Visiting Iceland in December

The beautiful Sun Voyager or Sólfarið by the Reykjavik harbor

Every time is an excellent time to visit Iceland, but December is especially special. We have the Northern Lights, ideal wintry landscapes, and 13 Santas to celebrate Christmas! Whether you venture out around the island or explore in and around Reykjavik, you’ll find plenty to do every day you stay in Iceland.

Your Friend in Reykjavik is ready to share our favorite local spots and some shopping (and maybe Santa) secrets with you. Here are some highlights to entice you to plan your trip to Iceland, with perhaps a day or two with us in Reykjavik!

Weather in Iceland in December

December in Iceland is a truly wintry month. The weather usually hovers between 28°F to 39°F (-2°C to 4°C).  And you should expect snow or rain. Reykjavik tends to get less snow than other parts of the country, but this doesn’t mean we don’t see any blizzards. We are used to this brisk weather, but you may need to pack a few extra layers. Or pick up some cold-weather gear while shopping!

How Short are the Days in Iceland in December?

During December, the days in Iceland are extremely short. In fact, the shortest day of winter, Winter Solstice, is December 21st, at about 4 hours. Sunrise happens closer to what you’d normally consider lunchtime. Sunset seems to follow quickly after at about 4 pm. You can still pack a lot of things to do during that daylight time. And we’re used to the long nights, so join us on a Reykjavik walking tour and pick up some tips for the rest of your visit to Iceland!

The nights are long in December but full of fun and friends if you visit Reykjavik!

Enjoy the Northern Light Long during December in Iceland

One superb sight when visiting Iceland in December is the Northern Lights. With almost 20 hours of darkness, you will experience the full spectrum of the Aurora Borealis in all it’s out of this world glory. Even the mild light pollution from Reykjavik and the surrounding populated areas are no match for Nature’s light show during this time of year. Don’t forget your camera to capture this unique phenomenon.

Christmas in Iceland is Like No Other

When visiting Iceland in December, there’s an excellent chance you’ll encounter one of the Yule Lads. These are our Santas – 13 brothers who take turns every night before Christmas to visit little boys and girls. Nice children get sweets. Naughty kiddies get a rotten potato! And if you find yourself in northern Iceland, visit Myvatn Nature Baths and watch these unruly brothers take their annual bath before their holiday frolics.

Shop the Christmas Markets in Reykjavik

Christmas markets are more than just shopping spots in Reykjavik. They are social and entertainment centers for visitors and locals to enjoy. And you don’t have to go far to find yuletide fun when visiting Iceland in December. Ingólfstorg Square goes fully festive every weekend until Christmas. Or head inland to the Christmas Market at Elliðavatnsbær in Heiðmörk. For a full Christmas experience, just 20 minutes south of Reykjavik is Hafnarfjörður, which transforms into a traditional Christmas village, complete with horse-drawn carriages and the chance to catch a glimpse of an elf or two!

Don't leave out the Christmas Village in Hafnarfjorður when visiting Iceland in December!
Don’t leave out the Christmas Village in Hafnarfjorður when visiting Iceland in December!

Top things to do in Reykjavik in December

Just because there’s not a lot of daylight doesn’t mean there’s not much to do in Reykjavik in December. In addition to the Christmas markets, you can take to the ice with some skating in Ingólfstorg Square. Or watch the animals enjoy their sunlamps at the zoo. If the weather is getting a little too cold for you, go indoors and explore our many museums and art galleries. Want to relax with some local comfort food and a pint or two? We are more than happy to share our culinary scene with you on our Reykjavik food tour. You may even be tempted to try some fermented shark. Or maybe just our famous hot dogs.

Places to Visit Across Iceland in December

Visiting Iceland in December offers winter wonders of all kinds. If you’re into UNESCO World Heritage sites, Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park, just east of Reykjavik, is stunning just for photo ops. But you can hike and even go horseback riding. Weather conditions permitting of course.  For a warmer feel, the hot springs at Krýsuvík also provide an enchanting panorama with the many colors seeming the paint the surrounding hills. You can also visit Kleifarvatn Lake and try to spy Iceland’s version of the Loch Ness Monster.

Getting Around Iceland and Reykjavik

Reykjavik is a very walkable city. But if you want to rest those feet, we’ve got a taxi and bus services available across the city. And if you want to explore more than the capital, our public transport is reliable and reaches most regions. For those who like more freedom to take to the road, you can rent a car here. However, you should check the weather and road conditions before heading out. And remember, you have limited daylight hours, so you should be comfortable driving in the dark if you’re going to rent a car while visiting Iceland in December.

What to Pack for a December trip to Iceland?

It is winter, so make sure you have enough warm clothes packed. We are big fans of layering. That way, you are comfortable whether you’re outdoors or inside. Hiking boots and a waterproof jacket and pants should be included if you’re planning any outdoor activities. If you’re not used to long nights and short days, you may want to consider sleep aids to get you sleeping at the proper time. And maybe an extra alarm to help you keep your body clock regular.

Your Friend in Reykjavik Welcomes You to Walk Our Winter Wonderland!

Traveling to Iceland in winter is a spectacular experience. Your Friend in Reykjavik invites you to join in the fun during this most festive time of year! Chase the Yule Lads around the island, then see the holiday antics in full gear in Reykjavik. Make the most of your visit with one of our many walking tours, or give yourself a holiday treat with the specialized service on our Reykjavik private tours. Not sure which is best? Contact us today! We’ll be happy to make suggestions so that you have the best time visiting our winter wonderland!

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