The best time to visit Iceland depends on what you want to see! Iceland is undeniably a year-round destination, because between summer and winter the landscapes completely transform. Want to get active around the green countryside and have heaps of daylight to see wildlife and waterfalls? The warmer spring and summer months are probably ideal times. Prefer to soak in the geothermal baths and get the chance to see the Northern Lights in all their beauty? Then it's likely the cooler months with their longer nights are best for you. We've broken down some of the main factors to consider before choosing when to travel in Iceland.
When to visit to see the Golden Circle
Easily accessible from Reykjavik in both winter and summer, the Golden Circle is a major tourist route that strings together some of the country’s most acclaimed natural sights, including Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area and Gullfoss Waterfall. You can visit all these attractions year-round, but what you see may be vastly different. Summer in Thingvellir sees freshwater streams weaving through vibrant green fields, but in winter the park is coated by snow, the streams turn to ice and even the large Thingvallavatn Lake partly freezes over. At the Geysir, a clear summer day provides the perfect conditions to view an eruption, but during winter you'll get a real sense of the incredible heat that is churning below you. And at Gulfoss in summer the river is surrounded by verdant rocky fields with the falls appearing suddenly and plunging out of sight. But in winter, those fields are covered in a blanket of white, and the falls themselves form icy chunks at the edges.
When to visit to see the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, occurs from late September to late March each year. Winter brings longer nights to Iceland; however, it may also mean cloudier skies, which could limit your view. Like any natural phenomenon, there's no guarantees or keeping to schedules, but visit the right place at the right time and you might experience the most amazing nightlights of your life!
When to visit to get the greenest of Iceland
Spring and summer are considered the best and most ideal times to visit Iceland if green landscapes and balmy days are your thing. The early spring months bring warmer days, while summer offers long daylight hours with only short nights. In the summer season, July and August are the warmest months and the busiest time for tourists. Keep in mind, though, that during summer, daylight hours are long – and we mean super long! In the height of summer the sun 'set's for around three hours, but there is some light in the sky for the whole 24-hour period.
When to visit to beat the crowds
Shoulder seasons or off season in Iceland, around Autumn (September–November) and the middle of Spring (April–May) are an ideal time to travel if waiting in queues, being in crowds and paying higher than usual prices aren't your thing. In September, tourism tends to slow down as the weather becomes unpredictable and the countryside is, at times, less accessible. However, there are plenty of attractions for the off-peak traveller, including the beauty of autumn colours and, of course, when the Aurora starts to light up the skies.
Our tours in Iceland