What To Do In Iceland In November

The Northern Lights, A Music Festival, and UNESCO Book Fair

Fully licensed travel agency & tour operator
September 5, 2019
author Sofie

By Sofie

Sofie is a free-spirited journalist from Kentucky who lives a nomadic lifestyle, and spends much of her free time in airports on layovers.

November in Iceland means less sunlight, but that doesn’t mean less to do. Drive out into the countryside and hunt for the Northern Lights under the dark night sky.

Frosty winter weather creates the perfect conditions to explore crystal blue ice caves and glaciers. And don’t miss Iceland's annual music festival, book fair and national Icelandic language day! 

Things to Do in Iceland in November

Uncover The Mysteries Of Ice Caves 

Pull on your balaclava and hike across the glaciers to Iceland’s extraordinary blue crystal ice caves. On these tours, trained glacier guides will teach you interesting ice cave facts and all about the geology of the region.

Katla Cave under Volcano

Katla Cave under Volcano

Glaciers and ice caves are ever-changing natural phenomena. New caves form every year due to environmental changes such as temperature and geothermal activity. Don't miss your chance to see these one-of-a-kind caves before they melt away!

Admire Iceland’s various landscapes on our exhilarating ice cave tours. Inside the ice formations the transparent walls allow you to stare straight into the heart of the glacier. 

Climb Volcanoes and Descend Into Lava Caves 

Sparkling blue ice caves aren’t the only secrets hidden beneath the glaciers. Under the vast Kötlujökull Glacier sits one of the most active volcanoes in the country, Mt. Katla. Trek to the top of the volcano and climb down into the blue-and-black banded lava cave underneath the glacier

After exploring the transparent ice caves, switch things up at the ash-covered walls of Katla ice cave. Take a trip to the land of fire and ice and discover this geological masterpiece! 

Things To See In Iceland In November

The Northern Lights 

The aurora borealis is a magnificent light show that should be at the top of every bucket list. Pack up your camera and drive into the Icelandic wilderness to catch Mother Nature's celestial performance. 

Man staring at Northern Lights above Kirkjufell Mountain

Man staring at Northern Lights above Kirkjufell Mountain

November is the perfect time of year to search for the Northern Lights. The short daylight hours during winter create the ideal conditions to see the emerald auroras! Sign up for a Northern Lights tour, where an aurora expert brings you to the best observation spots.

If you plan to go to Iceland in November, our shorter multi-day tour is a great option. During the day, ride along the South Coast and explore Iceland’s best-known sights. At night, gaze at the brilliant green skies. 

Quick Tips: The Northern Lights In Iceland

  • Check the aurora forecast beforehand (stronger aurora means brighter colors)
  • Hold out for fair skies 
  • Drive away from the city and light pollution 
  • Leave the beaten path for darker skies 
  • Join an expert aurora guide on a Northern Lights tour 

Events And Festivals In November

Iceland Airwaves Festival: November 6-9 / Reykjavik —  This famous alternative music festival takes over Reykjavik in November. Iceland Airwaves is the country’s longest-running festival of its type. People from around the country and abroad travel to Reykjavik to jam out at this four-day event. Attendees can catch both Icelandic and international artists at spots around the city, from quirky vinyl shops to major music venues. 

Airwaves Festival

Iceland Airwaves Festival

Dagur íslenskrar tungu (Icelandic Language Day): November 16 / Iceland — Want to try your hand at learning a new language? Icelandic Language Day is the perfect time. This annual holiday celebrates the past, present, and future of the nation's language.

Out of all Nordic languages, Icelandic most closely resembles Old Norse, the language of the Vikings. To uphold the language, efforts have been made to repurpose old-world terms.

Before you join in on the festivities, practice pronouncing

“Vaðlaheiðarvegavinnuverkfærageymsluskúraútidyralyklakippuhringur” — the longest Icelandic word.

The Reykjavik Book Fair: November 23-24 / Reykjavik This annual literary showcase began in 2011 after Reykjavík joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. The book fair honors books and authors published in Iceland throughout the year. During the scholastic weekend, the organizers provide story hours for children, readings, exhibitions, discussions, games, music, and more.

Reykjavik Book Fair

Reykjavik Book Fair

Icelandic Airwaves Pro: November 7-8 / Reykjavik — A new addition to the Icelandic Airwaves Festival, this event gives an insider look into the music industry. The two-day program offers seminars, panels, networking sessions, and keynote presentations. Open to music industry veterans and casual music lovers alike. 

What To Know Before Visiting Iceland In November

Weather in Iceland in November 

The temperature in Iceland starts to plummet In November. As the season changes from fall to winter, the weather gets more unpredictable. Don’t be shocked if you witness rain, fog, sun, and snow all in the same day.

Men's outdoor clothing in Iceland

Men's outdoor clothing in Iceland

The typical temperature of Iceland in November is 38-40°F (3-4°C). If you compare those temperatures to Canada, that’s pretty mild November weather! Before your trip to Iceland, make sure to check out the weather forecast. 

What to Pack for Iceland in November 

You’ll want to layer up if you’re traveling to Iceland in November. Here are packing tips to keep you warm and dry! 

  • Waterproof gloves, a hat, and a scarf 
  • Warm layers 
  • Waterproof and windproof jacket 
  • Swimsuit (hot springs stay warm year-round)
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Winter boots 

Iceland’s November temperatures are pretty mild overall. Still, layers are important to keep yourself snug as the Icelandic winter sneaks up.

Tours In Iceland In November

Bilbo's Blue Ice Glacier Adventure Tour

Let everyone’s favorite four-legged tour guide take you there and back again! Named for the puppy glacier guide who found it, Bilbo Baggins, this ice cave is quickly becoming a tourist favorite. Hike across Sólheimajökull Glacier on a guided tour and enjoy the glacial landscape.

Bilbos Blue Ice Cave

Bilbo's Blue Ice Cave

The Ice Cave Beneath the Volcano

Ride a super jeep over rugged terrain and admire the beautiful countryside en-route to the spot where fire and ice meet. Once an active volcano, Mt. Katla sits beneath the giant Kötlujökull ice cap. Inside, you’ll find the impressive “Katla Dome” with black-and-blue walls. 

Suit up in crampons and a helmet and descend into the cave for an inside look at the world where fire meets ice. 

Inside Katla Ice Cave

Exploring Katla Ice Cave

Magical Auroras - Northern Lights Tour

Drive outside the city to hunt for the illustrious Northern Lights. For spectacular views, your aurora guide will lead you into the wilderness to grab the best seats in the house. 

Groups ride in a mini-bus, guaranteeing small groups and personalized tours. On the day of your Northern Lights ride, your guide will check the aurora forecast and cloud cover to find the perfect observation spot!

Northern Lights landscape

Magical Auroras - Northern Lights Tour

3-Day Jokulsarlon, Golden Circle and Ice Caving Tour

Can’t make up your mind which tour to take? Experience it all on this three-day tour across the South Coast. Witness waterfalls, floating icebergs, volcanoes, black sand beaches, geysers and so much more! 

No November multi-day winter tour is complete without the Northern Lights. Your hotel outside of Vik is the ideal base to chase the aurora.

Pack Your Suitcase! 

Whether you want to explore the bustling capital of Reykjavik, take an exhilarating tour of the Icelandic countryside or hunt for the famous Northern Lights, November in Iceland has something for you!

Ready to check the Northern Lights off your bucket list? Join one of our winter tours today!

What To Do In Iceland In November | Extreme Iceland