T here is a famous old Viking saying that roughly translated means that a good poem is never too often told. Which is why we want yet again to tell you about things you miss out on here when visiting in deep winter.
How the government, local airlines, tourist agencies and hotel and restaurant owners would love for you to come in December, January or February. A number of ad campaigns have been devised just to get this message across to you out there. From a business standpoint this makes sense. Tourist traffic in the country in deep winter is low.
From your perspective this might make sense also. After all, you´ll have to come in deep winter to catch a glimpse of the fabulous Northern lights. Reykjavik city is also beginning to grab headlines over Christmastime for a nice and peaceful vacation. For sure, for a quick romantic getaway this place is quite marvelous. One can easily pack loads of fun things into a three- or four day stay here.
But, and this is a huge BUT, you will also miss out on a huge chunk of what made you come in the first place. We know because survey after survey show the same things. You are coming for the stunning nature. All else is a very distant second.
Many arriving do not realize the whole highland of Iceland is off limits in wintertime. The slowest witted do not realize until they have to get rescued while stuck in a snowstorm, shivering to death in a tiny rental car. Those cases happen almost daily. Rescue teams even have to come to the aid of hardcore super-jeep tour operators stuck with a load of foreigners on some remote glacier regularly. A fine way to waste a short break to Iceland.
But you do not even have to venture into the highlands to get into trouble. A lot of stunning places in the Westfjords area, the North and the East are quite inaccessible in deep winter. That great waterfall Dettifoss is often among them. Asbyrgi National Park as well and in the worst winters there is little chance of going around much in Myvatn area. Reason for this is snow. Roads are not cleared on a daily basis in rural Iceland and in some cases a week can go by without any snow removal at all.
Snow is but one problem. The other is icy roads. The road system here is almost Third World bad. Couple this with high velocity gusts of wind and even the best drivers will have no control over much of anything.
Of course, there is a way around this by signing up for all kinds of tours. But these tend to be very expensive. A few hour jeep-tour will often set you back 300$ / 220€ per person.
Then again, a stroll in Reykjavik city, a dip into the Blue lagoon and perhaps catching a flicker of the Northern lights in the skies above is certainly worth it. But it is not Iceland nature.