Daylight hours in Iceland vary dramatically from season to season.

During the summer months, there are nearly 24 hours of daylight. But during the winter, the days are very dark. The shortest day of the year is the winter solstice, which in 2016 occurs on December 21st. On this day, the sun will rise at 11:23 a.m. and set at 3:30 p.m.

Interestingly, this day will be 17 hours shorter than the summer solstice in June.

As you can imagine, this is a dramatic difference. And while the summer months are full of all-night partying and midnight sightseeing, it can be hard to get through the long months of darkness. However, there are a few things that I think can help combat the darkness.

Find a Hobby or Two

In my opinion, finding some hobbies is the best way to fight the winter blues.

The darkness can get you down if you go to work in the dark, go home in the dark, and spend the evening sitting at home in the dark. Instead, get out and get active.

There are many clubs to join in Iceland, and you can look for one to suit your interests. Join a walking club, find a book club to join, or become a volunteer.

You can also join a gym or head to the pool, both of which are great ways to stay active. I like to go horseback riding almost every day, which keeps me busy and happy.

The winter is also a great time to take an Icelandic class or other class that interests you.

Surround Yourself With Friends and Family

Christmas in Iceland
Families in downtown Reykjavík.

In line with keeping yourself busy, make sure to be social during the winter.

Many of the aforementioned activities can be done with friends or family members, especially trips to the pool or gym.

If you join some new clubs or take up new activities, you may also make new friends. Having friends to do things with increases your activity level and makes everything more enjoyable.

Keep a Cozy Atmosphere

I was pleasantly surprised during my first Icelandic winter to discover how popular candles are here. Many people light candles in their home or workplace to strike a cozy atmosphere in the winter darkness.

It may sound silly, but all of the candlelight really helps make the darkness more bearable. It sets the season apart from the others and gives it a special feeling.

Take a Trip Abroad

Winter is a great time for traveling, as flights tend to be inexpensive.

It’s also really nice to leave somewhere cold and dark and head somewhere warmer and lighter to thaw out for a weekend or longer.

Additionally, having something to look forward to really makes the darkness more bearable.

Take Advantage of Sunny Days

View of Tjörnin, downtown Reykjavík.

These can be few and far between, but never let a sunny day pass you by.

If you see the sun, get outside and soak it up. Go for a nature walk or explore the downtown area. I like to head out of town, for a total change of surroundings.

It’s All Uphill After the Holidays

As mentioned above, the shortest day of the year is in December. So while it’s still pretty dark in Iceland during January and February, it does get lighter each day.

There are a few more minutes of light each day, which you can really feel once February rolls around. The change from darkness to light happens quite quickly.

Remembering this really helps me feel better after the excitement of the holidays passes and the winter feels unbearable.

Nothing Lasts Forever

The darkness can be really hard to deal with. And contrary to what many people think, it’s not all a snowy winter wonderland full of Northern Lights.

It rains a lot during Icelandic winters, which means you often don’t see the sun at all during the short daylight hours. And when it’s cloudy that means there are also no Northern Lights.

But I’ve found that the best way to fight the winter blues is by staying busy. Join a gym, go skiing, take a class, or join a new club. Light some candles in your home too — I promise, it really helps! You can also take a trip abroad or plan a future vacation.

Winter in Iceland is a cozy time of year that’s full of family, friends, and holiday cheer. The key to getting through the dark days is to keep busy and remember that it’s only temporary.

The summer will eventually come, and when it does, it feels like a much-needed reward for enduring the long, dark winter.