Last updated: 01:00 PM ET, Wed November 04 2015

How to Spend the Winter in Iceland

Destination & Tourism | Janeen Christoff | November 04, 2015

How to Spend the Winter in Iceland

PHOTO: Skogafoss Falls, Iceland, at night. (Photo courtesy of Thinkstock)

Recently, IcelandAir ran a promotion with special fares to the country, hailing it as a winter destination. Which begs the question, what can you do in Iceland in the winter? Well, it turns out there’s a lot.

During the summer, the country is lush and its hillsides are covered with green grass, and it’s hard to see how the country got its icy name. In the winter, “ice” is a good representation of what you will see, as the landscape is covered in snow.

Iceland is located in the Arctic Circle, so days are also short. In Reykjavik, the capital city, the sun rises around 11 a.m. and sets before 4 p.m. But these are minor deterrents for visiting the country in the winter, as some of its most spectacular activities can only happen in the dark – northern lights anyone? And while it sounds like with all the snow and the darkness, Iceland may be extra chilly, it’s actually not really any colder than other popular winter destinations.

So, to take advantage of some of the great deals winter has to offer in Iceland as well as fewer crowds with these activities that range from the adventurous to the relaxing.

Extreme Adventures

Explore this frozen kingdom with an extreme adventure. Extreme Iceland is a tour operator that operates some off-the-wall journeys around the country – including in the winter months. Choose from a two-day glacier hiking tour to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon to trek on glaciers and see waterfalls in the southern part of the country, or do some easy cave exploring and northern lights hunting on Snaefellsnes for two days. You can also take day tours to seek out the northern lights, glacier hike and visit a black-sand beach among other opportunities offered by Extreme Iceland.

Thermal Relaxation

Thinking about visiting in the winter? Don’t forget your swimsuit. One of the things that Iceland is best known for is its thermal pools. In fact, outdoor bathing is something that Iceland can trace back to the time of the Vikings. For visitors, what better way to warm up after a day of exploring than to participate in one of the country's oldest traditions: a thermal dip? There are many pools around the country and several around Reykjavik.

Laugardalslaug in Reykjavik is one of the country's largest and best-equipped swimming complexes, with indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, saunas and water slides. Blue Lagoon is in Reykjanes, and is located just off the highway that connects the capital city to the airport. It is one of the more striking pools, with brightly colored water against dark, black volcanic rocks. It’s also one of the pricier thermal pools but, with its famous white silt known for curing wrinkles and other ailments, it may be worth the hefty fee – just plan on staying for a while.

Glacier Stays

Check into the new Hotel Husafell in Husafell, Iceland, this winter. The brand-new, self-sustainable, glacier-adjacent hotel is an upscale oasis located close to the Langjokull glacier in West Iceland, which was one of the destinations on Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016 list.

The 36-room resort is located 90 minutes by car from Reykjavik. It offers thermal pools, glacier experiences and a nine-hole golf course. If the northern lights light up the sky, guests can request access to the thermal pools for viewing.

The hotel is offering a special for the winter months. The Winter Wanderlust Glacier Exclusive Package includes overnight accommodations at the property in a deluxe room, the new Into the Glacier experience at Langjokull Glacier, free access to thermal pools, free daily breakfast, free parking, free Wi-Fi access, taxes and gratuities.

Prices start at $218 per person, per night, based on double occupancy. The package is available through April 30, 2016.

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