While booking tropical beach holidays is often a go-to for travellers when deciding on the next vacation spot, there is something magical about entering into a winter wonderland instead.
Iceland is one such place that completely, and often unexpectedly, blows your mind with wild landscapes, delicious food, and the friendliest of nations. However, there is a lot going on on the small island in November, and it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with these things before heading there so you don’t get caught out.
Weather in Iceland in November
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The weather in Iceland in November is chilly but considering how high up in the arctic Iceland is, the temperatures may be surprisingly fair. Highs can average between 3°C – 7°C while lows average around 1°C-2°C. The lows can drop into the negatives and can average around -3°C to -5°C degrees. Iceland has an average of 10 days of rainfall in November so packing wet weather gear is a good idea.
Packing warm is essential to ensure you have a comfortable and enjoyable holiday. Iceland is built for cold weather though, and anything you may have missed when packing can be bought at any number of their shops. All their clothing is amazing quality and perfectly suited for the cold.
Iceland: Things to Do in November
Don’t let the icy weather of Iceland trick you into thinking that this Volcanic island shuts down in its winter months. The country is buzzing with activity and has plenty on offer for tourists, with many activities only available in the winter.
Tours In Iceland in November
The tourism in Iceland has boomed over the last decade and that has resulted in a well-run tourism board with an incredible amount of tour options for travellers. All of the tours are well run, professional, fun, and, most importantly, don’t ever give you the feeling of ‘follow the red flag wearing earphones into this crowded landmark building’ vibe.
Golden Circle Floating Bubble Tour
This must be one of the most whimsical tours offered in the world. Comprising of two-days, one-night, The Golden Circle Floating Bubble Tour offered by Floating Tours allows its participants to see and do a lot, as well offers one night’s accommodation that couldn’t be more unique.
The tour leaves from Reykjavik and picks you up from your accommodation so there is no stress about the early departure. Day one is packed with the first stop being the Thingvellir National Park, throwing you into scenes, quite literally, from Game of Thrones. Your next stop is witnessing the glory of a bursting geyser, followed by the awe of the incredible Gullfoss waterfall.
Your last stop is the Secret Lagoon which is a natural hot spring. The time at the Secret Lagoon is also made up of gathering and tasting Iceland’s famous volcano bread, trying traditional Icelandic dishes (the unique fermented shark), boiling an egg in the hot spring, and of course, relaxing in the warm waters while getting a massage.
The real pièce de résistance of the whole tour must be your night’s stay in the Bubble Hotel. The individual clear plastic sphere rooms at this iconic hotel gives you 180-degree views of the sky while you are wrapped up in your luxurious room. You are surrounded by the quiet forest and on clear nights, can be lucky enough to see the aetherial northern lights while lying in bed.
Northern Lights Super Jeep Hunt with East West Tours
If you were not lucky enough to catch the northern lights on the Golden Circle Floating Bubble Tour, do not despair, East West Tours has your back. Endearingly known as the “cowboys” of northern light hunting, the tour guides doing the Northern Lights Super Jeep Tour will go above and beyond to allow you to bear witness to this mystical natural phenomenon.
Hot chocolate in hand, and wrapped up in cosy blankets provided by the tour, a special and intimate experience is created when you experience the Aurora Borealis.
Into The Glacier with Super Jeep Tour
This tour is something special and as equally unique as the rest. It takes participants quite literally inside the ever-moving glacier, Langjökull (Iceland’s second-largest glacier). During the tour, you can experience a little chapel carved out of ice, as well as all the passageways and sculptures made from the ice.
You are given cold weather gear to wear before entering the glacier making it a comfortable experience. Riding in the Super Jeep just makes the whole event bad-ass.
Snaefellsnes Highlights with Iceland Expeditions
If The Secret Life of Walter Mitty inspired you to live boldly and put Iceland on your bucket list then this tour is for you. This intimate tour takes time and care to give you the best experience of the Snaefellsnes peninsula.
You can expect to walk behind waterfalls, run on the black sand beaches, enjoy the jagged volcanic landscapes, and visit the famous helicopter scene spot of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
Iceland has a wide selection of hot springs to choose from. Starting with, but not limited to, literally your shower water, which is all gained from the hot springs and includes the smell of sulfur.
The Secret Lagoon on the Golden Circle is definitely one of Iceland’s most beloved hot springs. But the north of Iceland offers some breathtaking hot springs too. The most notable of these must be the Mývatn Nature Baths.
Because these hot springs are 6 hours from Reykjavik they are best suited for travellers who have more time in the country or for those who are doing the Ring Road. The Mývatn Nature Baths rival the more famous Blue Lagoon but come in at a considerably lower price range.
Public Hot Springs
To the rest of the world, these springs may be understood as public swimming pools but to Icelanders, this is a place to socialize, relax, and unwind. Sundhöllin, located in Reykjavik, is the public pool that will give you a surprisingly amazing experience.
There are different types of pools to choose from. From the indoor training pool to outdoor hot tubs, this establishment even offers a steam room. It’s a great way to experience something different after an early dinner or during some free hours.
The Blue Lagoon is arguably one of Iceland’s most famous tourist attractions and rightfully so. The breathtaking aqua blue waters, the in-water bars, the massage and face mask pools, as well as the cosy relaxing areas all make up the reasons why the Blue Lagoon is world-renowned.
If tours aren’t your thing then Iceland’s Ring Road is for you. The Ring Road is the road that goes around the whole of Iceland in, you guessed it, a ring. A car can be hired in Reykjavik or through a tour agency and be used to self-drive your way around the island.
If you have a longer holiday with more time to kill this is definitely a great option to slow things down and take in the raw and rough landscape the country is so well-known for.
What to do in Reykjavik in November
Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, is a port city and will be your landing point on your arrival. The city has so much on offer and days can be spent exploring all it has to show.
Iceland Airwaves Music Festival
The greatest thing about visiting Iceland in November is that the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival is on. A music festival to trump all other city-based music festivals. Every nook and cranny in the city is buzzing with musos, performers, and creative energy.
There are gigs in shop windows, containers at the dock, book stores, hostels, bars, and everywhere else imaginable. While walking down the street if you hear something you like, pop in and rock out. Most of the gigs are free of charge and are simply there to share and enjoy the musical talent.
One thing that must be noted about this time of year is that accommodation gets booked up during the festival. Care should be taken to make sure you have somewhere to lay your weary head at the end of each day.
Reykjavik is full of museums to satisfy every cultural need. The Reykjavik Art Museum is host to galleries of contemporary art. The exhibitions are ever-changing and are always intriguing. If contemporary art is not up your alley The National Gallery of Iceland might be more for you. It has a more traditional feel in its exhibitions.
The Icelandic Phallological Museum is another one of Iceland’s quirky experiences. Phallological referring to the collection of penises on display. Yup, you read that correctly. The museum makes for a very entertaining experience full of giggles and a lot of knowledge to take to your next pub quiz.
The Imagine Peace Tower isn’t necessarily a museum but is something to note in terms of amazing installations found in the city. The tower was unveiled in 2007 and is a symbol of John Lenon’s and Yoko Ono’s campaign for world peace.
Food and Drink
Reykjavik is full of amazing bars and restaurants which all serve amazing food and drinks. You can spend hours wandering the streets in between activities and eating your way through the city.
The Big Lebowski Bar must be one of the quirkiest in the city. As an ode to the Cowen Brothers film, the bar offers amazing food with bowling alley inspired decor. Of course, their White Russian is absolutely delicious and lethal in its alcohol content.
One of Iceland’s most loved dishes is surprisingly the hot dog. While roaming the harbour area you can find hot dog stands sprinkled along. They are all delicious and all of them at a reasonable price.
Travelling to Iceland in November: Tips
There are a few things that should be noted before you leave on your trip to Iceland:
- Pack warmly (including wet weather gear)
- Pack spare batteries for your electronics (especially cameras) as batteries die quickly in the extreme temperatures
- Be prepared for your flights to be delayed because of the arctic conditions you’re flying into and out of.
- Icelanders all speak English so there is no need to worry about language barriers.
Last Thoughts On Visiting Iceland in November
The land of fire and ice is an extremely special place. It is rich with history, interesting facts, genuine people, arts and culture, and activity. A must for every adventurer and traveller out there.
There is a huge influx of tourists during this time of year so it is a good idea to book all of your hotels, tours, and flights well in advance to avoid missing out.