How to Make the Most of Daylight Hours in Iceland in Winter
In my capacity as the UK Director of Operations for One World Tours Limited, I am often asked all kinds of travel questions. Sometimes I am asked when is the best time to visit a certain country? Having just returned from Iceland, mid December, I have tried to paint a picture of this stunning country that has so much to offer and the diversity to experience at different times of year.
Driving out of Reykjavik at 10am before the sun has set gave me the chance to experience the magic of travelling through a living Christmas card. The houses were adorned with twinkling lights that gave of hues of bright colours in the snow covered pre dawn setting. The grave yards were equally beautiful as all of the crosses that marked the passing of a loved one were each decorated with fairy lights.
Some may think that the shortened days, 5 – 6 hours of daylight in the winter is a disadvantage when visiting Iceland at this time of the year, but I would not have missed some of the country’s diverse weather and scenery for anything.
Icelanders tell stories of trolls and little people and do not have a Santa Claus as such, instead they have 13 Christmas lads who do a similar job as Santa depending on whether a child has been good or not. I choose not to go into a lot of detail here about the folklore as I am sure you can imagine the Icelanders do a much better job and when told in the correct setting makes the tales more meaningful.
Some of the highlights of the Golden Circle Tour include a trip to Thingvellir which is home to the terminous of the mid-Atlantic rift which has created and is set amongst some fascinating scenery. Apparently the rift is drifting apart at 2cms a year. You will also see traces of Iceland’s very first parliament here which in its day ruled from the 9th century for four centuries.
I was then whisked off to Gullfoss to see the spectacular, raging glacial waters also known as the Golden waterfall. Surrounded by the thick winter snow, the waters that raged past left some amazing frozen structures in its wake. There are not many visitors at this time of year and apart from my guide I felt as though we were the only people on the planet. The sound was incredible and the sheer energy of the waterfall was breathtaking.
Before the daylight hours disappeared I was then taken to a field of hot springs where the famous Geysir is located. I was told by my guide that it was not completely dormant but it depends who you talk to. However one geyser called the Churn, also known as Strokkur erupts every few minutes which sends up a roaring tower of steam, which gushes some 50 to 80 feet leaving a strong smell of sulphur hanging in the air. I returned to my hotel feeling that I had spent the few hours of daylight very wisely and had experienced a small part of what Iceland had to offer.
Stuart Cheese is the UK Director of Operations for One World Tours and, having visited over 110 countries, has a wealth of travel experience. One World Tours / The Holidays in Iceland Specialists