2022 Guide To The Best Time To Go To Iceland

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By surangastock/Depositphotos

With dramatic terrains, and moody weather, the most ideal time to go to Iceland is quite ambiguous for first-time travelers. Get started with this practical guide.

Iceland- The Land of Changing Weathers!

Iceland- the land of ice and fire- has a distinctly varied landscape and equally varying climatic conditions. The topography ranges from glacier lakes to lava fields to black sand beaches. It is a place of ice, erupting fire, Viking mythology, and pristine landscape.

You’ll find active and turbulent volcanoes alongside snow-capped peaks and glaciers. The sky lights up with not just stars but also the midnight sun and the Aurora borealis.

Forests and vibrant cities, well-constructed roadways connecting the island country, fjords and ice caves, whale watching and Icelandic horseback riding, local markets, delicious cuisine- Iceland has something to offer everyone.

Seasons play a significant role in deciding the kind of adventure a visitor enjoys. The face of Iceland changes drastically with the change in months across the year. The north ocean causes instabilities in the weather.

Here, in this article, we shall try to shed some light on these aspects. We shall discuss the best time to go to Iceland based on seasons and different months of the year. We shall also go over the best time for visiting Iceland to partake in the local festivals and events.

Seasonal Analysis Of The Best Time To Visit Iceland

Iceland undergoes four seasons- Spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Each has its specific attraction. You will encounter migrant birds returning to the coastal areas during the spring. Meanwhile, several hikes and expeditions attract people during the summer months.

Fall or the autumn months provide a perfect time to observe the Northern Lights. In contrast, powdery snow covers the land for epic adventures during the winter months.

We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different seasons in determining the best time to visit Iceland.

Spring (March-May)

By Alex Talmon/Unsplash

With the onset of spring and temperatures warming up, the days begin to get longer. The days lengthen up due to the movement of the Earth after the March equinox. This causes the snow to melt and reveals the lush green landscapes of Iceland. Innumerable migratory birds flock to the warmer coasts of Iceland, making this the best time to go to Iceland for bird watching.

This is also a period for increased geomagnetic storms in the Earth’s magnetic field. These disruptions induce the Northern Lights. Thus, an increased disturbance translates to better and clearer Aurora Borealis across the night skies. However, chances of good viewing are significantly reduced as the days increase.

Spring in Iceland is the best time to visit Iceland as prices fall and the tourist population dwindles. It is also the festival season in Iceland with the Vaka Folk Festival Eve Fanfest. However, you may expect a light rainstorm along with moderate temperatures. It is indispensable to carry a fleece, a raincoat, and waterproof shoes.

Summer (June – August) 

By Josh Reid/Unsplash

The summer months are the best time to go to Iceland as it’s close to the arctic circle. Summers have extraordinarily prolonged daylight hours, warmer temperatures, and kaleidoscopic festivals. The drier, warmer weather also makes this season the safest for the journey. Hiking, camping, and other expeditions are open during the Iceland summer. Self-driven trips are also accessible in the summer.

The meadows turn into several shades of emerald, and animals meander through fields. Highland Road, which remains closed through the winter, also opens for travel. Summer is the ideal time to visit Iceland for hikers. Since it’s one of the best whale-watching seasons, the northern coast visits humpbacks, minke, and dolphins. Family groups also visit Iceland during the summer holidays.

Summers are not suited to those who wish to witness the Northern Lights, mainly due to its lit-up night skies. The Land of the Midnight Sun, Iceland, practically is lighted up all day during the summer months! The flowers are in full blossom, and birds flock around, making your stay charming in all aspects. During summer you can spend more time walking and enjoying the surrounding scenery.

Iceland summers are undoubtedly a peak season when the tourists surge, being the best time to go to Iceland. The weather is mild, and there is plenty to see and do that causes the prices to go up during this period. It is crucial to make reservations for hotels, tours, and car rentals. With the sun reflecting off the white ice, eyewear is a necessity.

Autumn (September – November)

By Nicolas J Leclercq/Unsplash

Autumn turns Iceland into a photographer’s utopia. Autumn adds a rustic charm to the island country of Iceland as it paints the landscape into the mellow earthy tones of browns and oranges. Fall is awash in colours and is considered one of the quickest and most accessible times to travel to Iceland to sidestep mobs. For those searching for peace, autumn is the best time to go to Iceland.

Autumn bathes the National Park in hues of red, orange, yellow, scattered with greens. The lava fields are dynamic just before the snowfalls come. The sun is still warm enough for most summer events, though the air is relatively cooler, and the tourist market is less expensive.

Autumn is also one of the best times to go to Iceland for whale watching. The night skies are more or less clear, opening up several prospects for watching the Northern Lights or aurora borealis.

Apart from the regular tourist activities of visiting the Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle tours, day Trips to Vik, glacier lagoon diving, and horse riding, you may also experience some snowfall during an autumn visit to Iceland. Remember to pack a scarf and gloves while visiting Iceland during the fall season.

Winter (December-February)

By Lockenkopf/Pixabay

Winter in Iceland turns the landscape to that of the fictional world of Narnia! Everything is shrouded in a cloak of fluffy white and profound darkness. The extraordinary vista makes it the best time to go to Iceland.

Winters in Iceland are brutal, with temperatures dipping way below 0° centigrade. Weather phenomena, such as white-outs, frequently cause road closures and flight delays. This makes access to certain areas reasonably tricky. You can anticipate short days, nippy temperatures, and a blanket of snow. During the winter solstice, Iceland gets only three hours of daylight!

Low sunlight reflects soft light, perfect for photographs. However, with longer, darker nights, the possibility of witnessing the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis increases in manifolds. Several ice cave treks are also open only during the winters. The frosty landscape in the backdrop of the warm hot springs is an experience of a lifetime. The possible winter adventures are endless, making it the best time to visit Iceland.

Monthly Analysis Of The Best Time To Go To Iceland

Since Iceland enjoys moderate winter the entire year, it is vital to have wind and water-resistant clothing with you at all times. Let’s look over a trip to Iceland every month to determine the ideal time to visit.

January

  • Off-Season in Iceland.

  • Lesser Crowds.

  • Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis.

  • Winter photography.

By Jon Flobrant/Unsplash
If you are looking to visit the iceland in a calm month, then choose January. There aren’t as many tourists, which invariably means the attractions are less crowded.
 
In Iceland in January, you can anticipate brief, gloomy days. There are usually just four to five hours of daylight daily, as the sun rises around 11 am and sets around 4 pm. But those who want to see the Northern Lights will benefit from this.
 
Horseback riding excursions get more steam as the days lengthen toward the month’s end. One of the nicest seasons to visit Iceland is when the short, amiable Icelandic horses are available for riding and enjoyment by visitors of all ages.

February

  • Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis.

  • Killer whales Photography.

best time to go to iceland
By Ferdinand Stöhr/Unsplash

Iceland experiences extreme cold in February, with inland temperatures that frequently dip below zero. Snow and ice continue to cover the majority of Iceland. Reykjavik, the nation’s capital, and the coastal regions, which are typically milder than the interior, begin to thaw at the end of February.

Killer whales, often known as orcas, start to visit the shore when it warms up in search of food and nesting places. The greatest time to travel to Iceland to see whales and other amazing marine animals is in February.

Several boat tours and animal photography outings begin again in February so you can fully appreciate this exhibition. The Northern Lights can also be seen at this hour.

March

  • Ideal for Northern Lights viewing.

  • Killer whales watching tours.

  • Snowshoeing.

  • Ice caving.

By Mark Olsen/Unsplash
The vernal equinox, which occurs in March, marks the significant astronomical change from winter to spring, and the following weeks are more likely to see geomagnetic storms. It suggests even more breathtaking views of the Northern Lights. Periodic snowfall and below-freezing temperatures coexist with sunny skies.

April 

  • Northern Lights viewing.

  • Start of Bird watching season.

  • Group tours commence.

April brings forth spring in Iceland. The temperature starts warming up with the longer daylight hours. However, there may be some sudden snowfall hiding behind the clear skies.

Most group tours commence in April. The roads clear out for a road trip and travel from the West to East fjords. However, your prospect of witnessing the Northern Lights diminishes sooner or later the night.

Late April is also appropriate for bird watching. Lovely puffins are seen in April. Multiple migrant birds also arrive in Iceland during early April. Arctic Terns and other seabirds nestled within the rugged landscape offer a beautiful vista for visitors.

May

  • The most awaited short cruise season starts.

  • Whale watching.

  • Bird watching.

In fact, Iceland ends its coldest season (winter) in May. The neighborhood is bustling with folks enjoying the cold sunshine on bar terraces. The Myvatn marathon and other events begin. The start of summer may give 16 to 24 hours of daylight. Because of the long daylight hours, it is one of the finest times to visit Iceland.
 
The best time to see birds in their natural habitats is in late May. Whales migrate northward to feed near the shores of the sheltered waters. With the defrosting of the coastlines, circum-navigation cruises also start this month.
 

Geothermal water plays a crucial role in the lives of the people of Iceland. These are typically not bigger than public swimming pools. The most famous is the Blue Lagoon, an impressive blue geothermal lake close to Reykjavik. You can enjoy the Blue Lagoon and other hot springs all year-round. Nonetheless, the best times to visit Blue Lagoon are May and September. The temperature remains warm, but the atmosphere is more tranquil.

Iceland is known for its charming, stout, miniature Horses. Multiple-day horse trekking tours become active during this period. The month of May offers a great time to trek and travel with the cooler weather, making the trips an enjoyable experience.

June 

  • Witness the Midnight sun.

  • Experience Trekking and Camping.

  • Enjoy Wildlife watching.

  • Exquisite Photography.

  • Seaman’s Day Festival.

  • Reykjavik Arts Festival.

By Daniel Malikyar/Unsplash

Summer in Iceland commences in June. Known as the month of the midnight sun, lighting up the night sky in a dull glow, June is one of the most ideal seasons to visit Icekand. The night sun provides 24 hours of daylight around the June summer solstice. It is the the best time to go to Iceland for expeditions, especially till late at night.

The West-fjords are still bustling with birds in June. The Blue Whale might correspondingly be noticed cruising around the coastline. Sea-kayaking, camping, and trekking in Iceland begin in June. 

Sjomannadagurinn or Seaman’s Day, observed on the first weekend of June, celebrates the significance of fishing to Icelandic life. Boats remain harboured across the coasts of Iceland. The sailors participate in maritime merrymakings, turning harbours into a melee of games. Traditional fishing songs, Mackerel feasts, and an abundance of alcoholic beverages pinnacle this Viking experience!

The Reykjavik Arts Festival, celebrated in June, lures visitors from all over the world. This extravaganza usually has a theme stringing together several exhibitions. The shows range from street performances to the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra at the shard-like Harpa Opera House.

July

  • Hiking and Camping.

  • Diving into nature and capturing it.

  • Exploring the world of whales.

By vpzotova/Pixabay

July is an exquisite time in Iceland. Longer days prolong till midnight, creating suitable conditions essential for hiking and camping. 

Photographers are enticed by the enigmatic midnight sun that illuminates the breathtaking Icelandic countryside. In July, whale watching excursions are in full force. For drivers and road trips like the Golden Circle Tour and Ring Road Tours, all roads on the ground are free of snow.

August 

  • Hustle and bustle amidst plenty of tourists.

  • Trekking and mountain exploring.

  • Self-drive tours.

  • Arctic circle tours.

  • Several Festivals.

By Cassie Boca/Unsplash

In August, when festivals and summer vacations all come together to celebrate the island, the Icelandic tourist season reaches its peak. They are most active in early August and host one million puffins each summer.

Before the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, you might choose to go trekking, camping, or even sea kayaking. In August, one can also decided to tour Iceland independently. A full Arctic circle journey combining Iceland and Greenland is now a great idea. Read about some more European cities you can visit. 

Verslunarmannahelgi or the Shopkeepers’ Weekend, is the annual summer festival of Iceland. During this boisterous festival, the locals can be found frolicking about on the streets of Iceland or camping in the Westman Islands, soaking in alcoholic drinks. You can also party in downtown Reykjavik, indulging in music and food in a genial atmosphere. Being the peak summer season, mid-August is one of the favourite times to visit Iceland, depending on the budget.

September 

  • Landscape Photography.

  • Northern Lights viewing.

  • Whale watching.

By Jonatan Pie/Unsplash

The best time to visit Iceland is September if you want to see the Aurora Borealis, often known as the Northern Lights. Iceland’s Northern Light is more noticeable in September because the sun sets at around eight o’clock at night. The enhanced geomagnetic storm activity around the September autumnal equinox is directly responsible for this.

Since late September, snow and ice have caused many highways to become impassable. Additionally, due to the unpredictable nature of the journey during the winter, this is the last season to attempt a round-trip across Iceland and Greenland.

Wandering on Iceland is truly enchanting. The mountains of Iceland are not only beautiful, but they also have numerous captivating trails. September is also an ideal season for watching whales in Iceland.

October 

  • Northern Lights viewing.

  • Explore Iceland in Autumn.

  • Receding number of visitors.

By Joshua Earle/Unsplash

Iceland’s whale-watching season, and consequently the winters, conclude in October. The greatest time to visit Iceland is when there are fewer tourists there.

Landscape photographers are drawn to the beauty of Iceland and its surroundings in October by the empty landscapes and a variety of brown and orange tones. The unpredictable weather, which alternates between snow, sunshine, and thunder chills, offers travelers a variety of experiences. In and around Reykjavik, it’s still way too cold in October. Most roadways are also generally clear for traveling.

November 

  • Northern Lights Viewing.

  • Winter Adventures.

  • Trips to Hot springs.

One of the best time to go to Iceland for a Northern Lights tour in November. Warmth and brightness start to diminish in late November substantially. This month offers improved prospects for those interested in seeing the aurora borealis.

The biggest draws for Iceland trips in November are the winter experiences. The must-do itineraries include lavish pursuits like spa treatments, hot springs baths, ice-caving, and glacier climbing. November is the ideal month to visit Iceland if you enjoy the adventure.

Iceland Airwaves, the world’s most northerly music festival, is celebrated in November in Iceland. Gigs light up record shops, cafés, and bars of Reykjavik in the nights of November, offering travellers an experience unlike any other. The atmosphere in November is calm and serene, broken only by the musical festivals reverberating the frigid air.

December

  • Welcoming of the New Year.
  • Northern Lights viewing.
  • Ice cave tours.
December is fantastic time to travel to Iceland because the country’s environment turns into winter paradise. However, especially in Northern Iceland, temperatures can drop as low as -10°C on occasion. December is one of the frostiest months in Iceland. Wind chill causes apparent temperatures to feel lower than they are in reality. 
 

You can visit the ice caves only during the cold months of winter. Head out in the cold for an adventure of extraordinary magnificence! There are opportunities to book an expedition to Katla Ice Cavern on the Kötlujökull glacier.

You may also opt to walk through some of the areas on Vatnajökull, the biggest glacier of Iceland. This glacier is incredibly exquisite, with a manmade tunnel that takes the visitors down into the depths of the glacier. You can also visit the glacier at Langjekull.

By Mike Swigunski/Unsplash

The celebration of the eve of New Year in Iceland is a sight to behold, lighting up the otherwise cold dark month of December. People huddle around bonfires while the skies illuminate with firework displays. Numerous firework stands raise money in every town for the Iceland Search and Rescue pop-up. The celebrations make it the best time to go to Iceland.

In preparation for New Year, you can witness several free-for-all shows of fireworks crackling on the horizon on the night of 31st December. It is generally followed by hearty feasts and drinks with friends and family. The crowd pours out onto the frozen streets for partying around bonfires all through the night. Reykjavik boasts of the biggest New Year celebrations in the island country and is the ideal destination for tourists.

Here is an overall weather chart for Iceland.

Month

Minimum Temp. (in °C)

Maximum Temp. (in °C)

Rain (in mm)

 

 

 

 

January

-3

2

100

February

-2

3

95

March

-1

3

100

April

1

6

75

May

4

10

70

June

7

15

65

July

10

16

63

August

8

15

80

September

4

11

90

October

3

8

120

November

-1

4

105

December

-2

2

100

 

Conclusion – The Best Time To Go To Iceland

Excluding the period impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of visitors to Iceland has consistently risen every year. The Icelandic government attempts to curb the peak season crowds (June-August) by considering a tourist tax.

There have also been comprehensive attempts at redirecting people away from the main sites of tourist attractions and advertising the lesser-known beauties of Iceland.

Regardless, tourism in Iceland is increasing in manifolds with a new spurt of film buffs visiting Star Wars and Game of Thrones filming sites. So join in the party before the trip becomes more expensive! Simply pick out your choice of activity and then travel to Iceland during the corresponding season/month. Here is a list of the 11 best things to do in Iceland.

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