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Best Time for Iceland: Top Places by Season

Best Time for Iceland to see auroras is during winter season and Karen Leblanc, aka the Design tourist is standing in the snow lookinng for northern lights to show up.

Iceland, the land of otherworldly landscapes, erupting geysers, and the mesmerizing Northern Lights—it’s an adventurer’s playground and a bucket-list destination for so many. But when’s the perfect moment to set off on your Icelandic journey? The answer depends entirely on what you dream of seeing and doing while you’re there.

Each season paints Iceland in a different light, both literally and figuratively! This guide breaks down the best times to visit Iceland and the star attractions, ensuring you choose the right Icelandic adventure for YOU.

Best Time for Iceland: Summer (June-August)

Summer in Iceland means near-endless daylight thanks to the midnight sun, warmer weather (though still pack layers—this is Iceland!), and nearly full accessibility to attractions around the country.

Pros: Perfect for outdoor adventures, scenic drives, all roads open, festivals and events

Cons: Peak crowds, prices at their highest.

Thingvellir National Park 

  • Immerse yourself in history and geology within this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore canyons, walk between tectonic plates, and even snorkel or dive the crystal-clear Silfra fissure.

Golden Circle

  • A classic route bursting with must-sees – Gullfoss waterfall thunders with power, the Geysir geothermal area shoots steaming water sky-high, and Þingvellir National Park stuns with its natural beauty.

Reykjavik

Westfjords

  • Off-the-beaten-path magic! Think dramatic landscapes, untouched wilderness, incredible birdwatching, and some of the best road trips you’ll ever take.

Whale Watching

  • Tours depart from numerous towns (like Reykjavik and Husavik), offering up-close encounters with these gentle giants.

Planning an Iceland Summer Trip: Be prepared for crowds, so booking well ahead is wise. If you crave solitude, seek lesser-known spots within the destinations above or venture into areas like the remote Eastfjords.

Summer is the season that suits travelers who:

  • Thrive on long days and endless daylight for exploration
  • Don’t mind crowds and higher prices in exchange for full accessibility
  • Prioritize outdoor adventures and experiencing Iceland at its warmest (relatively speaking!)
  • Want a lively atmosphere with festivals and events.

Best Time for Iceland: Fall/Autumn (September-October)

Autumn brings color changes to Iceland’s landscapes, opportunities for Northern Lights sightings with longer nights, and fewer crowds compared to summer.

Pros: Northern Lights potential, fewer crowds, vibrant foliage, shoulder-season prices.

Cons: Unpredictable weather; some Highland roads may close early in the season

Northern Lights Hunt

  • Seek clear skies away from cities for your best chance to witness the dancing Aurora Borealis.

Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Hot Springs

  • The Blue Lagoon or quieter options are extra enticing amidst the cool air.

Reykjavík

  • Enjoy museums and cozy cafes during rainy spells, and explore this quirky city’s shops and culture.

Historic Sites

  • Immerse yourself in Iceland’s Viking heritage and folklore at various spots.

Planning an Iceland Fall Trip: Pack for all kinds of weather and ensure winter tires on your rental car if driving later in the season.

Fall is the season that suits travelers who:

  • Dream of seeing the Northern Lights without extreme winter weather
  • Prefer a less crowded experience, with a touch of solitude
  • Are flexible with potentially changeable weather
  • Appreciate potential cost savings of a shoulder season trip

Need information on planning your trip? Check out the Visit Iceland Official Tourism Website: for practical details. Get extensive ideas from the experts at Guide to Iceland: Now, if you’re still deciding when to go, let’s explore what winter in Iceland has to offer.

Best Time for Iceland: Winter (November–March)

Winter transforms Iceland into a snowy wonderland, perfect for experiencing the breathtaking Northern Lights, exploring ice caves, and enjoying winter activities.

Pros: Spectacular Northern Lights, magical ice caves, winter sports, cozy holiday atmosphere (in December).

Cons: Short daylight hours, possible weather-related travel disruptions, cold temperatures.

Northern Lights

  • Dedicate your trip to hunting for these natural wonders under clear, dark skies.

Ice Caves

  • Join guided tours to explore these glittering glacial formations.
Langjokull in action during the winter season.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

  • Icebergs floating amidst snowy landscapes are unforgettable, especially in winter.

Winter Sports

  • Try snowmobiling on glaciers, adventurous glacier hikes, or indulge in skiing.

Reykjavík

  • Embrace the Christmas spirit with markets, light displays, and cozy winter celebrations.

Planning an Iceland Winter Trip: Focus on warm, waterproof clothing. If the Northern Lights are a priority, consider staying somewhere remote outside the city.

Winter is the season that suits travelers who:

  • Have witnessing the Northern Lights as their top priority
  • Crave unique winter experiences (ice caves, winter sports)
  • Embrace the beauty of snowy landscapes and cold weather
  • Enjoy the potential for cozy, festive vibes in Reykjavík (especially in December)

Best Time for Iceland: Spring (April-May)

Spring in Iceland signifies nature’s awakening, longer daylight hours, and the return of wildlife like seabirds and puffins. It’s a refreshing shoulder-season option.

Pros: Waterfalls at their peak, wildlife returns (like puffins), longer days, shoulder-season travel perks.

Cons: Changeable weather, some attractions may still be closed early in the season.

Puffin Spotting

  • Coastal areas teem with life as puffins return to their nesting grounds—head to places like the Westman Islands or Látrabjarg cliffs.

Waterfalls

  • Feel the increased power of waterfalls with glacial melt, making iconic spots like Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss in South Iceland even more awe-inspiring.

Hiking

  • Trails reopen, revealing fresh spring growth and landscapes with fewer crowds.

Day Trips from Reykjavík

  • With lengthening days, day trips outside the city become even more accessible.

Road Trips

  • Experience less traffic on popular routes like the South Coast.

Planning an Iceland Spring Trip: Pack for all conditions – layers are still vital! Some remote Highland roads could still be closed early in the season, so factor that in.

Spring is the season that suits travelers who:

  • Crave witnessing nature’s resurgence after winter
  • Want to see puffins and other returning wildlife
  • Appreciate shoulder-season travel advantages (think lesser crowds, potential travel deals)
  • Don’t mind the unpredictability of spring weather

Frequently Asked Questions About Best Time To Visit Iceland

When is the cheapest time to visit Iceland?

Shoulder seasons (spring and fall) tend to be the least expensive, as well as winter outside of the Christmas/New Year holiday period.

How many days do I need in Iceland?

A minimum of 4-5 days is ideal for a basic taste of Iceland. If you want to fully explore the highlights and venture further afield, a week or more offers a satisfying experience.

Can I see the Northern Lights in summer?

The midnight sun makes sightings highly unlikely. For aurora sightings, stick to fall, winter, or early spring.

What should I pack for Iceland?

Layers are KEY regardless of the season! Include waterproof outerwear, warm base layers, sturdy hiking boots (if you plan on exploring the outdoors), and swimwear for enjoying Iceland’s hot springs.

Remember, when deciding the “best time for Iceland,” your individual preferences and goals are paramount. Iceland offers unique wonders all year round – you just need to select the ones that ignite your sense of adventure.

  • Summer adventurers, prepare for crowds and higher prices, offset by endless daylight and the widest range of activities.
  • Fall travelers, savor the shift towards tranquility, with the chance of magical aurora sightings.
  • Winter seekers, embrace the breathtaking landscapes, thrilling activities, and captivating Northern Lights.
  • Spring enthusiasts, find renewal in nature, witnessing waterfalls at their strongest and the return of wildlife.

Whichever season beckons, prepare for an awe-inspiring journey. And most of all, embrace Iceland’s dynamic landscapes and adventurous spirit – they’ll take your breath away, no matter the time of year.

More Iceland Travel Guide and Tips That You Should Know:

16 Things To Do In West Iceland Away From Tourist Crowd

Top 5 Under-the-Radar Things To Do In Reykjavik Iceland

South Iceland Bucket List: 7 Must-Experience Destinations

Picture of Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a freelance writer living in Orlando, Florida with many published bylines in magazines, newspapers, and multimedia sites. As a professional lifestyle writer, Karen specializes in art, architecture, design, home interiors and personality profiles. Karen is the writer, producer and host of the streaming series, The Design Tourist (www.TheDesignTourist.com) that brings viewers a global dose of design inspiration with episodes featuring the latest looks and trends from the world’s premiere design events and shows. She also publishes a quarterly magazine on design travel that you can read by clicking the link: https://thedesigntourist.com/the-magazine/ Her journalism background includes seven years on-air experience as a TV news reporter and anchor covering a range of issues from education to politics. Her educational credentials include a Master of Arts in Mass Communications from Northeast Louisiana University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Louisiana State University. Throughout her career, Karen has written and produced dozens of documentaries and videos for educational, commercial, corporate, and governmental clients and appeared in many TV and video productions as a professional host.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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