Iceland's December Weather, Temperature & Length of Days

Magazine Iceland's December Weather, Temperature & Length of Days

December is a very special time in Iceland. Far from being dreary and cold, the cities and towns are alight with holiday lighting and festivities. Adding to this, there’s a palpable buzz from the anticipation of one of the country’s most popular times, Christmas. For those planning a trip to Iceland in December, here’s what you can expect from the weather and length of days.

Daylight

Just like everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, the shortest day of the year is in December. In 2013, the Winter solstice is on December 21st. However, because of Iceland’s high latitude, its shortest day is only 4:07 long!  At the beginning of December, the length of day is 5 hours.  So from December 1st to the Winter solstice, almost an entire hour of daylight is lost. Compare this change with a lower latitude city like Los Angeles which has almost 10 hours of daylight all month long, only losing like 15 minutes from December 1st to the solstice.  The length of day is probably the biggest thing you’ll notice in Iceland during this time of year.  

Temperature

As for the temperatures, you can expect average low to be approximately -2 degrees Celsius (28 F) and the average high temperatures to be 4 degrees Celsius (39 F) - probably not as cold as you thought.  Iceland’s temperatures are mitigated by the gulf stream, which brings relatively warm water up from lower latitudes. Without this, Iceland would be much colder. Many people who visit Iceland, experience much colder temperatures back home.

Precipitation

The average rainfall in Reykjavik is approximately 32 mm (1.25 inches) in December.  This precipitation can come in all forms, depending on temperatures. You may get snow, rain or sleet.  Or, given Iceland’s famously capricious weather, you could get rain, snow, sleet and blue skies all in one day! These averages aside, you can expect fairly windy conditions, persistent cloud cover and light precipitation in some form.

There you have it. And, as Sir Ranulph Fiennes said, “There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” So, bring lots of warm clothing and enjoy this most special time in Iceland. And if you have a chance check out one of our amazing Christmas buffets happening at some of our Iceland hotels, it’s a great way to experience Christmas like an Icelander!  Cheers.

Here’s a link to a blog about what to do in Iceland in winter.

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