Visiting Iceland in December - What To Expect

Lit Christmas tree standing outside of small houses with northern lights in the sky
Andres Porras
Christmas in Iceland

December is a magical time to visit Iceland. Reykjavik will be alight with Christmas decoration and there will be a palpable buzz in the air as we get closer to Christmas. Here are some December highlights: People all over put up their Advent lights. There are some great Christmas buffets on offer in restaurants - Icelanders love their Christmas buffet!  The night sky is beautiful this time of year and this is a great month to see the Northern lights. And then there’s the grand finale, New Year’s Eve in Iceland. By now, this event is world famous.  Imagine an entire country spending a ton of money of fireworks and then, all at once, lighting them off.  And, these are not just firecrackers, we’re talking the big stuff. The show can last all night long.  Iceland mythical Yule lads start showing up a couple of weeks before Christmas day; you might see one or two of them if you go to a bonfire - they start on New Year’s Eve.

What to expect from the weather.  Well, you’d probably guess that it;s going to be cold. many wrongly assume that Iceland is a very cold place.  It really isn’t; not as cold as other countries at similar latitudes.  This is because Iceland’s temperatures are moderated by the Gulf Stream.  Basically you can expect an average temperature range of between 28 F (-2 C) to 39 F (4 C).  The average precipitation in December is 32 mm (1.25”), this can come in many forms: rain, sleet and snow. There may or may not be snow on the ground in the low lying areas but there will definitely be snow in the mountains and highlands.

Caribou in the snow
Tristan Ferne

How much daylight will you get?  Sounds like a funny question, right?  During the winter months, Iceland has short days i.e., the number of hours the sun is up.  This is because of the country’s high latitude.  Just so you know, the longest day in December will be about 5 hours and the shortest, the Winter Solstice, will only be a little over 4 hours!  The short days may be a bit jarring at first, but you’ll get used to it quickly. The upside for vacationers is that there’s no pesky sun to wake you up early in the morning.

So there you have it a few highlights and information on what to expect when visiting Iceland in December.  We hope you enjoy your time and if you are looking for a fun Iceland tour, we at Icelandic Mountain Guides invite you to explore our many tours, from fun and easy day tours to longer multi-day Iceland adventure tours.

About the Author

IMG Staff Writer

IMG Staff Writer

An anonymous but well informed member of our team that enjoys sharing their knowledge of Iceland & Greenland’s stunning nature.

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