Snow and Northern Lights in Reykjavík, the Capital City of Iceland

Winter arrived in my home-town, Reykjavík city, with the most beautiful, pristine snow, which covered my city like a white blanket. The trees changed their appearance and my city was turned into an ever so magical Winter Wonderland.

I love this time of year when it starts snowing for the first time and the air is crystal clear and still. I always go for a walk with my camera and take photos of the driven snow. The photos I took for my blog are from my immediate neighbourhood in 108 Reykjavík, just opposite the Kringlan shopping mall.

Snow and Northern Lights in Reykjavík, the Capital City of Iceland

The thick snow perched on top of the branches of the spruce, making them look like frosted Christmas trees. The sun cast its pink rays of the winter sun, adding to the mystery of this scene. And all around the snow glistened and glittered. What a magical and serene sight.

Doesn't the snow look just like cotton in my photo below? There is so much beauty in the details of the driven snow. The snow stayed like this for the longest time, giving me plenty of opportunities to take photos in a different light. 

Snow and Northern Lights in Reykjavík, the Capital City of Iceland

Often the snow doesn't stay this pretty for long, as we either experience a blizzard and the snow gets blown into heaps - or we experience thaw, which makes the pretty snow turn into slush.

Then the snow either disappears or freezes again and the roads and pavements (sidewalks) get icy and slippery. The pedestrians often slide and fall on the ice, so from time to time crampons are needed in my city. But we cherish the pretty snow while it lasts.

Snow and Northern Lights in Reykjavík, the Capital City of Iceland

Last year after the first snow I went to my neighbourhood park, the beautiful Laugardalur park and took photos of the first snow.

Maybe you would also like to have a peek at the first snow in December 2016 in Reykjavík in my blog Snow in the Beautiful Laugardalur Valley in Reykjavík and The first magical Snow in 2016 in Reykjavík's City Centre. 

Northern Lights in Reykjavík

Snow and Northern Lights in Reykjavík, the Capital City of Iceland

I have noticed that one of the main "things" which our foreign visitors want to witness in winter time in Iceland are the Northern Lights. I am often asked if there will be Northern Lights tonight or in January, February etc - and at what time the lights will be on, but we locals honestly never know when they are going to show up. 

A clear and dark sky is of the essence so that the Northern Lights can be visible to us, and they start appearing to the naked eye around mid-August. By that time the nights start to get dark again after almost unlimited daylight during the Icelandic summer months.

The Northern Lights can often be seen in the city and in spite of the light-pollution I often get to witness some fantastic Northern Lights show from my balcony here in Reykjavík.

Snow and Northern Lights in Reykjavík, the Capital City of Iceland

The Northern Lights in my photos were the first Northern Lights I saw last September from my balcony. It started with a single pillar of light in the sky, which then turned into one of the most fantastic shows I have ever seen in Reykjavík. The Northern Lights were dancing and flickering in the sky, changing from green to white to the most beautiful pink colour.

When it is dark outside in winter time I often look out of my window to see if there are any Northern Lights, as we never know when or if they are going to show up. When I see a glimpse or the full show, I rush out with my small camera and take some photos and marvel at this extraordinary sight.

Snow and Northern Lights in Reykjavík, the Capital City of Iceland

My photos are not at all professional, as I just go outside and take photos in a jiffy, without a tripod and the necessary preparations. But I add them here anyway to show you what the Northern Lights can look like in the city.

You will get much better photos of the Northern Lights if you use a tripod and long exposure, as the Northern Lights are flickering and moving the whole time. You can join many guided Northern Lights tours from Reykjavík, where the guides will take you on a Northern Lights hunt.

Above you will see Iurie Belegurschi's professional photo of the Northern Lights at Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Iurie, who is a co-founder of Guide to Iceland, offers many photography tours around Iceland, including a 9-day Photography Winter Workshop in North-Iceland.

Snow and Northern Lights in Reykjavík, the Capital City of Iceland

My husband's family owns a summer cottage in North-Iceland, in the amazing Mývatn area, and there, away from the light-pollution of the city, I have seen the most magnificent and long-lasting Northern Lights, which I have ever witnessed in my life.

The lights were flickering in the sky all night long - and the next night as well! My photo above was shot at the cottage last September.

Winter weather in Reykjavík

Snow and Northern Lights in Reykjavík, the Capital City of Iceland

I have often been asked the question: "What will the weather be like in November, December, January etc?" That is difficult to answer, as the weather changes so much here in Iceland that we never know what to expect. But to get a better idea of what winter is like here in Iceland you can read one of the many winter articles on Guide to Iceland. Richard has f.ex. written an article on Iceland in February and Iceland in March.

Fortunately, we have the Gulf stream to warm us up a bit, but we can also experience some cold days with a lot of snow. So do come prepared for cold weather, as it can get very windy and we often experience blizzards. Wear layers and bring a parka, a hat, a scarf and gloves. And wear sturdy, non-slippery winter boots.

On the day I wrote this blog the weather forecast looked like this, -7°C in Reykjavík and -15°C on Holtavörðuheiði heath, which is a heath on ring-road 1 leading up to North-Iceland.

Snow and Northern Lights in Reykjavík, the Capital City of Iceland

If you plan on renting a car in Iceland and driving around, make sure that you will get good winter tires or studded tires for better grip, as the roads are often both snowy and icy. Also check out the Top 18 Winter Self-Drive Tours with accommodation, a car and a detailed itinerary included.

And don't miss out on visiting the ice caves, they are absolutely amazing. We have ice caves by Breiðamerkurjökull and the Katla ice cave by VíkJökulsárlón glacial lagoon and the Diamond Beach is also a very popular destination and glacier hikes are always popular.

Snow and Northern Lights in Reykjavík, the Capital City of Iceland

If you are visiting Iceland in the winter time and don't want to drive yourself, then check out the most popular winter tours:

I also found one unique Northern Lights tour where you will also get to visit the home of locals, listen to their stories and music and try their food. For more information on the Northern Lights read Nanna's article Northern Lights in Iceland.

Have a wonderful winter visit in my country - and stay warm and safe - I hope you get to experience some beautiful snow and see the Northern Lights :)

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