Iceland is becoming increasingly popular with visitors and for good reason. I mean have you seen photos of how stunningly beautiful it is?!! But the question I hear most often is ‘When is the best time to Visit Iceland?‘
For a country that varies so much throughout the seasons, it’s understandable that people might feel confused about the best time to visit Iceland. Many people are not content to visit in one season only and plan multiple trips to Iceland like me.
In truth, there isn’t really a correct answer. My answer would always be ‘Anytime is the best time to visit Iceland.’ That’s because Iceland is beautiful year round but for different reasons! That said, if you have a specific goal like exploring ice caves or seeing the puffins then yes, there may indeed be a best time to visit Iceland – for you.
So in order to best answer this question I am first going to address what you should expect in each season. Then we will look at the best time to visit Iceland for specific activities such as whale watching or spotting the northern lights!
And if you want to skip all of that and get to the fun bit, you’ll find a fun quiz at the end of this post which can help you decide when is the best time to visit Iceland for you!
What you can expect from this article...
- 1 When is the best time to visit Iceland?
- 2 Frequently asked questions about the best time to visit Iceland…
- 2.1 When is the best time to visit Iceland for the Northern lights?
- 2.2 When is the best time to visit Iceland to see the midnight sun?
- 2.3 When is the best time to visit Iceland for exploring ice caves?
- 2.4 When is the best time to visit Iceland to see Jokulsarlon?
- 2.5 When is the best time to visit Iceland to go snowmobiling?
- 2.6 When is the best time to visit Iceland to see the puffins?
- 2.7 When is the best time to visit Iceland to go whale watching?
- 2.8 When is the best time to visit Iceland to see the waterfalls?
- 2.9 When is the best time to visit Iceland to drive the ring road?
- 2.10 When is Peak Season in Iceland?
- 2.11 When is Off Season in Iceland?
- 3 Quiz; When Should You Travel To Iceland?
When is the best time to visit Iceland?
Iceland in the Winter
The winter is the best time to visit Iceland if you are looking to find a snowy winter wonderland!
Iceland in the winter is not quite as cold as you’d imagine given that it’s just south of the Arctic Circle. It will always be colder in the highlands, usually by about 10°C. The weather is often very unpredictable – it can be bright and sunny one moment and then a snow blizzard the next. You are, however, pretty much guaranteed some snow if you visit Iceland in the winter.
The greatest difficulty travellers face in Iceland in Winter, is getting enough hours of sunlight in the day to get some sightseeing done! You may want to allow a longer period of time to tick off everything on your Iceland bucket list if you travel in winter.
December Average High 2°C Average Low -3°C 4-5 Hours of Daylight.
January Average High 2°C Average Low -3°C 5-7 Hours of Daylight.
February Average High 3°C Average Low -2°C 7-10 Hours of Daylight
*Based upon the average climate in Reykjavik. Please note it may be a little cooler in the highlands and in the North.
Reasons to Visit Iceland in the Winter
- It will be covered in a layer of beautiful snow
- You can explore Ice Caves which you cannot visit in the summer
- You can enjoy winter adventure activities such as snowmobiling
- You have the best chance of seeing the northern lights.
- It will be cheaper.
- You may get to see frozen waterfalls
Reasons Not To Visit Iceland in Winter
- Driving around Iceland will be trickier in the snow
- There are fewer hours of daylight to get sightseeing done
- If you can’t tolerate cooler temperatures, wait until summer
- You want to see puffins
Iceland in the Spring
Spring is the best time of year to visit Iceland to see the Puffins
In the Spring, Iceland’s snowy landscapes start to give way to lush green landscapes. There’s still a chance of snow but in general, the temperatures are beginning to rise, the days are lengthening and yet there’s still a chance of catching the Northern Lights.
If you like spotting birds, you’re in luck. Migrating birds such as the incredibly cute puffin start to return in April so spring and early summer is your best chance of spotting these cute seabirds.
March Average High 3°C Average Low -2°C 10-13 Hours of Daylight
April Average High 6°C Average Low 0°C 13-17 Hours of Daylight
May Average High 9°C Average Low 4°C 17-20 Hours of Daylight
Reasons to Visit Iceland in the Spring
- Prices are still more affordable than during the summer
- The weather is warming up a little but there’s still a chance of seeing snow
- You can see cute puffins
- The roads are becoming easier to drive.
- There’s still a chance of seeing the northern lights
- There’s a good chance of seeing some whales, especially in the north.
Reasons not to visit Iceland in Spring
- Snow is no longer guaranteed, so not always going to be a winter wonderland
- You are set on seeing the northern lights – go in winter.
- You want to see inside an ice cave. These are often shut from mid-March.
Read More | Things you need to know about Iceland in March
Iceland in the Summer
Summer is the best time of year to visit Iceland for the midnight sun
The summer is the most popular time to visit Iceland. In May and June, the crowds start to flock to Iceland in search of the midnight sun, to explore the highlands, see the colourful lupins in full bloom or to go whale watching. Places which are inaccessible in the winter due to poor driving conditions, become open to the public once more. There are up to 21 hours of sunlight to explore in. The sunset and sunrise go on for hours bathing Iceland’s beautiful scenery in golden light.
June Average High 12°C Average Low 7°C 20-21 Hours of Daylight
July Average High 13°C Average Low 8°C 18-20 Hours of Daylight
August Average High 13°C Average Low 8°C 15-18 Hours of Daylight
Reasons to Visit in Iceland in Summer
- The temperatures are warmer. Though don’t expect sunbathing weather…
- The Lupins are out making Iceland awash with colour
- The midnight sun creates long beautiful sunsets perfect for photographers
- More hours of daylight for sightseeing
- You can get out on Jokulsarlon glacier lake to explore the icebergs.
- You can access the beautiful highlands
- It’s a great time to go whale watching.
Reasons Not to Visit Iceland in the Summer
- You want to avoid the crowds
- You’re on a budget.
- You want to explore inside ice caves.
- You want to see a winter wonderland.
Iceland in Autumn
Autumn in the best time to visit Iceland for the best of both worlds.
As the colours change to golden red and oranges and the weather begins to cool down, the number of tourists starts to reduce. This is reflected in the prices so Iceland is certainly more affordable from September onwards. The roads are still open and there’s enough daylight to do lots of sightseeing.
You can still get out on Jokulsarlon in September to see the glacier and the icebergs yet there’s also a possibility of seeing the Northern Lights. The weather is still reasonably mild especially in September, although can be unpredictable.
September Average High 10°C Average Low 5°C 11-14 Hours of Daylight
October Average High 7°C Average Low 2°C 8-11 Hours of Daylight
November Average High 3°C Average Low -1°C 5-8 Hours of Daylight
Reasons to Visit Iceland in Autumn
- There’s a chance to see the northern lights
- The roads are mostly still open
- The prices are more affordable
- The crowds are disappearing
- the autumnal colours are beautiful
- There’s a chance of snow from November onwards
Reasons Not to Visit Iceland in Autumn
- The weather is variable
- You want to see puffins – they’re gone by September!
Frequently asked questions about the best time to visit Iceland…
When is the best time to visit Iceland for the Northern lights?
To see the northern lights you need the perfect combination of clear skies, plenty of solar activity and plenty of darkness. The more darkness there is, the higher the chance of seeing them!
So the best time to visit Iceland if your purpose is to see the northern lights would be in the winter when there is less light. December has the least hours of daylight so would be your best chance to see the beautiful Aurora Borealis.
Book your Northern lights tour HERE.
When is the best time to visit Iceland to see the midnight sun?
In June, there are 21 hours of daylight. It never goes completely dark and the sunsets and sunrises go on for hours making it a photographers dream! The best time to see the midnight sun is during the summer months when the days are long and the evenings short.
When is the best time to visit Iceland for exploring ice caves?
The vast majority of glacial ice caves are only accessible during the winter months. The main ice caves that people visit are usually accessible from November to March but often tours are cancelled at the last minute if the weather is deemed dangerous.
Tours are usually fully refundable in this case but always check this when you book.
Book your ice cave tour HERE.
When is the best time to visit Iceland to see Jokulsarlon?
You can visit Jokulsarlon and Diamond Beach all year round. But that said, if you want to get out on the glacial lake in a boat and get up close to the icebergs, then you will need to visit between May and October.
When is the best time to visit Iceland to go snowmobiling?
I was surprised to discover that you can go snowmobiling year around on certain glaciers such and Langjokull. In the winter there will be more options for places to snowmobile but you can still do it in the summer months.
Book your ski mobile trip HERE
When is the best time to visit Iceland to see the puffins?
These super cute seabirds make an appearance from the middle of April until August. It can vary year to year but if you visit in late spring or summer, you are likely to find a few!
Book a tour to see the puffins HERE.
When is the best time to visit Iceland to go whale watching?
You can go whale watching year round in Iceland especially in the north at Akureyri. However, your best chance of spotting plenty of whales is between April and October. Some tours will only run between April and November but they run year-round at Akureyri and Reykjavik.
When is the best time to visit Iceland to see the waterfalls?
You can visit Iceland’s beautiful waterfalls year round. The waterfalls are more powerful in the summer months when the glaciers start to melt. In the winter, some waterfalls freeze over making for stunning photos.
Remember some roads, especially in the highlands, are closed in the winter so take this into consideration when deciding when to visit Iceland.
Book a tour to visit Iceland’s best waterfalls HERE.
When is the best time to visit Iceland to drive the ring road?
The best time to drive the ring road in Iceland is during the spring summer and early autumn. This is because there are more hours of daylight and the driving conditions are safer. If you do decide to drive the ring road in winter, make sure you hire a 4×4, always regularly check the weather conditions and be prepared for potential road closures.
When is Peak Season in Iceland?
Peak season runs from about May until September. The weather is warmer, the roads more accessible but the prices will also be higher! You can save money by following my tips in my Iceland Budget Guide.
When is Off Season in Iceland?
Off Season in Iceland is between November and March. The weather is cooler and often snowy. The highlands are difficult to visit and you won’t see any puffins but you will save some money. Iceland is also like a winter wonderland at this time of year!
Quiz; When Should You Travel To Iceland?
Still unsure when you should visit Iceland? Don’t worry, I’m indecisive too! So I created this fun quiz to help you decide when is the best time to visit Iceland! You can even share the results on Facebook or Twitter with your friends!
Snow; Yay or Nay?
What is your budget?
Which Activity Appeals Most?
Do you want to camp?
Do you plan to hire a car?
Do you want to explore the full ring road?
Which landscape appeals most?
Share your Results:
I have plenty more Iceland content to help you plan your dream Iceland trip. Why not check out one of these articles or join my facebook group where you can have all your Iceland questions answered!
- My Iceland Budget Guide
- The Best Hostels in Iceland
- 8 Day Ring Road Iceland Itinerary
- Top Day Trips from Reykjavik
- The Golden Circle Self Drive Guide with Map
You may also wish to follow my Iceland Tips Pinterest board which is where I store all the articles which I use for research when I plan my own trips.
So hopefully having read this article, you are in a better position to decide when is the best time to visit Iceland for YOU. Do you want to visit a winter wonderland and see the northern lights? Or are you after non-stop sunsets and fields of lupins in the summer? Why not tell us in the comments when you are planning your trip for? Or have you been in a certain month and want to tell us about your experiences!
As always, I appreciate if you can share this article with your friends and family or on Pinterest with these pins below!