When in Iceland, all kinds of weather is to be expected, even within the same day! In winter the transition from calm and sunny to horizontal rain or hail storms can seem lightning fast. Then there is the occasional day when the elements impede all trips away from the city. This can be disappointing at first, but with a bit of preparation and advise from Hidden Iceland you can weather the storm and have a blast if stuck in Reykjavík.
This is the most important thing to keep in mind when travelling in Iceland. If you have booked a guided tour you can count on us to take care of this part for you, however all self-driving visitors should check for regular weather updates. Visit The Icelandic Meteorology office’s website to see the weeks forecast or have a look through Safe Travel for information on road conditions and closings, hazards, and current weather.
DRESS IT OFF
Some have said, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Iceland’s design scene is booming with good, high quality outdoor wear from brands like 66 NORTH who have been keeping Iceland warm since 1926. Iceland’s storms often mean a lot of rain and wind (lots of wind!). This means that umbrellas do not work so well. What you need is wool and fleece layers and a really good waterproof jacket. Every Icelander has one. 66 North have developed and tested their clothing for the Icelandic conditions. Go shopping (tax free for visitors!) when you arrive to keep you prepared for whatever Iceland throws at you.
WHAT TO DO IN REYKJAVÍK IN BAD WEATHER?
1. VISIT THE GALLERIES
To me, there’s nothing better than spending a rainy or stormy day in museums. The atmosphere is relaxed and the coffee is warm. Entrance to Reykjavík Art Museum can keep you busy all day as it gives you admittance into their three museums; Hafnarhúsið, Kjarvalstaðir and Ásmundarsafn. These three spectacular buildings are in different area’s of the city so you’ll get a great sense of Reykjavík’s layout, as well as its culture. Safnahúsið, or the Culture House, is another gem located in a striking white building on Hverfisgata. After wandering through their Points of View exhibition you can cross the street for a loaded brunch, Icelandic pancakes or just a cup of coffee at the quirky little Grey Cat Café. Entrance to Safnahúsið also gives you entrance to the National Museum of Iceland, where you can go through a permanent exhibition on Iceland’s history from the first days of settlement to our times. For a even better bargain visit the recently renovated, award winning Marshall house, housing Ólafur Elíasson’s permanent exhibition, Kling & Bang and the Living Art Museum – entrance free!
2. GO ALL OVER WITHOUT LEAVING THE CITY
Not only recommended in stormy weather, the exhilarating FlyOver Iceland experience makes for a perfect stroll by the old harbour and away from the city centre. You will be taken on a flight across the diverse landscape of Iceland to angles and places not easily accessible. The immersive experience, including wind, mist and scents, combined with the ride’s motion is the perfect fun city activity. Another way to get to know Iceland without ever leaving the city is a visit to Perlan for a 360 degree view over the city and an amazing exhibition where you can learn all about ice caves, northern lights, birdlife and glaciers in Iceland in an interactive manner.
3. VISIT THE CINEMA
Because why not?! Visit Bíó Paradís, an independent cinema in the middle of the city centre, screening mostly independent films and Icelandic films with English subtitles, with occasional retrospectives of classic films and an educational film program for children. Kick back, order a beer and pop corn at the bar and enjoy the film! You can also snuggle up in the cozy sofas with tea and borrow one of their board games.
4. GO SWIMMING, WHATEVER THE WEATHER
Swimming or just hanging out in a sauna or warm outdoor hot tub is definitely the national pastime in Iceland and I know nothing better than relaxing in the hot tub with rain or snow falling down. This is both the best place to engage in conversation with random strangers or to be alone with your thoughts. There is just something about it! Recently re-opened Sundhöll Reykjavíkur, Icelands oldest public swimming pool with it’s original charm is a great one to visit, as well as Vesturbæjarlaug, a small and friendly neighbourhood pool within walking distance from the city centre. If you’re travelling with children Laugardalslaug has plenty of activities and kid friendly zones, as well as the adjoining petting zoo to fill up the day. A visit to the pool is never complete without replenishing at the nearest ice cream shop, bakery or hot dog stand!
5. GO OUT FOR FOOD
What better way to wait off a blizzard than sitting inside the warmth of a nice restaurant having delicious food? The two food halls, Hlemmur & Grandi, have a wonderful variety of restaurants and great views where you can actually watch the weather pass by. You can even join a small group for a food walk or beer crawl around downtown Reykjavík. The brave folk at Wake up Reykjavik are not inclined to cancel their walking tours just because of some wind and snow. Or you can create your own dining experience, just check out our recommendations for the best restaurants in Reykjavík.
6. STAY IN BED
If the weather is that bad, keep your PJ’s on and wait for the storm to pass before exploring the city or the incredible sights around Iceland. While you are waiting for the sun to come out, use your time to make a plan for the good days. Have a browse through our selection of tours here or get in contact with us and we can help you with your planning. You can also run to the nearest book store and grab a coffee to go, along with a translated version of some great Icelandic novel to become further immersed in the culture.
Hi I’m Dagný Björg is a Reykjavík-dweller, mother and designer who grew up in the remote West Fjords of Iceland. She spent her summers camping with her family all around the incredible country that is Iceland. She ensures that everything within Hidden Iceland keeps running smoothly and her local knowledge was key when creating all our fantastic itineraries.