A Weather Guide to Iceland in December

01. September 2015 —
Lonely straw trying to stay alive in the snow

Jól, Yule, Christmas 

December in Iceland is as tricky as it is a treat. Not only is the snow beautiful, it is also the month of Christmas, or Jól (think juletide, as in Yule the words have germanic origins) in Icelandic, and Icelanders take their Christmas very seriously indeed. The festive cheer is genuine, jovial and comparatively free from the bombardment of Christmas commercialization that is so apparent in many countries.

Surrounding this time are lots of old traditions that the locals hold near and dear to their hearts which anyone would be lucky to be a part of. We wont spoil the surprise now, because we have a post lined up all about that later in December.

Fewer Tourists

Seeing as this month is the middle of winter in Iceland, there are many fewer tourists, but you ought not to let the cold weather discourage you from visiting in the month of December. Most tourists will miss out on some of the greatest parts of Iceland simply because of this. Visiting during this month may give you the chance to witness some of the great traditions of Iceland, not to mention the food (and the parties) that come along with this time of the year.

Empire of the Sun 

Possibly one of the most remarkable qualities about Iceland during this time is the light. Although there is not much of it, what you do get has an iridescent quality unlike anywhere else.  We can call this the “long blue”, the blue light that lingers long before the sun finally rises. When the  sun does rise, it grazes the sky before descending below again. The sunlight has a constant golden quality throughout the day. It’s quite remarkable.

Darkest & Brighter Days Ahead

In December, the temperatures can get pretty low, maybe not as low as you might think given the country’s name, however. Not all winters are created equal, but it is unlikely that the temperature will rise above 5°C: expect a range of between 5 and -5°C in the capitol area. Outside the capitol area, the weather is likely to be colder still. See our table below for the decrease is daylight hour from the 1st of the month, to the winter solstice, to the end of the months to give you an indication of how quickly it begins to move in the other direction.

How to prepare?

For this type of weather you will need LAYERS and lots of them. Even if it is not snowing or raining it will be cold enough to nip at your skin a bit. We recommend a good pair of gloves, a good hat, and lots of wool. Also be prepared to have a pair of thermal underwear on under whatever it is that you are wearing. Remember: it is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

From Icelandic Mountain Guides, we hope that this has helped you feel better prepared for your visit. Browse our full selection of winter tours and find the perfect range of things to do for your time in iceland in December.

Gleðileg jól! (Merry Christmas)

About the Author

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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