Winter in Iceland, or How I learned to Supplement with Vitamin D


The forest behind Hólar University College offers scenic trails and mountainous views.

I affectionately refer to winter in Iceland as “The Dark Times” but winter also provides one of the most beautiful displays of scenery during the few hours of daylight the season has to offer. Each day since my arrival and up until the winter solstice, the light has diminished so discretely, that you barely know it is happening. Perhaps it is the scenery that shifts your attention but suddenly, I found myself without having seen the sun for a 16 day stretch at one point. This is because I live at Hólar University College in the Hjaltadalur valley. The valley is surrounded by beautiful mountains in three directions that block the sun for weeks at a time. My commute to work is 30 kilometers to the town of Saudákrokúr where I spend my days conducting research, but this is also where I get my glimpse of the sun that remains low on the horizon through most of winter. On the shortest day of the year, the sun rose at 11:39 a.m. and set at 2:42 p.m. There are a couple of benefits to this: sunrises and sunsets are prolonged, leaving beautiful colors that continuously change—so much so, that you can spend an hour trying to collect the palette of colors on film (I know this from personal experience). It is also an opportunity to see the northern lights—that is if you are willing to brave the frigid temperatures in darkness. I can say that once you are inside a warm and toasty abode, it is difficult to enter the -1 to -18 Celsius night air and of course, you must factor in the wind. For these reasons, I present this week’s story dedicated to winter, through pictures.


The church at Hólar University College against the mountain, Hólabyrða (1,091 meters).


Traditional Iceland sod house against the backdrop of Hólabyrða mountain.


The view Hjaltadalur Valley from the forest above Hólar.







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The view of Skagafjörður. A fjörður is the body of water that forms an inlet surrounded by cliffs or mountains.


The sun remains low on the horizon during winter. The view from the lab offices in Saudárkrókur, northern Iceland.


Amazingly, this is not a black and white photo. The black sand is a result of volcanism around Iceland. View from a small peninsula in the center of Skagafjörður.


Scenery along the ring road from Reykjavik to Saudárkrókur.


A view of Tröllaskagi peninsula in Siglufjörður, northern Iceland.


A view of Siglufjörður, northern Iceland, Tröllaskagi peninsula.


Downtown Siglufjörður. Filming location of the television series “Trapped” starring Ólafur Darri Ólafsson


Siglufjörður is a quaint mountainside town on the Greenland Sea.



Leaving Siglufjörður, northern Iceland.




4 thoughts on “Winter in Iceland, or How I learned to Supplement with Vitamin D

    • Hi Christine,
      Thank you for visiting and reading! The supplementation with vitamin d was a literary allusion. Becuase there is little sun in Icelandic winters, one should supplement with vitamin d since the sun our natural source of vitamin d is from the sun ( and I didn’t think it was worth mentioning i popped a pill).



  1. Good article, Christina. I am an American embarking on my first winter in Iceland. The short days have been tough, to say the least. Add a pademic… you can imagine.


    • Thanks for reading John! I completely understand. I lived in northern Iceland, in a valley where the sun didn’t oblige. I planned my day so that stopped working when the sun was at its highest and took advantage by walking during that time. There was also just surrendering to the darkness by taking things slow. Icelanders seem to use this-it’s just away of life and even they get down during the season. I couldn’t imagine living in the past; in a sod house with barely limited use of candles. As an American, I was used to everything moving so fast in the world and there in Iceland, it just doesn’t. I had to adjust. Good luck!


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