Is it Time to Visit Iceland?
With its dramatic scenery and extreme climate, Iceland is a natural wonder of our world. It comes as little surprise then, that the land of Game of Thrones and the Northern Lights is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations.
Boasting an abundance of natural attractions and otherworldly experiences, it can be hard to know what to visit in Iceland and exactly when to go, making the whole idea quite daunting.
Unlike conventional beach holidays, a visit to Iceland is not for the fainthearted and is very much a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the world as you have never seen it before.
It is our belief that nobody should miss out on the chance to visit such a hauntingly beautiful place and so we’ve put together a complete guide on the best time of year to visit Iceland.
We’ve taken into consideration all the varying factors such as weather, budget, natural attractions and national events to give you the best idea of when to don your thermals and seize this great opportunity.
Source: By Andreas Tille
To best avoid certain catch phrases about winter (we’re looking at you Jon Snow), we decided it’s best to get the coldest season out of the way first.
Whilst to some people, Iceland might seem like it’s perpetually in a state of winter, there is actually a dramatic difference between the summer and winter months.
The most obvious of these is naturally the temperature. Depending on where you go in Iceland, the temperature can drop to about as low as -30°C.
This isn’t always the case, but bitter winds can make everything seem colder in Iceland, so it’s essential that you arrive prepared with all the proper thermal gear to keep you safe in the winter months.
It is also essential to keep your skin protected and safe when exposing it to such harsh weather conditions, ensure you pack your normal skincare products that you would use in winter and don’t neglect the basics simply because you’re on holiday.
The time of year that you should visit Iceland depends heavily on what type of experience you want to have.
For example, the winter in Iceland isn’t ideal for many photographers or people wishing to study the landscape as daylight is seriously hard to come by for several months of the year.
On the other hand, this does make winter one of the best times to go and witness the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), and lovers of snow will also find themselves short of things to complain about.
As a result of heavy snowfall and thick ice, many roads in Iceland are only open for the few months of summer they receive, particularly those in the mountainous regions.
As a result, winter is often the cheapest and least crowded time to visit Iceland, with many people not willing to face the bitter chill.
Despite the cold and the dark, the thought of visiting frozen waterfalls and snowy mountains is very tempting and appeals to those of us seeking new adventures.
Spring / Autumn
Considered by many as the best time to visit Iceland in terms of the sheer number of attractions on offer, spring and autumn are largely similar and both are very popular times to make the journey north to this remote land.
The fresh air and slightly more moderate climate in these months will revitalise you and the fact that the air is relatively clean should give your skin a welcome relief if you are used to spending your days in a busy, polluted city.
The Northern Lights typically start to appear from September until April, though it is February to March, and September to October, especially around the equinoxes, that is widely regarded as the best months to see them.
It isn’t only the sky that is at its best during these months though, it’s also the sea. Many species of whales — including orcas — frequently visit the coasts of Iceland, and these are by far the best times to see them.
With over 20 different species of whales at any one time, spring and autumn are certainly the best months to make the most of Iceland’s seas.
For those who want to sample true Icelandic cuisine, some of the best fishing is also done in these months, meaning that it’s relatively easy to fill your plate with both quality and quantity.
Whilst it can still be very cold, the weather is less harsh at these times of year and there is an increased amount of sunlight, allowing better visibility and more photos.
Despite being the most likely months to rain, we strongly recommend visiting Iceland at these times of year to really make the most of what it has to offer.
Summer in Iceland is quite unlike anything most people will have ever experienced. Often it seems like the days never end, with 24 hours of sunlight a normality for its inhabitants.
Whilst this is a truly incredible spectacle, it can take several days to adjust and a sleep mask is an absolute essential for anyone wishing to stay refreshed.
The weather in Iceland is naturally much more tolerable in the summer months, reaching highs of around 20 - 25°C. As a result, far less thermal and insulated clothing is needed, with visitors able to enjoy pleasant climates, albeit for a limited amount of time.
Summer is a great time to visit the capital city of Iceland, Reykjavík, as there is a host of different festivals and events going on around this time, such as Culture Night and the Secret Solstice Festival.
Owing to the better weather and lighting, the summer months are very popular among photographers wishing to capture the majesty of Iceland in its defrosted state.
The summer months are very popular with tourists, meaning that certain attractions can become crowded and harder to appreciate, though if you book onto certain tours in advance there is often a chance to avoid this.
Access to various locations, especially in the mountains, is often improved during the summer months, as the roads have largely thawed out and the terrain is less treacherous.
If walking is what you want to do, July and August are often considered to be the prime time for hiking. Birdwatching is also supposed to peak around this time, with an abundance of different species migrating to Iceland for the summer months.
The Blue Lagoon is an experience that can be enjoyed all year round, but to get the most out of your visit, head there at the height of the Summer Solstice.
The hot springs in Iceland are well known for their health benefits and the positive effects they can have in improving your skin.
During this time Iceland is more or less in a state of eternal daylight, so you can literally lose track of the days if that’s what you’re after.
So having given a fairly comprehensive guide to what Iceland is like at each time of year, the question remains, when is the best time to visit Iceland?
Essentially, it depends on what you most want to get out of your trip - there are significant advantages to each season - but if you have no major priorities, then spring and autumn probably provide the most incredible experience for your money.