When to visit Iceland?
Many people visiting for the first time often ask when to visit Iceland and the best time to go. The answer to this question is dependent on your personal preferences and travel itinerary. Planning your trip at the right time is important since weather is known to be unpredictable. The temperatures can drop to 10°C in the winter and up to 17°C in the summer.
The guide below will help with your planning. Consider the time of year and where you want go during your visit.
For museums & attractions
You can expect most museums and attractions to remain open from late May to early September. You will also find that buses are running regularly at this time as well.
For the Midnight Sun
The majority of Iceland is south of the Arctic Circle. For this reason, Iceland doesn’t experience a true Midnight Sun. You can expect light evenings from mid-May to early August for the whole country. In the north of Iceland, the sun will never set fully in the month of June.
“We come from the land of ice and snow/From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow”
For the Northern Lights
The Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights are present between September and January. At this time, they can be seen throughout the country.
“Aurora had but newly chased the night, And purpled o’er the sky with blushing light.”
In winter months
Thinking about visiting Iceland in the winter? You will discover beautiful lights all around you – sunsets, sunrises and the northern lights! Imagine colours of orange, pink and yellow as the sun sets. Not to mention lots of snow to brighten the landscape.
The temperature in winter can fluctuate from 7 to 8°C on either side of freezing point. You will also find that there are only a few hours of daylight at this time. For example, in Reykjavik the sunrise isn’t until 11am in the month of December and the sun begins to set after 1pm.
You shouldn’t plan to travel everywhere in winter since access is limited in certain areas. There is a high chance of getting stranded. Also, keep in mind that you could potentially miss your flight home because of the windy weather.
If you are thinking about visiting Iceland in the autumn, you can expect beautiful golden light and colourful trees. You should also expect some stormy weather at this time. The best part about visiting in autumn is that there are lower rates at this time and more availability at hotels.
Be prepared for unpredictable weather. A storm could interrupt your plans. However, if you stay up to date on weather and travel conditions, then there is no reason why you can’t have a great autumn trip to Iceland.
Top tip: Þingvellir National Park in autumn cannot be missed!
In the spring
Spring is a lovely time to visit Iceland. The reason being – you will benefit from everything Iceland has to offer you in summer with less crowds and high-season prices. Expect long bright days, beautiful weather and easy travel.
In the summer
A visit to Iceland in the summer offers you long summer days, the midnight sun, gorgeous weather and a green landscape. You will find easier access to highland roads so that you can explore untouched areas of Iceland.
The downside to visiting in the summer is that there are usually a lot more crowds in summer months. This is accompanied by higher prices and a hard time finding affordable accommodation.
For the Blue Lagoon
The best time to visit the Blue Lagoon is at the height of the summer solstice in June. At this time Iceland gets only a few hours of darkness a day and the skies are often bright blue.
You may also like to visit this spa in the winter since the water is always warm. However, if you are brave enough to visit at this time you risk your hair freezing while you are in the water.
Find out more: About The Blue Lagoon
For whale watching
Considering visiting in April through October for the best whale watching in Iceland. At this time you can see Humpback whales, Minke whales, dolphins and porpoises. Also, Killer whales are known to frequent the waters during April and May. Keep in mind that whale sightings are also dependent on sea and weather conditions which are always changing.
Want to go whale watching in Iceland? You can book whale watching tickets here
Iceland is beautiful at any time of year and a dream for photography. You can get great photos year round. The shorter days in winter are accompanied by more darkness. Summer months may present a better opportunity since there is more time for potential good light.
Many recommend visiting in late June for contrasts and snow capped mountains. In late September you can capture long sunsets, sunrises and autumn colours.
“W.H. Auden: Few people take an interest in Iceland, but in those few the interest is passionate”
Continue reading more articles about Iceland
—> Kerid Crater Lake
—> The Blue Lagoon Spa Review
—> Guide to the Golden Circle Iceland Route
—> Visit to Gullfoss Waterfall
—> Touring Vatnajökull National Park Glacier
—> 5 Spectacular Places to Visit in Iceland
—> 9 Exciting Things to do in Reykjavik