When is the best time to visit Iceland? We have gotten this question a lot since our recent Ring Road trip. It’s a hard question to answer because there is no “BEST” time to visit Iceland. Just a time that suits you and what you want to get from your trip to Iceland.
I’ve been to Iceland three times now, once in June, July, and September and October. Every month was a fabulous time to go to Iceland, and I’m happy I saw the difference between the seasons.
In the summer, you will no doubt get to see the Midnight Sun, while your chances of seeing the Northern Lights are high in the winter. We will explain each month for you and what you can expect for all four seasons in Iceland.
When is the Best Time to Visit Iceland?
When is the Best Time to Travel to Iceland for Good Weather?
If you’re still wondering when the best time to visit Iceland for good weather is – it’s summer. You stand your best chance of good weather in Iceland between late June and September.
Temperatures range from 12°C-20°C. You’ll find locals enjoying the sunny weather in Reykjavik, and it’s a great time to go hiking and see all the purple lupines that dot the landscape.
When is the best time to visit Iceland for the Northern Lights?
Due to its location below the Arctic Circle, Iceland is one of the best places in the entire world to see the Northern Lights. Your best chance of seeing them is between late September and late March, when the weather is clear, cool, and crisp.
You have less daylight but a higher chance of spotting this phenomenon. The longer you stay in Iceland, the higher your chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Remember, the further away from light pollution you go, the better chance you have at a really good show! All that being said, we were able to see the lights really dance mid-October when we were in Iceland!
When is the best time to visit Reykjavik?
Reykjavik is a fabulous city to visit any time of year. There is always something to do, be it winter or summer. If you want to sit outside and enjoy a beer without freezing, visiting Reykjavik during the summer months of June-August is best.
September and October are still comfortable, but you will want a walking jacket. The photo above was in late June and jeans and a long sleeve top were necessary.
When is the best time to visit Iceland for whale watching?
Whale watching season in Iceland is from April to October. The best time to see the whales is in the summer (June, July, and August). You can find tours that run out of Reykjavik every day in Iceland.
Other popular places to go whale watching are Akureyri, Dalvik, Husavik, and the Vestmannaeyjar Islands. Make sure to bring a camera and a windbreaker jacket. It gets cold on the boats – even in the summer!
When is the Best Time to Visit Iceland to See Puffins?
Puffin viewing season in Iceland is from late April to
Almost one million puffins live here during puffin season. However, if you arrive after September, you likely won’t see any puffins during your Iceland trip.
When is the cheapest time to visit Iceland?
If you are trying to travel Iceland on a budget, the best time to go to Iceland is the offseason. Mid-November to April will provide you with lower car rental prices, lower prices on guesthouses, and cheaper tours.
However, keep in mind many businesses will close during these months. And if you’re campervanning around Iceland you’ll have a hard time finding campsites that are open in the winter. You can still find good weather and reasonable prices during the shoulder season.
When is the Best Time to go to Iceland to See the Midnight Sun?
The Midnight Sun is a period of continuous daylight in Iceland. The best time to go to Iceland for the midnight sun is from May to August. It will be complete daylight at midnight, with the sun setting just before – during this time it really never gets dark out.
The summer solstice is around June 21st and is the peak Midnight Sun viewing time. The photo above was taken around 11pm in June.
When is the Best Time to Drive Iceland’s Ring Road?
You can drive the Ring Road at any time of year. Weather-wise the best to drive the ring road is during the summer months. The best time to drive the ring road in Iceland crowd-wise is during the shoulder season, when the roads are quieter.
May, June, September, and October will still provide you with good weather and fewer cars on the road.
When is the best time to visit Iceland’s Golden Circle?
You can experience the Golden Circle any time of the year. Weather-wise you’ll find it most beautiful and sunny during the summer.
Crowd wise, the best time to visit is during the shoulder season. The Golden Circle will still be busy in May, June, September, and October but not as crowded as the summer months.
When is the Best Time to Visit Iceland’s Blue Lagoon?
The Blue Lagoon is undoubtedly one of Iceland’s most popular things to do. Crowding can be a huge issue here during the summer months between May and September. The best time to go to Iceland and visit the Blue Lagoon is in the winter (besides holidays).
Don’t worry about it getting cold, as the Blue Lagoon is geothermal and warm. The earlier you go, the better. If you want a Blue Lagoon experience without many other people, I would recommend arriving when they open at 7 am, this is how we grabbed plenty of photos without other people, and had a much quieter experience before the crowds rolled in around 9am.
What is the Best Time to Visit Iceland?
Weather in Iceland in January
January is one of the quietest months in Iceland. It is great for those looking to get away from crowds of tourists. Days are short, and the cold can be brutal, making many think it’s the worst time to visit Iceland. However, most landscapes will be covered in beautiful snow.
After an endless winter, Iceland in January is your calling. With almost 19 hours of darkness, winter is often the best time to visit Iceland to see the Northern Lights if the cloud cover breaks. Prices for accommodation and tours will be lower as it is the offseason. I don’t think this is a bad time to go to Iceland. Just make sure you are prepared and pack well for the cold!
Some of the best things to embrace an Icelandic winter are to go snowmobiling, venture into ice caves, relish in the natural hot springs, and after all that is done, you can go warm up in a Reykjavik bar with the locals! Just make sure you have a warm down jacket for the cold weather.
Weather in Iceland in February
Iceland in February is similar to January, except your days will be filled with a bit more daylight. Expect unpredictable weather, plenty of snow, and a high probability of catching the Aurora Borealis, but that doesn’t mean it’s not one of the best times to visit Iceland – depending on what you are after!
The temperatures can range anywhere between -10°C and 8 °C, so a good packable down jacket is a smart idea. Reykjavik can be busy at this time of year as the capital city plays host to several festivals, including the Stockfish Film Festival, Rainbow Reykjavik, the Winter Lights Festival, and the Reykjavik Bar Summit.
Weather in Iceland in March
The winter fun is now winding down, and snow begins to melt in Reykjavik. It’s not a Christmas wonderland, and it’s not quite a summer bonanza. This is one of Iceland‘s least visited months. Since the crowds are low and it’s still cold March is a good time to drive the Ring Road if you’re averse to crowds and on a budget.
Days are getting longer in March, but it still gets dark at night, so your chance of seeing the Northern Lights is high! The chances of rain and snow are also still high, and you shouldn’t expect warm weather by any means. The average daily temperature of Iceland in March is between -3°C and 3°C. Pack warm clothes!
Weather in Iceland in April
Days grow longer, and the Icelanders can almost smell the sweet summer air. Although the sun and warm weather are almost there, it still has a month to go. This means that some summer activities aren’t available, and a few winter activities may have stopped.
It’s still possible to go on a brisk hike in April and take in some cool air. Another great thing to do is head to Southern Iceland around Skogafoss, Vik, and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
Keep in mind that with daylight creeping in, your chance of seeing the Nothern Lights start to drop, but it is still possible! April is the best time to visit Iceland for whale watching as it is the beginning of whale season.
There are plenty of whale-watching tours departing from Reykjavik. You stand a great chance to see the minke whale up close! I should mention April brings puffin season too. Yup, April marks your chance to see those cute/funny-looking birds in Iceland!
Weather in Iceland in May
It’s May in Iceland, meaning it’s just about to hit summer and peak season. Now is the time to come if you want a semi-reasonable deal on travel (sorry guys, nothing in Iceland is cheap).
The weather is temperamental, and there is more daylight than night, and you can get beautifully long sunsets. The Icelanders will be coming out of a long winter, so the atmosphere of Iceland is joyous. The weather can still be unpredictable, though, and I would still recommend packing like you are going to Iceland in the winter just in case.
Although you likely won’t see the Northern Lights, May in Iceland is when wildlife comes alive! The beautiful puffin bird returns to the shores of Iceland in April, so it’s almost guaranteed you will be able to see them in May.
Whale-watching tours will also be more pleasant under the May sun, and they run often. Last but not least, you can go horseback riding without freezing in May!
Weather in Iceland in June
Long sunny days, less rain, heavy winds that turn into light breezes – It’s summer in Iceland! June is what many locals consider to be the best time of year to visit Iceland.
June in Iceland has the longest daylight hours; on June 21st you will witness the year’s longest day, and Iceland is the best place to witness the phenomenon. The Midnight Sun, or when the sun is still visible at midnight, will be a common occurrence now and can make for some stellar photos.
This is a natural phenomenon that happens around the Arctic Circle, so visiting Iceland in June is extra special and enough reason to go.
June in Iceland will yield 24 hours of daylight for a few weeks. If staying up all night and partying with the Icelanders is your cup of tea, then summertime is when you will want to be in Iceland.
Or, if partying isn’t your thing, the 24 hours of daylight will give you a huge advantage if you drive around Iceland and want to catch places in the middle of the night. More daylight means more time to do things like snorkeling in Silfra fissure! June is definitely one of the best times to visit Iceland.
Weather in Iceland in July
Both July and August are great times to do warm(er) weather activities. Things like scuba diving in Þingvellir or hiking around the country are great this time of year. Of course, you can still do these activities in the colder months, but I think we can all agree it’s more enjoyable with some sunshine.
It may be warmer, and you’re guaranteed some beautiful green landscapes, summer in Iceland comes with a few issues. Because of all this, July is one of the best months to visit Iceland for photography.
It’s peak season in Iceland so expect prices to be through the roof. Also, like most places around the world summertime is when most people take their vacations, especially Americans. And Americans LOVE Iceland, so you can expect to find many more people in the country.
That being said, I visited Iceland in July and had a fabulous time. I hiked during the day, biked around Reykjavik, partied until the sun “set” at 2 am, and joined my Icelandic friends at the public swimming pools. People are happy in the summertime, and you just can’t beat that vibe in Iceland.
Weather in Iceland in August
August is one of the best times to visit Iceland. It is the warmest time of the year to travel the Arctic circle. In Iceland, summer temperatures average around 15°C. The summer days are the kind you’re likely used to in August, with the sun rising between 5 am-6 am and setting between 9 and 10. So you still get long days with the ability to sleep in darkness!
August is a great time to make the most out of Iceland. The land will be green and lush, the sun will shine, and some of the most popular tours will run. It’s also a great time if you want to go on a hiking and camping adventure as the climate is ideal. August is the last month you will for sure see puffins (although stragglers are hanging about in September).
Weather in Iceland in September
September is great everywhere in the world, and it’s no different for Iceland. It’s when the fall colors start to show off, and the temperatures are comfortable, making it the best time to visit Iceland. You may start to get a little rain, but nothing that should hold you back from visiting Iceland.
Most tours run at least until the end of September, and we found that every single big campsite was still open for campers and camper vans until the 30th. Days begin to grow shorter in September, so you stand a chance to see the Northern Lights.
Snow is around the corner, but most roads should remain open. This opens the possibility for many visitors to still see amazing places like the West Fjords, Landmannalaugar, the Golden Circle, or Mount Hekla. If you’re a film geek you will want to head to Reykjavik for the annual Reykjavik International Film Festival as well.
Weather in Iceland in October
In my opinion, this is the best time to visit Iceland. I mean, it’s October, and who doesn’t love that time of year when the leaves turn bright yellow, orange, and red! (Don’t worry – there is even a Dunkin Donuts in Reykjavik for a pumpkin spice latte).
Fall is exactly what we found when we made a camping trip around the Ring Road in October. The weather was pleasant, with only a few days of rain and a bit of sunshine each day. We could even go hiking with just a flannel and a hiking backpack!
It’s not only the weather that made this wonderful, but because it was considered off-season in Iceland, there were far fewer tourists than in the summer (although still a lot).
We were getting low season prices for things like our Happy Campers van, hotel stays, and even could stay at campsites for free as they were closed for the season. Most importantly, we saw the Northern Lights – twice! This time of year is simply amazing in Iceland.
Weather in Iceland in November
November is officially when you can say…”Winter is coming.” Expect cold weather, shorter days, and rain. Many roads will be shut down, with the ring road still accessible. Just make sure that you are vigilant about the weather! The fall colors have mostly subsided, but snow is starting to fall, making the waterfalls, mountains, and volcanoes even more beautiful.
Some of the most popular things to do in Iceland in November are a glacier hike, ice caving, and the Nothern Lights. Like many places in Europe, tourism is dwindling, so you will have the black sand beaches, geothermal areas, and hot springs to yourself!
Weather in Iceland in December
Do you love that snowy, Christmas-filled, cheerful time of the year? Well, then, the best time to visit Iceland for you is in December. This really falls under “Iceland in winter,” but I didn’t want to start this whole post with December and confuse everyone! Christmas is huge in Iceland, so you will definitely not miss out on the holiday cheer if you choose to vacation in Iceland in December.
The whole city of Reykjavik will be lit with Christmas lights, Santa Clauses are scattered throughout the city, and the snow will be in full force. Oh yeah, and don’t forget about December 31st when the city comes alive for the New Year celebrations. The European Christmas season is fabulous. This is a great time to go to Iceland!
December is also the darkest time of the year. Days only last a couple of hours so you will really have to make the most of your sunlight. However, with long nights this is the best time to visit Iceland for Northern Lights. Average temperatures range from -1°C to -5°C so bring a jacket, gloves, scarf, boots, and a hat. I wouldn’t recommend waiting till you get to Iceland to buy them, as it will be double what you are used to paying.
When is the Best Time to Visit Iceland?
Ultimately, you decide the best time to visit Iceland and what you would like as a traveler. Is it your honeymoon in Iceland, or are you looking to take a break from the desk job? Would you like to see the leaves changing in the fall, or does hanging out in a t-shirt in a Downtown Reykjavik park suit your fashion?
In my opinion, the best months to holiday in Iceland are June, July, September, October, or December.
If you want to travel with a Happy Campers van as we did (and you should!) make sure to read our full review. You can easily book using this link, but make sure to book well in advance during high season.
When is the Best Season to Travel to Iceland?
High season (July-September): Like most places during the summer in Europe, Iceland’s high season runs from July to mid-September. This is when you will find the best weather, but it’s also crazy crowded. Days are longer, often, the sun doesn’t set until 2 am and you really never get “nighttime.” The weather is also warmer, but you will still need a jacket. Hotel and car rental prices are at their highest during the high season.
Shoulder Season (May-June and September-November): We traveled to Iceland in October and loved it. The weather is cool, the leaves are changing, the crowds are few, and it’s very easy to get off the beaten path. In general, the whole vibe in the air is wonderful. We’ve also found better deals on car rentals, campsites, and guesthouses. We saw sunny days, but also had a lot of those overcast and gloomy days.
Low Season (Late November-April): Winter in Iceland is no joke. The weather is unpredictable and can be deadly. You likely won’t be hiking much, but you will probably see the Northern Lights. It’s quiet during winter and still just as beautiful as the summer! If you plan to travel to Iceland during this time, you need a packable rain jacket, travel umbrella, and waterproof boots.
Fun Festivals in Iceland to Attend
Dark Music Days Festival (Late January into early February)
When the daytime becomes as dark as it does in Iceland, many of us would need something to lift our spirits a bit. The name of this Iceland festival says it all; The Dark Music Days Festival is a five-or-so-day festival spanning from the last few days of January into early February, taking place over the darkest days of the year in Iceland
Winter Lights Festival (February 6 – 9)
The Dark Music Days Festival isn’t the only gathering that revolves around the daylight situation (or lack thereof) of Iceland’s winters. The Winter Lights Festival, taking place in the first week of February every year, was conceived to celebrate the gradually increasing daylight (and therefore, longer-feeling days) that begins after many months of darkness. Among the features at this important festival are light installations, cultural performances, and outdoor activities (so dress warm, because it’s still cold!).
Viking Festival (mid-June)
There are a ton of festivals in Iceland in June (including a Color Run, Sailor’s Day & Sea Festival, and a huge arts festival in Reykjavík), so it was hard to settle on just one. But we couldn’t pass up a chance to talk about the Viking Festival. This festival is pretty much what it sounds like: a celebration of Viking culture that will take you back in time a thousand years.
Reykjavík International Film Festival (Late September)
You’ve heard of the US Academy Awards, no doubt – well, the Reykjavík International Film Festival is the Icelandic equivalent. One of the largest and most culturally diverse events in the country, this is an entirely volunteer-run event spanning 11 days. You can, of course, come to watch new releases in indie film, but there are also panel discussions, exhibitions, and even oddly-located film showings – like inside directors’ homes (how cool would that be?).
Plan Your Trip to Iceland
Book a camper!
A campervan is the best way to get around Iceland on a budget. While a camper is slightly more expensive than a car, you can sleep and cook in it! You don’t have to search for hotels or deal with expensive restaurants in Iceland. Plus, you sleep in nature and still use a heater if you wish! If you want to travel with a Happy Campers van like we did (and you should they are the BEST!) make sure to read our full review. You can easily book using this link, but make sure to book well in advance during high season.
Things to do in Iceland
There are so many things to do in Iceland that I could write a book about it. Unfortunately, I don’t have that time, so I’m showing you the ultimate Iceland bucket list here. Some things that are a must-do are go to an Iceland swimming pool, soaking in a natural hot spring, stand under a waterfall, and see the Northern Lights.
Photography Gear for Iceland
A high-quality camera is an important packing item for Iceland if you want some great shots while on vacation. We travel with our 200mm telephoto lens. Drones have sort of taken Iceland by storm and can also capture fantastic footage.
We had our DJI Mavic in Iceland, but make sure to use your drone responsibly as many locals are increasingly annoyed at their sight.
Do not forget a tripod for Iceland – especially if you plan on photographing the Northern Lights, you’ll need one for the long exposures.
Is Iceland Expensive?
Iceland is mega expensive. One of the most expensive countries in the entire world. Make sure that you plan accordingly and in line with your budget.
It’s certainly possible to do Iceland on a budget of less than $100 if you are camping, cooking all your basic meals, traveling by public transport, or scoring a good deal on a rental. The good news is that nature is free, and you’ll be able to see Iceland’s beauty without paying for it. So yes – it’s completely doable to have an affordable Iceland vacation.
If you plan on drinking, be sure to pick up duty-free alcohol before you leave the airport. A pint of beer can easily run you $15-$20!
Helpful Iceland Travel Tips
- Icelanders speak Icelandic, but every single person I came across spoke English.
- The local currency is the Icelandic króna (ISK). ATMs are found throughout the country
- Have I mentioned Iceland is expensive as hell? Well, it is! Save money by eating in and cooking for yourself. Check out our Iceland grocery store guide for all the tips!
- Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world; however, it’s always important to use common sense when walking alone at night.
- Tipping is not customary in Iceland.
- Iceland has strong internet infrastructure and you should be able to easily stay connected.
- Sometimes it’s nice just to have a real book in your hands when traveling. We recommend Lonely Planet to get you through those wireless nights.
What to Pack for Iceland
Wondering what to wear in Iceland? The country’s weather is pretty notorious so it’s only natural that the question of what to pack for Iceland comes up a lot. Given Iceland’s popularity, we get the question of what to pack for Iceland a lot these days. It’s only natural that once you book your ticket and make travel plans you spend your time wondering what to throw in your luggage.
Plan For Your Trip
- Protect Your Trip: We don’t travel without travel insurance, nor should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Find Cheap Flights: Sign up for Going (formerly Scotts Cheap Flights) to get notified when prices get low.
- Book a Rental Car: We use Discover Car to book all our rental cars! You can also read our top tips for renting a car abroad here.
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
- Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always ALLBIRDS! Check them out on their site!
- Get a Travel Credit Card: We travel worldwide for free because we have leveraged our spending into points. See why you should get a travel credit card and how you can do the same with our favorite travel credit cards.