When is the best travel time for Iceland?

When is the Best Time to Visit Iceland?

So, which season is the best time to visit Iceland? Summer? Winter? Spring? Fall? Well, that’s a good question. Luckily for you, we are here to answer it. Not only do we have plenty of exciting summer and winter tours available, but in order to help you how to decide, let’s see what each season brings to Iceland.

Is Summer the Best Time to Visit Iceland?

June to August is the Summer period in Iceland. It is such a short time, but it is during that window that the whole country opens up. You can see Iceland’s natural treasures at any time of day due to the fact that it never gets dark. Imagine that? So, it really is the best time to visit Iceland if you don’t want to feel so restricted in the things you can see or do.

The average temperature is around 12 °C (54 °F) During this period, life completely transforms as winter has melted away. Then, the landscape really shows off a myriad of colors and textures, and the waterfalls run full stream ahead. The sheep are scattered across huge stretches of farmland, basking in the arctic sun. The lupine stretches over the island in a great big, beautiful carpet of lilac and blue. These endless days mean that everything is possible, and you can see much more than you can in winter.

people riding icelandic horses in lupine field next to skogafoss

Hiking in Iceland

Iceland’s highland region opens its doors, and you can explore its many day trails and multi-day treks, such as the Laugavegur trail and Fimmvörðuháls. Two of the most famous treks in Iceland, which attract thousands of visitors each year. Guided glacier trips give you an amazing opportunity to walk between countless crevasses and flowing moulins. With icy, pure water pumping through these glacial veins. We recommend filling your bottle, it’s quite a treat! If you like camping, then Iceland has plenty of campsites around the ring road. Some are basic, but there are others with more facilities and even swimming pools.

Please check this ever so useful website for more information about hiking in Iceland.

Whales and Puffins

The summer months are also the best time to see whales. Iceland’s gentle giants, and also the famous and endearing Icelandic puffin. These endearing creatures arrive in late April and stay until August. There are a variety of whale watching trips and puffin watching trips from a number of different locations. However, we recommend the North of Iceland for this, as the sightings there are far more frequent. It is also a great time for sea angling trips.

There is just a different atmosphere everywhere you go. That buzz is especially present in the capital city of Reykjavík. Icelanders truly worship the sun (we don’t see it very often, you see?) and you will always find lots of activities and festivals, such as Menningarnótt and the Secret Solstice.

So, the good old Icelandic summer is brief. However, its golden days of endless sun (when it isn‘t raining) are to be savored and enjoyed.

a herd or whales interacting with a boat

Is Winter the Best Time to Visit Iceland?

Iceland has a milder climate than you think. Winter is from November to March, and the temperature ranges between 0 °C to 10 °C. The days are far shorter, but the night brings its own magic in the form of those bewitching Northern Lights. Once the cold weather takes hold, this island really begins to change as the waterfalls partially freeze over. The winter sun can be sharp and bright, and sunrises and sunsets here can cast a breathtaking palette over the landscape. There is a certain feel here, a particular winter mood that we simply put into words so easily. Winter nights can be still and silent, but with a real hint of magic.

man in red standing in front of godafoss

Glaciers & Ice Caves in Iceland

Speaking of ice, the glaciers can really show off their stuff in the winter. They turn a particularly spectacular shade of blue, and it during this time that we recommend taking a guided trip onto a glacier. The winter period means that it is usually possible to visit an ice cave. As glaciers are forever moving and transforming, winter offers an exciting opportunity to take a glimpse under the surface. Taking dazzling form, their ice walls that can look like glass, crystal, or obsidian. These ethereal, haunting structures look like a portal to another world, and each winter brings new delights. Although we never know exactly what the winter might bring, it is guaranteed to be something you will be taking with you in your memories when you leave.

crystal blue ice cave in iceland

Northern Lights

And, of course, who could forget about those ever-elusive Northern Lights? Iceland is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights. Although they can be visible from late August to early May, it’s the months in-between that are the best to see them. You can learn more about the Northern Lights in our blog, where we explain the science-y bit, the history and legends, and how to capture them on your smartphone!

So, I guess you can say that winter in Iceland is pretty wonderful, and we received hundreds of thousands of visitors over the winter period.

kirkjufell mountain under the northern lights in iceland

Autumn and Spring in Iceland

With Spring comes the first signs of summer. This period is very short. It’s really just April and May. The days are getting longer and longer as the sun gets a little higher, and the lupine starts to emerge on its way to a full, summer bloom. Easter or Páskar (pow-skar) is a welcome time, as we say goodbye to the long dark winter nights in eager anticipation of the short, but sweet, summer months. The puffins return to Iceland to have and raise their young, and some of the summer activities can begin.

September is a bit of a sweet spot because the days are still long and sunny (if a little chillier). It is still possible to take the last chance adventure on some trails whilst they still remain open. The weather can still be warm enough for camping (though, you might need an extra layer) and September also sees the Northern Lights become visible again. So, you could say that September has the best of both worlds if your timing is right and the weather gods are kind to us.  The ‘réttir’ (rr-yee-ett-ir) is open for visitors to get involved, and you can join a crack squad of sheep wranglers on horse-back, quad bikes, and foot in an attempt to find all the sheep in order to round them up and take them back indoors for the winter.

girl bathing in a natural hot spring in iceland

So, When is the Best Time to Visit Iceland?

There really isn’t a bad time to visit Iceland. There are always incredible things to see and do, and it’s nice to experience every season to see how dramatically the landscape can change. So, now that you know everything about when the best time to visit Iceland is, you can head on over to our front page and see what trips we have on offer for the summer and winter period.

The only question that remains for us is, when can we expect you?

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