0
20

Best Time to Visit Iceland – Pros and Cons of Each Season

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.

Spring

A photo posted by @lifewithaview15 on

Dates

  • April-May

Temperatures

  • High: 45-50°F
  • Low: 32°F

Daylight Hours

  • April: 15 hours
  • May: 18 hours

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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.

 

Summer

 

When is the best time of year to visit Iceland? I can make an argument for each season! Check out my list of pros and cons for each season, as well as average temperatures and daylight hours! | Life With a View

Dates

  • June-July/Augustish

Temperatures

  • Highs: 60-65°F
  • Lows: 45°F

Daylight Hours

  • June/July: 20-22 hours! (i.e. the sky doesn’t even get dark in mid-June!)
  • Aug: 16 hours

Pros

  • 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)

Cons

  • 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

Autumn

When is the best time of year to visit Iceland? I can make an argument for each season! Check out my list of pros and cons for each season, as well as average temperatures and daylight hours! | Life With a View

Dates

  • Augustish-October

Temperatures

  • High: 45-55°F
  • Low: 37°F

Daylight Hours

  • September: 13 hours
  • October: 9 hours

Pros

  • 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
READ MORE:   ICELAND VIRTUAL TOUR GUIDE

Cons

  • Weather is pretty unpredictable – windy, wet and sometimes pretty cold
  • The autumn colors can be skipped completely, depending on the season.

Winter

When is the best time of year to visit Iceland? I can make an argument for each season! Check out my list of pros and cons for each season, as well as average temperatures and daylight hours! | Life With a View

 

Dates

  • Octoberish/November – March

Temperatures

  • Highs: 39-45°F
  • Lows: 28-34°F
    • *The further north you go, the colder and snowier it will be

Daylight hours

  • October – 9 hours
  • November – 6 hours
  • December – 4 hours
  • January – 4 hours
  • February – 7 hours
  • March – 10 hours

Pros

  • 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!)

Cons

  • 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?!

 

 

 

Pin it for later!

Planning a trip to Iceland?

Screen shot 2016 11 20 at 8.48.02 pm





Good news: I made an entire library of FREE resources, to make your life easier!


  • Instantly download checklists, guidebooks, maps, and more!
  • PLUS: Instant access to the Iceland Travel Team Facebook group - a community of people to connect and interact with, ask questions, and share your awesome Iceland travel experiences!
Powered by ConvertKit

You Might Also Like

  • Leanna
    June 10, 2016 at 12:32 am

    This was so amazingly helpful! I’ve been having a really difficult time deciding what time of year I want to go to Iceland and this has been a huge help. Laying out the seasons will really help me to decide. THANKS!!

    • Jeannie
      June 24, 2016 at 12:19 pm

      Yay, so glad it’s helpful for you! I know there is a lot to consider, but there are good things about all of the seasons so it just depends on what you want to get out of your trip! See you soon in Iceland 😀

  • Jasmin Charlotte
    June 10, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    I reeeeeally want to visit next year but still not sure when! I really want to see the Northern Lights so at least that will help narrow it down!

    • Jeannie
      June 24, 2016 at 12:19 pm

      Yead definitely! Ok so mid-summer is out for you so that helps. I would suggest Sept/Oct or March/April for the lights!

  • Emily
    June 10, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    Thanks for such a great resource! I can’t wait to visit Iceland someday.

    • Jeannie
      June 24, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      You got it girl! Hope to see you in Iceland someday!

  • Cynthia
    June 11, 2016 at 11:58 am

    I was surprised to see so many pros for Winter, but it almost made me want to schedule a visit then 😉
    I went five years ago in mid-April when the weather was on the absolute low end of the spectrum – snowy and cold. I have to admit I expected warmer (and it was already the longest winter of my life) so I was a bit disappointed, vowing to return in summer next time. I think just having realistic expectations is the biggest key to enjoying an Iceland trip.

    • Jeannie
      June 24, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      Great point, Cynthia. Yes April is kind of a letdown because you’re expecting it to be “springy weather” but it is still very much winter. I think it’s great that you’re coming in summer, you will definitely redeem yourself from your first visit 🙂

  • Steph G
    June 15, 2016 at 12:49 am

    We were there the first week of May last year and it was amazing. We hope to get a quick winter weekend in one of these days 🙂

    • Jeannie
      June 24, 2016 at 12:24 pm

      Yeah for sure! Summer and winter in Iceland are very different but I love them both so much! A weekend would be a good way to do experience winter.

  • Jen
    July 19, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Thanks for this!! We’ll be there Oct 10-16!! 🙂 We’re still looking for accommodations and everything else. Any recommendations on cheap but good places to stay?

    • Jeannie
      August 5, 2016 at 10:42 am

      Hey Jen! So exciting your trip is right around the corner! Accommodation is kind of spendy during peak tourist season, so just keep shopping around. However if you don’t mind camping that is super affordable! Hope you have a great time 😀

  • Andy
    July 27, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Am i being greedy when i say i would like to visit at a time when there are stunning sunsets and sunrises as well as the chance of seeing the Northern Lights? (I’m a photographer if you hadn’t already guessed :))
    If there is such a time would last week Aug first week Sept be best?

    Great info btw

    • Jeannie
      August 5, 2016 at 10:40 am

      Hey Andy, thank you! No absolutely! Autumn and winter still have amazing sunsets AND the northern lights as well – you are in luck! End of August and first September are essentially the same, just getting darker by the day.

  • Laura
    August 11, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    Thank you for this post. I visited Iceland for the first time last month and am already fantasizing about another trip there. Glad to know there are great adventures to be had all year round.

    • Jeannie
      August 19, 2016 at 8:12 am

      Yes, absolutely! I love each season in Iceland there is always something wonderful to do!

  • Christina
    December 2, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    I am planning my first trip to Iceland end of February! Do you think this is a good time to go? Thanks for all the awesome tips!

    • Jeannie
      December 13, 2016 at 9:06 am

      Yes, I love February in Iceland – it’s beautiful!

  • Bailey
    February 8, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    Just did a ton of stalking of your website. You have such great content! My boyfriend and I will be traveling to Iceland in March, first time for both of us. I feel like I’ve got a ton of great tips because of you!

    • Jeannie
      February 23, 2017 at 9:07 am

      Awesome Bailey! Stalk away, that’s what I’m here for 🙂 Have a great time in Iceland!