January is one of Iceland’s coldest months, yet it delivers beautiful frosted landscapes and the infamous northern lights. Read on to discover what you can do in Iceland in January, what the weather is like and what to expect.
Things to do
January is the perfect season to see the ice caves in Iceland. Ice caves are a natural phenomenon that are formed in glaciers and caused by running water. The sub-zero temperatures in January ensure minimal flooding and improve the ice cave structure. We highly recommend visiting Vatnajökull, which are Europe’s largest ice caves. They cover roughly 8% of Iceland’s surface! We also recommend a visit to the Crystal Ice Cave, which is most likely the most famous Ice Cave in Iceland. It is infamous for its bright blue colours and beautiful ice patterns.
Although it may sound a little too cold for snorkelling in January, it is still considered the best month to see Iceland’s underwater magic. Snorkelling in January is a great idea due to the climate, especially at Silfra. Silfra is where most snorkelling and diving tours are conducted and it is known as one of the best places to dive in the world, due to its location between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. In January, it is a great idea to dive at Silfra due to the snow and ice sculptures that the cold January climate brings. Always be sure to check conditions before your dive.
In January, there is limited daylight available. There are roughly only 5 hours of daylight during the winter months, with sunrise at 11:00 and sunset at 16.11. This brings the perfect opportunity to hunt the northern lights, as you will have more opportunities to catch them. Before planning a trip to see the northern lights, always check the aurora forecast before. This ensures minimal cloud cover and to eliminate disappointment.
With temperatures averaging between 1° and -1° in January in Reykjavik, it can be pretty cold. If planning a trip to Iceland in the winter, always pack warm layers and waterproof coats to get prepared for the harsh weather! January is a wet month and has an average precipitation of 88 millimetres. Always be sure to check the weather forecast before planning a day out in Iceland, because January is known for bringing snow, hail and wind.
The wildlife during January is often well hidden, due to the harsh winter climate. Reindeer may possibly be spotted in the East of Iceland, as in the winter the herds head down to the lowland in the search for food. If you’re very lucky, you can possibly see eagles in the Snæfellsnes peninsula region, but this can be rare.
If you’re looking to get closer to the wildlife in Iceland, Icelandic horseback riding is available all year round and is very popular with tourists. You will be able to see the beautiful frozen landscape as well as get closer to the wildlife Iceland offers.