Updated: Sep 1
Planning a trip is exciting, at least most of the time. But in a country with so many activities tied to the seasons, many get bogged down by the question “what is the best month to visit Iceland?”
The answer very much depends on your specific needs and requirements. And of course, what you have on your Iceland bucket list, we’ll attempt to at least guide you in the right direction in this article.
Based on things such as the weather, what to do, things to see, etc. you’ll be able to make an informed decision. So, knowing which month would be the best for you to pay the island a visit will be an easier task. So, without further ado, let’s dig into it.
The Weather in Iceland
The Iceland weather can be tricky. Especially since each season has its pros and cons. Without going into too much detail, here’s a quick overview of each season and why a shoulder month might be the best month to go to Iceland.
Summer in Iceland (June to September)
As with most holiday destinations, many tend to opt for summer. But don’t be too quick to book that flight. Take a look at some of the pros and cons to decide whether it’s the right season for you:
Carpe Diem gets a new meaning with the insane amount of daylight hours one gets during the summer months in Iceland. You can experience 24 daylight hours! That not only allows for a jam-packed itinerary but also gives you the chance to experience the infamous midnight sun.
The weather is great! Temperatures range between 5 and 25 degrees Celsius, as most of the time the wet and the legendary Iceland winds steer clear of the season.
If you love wildlife and are an avid bird-watcher, summer is where it’s at. You’ll be able to see everything from sheep and migratory whales to Puffins.
All roads and routes will be open, which means that you won’t have any issues exploring the Westfjords and the Highlands.
Whilst most thoroughly enjoy all the bonus daylight hours, it can create havoc on others sleeping patterns. You will also not be able to see the Northern Lights.
As you can imagine, many flock to the island during the summer season in Iceland, so overcrowding is a real problem. Actually, seeing the attractions you’re visiting can seem like a mission. And booking is absolutely essential as everything from accommodation to activities will be in high demand.
Along with more tourists on the island comes peak season prices that can be a real budget bummer.
Winter in Iceland (December to March)
Don’t be too quick to write off Iceland in winter. There is a lot this winter wonderland can offer during the colder months that those visiting the island during the summer will miss out on. Here are a few of the season’s pros and cons:
The summer crowds are a thing of the past, and so are the peak season prices.
Most of the daylight hours have given way to the darkness. So, not only is your sleep pattern pretty much left undisturbed, but you’ll also be able to see the spectacular Northern Lights.
You can go ice cave exploring (something that’s not available during the summer due to safety concerns).
The Iceland landscape truly turns into a winter wonderland. The thick white blanket covering the ground and the ice of frozen waterfalls glistening in the light is something one cannot really describe to anyone.
Taking a dip in one of Iceland’s natural hot springs during the winter is something that the summer simply cannot match.
Some view the dwindling daylight hours as “fewer hours to do things”.
It’s colder (obviously). Temperatures range between -10 – 5 degrees Celsius, depending on the region in Iceland you’re staying. But, ironically, it’s these temperatures that make some of the pros possible in the first place. You also need to be prepared for the rain, snow, and legendary Iceland winds.
Certain roads and routes are closed due to the winter weather. The wintry climate makes road conditions too treacherous, especially in the Westfjords and the Highlands.
The Shoulder Months aka Fall & Spring (October to November & April to May)
Many visitors prefer to visit the island during one of the shoulder months. Not only does fall or spring in Iceland offer you the chance to experience most of the summer or winter pros, but you also side-step most of the winter and summer season tourists and the peak season prices.
Visiting the Cities
If you’re someone who just wants to stick to the cities, go to museums and make your credit card feel the burn of a shopping spree or two, then the best month to visit Iceland can truly be any month.
As you will be spending most of your time indoors, the dip in temperature and change in weather won’t bother you too much. The buildings also tend to keep most of the elements at bay a bit. So, the best month to visit Reykjavík, for example, will truly rely solely on your availability.
The Iceland road conditions will actually have a lot to do with determining the best month to visit Iceland. As we’ve already touched on, certain roads and routes, especially in the Westfjords and the Highlands, will be closed during the winter months.
So if you were keen on doing a proper road trip around the country (and specifically driving in the Westfjords and the Highlands), choosing a winter month to come to Iceland might not be the best month for a visit.
For the same winter weather reason, a winter month might also not be the best month for your Iceland trip if you are a nervous driver. The road conditions can really become quite challenging when you add snow, wind, and rain to the mix, especially if you want to go for a motorhome rental. It might even prove too much for an already nervous driver.
Things to Do in the Summer Months in Iceland
If any of the following activities sounds like your cup of tea, a summer month might be the best month for you to visit Iceland:
Go on a Reykjavík Food Walk where you not only learn about the city but stuff your face with its cuisine and infamous homemade ice cream.
Go Puffin and whale spotting.
Explore the Westfjords.
Experience a midnight sun.
Snorkel or dive the Silfra Fissure.
Things to Do in the Winter Months in Iceland
If any of the things to do in Iceland during the winter mentioned below sounds more in line with what you’d have on your Iceland to-do list, then a winter month might be the best month to go to Iceland:
Do a Northern Lights tour.
Soak in the lights and decorations of a winter wonderland over Christmas.
Build a snowman and have a snow fight.
Visit icy waterfalls and frozen glaciers.
Explore ice caves.
Festivals & Events
Perhaps how you can set up your social calendar will be the clincher in deciding which will be the best month to visit Iceland. If that is the case, take a look at a few festivals and events happening throughout the year and see if anything takes your fancy:
Sonar Reykjavík Music Festival (February)
Food & Fun Festival (February/March)
JEA Jazz Festival (June)
Lobster Festival (June)
Viking Festival (June)
LungA Art Festival (July)
Folk Music Festival (July)
Fiskidagurinn mikli aka The Big Fish Day (August)
Culture Night (August)
Reykjavík Pride (August)
Reykjavík Jazz Festival (August)
Reykjavík International Film Festival aka RIFF (September/October)
Iceland Airwaves Music Festival (November)
Various Christmas & New Year’s Celebrations all over the island (December/January)
Prepped for Your Best Month to Visit Iceland
Iceland might be considered a small island, but there’s plenty to do and see irrespective of which season you end up coming. That makes the best month to visit Iceland pretty relative and subjective per your likes, dislikes, expectations, and tolerance to weather.
Still, we are confident that by using this guide you’ll be able to make the right decision. Be sure that whichever month you choose to visit will always be remembered as your Iceland best month.
Once you’ve decided on when you want to go, all you need to do is book your flight and rent a campervan in Reykjavík, the best option for those who want to go exploring on their own and save on their accommodation budget.
We highly recommend that you chat with your rental agent about your routes. This way, they can advise you on which vehicle to choose and whether you’ll need a 4x4 based on the season and the condition of the roads. They’ll also be able to offer some other helpful local tips and advice.
See you during the best month to visit Iceland (whatever that might be for you).