As its name suggests, Iceland is cold, but not as cold as might be expected because the climate is regulated by the passing warm waters of the Gulf Stream. The summer temperature in Reykjavik ranges from five degrees Celsius at night to as high as 25 degrees during the day. The average January temperature is -0.5 degrees. The south is the wettest part of the country, but snow is rare. Coastal areas tend to experience winter gales and are generally windy.
When to fly to Iceland
During the summer months there is almost continuous daylight making it the most popular time for travellers to book flights to Iceland. Early spring and late autumn feature long twilights.
From mid-November until the end of January, in the darkness of winter, the opposite is true, with the country only experiencing a few hours of daylight each day. The Northern Lights are often visible in autumn and early winter.
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Getting around Iceland
Domestic Iceland flights are available from Reykjavik to various destinations from Air Iceland and Eagle Air. Flying – especially in the winter – is the easiest, quickest and often the cheapest way to get around.
Iceland Air also connects with bus services, to provide travel to destinations not served by flights.
Other than flying, the only reliable way of getting around is by bus. There is no train service in the country and, though car hire is available, this is not a recommended means of transport, due to ice and poor roads. The bus network is extensive. Advance purchases are not necessary and tickets can be bought from the driver.
Iceland insider information
- Reykjavik is the top tourist destination in Iceland and has enjoyed an increase in visitors in recent years, all keen to see the surrounding natural wonders such as geysers and volcanic landscapes. However, despite its popularity, be aware that most tourism takes place in summer. Arrive off season and you may struggle to find a hotel to stay in or restaurant in which to eat. If you’re not visiting in the summer months, be sure to book ahead.
- Icelandic cuisine primarily consists of three ingredients: fish, fish and more fish. Some of the finest fish in the world is caught in Iceland’s waters, so be sure to sample the many seafood dishes. However, don’t miss other local specialities, such as skyr, a type of yoghurt often eaten for pudding, Icelandic crepes, or even porramatur, the traditional food of Iceland, which includes such gastronomical delights as rams’ testicles, rotten shark and singed sheep heads.
- There are many snowmobile tours available to explore the glaciers, from a variety of operators. One of the most popular places to visit is the Snæfellsjokull volcano, which is covered by a glacier. It is here, Jules Verne wrote in A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, that there is an entrance leading to the centre of the earth.
- Easily reachable from Reykjavik is the Blue Lagoon spa, geothermal waters in a lava formation. As well as the expansive, warm waters, supposed to promote good health and have “positive effects on the skin,” there is a waterfall, a steam bath inside a lava cave and a sauna.
- The stunning Northern Lights can often be seen in autumn and early winter in northeastern Iceland. This is also the time when the sun doesn’t break above the horizon and there are 24 hours of darkness. If staying only in the northern regions in hope of seeing the lights isn’t appealing, it’s possible to take three-four day trips from Reykjavik.
- Visit the Great Geysir in the Haukadalur valley to see the spectacular sight of the hot springs erupting up to 60 metres in the air. As well as the Great Geysir, the nearby Strokkur geyser erupts more regularly, to a height of about 20 metres. Also nearby is the Gullfoss double-tiered waterfall.