Once in a lifetime bucket list trips usually center around traveling to a place that will leave you inspired and stir your soul. Many people, couples, or families may find that taking road trips exploring a new country or city is the BEST adventure to have. Whereas others may think climbing to the top of a mountain, witnessing the natural phenomena of the Aurora Borealis, or stepping foot inside of an ice cave is where adventure is found. No matter what avenue you go down, Iceland will not leave you disappointed. And today our team would love to share with you the best time of year to visit Iceland!
Choosing the Best Time of Year to Visit Iceland
It’s fair to say that Iceland is the most unpredictable weather place you will ever visit regardless of the time of year you come. All that said, you’re likely wondering when is best time of year to go to Iceland? Our answer differs depending on the objective of your trip. Some folks come to Iceland to chase the Northern Lights (aka Aurora Borealis) whereas others want to get lost among the dynamic and otherworldly landscapes. For example, ice caves, mountain hiking, lush green waterfalls, lunar landscapes, geothermal hot pots, 360 views, rock formations, caves, the list is truly endless!
Our Katlatrack super jeep team would like to explain what Iceland looks like season by season and month by month. Maybe then you can decide what time of year sounds ideal to you!
Furthermore, have you heard the saying, “There’s not bad weather, just bad gear?” Making sure you are ready for Mother Nature is important during wintertime in Iceland. Checkout our blog post on what to pack for your Iceland super jeep tour while you’re at it!
Visiting Iceland in Winter
Winter in Iceland can be both challenging and invigorating! Overall in the South of Iceland, we typically get milder winters compared to the North of Iceland. What does that mean? Since we are in the Golf Stream we experience temperatures that range from 30 to 42 °F (-1.1°C to 5.6°C). But the feel like temperature can be much colder because of the wind and storms. Not to mention the long dark nights of November-March.
However, the tradeoff is being able to experience the Aurora Borealis and hopefully a wintery wonderland. If you’re brave enough to endure the winter weather conditions in Iceland, we encourage you to read our previous blog post on weather advice when preparing for your unique Iceland Ice Cave Tour with us!
November in Iceland
During the month of November in Iceland, you can expect significantly less daylight hours than in summer. At the start of the month we have sunrise happening at 9:10am and sunset 5:10pm with a total of 8 hours of daylight. Then at the end of the month you could expect more like 5 hours of daylight being sunrise around 10:45am and sunset 3:50pm.
Rainfall is an average of around 8 inches but in Vik, that can easily translate to light rain to light / freezing rain or snow every day, especially up at the glacier! If the sun emitted solar flares the days before and the sky is clear there could be a good chance during this month that you are witness to the Northern Lights! Good luck!
Iceland during December and Christmastime
Deciding for yourself the best time of year to visit Iceland can be tricky. Mainly because we know most people try to balance their vacation time with family events, workload, and maybe even extended holiday time. December can be an ideal month if you like spending holidays abroad.
In contrast though, be aware that December in Iceland is our darkest and second rainiest month. Also, most days are not filled with sunshine during the token daylight hours which vary from having 5 hours at the beginning of the month to only 4 at the end. If there is not snow on the ground it can feel like a very dark day all day. Fun Fact: Having snow on the ground reflects light and makes the day and night appear to be brighter.
The good news, is if you are not embarking on an Iceland self-drive itinerary, our team offers a pickup in Reykjavik for our Iceland Cave tour allowing you to experience the best of Southern Iceland from the luxury of the city limits too! On the way, you’ll relax, cat nap, hear stories about the 13 Icelandic Yule Lads, and see all of the amazing local houses and business dressed in sparkling lights!
On that same note, we have seen some of the best Northern Lights after all of the firework madness tones down too. Did you know Iceland only allows fireworks legally to happen between Christmas day and New Years Eve? Imagine celebrating Christmas Eve or New Years Eve with seeing fireworks and Northern Lights! …mind blown!
January in Iceland
When January rolls in, our Katlatrack adventure tour team rejoices because we go from having 4.5 hours or daylight to 7 hours by the end! More daylight to adventure in!! Likewise, there can still be rain, snow, and wind storms happening but it just adds to that “I survived Iceland” accomplished feeling you get at the end of it. In January in Iceland, you can expect less rain than the previous two winter months but be prepared for it regardless!
Iceland in February
February is easily one of our favorite months as it is full on ice cave season and most times we have a bit of a winter wonderland on our hands too! Super exciting for those of you that are looking for the best time of year to travel to Iceland to see snow! We promise that you are in good hands with our Katlatrack Adventure Tour team… For real have you seen how prepared our team is with last year’s addition of a super sweet snow cat?
On the other hand, what can you expect in regards to weather in February in Iceland? Firstly, beginning the month of February we have 7 hours of daylight and end the month being back to 10 hours of daylight to run around in! Secondly, the month of February on average only bring around 6 inches of rain. Better snow than rain, eh? Nevertheless, February also can bring winter storms that bring along gale force winds and blizzards (aka white out conditions). Don’t fret, our team of local experienced drivers and GPS systems will keep you safe!
March in Iceland
The last of the token winter months in Iceland is March. Fair to expect temperatures somewhere between 29-42 °F and hit or miss with snow. Often we have very snowy conditions the first week or so in March in and around Vik and then it transitions to slush. By the end of the month, the snow begins to melt and the landscape starts to unravel. Rain levels are about the same at February and you have at least 10 hours at the beginning of the month of daylight and almost 13.5 by the end!
Traveling to Iceland in Spring
Spring comes to Iceland during the months of April and May. In fact, I think spring everywhere in the world is about a new beginnings. Believe it or not it’s a transition month for Iceland too! April increases a bit with rain and daylight (Average Sunrise: 6am and Sunset: 9pm) giving you from 13.5 hours to 20 hours by the end of May! The mountain tops slowly melt and the piles of snow begin to also melt in the highlands.
As this season begins all of the big “blue ice caves” close because stability if jeopardized. Good for us, because our offbeat ice cave area becomes a shining star and one of the only ice caves accessible year round! Did you know there are at least 8 different types of ice caves in Iceland to experience?
Experiencing Iceland in April
Explorers often see April as the best time of year to visit Iceland because it can be a slower month for tourists and many take off time during spring break (or Easter if you celebrate). Airlines like Icelandair also often issue travel deals. Conversely, of Route 1 can be accessed in an economy car if you plan to do self driving in Iceland. April has also been the start of whale watching season in Iceland. Could be a great time to experience the Golden Circle at a slightly more less touristy time. Maybe even think about a self-driving itinerary through Iceland too! Anticipated rainfall is usually under 7 inches and the temperatures vary between 36-45.5°F, well above freezing.
Iceland Weather in May
May in Iceland, Icelanders like to refer to as “gluggaveður” meaning “window weather.” For example, this is usually the type of weather where you look outside and see the most amazing day outside and then you walk out in your shorts or pretty dress only to be greeted with FRIGED temperatures! We have a lot of these days in May and it also happens to be the driest month in Iceland of the year. Take advantage of it and make time to visit Iceland and explore it!
Visiting Iceland in Summer
Care to be surrounded by midnight sun and the warmest temperatures of the year in Iceland?
Dare you to come and visit during June, July, and August our full on summer months! During summer you experience anywhere between 14-21 hours of daylight. Even when the sun “sets” it doesn’t it still is very light outside and for most people it’s not enough to fall asleep very easily.
Visiting Iceland in June
Throughout the month of June, no matter the weather Icelanders will enjoy the first official summer month. BBQ’s are in full swing and people trying to grab as much vitamin D as possible so get outside! The highlands road begin to open too so screw going to the Blue Lagoon and take an offbeat adventure to a more o’natural hot spring instead!
Some of the best activities to do in Iceland in June happen in our hometown of Vik too! To illustrate, the best time of year to visit Iceland to you could mean celebrating the summer solstice while drinking a beer in a hot spring or what about celebrating it by a private ice cave tour with all of your favorite people?
Iceland July Adventures
Adventuring around in July in Iceland is THE BEST! Our warmest temperatures of the year typically fill this month at a balmy 47-52 °F. With the sun shining I’d dare to say it has had a “feel like” temperature of 60-70 degrees °F. Further, the average time the sun rises is around 3:40am and it falls into sunset around 11:30pm, but faster and earlier if up in the mountains! Speaking of mountains, our Hidden Mountains tour is extremely popular in during summer and specifically in July in Iceland
Best Month to Visit Iceland: August
August in Iceland wins the award for the greenest month! Comparing all the summer months, August is our favorite because it also is our warmest month because the scale hits 50-55 °F on some days! Don’t let the warm temps and lush greens fool you though, as August in Iceland can have quite a bit of rain, especially in Vik. Then again, how else do you expect to have the areas be so green without it?!
What does Fall look like in Iceland?
Fall happens in Iceland! For real!! Now, we don’t have cider mills, pumpkin pie, nor corn mazes, but we are lucky enough to have the usual fall colors! You’ll see oranges, red, and yellows emerge from the ground cover and on the leaves on the trees. It’s a really special sight to see and capture in photos. The formal fall months in Iceland are September and October. The main benefit of traveling to Iceland during this time is that hotels may have a slightly discounted rate as it can be for some “shoulder season.”
September in Iceland
Believe it or not, some say this is the best month to come to Iceland if wanting a taste of both summer and winter. The average temperature is between 43-52 °F (which is 6-11 Celsius). All that said, September is our rainiest month in Vik and with that comes wind most times. Then again, you can hardly expect anything else, no matter when you visit Iceland!
September weather in Iceland is just as unpredictable as during any other month of the year, just be prepared for it! This month also begins our formal Northern Lights season. We have heard sightings as early as September 2nd in Vik Iceland! Next, you can expect sharing space with less tourists than compared in July or August. Moreover, keeping traditions alive in our hometown of Vik, becomes a priority during the month of September in Iceland.
Traveling to Iceland in October:
Planning a trip to Iceland in October could very well be the best time of year to visit Iceland if you love fall colors! Colors are at their peak usually the first 2 weeks of October. For instance, can you imagine chasing waterfalls brimming of fall colors and then ending it in a hot tub watching the Northern Lights? Sounds like an ideal October adventure day! Interesting Fact: The Peace Tower is officially lit on Viðey Island in October.
Best time of year to visit Iceland to see the Northern Lights
On the top of most people’s minds and a questions we get asked often is… What is the best time of year to visit Iceland to see Northern Lights? Formally the months there are possibilities are between September to the beginning of April. However, the weather in Iceland is the definition of unpredictable and unfortunately, you need a clear sky to even have a chance of seeing them (alongside several other factors). A fantastic local website you can check to see the Northern Lights forecast is from the Icelandic Met Office.
Best time of year to visit Iceland for Ice Caves
Depending on who you talk to, you may get mixed answers. Why? In most people’s minds, formal ice cave season in Iceland is only between Mid-October-March. But that is for the overrun touristy blue ice caves. Rather, our Katlatrack team provides year round ice cave experiences but our ice caves can vary in size, color, and texture. Just rest assured they are 100% natural and it’s a crazy fun ADVENTURE to get there!!
Visiting Iceland Travel Tips:
Although Iceland has grown so popular now, that there really isn’t a line drawn for most between shoulder season and high season. Most accommodations super jeep adventures, and tour companies offer the same year round pricing. But you will likely see a difference in the cost of car rentals between seasons so take tidbit of travel tips with you when you leave today.
Lastly, as you plan your trip to Iceland, we would love for you to keep our team in mind if you’re looking for a bespoke unique adventure in Vik Iceland! Our team would love the opportunity to “wow” you just as we have other happy customers! See more feedback on Trip Advisor and Google!
Your Adventure Awaits,
Guðjón + the Katlatrack Team