People are always asking me when the best time to visit Iceland is, but that is such a hard question to answer! It will be different person to person, and it depends on what kind of things you’re looking to do, as well as what kind of weather you prefer.
I personally love each and every beautiful season that Iceland offers for different reasons. I can honestly make a case for the good things about each season! So today we’re talking about the pros and cons about each time of year.
Disclaimer: winters in Iceland are seriously not as cold as you would think. Because of the gulf stream effect, the coast stays relatively mild year round. Conversely, the summer never gets too warm either. So while we have all four seasons here in Iceland (and sometimes you get all four seasons in one day!), the temperatures are not very extreme.
I’ve heard this referred to as having two seasons: winter and winter light! Ha!
Here is what you can expect from each season.
- High: 45-50°F
- Low: 32°F
- April: 15 hours
- May: 18 hours
- The snow is thawing and maaaaybe flowers start blooming. I kinda like the half snow on the mountain look!
- You get a good middle ground of things that make the summer great without the crowds and high season prices
- Puffins start arriving (April-August)
- Might still catch the Northern Lights (early April)
- Longer days
- Decent weather
- Less tourists
- You want it to be like “typical spring” where you can start busting out shorts or possibly a t-shirt, but no. It can still very well freeze and I wore a winter coat in April.
- Highs: 60-65°F
- Lows: 45°F
- June/July: 20-22 hours! (i.e. the sky doesn’t even get dark in mid-June!)
- Aug: 16 hours
- LONG summer days
- Midnight sun (longest day is June 20th)
- Better weather and everything is so green!
- Sheep! Puffins! Whales!
- Lots to do – summer music festivals, a lot of tours available
- Highland roads open (access to Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk, and hiking routes Laugavegurinn, Fimmvörðuháls)
- Peak tourist season/more people at major attractions
- Higher prices and possible difficulty finding accommodation
- Light ALL day. (This might not be a problem for some, but I am very affected by the light!)
- Not “summer” weather like you might expect
- High: 45-55°F
- Low: 37°F
- September: 13 hours
- October: 9 hours
- Golden light and the changing color on the trees
- Coziness that comes with the darkness
- “Normal” daylight hours
- Start to see Northern Lights, possibly the first snowfall!
- Prices are lower
- Fewer travelers
- Weather is pretty unpredictable – windy, wet and sometimes pretty cold
- The autumn colors can be skipped completely, depending on the season.
- Octoberish/November – March
- Highs: 39-45°F
- Lows: 28-34°F
- *The further north you go, the colder and snowier it will be
- October – 9 hours
- November – 6 hours
- December – 4 hours
- January – 4 hours
- February – 7 hours
- March – 10 hours
- Golden HOURSSSS.
- Catching up on indoor activities: knitting, puzzling, game nights with friends
- Snowy walks through beautiful landscapes!
- Feels amazing to soak in the many hot springs
- Ice cave and glacier tours
- Christmas lights, Christmas markets, Christmas decorations, Christmas spirit.
- New Years Eve: Reykjavik is ranked in the top 5 places in the world to watch the fireworks show!
- Snow covered mountains, frozen waterfalls, the Icelandic horse against the white landscape…it’s all stunning!
- Northern Lights! (that should be reason enough!)
- Darkness – in mid December the sun only brightens up the sky for 3-4 hours of light. It can be quite tiring, and also you have limited hours to explore the wilderness.
- Cold, obviously, and extra important to pack the proper attire.
- Weather really on and off, difficult to travel due to road conditions. Often times even major roads closed.
- Zero access to highland roads without a tour.
No matter what time of year you choose to visit Iceland, it will be an amazing time! There is always plenty of beautiful nature to see year round so you can’t go wrong!
Question: When are you planning on visiting Iceland?!