Saturday, September 1, 2018
I can’t believe it’s November already! Soon it will be Christmas and then the new year will come. But before I go ahead of myself, let’s talk Iceland in November.
You’ve probably guessed this already, but Iceland in November is cold, cold, cold! Winter is really and truly here, with a temperature between 1-8°C, that’s 33-46°F. And that’s not counting the freezing cold arctic breeze, so prepare yourself for the fact that the Cs and Fs don’t tell the whole story.
It gets quite windy in Iceland in November and because of the cold creeping up on you, the otherwise bustling streets in down town Reykjavík become a bit quieter. There are fewer people out and about and people prefer snuggling under a blanket with a hot drink and candlelight to wandering around the streets wearing approximately four sweaters and a face mask.
Shortest day of the year
Ok, so I’m exaggerating a bit but it’s true that as it gets colder, fewer people are out after sun set. The days keep getting shorter in November and the hours of daylight go from almost 8 hours in the beginning of November to around 5 hours in the end of the month. So, if you’re traveling Iceland in November take that into account. Do all your driving before 9 AM and after 4 PM to make the most of your day. And when in doubt, check the sunrise and sunset in November here.
November is the perfect time to taste one of my favorite Icelandic delicacies – the Icelandic meat soup. You just missed the Meat Soup Day, but you can get a lovely bowl of piping hot and comforting meat soup at Scandinavian at Laugavegur 22a in Reykjavík or at Le Bistro at Laugavegur 12. It’s basically just a bowl of steamed lamb and vegetables but I think it’s absolutely gorgeous!
Another thing that can comfort a cold traveler in Iceland in November are warm clothes! Layers! Bring a hat, some mittens, a scarf and wool socks. Buy a wool sweater, or lopapeysa as we Icelanders like to call it. Bring some clothes that will not only keep you warm but also dry, because even though it’s getting colder and colder, we Icelanders never get a vacation from the rain. The winter sun is also quite strong and bright, so if you’re driving around Iceland I recommend you bring sunglasses.
And speaking of driving – it can get tricky during the winter. The mountain roads in Iceland, that are also known as F roads, are closed off to traffic for various reasons, like the instability of the terrain and the potential risk of avalanches for example. Please do not venture on closed roads. Not only is it illegal, but totally moronic and completely unsafe. If you really want to get some place, but can’t find information about whether it’s open or not, contact us and we will guide you. We also recommend you stay updated with road conditions on road.is.
When in doubt, stay on the ring road but be ware – the weather can change in a heartbeat, offering up crazy blizzards with heavy snow or endless amounts of rain. But you never know. So please stay updated on the weather and please, please, please don’t ask me what the chances of it snowing are sometime in the future! I don’t know! No one knows! That’s the beauty of Iceland.
What to do in Iceland in November?
Even though it’s cold in Iceland in November and you can expect all sorts of weather, the nature is actually quite stunning when winter is upon us.
One of the most amazing things about visiting Iceland in November is taking an Ice Cave Tour. It’s so amazing and such a unique experience you won’t forget. You can either opt for a cave tour in Vatnajökull, or a man made ice cave at Langjökull.
Oh, and did I mention that you have a pretty fantastic change of catching the northern lights? You can either book a tour to hunt for the lights in a group or set off on your own. Just remember to stay updated on the aurora forecast here.
I also recommend you do some snowmobiling while you’re here, hike a glacier and explore Reykjanes peninsula, one of the most underrated parts of Iceland. And if you’re an experienced surfer, you should know that November is the best time for surfing in Iceland.
Drag Queens Lip Sync and Danish Beer
The biggest event taking place in Iceland in November is undoubtably the Iceland Airwaves music festival, held every year since 1999. It’s one of the largest festivals in the country, attracting big names each year. This year, we can enjoy the melodies of such bands as Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Sons, as well as loads of other local and international artists. Just check out the line-up here – have fun deciding what to see! There are still tickets available for the festival, which takes place between the 1st and 5th of November in Reykjavík and Akureyri. You can buy tickets here.
Conveniently, the J Day comes in the middle of Iceland Airwaves, more specifically on the 3rd of November. For those not familiar with the J Day, it’s a Danish tradition celebrating (and drinking) the first Christmas beer. It’s always a brilliant day to be down town and I recommend you check out local bar Den Danske Kro for some J Day fun!
On November 5th you can enjoy, and participate in, some Lip Sync Karaoke with hilarious drag queens Gloria Hole and Gógó Starr. “What exactly is Lip-Sync Karaoke? Simple, it’s for us non-singing divas to take the stage and perform our favorite songs, wowing the crowd and getting tastefully wasted!,” say the infamous drag queens, who will entertain guests at Kiki – queer bar from 9 PM. Don’t worry, you can also catch them on November 12th, 19th and 28th.
If you’re in Akureyri on November 9th you can pop by the Death Café where people drink tea, eat cake and discuss death. The aim of the event is to increase awareness of death to help people make the most of their lives. The event is held at Rósenborg from 7.30 PM to 10.30 PM.
The day after all that talk about death, on November 10th, Icelandic singer Hafdís Huld performs at Tryggvaskáli at Selfoss. You can find tickets to that concert here, as well as her show in Borgarnes on November 3rd.
November 16th is the Icelandic Language Day to celebrate our language and the importance of protecting it. It’s held yearly on the birthday of one of Iceland’s most beloved poet, Jónas Hallgrímsson, and the day is usually laden with cultural events paying homage to our mother tongue.
From November 23rd to November 25th, you can catch the St. Petersburg Festival Ballet and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Sleeping Beauty at Harpa concert hall in down town Reykjavík. Tickets are available here.