Wondering what is the best time to visit Iceland? It’s quite understandable that you want to visit Iceland at the ideal time to ensure that you see and experience everything on your bucket list.
Iceland is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, and we understand why you’re so excited to visit. There are hundreds of incredible things to do in Iceland, but you should be aware of those seasons to prepare a mindful itinerary.
Iceland is famed for its dramatic scenery, which practically causes the ground to erupt and smoke beneath your feet. Because of its northern location, Iceland appears to be permanently covered in snow and ice. However, beneath the surface, Iceland is one of the world’s most volcanic regions, with a large number of active volcanoes poised to erupt at any moment.
In contrast, a lot of geothermal activity means the rise to famous natural spas such as Blue Lagoon and other centuries-old natural geysers and warm pools.
Beyond volcanoes and geothermal lakes, there are shining glaciers, deep caves, and gorgeous national parks covered in roving reindeer, in addition to volcanoes and geothermal lakes.
If you appreciate cities, Reykjavik, the vibrant capital, boasts one of Europe’s greatest hidden dining and nightlife scenes, but if you prefer nature, there are plenty of things to experience.
In this article, we did a season-by-season breakdown of the best time to visit Iceland highlighting the best attractions here and the weather conditions in tandem.
- When is the Best Time Of Year to Visit Iceland
- 1. Best Time to Visit Iceland in the Summer and Things to do Here
- 2. Best Time to Visit Iceland in the Fall and Things to do Here
- 3. Best Time to Visit Iceland in the winter and Things to do Here
- 4. Best Time to Visit Iceland in the Spring and Things to do Here
- High and Low Seasons For Visiting Iceland
- 3 Reasons Why Off-Season is the Best And the Cheapest Time to Visit Iceland
When is the Best Time Of Year to Visit Iceland
If you’re wondering when is the best time to visit Iceland, you should consider going during the off-season. Don’t take our word for it; the ideal time to visit Iceland is entirely dependent on your personal interests, but we’re here to persuade you that the slower season is a fantastic time to visit!
Many people believe that the ideal time to visit Iceland is during peak season, yet there is something magical about going after everyone else has left for the season.
Let’s understand, what it takes to visit Iceland in different seasons, and the top attractions available for you –
1. Best Time to Visit Iceland in the Summer and Things to do Here
In the summer, Iceland is your playground, and it is undoubtedly the busiest season for visitors and the best time of year to visit Iceland. The weather is warm and there are a plethora of things available and accessible — yet the costs are on the higher side as tourist season kicks off and visitors flock in droves.
The months of June, July, and August are by far the most popular and the best time to visit Iceland, and you are under the lap of the finest weather in the country. The long days, especially the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year with 21+ hours of daylight, make for ideal shooting conditions in Iceland! (It’s not called the midnight sun for anything!) There is a wealth of natural beauty to be discovered this time of the year.
The average temperature this time is about 51 degrees and soaks prettier weather than the harsh winters here.
Things to do – If you’re visiting Iceland during the summer, here are the must-see attractions and top things to do in Iceland so you don’t miss out –
- Whale watching – Whale watching is possible year-round, regardless of when you plan to travel, however, summer is the most popular season to witness these gentle giants. During the summer, cruises are available at all hours of the day and night, including whale watching in the midnight sun. Tour companies estimate a 95 per cent likelihood of seeing these gorgeous creatures in summers. Best of all, surfacing typically occurs very near the boats, giving you a front-row ticket to one of nature’s most spectacular displays.
- Ring Road – The Iceland Ring Road, often known as Route 1, is the principal road that circles the island, closely following the coastline. It’s a staggering 828 miles long. Most of Iceland’s most popular sights, including its most stunning waterfalls and black beaches, are accessible along the Ring Road. We recommend you rent a car to access the roadway that is meant to experience a hidden gem.
- Gullfoss Waterfall – The magnificent Gullfoss Waterfall is located approximately 90 minutes west of Reykjavik. The Hvtá River flows into a canyon, forming stepwise terraces and a violent torrent. Gullfoss consists of two waterfalls, the higher of which falls 11 metres and the lower of which falls roughly 21 metres.
- Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park and Maelifell Volcano – Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park is located south of Landmannalaugar and can only be visited during the summer for safety concerns. Rainfall is heavy in the area, especially in the winter, when roads can be severely damaged. The undeniable crown jewel of this wild amidst the rocky arctic scenery is the Maelifell volcano. It has the appearance of a conventional volcano due to its precise cone shape, yet during the summer season, a lush green moss covering gives it a peculiar, extraterrestrial appearance.
- Akureyri – Outside of Reykjavik, Akureyri is the largest town and is generally referred to as the North’s capital. As a result, there will be much to do and see throughout your stay. The church Akureyrarkirkja, about in the city’s centre, is perhaps the most well-known landmark. It’s a great place to take pictures, especially of the lengthy staircases leading up to the entrance. The gorgeous and well-kept Akureyri Botanical Garden is a must-see in the summer.
2. Best Time to Visit Iceland in the Fall and Things to do Here
Best time to visit island to avoid crowds – The months of September, October, and November in Iceland are ablaze with colours, and it’s considered one of the finest times to visit to avoid the crowds.
The lava fields are bathed in red, orange, and yellow, with patches of green moss interlaced, which is most bright just before the snow arrives. Most summer activities may still be done in daylight, but temperatures are slightly cooler and there are fewer tourists, which means deep discounts everywhere.
From mid-November onwards, consider it as the best time to visit Iceland for Northern Lights 2022.
Things to do – We have a list of things that are great to do in Iceland throughout the autumn months. Make the most of your time in Iceland by include any of these activities in your itinerary –
- Best time to visit Iceland for Northern Lights 2022 – Autumn is the best time to visit Iceland for Aurora Borealis that lasts until the spring. The lights take different forms, ranging from dispersed clouds of light to rainbows, spirals, and shooting rays that cast an ethereal glow across the sky. This magnificent natural light show is best viewed from afar and is especially beautiful during periods of enhanced solar radiation. In addition-
- In Reykjavik, the Grótta lighthouse is the most popular place to spot this activity. The lighthouse is located on the outskirts of the Seltjarnarnes peninsula, just a short walk from the city centre of Reykjavik.
- Iceland best time to visit for a road trip – In Iceland, the autumn months are a low season for tourism, therefore there are less people on the roadways. Take advantage of the lower crowds to see the popular attractions. The famed Ring Road, often known as Route 1, is Iceland’s most popular road trip. The Ring Road around the island, connecting the majority of the country’s major attractions and populated areas. The Golden Circle, the South Coast with its roaring waterfalls and black sand beaches, the Myvatn Nature Baths, Dettifoss Waterfall, and the lonely East Fjords will all be on your itinerary.
- Hraunfossar Waterfall – On your road trip to Route 1, you’re likely to witness every possible variation of a waterfall in existence. Amongst all, the Hraunfossar is remarkably unique and incredibly beautiful. This waterfall in a lava field in west Iceland is a fascinating place to see because it spans a 900-metre distance of small waterfalls all pouring down the edge of lava rocks. The brilliant autumn colours explode against the blue glacial water throughout the autumn months, bringing this waterfall to life.
- Raufarholshellir Lava Tunnel – On this incredible voyage, you’ll explore the magnificent, secret world of lava tubes. Raufarhólshellir is one of Iceland’s most famous and longest lava tubes. It’s a spectacle not to be missed. A volcanic explosion 5200 years ago created the lava tunnel, which is a spectacular geological marvel. The tube is one of Iceland’s largest, stretching up to 30 metres wide and 10 metres high at its widest point. Different types of minerals are responsible for the tunnel wall’s remarkable diversity of hues. This enchanting location evokes both awe and amazement.
- Kirkjufell Mountain, Grundarfjörður – Grundarfjörður, a lovely fishing community strategically located on the north coast of the Snaefellsnes peninsula, is about 2.5 hours northwest of Reykjavik. The village is located in a beautiful fjord surrounded by mountains, with Mt. Kirkjufell as a prominent feature. An added benefit is that you get to enjoy it when the autumn colours intensify everything. Kirkjufell is a fantastic site to see the spectacular Northern Lights in the winter. The Eyrbyggja Heritage Centre hosts displays on Grundarfjördur’s maritime history and serves as the peninsula’s information centre.
3. Best Time to Visit Iceland in the winter and Things to do Here
Expect short days, frigid (although not as freezing as you may think) temperatures, snowfall, and a good chance of seeing the aurora borealis if you visit Iceland in the winter (the northern lights). There are fewer daylight hours throughout the winter months, with as few as 3 hours of daylight on the winter solstice. This is ideal for those searching for the northern lights because it creates a ‘golden hour’ effect throughout the day.
When it comes to travelling around the country in the winter, travellers may find tiny, altitude and hill roads impossible, as well as tough driving conditions, due to the unpredictable weather patterns.
If you don’t feel safe driving in Iceland in these conditions, there are lots of things to do and enjoy the arctic vistas as much as possible during the low season.
Things to do – When opposed to the high summer season, there are fewer cars on the roadways at this time of year. The quieter environment only adds to Iceland’s winter enchantment. In the months of December, January, and February, you’ll experience top attractions in this winter wonderland, such as –
- Best time to visit Blue Lagoon Island – This most iconic of geothermal baths is a must-see tourist site about 40 minutes from Reykjavik. Natural swimming in pale blue water in the shadow of a generating station can be found here. Since 1976, when it first became popular with locals, an entire Blue Lagoon business has sprung up around it. The water from the underground hot springs has a temperature of 37-39 degrees Celsius and is reported to be extremely healthy and healing for the skin. Apply a mineral-rich mask made from natural mud from one of the lagoon’s edge tubs. Stay at one of the Blue Lagoon’s two hotels and add a day at the Retreat Spa to your vacation for the utmost luxury.
- Experience the midnight sun in winters – The lure of a never-setting sun and the splendour of the Aurora lights are breathtaking natural wonders that must be seen in Iceland. Despite the fact that they are not actual sites, they are certainly the most popular Iceland attractions. There are numerous tours dedicated to each of them. The ideal period to experience them is between late August and April, with mid-winter affording the best chances. Taking a northern lights trip led by experts will, of course, boost your chances of seeing the aurora borealis.
- Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon – The Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is one of the most spectacular sights to behold especially in winters. In a boat, you’ll travel over big chunks of ice that have broken away from the glacier. The lagoon’s floating ice ranges in size from little stones to the size of cliffs, but because you’re floating in the lagoon with them, they’re close enough to touch. In this natural setting, see the blue tint of glaciations and seagulls resting above. In addition –
- Explore some of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls, such as Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss in the south and Dettifoss and Gullfoss in the northern countryside. Watch how the rushing water rushes down from great heights, sometimes freezing into icebergs.
- Vatnajokull National Park – Vatnajökull National Park, in the country’s south, is a realm of glaciers and spectacular frost caves that draws adventurers from all over the world. The Vatnajökull glacier and its surrounds make up one of Iceland’s three national parks, which are separated into four areas. The most popular among them is the Skaftafell ice cave which is open all year round. The greatest time to explore Skaftafell Ice Cave is in the winter when the glacier’s top layer has been washed away by severe rain.
- Things to do – The cave is drenched in beautiful blue light is seen at the proper moment. If you’re in good shape, a glacial walk with an experienced guide can be an option. The excursions take you onto the ice for an amazing experience that includes seeing glacial fractures and caverns as well as drinking fresh water from little surface basins.
If you’re visiting Iceland in the winter, don’t miss the black sand beach at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, better known as Diamond Beach. Perhaps to experience the allure of this place, it is the best time to visit Iceland in winter. The famed glacial lagoon is directly over the road from Diamond Beach.
4. Best Time to Visit Iceland in the Spring and Things to do Here
Spring in Iceland might simply be the answer to your questions. The snow begins to melt as the days lengthen, revealing Iceland’s lush green scenery for the first time each year.
Spring is a frontrunner for the best time to visit Iceland because prices are lower and there are fewer people. Expect rain, wind, and the occasional bright day along with mild temperatures in exchange for this privilege.
The weather is such a delight, costs are still reasonable, and the snow caps have melted by now, revealing Iceland’s genuine beauty hidden beneath the blanket of winter, and perhaps the best time to visit Iceland in spring. Whatever the weather, the arrival of spring in Iceland rejuvenates the country after the long winter months.
Another reason to visit Iceland in the spring is that it is still the low season, so you can enjoy the long, bright days and lush terrain without the crowds. Now that you’ve decided to visit Iceland in the spring, let’s speak about how much fun you may have during this wonderful season.
Things to do – Even though spring only lasts a few weeks in Iceland and arrives later than expected, it is nevertheless magical. There are plenty of activities to do and unique sights to behold. Although Iceland’s spring is only considered to be April and May, this guide will detail the activities available from March through June.
Let’s start with the most compelling reasons why spring in Iceland is a fantastic option:
- Puffin Birds coming back to Iceland – Some people travel to Iceland primarily in the spring season to observe puffins, which are magnificent creatures. At the crack of April, puffins migrate from the sea to the land. You should look into seeing these beauties if you haven’t already. It’s fascinating to sit close by and study their microscopic small existence. Some areas allow you to come so near that you feel surrounded. The best places to observe Puffins include –
- Vestmannaeyjar – This is the place in Iceland where you can see puffins first. They usually arrive in the middle of April and stay until early September every year. It is here that nearly half of Iceland’s puffin population can be found. Puffins are both harvested and conserved in this area. They’ll be around till early September.
- Latrabjarg cliff in Westfjords – The puffins come back to the coastal streams around mid-May until late August.
- South Coast – Some popular puffin colonies include Dyrholae and Reynisfjall near Vik I Myrdal. Both of these locations are in close proximity to Reykjavik.
- Mighty Waterfalls – Snow and ice are melting faster as the days grow longer and warmer. Thousands of streams and rivers receive this fresh new water, bringing them back to life. Springtime waterfalls maybe both tranquil and wild. Some of them include –
- Dettifoss Waterfall – Located in the northwestern part of Vatnajökull National Park, Dettifos is a stunning display of nature’s sheer strength, and the best springtime attraction to visit to. It is said to be Europe’s most powerful waterfall, with a drop of 45 metres and a width of 100 metres.
- Selfoss – If you go to Dettifoss, you should also go to Selfoss to see the lesser-known rapids. Selfoss isn’t as towering or forceful as Dettifoss, but it is far more peaceful. The falls are just about 10 metres tall at their highest point, but there are many plumes of water flowing into the river from a lengthy crest.
- Seljalandsfoss – Seljalandfoss may be seen from the highway itself if you drive east from Reykjavik on the famed Route 1 ring route. This is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in southern Iceland, and it’s also one of the highest at 65 metres. It is famous for its unique location atop a wide, cavernous gorge. The water cascades over the top of a cliff, directly over the entrance to a massive cave hollowed out of the mountainside. You can stroll almost directly underneath the waterfall, marvelling at the thundering water from within the cave.
- Godafoss – Godafoss means “Gods’ Waterfall” in Icelandic, maybe because it was so gorgeous that it charmed even the Norse gods of old. The Godafoss waterfall in Iceland is located in the north of the country, and while it is just 12 metres tall, it is 30 metres broad, providing a spectacular vista.
- Thingvellir National Park – This is one of Iceland’s most popular attractions, and there are plenty of fun things to do and see while you’re there. It’s also a popular filming location, with series like Game of Thrones shooting numerous sequences there. Avoid visiting Thingvellir National Park during the summer months if you want to avoid crowds. The best time to visit when the crowds aren’t too severe and the weather isn’t too cold are March, April, and May. Here are some of the best things to experience here –
- Trek along with the tectonic plates at Almannagja – Walking across the tectonic plates is one of the enthralling experiences here. The Almannagja gorge spells the end of the North American continental plate, with the Eurasian tectonic plate on the other side of the gorge. It’s one of the few spots on the planet where you can observe tectonic plates protruding from the Earth’s crust.
- Snorkel at Silfra – If you’re seeking a unique experience in Iceland, look no further than snorkelling at Silfra. What makes this snorkelling adventure so unique in the spring? The divide between the North American and European continents is known as Silfra which is clearly visible this time of the year. This means you’ll be snorkelling between two continents at Silfra, the only spot in the world that allows you to do so.
- Thingvellir Church – One of the postcard-picture-worthy 11th-century-old churches that overlooks the stunning Icelandic vistas. It’s a lovely white church with green trim, and there’s also a historic cemetery close to visit.
- Experience colourful sunset and sunrise – Depending on when you visit Iceland in the spring, you will get daylight hours ranging from 11 hours in March to 21 hours in early June. Sunrises and sundowners become more and more spectacular as the days grow longer. Both of these solar vistas appear to last for hours and cover the sky with vibrant colours.
High and Low Seasons For Visiting Iceland
The three distinct travel seasons in Iceland are listed below. These are high season, low season, and peak season.
The shoulder and low seasons are grouped together and referred to as the off-season. For the reasons indicated below, we believe the off-season is the ideal time to visit Iceland, but depending on what you want to experience here, another season could be suitable for you!
- Low season – The low season in Iceland runs from November to February, when it is the least crowded. Although winters are the least popular time to visit Iceland, the country experiences harsh and extreme weather.
- High season – The high season in Iceland runs from June to August. The high season in Iceland is witnessed in the midst of summer. The 24-hour daylight is one of the benefits of visiting Iceland in the summer. This is perhaps not the best time to visit Iceland if you want to see the Northern Lights.
- Shoulder season – The shoulder season runs from March until May and early September to late October. The shoulder season in Iceland is the period between the peak and low seasons, and it is the greatest time to visit for a variety of reasons, including weather, cost, and lack of people.
- Off-Season – The off-season runs from September until April. We consider Iceland’s off-season to be a blend of the low and shoulder seasons, making it one of the greatest times to visit! The off-season is a fantastic time to visit Iceland for several reasons, which we will outline below!
3 Reasons Why Off-Season is the Best And the Cheapest Time to Visit Iceland
Although the vast majority of visitors to Iceland come for the sub-arctic summer’s midnight sun, more and more people are realising that Iceland has a lot to offer throughout the winter months. The answer is simple: during the off-season, Iceland has a lot to offer. Some of the reasons include –
- Cheap flights and accommodation – The best time to visit Iceland is during the low season, when flights, hotels, and all other activities are extremely discounted. Not to mention the cheapest flight to Iceland both from the United States and Europe, thanks to the low airfares, on-time schedule, and direct flights.
To get the finest and most affordable flights to Reykjavik, always go for IcelandAir or Delta Airlines reservation.
- Minimal rush – Iceland has become the bucket-list destination for people and ethnicities across the globe. As a result, many tourist attractions in the country have been exploited and become overcrowded. Because of the rapid growth of tourism in the peak and shoulder seasons, the infrastructure development has not gained that momentum, thus drawing maximum crowds at the most popular attractions. The added benefit to visit in the low or off season is you won’t see another person for miles and enjoy the spectacular vistas and wilderness for yourself.
- Best time for Northern Lights – The greatest time to visit Iceland for the Northern Lights is throughout the fall, winter, and early spring. Iceland is stunning all year, but summers will not offer you the grand vistas of Aurora Borealis. Although witnessing the Northern Lights is not guaranteed at any time of year, there is a much better possibility of seeing them in Iceland during the autumn and winters.
The best time you can tour Iceland depends on whom you ask. The experts that we talked to had varied viewpoints. While the peak season is upon us right now, the summer months are not necessarily the most beautiful in terms of weather, so there may be better times ahead. If you’re determined to visit in June and July, then this is probably your only realistic option. On the other hand, September and October offer milder weather and fewer crowds while still offering great opportunities to see waterfalls, Northern Lights, and other attractions in their optimal conditions.
The conclusion is that the best time to visit Iceland, weather-wise, is generally from June through August. That being said, any months outside of that range still have a chance to provide warm temperatures and clear skies, it’s just more likely in these months. So do your homework and decide when best suits you for what you want to experience! Good luck!