is the coolest sculpture. I loved everything about it.

  20. Maps and Merlot | 14th Jan 17

    I am actually obsessed with your photos, they are absolutely beautiful!! How cold was it though?? I’m not much of a cold weather girl haha

    • csaradar | 14th Jan 17

      Girl, I live in Miami so I hear you. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was in the 30’s, not so different from Washington DC temps. The problem is the precipitation. The wind and rain not so fun!

      • Maps and Merlot | 14th Jan 17

        Yes I totally hear you! All I want is some sunshine 🙂

  21. Anisa | 14th Jan 17

    Those are amazing pictures. I really want to visit Iceland – still debating if I should do winter or summer.

    • csaradar | 14th Jan 17

      It’s a tough call. They are so very different. I actually want to do both! I will be writing a post soon on pros and cons of winter. Maybe it will help:)

  22. GirlAstray | 14th Jan 17

    Your photos are incredible! You convinced me that winter travel can be amazing too 🙂 Loved this post!

    • csaradar | 14th Jan 17

      There’s definitely a downside which I plan to write about but when it’s nice…it’s really nice:)

  23. Penny | 14th Jan 17

    I loved your explanation about the blue ice! I haven’t seen snow yet. My husband says it is beautiful. Can’t wait for my trip to Russia in Feb.

    • csaradar | 14th Jan 17

      Haven’t seen snow! Wow. I kind of grew up in it. I can be awesome…and not so awesome. LOL

  24. cynthia282 | 14th Jan 17

    Stunning photos, Cherene!! This may inspire us to go sooner than we had anticipated!

    • csaradar | 14th Jan 17

      The boys would love it. So many rugged and adventurous things to do!

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