Winter in Iceland: What to Expect - Hotel Rangá
Photo of snow covered mountains on the road to Landmannalaugar.

Winter in Iceland: What to Expect

Winter in Iceland is the perfect season to book a stay at Hotel Rangá luxury hotel. Explore the snow-covered landscape, soak in our geothermal hot tubs or take a fun tour with a local guide.

Winter in Iceland is a fantastic season to visit Hotel Rangá. Travelers can enjoy epic exploration in the Icelandic countryside, night skies filled with northern lights and cozy evenings spent savoring delectable food and drink at Hotel Rangá. Book your winter getaway today at Hotel Rangá–a luxury hotel located in south Iceland.

Woman wearing multiple layers of clothing standing beside a waterfall in south Iceland.
Woman in winter clothing standing beside a waterfall. Photo by Paige Deasley.

Winter in Iceland: What to Pack

Winter in Iceland can be quite chilly, so it is always a good idea to pack lots of layers. Gloves, a hat, a scarf and a warm sweater are a must. A thermal base layer is also a great idea, and don’t forget your coat! You will also need to bring sturdy, waterproof hiking shoes suitable for outdoor adventures. Warm woolen socks will keep your feet happy when the wind begins to blow.

Iceland is known for wool products like the famous lopapeysa. If you are in need of some extra warmth, you can buy amazing local woolen products similar to ones worn by Icelanders for centuries. Icelanders are also big fans of drinking hot coffee and hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day. In fact, Hotel Rangá is known for our delicious hot chocolate.

Hotel Rangá luxury hotel during a winter sunset.
Hotel Rangá luxury hotel during a winter sunset. Photo by Paige Deasley.

Winter Weather and Darker Days

Iceland’s winter months are famously rather dark. In fact, during midwinter the sun is only above the horizon for 5 hours total. But winter days still have enough sun for some epic adventures. In fact, the daylight hours are perfect timing for a Super Jeep tour or a buggy ride on a black sand beach. When you’ve had your fun, you can return to Hotel Rangá luxury hotel and get cozy.

Shorter days also ensure that you’ll never miss an incredible sunrise or sunset. In fact, Hotel Rangá’s restaurant is one of the best spots to view the sun rising over the nearby Eyjafjallajökull volcano-glacier. Icelandic winter mornings are truly magical–the light glows pinky orange, illuminating far-off clouds and icy slopes. And our sunsets stretch out for hours until finally the sky is dark enough to search for the northern lights.

Green northern lights dance above Hotel Rangá luxury hotel in south Iceland.
Green northern lights dance above Hotel Rangá. Photo by Herman Desmet.

Northern Lights and Starry Skies

The Icelandic winter’s short days also bring us long nights with plenty of opportunity to see the northern lights. We cannot predict exactly when the lights will appear, but there are several conditions that give us a good idea. To see the northern lights we need dark nights, clear skies and solar activity. Check out this blog post to learn more about the northern lights in Iceland.

Wintertime in Iceland is also a wonderful opportunity for stargazing. In fact, at Hotel Rangá northern lights hotel we even have our very own observatory. Inside the observatory you’ll find two high-powered telescopes that allow our guests to see detailed views of far-off stars and planets. We also regularly invite local astronomers to give our guests a fascinating guide of the night sky.

Snowy mountains on the way to Landmannalaugar in the Icelandic highlands.
Snowy mountains on the way to Landmannalaugar. Photo by Paige Deasley.

A Winter Wonderland

When planning your winter trip to Iceland, you might wonder if there is a lot of snow. In south Iceland we often get our first snowfall in late November, but we usually do not get larger amounts of snow until January. However, the weather is always unpredictable in Iceland, so you never know what will happen! There is snow year-round on nearby glaciers like Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull–which means that our guests can go snowmobiling all year long.

The famous Landmannalaugar Hot Spring.
The famous hot spring at Landmannalaugar. Photo by Paige Deasley.

When it snows, south Iceland looks like a winter wonderland. The landscape in south Iceland is unbroken by trees or many buildings. Snowy fields stretch as far as the eye can see and snow-covered mountains rise high in the distance. Visitors can enjoy a wonderful contrast between hot and cold by soaking in local hot springs or our Hotel Rangá hot tubs even when there is snow on the ground.

A paved country road in south Iceland with views of the glacier-volcano Eyjafjallajökull.
A paved country road in south Iceland. Photo by Herman Desmet.

Winter in Iceland: Travel Safe

Snowy and icy winter weather makes it necessary to be aware about road conditions and weather forecasts. Because Icelandic weather can change so quickly, it is important to always check vedur.is before you go on a winter adventure. It is also a good idea to check road.is–if the weather is very bad, Icelandic roads can close until the weather clears. We always recommend that you check in the Hotel Rangá reception before you take a drive.

Driving in Iceland in the winter is a bit different from summertime travels. It is a good idea to rent a car with four wheel drive and studded tires–these features help to keep you safe when it is snowy and icy. 90 km per hour is the maximum speed limit on paved country roads. If you see something amazing and want to stop to take a photo, always find a safe place to park. Don’t park on the side of the road–find a designated turnout area.

A buggy filled with riders drives across black sand with a view of the glacier Eyjafjallajökull.
Travelers driving a buggy across black sands underneath Eyjafjallajökull. Photo by Paige Deasley.

Winter Adventures

Winter in Iceland is filled with incredible opportunities to explore and get off the beaten path. We highly recommend booking a guided tour with a local guide. Super Jeep tours are extremely popular in the winter and for good reason. Expert guides will show you beautiful areas like Þórsmörk or Landmannalaugar–if you dress well, you can go on short hikes and explore even when it’s cold or snowy.

Winter is also a wonderful season to enjoy adventure activities like snowmobiling and buggy tours. Or visit a magical ice cave and marvel at the crystalline ice. You can even go for a glacier hike or try ice climbing. Hotel Rangá’s reception staff are able to book all of these tours for you. Send us an email to make a booking today.

Smoked arctic char from the Christmas menu at Hotel Rangá luxury hotel in South Iceland.
Smoked arctic char from Hotel Rangá’s Christmas menu. Photo by Ingibjörg Friðriksdóttir.

Winter in Iceland: Christmastime Fun

Christmastime in Iceland is a joyful celebration. The weeks before Christmas are filled with parties including the delicious tradition of jólahlaðborð or Christmas Buffet. In fact, Hotel Rangá has our very own Christmas menu that is available several weekends throughout December. Guests can sample 13 different courses including smoked arctic char, cured salmon, chocolate cheesecake and even mulled wine.

Icelanders have their own delightful Christmas traditions. For example, the Yuletide Lads, or Icelandic Santa Clauses, are a mischievous group who love to play tricks. In the thirteen days before Christmas, they bring gifts to children who leave a shoe in their windowsill. From the 11th to the 24th of December we encourage our younger guests at Hotel Rangá to leave a shoe outside their door at night and see if a Yuletide lad will pay them a visit.

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    A glass of red and white wine beside a vase of lupine at the luxury Rangá Restaurant.