Langjokull Glacier

Iceland in Winter: Nature's Delights in White

Langjokull Glacier

Iceland is an incredible country with extraordinary landscapes, packed with abundant opportunities for outdoor adventure. While an increasing number of travelers vacation there during the warmer months, Iceland is a land for all seasons. Visiting Iceland in winter provides its own unique experiences, from softly glowing northern lights, fun snow activities and cultural events. And winter in Iceland isn’t as cold as you might imagine!

Iceland is home to some of the largest glaciers in Europe, made all the more dazzling when covered with a fresh coat of snow. Full of unique, diverse, camera-worthy natural beauties like countless waterfalls, icebergs and ice caves, Iceland in winter is visually spectacular.

For an once-in-a-lifetime adventure, Iceland in winter should be on every nature lover’s bucket list. Here are a few of the immersive activities to enjoy during the island’s winter wonderland:

Langjokull Ice Cave

Explore Langjokull Ice Cave

Imagine standing on an ice cap which stretches 2,000 feet below you. Langjokull is Europe’s second largest glacier, but the experience here is centered on a man-made ice cave. Opened June 1st, 2015, this is the largest man-made ice cave tunnel in the world. What an exceptional experience to walk deep inside a glacier! You’ll first be taken to the mouth of the cave, where you’ll have the opportunity to get a look at the interior workings of this natural wonder. The thick layers of ice track the glacier’s history, and black lines tell a story of volcanic eruptions. There are five interior chambers here, including a chapel. The tunnel is 1,640 feet long and descends by almost 100 feet.

Tour Iceland Viogelmir Lava Cave

Visit Víðgelmir Lava Cave

The largest lava cave in Iceland and one of the largest in the world, Vidgelmir Lava Cave is 5,250 feet long and offers a “Journey to the Center of the Earth” style experience. Located in the Hallmindarhraun lava field, the cave is almost 1100 years old, formed during a volcanic eruption. It features amazing lava formations and colors that are only seen in the deepest depths of the earth. You’ll see stunning stalagmites, stalactites and speleothems, and learn about each type of rock formation as you explore the cave. Also, in many places, icicles have formed over the top of lava.  With the lava beneath the ice, colors appear iridescent. In 1993, archeologists found bones and jewelry from the Viking age scattered throughout the cave.

Super Jeep

See Lake Myvatn by “Super Jeep”

Another thrill of winter in Iceland is the opportunity to venture off the beaten path via “Super Jeeps.” These are what locals call various models of 4 x 4 vehicles designed or modified to ride very high and to muscle through and climb over snow and ice. Breathtaking views of Iceland’s wilderness await you in destinations such as Lake Myvatn. Hop in and visit pristine places otherwise completely inaccessible during this time of year – places that include thunderous waterfalls, lava fields, numerous volcanic cones and craters – all painted in white. As you can imagine, incredible photo opportunities abound, with great scenic vistas for pictures. There are also a number of elusive birds, such as the Gyrfalcon and Snowy owl. The Gyrfalcon is a formidable predator and he largest falcon in the world, reigning over barren tundra and desolate coasts in the high Arctic. If you’re lucky, you may be able to spot one!

Horseback riding

Go Horseback Riding

Iceland has a very specific breed of horse, which arrived with the Vikings in roughly 900 AD. Traveling by horseback on one of the world’s finest breeds of horse allows you to experience the countryside much as the Vikings once did, enjoying the solitude of the winter wilderness while deepening your intimate connection with nature. Yet another unique adventure made possible during winter is riding out onto the frozen surface of Lake Myvatn. Smaller in size, the Icelandic horse uses a unique pace called “tolt,” which, for the rider, means moving gently over the tough terrain.

Iceland Tour via Snowmobile

Have a Snowmobiling Adventure

Board snowmobiles to continue your exploration and be whisked over frozen landscapes. With the wind on your face and the snow beneath the machine, enjoy inexplicably both serenity and exhilaration!

Cod fishing

Fish for Cod

Many species of fish exist in Icelandic waters. Arguably, the most important fish stock is perhaps cod, which accounts for up to 40% of the country’s total seafood exports. Cod can be caught all year-round, but in general, fishing is usually best in winter. Visitors on International Expeditions' Iceland Winter Adventure board a typical Icelandic fishing boat in the tiny town of Hauganes, on Eyjafjordur Bay. Cod fishing has been part of the Icelandic culture and economy for centuries, so you’re in the best of hands and the local fishermen show you how it’s done. Drop a baited line into the icy waters and try your luck! Combine your fishing trip with a visit to Ektafiskur, a premier Cod fishing and processing company that offers tours of their facility. You’ll have the opportunity to become part of the “Rotten Shark Club of Hauganes” when you’re offered a sample of fermented Greenland Shark! It’s a unique travel experience you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

Northern Lights

Look for the Northern Lights

Iceland is one of the best places to see the northern lights, one of the world’s truly dazzling natural phenomena. Winter is the best time to improve your chances of seeing this spectacular show. Also known as Aurora Borealis, this impressive light event occurs when solar winds interact with charged particles in the earth’s magnetic field.  Otherworldly streaks of red, green, yellow, and purple begin to dance across the nighttime sky. It’s best to head out of the city limits, where there is less light pollution. Þingvellir National Park is a great spot, as is the seaside at Seltjarnarnes.

Tour Iceland this Winter with International Expeditions!

Are you looking for “Wow Factor” for your next adventure? International Expeditions' NEW Winter Iceland tour is designed to survey diverse natural landscapes, Viking history and modern life as you enjoy invigorating excursions such as those described above.  Join us to see first-hand why this island is “hot” as a must-visit destination.

Megan Jerrard is an Australian journalist and the founder and Senior Editor of Mapping Megan, an award-winning travel blog bringing you the latest in adventure travel from all over the globe.