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November is when winter officially starts in Iceland. The “Land of Ice and Fire” is bejeweled with pristine icy terrains during this time. From ice caving in Katla to skiing in Seljalandsdalur to embarking on an Iceland Northern Lights tour in Jokulsarlon, there are plenty of activities to partake in. If you are someone who craves adventure in a tranquil setting, then a trip to Iceland in November is a must. Just remember to wrap up warm and pay heed to the weather forecast and local travel advisory.
- Carolyn Williams
- From USA
While Iceland’s weather during winter can be extremely capricious, November sees largely stable conditions all around. The southwestern region, including the capital city, Reykjavik, has an average daytime temperature of 3°C (38°F) and an average nighttime temperature of 0.5°C (33°F). The temperatures in the south, including Vik, are also in a similar range. The northern region, meanwhile, sees freezing temperatures, with a daytime average of -1°C (30°F) and a nighttime average of -6°C (21°F).
Days also get shorter from November — from seven hours of daylight at the beginning of the month to just five hours by the month’s end. With shorter days, the prospect of outdoor activities gets slimmer, but visitors can still enjoy indoor activities such as museum visits and ghost tours.
For a more in-depth seasonal overview, check out our travel guide on the best time to visit Iceland.
Weather in Iceland in November - Rainfall and Temperatures
|Avg Daily (°C)||3||2||2||5||9||11||13||13||9||6||5||4|
|Avg Nightly (°C)||-3||-2||-2||0||3||7||9||8||5||2||0||-1|
|Avg Daily (°F)||38||36||36||41||49||52||56||56||49||43||41||40|
|Avg Nightly (°F)||27||29||29||32||38||45||49||47||41||36||32||31|
|Avg Rainfall (mm)||50||40||40||20||40||20||20||30||40||30||30||40|
|Avg Daily (°C)||6||5||4|
|Avg Nightly (°C)||2||0||-1|
|Avg Daily (°F)||43||41||40|
|Avg Nightly (°F)||36||32||31|
|Avg Rainfall (mm)||30||30||40|
Traveling to Iceland in November holds its unique start-of-the-winter charm. Below are the top reasons why you should take a trip to Iceland in November.
- Low crowds and rates: November sees a significant drop in tourist numbers, primarily due to freezing weather conditions and the closure of F-roads. This is a boon for travelers seeking a more affordable and peaceful holiday experience in the country. Popular attractions like Reykjavik museums and the geothermal Blue Lagoon are less crowded around this time. Hotels and tour companies also offer competitive rates.
- Northern Lights viewing: The famous aurora borealis are better visible during the colder months, and November is a great month to see them. With shortened daylight hours, you can easily witness the Northern Lights from most parts of Iceland.
- Winter sports: Although winter sports are accessible in Iceland from mid-October itself, many operators do not start their services until November, making the latter a better choice. Indulge in popular winter sports such as skiing, ice caving, snowmobiling, and glacier hiking in popular destinations such as Vatnajokull and Hlidarfjall.
- Events and festivals: Reykjavik is renowned for its vibrant nightlife and lively party scene. November enhances the appeal of a trip to Reykjavik, as the city hosts its major music festival, Iceland Airwaves, usually held during the second week of the month. Also, do not miss the opportunity to experience Everybody’s Spectacular, a five-day international performance festival.
All Iceland tours start in Reykjavik, the capital city, so begin there. The world’s northernmost capital city has plenty of sites and attractions, such as the National Museum of Iceland, Aurora Reykjavík – The Northern Lights Center, and Imagine Peace Tower. To experience the nightlife, head to Laugavegur, where you will find plenty of pubs, restaurants, and clubs. Squeeze in a Blue Lagoon tour while you are in Reykjavik. Relax in the hot geothermal waters while applying a mineral-rich silica mask to your skin.
The Golden Circle tour is the most popular day tour from Reykjavík, and in November, you can enjoy the stunning sights without the high-season tourist rush. Explore the beautiful trails on a tour to the historic Thingvellir National Park, visit the erupting geysers, like the ones in Haukadalur, and see the iconic waterfall at the edge of the highland shelf of Gullfoss.
When visiting South Iceland, do not miss the opportunity to embark on an exhilarating horseback riding adventure near the majestic Skogafoss waterfall. Dive into the inviting geothermal swimming pools that Akureyri boasts, the indoor Glerarlaug, and the outdoor Akureyri Thermal Pool. These are ideal spots to rejuvenate and warm your body after a day of exploration.
An ice cave tour in Iceland is a must during November. Explore multiple ice caves in the vast Vatnajökull glacier or visit Langjökull glacier, which has a human-made ice tunnel sculpted into it. November is also perfect for a snowmobiling tour in glaciers like Langjökull and Mýrdalsjökull.
November offers an opportunity to experience Iceland's winter wonderland with lower rates, fewer crowds, and prime conditions for Northern Lights viewing and winter sports. For more ideas and inspiration, check out our Iceland travel guide.