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When is the Best Time to Visit Iceland?

Unlike many other countries, the land of Fire and Ice is a year-round destination. Iceland in summer brings along milder weather, plenty or daylight and an array of activities to choose from whereas winter comes hand in hand with the Northern Lights! The best time to visit Iceland varies greatly from person to person, their activity preferences and personal desires.

With an abundance of summer and winter tours on offer, it’s often hard to decided when the best time of the year to visit Iceland truly is. This blog will hopefully shed some light on this matter and help you decide when the best time to travel to Iceland is for you.

Best time of the Year to visit Iceland depending on the Season

As with any other country, visiting Iceland during summer or winter both have their positives as well as drawbacks. Unlike what many of you might think, Iceland tends to have a much more milder winter weather than its name suggests, allowing for an enjoyable and memorable trip.

The country’s summers are also one of a kind, with temperatures rarely exceeding 10-12 °C . It’s worth mentioning that Iceland is a country worth visiting in any season and deciding on when to come to the land of Fire and Ice greatly depends on what you want to do.

Is Summer the Best Time to Visit Iceland?

June to August is the Summer period in Iceland. It is during that window that the whole country opens up to exciting summer activities, like hiking in Landmannalaugar and puffin watching. Iceland gets near 24 hours of daylight allowing for plenty of endless road trips. The so-called F-roads also open at that time, which gives visitors the possibility to explore even more of the country’s majestic territory. If you’re looking to do the most of activities and see the most sights in the shortest time, then visiting Iceland during summer is just for you!

The average temperature is around 12 °C (54 °F). During summer, the landscape really shows off a myriad of colors and textures, and the waterfalls, gorges and canyons are as majestic as they come. Sheep are scattered across huge stretches of farmland, basking in the arctic sun. Horses run freely in their pastures. The lupine stretches over the island in a great big, beautiful carpet of lilac and blue and the entire country comes to life.

Is Winter the Best Time to Visit Iceland?

Iceland has a milder climate than you think. Winter runs 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, the island really begins to change as the waterfalls partially freeze over and the whole country gets covered in a blanket of snow. 

The winter sun can be sharp and bright, and sunrises and sunsets can cast a breathtaking palette over the entire landscape. There is a certain feel during this time of the year, a particular winter mood filled with coziness and warmth, that simply cannot be put into words so easily. Winter nights can be still and silent, but with a real hint of magic.

Autumn and Spring in Iceland

With Spring comes the first signs of summer. 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 is a welcome time, as the island says goodbye to the long dark winter nights in eager anticipation of the short, but sweet, summer months. The puffins return to Iceland to nest 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 sunnier although a little chillier. It is still possible to take a last chance adventure on some trails whilst they still remain open. The weather can still be warm enough for camping and with a bit of luck, the Northern Lights might make an appearance.

September has the best of both worlds if your timing is right and the weather gods are kind.  The ‘réttir’ festival is open for visitors to get involved with the annual sheep gathering, 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 and take them back indoors for the winter.

Best Time to Visit Iceland for Activities

Hiking in Iceland

Iceland’s Highlands opens up to tourists and hikers between June and September allowing for many exciting day trails and multi-day treks, such as the Laugavegur trail and Fimmvörðuháls: two of the most famous treks in Iceland. Guided glacier walks give you an amazing opportunity to walk between countless crevasses and flowing moulins. If you like camping, then Iceland has plenty of campsites around the ring road that are open during the warmer months.

Whales and Puffins

cute puffins nesting in iceland during summer

The summer months are also the best time to see whales. Iceland’s gentle giants, and also the famous and the ever so charming Icelandic puffin. These endearing creatures arrive in late April and stay until August. There are a variety of whale watching trips and puffin watching tours from a number of different locations including Reykjavík. 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 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  are to be savoured and enjoyed.

Glaciers & Ice Caves in Iceland

Winter brings along the possibility to safely explore the country’s majestic Ice caves such as the Crystal cave and Blue 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 can look like glass, crystal, or obsidian. These ethereal, haunting structures look like a portal to another world, and each winter brings new discoveries. Although we never know exactly what the winter might bring, it is guaranteed to be ethereal.

Northern Lights

northern lights in iceland

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 best to visit Iceland between November and March to increase your chances and hopefully get a glimpse of this truly magical spectical. 

There really isn’t a bad time to visit Iceland. There are always incredible things to see and do, and every season brings along a dramatically different landscape. The best time to travel to Iceland is now, so why not book your plane ticket and take a look at the many trips we have on offer to make your stay more enjoyable!

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