Best Time to Visit Iceland | Icelandair
Pingdom Check
2020-11-26 | 1:00 PM

When is the best time to visit Iceland?

One of the most common questions we are asked: When is the best time of year to visit Iceland?

Our answer, of course: Any time! We’re a little biased, sure, but we think there is never a bad time to fly to Iceland.


Visiting Iceland all year round

Our nature looks equally spectacular under the midnight sun, or under a layer of snow (so good, you should visit twice!).

Our swimming pools, natural hot springs and the new breed of design-led geothermal baths like the Blue Lagoon are popular no matter the weather. All that geothermal activity gives us hot water to soak in any time we fancy (and keeps our buildings toasty warm when the temperature drops).

Reykjavík’s appeal is year-round – there are first-class museums, restaurants, cafes and bars to investigate, and festivals to brighten up every month, from New Year’s Eve fireworks to November’s showcase of local music, Iceland Airwaves. As a start or end point for a road trip, for a collection of short excursions, or as a city break, Reykjavík is perfect.


What's on your wish list?

The 'best time to visit' very much depends on what you’re looking to see and do in Iceland.

Puffins: These irresistible birds come to nest in Iceland from late April to August, and the best time to see them is June and July, when they are active and feeding their chick. 

Whales have a similar schedule - from about April to September is the best time to see them (from boat tours, but also from the shoreline if you're in luck).

Midnight sun: June and July are full of near-endless daylight.

Réttir: The annual sheep round-up is held in September and gives great insight into rural Icelandic life.

Northern lights: You need dark, clear skies for them, so October to March is ideal - but you might get lucky with color filling the skies anytime from late August to April. Read more about planning a trip to see the northern lights

Serious hiking and horseback riding trips are most fun when the weather is good, so July to September is recommended. Earlier can work for some parts of the country, but after the snow has melted is best for exploring the highlands and mountains.

You can walk or snowmobile on a glacier all year round, but if your dream is to visit an ice cave you should plan your trip between November and March. 

Skiing is possible from around December to April-May, depending on conditions, but when daylight increases from February is usually best – and Easter skiing is popular with locals.

Don't be nervous about traveling to Iceland in winter. There is a lot to love about the long nights and northern lights. 


Road trips

Want the best road trip of your life? Traveling Iceland's Ring Road (Hwy 1, a total of 1323km or 822 miles circling the country) can be done all year, but we recommend the summer months and shoulder seasons (April to October) as the weather is generally calmer, and there’s enough light to enjoy all those spectacular landscapes. Give yourself at least a week to drive it (10-14 days is better, if you can).  Winter travel requires more planning, a better vehicle, and more flexibility to take account of fickle weather. 

Maybe you've already done the Ring Road, or are looking for a shorter trip? Iceland's south coast is a super-popular stretch, wrapping up some of the country's finest features (waterfalls, black beaches, glaciers) in a gloriously scenic drive.

If you're looking for something a little less touristed but equally beautiful, check out North Iceland's scenic routes, the Arctic Coast Way and Diamond Circle. If you've got a day to explore near Reykjavík or the airport, consider the Blue Diamond route around Reykjanes peninsula (home to the Blue Lagoon).

If you're set on exploring the country's vast interior, bear in mind that mountain roads only open in June or early July, and close again in September or October, depending on weather conditions. These are Iceland's so-called F roads, which are indicated on maps with an F before their number (road F26 is the Sprengisandur route through the center of the country, for example). You need a 4-wheel-drive if you want to explore mountain roads and highland regions.


Resources

Iceland 101: Planning Tips for Travelers – our blog post covers some of the basics.

visiticeland.com – the best place to get fully Inspired by Iceland.

safetravel.is – a project of the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue.

vedur.is – the website of the Icelandic Met Office has everything from weather and aurora forecasts to earthquake reports.

road.is – the best source for information on road conditions.

timeanddate.com – a handy place to see sunrise and sunset times, and how many hours of daylight you can enjoy. 

Festivals in Iceland – what's on when, to help you make some tough decisions!