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Best Time To Visit Iceland

best time to visit iceland
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There is no denying that Iceland has become one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe over the past few years.  

After all, the pristine scenery of this country is beyond ethereal, be it the glaciers, rugged fjords, or the northern lights. Not to mention, it is the land of Viking folklore. 

If you plan to visit Iceland soon, rest assured that it will be one of the best decisions you will make. But hold up! Before booking the flight tickets, you would want to know the best time to visit Iceland so that you can make the most out of the trip. 

Needless to say, some attractions such as the midnight sun and the northern lights are best watched during certain months of the year. This article discusses everything you need to know about the best time to visit Iceland. 

So, make sure you read it till the end. 

When Is The Best Time To Visit Iceland?

As mentioned, while some attractions are open all year, like the famous hot springs, natural phenomena like the midnight sun and the northern lights are best viewed during certain months.

Hence, it’s crucial that you decide the things you want to do on the trip before booking the flight tickets since the time of the year can dictate what’s available.   

1. Best Time For Watching The Northern Lights

To enjoy watching the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, you will need three important factors: a spike in solar activity, clear conditions, and darkness.

Note that viewings can often be elusive. So, to avoid disappointment, don’t plan the trip to Iceland solely for the aurora borealis because the weather in the country is too unpredictable. 

In our opinion, the ideal way to improve your chances of seeing the aurora borealis is by visiting the island sometime between mid-October and March.

You will get prolonged hours of nighttime during that time. And you can catch a glimpse of the northern lights by getting out into the rural area where there is minimal ambient light pollution.        

2. Best Time For Visiting The Hot Springs

The hot water baths in Iceland are one of the integral components of the local culture, both for wellness and social benefits. The public pools in Reykjavík are open throughout the year.

But in addition, the island possesses a huge number of undiscovered “hot pots” that are directly connected to the geothermal activity under the lava-streaked surface. 

According to Icelandic people, the best time for visiting the hot springs are in September and October. That is because, during that time, the hot springs remain accessible by mountain road.

For those looking to visit the Blue Lagoon, the best time to visit would be during the off-season, when there is less crowd.  

3. Best Time For Whale Watching

Icelandic seas are home to 23 distinct kinds of whales.

To see the whales in Iceland, you must be there in June and July. In northern Iceland, you will enjoy watching dolphins, minkes, and humpbacks, which ply the Atlantic in May, June, July, and August.

Many tour companies such as Whales Watching Iceland can provide you with a memorable whale watching experience.

That said, make sure that you don’t plan on hunting whales. Even though whales are considered “traditional delicacies” on the island, it is highly immoral.

We strongly recommend that you learn about “Meet Us, Don’t Eat Us,” a collaborative project between IceWhale and IFAW to end commercial whale hunting in Iceland. 

4. Best Time For Enjoying The Weather

If you want to enjoy the weather in Iceland, we strongly recommend that you visit during the summer months: August and July. These two months are the warmest in Iceland and have long been the ideal time to visit this place.

You can visit the island in June as well to experience 24 hours of daylight. 

However, keep in mind that even during the months of June, July, and August, bad weather with intense winds and rain is not unusual. The unpredictable climate in this part of the world could very well mean that you could experience all four seasons in one single day.

Iceland can also stay considerably warm throughout the first week of October; hence you can plan a visit in September. Other than that, May also offers sufficient daylight for sightseeing.

However, if you are looking to explore the most remote fjords and hills, it might not be the perfect time to visit because some roads remain closed during this time.

For adventure and hiking enthusiasts, the ideal time to visit the island is the summer because during this time, the famous trails are accessible, and the mountain roads stay open.

All in all, we strongly recommend that you plan your trip to Iceland during the summer months: July and August.

5. Best Time For Horse Riding

You might be surprised to know, but Iceland is quite popular for its stocky and cute horses! If you want to experience an adventure of a lifetime, we recommend exploring Iceland on horseback.

You can arrange multi-day horse treks in various parts of the country and enjoy horse riding.

Now, as far as the best time for horse riding is concerned, September and May are ideal. These two months have fairly cool weather that can make your horse rides pleasant.   

6. Best Time To Watch Birdlife

The best bird-watching time is late May since the birds start migrating to the island nation earlier this month. Therefore, there is a high chance that you will spot birds throughout the month.

In Iceland, you may see various species of birds, including Arctic Terns, Puffins, and seabirds.

5 Unusual Things To Do In Iceland

In this section, we have listed a few other things that you don’t want to miss out on when in Iceland:

1. Enjoy Fermented Fish 

Iceland is quite popular for its range of seafood, and if you want to do something extraordinary, we suggest trying out the local cuisine. Hákarl, or fermented fish, is a conventional Icelandic dish that is certainly not for those with a faint heart.

It has a pungent ammonia scent, but once you get used to it, you may end up liking it. You will find hákarl in any restaurant and supermarket in Reykjavik. 

2. Visit The Reykjavik Art Museum

Tired of sightseeing and whale watching? Then take some time out to visit the Reykjavik Art Museum. A unique thing about this historical museum is that it has two separate buildings: the small building and the main one, both open to the common public.

The museum sports works by popular Icelandic artists between the 19th and 20th centuries.  

3. Walk Through The Grandi Harbor District

You could also consider taking a walk around the Grandi Harbor district. It is a lovely area in the north of the city and is home to many restaurants, warehouses, and the only brewery in Reykjavik, Ölgerðin Egill Skallagrímsson.

It is a perfect place to stroll on a pleasant sunny day. Not to mention, you will get to see the entire city from across the harbor.      

4. Explore Laugavegur

While visiting a country, we believe that one must get familiar with the norms of the local people. And what better way to do that than visiting the shopping streets and getting in touch with the locals?

Laugavegur is one of the most popular shopping streets in Reykjavik and home to the best restaurants and bars in the city.

The street is nearly a mile long, and you can expect to find everything from souvenir shops to premium fashion boutiques along your way. You will also find restaurants and bars serving local cuisines such as smoked lamb, lamb soup, and brennivín.    

5. Munch On Some Hot Dogs From Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur

When it comes to Icelandic foods, we bet hot dogs would be the last thing on your mind. But you may be surprised that hot dogs are quite popular in Iceland, especially in Reykjavik.

You will find Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, a chain of hot dog stands spread across the city. And the best part? Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hot dogs are considered one of the best in the world, so they are a must-try for tourists.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here, we have tried answering a couple of commonly asked questions to help clear your doubts.

What are the different seasons in Iceland?

There are four main seasons in Iceland are:
1. Spring
2. Winter
3. Fall
4. Summer

How long should you stay in Iceland?

We strongly recommend spending at least a week on a shorter trip. For a slightly longer trip, you can consider staying for two weeks to experience everything we have mentioned in this article.

Final Thoughts

With that, we have come to the end of our informational article. Hopefully, now you know the best time to visit Iceland and the activities you can partake in.

If you dislike crowds, you might want to avoid visiting the country from June to August as the biggest attractions in the country are busy during this time.   

But if you are okay with crowds, June, July, and August could offer you some of the best experiences in Iceland.

On the other hand, if you are visiting mainly for sightseeing and outdoor activities, avoid going during the winter when it is cold and dark all around.

On that note, it is time for us to call it a day. Until next time, take care!

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