The Best Time of Year to Visit Iceland

Your experience will undeniably vary depending on the time of year in which you visit.
February 6, 2019
Inga Rós Antoníusdóttir

What is the best month to visit Iceland you may ask yourself. Iceland is one of those travel destinations where your experience will undeniably vary depending on the time of year in which you visit. Keep in mind that even though you may experience all four seasons within one day of summer you will not be able to experience both 24 hours of daylight and Northern Lights within the same week. You should therefore decide what are your top places to visit in Iceland.

The warmest months in Iceland are July and August and this period also attracts most tourists. June is a close runner up with its 24 hours of daylight and sees almost as many tourists as the peak of summer. The midnight sun can be pretty spectacular.

But don’t be fooled. Saying these are the warmest months, does not necessarily mean that they are warm by your standards. Even during the summer season, bad weather with heavy rain and fierce winds is not uncommon. Don’t let this put you off though. Just keep in mind the Icelandic saying that says: “There is no bad weather. Just bad clothing.” Meaning that if you prepare well and dress in layers you will be absolutely fine and able to enjoy Iceland under whatever weather conditions it throws at you. The inconsistent weather is actually part of the charm.

May and September, even October, can be seen as the shoulder season in Icelandic tourism. Iceland can stay relatively warm throughout September so visiting Iceland in September can be ideal. Crowds have also thinned out as school holidays are over. May, provides more than enough daylight for long days of sightseeing and warmer temps.

Visiting Iceland in November and December has become increasingly popular. Winters in Iceland are surprisingly moderate, and usually warmer than people expect, with temperatures generally hovering right around freezing, Winter days in Iceland are short. Visiting Iceland in December gives you a shorter window for outdoor sightseeing than the summer months as the sun doesn’t rise until after 11:00 and it sets well before dinner. But that is an experience in itself.
Winter, from November through April, is a good time to visit Iceland if you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy better availability and the lowest rates of the year on accommodation, car rentals and airfare. Furthermore it is a great time to visit Iceland’s film festivals, the Iceland Airwaves music festival and
Christmas activities in Iceland have become an attraction in itself now. The Reykjavik downtown area is decorated extensively and the fireworks on New Year's Eve in Iceland are a sight to behold. Let’s just say the locals go nuts!

One benefit of a winter visit it that it is the best time to visit Iceland for northern lights (aurora borealis). Just remember, they are a natural phenomenon and whether you'll actually see them or not is unpredictable. Weather conditions , location, and luck all play a part.

Visiting Iceland in the winter months means that weather is even more unpredictable than the rest of the year and that inexperienced drivers should think twice about whether they dare drive the Ring Road themselves. Highlights such as the Golden Circle, with Thingvellir, Geysir and the Gullfoss waterfall, and South Coast sightseeing are typically still possible but winter driving in Iceland might better be left to the pros.

Did this leave you with more questions than answers? Hopefully not. Iceland is an amazing destination, all year around. Whether you’re coming for ice caving, hiking on the largest glacier, relaxing in the Blue Lagoon, or diving between the tectonic plates, each season has its charm and the landscape is ever changing.


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