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best time to visit iceland

Iceland is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. With towering mountains, glaciers, and volcanoes, it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise. Iceland is known for its chilly temperatures, which may make you wonder about the best time to visit. Here, we'll walk you through what to expect throughout the year so you can choose the best time for an Iceland trip.

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Gullfoss Waterfall, Golden Circle, IcelandUnsplash

Iceland's Main Tourism Seasons

Iceland's main tourism seasons can be broadly categorized into the high season, the shoulder season, and the low season. Each season offers visitors a different experience, catering to various interests and activities.

High Season: June to August

The high season coincides with the warmest weather, the longest days (including the midnight sun), and the full accessibility of most attractions, including the highlands. It's the most popular time for outdoor activities and also when Icelanders often take their vacations, leading to more crowded attractions.

Shoulder Season: May and September to October

These months offer a balance between mild weather and fewer tourists. The prices are generally lower than in the high season. During May, the days are getting longer, and by September and October, the Northern Lights start to become visible again.

Low Season: November to April

The low season is characterized by colder weather, shorter days, and potential closures of certain attractions due to weather conditions. However, this is considered the best time to visit for those who wish to experience the Northern Lights. Tourist numbers are lower, leading to a quieter experience and often reduced rates on accommodation and tours.

Remember that Icelandic weather can be unpredictable, and conditions can change rapidly, something that is consistent throughout the year, so always plan accordingly.

Iceland Northern LightsUnsplash

December to January: Best Time for the Northern Lights

If you hope to see the Northern Lights, the best time to visit Iceland is in December or January. While you can still see this spectacular display from September to March, December and January's longer nights drastically increase your chances. 

Beyond having a better chance of seeing the Northern Lights, there are plenty of other reasons to visit Iceland between December and January. Many areas of the country are lit up with holiday lights and other festive decorations, making it a true winter wonderland. 

February to March: Best Time for Snow Activities and Sports

February and March are the best times to visit Iceland if you want to spend time in the snow. The Winter Lights Festival in Reykjavik is a great place to start. It features more than 150 events, mixing art and industry, environment and history, and sports and culture. 

While this is still a cold time to visit Iceland, spring brings more sunshine, making it a fantastic time to explore the country's stunning landscapes. It's also the time of year that many of the country's natural springs come back to life following the winter season. 

Blue Lagoon, IcelandUnsplash

April to May: Best Time for Fewer Crowds

Like most countries, Iceland has certain times of the year that are less crowded than others. April and May tend to be the off-peak season for Iceland, which makes it a great time to visit. With fewer tourists, it's often the most affordable time to visit Iceland, depending on where you’re flying from.

By this time of year, the weather has started to warm, but it's still chilly. It's a great time to visit Iceland's hot springs and the Blue Lagoon. Since there tend to be fewer travelers, you won't have to deal with the usual crowds of tourists. 

Remember, though there are fewer crowds, not all tour companies and attractions are open. We recommend researching activities ahead of time to ensure you don't miss out on any bucket list items during your trip. 

June to August: Best Time for Outdoor Recreation

June through August is hands-down the best time to visit Iceland. This is when you'll experience the best weather for outdoor exploration. It's also the time of year that most Icelanders vacation around the country, as the weather tends to be the warmest and most cooperative. 

This is the best time of year to hike, bike, camp, and road trip. Plus, Iceland's shores become a hotspot for migratory whales between June and August, making it the perfect time for whale-watching. However, it's also the height of the tourist season, so keep in mind that your travels may be more costly. 

Reykjavik, IcelandUnsplash

September to November: Best Time for Cultural Events

As summer falls away, autumn arrives in Iceland. There are several cultural events at this time, including the Icelandic tradition of Réttir. During this event, farmers set out on their horses to round up horses and sheep that have been grazing during summer. Once they've herded the animals, locals gather to listen to music and dance. 

Iceland at this time is beautiful as the trees start to change colors. You can still visit places like Þingvellir National Park and take road trips around the country. This might even be the best time to do that if you don’t mind the colder weather, as there will be fewer tourists and locals traveling around.

Stay Connected With an eSIM From Airalo

No matter when you travel, stay connected with an Airalo eSIM. Airalo gives you access to affordable eSIMs for 200+ countries and regions — including Iceland.

Why Airalo? Here are a few reasons to use an Airalo eSIM when you travel:

  • Connect to a mobile network within minutes of arrival.
  • Choose from flexible local, regional, and global data plans.
  • Eliminate the need to find a local SIM vendor.
  • Say goodbye to expensive roaming charges.
  • Store multiple eSIM data plans on your device.
  • Running out of data? Top up in the Airalo app.

Planning a trip to Iceland? Get an Iceland eSIM to stay connected during your trip.

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