I’d had a long-standing fascination with Iceland; more so after watching the film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Captivated by the dramatic landscapes and ever-changing scenery, I decided to travel to Iceland in November with my parents.
While many people will say the summer season is the best time to travel, I have to disagree. Iceland’s an incredible country at any time of year, but there’s something truly special about going just before winter starts.
Reasons to visit Iceland in November
It’s less crowded
November’s a good time to travel. Being the month before Christmas, more people are usually saving for presents than traveling. In short, this translates to less tourists in typically popular destinations. Take our flight to Iceland. It was evident from looking at the lines, that our plane would be busy, but not full.
We noticed the same thing when arriving at Keflavik Airport. Complete calm and tranquility running through the airport — a characteristic that extends beyond the front doors. When you step outside, there’s really nothing around. The queues are also fewer when renting a car in Iceland. No franchise coffee shops or outlet shopping malls await for custom outside. Just endless flat lands surrounded by rocky and rugged terrain.
Taking a tour in Iceland for me is almost compulsory. There are so many places to explore, and a tour helps you see them all, and with locals who know best. I booked a few to see the Golden Circle and Reykjavik and would highly recommend you to consider it too.
Iceland in November – the weather’s bearable
I’ll be the first to admit that I detest the cold. I can just about handle the wind and rain, but add snowstorms to the equation, and I’m out. Thankfully, the temperatures are bearable traveling to Iceland in November. Snow was forecast to start the week after we left, so we could still enjoy seeing the sights without feeling the freeze.
Iceland’s healing properties
If there’s one thing I love about traveling, it’s the potential it has to heal. During the time of my visit, I was going through a really difficult period. The solitude and calmness of being in Iceland played a huge part in helping me peacefully process my thoughts, and ultimately to move on.
That said, I recommend traveling to Iceland in November to anyone seeking the same need for solitude.
Iceland’s arctic climate, with its freezing winds bitterly sweeping across the mossy landscape is a wonder for drying away any tears! The lack of people around, together with the dramatic landscape and coastline makes Iceland an ideal place to heal. At the end, I did return home with a clearer head and an optimistic outlook.
Of course, Iceland also has plenty of places where you can literally heal your body as well as your mind. The hot temperatures in the natural hot springs have many health benefits. Its mineral-rich properties in the water can help to combat acne, respiratory problems and pain relief.
Taking a long dip in the thermal waters is also said to have anti-ageing benefits too! Popular springs include The Blue Lagoon close to Reykjavik, and the Myvatn Nature Baths in the north of the country.
Things cost less in November
Let’s get one thing straight: Iceland’s expensive. Like its neighboring countries, daily expenses such as food and travel quickly add up. It isn’t the most purse-friendly destination, so be prepared to pay that bit extra.
Visiting in November, the low season, is definitely cheaper. Shop around if you’re planning on doing a tour, or hiring a car. Prices of food stay the same throughout the year, and I’d check the quality of the fruits and vegetables before buying. I didn’t see anything fresh, or of great quality in several supermarkets I went to in Reykjavik.
Eating out at restaurants can also be an eye-watering and sobering experience. If you enjoy a regular glass of wine or beer, stock up at the duty-free store in Keflavik, as it’s more cost-effective.
Cheap eats in Iceland
To save for day trips, head to the local bakery. They have a great selection of freshly-made sandwiches, drinks and other snacks. You should also visit the local supermarkets. Mine was the ‘Bonus’ store, and we bought snacks and drinks, which were perfect when on the go.
Icelanders love their soup, especially in the colder months. And one variety we saw in nearly every cafe, was the lamb variety. There’s also always a vegetarian option available, but lamb soup was everywhere!
Last money-saving tip. Tap water in Iceland is very clean and drinkable. Saying that, fill up your water bottle indoors and save heaps when you’re on the move.
Iceland in November – attractions aren’t as busy
You can’t come to Iceland without visiting some of the country’s best sights. And if you choose to visit in November, there’s a good chance you won’t have to compete for the best photo spots.
The Golden Circle
If you only have a few days to visit, I absolutely recommend doing The Golden Circle tour. Essentially, it’s a tour of some of the highlights of southern Iceland, such as the beautiful waterfall, Gulfoss.
On our particular tour, there were around 10 people, which was a perfect size group. Our guide, David, included 2 extra stops on the itinerary: a volcanic crater and stopping to admire the wild, yet tame Icelandic horses. We also saw the original Geysir and explored the outstanding Thingvellir National Park.
The Blue Lagoon
Look up reviews for the Blue Lagoon, and you’re sure to find a mixture of responses. Some good, some really bad, but ultimately it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth the cost (and it can be costly). For me, I say it’s worth it. It’s a lovely experience, and once you’re in those warm waters, you won’t want to get out!
I found little difference, price wise, booking directly with the Blue Lagoon, or with a tour company.
A standard ticket (€35/$44/£28*) entitles you to a visitor pass plus entrance to the lagoon. This is the most cost-effective option, as the add-ons can really hike up the costs.
If you’re on a tight budget, save money by bringing your own towel and flip-flops. Shower gel is included, but bring hair conditioner and body lotion, as your hair and skin is considerably drier after being in the water.
A healing holiday and more
Though I only spent a few days in Iceland, it’s one place I’ll always be thankful to, and not just for its incredible landscape.
The coldest country I’ve ever visited left me with only the warmest memories. Friendly and hospitable people, and a landscape unlike any other in the world. And it’s for this reason, that I’ll never turn down an opportunity to visit Iceland — and in November — again.
Looking for a place to stay in Reykjavik? For the ultimate luxury experience, why not check out the gorgeous Hotel Borg? It was the first luxury hotel built in Iceland, and its stylish interior certainly lives up to its name.
Equally, the charming boutique, 101 Hotel, is a long-standing favorite in the capital. It has a seriously cool interior, and an onsite spa, just in case you didn’t get enough at the Blue Lagoon!
*Prices correct at the time of publishing.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended. Thank you for your support.
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