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Iceland is definitely one of the world’s most beautiful countries, but one whose beauty remains tragically underappreciated. Each and every nook and cranny of this mesmerizing country has something special to offer. From serene fjords to majestic volcanic mountains, Iceland truly does have it all. Most people head to Iceland to see the spectacular Northern Lights, but to see those, you will have to consider the weather in Iceland. So what is the best time to visit Iceland? Let’s take a look!
- High Season: June - August
- Low Season: October - April
- All Seasons: May (spring), June - August (summer), September (Fall), October - April (winter)
- If you wish to see the Spectacular Northern Lights, November to February is the best time to visit Iceland.
- The summer months have the midnight sun — a unique phenomenon observed in Iceland due to its northern location.
- The Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland’s biggest tourist destination, is much better in summer months, as the flow of water is heavier.
- The famous Blue Lagoon can be visited all year round.
- Many museums and attractions are only open from late May to early September.
The best time to visit Iceland depends on what you wish to do, and more specifically, on what your cold tolerance is. The country is close to the North Pole, making it incredibly chilly during the winter months. Even during the summer months, temperatures rarely rise above 62 °F / 16°C. From watching the Gullfoss Waterfall, visiting the Blue Lagoon, trekking volcanoes, riding Icelandic ponies, or renting a snowmobile, there are plenty of things for you to do in Iceland. You just have to make sure you do them at the right time.
The weather in Iceland is at its best during the summer months, that is between the months of June to August. The temperatures are higher, the days are much longer, and you even get to see the midnight sun. Evenings tend to be bright, and the sun doesn’t set in Northern Iceland, even into the late hours of the night.
The second best time to visit Iceland is during the shoulder months - May and September. The weather is pleasant enough to travel the country, and the crowds are lower due to the off-peak seasons. Hiking might depend on the weather though, as the mountain roads may be blocked due to early or late snowfall.
May to Spring — Spring / Good Season
May is the beginning of the tourist season in Iceland. The weather gets slightly warmer as spring engulfs the land in its beauty and the skies start to clear up. Many trekking paths will open for the first time after winter, so you can enjoy a fresh trek into the best of nature. This is a good time to travel to the southern parts of Iceland and those outlying areas. There might still be some snowfall in the interior parts of the country though. The peak season rush would not have come to the country yet, so you will get cheaper deals and accommodation.
- Avg. Temperature: 37 – 48° F / 3 – 9° C
- Rainfall: 40 mm
- Season: Spring
- Highlights: Popular destinations like Landmannalaugar (of Rhyolite mountain fame) and Kirkjufell Mountain can be visited in spring, before the crowds start to spoil their serene atmosphere. If you wish to stick to the outlying areas, Vik, a beautiful place on the south coast is worth a visit. The Reykjavik Art Festival takes place in May every year, and is attended by artists from around the world. This is a great time to explore Reykjavik’s many offerings, especially the Hallgrimskirkja Church.
June to August – Summer / Peak Season
The summer is Iceland’s best season — it is warm, the days are always bright, and you can explore every nook and cranny of the country. Most trekking paths and hiking trails are open, and the mountain roads are accessible. However, you should keep in mind that this is the high season, so the prices will be higher, and all popular destinations will be somewhat crowded.
- Avg. Temperature: 45 – 55° F / 7 – 13° C
- Rainfall: 20 – 30 mm
- Season: Summer
- Highlights: A unique experience for you to have during the Icelandic summer is to go whale - watching. The Maelifell Volcano in the Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park is another great destination during the summer months, as the entire area will be covered with lush green moss. If you feel like pampering yourself, head to the Blue Lagoon in Grindavik for an exclusive geothermal spa experience. Icelandic Independence Day is on the 17th of June, and is celebrated in all local joints. Between the months of June to August, there are dozens of events to look forward to, including Secret Solstice, Reykjavik Cultural Festival, Jazz Festival, Dance Festival, and the Gay Pride Parade!
September – Fall / Good Season
There is always something innately romantic about the fall season. In Iceland, this month is exceptionally beautiful. Most of the tourists would have left, leaving vast areas of the country free to explore. There might be a slight chill in the air as the winter season prepares its chilly onslaught, but it will be manageable. It is even possible for you to go hiking, if that is what you want to do! Weather in Iceland is unpredictable though, so be cautious about trekking in the inland areas.
- Avg. Temperature: 41 – 48° F / 5 – 9° C
- Rainfall: 40 mm
- Season: Summer
- Highlights: September is an exciting time to visit Reykjavik. Before the city shuts down for the winter, it hosts a wide number of events. September alone brings exciting festivals such as Tango on Ice, Rokkjötnar and Night of Lights. By September, the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, can be spotted in certain places. Adventure lovers will fall in love with Iceland’s hidden wonders such as the Hekla (the active volcano), Laugavegur Trail (a five-day trek across volcanic flats and hot springs), and the Westman Islands!
October to April – Winter / Low Season
Winter in Iceland is a force to be reckoned with. The country is incredibly close to the Arctic Circle, and by the time October rolls around, this becomes rather obvious. The weather in Iceland can be too cold for anything to be done. This is obviously the low- season, and most mountain roads in the country are closed. That said, if your sole purpose is to watch the Northern Lights, or indulge in winter sports, this is the best time to visit Iceland.
- Avg. Temperature: 27 – 41 °F / -3 – 5 °C
- Rainfall: 30 – 50 mm
- Season: Winter
- Highlights: Go up to Bláfjöll and enjoy a lovely Icelandic winter. November to March is the best time to see Aurora Borealis, in places like Westfjords, the Borgarnes, Landmannalaugar, Vik and Alftanes. Another unique experience is the Skaftafell Ice Cave at the Vatnajökull National Park (which is far safer and a lot steadier during winter).
Travelling to Iceland? Chat with a local travel specialist in Iceland who can help organize your trip.
Adrien Heriaud Travel Expert in Iceland & Norway
Harpa Groiss Travel Expert in Iceland
Lára Ósk Hafbergsdóttir Travel Expert in Iceland