best tips to travel to iceland golden circle

Best Time to Visit Iceland – Weather in Iceland by Month

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When you consider all the important factors, the best time to visit Iceland is in September. This month’s average temperature, while unpredictable, isn’t as cold as the winter weather in Iceland. Plus, you can see the first northern lights of the season if you visit in September!

Moreover, Iceland boasts beautiful autumn landscapes full of mesmerizing colors, which is why we run Iceland photo tours during this month.

That said, the weather in Iceland in June, July, and August is best for enjoying the hiking trails. This is also the best time to see whales in Iceland and the friendly puffins that nest on the island.

best time to visit iceland

Best Time to Visit Iceland – Weather in Iceland by Month

The winter weather in Iceland is also a special sight to see, thanks to the spectacular white landscapes, which are tinted green at nightfall. This season is also the best time to see the northern lights in Iceland. If you visit in spring, don’t worry because you’ll see dreamy landscapes dotted with wildflowers.

As you can see, deciding on the best time to go to Iceland isn’t easy, but I promise that by the time you finish reading this guide, you’ll know when to travel to Iceland as well as when to return since this country is worth more than one trip.

It’s no wonder why there are Iceland vacation packages available year-round!

When is the best time to visit Iceland?

To help you decide on the best time to travel to Iceland, this guide will cover:

At the end of the article, you’ll also find a section where we recommend when to go to Iceland based on your interests (northern lights, midnight sun, whale-watching, puffins, hiking, etc.)

 

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

Hours of daylight

5 hrs

9 hrs

11 hrs

14 hrs

18-20 hrs

20-22 hrs

20 hrs

15-16 hrs

12-13 hrs

9 hrs

5-6 hrs

4 hrs

Hours of sunshine

1 hr

2 hrs

4 hrs

5 hrs

6 hrs

6 hrs

6 hrs

5 hrs

4 hrs

2 hrs

2 hrs

0 hrs

Average low temp.

27 °F

28 °F

28 °F

32° F

37 °F

45 °F

48 °F

46 °F

41 °F

36 °F

32 °F

30 °F

Average temp.

32 °F

32 °F

32 °F

37° F

43 °F

48 °F

52 °F

52 °F

45 °F

39 °F

37 °F

36 °F

Average high temp.

37 °F

36 °F

36 °F

41° F

48 °F

52 °F

55 °F

56 °F

48 °F

43 °F

41 °F

39 °F

Rainy days

19

16

18

18

21

21

21

23

23

21

20

19

Average precip.

50 mm

40 mm

40 mm

20 mm

40 mm

20 mm

20 mm

30 mm

40 mm

30 mm

30 mm

40 mm

Northern Lights

Yes

Yes

Yes

Maybe

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Whales

Maybe

Maybe

Maybe

Maybe

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Maybe

Maybe

Maybe

Maybe

Puffins

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

Highlands open

No

No

No

No

No

Maybe

Yes

Yes

Maybe

No

No

No

WEATHER IN ICELAND MONTH BY MONTH

 

What is Iceland’s climate like? – Weather in Iceland

Unlike other countries at the same latitude, Iceland’s climate isn’t extreme. This is due to the currents from the Gulf of Mexico, which sweep the southern and western coasts, resulting in mild winter and summer temperatures. There are also climate differences within the island; temperatures in Reykjavik are generally higher than in the Highlands.

best time to go to iceland

What is Iceland’s climate like? – Weather in Iceland

In general, the winter and summer seasons are mild compared to other semi-arctic regions, giving the island a more oceanic climate. However, the weather in Iceland is quite variable throughout the day. This reflects the Icelandic proverb, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes!”

Regardless of when you travel to Iceland, I recommend always packing waterproof winter clothes as well as lightweight clothing in case the temperatures rise. You can even bring your swimsuit if you plan on visiting the beautiful hot springs in Iceland.

Average temperature in Iceland

Temperatures in Iceland can vary depending on the region. In Reykjavik, the average winter temperature is 34 or 35 °F, while the median summer temp is 54 °F.

best time of year to visit iceland

Average temperature in Iceland

That said, the unpredictable weather in Iceland means that temperatures could drop to 14 °F or reach 77 °F, depending on the time of year. This applies to the entire southern area since, as the distance to the northern shortens, the winters get colder, with more snowfall. There can even be a difference of 5-20 degrees between one region of the island and another.

Average precipitation in Iceland

Precipitation is quite common in Iceland, although most of the rain and snowfall occurs in spring and autumn. The winter weather in Iceland includes rain, snow, and wind gusts, so be prepared.

Rain is especially frequent in Reykjavik, which can see up to 150 days of precipitation per year. In the north, specifically in Akureyri, the average number of rainy days per year is just over 100.

However, as I mentioned, Iceland’s climate is extremely variable, so on any given day, you could run into rain, snow, wind, and sun.

Sring weather in Iceland

Despite the rain, spring is the best time to visit Iceland. The spring season begins in April when the snow starts to melt and the landscape changes over to grass and wildflowers.

seasons in iceland weather

Spring weather in Iceland

The weather in Iceland in April, May, and June ranges from 32° to 50° F, so it’s a colder spring season compared to what you would experience in other European countries. Moreover, the weather is quite variable and can quickly change from rain and wind to sun.

Iceland’s spring season begins in April, which is when the winter thaw occurs. While the island’s spring temperatures are considered warm compared to other countries at the same latitude, they’re quite cool compared to other European cities. Temperatures in Iceland in April rarely reach 50° F.

April is also one of the rainiest months of the year, and since it’s a transitional month, it’s not uncommon for it to snow in some areas.

This is the best time to go to Iceland if you want to travel along Iceland’s Ring Road or drive the Golden Circle. Despite the frequent precipitation, April brings forth some lovely spring colors, and the temperatures are pleasant for sightseeing.

  • Hours of daylight: 14
  • Hours of sunshine: 5
  • Average low temperature: 32° F
  • Average temperature: 37° F
  • Average high temperature: 41° F
  • Average rainy days: 18
  • Average precipitation: 20mm
  • Northern Lights: Maybe
  • Whales: Maybe
  • Puffins: No
  • Highlands open: No

By May, spring has arrived in Iceland, so you can enjoy the lovely colors and blossoming flowers.

The weather in Iceland in May is quite pleasant, although it rains frequently. Also, the access roads to the Highlands will most likely be closed if you visit during this month. That said, it’s the best time to travel to Iceland if you’re planning a Ring Road itinerary or you want to drive the Golden Circle. Also, May is when the first puffins start to nest, and more whales begin to appear.

  • Hours of daylight: 18-20
  • Hours of sunshine: 6
  • Average low temperature: 37 °F
  • Average temperature: 43 °F
  • Average high temperature: 48 °F
  • Rainy days: 21
  • Average precipitation: 40mm
  • Northern Lights: No
  • Whales: Yes
  • Puffins: Yes
  • Highlands open: No

Summer weather in Iceland

Summertime in Iceland is the perfect time to enjoy outdoor activities since the temperatures are warm, but not uncomfortable.

temperature for iceland weather

Summer weather in Iceland

The peak of Iceland’s summer season is in June when the midnight sun shines 24 hours a day. July is one of the warmest months of the year, although you won’t get the suffocating heat and humidity of other European cities. During the summer months, there is less precipitation and wind.

In June, you can see the midnight sun, a peculiar phenomenon in which the sun shines 24 hours a day. This makes June one of the best times to go to Iceland. In addition to seeing this natural phenomenon, you can travel throughout the island without any issues since the access roads to the Highlands are finally open. This means that most of the things to do in Iceland are accessible during this month.

Occasionally there may be a colder day, but temperatures tend to be warm.

  • Hours of daylight: 20-22
  • Hours of sunshine: 6
  • Average low temperature: 45 °F
  • Average temperature: 48 °F
  • Average high temperature: 52 °F
  • Rainy days: 21
  • Average precipitation: 20mm
  • Northern Lights: No
  • Whales: Yes
  • Puffins: Yes
  • Highlands open: Yes

The weather in Iceland in July is warm enough for the lupines to bloom, sweeping the landscapes with purple flowers. Without a doubt, this is one of the best months to visit Iceland if you want to enjoy this country’s natural beauty, including its flora and fauna. There is also lots of daylight in July, and the temperatures are good for walking around outside.

  • Hours of daylight: 20
  • Hours of sunshine: 6
  • Average low temperature: 48 °F
  • Average temperature: 52 °F
  • Average high temperature: 55 °F
  • Rainy days: 21
  • Average precipitation: 20mm
  • Northern Lights: No
  • Whales: Yes
  • Puffins: Yes
  • Highlands open: Yes

In August, the island is crowded with tourists, but it’s also one of the best months to visit Iceland if you want to go trekking in the Highlands.

The weather in Iceland in August is warmer than June and July, and there is less precipitation. There are also several festivals and events, as well as a variety of outdoor activities you can do.

  • Hours of daylight: 15-16
  • Hours of sunshine: 5
  • Average low temperature: 46 °F
  • Average temperature: 52 °F
  • Average high temperature: 56 °F
  • Rainy days: 23
  • Average precipitation: 30mm
  • Northern Lights: No
  • Whales: Yes
  • Puffins: Yes
  • Highlands open: Yes

Autumn weather in Iceland

Autumn is also a beautiful time to visit Iceland since the landscape is tinged with gorgeous fall foliage. Moreover, Iceland’s temperatures are still pleasant in autumn, even if they drop a few degrees and there are some rainy or windy days. Just be aware that in some areas, it can snow during this season.

best time to visit iceland

Autumn weather in Iceland

Along with the pretty reds, oranges, and yellows, you can also see the green shades of the aurora borealis since September is the best time to visit Iceland to see the start of the Northern Lights.

Iceland is full of incredible fall landscapes in September, and this is when the first Northern Lights appear in the sky. This is the best time of year to visit Iceland if you like landscape photography since you can capture amazing shots of the green moss sprinkled into the red and orange autumn hues.

  • Hours of daylight: 12-13
  • Hours of sunshine: 4
  • Average low temperature: 41 °F
  • Average temperature: 45 °F
  • Average high temperature: 48 °F
  • Rainy days: 23
  • Average precipitation: 40mm
  • Northern Lights: Yes
  • Whales: Maybe
  • Puffins: No
  • Highlands open: Yes

October brings the first snowfall of the season, so the access roads to the Highlands begin to close. During this month, there aren’t too many tourists, so it’s the best time of year to visit Iceland if you’re looking for some peace.

While visiting Iceland in October, the temperatures don’t get too low, so it’s still possible to travel around the island without being sidetracked by snow. It’s also an ideal month if you’re looking for the best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. In short, October is a good time to enjoy a bit of everything Iceland has to offer.

  • Hours of daylight: 9
  • Hours of sunshine: 2
  • Average low temperature: 36 °F
  • Average temperature: 39 °F
  • Average high temperature: 43 °F
  • Rainy days: 21
  • Average precipitation: 30mm
  • Northern Lights: Yes
  • Whales: Maybe
  • Puffins: No
  • Highlands open: No

Winter weather in Iceland

Iceland’s climate in winter isn’t too harsh, although some regions can see temperatures as low as -4° F. In addition to snowfall, strong winds are quite frequent, but again, the weather in Iceland is variable year-round. So, it’s important to keep a close eye on the forecast and road conditions, especially in the winter months.

best time to see the northern lights in iceland

Winter weather in Iceland

This time of year is also very pretty, as the landscape turns white and green at night when the Northern Lights appear.

If you’re going to travel during the winter season, I recommend checking our guide to driving in Iceland.

November is the best time to visit Iceland and spot killer whales around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and along the south coast. Trust me when I say that whale-watching in Iceland is one of the best things you’ll experience during your trip.

It’s also one of the best months to visit Iceland if you want to see the Northern Lights, although you’ll need the weather to cooperate and give you cloudless skies.

  • Hours of daylight: 5-6
  • Hours of sunshine: 2
  • Average low temperature: 32 °F
  • Average temperature: 37 °F
  • Average high temperature: 41 °F
  • Rainy days: 20
  • Average precipitation: 30mm
  • Northern Lights: Yes
  • Whales: Maybe
  • Puffins: No
  • Highlands open: No

Celebrating Christmas in Iceland can be a magical experience thanks to the snow-covered landscapes. December marks the start of winter, so it’s when the temperatures are at their lowest. However, this is also one of the best times to visit Iceland’s hot springs, especially Blue Lagoon. Soaking in an outdoor thermal bath while you’re surrounded by wintry scenery is a spectacular thing to do in Iceland.

  • Hours of daylight: 4
  • Hours of sunshine: 0
  • Average low temperature: 30 °F
  • Average temperature: 36 °F
  • Average high temperature: 39 °F
  • Rainy days: 19
  • Average precipitation: 40mm
  • Northern Lights: Yes
  • Whales: Maybe
  • Puffins: No
  • Highlands open: No

January is the least touristy month of the year, so it’s also the cheapest time to travel to Iceland. Not only that, but the snowy landscapes are beautiful and there are tons of outdoor activities to enjoy. Again, this is a good month to visit Blue Lagoon and other hot springs around the island.

  • Hours of daylight: 5
  • Hours of sunshine: 1
  • Average low temperature: 27 °F
  • Average temperature: 32 °F
  • Average high temperature: 37 °F
  • Rainy days: 19
  • Average precipitation: 50mm
  • Northern Lights: Yes
  • Whales: Maybe
  • Puffins: No
  • Highlands open: No

In February, the Icelandic landscapes are still snowy, so it’s a beautiful time of year to visit. During this month, you can also see some frozen waterfalls. While there are several gorgeous waterfalls in Iceland, seeing them frozen in the winter months is a unique experience.

  • Hours of daylight: 9
  • Hours of sunshine: 2
  • Average low temperature: 28 °F
  • Average temperature: 32 °F
  • Average high temperature: 36 °F
  • Rainy days: 16
  • Average precipitation: 40mm
  • Northern Lights: Yes
  • Whales: Maybe
  • Puffins: No
  • Highlands open: No

By March, the first signs of spring are appearing, so the climate in Iceland begins to improve. Moreover, there are usually fewer clouds and high KP rates coinciding with the spring equinox, making March one of the best times to see the Northern Lights in Iceland.

That said, there is still snow, but the temperatures in Iceland will be more pleasant even if it’s cold. Plus, there are more hours of daylight so you can take advantage of your trip.

  • Hours of daylight: 11
  • Hours of sunshine: 4
  • Average low temperature: 28 °F
  • Average temperature: 32 °F
  • Average high temperature: 36 °F
  • Rainy days: 18
  • Average precipitation: 40mm
  • Northern Lights: Yes
  • Whales: Maybe
  • Puffins: No
  • Highlands open: No

What is the best time to go to Iceland?

I can’t say which is the best month to visit Iceland since each one has its distinct appeal. Therefore, any time of year is a good time to visit this country, although I recommend choosing a month that coincides with your interests.

To make it easier for you to decide, I’ll share the best time to do the most popular activities in Iceland.

Best time to visit Iceland for the Northern Lights

If you’re wondering about the best time to visit Iceland for the Northern Lights, I suggest reading our guide on where and when to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. Winter is the best season, especially in March when there are fewer clouds and high KP rates that coincide with the spring equinox. However, mid-September to mid-April is also a good time to see auroras.

best time to see the northern lights in iceland

Best time to visit Iceland for the Northern Lights

I recommend taking a Northern Lights tour from Reykjavik for those who aren’t sure how to spot the aurora borealis or those who have never seen them. During the tour, expert guides will take you to the best places where the sky conditions favor the Northern Lights. I recommend this tour in particular because you can repeat it free of charge if you don’t see any auroras your first time.

Also, if you can, be sure to stay at one of the best Northern Lights hotels in Iceland.

Best time to go hiking in Iceland

The summertime is the best time to go to Iceland if you want to go hiking. During the summer months, the climate is quite pleasant, and you can get to the Highlands of Iceland without any issues. Also, it’s when the best campsites in Iceland are open.

best months to visit iceland

Best time to go hiking in Iceland

It is precisely in the Highlands that you’ll find the best hiking routes. So, if your goal is to take some beautiful treks, then June, July, August, and September are the best months to visit Iceland. July, in particular, is the most ideal month since the temperatures are very nice and the days are longer.

Best time to see whales in Iceland

The best time to visit Iceland for whale watching is from June to August, although you can spot cetaceans year-round, especially from Reykjavik.

If you’re longing to see whales in Iceland, I suggest visiting the country during the summer months because it can be hard to spot them in the winter. That said, if you travel in the winter months and book a tour in Reykjavik, you’ll have a higher chance of seeing whales. Plus, they’ll let you repeat the tour for free if you don’t see any cetaceans the first time.

best time to go to iceland

Best time to see whales in Iceland

For summer tourists, the best tours depart from Húsavik and Akureyri. We loved this excursion, but you can also check our guide to the best whale-watching tours in Iceland.

Best time to see puffins in Iceland

The best time to see puffins in Iceland is from April to August. These small birds come to the island every spring to mate, so it’s easy to spot them on the cliffs in southern Iceland. If you want to see these cute creatures, I recommend visiting the basalt cliffs in Vik or Dyrhóaley.

seasons in iceland temperatures

Best time to see puffins in Iceland

You can also book a tour to see puffins, and I recommend this excursion that departs from Reykjavik.

Best time to see the midnight sun in Iceland

Along with the Northern Lights, the midnight sun is one of Iceland’s most popular phenomena. While we haven’t had the opportunity to see it yet, we plan on doing so during one of our upcoming trips to Iceland.

best time to go to iceland

Best time to see the midnight sun in Iceland

The best time of year to visit Iceland if you want to see the midnight sun is during the summer solstice, which occurs around June 21st. During this time, the sun shines for 24 hours a day in the Icelandic region above the Arctic Circle. So, to fully experience the midnight sun, you’ll have to travel to the north of the country.

Best time to visit ice caves in Iceland

The best time to visit ice caves in Iceland is in the winter since the caves require low temperatures to form large masses of ice. The summer temperatures in Iceland are too warm to sustain the caves, so if you want to see these unique formations, plan your trip between mid-November and mid-March.

 

best time of year to visit iceland

Best time to visit ice caves in Iceland

 

February is the best month to visit Iceland if you want to see the ice caves, particularly the deep blue caverns in the Vatnajökull glacier. I recommend booking this tour to see the full splendor of this beautiful cave.

The best thing about these caves is that they’re different every year. That is, the shapes and sizes vary depending on how the ice masses formed, so no matter how many times you visit, it’ll be a one-of-a-kind experience.

Cheapest time to travel to Iceland

If you’re looking for the cheapest time to visit Iceland, come here during the winter months. Between January and May, the tourism industry slows down, so you can find great prices on flights and accommodations. Prices are especially low in January!

That said, some hotels close during this time, so be sure to do your research before booking your trip. Fortunately, you won’t have any trouble deciding where to stay in Iceland because plenty of hotels are open year-round.

weather in iceland temperatures

Cheapest time to travel to Iceland

From June to December, prices go up for Iceland’s peak tourism season. If you’re going to visit during these months, I suggest booking your accommodation in advance since lots of tourists will be traveling here, especially in August.

Iceland may seem an expensive country so check our guide on how to travel on a budget for some tips and tricks!

Best month to visit Iceland

As you may have already discovered, there is no best month to visit Iceland because each season has something special to offer. If you decide to travel during the winter months, you can enjoy lovely snow-covered landscapes as well as ice caves, frozen waterfalls, and the Northern Lights.

If you visit during the spring, you’ll have the chance to see the winter thaw and drive along the Ring Road or the Golden Circle, two popular road trips that take you to some of the best spots in Iceland.

Summer is the best time to see puffins in Iceland, as well as whales and the midnight sun, while autumn in Iceland is a magical season full of gorgeous colors and foliage.

To summarize, here is what you can do based on the weather in Iceland by month:

BEST MONTHS TO VISIT ICELAND

WHAT TO DO IN ICELAND MONTH BY MONTH

January

Winter landscape photography, cheapest time to travel to Iceland

February

Visit frozen Icelandic waterfalls

March

See the Northern Lights

April

Observe the winter thaw and the first flowers

May

Drive the Ring Road and Golden Circle

June

See the midnight sun

July

Hike in the Highlands

August

Puffin and whale-watching

September

Autumn landscape photography, Northern Lights

October

Explore the most popular places with fewer crowds

November

Visit the ice caves

December

Visit Blue Lagoon, hot springs, and celebrate Christmas

BEST MONTHS TO VISIT ICELAND

 

I hope that now you feel more confident about deciding when to travel to Iceland so you can enjoy the activities that interest you most. I can assure you that you’ll fall in love with this country regardless of when you visit. Finally, remember to check what the weather will be like tomorrow by going to the official Icelandic weather website, Vedur.is.

If you have any questions about the best time to go to Iceland, leave me a comment below and I’ll try to help you as much as I can. I hope you enjoy this lovely country as much as we do! Safe travels!

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COFOUNDER & TRAVEL JUNKIE

Hi, I'm Ascen, a globetrotter based in Philadelphia, USA. I enjoy exploring new landscapes and creating in-depth travel guides for Capture the Atlas.

I have felt a special connection with nature and all the inhabitants of the planet since I was a kid. I am passionate about discovering new countries and especially their wildlife, but no matter how many places I visit, I will always belong to the remote beaches of Almería, in Southern Spain.

You can know a little more about me here.

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