A far-flung wilderness cast away in the North Atlantic, Iceland’s rugged beauty shines during the winter months. Its pristine fir forests are polished with a dusting of white powder, while hot springs become that bit more welcoming and the night sky is host to the spectacular Northern Lights.
Reykjavik is truly a year-round city, with the extraordinary Hallgrímskirkja Church and the city’s art museum the perfect foil to lively bars, unperturbed by plummeting temperatures. It’s also a springboard into the Atlantic for whale watching tours that depart from the harbour, passing white-beaked dolphins and porpoises in search of minke and humpback varieties. You can also experience the thermal delights of the Blue Lagoon and its impossibly sky-coloured waters shrouded in steam.
From the capital, perhaps explore further afield with coastal drives that reward travellers with towering glaciers and deep peninsular valleys before reaching the lava fields at Lake Myvatn or the turf churches of Vidimyri. However, you don’t have to travel far with Iceland's Golden Circle route starting at Reykjavik. A compilation of some of Iceland’s best sights, you’ll see the carving torrents of Gullfoss Waterfall, the picturesque Thingvellir National Park and the geysers at, well, Geysir. Along the way, stay on the marina of historic fishing towns encircled by mountains or a stilted contemporary masterpiece with accompanying glacier hikes.
The best time visit Iceland may well be in the winter, and if you go, don’t take your eyes off the night sky - winter brings the best opportunities to spot the aurora. Indeed, the cooler months are ideal as clearer skies produce less rain and fewer clouds meaning unobstructed views. Although it’s possible to spot them from Reykjavik, it’s worth leaving urban light pollution behind for the best chances, and the best photographs.
Of course, there are many more classic Scandinavian activities that you can try your and at in Iceland. Tame a snowmobile for exhilarating expeditions or strap on a pair of snowshoes to hike glaciers before settling in to try your hand at ice fishing. There are even jeep tours out to remote aurora viewing locations, while skiing and snowboarding offer more traditional pursuits.