Visiting Iceland in November is a great way to get all the benefits of the island’s winter wonderland without having to worry about the festive season crowds or the festive season prices.
In this article, we tell you everything you need to know before you travel to Iceland in November. From its pros and cons, and weather, to what to pack, and what to do in Iceland in November – this article can serve as your ultimate November travel companion.
Is November a Good Time to Go to Iceland?
November is not just a great time to visit Iceland, but it just might be the perfect time for you, depending on your requirements and personal preferences. Take a look at this nifty overview of pros and cons to establish whether a visit to Iceland in November will be a good idea for you:
- Traveling to Iceland in November means that you’ve managed to pick the perfect time in-between peak season crowds. No busy summer season crowds. No festive season crowds. This means that you don’t need to worry so much about pre-booking, craning your neck to see any of our local attractions or feel like you’re caught in a stampede whilst walking in the streets.
- No peak season crowds also mean no peak season prices, so a trip to Iceland in November is a little easier on the pocket.
- November is the perfect time to spot the Northern Lights in Iceland. Just please don’t sit on your porch in Reykjavik in November and look for the Northern Lights – it will be nearly impossible in the bright city lights. Take advantage of the November darkness and visit one of our remote regions or go on an Aurora Borealis guided tour.
- If you come later in November, you will literally get all the benefits of an Iceland festive season without the drawbacks. Get to experience the Christmas lights and the Reykjavik Christmas Market without having to contend with festive season crowds and price tags.
- A winter wonderland can only be created by extreme winter weather. And in Iceland, this means a next level cold and some pretty harsh weather elements, so you’ll need to be prepared.
- You will need a pretty flexible trip itinerary, since the winter weather conditions can cause sudden road closures, foiling your plans for the day.
- The weather conditions can make driving challenging. Especially if you’re a bit of a nervous driver or just not used to driving in wind, ice, and snow. And if you’re planning on road tripping around the island, you’ll need to plan around the roads and routes that are closed during the colder months each year.
- Whilst the darkness may benefit those hunting for the Northern Lights, it also means that you won’t have enough daylight hours to experience another one of Iceland’s most infamous natural phenomena; the Midnight Sun.
Weather in Iceland in November
As we’ve already touched on, Iceland can get pretty cold during November, and you’ll need to be prepared for some harsh weather elements. But things have still not reached mid-winter levels and as long as you come prepared, the weather won’t spoil your fun. Here’s exactly what you can expect from the weather in Iceland in November:
How Cold is Iceland in November?
November might be cold, but hitting the island during the tail-end of the autumn season means that it’s luckily not full-blown winter weather with its constant below-freezing temperatures. The temperature in Iceland ranges between 1 and 8 degrees Celsius, but the average temperature in Iceland in November is still a comfortable 4 degrees Celsius.
Iceland Daylight Hours in November
Daylight hours are fast dwindling (hence why it’s such a perfect time to spot the Northern Lights). At the beginning of the month, you’ll still be able to enjoy 8 hours of daylight each day, but by the end of the month, daylight hours will already be at just 5 hours a day. You’ll need to take this into account when planning your trip itinerary.
Does it Snow in Iceland in November?
Yes. You might not be dealing with blizzards, but November generally has about 8.7 centimeters of snowfall throughout the month to help create your out-of-season winter wonderland. 8.7 centimeters is roughly 50% less than the average winter snowfall. Just keep in mind that the north tends to be a bit colder than the rest of the island, so actual winter weather might just hit these regions earlier – especially at the end of November.
Rainfall in Iceland During November
The rainfall during November clocks in at roughly 80 mm throughout the month. This averages about 10 rainy days during the month. So, at least the rain won’t throw a spanner in the works of all the things to do in Iceland in November.
How Windy is it in Iceland in November?
The Icelandic winds are quite legendary and have been known to literally rip car doors off their hinges. Mid-winter winds can reach speeds of 35+ kilometers an hour, but during November, you’ll need to prepare for wind speeds averaging 30 kilometers an hour.
What to Pack and Wear When Visiting Iceland in November
You’re visiting a country called Iceland with people telling you that it will definitely snow, but temperatures will still not dip to below 0 temperatures… it’s quite understandable that you’ll be wondering what to wear in Iceland in November. To help you with any potential packing nightmares, we’ve created this handy packing list for Iceland that you can use as a guide.
Also, just remember the following items that may sound counterintuitive to a winter season:
- Sunglasses – the sun reflecting off the ice and snow is an absolute killer on the eyes
- Sunscreen – same reason as above
- Raincoat - NO umbrella – the wind will destroy it within hours
- Waterproof Clothing and Gear - this is not just to contend with wet weather conditions, but also things such as the mist and spray from waterfalls and wet and muddy hot spring trails
Best Things to Do in Iceland in November
Are you at a bit of a loss when it comes to creating your trip itinerary? Well, here are our top picks of top things to do in Iceland in November:
Take a Dip in Our Hot Springs
Iceland is well-known for its hot springs, which are the result of volcanic activity heating up the underground water supply. These hot springs can be enjoyed in their original and natural state or as geothermal pools here on the island. Some of Iceland’s must-visit hot springs are Blue Lagoon, Sky Lagoon, Hrunalaug, and the Myvatn Nature Baths.
Explore the Ice Caves
Exploring the ice caves in Iceland is another perk of visiting the island in November, since the majority of ice caves are kept closed during the warmer months of the year due to safety concerns. Walking through these caverns with their glossy, bright blue walls with streaks of black ash makes you feel like you’ve been transported to another world.
This might sound counterintuitive to the season, but camping is a great way of embedding yourself in the magnificent Icelandic landscape, whilst drastically cutting down on accommodation costs. And, no, we are not suggesting that you grab your little tent and sleeping bag and brave the outdoors at teeth-chattering temperatures. Simply rent a campervan in Iceland, and you will not only have taken care of both transport and accommodation, but you also get to camp in comfort!
If you want to further increase your accommodation savings, buy yourself the Camping Card. This card costs only €179 and will give a family of 2 adults and up to 4 children access to a wide variety of campsites across the country for up to 28 nights. When you take into account that campsites generally charge $10-$20 per person per night, you can save a pretty penny by using the Camping Card.
Visit Our Waterfalls
Well, maybe not all of them, since Iceland has 10,000 of them. But there certainly are a few must-see waterfalls here on the island that each offers a unique experience. These include Svartifoss Waterfall, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, and Dettifoss Waterfall.
Not many know that skiing is not just a much-loved activity here on the island, but Iceland actually plays host to a few international skiing events and competitions, such as Fossavatn. Skiing in Iceland is also a seasonal activity that can only be enjoyed during the colder months of the year. But it is an activity that can be done by all – our slopes cater to all ages and skill levels.
Check Out Our Museums
Iceland has some of the most interesting museums you’ve ever come across. This is also why we highly recommend that you give them a dedicated couple of days of your trip itinerary and not just leave them as outings for the days the weather isn’t in your favor – trust us, there are too many must-visit museums to do that. Some of these museums that must make it onto your trip itinerary are:
- The Icelandic Phallological Museum
- The Reykjavik Maritime Museum
- The Saga Museum
- The Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft
Live Out Your Viking Fantasies
You won’t be able to raid your favorite local shop without a bank card, but you can live out your wildest Viking dreams in a myriad of ways here on the island. You can sail on an authentic Viking ship, get dressed in traditional Viking garb and gear, and have your portrait taken at Mink Studios.
Or you can really dive in head-first into the experience and visit an authentic Viking village where you can wander the streets, buying Viking items and ending the day with a Viking feast at the local “tavern”.
Let Your Credit Card Feel It at Laugavegur
If you’re still wondering what to do in Reykjavik in November, hitting the shops on our famous Laugavegur Street should be top of your list. This street boasts shops with anything and everything from souvenirs, clothes, and home décor items, to outdoor gear, and much more. You can catch your breath between credit card swipes at one of the local cafés or restaurants, where you can enjoy delicious local cuisine and taste some of our craft beers.
Take a Stroll on a Black Sand Beach
As with the hot springs, the black sand beaches in Iceland are the result of the volcanic activity here on the island. The black sand is actually thousands of years old hardened lava that’s eroded into tiny pieces by time, the weather, and the crashing waves. When visiting Iceland in November, you cannot leave without taking a stroll on Reynisfjara and Diamond Beach. Just come prepared since it can get pretty windy.
Snorkel or Dive the Silfra Fissure
Diving or snorkeling the Silfra Fissure is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Silfra Fissure is a fissure (or tear) in the earth where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pushing apart from one another. This fissure is now filled with glacial water, which allows one to go diving or snorkeling and actually lie suspended between two continents!
Although it might seem strange to go diving or snorkeling during the colder months here on the island, the freezing glacial water alone requires that you wear a dry suit, so the seasons don’t have much of an impact on this activity. It is important to note though that if you are planning on diving the Silfra, you will need a valid driving license as well as sufficient experience underneath your diving belt.
Experience an Eruption Up Close and Personal
Okay, so maybe not the type you were expecting, but it’s still pretty impressive. Geysers are essentially mini-volcanoes resembling holes in the ground that erupt and send liters of water shooting high up into the sky. Iceland actually has a pretty impressive resume when it comes to geysers, since the island is the very reason why we call them this in the first place.
The very first geyser in Europe, called Geysir, was discovered here in Iceland. And whilst you can still tick off ‘visiting Geysir’ on your Iceland to-do list, you won’t get to see any eruptions from this old-timer anymore. But just a short walk will take you to the very active Stokkur where you can watch multiple eruptions in under an hour.
Check Out Our Architecture
One of the best things to do in Iceland in November is to take a walk or take a road trip and admire some of our architectural gems. Icelanders are considered to be one of the most creative nations on earth. Add our rich history into the mix and you’ll understand where some of our most breathtaking constructions come from. Some of the must-visit sites include Harpa Concert Hall, Hallgrimskirkja, and The Nordic House.
Icelandic Festivals and Events in November
The weather might’ve started getting colder, but things are merely heating up on the social calendar side of things during the month of November. The following are some of the local festivals and events you can consider adding to your trip itinerary:
Icelandic Language Day
The Icelandic language is incredibly unique. It’s one of the few languages that are still so close to its original form that any modern Icelander can grab archaic documents and understand every word of them. It is because of this uniqueness and rich linguistic heritage of the island that we dedicate an entire day to celebrating the Icelandic language. Icelandic Language Day is on the 16th of November and festivities can be found all across the country.
The Reykjavik Book Fair
The Reykjavik Book Fair is an event that you have to attend if you’re in Reykjavik in November. Not just because you can browse thousands of book titles and strike a bargain, but because you will be taking part in an age-old tradition here on the island. Icelanders are known to give each other books for Christmas.
This is why many publishers release new books in the month of November, just in time for people to go Christmas shopping. This is called Jolabokaflod which translates to “the Christmas book flood”.
Although Icelanders don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, we have many visitors to the island who do. That’s why you’ll find a number of places around the island that caters to those who want to celebrate the holiday whilst on their Iceland trip.
Visiting Iceland in November; All the Fun at Affordable Prices
Visiting Iceland in November is the easiest way to experience the best the festive season has to offer the island without breaking the bank. By renting a campervan in Iceland and making a road trip out of your vacation here, you’ll not only be able to properly explore the island but cash in on some further savings. An Iceland trip in November means having all the fun, but at affordable prices, and making lifelong memories by ticking off once-in-a-lifetime experiences!