January is one of the coldest and darkest month of the year in Iceland, the weather is extremely unpredictable and can change very fast from being raining, windy, snowing and sunny, also there are often storms and blizzards. In January, the average temperature is -0.5°C (31,1°F). The average sunshine is 27 hours and the average precipitation is 76 mm.

This might not sound to good but January is not that bad to be honest, in between the storms we have sunshine and with the snow on the ground it looks so beautiful. Also because of all the darkness and the cold weather January is one of the best month to see the Northern Lights.

There are usually less tourists around during this month and that means less crowded places.

Driving in Iceland in January

Driving during the winter in Iceland can be difficult and dangerous as there can be ice or snow on the road and sometimes a blizzard and a complete white out. It is important to always check road and weather conditions before driving in Iceland during the winter. In January many roads in Iceland are impassable especially in the most remote areas in the Westfjords, North and East also the mountain roads are closed.

If you are planning on renting a car during the winter you can of course do that but we recommend renting a 4WD car with good winter tires and only if you are confident and used to driving in cold weather conditions.

There is usually a good winter service on the main roads and the most popular tourist destinations around Reykjavík are accessible including the Golden Circle, the South Coast as well as Snæfellsnes peninsula in the West and the North part of Iceland.

If you are not comfortable driving multiple bus tours and private tours are available during the winter in Iceland.

If you decide to drive in Iceland here you will find useful tips and more extensive information.

What to wear

Winter in Iceland is usually cold but it is actually milder then many people imagine, but that does not mean you don’t need warm clothes.

The average temperature in Iceland during the winter is around 1°C (33,8°F) but we often have strong winds so it feels much colder. The weather is also very unpredictable and changes very fast from being sunny to raining and even snow blizzards.

The first thing that we recommend for your winter trip is layers and more layers, clothes for all kinds of weather and of course good shoes!

  • Hiking boots - If you are planning on only staying in Reykjavík then sneakers might be enough but if you will be travelling around the country and staying outside you need good hiking shoes that will keep you warm.
  • Base layer - warm layers under the clothes might be the best thing you bring to Iceland. We recommend wearing long wool or thermal underwear, you can buy it in outdoor clothing stores in Iceland.
  • Fleece or wool - The Icelandic wool sweater or fleece is a must. The Icelandic wool sweater can be bought all over the country in local stores.
  • Parka or water and windproof jacket - You want to wear the parka on cold days but it might also rain during the winter so a water and windproof jacket over the wool/fleece sweater is essential.
  • Water and windproof pants - It is windy in Iceland and it rains so bring the pants.
  • Hats, gloves and warm socks - Bring at least two sets of everything a lighter pair and a thick one as well.
  • Swimsuit - You are going to want to relax in our warm swimming pools or hot springs after a long day outside