To visit Iceland in January is to enjoy wintry weather without it being too cold but with the possibility of blankets of snow. There are fewer crowds but with some truly unique festivals and holidays. The days are short but that means a better chance of seeing the Northern Lights!
Your Friend in Reykjavik invites you to begin the new year in Iceland. Join us for our midwinter celebrations and witness Iceland as a winter wonderland!
Iceland’s January Festivals
Christmas and New Year’s may be over in other countries, but we still have a little more celebrating to do in Iceland, especially in Reykjavik. On January 6, we light bonfires to commemorate the Epiphany as well as Þrettándinn. Go on our folklore tour and ask about the elves and their appearance during this holiday!
Or, if you are around during the end of the month, head over to Harpa for Dark Music Days, celebrating Icelandic musicians and composers. For a little more action, you may want to check out the Reykjavik International Games. Athletes from over 40 countries converge on our little city to compete in sports from karate to swimming to darts.
We haven’t forgotten a truly Icelandic holiday in mid-January, Þorri. Since it involves a great feast, we’ve saved it for our “what to eat” section below!
Northern Lights in Iceland in January
With only five or six hours of sunlight every day, Iceland’s long nights in January provide many opportunities for you to catch the Northern Lights. But you need to go out on a clear night, so check out the forecast from the Icelandic meteorological office to see where to go to avoid cloud cover and get the best view.
Best things to do in Iceland in January
Iceland’s landscape is gorgeous any time of year, but January is particularly stunning for blue ice. Blue ice forms on glaciers when there’s considerable snowfall compacted against the surface. And because of weather and science, we get stunning blue glaciers that make for even more picturesque hikes, such as at Sólheimajökull, or even more incredible ice cave explorations, like at through the crystal ice caves at Vatnajökull.
January is a perfect time to try local cuisine in Reykjavik
Þorri is the midwinter festival here, falling on the fourth month of winter in the Norse calendar. There are some odd things we do, including Man’s or Farmer’s Day, involving men wearing their trousers by one leg only to welcome visitors to their homes. More importantly, we have Þorrablót, a feast to celebrate Thor, the god of thunder. This is when we serve up local favorites like the fermented shark and sour ram’s testicles. If there’s a great time to try the exotic of our local cuisine, this is it!
Weather in Iceland in January
It is cold in Iceland in January, with average temperatures ranging from 27°F (-3°C) to 37°F (-3°C). There’s usually around an inch of snowfall, but there can also be storms and strong winds, so pack accordingly. The days do get longer since we’ve passed the winter solstice, but it’s still only five or six hours. Sunrise is around 11 at the beginning and 10 am towards the end of the month, so be prepared to begin your days in the dark.
What to pack to visit Iceland in January
Make sure to pack for cold weather. It may go without saying, but we like to emphasize this. However, you can also go on a little shopping spree if you find you didn’t bring enough layers. Also, make sure you have watertight bags and waterproof boots if you plan on heading into the outdoors. A swimsuit might also be a good idea since a hot springs experience surrounded by snow should not be missed!
Start the new year with Your Friend in Reykjavik!
Your Friend in Reykjavik has a range of walking tours to show you all the wonders of Reykjavik. We will make sure you make the most of your trip, whether you want to eat your fill or fill your Instagram!