Iceland’s popularity as a tourism destination has grown exponentially over the last decade. Every year, more and more tourists touch down on our shores. There are tons of activities to do and plenty of natural attractions to see. And everything you’re bound to experience depends heavily on the time of year you plan your trip. So what is the best month to visit Iceland? Well, each month and each season hold their own special charm. There are advantages and disadvantages to visiting during summer and the high season. The same is true for winter and the low season. Summer offers festivals around the country as well as the almost never-ending light of the Midnight Sun. But if you come during that time of year, you’ll miss out on the Northern Lights. Let’s explore the different periods so you can decide when is the best month for you to visit Iceland
June, July, August – The Summer Months in Iceland
Summer is one of the best times of year to visit Iceland. Why? First of all, the country experiences its best weather during this time. Temperatures rise to the low 60s ºF (15-16 ºC), flowers are in bloom, and the country’s rolling landscapes are covered in lush green grass. You have plenty of daylight hours thanks to the Midnight Sun. Use this extended sunlight to fit in an extra excursion or to add additional time to your scheduled stops. You can also take advantage of the extra light to visit popular attractions like the Sólheimasandur plane wreck or the Blue Lagoon much later in the day. They will be less crowded and much easier to navigate.
Summer festivals in Iceland are another big draw for this time of year. Some of the best months to visit Iceland are June, July, and August due to festivals like the Reykjavik Art Festival, the Secret Solstice Music Festival, the Viking Festival, KEXPort Music Festival, Swamp Soccer at Bolungarvík, and fireworks at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon to name a few. A comprehensive list of festivals in Iceland can be found here.
The weather, the Midnight Sun, and the wide variety of festivals available are just a few reasons why summer is the best time of year to visit Iceland. You should note, however, that there are drawbacks to visiting in June, July, and August. This is tourist high season. That means many things, from accommodation to car rental to excursions, will be booked months in advance. This is also the most expensive time of year to visit Iceland. The country is packed to capacity with travelers, so you won’t be able to find discounts on anything. Lastly, there are going to be people everywhere. The crowds of summer descend upon the island during these months.
Northern Lights Period – The Best Time to See the Aurora Borealis in Iceland
After the hordes of summer have left, something very special happens in Iceland. Everything calms down, and country belongs to the locals once more. The nighttime sky starts to light up with undulating waves of emerald, turquoise, amethyst, and magenta. One of the drawbacks of visiting during the summer is that you miss Iceland´s famous Northern Lights. If the Aurora Borealis is one of the priorities of your trip, then I highly recommend planning a trip between the months of October to March. This is the best period to come if you want to spot the Northern Lights dancing in the sky. September is probably the perfect month to visit Iceland because you get the benefits of semi-decent weather and slightly lower prices. You can also start to see the auroras toward the middle and end of the month. March is also a great month for this reason.
Winter Travel – November, December, January, February in Iceland
Winter travel in Iceland opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. The interiors of ice caves and glacier caverns have frozen and they are ready to be explored. Glacier hikes are one of the coolest activities you can do in Iceland. And it’s not just the glacier caves that are chilly. Freezing temperatures cause some of the waterfalls to stop in suspended animation. The cold, clear nights of this period make for excellent viewing conditions of the Northern Lights. Skiing and snowboarding near Dalvik in North Iceland are also favorite winter pursuits. This is the best time of year to come to Iceland if you’re looking for adventure activities and extreme sports. After you’ve done all of these things, be sure to take a dip in a geothermal pool or relax at a spa.
Another significant advantage of coming to Iceland during the low season and the offseason are prices. You’ll save money on hotels or other accommodation, your car or campervan rental, and much more. Some camper rental companies even offer discounts up to 50% off their vehicles during the winter.
A disadvantage is coming during this time is the reduced amount of daylight. While summer sees close to 20 hours of daylight, this number shrinks to around seven in the winter. It’s even less as we inch closer to December’s winter solstice on the 21st or 22nd. This month sees only four to five hours of daylight. It’s essential to plan your activities if you visit Iceland during this time of year. Every minute counts and you want to get the most out of your day.
What is the Best Month to Visit Iceland?
As you can see, the answer to this question is different for everyone. What are your priorities? Do you want to spend your days exploring ice caves and doing glacier hikes followed by a Northern Lights hunt in the evening? Or do you prefer the never-ending days of summer with outdoor festivals, flowing waterfalls, hiking in Landmannalaugar, and whale watching in Húsavík? Iceland is almost like two different countries depending on the time of year you come. And the best month to visit our Island is a personal choice that depends entirely upon exactly what you wants to see and to do. Honestly, the best thing to do is to come twice. That way, you’ll experience Iceland in the summer and then have a completely different trip in the offseason. It’s like taking two vacations in the same place.