Best time to visit Iceland

Iceland - the land of ice and fire - is becoming an increasingly popular destination to visit.

The search to find ever more mysterious and out of this world places couldn’t end up in a better part of the world than Iceland.

Hiking, whale spotting, hot springs, midnight sun, the Northern Lights -  the list goes on and on. But before visiting this amazing and ethereal country, it is important to know what it is you want to get out of your trip and ensure you travel at the right time to get the very best experience.

You are about to discover that every month is a great time to visit, each with its own special qualities, so get thinking about what it is you’d like to experience and read on to find out how you can make it happen.

Climate

Due to its high latitude, the weather in Iceland can be cold, windy with plenty of clouds, but it has the benefit of a gulf stream that helps keep the temperatures mild. Whatever time of year you go, you are likely to experience sudden changes in weather and the temperatures will vary depending when you travel.

With a high season between June and August, the temperatures are at their peak, between 5 and 16 degrees, while the days are at their longest. The low season is between November to February when the temperatures drop as low as -10 degrees, with very little day light. 

The northern coastal areas are colder than the south as the Gulf Stream does not reach this far, however every month offers amazing things to do which means anytime is a great time to visit Iceland, providing you pack the right clothing and come armed with lots of information and advice!

When is the best time to visit?

To help you decide we have put together a month by month guide to visiting Iceland:

January in Iceland

January is a quiet time to visit as it is cold and dark and the Christmas festivities are over, however that does mean it’s less expensive and there are still lots of amazing things to do.

Experience the long dark nights, catch the Northern Lights, take a trip to the stunning waterfalls, snowy lava fields and the hot springs that gush out of the ground. If you are on a budget it’s a good time to visit with plenty of experiences to have.

February in Iceland

The weather feels a bit milder in February and though still cold, there is plenty to do. Dark nights mean plenty of opportunities to catch the Northern Lights and a trip to the ice caves and the hot springs is a must. A stay in the capital, Rejkyavik, will be less busy at this time of year and hotel prices will be cheaper.

March in Iceland

March is still in the low season so it is a quieter time to visit. It will be cold but you can immerse yourself in Iceland’s culture. With the first weekend of March hosting the Food and Fun festival and lots of folk and fashion festivals throughout the month, there is enough to keep you busy. 

There are still opportunities to catch the Northern Lights and trips to the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle will be quieter and a much more pleasant experience than during the busier months.

April in Iceland

April starts to see temperatures rising and the snow beginning to melt.

It will still be cold but days grow longer stretching to 16 hours of light, there is less rainfall and still a possibility to see the Northern Lights. Horse Riding, caving and snorkelling are great activities to get involved in now.

May in Iceland

May is the last month of the low season period. Many consider May to be the best month to visit Iceland as nature comes back to life with up to 19 hours of daylight and temperatures that are much more comfortable. Rainfall is low this month and though it may still snow, it will melt quite quickly.

May is a great time to experience all that nature has to offer and to venture out into the hills and mountains as the roads start to open after the long winter. 

June in Iceland

If you fancy visiting Iceland in the summer then June is the time to experience the midnight sun. It is a perfect time for nature lovers as there are many birds hanging out on the sea cliffs and you can go on whale watching trips and look for the humpbacks and minke.

The camping and hiking season gets into full swing during this month as well as many sea activities. If you fancy a road trip then this is the time to do it as all the roads are now open, no longer closed off by snow.

Festivals to visit in the month of June include the Sjomannadagurinn (Seamans’ Day), celebrating the importance of fishing to Icelandic life and the Reykjavik arts festival.

July in Iceland

Alongside all the great things to do in June, the month of July still gives you the long days with the sun rising around 4am making camping and hiking perfect. Almost all hiking trails will be open including some of the more inaccessible ones. July will be busy so accommodation and flight prices will be higher but the daylight hours and temperatures should more than make up for it.

August in Iceland

August is Iceland's peak season as the cruise ships arrive and the schools are on their summer breaks. It is the time to experience the many festivals or to head into the hills and mountains for trekking or even to hit the sea on a kayak.

August is a great time for a road trip, the roads will still be open before the minor roads start to close in September.

Things to do include the annual Verslunarmannahelgi  ( shopkeepers weekend ) on the first weekend before the first Monday in August with lots of festivals and music happening throughout the country.

The days are shortening with the sun setting around 8.30pm and due to geomagnetic storms at this time of year September is one of the best months to see the Northern lights. Minor roads start to close during this month and remain so until June due to the snow and ice.

September in Iceland

The days are shortening with the sun setting around 8.30pm and due to geomagnetic storms at this time of year September is one of the best months to see the Northern lights. Minor roads start to close during this month and remain so until June due to the snow and ice.

October in Iceland

The first week of October can still feel quite warm and as many of the tourists have gone, it can be a good time to go. Whale watching comes to an end and many small group tours start to wind up their operations, but if you are a budding photographer or just love to see beautiful scenery then this is the perfect time to visit. 

The peace and quietness and the changeable weather create the perfect conditions for taking and seeing beautiful sights with temperatures just above freezing in the towns and cities and many roads still clear. 

November in Iceland

November lacks both day light and warmth so perfect for seeking out some of the amazing winter activities that are on offer like ice caving, glacier hiking, soaking in hot springs and catching sight of the Northern lights.

It will also be a lot quieter; November is one of the quietest months in Iceland which is wonderful if you are looking for adventure alongside peace and tranquillity. However if you fancy a bit more excitement this is the month to attend the world’s most northerly music festival, the Iceland Airwaves Event, hosted in a variety of Reykjavik bars, record shops and cafes that light up the dark November nights. 

December in Iceland

With temperatures dropping at times to -10 degrees especially towards the north of Iceland, December will feel extremely cold. However it is still a great time to visit. With all the Christmas festivities there will be lots of colourful lights, firework displays and bonfires everywhere creating a wonderful atmosphere in the run up to Christmas with nights so dark a northern lights tour is a must.

Things to do when you take a trip to Iceland

Chasing Waterfalls in Iceland

Iceland has some of the most picturesque waterfalls in the world, such as Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss, and Skógafoss. Tourists love exploring these natural wonders and snapping Instagram-worthy photos.


Soaking in Hot Springs in Iceland

The country is famous for its geothermal hot springs,to the  take a trip iconic Blue Lagoon, the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate amidst the otherworldly surroundings.


Exploring Glaciers in Iceland

Glacier hiking and ice caving tours are popular among adventure seekers. Vatnajökull, Europe's largest glacier, offers breathtaking views and thrilling experiences.


Chasing Northern Lights in Iceland

Iceland is one of the best places on Earth to witness the mesmerizing aurora borealis. Tourists often embark on guided Northern Lights tours during the winter months for a chance to catch this celestial spectacle.


Discovering Geysers and Volcanoes in Iceland

The geothermal activity in Iceland is fascinating. Visitors flock to sites like Geysir and Strokkur to witness powerful geysers erupting, and exploring volcanic landscapes like Þingvellir National Park is a must.


Whale Watching in Iceland

Iceland's coastal waters are rich in marine life, making it an excellent destination for whale watching tours. From humpback whales to orcas, there's a good chance of spotting these majestic creatures.


Visit the Quirky Museums in Iceland

Iceland has its fair share of unique museums, such as the Icelandic Phallological Museum (yes, it's all about penises) and the Saga Museum, where visitors can learn about Viking history through lifelike wax figures.


Go Road Tripping around Iceland

Many tourists opt for road trips along the Ring Road, circling the island and stopping at picturesque towns, rugged coastlines, and hidden gems along the way.


Get involved in the many Outdoor Adventures on offer in Iceland

From snowmobiling on glaciers to horseback riding through lava fields, Iceland offers a wide range of outdoor activities for adrenaline junkies and nature lovers alike.

Best time to visit Iceland? Conclusion

So as you can see there is a good reason to visit Iceland at any time of the year. Be prepared with the right clothing and correct equipment and enjoy everything that Iceland has to offer and have a good trip!