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The best months to visit Iceland - Your guide

Wild weather, Northern Lights or endless sunsets – find out which month is best to visit Iceland for you.

February 8, 2023

The best months to visit Iceland - Your guide

Wild weather, Northern Lights or endless sunsets – find out which month is best to visit Iceland for you.

February 8, 2023

Iceland’s dramatic weather and changeable seasons mean it’s a country that varies wildly from month to month. One person’s experience in February can be completely different from another’s in April. Iceland’s tours can also differ depending on the month. In the months of endless sunshine, hiking the long-distance trails of the rugged highlands and summinting the island’s highest peak are possible as it remains light long into the evening and the weather is fine. Whereas, the colder, darkest months provide the best chance of spotting the Northern Lights and most opportunities to explore natural ice caves. There’s even a unique draw to the off-peak months of May and September when the crowds lessen and the entire landscape is drenched in a golden light as the sun hangs low in the sky. Whether you’re visiting Iceland in winter or summer, we have lots of different tours so you can experience every aspect of this beautiful country.

Best months to visit Iceland

Iceland has plenty to offer visitors throughout the entire year and the best time to visit depends on your interests and travel style. With over two million visitors heading to Iceland each year, the sights along the Golden Circle and south coast can become crowded in peak season. The peak months in Iceland are in summer – June, July and August – when the days are long and the weather is mild. If you want to avoid the biggest crowds, but still catch the rare sunshine on this north Atlantic island, consider visiting Iceland in the off-peak months of May or September.

Of course, there is still plenty to do in Iceland during the cold, winter months. Between the end of September and mid-March you have a chance of spotting the Northern Lights – something which draws travelers during the months of long nights. Another popular past-time is embracing the Icelandic outdoor bathing culture at the Blue Lagoon, Sky Lagoon or any of the heated swimming pools and natural, geothermal pools. These baths and swimming pools are open year-round, and swimming in winter in Iceland has a particular allure as the snow falls above you and the water is heated by natural geothermal springs. It’s worth nothing that some of the out-of-the-way hot springs become inaccessible in winter due to snow.

If you can’t make up your mind, there are plenty of all-year tours in Iceland that have you covered whatever the weather.

The darkest months

In December and January, the sun barely lifts above the horizon and Reykjavik sees around four hours of daylight a day. Usually, the shortest day of the year (the winter solstice) takes place on the 21st of December and on this day, the northern part of the island only sees around two hours of daylight. Since the Viking age, the Icelandic people have celebrated the winter solstice with bonfires and a feast.

The darkest months are the best time to hunt for the Northern Lights in Iceland. Long nights increase your chance of spotting this ethereal phenomenon against the black sky. Although it’s possible to spot the Northern Lights in Reykjavik, light pollution can often get in the way, so Northern Lights tours leave the city and head out to the lightless countryside for a better chance of spotting this glowing green spectacle.

The downside to visiting Iceland in the darkest months is that the winter weather can be harsh and unpredictable. But dressing well for the season means you can still enjoy plenty of adventures and experiences despite the weather in Iceland. Layers are the key to keeping warm – a long-sleeve t-shirt, fleece or woolly jumper and waterproof jacket combination can see you through the coldest months. Thick trousers or even waterproof trousers and sturdy walking boots with thermal socks are a good idea. Of course, a hat, gloves and scarf are essential. If you want to blend in with the local folk, a fair isle patterned knitted jumper is just the ticket.

The months of the long shadows

From February to April, the sun never reaches its peak in the sky, hanging just above the horizon throughout the daylight hours. It feels as though Iceland is in a constant state of sunrise and sunset during these months, with shadows stretching long across the landscape and everything tinged slightly golden. As a result, February, March and early April tend to attract photographers to capture this unique glow to the scenery. With each passing month, you can see every day that the daylight hours are getting longer. Many of Iceland’s ancient Viking traditions take place in February. The month sees Icelandic traditions like Bollundagur (“bun day”), Sprengidagur (“explosion day”) and Öskudagur (Ash Wednesday) take place.

Icelandic folklore says that the season of snow blizzards isn’t over until páskahret – the last snow blizzard that comes around Easter. So February and March may still see snow-capped mountains and a landscape blanketed in white. Wild weather can sometimes put the kybosh on trips to the waterfalls and glaciers outside of Reykjavik, but there’s still plenty to do indoors in the city itself. Perhaps try your hand at a prison break in the city’s escape rooms, or spend the day sampling Iceland’s traditional cuisine in the cosy restaurants.

As the light is just right and the chill in the air means the glacial ice hasn’t started melting yet, this is the perfect time of year to take an ice cave tour. There is a man-made ice cave at Langjökull which can be accessed year-round, but if you want to experience one of the naturally formed ice caves, February to April are the best months to visit.


Ice caves, snow-tipped mountains and hot springs – find out why Iceland is the ideal winter destination


honeymoon 2

The days may be short, but there is something magical about seeing Iceland’s rugged landscape steeped in snow. Iceland in winter promises spa days in geothermal pools, exploring natural ice caves and bundling up warm to embrace the idea of hygge.


Summer in Iceland

Between the months of May and August, summer sweeps over this small island nation. Hours of daylight stretch long into the night and, in June, there is a chance of catching the midnight sun in Iceland – 24 hours of daylight when the sun doesn’t dip below the horizon at any point. The summer solstice (longest day of the year) usually takes place on the 21st of June.

This means that during the summer months, you can be more flexible with your sightseeing schedule as you can witness Iceland’s natural wonders long into the evening. There’s plenty of hours in the day to take a Golden Circle tour, lingering at Gullfoss and waiting for the perfect shot of Strokkur at Geysir area of geothermal activity. Or, take a longer tour of south Iceland, stopping at the black-sanded beach and waterfalls without worrying about getting back to Reykjavik before it gets dark.

During the colder months, the untamed highlands of Iceland are cut off from the rest of the island as snowfall and adverse weather conditions make the smaller gravel roads impassable. So, if you want to experience the best hiking in Iceland, you’ll need to visit between May and August. During these months you can take the fairly challenging Landmannalaugar trail from Þórsmörk over mossy-green hills and past ice caps. Passports for this trail are only available between 14th June and 20th September.

Perhaps you want a real challenge – tackling Iceland’s highest peak. Standing at 2110 metres tall (6900 feet), it’s no mean feat climbing Hvannadalshnúkur and is definitely a bucket-list experience. The whole experience can take between 10 and 15 hours, so is better suited to the summer months when there is far more daylight.


Embrace the long hours of sunlight when you visit Iceland in the summer months


woman in flower field

Some activities, such as hiking in the highlands and witnessing the midnight sun, can only be done in summer in Iceland. The geothermal bathing pools are open longer into the evening and you can take late-night walks around Reykjavik while the sun still shines.


The time of dynamic light and weather

From September until November, you’ll notice the days getting darker earlier. Iceland’s landscape changes colour from verdant green to hues of chestnut-brown and patches of ice and snow. Like the spring months, autumn in Iceland sees the light change completely with everything tinged in a faint golden glow as the sun is constantly low in the sky. The weather can change in an instant, adding a touch of drama to any trip to Iceland during these months. From September, there’s a chance of spotting the Northern Lights in the night sky, and your chances only increase the later in the year you are. With the Northern Lights a possibility, and the “golden hour” extending throughout the day, this is the perfect time of year for photographers to visit Iceland.

Between September and November, winter starts to creep across the island and with it, winter activities become available. Those seeking a little adventure can embark on a snowmobile tour of a glacier to experience a winter wonderland landscape. As weather becomes unpredictable and road conditions can change in a heartbeat, those visiting Iceland for a longer break can take the hassle out of driving around the island themselves on one of our multi-day tours.


Tick off a bucket-list experience by hunting for the Northern Lights in Iceland


bestmonth 2

Between September and March, you have the chance to spot the Northern Lights dancing green and ethereal against the starry night sky. Check out our Northern Lights guide, for the best chance of photographing this natural phenomenon.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best month to visit Iceland?

The best month to visit Iceland all depends on your interests and the activities you want to experience. If spotting the Northern Lights is at the top of your bucket list, the longer nights of winter increase your chances of seeing this spectacle. December, when the nights are longest, is the best month to see the aurora borealis. Between November and February you can head into natural ice caves to experience the inside of a glacier. Whereas, it’s only the summer months – between May and August – when you can hike the central Icelandic highlands. Photographers tend to favour May and September, when the sights of the Golden Circle are less crowded and the landscape is drenched in a constant state of “golden hour”.

Is Iceland better in May or September?

Due to the lighter crowds of shoulder season and the chance of good weather, May and September are both considered the best months to visit Iceland. Which one best suits you depends on your personal bucket list. It’s possible to spot the Northern Lights in September (the later the better), but due to the long hours of daylight, not possible in May. The soft, golden light in both months shows off Iceland’s landscape at its best and it has been known to snow as early as September and for the snow to linger as late as May.

What is the best month to see the Northern Lights in Iceland?

Although it’s possible to spot the Northern Lights between September and March, the longer the darkness, the more likely you are to see them. Late November, throughout December and January are the best months to hunt for this natural wonder outside the light-filled city of Reykjavik. But bear in mind that it is never a guarantee at any time of year as it requires a clear sky with no cloud cover.

In what month can you see the midnight sun in Iceland?

There are only a couple of days of the year when you can see the true midnight sun in Iceland, when the sun doesn’t drop below the horizon. June 21st is usually the longest day of the year when you can see the midnight sun. Although, throughout June, you can experience nearly 24 hours of daylight as, even though the sun technically sets, it only just dips below the horizon and the sky stays light, even at 1am.

What is the cheapest month to visit Iceland?

The cheapest time to visit Iceland is outside of peak season. You can usually catch a good deal on accommodation and flights between September and November, and January and May as demand is lower. The celebrations throughout December tend to attract the crowds, and peak season is in June, July and August when there is the highest demand for hotels and tours can sell out.

What is the temperature of Iceland by month?

January is the coldest month with highs of 2°C and average lows of -2°C. July sees the hottest temperatures with an average high of 14°C and lows of 9°C. To help you decide which month is best for you, the year’s temperatures in Iceland look something like this:

January: 2°C / -2°C
February: 3°C / -2°C
March: 3°C / -1°C
April: 6°C / 1°C
May: 9°C / 4°C
June: 12°C / 8°C
July: 14°C / 9°C
August: 13°C / 8°C
September: 10°C / 6°C
October: 7°C / 2°C
November: 4°C / -1°C
December: 2°C / -1°C

Overall, the best month to visit Iceland really depends on what you want to see and do. Some parts of the country are inaccessible during the winter months, meaning hiking is best from June until September. You can see ice caves throughout the year, but the naturally formed caves are only accessible between October and March, otherwise glacial melt makes them too dangerous to visit. If you want to see the Northern Lights, it has to be the winter months and December and January are best for this. But all kinds of tours in Iceland run throughout the year, so whichever month you choose for your visit to this small island nation, Reykjavik Excursions has you covered for things to do.

REYKJAVIK EXCURSIONS BLOG

Get inspired! Information and tips and must see places in Iceland, fun facts, customs and more.

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The best months to visit Iceland - Your guide

Wild weather, Northern Lights or endless sunsets – find out which month is best to visit Iceland for you.

February 8, 2023

The best months to visit Iceland - Your guide

Wild weather, Northern Lights or endless sunsets – find out which month is best to visit Iceland for you.

February 8, 2023

Iceland’s dramatic weather and changeable seasons mean it’s a country that varies wildly from month to month. One person’s experience in February can be completely different from another’s in April. Iceland’s tours can also differ depending on the month. In the months of endless sunshine, hiking the long-distance trails of the rugged highlands and summinting the island’s highest peak are possible as it remains light long into the evening and the weather is fine. Whereas, the colder, darkest months provide the best chance of spotting the Northern Lights and most opportunities to explore natural ice caves. There’s even a unique draw to the off-peak months of May and September when the crowds lessen and the entire landscape is drenched in a golden light as the sun hangs low in the sky. Whether you’re visiting Iceland in winter or summer, we have lots of different tours so you can experience every aspect of this beautiful country.

Best months to visit Iceland

Iceland has plenty to offer visitors throughout the entire year and the best time to visit depends on your interests and travel style. With over two million visitors heading to Iceland each year, the sights along the Golden Circle and south coast can become crowded in peak season. The peak months in Iceland are in summer – June, July and August – when the days are long and the weather is mild. If you want to avoid the biggest crowds, but still catch the rare sunshine on this north Atlantic island, consider visiting Iceland in the off-peak months of May or September.

Of course, there is still plenty to do in Iceland during the cold, winter months. Between the end of September and mid-March you have a chance of spotting the Northern Lights – something which draws travelers during the months of long nights. Another popular past-time is embracing the Icelandic outdoor bathing culture at the Blue Lagoon, Sky Lagoon or any of the heated swimming pools and natural, geothermal pools. These baths and swimming pools are open year-round, and swimming in winter in Iceland has a particular allure as the snow falls above you and the water is heated by natural geothermal springs. It’s worth nothing that some of the out-of-the-way hot springs become inaccessible in winter due to snow.

If you can’t make up your mind, there are plenty of all-year tours in Iceland that have you covered whatever the weather.

The darkest months

In December and January, the sun barely lifts above the horizon and Reykjavik sees around four hours of daylight a day. Usually, the shortest day of the year (the winter solstice) takes place on the 21st of December and on this day, the northern part of the island only sees around two hours of daylight. Since the Viking age, the Icelandic people have celebrated the winter solstice with bonfires and a feast.

The darkest months are the best time to hunt for the Northern Lights in Iceland. Long nights increase your chance of spotting this ethereal phenomenon against the black sky. Although it’s possible to spot the Northern Lights in Reykjavik, light pollution can often get in the way, so Northern Lights tours leave the city and head out to the lightless countryside for a better chance of spotting this glowing green spectacle.

The downside to visiting Iceland in the darkest months is that the winter weather can be harsh and unpredictable. But dressing well for the season means you can still enjoy plenty of adventures and experiences despite the weather in Iceland. Layers are the key to keeping warm – a long-sleeve t-shirt, fleece or woolly jumper and waterproof jacket combination can see you through the coldest months. Thick trousers or even waterproof trousers and sturdy walking boots with thermal socks are a good idea. Of course, a hat, gloves and scarf are essential. If you want to blend in with the local folk, a fair isle patterned knitted jumper is just the ticket.

The months of the long shadows

From February to April, the sun never reaches its peak in the sky, hanging just above the horizon throughout the daylight hours. It feels as though Iceland is in a constant state of sunrise and sunset during these months, with shadows stretching long across the landscape and everything tinged slightly golden. As a result, February, March and early April tend to attract photographers to capture this unique glow to the scenery. With each passing month, you can see every day that the daylight hours are getting longer. Many of Iceland’s ancient Viking traditions take place in February. The month sees Icelandic traditions like Bollundagur (“bun day”), Sprengidagur (“explosion day”) and Öskudagur (Ash Wednesday) take place.

Icelandic folklore says that the season of snow blizzards isn’t over until páskahret – the last snow blizzard that comes around Easter. So February and March may still see snow-capped mountains and a landscape blanketed in white. Wild weather can sometimes put the kybosh on trips to the waterfalls and glaciers outside of Reykjavik, but there’s still plenty to do indoors in the city itself. Perhaps try your hand at a prison break in the city’s escape rooms, or spend the day sampling Iceland’s traditional cuisine in the cosy restaurants.

As the light is just right and the chill in the air means the glacial ice hasn’t started melting yet, this is the perfect time of year to take an ice cave tour. There is a man-made ice cave at Langjökull which can be accessed year-round, but if you want to experience one of the naturally formed ice caves, February to April are the best months to visit.


Ice caves, snow-tipped mountains and hot springs – find out why Iceland is the ideal winter destination


honeymoon 2

The days may be short, but there is something magical about seeing Iceland’s rugged landscape steeped in snow. Iceland in winter promises spa days in geothermal pools, exploring natural ice caves and bundling up warm to embrace the idea of hygge.


Summer in Iceland

Between the months of May and August, summer sweeps over this small island nation. Hours of daylight stretch long into the night and, in June, there is a chance of catching the midnight sun in Iceland – 24 hours of daylight when the sun doesn’t dip below the horizon at any point. The summer solstice (longest day of the year) usually takes place on the 21st of June.

This means that during the summer months, you can be more flexible with your sightseeing schedule as you can witness Iceland’s natural wonders long into the evening. There’s plenty of hours in the day to take a Golden Circle tour, lingering at Gullfoss and waiting for the perfect shot of Strokkur at Geysir area of geothermal activity. Or, take a longer tour of south Iceland, stopping at the black-sanded beach and waterfalls without worrying about getting back to Reykjavik before it gets dark.

During the colder months, the untamed highlands of Iceland are cut off from the rest of the island as snowfall and adverse weather conditions make the smaller gravel roads impassable. So, if you want to experience the best hiking in Iceland, you’ll need to visit between May and August. During these months you can take the fairly challenging Landmannalaugar trail from Þórsmörk over mossy-green hills and past ice caps. Passports for this trail are only available between 14th June and 20th September.

Perhaps you want a real challenge – tackling Iceland’s highest peak. Standing at 2110 metres tall (6900 feet), it’s no mean feat climbing Hvannadalshnúkur and is definitely a bucket-list experience. The whole experience can take between 10 and 15 hours, so is better suited to the summer months when there is far more daylight.


Embrace the long hours of sunlight when you visit Iceland in the summer months


woman in flower field

Some activities, such as hiking in the highlands and witnessing the midnight sun, can only be done in summer in Iceland. The geothermal bathing pools are open longer into the evening and you can take late-night walks around Reykjavik while the sun still shines.


The time of dynamic light and weather

From September until November, you’ll notice the days getting darker earlier. Iceland’s landscape changes colour from verdant green to hues of chestnut-brown and patches of ice and snow. Like the spring months, autumn in Iceland sees the light change completely with everything tinged in a faint golden glow as the sun is constantly low in the sky. The weather can change in an instant, adding a touch of drama to any trip to Iceland during these months. From September, there’s a chance of spotting the Northern Lights in the night sky, and your chances only increase the later in the year you are. With the Northern Lights a possibility, and the “golden hour” extending throughout the day, this is the perfect time of year for photographers to visit Iceland.

Between September and November, winter starts to creep across the island and with it, winter activities become available. Those seeking a little adventure can embark on a snowmobile tour of a glacier to experience a winter wonderland landscape. As weather becomes unpredictable and road conditions can change in a heartbeat, those visiting Iceland for a longer break can take the hassle out of driving around the island themselves on one of our multi-day tours.


Tick off a bucket-list experience by hunting for the Northern Lights in Iceland


bestmonth 2

Between September and March, you have the chance to spot the Northern Lights dancing green and ethereal against the starry night sky. Check out our Northern Lights guide, for the best chance of photographing this natural phenomenon.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best month to visit Iceland?

The best month to visit Iceland all depends on your interests and the activities you want to experience. If spotting the Northern Lights is at the top of your bucket list, the longer nights of winter increase your chances of seeing this spectacle. December, when the nights are longest, is the best month to see the aurora borealis. Between November and February you can head into natural ice caves to experience the inside of a glacier. Whereas, it’s only the summer months – between May and August – when you can hike the central Icelandic highlands. Photographers tend to favour May and September, when the sights of the Golden Circle are less crowded and the landscape is drenched in a constant state of “golden hour”.

Is Iceland better in May or September?

Due to the lighter crowds of shoulder season and the chance of good weather, May and September are both considered the best months to visit Iceland. Which one best suits you depends on your personal bucket list. It’s possible to spot the Northern Lights in September (the later the better), but due to the long hours of daylight, not possible in May. The soft, golden light in both months shows off Iceland’s landscape at its best and it has been known to snow as early as September and for the snow to linger as late as May.

What is the best month to see the Northern Lights in Iceland?

Although it’s possible to spot the Northern Lights between September and March, the longer the darkness, the more likely you are to see them. Late November, throughout December and January are the best months to hunt for this natural wonder outside the light-filled city of Reykjavik. But bear in mind that it is never a guarantee at any time of year as it requires a clear sky with no cloud cover.

In what month can you see the midnight sun in Iceland?

There are only a couple of days of the year when you can see the true midnight sun in Iceland, when the sun doesn’t drop below the horizon. June 21st is usually the longest day of the year when you can see the midnight sun. Although, throughout June, you can experience nearly 24 hours of daylight as, even though the sun technically sets, it only just dips below the horizon and the sky stays light, even at 1am.

What is the cheapest month to visit Iceland?

The cheapest time to visit Iceland is outside of peak season. You can usually catch a good deal on accommodation and flights between September and November, and January and May as demand is lower. The celebrations throughout December tend to attract the crowds, and peak season is in June, July and August when there is the highest demand for hotels and tours can sell out.

What is the temperature of Iceland by month?

January is the coldest month with highs of 2°C and average lows of -2°C. July sees the hottest temperatures with an average high of 14°C and lows of 9°C. To help you decide which month is best for you, the year’s temperatures in Iceland look something like this:

January: 2°C / -2°C
February: 3°C / -2°C
March: 3°C / -1°C
April: 6°C / 1°C
May: 9°C / 4°C
June: 12°C / 8°C
July: 14°C / 9°C
August: 13°C / 8°C
September: 10°C / 6°C
October: 7°C / 2°C
November: 4°C / -1°C
December: 2°C / -1°C

Overall, the best month to visit Iceland really depends on what you want to see and do. Some parts of the country are inaccessible during the winter months, meaning hiking is best from June until September. You can see ice caves throughout the year, but the naturally formed caves are only accessible between October and March, otherwise glacial melt makes them too dangerous to visit. If you want to see the Northern Lights, it has to be the winter months and December and January are best for this. But all kinds of tours in Iceland run throughout the year, so whichever month you choose for your visit to this small island nation, Reykjavik Excursions has you covered for things to do.

REYKJAVIK EXCURSIONS BLOG

Get inspired! Information and tips and must see places in Iceland, fun facts, customs and more.