The best and the worst season to travel to Iceland

  • The summer is the best time to visit Iceland
Dec 28 2016

When is the best time to visit Iceland and take a tour to see the many natural wonders and the amazing landscape Iceland offers? Is there any noticeable difference between the seasons?  The short answer is yes; there is a considerable difference between seasons and if you are organizing a visit or a trip to Iceland you should think about when to visit?. Each season has its character, and in some of the seasons, it is simply impossible to visit some of the natural wonders. Iceland is an island in the northern Atlantic ocean and a country that often has harsh winters. But even though some of the seasons are harder than others each season offers unique advantages. You need to be aware of those conditions to understand what fits your plan and what you are looking for when planning a trip to Iceland.  You should also consider the Iceland weather as it can be a very unpredictable factor. 

Number one season: The summer is the best time to visit Iceland

Summer is and has always been the best season to visit Iceland and travel around the country. Years and decades ago before the flow of international tourism started in Iceland, Icelanders traveled around the country for camping and hiking, only during the summer. The summer in this context is the time between June 1st to the end of August. Although only three months it is by far the best time to travel around the country on the ring road.  It is also the safest time from the one and only threat we have in Iceland, the weather. It is the most beautiful season as everything is blooming and colorful. It is the best time for camping, and it is the time when every restaurant, every accommodation, every camping ground is open in every town or village around the coastline. It is also the time when the Icelandic wilderness, the Highland is accessible. And last but not least it is the time when Iceland has 24 hours of daylight and the midnight sun.  It is by far the best time to visit Iceland. And for families, particularly with young children with adventurous mids, it is a unique time to take a family vacation

The summer is the best time to visit Iceland

Number two season:  The autumn is the number two season to visit Iceland

The fall, autumn is also a great season to visit Iceland. This is the time between September 1st and the middle of November.  The temperature has lowered a bit from summer, and one of the advantages is clear skies. For serious photographers, September and October are the best months for photography in Iceland. The landscape is still in full color enhanced by the weather conditions and light.  Often is September and October a thin carpet of snow appears on mountain tops giving the landscape and some of the natural wonders, a great background.  It is also a time when fewer people are travelling, and some of the popular destinations are not as crowded as during summer.  For those who can plan their trip in the autumn, this is a splendid time to visit Iceland, and you can also visit the Highland more or less throughout September. This is also the season when you start to see the Northern Lights as the days are getting shorter and darkness begins earlier in the evening.  Some of the most spectacular Northern Lights in Iceland are seen and photographed in late September and October.  


Hjálparfoss in Iceland

This is the time between September 1st and the middle of November. 

Number three season: The winter is the number three season to visit in Iceland

The winter in Iceland is a difficult time to visit as the weather is often quite harsh and unpredictable with strong snowstorms. Driving is difficult as the roads are slippery and many natural wonders are simply not accessible. Visiting Iceland during winter in the months from the beginning of October throughout February is also more challenging as many restaurants and services are not open in most of the towns and villages around the country. In those months camping is not possible as very few camping sites are open, for those in a camper that can plug into electricity. But the winter has a lot to offer, and one of our most famous attractions during winter is the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights. Iceland is a great place to see the Nothern Lights, and probably one of the best places on the planet as we claim and discuss in our article. Experiencing the Northern lights in a country like Iceland where the Aurora Borealis is often very strong and clear is something no one will forget. 

Iceland is a great place to view the Nothern Llights in winter

Iceland is a great place to view the Nothern Llights in winter

And although many natural wonders are not accessible, some are. Visiting waterfalls, like Goðafoss and Gullfoss, and geothermal and geyser areas are spectacular in winter. So there are advantages in this season and although the weather can be harsh it can also stay calm for days and the sunlight during winter is often very different in the short days, with low pink sunlight.  Although a more difficult time to visit and a time that takes more thorough planning, winter has many advantages.  Visiting Reykjavík on New Year's eve and witness the most spectacular firework show on the planet is also one thing to consider in winter. 

The winter has a lot to offer like waterfalls when frozen - Goðafoss waterfall in the Northern Region in Icealnd

Number four season: The spring is the number four season to visit Iceland

The months of March through May is the least interesting or the worst time to visit Iceland. It is the time when most of the landscape is gray and colorless.  The island is coming from under winter, and everything is a bit wet and muddy. The grass is lifeless, and most of the vegetation has not gained strength and color. Although many of our natural wonders are still there, everything is a bit dull and in many places snowdrifts have not melted.  The landscape is a bit muddy and dirty and for photographers, this is not the time to visit Iceland. It is excellent time for visiting the Blue Lagoon, visit museums and driving the Reykjanes Peninsula. This is also a good time to visit the Snæfellsnes Peninsula as many of the interesting places to see and view in Snæfellsnes are by the shore and respond quicker to the change in season than places in higher altitude.  But not as exciting and not as beautiful as during summer. 

In the spring when everything is coming to life, the landscape sometimes lacks color

So you need to consider and understand what you are looking for when you plan a visit to Iceland.  It is not a good thing to schedule a visit to a natural wonder or drive to some exciting place only to find out when you are approaching that the place is not accessible and will not be accessible for months.  Like you do not drive the Highland during winter, and you do not visit Iceland during summer to see the Northern Lights.  Find out what you are looking for and what you want to see before you take your decision. 

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