Best Time To Visit Iceland

best time to visit Iceland

Iceland is without doubt one of the most stunning countries on our planet. Choosing the best time to visit Iceland can be tricky thanks to its year-round beauty.

In the past years tourism has exploded in Iceland and summer is by far the most popular time to visit. This is mainly because of the higher temperatures and constant daylight hours. 

Yet Iceland in winter provides epic views of the Northern Lights and gives visitors the chance to explore a magical land of fire and ice. It is also important to note that the weather in Iceland is very fickle and can change suddenly no matter what season you visit.  

Below we have provided a seasonal guide on the best time to visit Iceland. Iceland is beautiful throughout the year and the best time to visit will really depend on what you wish to see and do.

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Best Time To Visit Iceland

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Summer in Iceland (June - August)

The summer period in Iceland is the busiest period of the year. The temperatures during the day exceed 10°C and often venture above 20°C! This makes Iceland one of the warmest areas to visit in the Arctic circle. In the peak period the sun shines for 21 hours per day, giving photographers and outdoor lovers plenty of time to explore. 

The waterfalls flow freely during the summer and the ground comes alive in colour. Because of the lack of sea ice in summer, this a great time to take an Icelandic cruise. June and July are peak whale watching times and you can expect to see plenty of humpbacks and  minke whales migrating east Iceland and Greenland

Active people love summer in Iceland because all activities such as hiking, biking, diving, kayaking etc. are available during this period.

The downside of summer is the crowds and the cost. You'll need to book well ahead to get the nice accommodation and popular sites will be packed out. You should also expect to pay 40%-50% more than you would in the winter. 

Remember to bring a face mask if you visit during summer. Many places to do not have blackout blinds and the midnight sun can really play with your body clock. 

Autumn in Iceland (September - November)

As the temperatures begin to drop, so do the crowds and prices. The weather still rises above freezing, but the wind brings a strong chill. During this period the fields come alive with reds and yellows. This is most notable in the lava fields which are most vivid in colour just before winter. 

The autumn period offers the chance for visitors to witness the Northern Lights. However, it is by no means guaranteed and you'll need to stay out extremely late (or very early) to see them. Most other activities remain available during this period.

Autumn is probably the best time to experience Iceland's hot springs. The mountain roads are still open during this period, but the crowds have thinned considerably. 

best time to visit Iceland winter

Winter in Iceland (December - February)

Although cold, winter is still a magical time to visit Iceland. Seeing the frozen waterfalls and snow-covered volcanoes is a sight not easily forgotten. 

The weather can be off-putting though with temperatures just below freezing. With the right clothing though, you'll be fine. There is also not much sunlight - visitors can expect between 5-7 hours per day. However, the low sun during the minimal daylight hours provides a constant 'golden hour' effect which photographers will love. 

Winter is definitely the best time to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). Although still not guaranteed, the long dark days give tourist the best chance of seeing the light displays. There are also plenty of tours that will help you find the best spots. 

Although certain summer activities become impossible in winter, a whole host of other active pursuits present themselves. These include glacier hiking, snowmobiling, ice-cave exploring, and dog sledding. 

Spring in Iceland (March - May)

Spring is definitely one of the best times to visit Iceland. As the snow begins to retreat, the lush green grass is revealed, offering a beautiful contrast to the higher ground where the snow remains.

Orca patrol the coast during this period and there are plenty of tours you can take to see them. Atlantic puffins return to Iceland's coast between mid April and Mid August and coastal waterfalls gain intensity.   

Tourist number and prices have not rises again yet and you can get fairly cheap flights if you look hard enough. However, the weather is quite tumultuous and you should expect high winds and plenty of rain. Saying this, the weather and lovely light in spring makes for some amazing photographs. 

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Hopefully this short, drone footage film of Iceland is enough to inspire you to visit this gorgeous landscape! 


If you have any queries or questions regarding the best time to visit Iceland, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.

Thank you and happy travels!

Expedition Cruise Team

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

About the Author Burnham Arlidge

Burnham started his career as a professional tennis player before retiring due to injury. Since then Burnham has thrown himself into adventure travel. He has cruised to some of the most iconic and obscure parts of the planet.

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