If you want to experience this amazing island, but not pay an arm and a leg, spring in Iceland is going to be your best bet. This period of the year will have far fewer visitors than the high seasons, so you can explore the island more or less unbothered.
Visiting Iceland in the spring is also one of the best opportunities you can have in terms of traveling on a budget. The off season will definitely be cheaper than the peak season.
When is Spring in Iceland?
The roaring thunder of rivers and waterfalls, filled to the brim with glacial meltwater, will quickly give you the answer to the question “when does spring start in Iceland?”. Slowly but steadily, Iceland in the spring starts to wake up the stunning nature in March and continues all the way into May, and sometimes even June. Iceland in the spring is an amazing time of the year and an excellent shoulder season for exploring the island.
The Iceland Weather in Spring
The favorite saying by Icelanders regarding the Icelandic weather is truer for Iceland in the spring than any other season. In Iceland, you can experience all four seasons in a day!
The Iceland weather in spring can change quicker than Superman in a phone booth. So, you better come prepared for a possible sudden change in temperature, or surprise sideways rain. Even though you might get caught in a surprise or three during spring in Iceland, you will experience the warmer weather far more frequently as time goes by. Obviously, the further north and further up any mountain you go, you’ll experience the colder aspect of spring in Iceland.
If you are really lucky, you might actually be able to get a tan when visiting Iceland in spring. You will often have a nice, warm couple of rays of sun on your skin when you’re outside. And since the wind might bother you a little less, you don’t feel yourself getting a little sunburned.
More often than not, this isn’t anything to worry about, but keep this in mind when you’re out and about in the wilderness. If you know you will be out in the sun for more than a couple of hours, a sunscreen might be a good idea.
The typical temperatures to expect for the spring months in Reykjavík are (roughly):
Between -2,2°C and 2,3°C in Iceland in March
Between 3°C and 6,8°C in Iceland in April
Between 5°C and 8°C in Iceland in May
The Pros and Cons of Iceland in Spring
Yes, we are incredibly biased when it comes to this amazing island. Still, we also recognize that there are cons as well as pros to spending time in Iceland in spring. Below, we listed a few of the good and less good aspects of spring in Iceland, so you can make an informed decision about how much you’d like to come.
The shoulder seasons are the cheaper and less crowded seasons of the year. That ensures that you don’t have to share the amazing sights and locations with too many other visitors. Chances are that you will likely have most places more or less to yourself.
Just like the snow from the winter season, the prices also melt away in spring in Iceland. Spring then reveals lower costs for almost every activity and accommodation you could be interested in. Iceland in spring might not be easier on the skin, but it will definitely be easier on the wallet!
Days get longer, which is only good! Iceland is very far north, and like all other countries far north, the summer days are long (sometimes 24 hours). The winter days, on the other hand, are short (sometimes 2-3 hours). Visiting Iceland in the spring, you will be able to experience the annual phenomenon of days becoming notably longer every day. The difference in daylight hours from the beginning of March to the end of May is roughly 8 hours. That means that every day in spring in Iceland will be at least 5 minutes longer than the previous one!
Longer days also mean that you will be able to enjoy the increasingly pleasant weather that comes with spring in Iceland. It’s a double win!
As we already mentioned, the weather can be a bit fickle during spring in Iceland, so you’ll need to put a little more effort into planning and preparation.
Spring in Iceland is the off-season. That means shorter operating hours for attractions, accommodations, and tourism areas. This also affects ferry and bus schedules, but shouldn’t become an issue if you plan your visit to spring in Iceland with a little bit of care.
Driving in Iceland in spring can be an adventure if you’re not used to how this type of weather can affect the roads. In some remote areas of the country, you might need a 4WD to get through. But those stretches are usually some ways from the main roads and shouldn’t affect your Iceland road trip plans too much. In March and early April, some roads will be closed and/or inaccessible due to poor conditions. A prime example of that will be the F-roads in Iceland, which won’t be open for vehicles until the summer.
The Best Things to do in Iceland in Spring
Since we are uncurable optimists, we know that there are far more pros than cons to visiting Iceland in spring! Here are some fun activities to keep in mind when planning your holiday:
Go on a Whale Watching Tour
This is an amazing island to see these magnificent giants up close and personal. Whale watching in Iceland is extra interesting in April when some migratory whale species are coming to spend the summer and frolicking in the nutrient-abundant waters. Make sure to book a whale-watching tour or two for your trip to Iceland in the spring.
Spot some Puffins
A significantly smaller animal that you can see plenty of at the end of the spring in Iceland is the Puffin. The odd-looking “clown of the sea” is a species of bird that is always busy preparing for the breeding season and a summer full of fun! The Iceland Puffins are actually credited as being 60% of the world’s Puffin population!
Snorkel or Dive the Silfra Fissure
One great thing about water is that the volatile weather has a hard time reaching you as you go under the surface. Even though the water in the Silfra Fissure is cold and crystal-clear glacier water, the Iceland weather in spring won’t be able to reach you under the surface. With a good dry suit and a competent guide, you will be able to enjoy the amazing underwater views and experiences in the Icelandic Silfra Fissure.
The fissure is a crack between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. That makes it possible for you to literally hang suspended in water between two continents! Just remember that you’re only allowed to dive if you’re an experienced diver. It’s better to go for a snorkeling tour in the Silfra Fissure if you’re not experienced in the diving arena.
Take a Hike
If you have a couple of days when the weather will be somewhat favorable and stable, hiking in Iceland in the spring can be one of those unforgettable moments in your life. Nature is coming back to life, all bodies of water are growing in size by the day, and you can catch all of those subtle, but rewarding, signs of spring. If you are looking for some good areas and trails, we recommend the following:
Visit the Waterfalls
Did you know that Iceland has more than 10,000 waterfalls? Iceland in the spring is when you should come and marvel at the stunning, raw power that these roaring forces of nature put on display. You haven’t really experienced spring in Iceland without visiting a couple of these beauties:
Dettifoss Waterfall (largest in Europe!)
Take a Dip in a Hot Spring
The less dramatic bodies of water are the many hot springs in Iceland that can be found all over the island. Iceland's location on the tectonic plates means there's plenty of magma underground to heat up water for visitors to enjoy. Spring in Iceland is an ideal time to soak in these hot springs. Your head stays cool from the chill air, and your body stays warm and cozy from the warm water. Get into one of these hot springs when you’re visiting Iceland in the spring:
Go Horse Riding
One extremely unique aspect of Iceland is the Icelandic Horse, with all of its interesting quirks. For example, the Icelandic horse has a gait that can almost only be found in the Icelandic horse – the Tölt. The Icelandic horse is also an incredibly hardy and calm breed, known for its friendly nature, which is why it is perfect to ride in spring in Iceland.
Attend a Festival or an Event
Even though the weather might not always be in their favor, festivals are held all year-round on the island, and spring in Iceland is no exception. We recommend taking part in Easter in Iceland, and checking out both the Saga Festival and the Reykjavík Food and Fun Festival.
Tips for Planning a Trip to Iceland in Spring
Visiting Iceland in spring demands a small amount of planning and preparation. Speaking from experience, we recommend taking a look at these particular aspects as you are getting ready for your holiday:
Keep Waterproof Clothing and Gear Close
Water will come at you from every angle when you experience spring in Iceland. One answer to “When does spring start in Iceland?” could be that “it is the time of the year when the snowfall becomes rainfall”. Trust us, you don’t want to stand in Icelandic rainfall without the right clothes.
An umbrella is out of the question in spring in Iceland. You are more likely to do a Mary Poppins and fly away than protect yourself from any serious precipitation if you rely on that. Rather go for waterproof clothing and gear when it comes to what to pack for Iceland in the spring. You will enjoy a (somewhat) dry visit and have plenty of non-soaked memories.
Keep a Close Eye on the Weather and Road Conditions
Just because you are geared to handle hard weather doesn’t mean you have to. Make sure you keep yourself updated on how the weather is in Iceland. It is easy with the Icelandic weather forecast as well as the conditions of the roads. You can check the roads in Iceland at the governmental website Road.is.
Iceland in the spring can be treacherous regarding the weather, and you don’t want anything unforeseen to mess up an itinerary. Nor keep you from experiencing an amazing attraction! Take a look at the do’s and don’ts of responsible driving in Iceland to find out how you can best prepare for the Icelandic roads.
What to Pack for Iceland in Spring
Spring in Iceland is not for the faint of heart when it comes to packing. We mentioned earlier that it's important to pack the right stuff to avoid any unnecessarily frustrating situations. Apart from the usual holiday-packing-to-a-chilly-location, we suggest you bring the following “extras”:
Water- and windproof jacket and pants
Proper, waterproof hiking boots if you want to explore nature
Warm underwear (for both top and bottom)
Bathing clothes and a suitable towel (for visiting the hot springs)
Flip-flops or similar (to use at the hot springs and other public changing rooms)
Nice, warm hat (like a beanie or something that won’t fly away)
Power banks and memory cards for all the electronics
Waterproof backpack (super important if you’re going on a hike)
Time to Spring into Action for Your Iceland in Spring Trip
Spring in Iceland is a stunning display of nature's power and rebirth after winter. Whales, Puffins, festivals, and the most spectacular waterfalls and rivers. To see and experience everything, check out the campervans to rent in Reykjavík. This way, you can take control of your holiday, and be the captain of your own Iceland adventure!