What is the best month to travel to Iceland? Weather is one of the most important factors when planning a trip to Iceland, as it can affect what you’ll be able to see and do.

Planning a trip to Iceland, you might be wondering which season; Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter, is the best time to visit. Many travellers will immediately tell you it’s the summer, but the truth is that each season has pros and cons. Whenever you choose to travel to Iceland you’ll be in for a great adventure, but read on to discover the changing conditions in each season.

 

The Icelandic Climate

Weather plays an important role in the lives of all Icelanders and serves as an endless source of conversation between locals. Despite its location in the far north Atlantic, the overall climate in Iceland is best described as mild. This is thanks in part to warm ocean currents from the Caribbean colliding with colder currents from the Arctic just off the Icelandic coast. But the same colliding currents are also the cause of Iceland’s dramatic shifts in weather; one minute the sun can be shining, the next the grey skies will sweep across the country, bringing with it a drizzling rain. It’s best to be prepared for anything, at any time of year.
 
 
 

What is the best month to travel to Iceland?

 
 

Spring: March – May 

Winter keeps a firm grip on Iceland for most of March, until finally the sun is strong enough to begin melting the snow towards the end of the month. Green landscapes slowly emerge, and as the season carries on, hundreds of thousands of sea birds return on masse to the island. The days get progressively longer, and fields of purple lupines burst forth below mountains still capped with snow, bringing colour, contrast, and lots of beautiful scenery. However, Iceland has been known to have strong blizzards as late as May, so it’s essential to still prepare for every type of weather.
 
Average Temperatures in Spring
March:    -2.0 – 3.2°C
April:        0.4 – 5.7°C
May:         3.6 – 9.4°C
 
During these months the hours of daylight will be ever increasing. At the beginning of March generally it’s around 11 hours of daylight, but by the end of May that number is up to around 20 hours. These long days coupled with the fact that the summer crowds (and prices) haven’t arrived yet make Spring a fantastic time to visit Iceland. 
 
Top 5 Things to do in Iceland during Spring:
  • Fishing
  • Watch the northern lights
  • Whale and bird watching
  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
 
 
 
 

Summer: June – August

For many, summer will be the season of choice to travel to Iceland. From June until August is when the country’s volatile weather is at its most stable, offering plenty of opportunity for adventure. Endless daylight leaves plenty of time for exploring, and the minimal rain makes the hiking conditions favourable. Gorgeous sunsets last for hours, and over the night the fuzzy grey light creates a magical atmosphere that’s distinctly Icelandic.
 
Average Temperatures in Summer
June:       6.7 – 11.7°C
July:        8.3 – 13.3°C  
August:   7.9 – 13°C
 
The longest day of the year is on the summer solstice which usually falls on or around the 21st of June. Around this date is when you’ll be able to enjoy the midnight sun. The summer is the high season for tourism, meaning that the already expensive prices are at their highest. This is the prime season for going whale watching, sighting the puffin colonies around the coasts, and the only time when the highland roads open. Summer festivals abound across the country, and it’s also the best time to undertake the Laugavegur trail, Iceland’s most famous multi-day hike.
 
Top 5 Things to do in Iceland during Summer:
  • The Laugavegur Trail
  • Music and culture festivals
  • Whale and puffin watching
  • Hiking
  • The midnight sun
 
 
 

Autumn: September – November 

As August fades into September, the dark nights slowly return, bringing with it a dramatic shift in weather. Autumn might be Iceland’s most volatile season, but it’s also one of its most exciting; the last vestiges of summer fight to stave off early snows, with regular storms rolling over the countryside only to be whipped away by a fierce bout of wind blowing up from the Atlantic. Bursts of orange and gold sweep across the landscapes, glistening from frequent rains, and the farmers turn their eyes to the countryside as the annual roundup of sheep draws near. For many travellers, this is a favourite time to visit the country, and Iceland at its most beautiful.
 
Average Temperatures in Autumn
September:     5.0 – 10.1°C
October:         2.2 – 6.8°C 
November:   -1.3 – 3.4°C
 
As the summer crowds melt away, so to do the prices, meaning that you can pick up some great deals around the country. The dark skies return, and with them sightings of the northern lights. Many argue that the autumn is better for northern light watching, due to there being less storms than in the winter. Daylight hours in September hover around 12 hours, but by November that number drops to around 5 hours a day. 
 
Top 5 Things to do in Iceland during Autumn:
 
 
 
 

Winter: December – February 

Dark, cold, and stormy, many people are put off at the thought of travelling to Iceland during its winter. This is when the weather is at its most volatile; fast and dramatic changes in weather can send temperatures plummeting, and sudden bursts of wind can rise out of nowhere. Blizzards leave towns underneath piles of snow, and but a winter trip to the country is completely different. Fresh snows blanket the landscape and mountains, but there are still hot springs, all but the largest waterfalls are frozen.
 
Average Temperatures in Winter
December:   Low of -2.8°C, high of 2.2°C
January:       Low of -3°C, high of 1.9°C 
February:      Low of -2.1°C, high of 2.8°C
 
The shortest day of the year falls around the 21st of December, when the sun only hangs in the sky for around 3 to 4 hours. But despite its northerly latitude, the winters are surprisingly mild when it comes to temperature, hovering around 0°C. January is the coldest month in Iceland, but by February, the daylight hours have slowly crept up to around 9 hours. 
 
 
Top 5 Things to do in Iceland during Winter:
 
 

James Taylor is a travel journalist from Australia who lived in Iceland for three years.

Falling in love with the country, he began to write about his travels for magazines and websites in Australia, Europe and the U.S.A.