The Best Time of Year to Visit Iceland

07. August 2014 —
Passport
Passport

Ok, let’s get the obvious couple things out of the way.  First, most would answer that summer is the best time of year to visit Iceland. And, two, the answer to this question is completely subjective.  The true answer depends on what your interests and priorities are.  So that you can make the best decision about when to travel to Iceland, we’ll briefly describe the seasons:

The summer in Iceland is basically June through August. It is marked by long days, almost 24 hours at the peak.  For most, this takes some getting used to - in a good way.  Bring an eye mask if you value a dark sleeping environment. The long days of summer will give you lots of time to enjoy very full days.  During this time of year Iceland is very green - seriously, like nuclear green.  All parts of the country are now accessible as most of the snow is gone. Obviously this is when you can expect the warmest temperatures of the year. But don’t expect hot, Iceland is seldom warmer than cool. Also, don’t necessarily expect sunny skies. Recent summers here were marked by cloudy skies and rain.

The down side of summer in Iceland. This is when the majority of people come here so it can be a little crowded - relative to a non-crowded country. It is also the most expensive time to visit in terms of airfare and accommodation.

Little known and unique opportunity during Iceland’s SummerGreenland tours. If you are interested in experiencing Greenland, Iceland’s domestic airline offers daily flights.

Bright green northern lights in Iceland
Javier Rodriguez
Bright green northern lights

Iceland’s Fall is roughly September to October. Iceland’s Fall comes early and is pretty brief. The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping.  You can expect high temps in the high 40s maybe creeping into the 50s.  But, truth be told, you should expect just about anything when it comes to weather in Iceland this time of year. This is another time of year when you can experience all 4 seasons.  The upside to Iceland’s Fall is that it is the beginning of the Northern lights season! In fact, September can be one of the best months.  And, If you want to see Fall colors, early September is your best bet. In fact, you can even see them in late August.  By late October, the landscapes will look a little bleak, but still beautiful - this is Iceland after all!

Iceland’s winter is usually November through March. One of the first things you should know about Iceland is that it is not as cold as its name would suggest.  Given its latitude, It actually should be colder but temps are mitigated by warm waters from the Gulf stream.  The days quickly grow shorter after the summer solstice and during Winter’s peak, you’ll only get about 6 hours of daylight.  In terms of weather, it’s obviously the season you can expect snow. But, don’t expect a snow-covered country. There will be snow in the mountains, but snow usually comes and goes in the low lying areas. You can expect temperatures at or slightly above freezing and not much warmer than that so, bring your winter gear so that you can stay warm and keep enjoying Iceland.  Winter is Northern lights season and it also a good time to enjoy one of Iceland’s many hot springs or even the public pools which are geothermally heated and open all year!  Other upsides to visiting Iceland in Winter are cheaper prices and fewer people. Also, if you are a fan of Winter sports, you can pretty much enjoy them all in Iceland.

Iceland’s Spring is basically April through May.  The days are starting to get nice and long. The weather you are likely to experience can literally be all 4 seasons - sometimes in the same day.  Average high temps will be in the low 50s F.  The landscapes are greening up but you can still expect to see the duller colors of winter.  This is a less expensive time of year to visit Iceland as airfare, accommodations are at non-peak prices. You may also be able to get deals on some other travel related services like car rentals and the many tours Iceland has to offer. If you rent a car, most of the country will be accessible except for the Highland roads which don’t open up for another month or so (snow).  Brings lots of layers and good waterproof shoes. This is a good time to visit Iceland if you enjoy solitude because you can travel out into the country and feel - at times - like you have the whole country to yourself!

About the Author

IMG Staff Writer

An anonymous but well informed member of our team that enjoys sharing their knowledge of Iceland & Greenland’s stunning nature.

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