If you have ever been to Iceland in summer, you won’t recognize it if you go in winter. It’s not better or worse, it’s just like visiting a completely different country. And if you think Iceland looks grey, dark and uncozy during the wintertime, you gonna be really surprised how many colours can show up during one single trip. You will see the sunrise and the sunset every day, even if you are a lazy tourist and love to sleep, because the sun rises at 11 a.m. and goes down at 3 p.m. There is one colour you should be careful with though: the green of the nordic lights. The Japanese believe it brings a lot of babys… So here are my ten favorite things to do in Iceland in winter, I´ve experienced on my last trip with WOW Air, Iceland’s only low cost airline:
1. VÍK, THE BLACK BEACHThe black sand beach of Vík in South Iceland (180 km away from Reykjavik) is counted as one of the ten most beautiful non-tropical beaches on earth. In winter it’s all covered by snow, but you can still recognize the black colour on the rock formation Reynisdrangar in the middle of the sea (picture below) and on the tiny space between water and snow the waves leave everytime they go back (picture above).Plenty of space in Iceland: on the streets and in the nose…2. WATERFALLSDuring a trip in the Golden Circle, the most famous route in South Iceland, you usually get to see 3 waterfalls: Skógarfoss (first picture), Gullfoss (second picture) und Seljalandsfoss (picture below). All of them are beautiful in a different way: Skógarfoss has a nice setting, Gullfoss is incredibly big, but Seljalandsfoss always used to be my favorite one. You can walk behind it (but watch your step on the icy stairs!) and search for a treasure. 3. FOODPretty sure everybody will like the first dish: icelandic lobster in the traditional Fjorubordid-Restaurant. After that on the pictures below: smoked puffin (yes, the cute bird) in Hotel Rangá, horse meat carpaccio with parmigiano in Cava-Restaurant and Hákarl (rotten shark) from a local supermarket.4. GEYSERSBig plans need big cars. But seriously: in Iceland this size of wheels really makes sence. Like on our way to the geysers of the Haukadalur valley. Strokkur (the geyser on the picture below) erupts every 10 minutes up to 35 meters high. Can you spot the two tiny tourists right to it? There are more than 40 other little hot springs in the area but you are not allowed to touch them because the water can get up to 90 degrees hot. When we were standing in front of Stokkur the sun started to rise and it has been such a magical moment when all the steam got colloured in purple, yellow and finally red. 5. HOT POTSDue to the geothermal activity there are a lot of hot springs all over the country. Some of them are boiling but some have just the right temperature to bath in. These natural jacuzzis – the so called hot pots – are a very important part of the icelandic culture. It’s not just about having a bath. It’s about meeting your friends and family, having a drink, discussing things. The most famous and most touristic hot pot of Iceland is probably the Blue Lagoon (pictures above, tickets for 35 euros – at least the beauty mask is for free) near the airport. But every town bath also has a couple of hot pots outside (tickets for aprox. 5 euros). See the beauty essentials we brought with us on the picture below hahaAnother way to try out a hot pot would be booking a hotel with a hot pot, such as Rangá Hotel. The only obstacle: The hot pots were outside and we had to walk through the snow to get there. With a couple of local beers before no problem…After two beers we even started talking to the bear in the lobby.Still don’t know if it was a good idea to put my Havaianas on for the way to the hot pot. We had minus 17 degrees on that day, if you want to know…Before I left for this trip I promised my Mom always to wear my hat. I kept my promise, Mom!6. WALKING ON THE GLACIERWalking on the Sólheimajökull glacier with spikes under your shoes and a piolet in your hand during the sunset is one of the most breathtaking experiences in Iceland. This glacier is melting away due to the climate change and will disappear completely approximately in 100 years.7. SHOPPINGNever say “Norwegian sweater” in Iceland! It’s Icelandic, even if they look completely the same to us. The Icelandic ones are supposed to keep you warmer though, because they are made from the wool of a special sheep. Anyway, both look nice.The local outdoor label is called 66°NORTH (I had enough money for a hat haha). If you are looking for some hip clothes, you better go to one of the numerous second hand shops in Reykjavik, like Spúútnik on the pictures below. The best thing about shopping in Iceland: it’s duty free when you shop over 25 euros. Just get your taxes (15 percent) back at the airport! 8. LAVA TUBE CAVESIf you think the Blue Mountains are beautiful (25 minutes drive from Reykjavik), wait to explore the hidden world underneath them. All over Iceland lava tubes from the volcanoes have created a huge cave system. The Leiðarendi cave (3000 years old, means “the dead end”) we climbed down into, looked like a castle made of icicles and lava. And from time to time I even had to crawl on my belly from one “room” to another. 9. SNORKELING BETWEEN THE CONTINENTSYeah! It´s minus 19 outside and we go snorkeling! Sounds weird, but the Silfra fissure in the Pinvellir National Park got voted under the top ten dive and snorkeling sites in the world. So we just had to try it! The Silfra fissure is actually a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents, which drift apart about 2 cm per year. So you basically snorkel between Europe and America! There are even places where you can touch both continents at the same time. The second reason the Silfra fissure is so special: The visibility is over 100 meters and I´ve never seen so many different shades of green and blue in my life. The water (about 3 degrees) comes from the nearby Langjökull glacier and needs up to 100 years until it reaches the Silfra fissure – this works like a perfect natural filter. The dry suit will not let the water run inside, they told me. Well, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t…The Silfra fissure doesn’t look special at all from outside, but wait until you jump in!So this is how snorkeling between America and Europe looks like (the picture above is by Arctic Adventures). My underwater camera was dead from the first second it touched the icy water. We stayed inside for about 40 minutes and when we walked out, the boys had icicles in their beards and I had icicles on my lashes. But we felt pretty cool to be honest…10. REYKJAVIKReykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital but I promise you will not feel cold at all. Why? To get from one bar to another you just have to cross the Laugavegur street (well, the good looking guys are also a reason). And there are a lot of nice places to have a drink at . My suggestions: Cava (pictures below) is a bar upstairs and a restaurant downstairs, Kaffibarrinn is famous for it’s famous people hanging around there, Micro Bar has it’s own brewery, Kaldi Bar spreads some kind of industrial charme and you can do you laundry and have a brunch at the Laundromat Cafe. Try Reykavik’s most famous hotdog at Beajarins Beztu Pylsur! The super modern concert hall Harpa has become a landmark of the city. Another special thing to visit: Phallusmuseum where you can find over 280 animal penises. You can book all these tours with Arctic Adventures! Lava caving and snorkeling are available from 189 euros per person as a combo, a Golden Circle safari from 300 euros, glacier hiking & ice climbing from 131 euros. Fly to Iceland with WOW air starting from 59 euros per ticket!