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Iceland in December for 7-8 days

Hi, We are planning to travel to Iceland in the month of December mostly to see Northern Lights. Can anyone tell me if its safe to drive around in winters or recommend to go with some tour service to see the places?

Thanks in advance!!

Posted by
11509 posts

if its safe to drive around in winters

"Safe" in what sense?

Concerned with snowy/icy roads or crime due to the very short daylight hours giving criminals more darkness to do their evil?

Posted by
9 posts

ya concerned with snowy/icy roads. Did not think about the crime but since you brought it up please let me know if its safe crime wise also

Posted by
7080 posts

I worry about your expectations regarding going to Iceland

mostly to see Northern Lights

Iceland is amazing in many ways, but if your #1 priority is the northern lights and if you live in North America, then it might be easier for you to head to Alaska (Fairbanks) or northern Canada, for equal chances of seeing them (or better, as Iceland can be stormy). The keyword here being "chances".

Of course, Iceland has plenty of other appeals, but the limited daylight (maybe 4-5 hours in the first half of December, and less around the solstice) impairs sightseeing.

Posted by
9 posts

is it a wrong expectation? I read December is the best time to see northern lights let me know if its not..I know its a natural phenomena and its all luck but chances of seeing in Dec is more, isn't it?

Posted by
9 posts

so with road closure is it still drivable?s Multi-day tours are really expensive so I am not sure what exactly to do :(

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks Baslo.. ya northern Lights is number 1 priority but I want to see other things also in Iceland but I am confused if I should plan in December or Summers or both winters and summers. If its drivable and weather is juz cold then I am good with December

Posted by
9 posts

This is what I read on google...

"December is one of the best times to visit Iceland due to the excellent conditions for viewing the northern lights and the uniquely enthusiastic festive spirit that energizes the locals during the holidays."

Posted by
273 posts

We went last year at the beginning of December and were fortunate to see a great light show from a boat in the harbor in Reykjavik. The best chance will be to book a northern lights tour for the first night you possibly can. If you don't get to see them, you can generally rebook the tour again each night to have another opportunity. But, as everyone else has said, it's luck of the draw, so if the activity or weather doesn't cooperate before you fly back, you may be disappointed.

Your profile isn't clear where you live, so, it's hard to say whether the road conditions would be safe for you to drive. I live up near Lake Ontario, so I feel safe enough driving in snow, but wouldn't recommend it to just anyone. Plenty of day tours to take you places though, like a day trip to the Golden Circle perhaps. And probably not much different than the cost of a car rental these days.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks justsweetjs! we are planning to go end of December 23 to Jan 1st. We live in New Jersey so we ok to drive in cold weather and if its snow little bit. Can you please tell me what all you guys did when you went apart from Northern lights.

Posted by
273 posts

How lucky for you to be there over New Years eve!! Reykjavik has no formal fireworks show, but from what a local told me, each family spends at least $500 on fireworks and sets them off over the city. When I was there Dec 31, 2014, what I saw made me believe he was correct. Fireworks, EVERYWHERE!! I'd recommend being near the Hallgrimskirke around midnight, but not in the center of the crowd. There are several bonfires in the neighborhoods where locals will gather with neighbors and friends.

When we went in December, we had a package deal that included Sky Lagoon (newly opened and amazing), the Hop on Hop off bus tour (great for my friends who were new to Iceland), and the Northern Lights cruise. We rented cars and drove the Golden Circle, but some of it was slow going because of the snowy unplowed roads. We had arranged a visit to Freidheimer Hothouse for lunch and an Icelandic Horse demonstration there as well. We also went to the Perlan on the day we arrived, to fill the gap until we could check in to the hotel. Interesting and informative, but the very comfy lounge chairs in the theater had all of us doze off at one point or another!

There is enough in Reykjavik and the surrounding areas in the south to keep you very active if you want to be.

Posted by
721 posts

December is winter and driving could be hazardous. Ice on roads and high winds cause road closures and no-one gets through. Lots of discussions about this on the TripAdvisor Iceland forum.

Best if you took a northern lights tour on your first night. Then if it gets cancelled, you have more opportunities to see the lights.

Don’t forget that there’s about 5 hours of sunlight in December. So a lot of driving to get places will be in the dark. You miss seeing a lot of wonderful sights!

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks fnaalehuretiree for suggesting tripadvisor forum . I read a lot on that and decided to go on full day tours from Reykjavik and if lucky enough will see Northern Lights too :)

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks naalehuretiree! Can anyone please suggest best tour for northern lights and for south/west Iceland.

Posted by
23 posts

We were there last December for 4 nights. We rented a small suv that had studded tires and it did snow a couple of times but the roads around Reykjavík and on the golden circle were well maintained and I never felt unsafe driving there. One of the reasons we went was to see the Northern lights but unfortunately we did not, I guess that's just another excuse to return to such a beautiful country! If you are staying in Reykjavík and are driving the golden circle, I would suggest leaving an hour or 2 before sunrise to be able to see the attractions when it's light out.

Posted by
6665 posts

Iceland is an amazing country in many ways, but if the northern lights is number 1 priority it is not the right place to visit.

The problem with driving in Iceland in the winter is not just snow and ice, but wind. It can be very windy.

Posted by
2248 posts

Everyone else had addressed the weather/roads, but as far as crime I would not give that a second thought. Iceland is incredibly safe, probably the safest country anywhere.