The Best Time to Visit Iceland

The Best Time to Visit Iceland

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October 13, 2021
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Few locations on earth can match the natural beauty and mystique of Iceland, and it’s one country that continues to grow in popularity for international travelers.

If Iceland has always been on your bucket list and you’re ready to start planning the journey, you’ll soon see that timing is everything.

When is the best time to visit Iceland?

The summer months between July and August are the most popular time for tourists to visit as they find the weather warmer and more bearable.

However, there are still lots of activities to do during winter in Iceland, provided you are prepared for the colder climate.

As a country with so much to offer, you’ll want to make sure you arrive in the perfect timing so you don’t miss anything on your must-see list.

This guide will uncover Iceland’s climate, the places of interest, and popular tourist seasons so you can time your adventure with all of the knowledge you need.

What is So Special About Iceland?

What is So Special About Iceland?

The Nordic island of Iceland has always been there, but it wasn’t until the last 10 or 20 years that tourists began to flock there.

The natural wonder of this country tells you everything you need to know about its popularity, including sprawling mountains, black beaches, hot springs, and some truly welcoming people.

A trip to Iceland should last at least two weeks, giving you time to see what you came for, and exploring the rest that this nation has to offer.

While there, you’ll enjoy sights like the summer solstice where the sun shines at midnight, the eerie skies of the northern lights, and some of the most awe-inspiring natural backdrops the world has ever seen.

The food and culture are just as impressive in Iceland, and you can try local delicacies like fermented shark, or learn about their strong Viking roots.

Although there’s a lot to do, the weather can change dramatically from one month to the next, so timing is everything when planning a vacation.

The Climate and Geography

The Climate and Geography

Iceland is found in the North Atlantic Ocean and is a volcanic island, with around 10% of its landmass being made of glaciers.

On the main island, you’ll find a country that’s about the same size as Virginia, and because of its volcanic state, the geography includes everything from lava fields to hot springs.

The official status of Iceland’s climate is ‘subpolar oceanic, so in winter it’s cold and in summer it’s nice and cool.

However, people wrongly assume that Iceland is colder than it actually is, and because it shares a similar latitude with the Gulf Stream, the temperatures aren’t as harsh as you might think.

The average temperature in Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik is 33 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and 54 degrees Fahrenheit in summer.

However, it can drop as low as 14 degrees F and reach up to 77 degrees, depending on the year. The country is quite cool, even in summer, but the weather is more enjoyable for visitors at this time.

Places and Activities of Interest in Iceland

The best way to plan a trip to Iceland is to compile a list of the natural sights, historical monuments, and other wonders that you want to see.

From there, you can determine the best time to see them and any other factors worth considering. These are some of the more popular reasons that people flock to Ireland:

Ice caves

Ice caves

A tour into one of Iceland’s many ice caves is a cool way to explore the natural surroundings, even if it does get a bit chilly.

There are many guided operations that help you find your way around, as we don’t recommend attempting to enter any of the unmarked caves yourself.

Hot springs

As a volcanic island, it’s not surprising that there are loads of hot springs and natural baths around Iceland.

These springs offer those who dip into their waters health and wellness benefits, as well as a chance to experience the natural beauty of Iceland front and center.

Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis

The northern lights, or Aurora Borealis, is the most commonly sighted reason people give for visiting Iceland.

However, you should never plan a trip solely on this, as there’s a good chance they won’t even appear.

The lights need just the right settings to be seen, and if you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse, it’ll be a once in a lifetime experience.

Whale watching

Iceland is home to some of the most fascinating whale species in the world, and you’re guaranteed to see them when you go at the right time.

Whale watching tours regularly leave the major coastal spots in Iceland and it’s a great way to get off the land and look at the country from another perspective.

Volcanoes

Volcanoes

One of the most popular and newest volcanoes to see in Iceland can be seen from the city of Reykjavik.

Otherwise, you can take one of the many walking or car-driven tours that show you the coolest volcanoes that this island has to offer.

Þingvellir

The national park of Þingvellir is another popular tourist spot in Iceland and where the open-air parliament sittings use to take place before the 18th century.

The rift valley at its center is over 10,000 years old, and many flock to the park still to enjoy the scenery, learn the history, and enjoy the Unesco World Heritage spot.

Gasir

The site of Gasir was once a major trade market used in Medieval times, and it’s close to the town of Akureyri.

A visit during summer will see the locals recreated these very markets and sell a range of handmade goods. 

According to archeologists, it was used until the 16th century as a trading point.

Popular Tourist Seasons and Travel Times

Popular Tourist Seasons and Travel Times

The island nation of Iceland has plenty of visitors to see and do, but timing is important if you’re planning a visit.

Some attractions are only available at certain times of the year, if you know the main purpose of your vacation there, you can book appropriately.

  • To save money: The off-season in Iceland happens from late fall and runs through winter, as many tourists don’t want to visit when it’s this cold.
  • To see the Northern Lights: Although there’s no guarantee you will see Aurora Borealis on a trip to Iceland, going from the mid-October through to March gives you a much better chance.
  • To stay warm: August and September are the warmest months in Iceland which also makes them the most popular with tourists.
  • To avoid the crowds: Planning a trip during the off-season and going in winter means there’ll be fewer tourists and a better chance to see the sights uninterrupted.
  • To visit the hot springs: The hot water baths of Iceland are open all year round but to ensure a spot there and to take advantage of the weather, we recommend going during September and early October.

Iceland For Your Travel Bucket List

A quick look at the mystical beauty of Iceland and its surroundings is enough to prompt anyone to book a trip there, but you’ll want to make sure you get the timing right.

Whether you want to visit in popular summer or wait until temperatures cool a little more, you’ll always found the Icelandic environment to be beautiful and welcoming.

Related Questions

Iceland is one of the hottest travel destinations in the world because of its unique sights and natural beauty.

If you’re planning a trip over there but still have questions before you arrive, check out these FAQs and see if they can help.

Is It Cold in Iceland?

The average climate in Iceland is cold and windy, and because it’s situated at a high altitude, the winds are especially harsh.

Although, Iceland may not be as cold as people assume when they hear the country’s name, you should still prepare for cool temperatures year-round.

What Is Iceland’s Famous Foods?

What Is Iceland’s Famous Foods?

The local cuisine of Iceland covers all types of foods, sweet and savory, but salty goods are their most popular.

Slow roasted lamb, fermented shark, hot dogs, fish, and dark rye bread are just a few foods that Iceland is famous for, and a must for any visitors to the country to try.

Can You Wear Leggings in Iceland?

Many female tourists wear leggings in Iceland because they’re easy to move in and provide a good layer of warmth.

During colder months, you can start with a base layer of clothing with leggings for the bottom half, and add to it to provide as much protection from the winds and cold as you need.

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