Iceland in November is when winter truly begins to set in, with shorter days and colder temperatures. However, this is also an excellent time to experience the beauty of Iceland’s winter landscapes, as well as the Northern Lights. Some attractions may be closed or operating on limited hours, but there are still plenty of opportunities to explore Iceland’s unique culture and natural wonders.
However, is it worth dealing with the short days and potential flight delays? Here’s our guide to visiting Iceland in November.
About Iceland in the Fall
Iceland in the fall is a magical time to visit, with fewer crowds and stunning autumnal scenery. September sees the start of the Northern Lights season, while October offers beautiful fall foliage and whale watching opportunities. November marks the start of winter, but it’s still a great time to visit for those who don’t mind the cold.
One of the biggest draws of Iceland in the fall is the beautiful fall foliage. From the golden birch forests of Akureyri to the vibrant red and orange hues of Reykjavik’s city parks, visitors will be in awe of the stunning natural colors on display.
It’s also a great time to experience Iceland’s wildlife, with whale watching tours available in several locations and bird migrations passing through the country. And of course, for those hoping to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, fall is the perfect time to visit as the skies grow darker and clearer.
With fewer crowds and a slower pace of life, fall is the perfect time to experience Iceland’s natural beauty at its finest.
For a deeper dive into the best time to visit Iceland, please see our comprehensive guide to the best time to visit Iceland.
Pros and Cons of Iceland in November
As with any month of the year, there are going to be advantages and potential disadvantages to exploring Iceland in November. Keep in mind, every month is wildly different for Icelandic adventures. November is no exception. Below are some of the pros and potential cons of Iceland in November.
Iceland in November: Pros
November marks the beginning of Iceland’s winter season, meaning that you can experience some of the country’s most beautiful winter landscapes without the large crowds of peak tourist season.
One of the most significant advantages of visiting Iceland in November is the opportunity to witness the Northern Lights. This natural phenomenon is best seen during the winter months, and November provides some of the clearest and darkest nights to view the dancing auroras.
November is also an ideal time for those who enjoy outdoor activities like skiing, snowmobiling, ice climbing, and glacier hiking. With the arrival of winter, Iceland’s stunning natural landscapes transform into a winter wonderland, providing a unique experience for outdoor enthusiasts.
Another benefit of visiting Iceland in November is the potential to see migrating birds, particularly at the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. The lagoon attracts various bird species, including arctic terns, whooper swans, and guillemots, as they migrate southwards.
Finally, November is one of the most budget-friendly times to visit Iceland, with reduced airfare and accommodation prices compared to the peak summer season.
Visiting Iceland in November can be a magical and budget-friendly time to experience the country’s stunning natural beauty and unique culture.
Iceland in November: Cons
November is the beginning of winter in Iceland, and while it can offer some stunning sights and experiences, it is not without its challenges. One of the main drawbacks is the shorter daylight hours, with the sun rising later and setting earlier each day.
This means you’ll have less time to explore and may need to plan your activities more carefully. Additionally, November can be a rainy and windy month, which may limit your outdoor activities. It’s important to pack accordingly and be prepared for wet and windy weather.
Another consideration is the possibility of road closures or limited accessibility due to winter weather. The Ring Road, which is a popular route for exploring the country, may be partially or fully closed due to snow and ice, and certain activities and attractions may also be closed or have limited hours.
Finally, November is a shoulder season for tourism, which means some accommodations, restaurants, and tours may be closed or have reduced availability. It’s important to do your research and plan ahead to avoid any potential disappointments.
Events in Iceland in November
There are plenty of events taking place throughout Iceland in the month of November. Here are just a few of the events in Iceland in November:
- Iceland Airwaves Music Festival – This five-day festival in Reykjavik is one of Iceland’s biggest music events. It features local and international artists playing a variety of genres, from indie rock to electronic music.
- DesignMarch – A four-day festival celebrating Icelandic design, DesignMarch features exhibitions, workshops, and talks about architecture, fashion, and product design.
- Reykjavik International Film Festival – This 11-day festival showcases films from around the world, with a special focus on up-and-coming directors.
- The Northern Lights Season – November marks the beginning of the Northern Lights season in Iceland. With longer nights and clear skies, it’s a great time to witness the spectacular natural phenomenon.
- Iceland Airwaves off-venue – In addition to the main festival, Iceland Airwaves also features a number of off-venue shows in bars and cafes around Reykjavik.
- Reykjavik Jazz Festival – This four-day festival brings together jazz musicians from Iceland and beyond for concerts and jam sessions.
- The Icelandic Christmas Book Flood – The holiday season kicks off in November with the Icelandic tradition of Jólabókaflóð or the “Christmas Book Flood.” This is when new books are released and gifted to loved ones in preparation for the holidays.
- The Icelandic Horse Expo – This three-day event in Reykjavik celebrates the Icelandic horse, with demonstrations, competitions, and exhibitions.
Tips for Visiting Iceland in November
Visiting Iceland in November can be a unique and exciting experience. It is the time when winter begins to take hold of the country, and the landscape transforms into a stunning winter wonderland. To make the most of your visit, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Firstly, be sure to pack warm clothing, as temperatures can drop below freezing. Secondly, it’s important to note that daylight hours are shorter, with only a few hours of sunlight each day. However, this presents an opportunity to witness the incredible Northern Lights, which are more visible during this time of the year.
It’s also important to note that some popular tourist attractions may be closed or have limited hours during the off-season. However, this is a great time to explore Iceland’s local culture, as many small towns and villages host their annual Christmas markets, offering a glimpse into Icelandic traditions and food.
Finally, it’s important to drive carefully on the roads, as weather conditions can be unpredictable, and snow and ice can make driving hazardous. With these tips in mind, a visit to Iceland in November can be an unforgettable adventure.
As always, if you’re looking to get up-to-date information on the unpredictable weather in Iceland, there is one primary source. That source is Vedur.is.
Visiting in October Instead
If you’re looking to experience the beauty of Iceland’s fall foliage and avoid the colder temperatures of winter, October might be a better time to visit Iceland than November. The weather in Iceland can be quite unpredictable, and while November is known for its chilly temperatures and shorter days, October typically has milder weather and longer daylight hours.
October is also a great time to see the Northern Lights, as the nights are getting longer and the aurora activity is starting to increase.
For a deeper dive, please see our full article on Iceland in October.
Visiting in December Instead
If you’re a winter enthusiast and looking to experience Iceland at its snowiest, then December might be a better time to visit than November. December is the start of the winter season, and you can expect to see beautiful snowy landscapes and enjoy winter activities such as ice skating and snowmobiling.
The days are shorter in December, which means you’ll have more time to witness the Northern Lights. Keep in mind that December is also one of Iceland’s busiest months for tourism, so it’s important to book accommodations and activities well in advance.
For a deeper dive, please see our full article on Iceland in December.
Our Final Thoughts
No matter when you decide to visit Iceland, there are both pros and cons to every season. While November might not be the ideal time for everyone, it’s still a beautiful time to visit Iceland and experience the magic of the country’s natural beauty. It’s important to plan ahead and research the weather and activities available during your desired time of travel.
Whether you’re looking to witness the Northern Lights, explore Iceland’s stunning natural landscapes, or indulge in some winter activities, there’s something for everyone in Iceland.