It’s difficult to choose the right time to go to Iceland because each month and each season has its own charm. The month of January reveals the winter in all its splendor, and marks the beginning of long months of cold, darkness and snow.
Temperatures in January oscillate between -1 ° C and 1 ° C; This is the coldest month of the year, and temperatures can drop to -10 ° C. The sun rises at about 11 am and sets at around 3 pm, and on a grey day you may get the impression that there is no daylight at all! The phenomenon is reversed in summer, where the bright nights give the impression that it is never night!
In winter, roads and trails leading to the highlands are inaccessible, as are most of the secondary roads – always check the road conditions on the Icelandic road administration site. If you stay on the main road a 4×4 is not compulsory but highly recommended. It is not a good idea to travel in Iceland in the winter with a small city car – if you decide not to rent a 4×4 make sure you take a large car and not a small sedan.
When traveling in January, do not expect to make the round trip to Jökulsárlón during the day or the tour of the island via road number one in six days. Travel times increase by about a third when travelling on snow, ice and in the dark. However, the snowy scenery is magnificent and the month of January is one of the snowiest of the year! With caution and organization, it is quite possible to explore the country in this season. If you are not comfortable driving on the snow, you can enjoy day trips that will take you to northern Iceland, for example.
The month of January will give you the opportunity to observe the Northern Lights, provided the sky is clear. Follow our tips to maximize your chances of seeing them, or join an excursion. There is no shortage of winter activities: snow scooters, sled dogs, excursions to the northern lights, walks in the city or in the countryside, and discovery of cultural life are all possible choices at this time of year. If you like skiing, it is also a very good time to come to Iceland! In Reykjavik, you can ice skate on the frozen lake in the city centre.
We can not repeat it enough: go to the pool! It is a wonderful way to experience the joy of bathing and to get acquainted with the Icelandic way of life. Can you imagine a better way to relax than basking in a bath at 40 ° C, surrounded by snow and darkness? If you prefer a more luxurious experience, the blue lagoon or the Mývatn baths are good options for bathing.
The Icelandic authorities seem to be anxious to promote Iceland in the off-season but there is plenty to occupy travellers and locals during this dark period. The Icelandic capital is always full of events and exhibitions.
The festival “Dark Music Days” is a contemporary music festival that was created in 1980 and continues today, on the darkest days of the year. You can also participate in the Icelandic tradition of swimming in the Atlantic on the first day of the year. See you on the 1st of January, along with other brave people, on Nauthólsvík beach! Rest assured, a hot-pot awaits you after the swim!
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