January is one of the coldest months in Iceland; it competes with February for the title. But don’t let the sub-zero temperatures deter you from visiting. First, there are varying degrees of cold in Iceland and the winter cold does not show up every day throughout the winter. Second, think of visiting Iceland in January as an opportunity to experience a unique geographical region and culture.

Cold days are also a good time to duck in and visit one of Reykjaviks’s range of galleries or museums, shopping malls, restaurants and clubs.

Iceland’s rough weather, harsh conditions and cold winters has played a big part in making Icelanders who they really are.

If you’re prepared and have packed appropriately, you can enjoy the many winter activities and festivals that take place during the Icelandic winter.

Weather in Iceland in January; average temperatures and rainfall

Iceland usually has cold, snowy winters. Visitors to Iceland in January should be prepared for rain or snow, both of which are likely.

The subzero temperatures might feel colder because of the wind chill factor. Nevertheless, if you’re prepared, you can comfortably enjoy the Icelandic winter.

As for the temperatures, you can expect:

  • the average low to be approximately -3 degrees Celsius (26.6 F)
  • the average high temperatures to be 3 degrees Celsius (37.4 F).
  • the average rainfall in Reykjavik to be approximately 41 mm (1.61 inches), the highest of the year. This precipitation can come in all forms, depending on temperatures
  • this time of year, you’re likely to see a nice blanket of white

These averages aside, you can expect fairly windy conditions, persistent cloud cover and light rain.

Thingvellir in January

What to Pack for Iceland in January

Be sure to bring clothing that can be layered. Although it’s cold outside, indoor stores, theatres, and restaurants may be quite warm. Here’s what to include in your suitcase.

  • Long-sleeve shirts such as sweaters and sweatshirts
  • A heavy winter jacket, lighter jacket, or winter vest
  • Hat, scarf, and gloves or mittens
  • Closed-toe, comfortable waterproof shoes and boots
  • Umbrella

Reykjvaik during winter

The capital of Iceland in January

January in Reykjavik may be cold but with many post-holiday sales and few crowds, it can be a good time to visit the capital of Iceland. Some people actually enjoy the cold and snow, so for them, Reykjavik and Iceland in general, offer plenty to do to make the most of the winter season.

Reykjavik is a great shopping city any time of year, but with January comes exceptional sales as stores try to unload all their Christmas-time wares.

If you enjoy skiing, chances are that the nearby skiing area, Blafjoll, is open for business in January. With over 10 different slopes, you are guaranteed to enjoy the day and of course, the view.

Other activities in Reykjavik include geothermal baths, great restaurants, museums, ice-skating, exercising and finally, exceptional nightlife scene.

January events and festivals in Iceland

January 1st is New Year’s Day across Iceland and a statutory holiday, so expect most things to be closed. On the second of January many stores close down due to physical inventory counts. We therefore advice you do make plans if you are staying in Iceland during those days.

The thirteenth, and last, day of Christmas, is a festive day in Iceland. In Icelandic folklore there is a lot of superstition surrounding the Thirteenth Night of Christmas; cows talk the language of men, seals take off their skins and elves move houses and visit patient people, giving them riches, if they silently sit all night at a crossroad. Festivities are held all over the country, with elf themed bonfires and more fireworks.

The city of Reykjavík will for the eleventh-time welcome sports participants to a multisport competition in Laugardalur, the Valley of Sport, taking place from January 25th to February 4th 2018. Athletes will compete at a high level in various sports in world class facilities.

Dark Music Days is a festival of contemporary and new music which takes place during the darkest period of the Icelandic winter at the concert hall Harpa in downtown Reykjavik. The festival is a platform for performing and getting to know new music with an emphasis on new Icelandic compositions and performers in addition to international artists.

Gullfoss Waterfall

Tours and activities in January

Embark on a truly unique winter wonderland experience with endless selections of exciting tours and excursions. Explore Iceland’s most exciting attractions in January on a short day-tour, or on a more extended action-packed adventure.

The world famous Golden Circle puts on its winter charm in January and simply begs to be explored. You can enjoy a private tour which includes all the major attractions, plus few hidden ones, or join other tourists on this combo bus tour that takes you to the Golden Circle and whale watching.

With the right conditions, you’re highly likely to see the Northern Lights in January. There are many tours to choose from, but why not combine northern lights with other fun activites, for example a visit to Videy Island.

You might want to take on a journey into a glacier, by booking this tour. You will get the opportunity of a life time to enjoy one of the world’s greatest wilderness; Iceland’s second largest glacier – from the inside. You’ll ride in specially modified glacier vehicles on the glacier as well, to further explore the glacier environment.

If glaciers aren’t your style, you might consider going horse riding in the countryside or whale watching in the Atlantic Ocean.

Fore more information regarding travels to Iceland in January, please contact us at info@classiciceland.com