When you think of Iceland, you see green pastures, blue skies, and the midnight sun. Or snowy glaciers under an icy blue sky. Well, let me tell you: Iceland isn’t always sunny with blue skies. Actually, you’d be extremely lucky if you didn’t experience some form of rain or snow. Or at least grey, dark clouds, looming over your head. The bad weather in Iceland is part of a package deal. Luckily, I found some amazing things to do in Iceland when it rains! These Iceland indoor activities will keep you warm and comfortable, while still exploring some of the best of Iceland’s culture, even in bad weather.
In this post, I take you through the weather in Iceland, especially in winter and rainy conditions. And I share some suggestions on what to do in Iceland when it rains (non-stop).
I paid for everything in full myself and all my opinions are my own or those of my fellow blogger friends. This post does contain affiliate links. If you decide to book something via one of my links, I’ll earn a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you.
Updated September 2023 to reflect current information.
There is no such thing as bad weather in Iceland, just bad clothing
This is a saying. Although I partly agree, because you can dress for any type of weather. Sometimes there is only so much rain, drizzly, snow, and grey clouds you can take.
At some point, you just want to relax, warm up and enjoy yourself. Without wiping wet strains of hair from your face every 2 seconds.
But what is the weather like in Iceland?
And how bad is bad weather in Iceland? Because I’m not a weather station, I cannot give this information in full detail. But on average, you can follow the next guidelines for the area of Reykjavik and South Iceland:
Most chance of rain (average days it will rain in a month):
October, December, January and March. May until August for the least chance of rain.
When it rains – it pours (average precipitation per month):
Although chances in September, November, and February are less than the rest of the winter months, they do have a relatively high precipitation chance.
So less likely that it will rain, but more likely that it will rain all day or be severe snow or rainstorm.
Obviously, September-March has higher amounts of precipitation than April to August. But the chance you have a rainy day in these months is still 1 out of 3.
For the best weather forecast, check a local weather station, as they have accurate on-the-ground information. Check here.
The Best Iceland Winter Activities when it rains
Don’t let the above averages stop you from traveling to Iceland in winter. Even though the chances of rain are higher in winter, you can also have bright sunny (short) days and lovely weather. But what are some fun indoor activities in Iceland that will keep you warm?
In case it does rain all day or you’re snowed in! Check out these indoor activities in Iceland.
Indoor activities at Snæfellsnes Peninsula Iceland
Snæfellsnes Peninsula is roughly 3 hours away from Reykjavik. Maybe a little less, depending on the weather conditions.
Most people visit on a day trip from Reykjavik to see the most photographed mountain of Kirkjufell and the nearby waterfalls and explore the Snæfellness National Park.
We visited Snæfellness in December. Obviously to see nature and take some stunning photographs, but also to take a whale watching tour of orcas in the area.
Sadly, due to a bad storm, the tour was canceled. So we had to come up with some indoor activities as the weather was horrible.
Snæfellsjökull National Park
Obviously, we tried to make the best of our time at Snaefellsnes and we toured around the peninsula in our rental car. We visited the most western part and the lighthouse. Here, we nearly got blown away by the Atlantic storm and were soaking wet from the rain.
We toured around the national park and found a toilet stop and a small museum at the Gestastofa Visitor Center. As we had to wait in line for the toilets, this gave us some time to warm up again and learn about the flora and fauna of the national park.
Vatnshellir Cave Tour Snaefellsnes
Luckily, I found something to do and see that wasn’t outside! I booked a tour of the nearby Vatnshellir Cave. And it was very interesting and exciting!
This 1-hour tour is a guided cave tour, where you descend into some of the lava tubes that were formed 8,000 years (yes eight-thousand) ago.
Luckily, it is very accessible so a very family-friendly tour (children must be at least 5 years old). With a small group of people, we descended down some stairs into one of the chambers of the lava tubes. We wore hard hats and had flashlights with us.
When we left, it was raining cats and dogs outside, but 2 minutes into the tour all was forgotten!
Although the cave is not warm and cozy, it does keep you away from the rain! The temperature inside the cave is steady year-round so you have to bring warm clothes and sturdy shoes.
Our tour guide took us through the chambers of the lava tubes and told us all kinds of interesting facts about geology, volcanic history, and the formation of lava. I must admit, most details I’ve forgotten by now, but they form an amazing background story to what you see and experience inside the cave.
Once we emerged back to the surface, the sun had set and the rain turned to snow! But we didn’t notice a single drop of it inside the cave. Make sure to book ahead as groups are small and only run a few times a day at set times.
Sadly, there are no budget tips. But my tip would be to book ahead, online as showing up might leave you disappointed and standing for a closed door. Book your tickets here.
Enjoy the view of Kirkjufell Mountain
What if I told you, there is a really nice spot where you can admire the views of Kirkjufell mountain, without getting cold and wet?!
Now, this is a bit of an insider tip but I was very happy with booking it and we made good use of it.
If you book the right accommodation in Iceland, you can enjoy the dramatic Icelandic landscape, without weathering the storm and rain outside!
We booked an amazing AirBnB stay at a private cabin, opposite Kirkjufell mountain. We watched the snowflakes fall on the mountain and woke up to an amazing white winter wonderland with a dramatic mountain silhouette in the background!
And we could enjoy it all from our private patio and from our warm and comfortable beds! Win-win if you ask me!
What to do in Reykjavik on a rainy day?
Iceland’s capital is lovely in the sun but also one of the best places to spend a rainy day in Iceland. Due to its warm coffee culture, amazing museums, and ‘small’ city vibes, you can easily spend a rainy day in Iceland, without getting completely soaked.
No wonder some of the best things to do in Iceland when it rains are actually in Reykjavik!
Swimming at Laugardalslaug
Maybe this one doesn’t really count as one of Reykjavik’s indoor activities, but it is a perfect rainy-day activity that will keep you warm!
For a true locals-only treat while you’re in Reykjavik, you can’t miss the Laugardalslaug indoor/outdoor swimming pool complex– the largest pool complex in the city!
It’s an excellent way to relax before an epic journey on the Ring Road, with a variety of pools, hot tubs, and sauna options to enjoy.
Icelanders are huge fans of their thermal baths and pools, and Laugardalslaug is a true testament to this, with an unpretentious and fun vibe.
There is a large 50-meter outdoor pool that is temperature-controlled all year, as well as an indoor pool that is Olympic-standard size, and a large steam bath area.
The highlight, though, is the 8 “hot pot” tubs at various temperatures, ranging from very, very cold to steaming hot! If you’re traveling with children, there is an outdoor children’s pool as well as two water slides, paddling pools, and a miniature golf course.
One of the best things about Laugardalslaug is that it is quite a well-kept secret!
Unlike the super-touristy Blue Lagoon, Laugardalslaug is mostly popular among locals and is a truly authentic way to spend part of your Icelandic vacation.
Budget tip: to save a bit of money, be sure to bring your own towel and remember that you’re required to rinse off prior to entering any bath or pool in Iceland.
Submitted by Tegan and Alex | Why Not Walk Travel Guides
Museums in Reykjavik to visit on a rainy day
As mentioned above, there is a good chance it might rain during your time in Iceland and visit to Reykjavik.
But luckily, Reykjavik has tons of fun museums to shelter from the rain. So this list of things to do in Reykjavik when it rains wouldn’t be complete without some Reykjavik museums:
National Museum of Iceland
Just a short walk from the harbourside in Reykjavik close to the Tjörnin lake is the National Museum of Iceland.
It is located in a large building which upon entering is large and airy. Each floor takes you through the story of Iceland and its natural history.
With findings from the Settlement Age through to the present day it really tells the history of the country.
It starts with the ship that brought the settlers to the country, through farming the island until the present day.
There is the inside of a turf hut to explore as well as an airport conveyor belt with artifacts from the past. A bizarre but really effective timeline.
If you want to know more about Iceland before starting to venture out of Reykjavik then this museum is worth taking time to visit to really understand the country.
The museum is open daily from 10 to 5. You can purchase skip-the-line tickets online in advance here. Or try your luck and shop up at the door.
Budget Tip: Audio guides are free of charge. Admission for children under 18 years as well as disabled people is free of charge. Students and the elderly get a 50% discount on the admission price, so check if discounts apply to you.
Submitted by Suzanne | Meandering Wild
Phallological Museum in Reykjavik
One of the quirkiest museums in Iceland is without doubt the Phallological Museum in Reykjavik. The exhibition is not big, even if it’s the largest collection of this kind in the world.
It shouldn’t take you longer than 1-2 hours to see it all, but it’s unique and can be a fun activity on a rainy day!
Sigurður Hjartarson founded the museum in 1997 and has collected over two hundred penises from land and sea animals in Iceland and beyond.
The smallest of them, that belonged to a hamster, can only be seen with a magnifying glass.
The biggest of all is that of a sperm whale, 170 cm long.
Icelandic folklore is also well represented as the museum has the penises of trolls, ghosts, and elves.
One human member is also on display with three more promised by donors. Men can still sign up on a list to donate theirs. I wonder how many offers will come in when the museum will become more popular.
Bonus Tip: Sadly, the museum is not free (2.500 ISK) and doesn’t offer any discounts. However, make sure to check out their gift shop for a hilarious (or very functional) souvenir from Iceland.
Submitted by Raluca | Travel with a Spin
Punk Rock Museum Reykjavik
The Phallological Museum isn’t the only offbeat thing to do in Reykjavik. If you like your tourist sites a bit gritty and weird, then be sure to visit the Punk Rock Museum. The museum is fittingly located in an abandoned underground public restroom.
Don’t worry, they’ve cleaned it.
However, they’ve left some of the original plumbing in place, you know, for authenticity.
It’s the perfect setting for such a counter-culture form of music.
The museum features the evolution of Icelandic punk rock, focusing on the period between 1978 and 1992. Iceland evolved its own particular flavor of punk during the ’80s and the museum features band profiles, lyrics, and pictures. They also have images of a very young Björk getting her start.
The museum is small, in fact three stalls of small, but there is a lot to see and you can spend a remarkable amount of time exploring the exhibits.
The museum is open every day, as late as 10 p.m. Go at night, because it’s best to emerge from the experience in the dark.
Budget Tip? Not really. But with an entrance fee of 1,200 ISK, it is one of the more affordable museums in Reykjavik to visit on a rainy day. But as it is really small, the price is a good representation of the size of the museum.
Submitted by Carol Guttery | California Crossings
Visit Hallgrimskirkja Church in rainy Reykjavik
A gigantic building with a difficult-to-pronounce name, Hallgrímskirkja rises to the skies in the very center of Reykjavik. It is a must-see if you visit Iceland and a perfect place for spending some exciting time indoors.
In fact, this spectacular structure symbolizes a volcanic eruption and is a Lutheran cathedral. The church is named after the poet and spiritual leader Hallgrímur Pétursson.
This church was designed in 1937, and it took 38 years to build it. Hallgrímskirkja church is visible from any part of the city and has become one of Reykjavik’s main attractions.
Its architecture is truly unique: its tower is similar to basalt columns formed during the solidification of lava both in shape and structure. Hallgrímskirkja’s concept made it a perfect symbol of Reykjavik and Iceland and it is a must-see rain or shine!
It’s worth visiting Hallgrímskirkja not only for religious purposes or to admire its architecture, but also to enjoy the view over Reykjavik. There is an observation deck on the top of the church, which offers a breathtaking view of Reykjavik and the surrounding mountains even when it rains.
Moreover, when it’s cold outside, and you want to spend time indoors, you can visit Hallgrímskirkja and attend some unique events: concerts, evenings of organ music, poetry evenings, and theatre performances. For more information about events, check the website.
Budget Tip: Entry to the church is free of charge. A visit to the tower is by elevator and you need to buy a ticket inside the church. The price to visit the tower is ISK 1.300 so make sure it is worth it (and you’re not visiting during a snow blizzard or something). Children can visit for a fraction of the price so make sure to enquire about discounts when traveling with minors.
Submitted by Sasha Naslin | The Alternative Travel Guide
What To Do In Iceland When It Rains?
Of course, you didn’t come to Iceland to sit inside and play games on your phone all day. But if you pick a comfortable holiday home, you can relax, and enjoy Iceland, even when it rains.
Here are some alternative activities across Iceland for any rainy day. But they are also worth your time on a bright sunny day of course!
Watch the stars in your hot tub in Iceland
Okay, technically, this isn’t an indoor activity. But, it will keep you warm. And comfortable. And relaxed.
We booked an amazing luxurious stay at a holiday rental home in Kerbyggð. I opted for the house with a private hot tub on the patio (as it was my birthday, you know).
So, after dinner, we changed into our swim gear and enjoyed a nice relaxing soak in our own private hot tub. It was pitch dark outside and we watched the stars, hoping to see the northern lights. We only saw a couple of shooting stars, right before the clouds drifted in and some snowflakes floated down on us.
Although it is not an indoor activity, I highly recommend enjoying a soak in the hot tub as an all-weather relaxing must-do activity in Iceland. Rain or shine, the hot tub will keep you warm!
Budget tip: OK, our luxurious holiday rental was a bit of a splurge as it has its private hot tub on the patio. But we also rented an amazing barrel for a night for a far lower price. This accommodation was super cozy, and cute, and came with a hot tub too. At the moment we tried it out, we were the only ones, so it felt like a private experience for far less of the price. Check out these super cute barrel guesthouses here.
Visit the Tomato Farm and enjoy a tomato lunch at Friðheimar
Are you looking for a unique place to lunch in the Golden Circle and spend some time away from the bad weather of Iceland?
I can highly recommend Fridheimar. As my husband is a hobby horticultural gardener, this was at the top of my list of things to surprise him with during our trip to Iceland.
Fridheimar is an amazing geothermal greenhouse and tomato farm. They also breed horses and offer tourist tours around Iceland. But when the weather is bad, it is a super warm place to spend your lunchtime!
The greenhouse is full of tomatoes and you can visit it. They offer tours to groups, but you can also visit individually. Of course, they will want you to stay for lunch, which really isn’t a bad thing!
What to do at the tomato greenhouse?
First, we roamed around the greenhouse, taking in the various varieties of tomatoes and cucumbers they grow here. We learned about how geothermal heating works and greenhouse horticulture in Iceland. Amazing what they can grow with the little daylight hours and low temperatures in Iceland!
As we roamed around, they were setting up our table for lunch! They offer set menus and of course, we had to try their tomato soup! The bread that goes with it (self-service, load up on those carbs!) is absolutely amazing and some of the best we ever had.
We also enjoyed their pasta and we left the plates spotlessly clean! Yummy! That was a good lunch.
Budget Tip: You don’t have to take a full 3-course lunch. You can also visit, warm up, and have a coffee while you learn about greenhouse horticulture in Iceland. Not a bad indoor activity! Of course, you can make things as expensive as you wish, with bloody mary’s, schnapps and dessert. But you don’t have to. Make sure to call ahead for reservations as it is very popular with tour groups.
Their Tomato shop offers low-cost small Icelandic foodie gifts to bring home as souvenirs like jams and rubs for cooking.
Visit the Lava Centre in Hvolsvöllur
As we drove from Selfoss in the Golden Circle to Vik in South Iceland, it was a particularly rainy day.
I pictured us driving this stretch, stopping at numerous waterfalls, and enjoying the winter views on this road trip. But all we saw was the few yards in front of our car. We didn’t see the surrounding mountains or the countryside.
The few times we did get outside the car we were soaking wet from the streaming rain within minutes. As I noticed my weather app forecasted slightly better weather in the afternoon, we opted to make a stop now. And continue driving and chasing waterfalls later in the day.
Hopefully, the weather will clear up a bit (it didn’t). So we had a few hours to kill.
And I found the Lava Centre in Hvolsvöllur as the perfect indoor Iceland activity in this part of the country!
The Lava Centre is an interactive museum or experience center, where you’ll learn all about Iceland’s earthquakes, volcanos (and lava), and historic big eruptions in Iceland.
Your visit to the Lava Centre will start with a short movie which is also narrated in English. You’ll get sucked into even more bad weather and ash clouds. I bet you’re happy that you’re warm and dry now!
After the movie, you get a chance to roam around the different exhibits. You’ll learn about what lava consists of, how earthquakes in Iceland are monitored, and learn about the big eruptions in Iceland.
Virtual reality and interactive volcano eruptions!
A large portion of the Lava Centre is dedicated to the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull. Which is actually quite close to the Lava Centre. This volcanic eruption disrupted air travel across Europe (and beyond) due to huge ash clouds.
One of the most fun things to do at the Lava Centre was to erupt some of the biggest volcanoes in Iceland. Fun times!
I was almost disappointed when we reached the end of the exhibition. Most people spend roughly 1,5 to max 2 hours here. It keeps you away from the outdoor elements and keeps you warm.
Budget tip: If it is really about just getting out of the rain and getting warm, you can only buy a ticket for the movie. But I do recommend the full experience with the movie and the experience center. You can buy your tickets online here. They offer family discounts!
Whale Museum in Husavik
Húsavík is a small town in the north of Iceland, known as a place to go whale-watching. It’s also the place where the film “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” was filmed. (a hilarious movie that even Naomi liked!)
If you happen to be in Húsavík when it’s raining, try to put off any whale-watching you have planned, if that’s possible. You can see why here. You’ll see more and have a more comfortable trip if it’s a clear day.
While you’re waiting for the rain to stop, check out the Húsavík Whale Museum near the port. Its main hall includes some rather dry exhibits with information about each type of whale.
Above the main hall, though, hang a series of dramatically-lit whale skeletons. Go upstairs and you can walk along a catwalk beside them to learn about them in more detail.
Beyond the main hall on the ground floor are several more interesting rooms. One houses an enormous blue whale skeleton. It lies on the ground, so you get a real sense of its sheer size. Other exhibits look at whales and whale-hunting in art, history, and literature.
Budget Tip: It is not cheap to visit the Whale Museum, but if you book it with a whale-watching tour, you’ll receive a discount. So make sure to inquire about the discount options. But children can visit for free and they also have discounts for students, disabled people, and seniors.
Submitted by Rachel Heller | Rachel’s Ruminations
Should you visit Iceland in Winter?
As you can see, there are plenty of indoor activities in Iceland for a rainy day. I’m not going to lie, bad weather is part of any trip to Iceland. And you’d be extremely lucky not to experience any rain or snow when you visit Iceland, even in summer.
So in my opinion: yes! Go to Iceland if you can. Even in winter. Just to make sure you have a few rainy day activity options in case it does rain all day and you’re done with zipping up your raincoat.
Have you been to Iceland? What was the weather like during your visit? What would be your absolute favorite indoor activity if you could choose? Let me know in the comment section below.