Winter arrived in style in Reykjavik at the end of November, with more snow than the city had seen for 30 years.
The streets and sidewalks had been clear all autumn but suddenly we woke up for a Sunday morning run and the trees were white with snow. So we left the first footprints of the day on the freshly fallen snow as it crumbled beneath us, with Venus and Jupiter shining brightly in the dark morning sky. What a beautiful day!
You could be forgiven to think that running in Iceland is impossible during winter time. The occasional storm sometimes makes that statement true but the fact is that winters in Iceland are mostly mild. However, the weather in Iceland is nothing if not unpredictable so be prepared for anything!
The main issue with running this close to the Arctic Circle in the winter months is the diminishing daylight. Hours of sunlight are very limited here in the north at this time of the year, at the height of winter it is only bright for a few hours a day. The weather and the snow is really much less of an issue. And there is one big advantage of having snow – it really brightens up the day. The snow also adds beauty and a fairy tale touch to the surroundings.
For those who can’t resist a refreshing winter run and are not afraid to brave the elements we recommend choosing paths that are well lit, e.g. on sidewalks in the towns and cities. Sidewalks in Iceland are not crowded with people and most of time they will be free of snow.
Conditions of the paths vary from week to week during winter time. After a heavy snowfall it can take a day or two to clear the sidewalks and still they might not be completely snow-free, but they are still usually the best option
Most trails outside towns and cities are not lit at all, although there are exceptions. This means that running where the city lights do not reach is not easy outside of daylight hours. Conditions of the trails can also be difficult due to heavy snowfall, slush and ice.
Iceland is a truly a winter wonderland when the Christmas lights shed light on the snow falling softly and silently. You might have to leave all thoughts of tempo runs and intervals for the treadmill, but if you want to enjoy the clear and crisp winter air and moderate weather you have come to the right place!