When is the Best Time to Visit Iceland?

Uncover the best time of year to experience the other-worldly landscapes of Iceland.

  • Tailored Iceland holidays for every season
  • Expert travel advice from award-winning experts
  • Must-visit places and experiences regardless of the weather
  • 24/7 service all year round
Best time to visit

The best time to visit Iceland depends on what you’re hoping to do. One of the few places that remains spectacular year-round, Iceland has something mesmerising to offer each month. Winter brings snow in abundance with cosy hotels, landscapes covered in a blanket of white, and of course the real star of the show: the Northern Lights. While June to August brings warm weather and the most sunshine, which coincides with Iceland’s peak season. Make the most of the long summer days with whale watching and outdoor activities such as hiking or kayaking. Read on for more about the best time of year to visit Iceland.

Our Experts Say...

"Iceland is a year-round destination but the weather can be unpredictable. It's always best to pack appropriate clothing, including layers, waterproof gear and sturdy shoes whatever the season.

"Summer is an ideal time for families as the weather is mild ranging from 10°C to 15°C. It's the best time for outdoor activities, exploring the highlands and whale watching. It's worth remembering that sun is strong and you can easily burn so don't forget to pack some sunscreen. In winter, it's the darkest time of the year with just four to five hours of daylight, which is great for seeing the Northern Lights but not so ideal for sightseeing. You can also expect temperatures to drop, affected largely by the wind-chill factor, so you need to come prepared. That said, it's still a popular time to visit and there will be plenty going on. New Year's Eve is considered a big attraction and the whole of Reykjavik and other towns are decorated with Christmas lights from November to January. Winter is also perfect for thrill-seekers, with opportunities for snow sports, ice-climbing and snowmobiling. The stunning landscapes create a surreal backdrop for unforgettable adventures. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy spring and fall as it offers unique experiences with changing landscapes, birdwatching and a chance to see the Northern Lights. It's also a great time to explore Iceland's diverse flora and fauna. Booking in advance is recommended especially during the peak summer season."

Ria Santamaria, Europe Specialist

Monthly Climate Guide for Iceland

, Iceland

Average temperatures (Celsius) and rainfall (mm)

Jan
12°C 10mm
Feb
12°C 8mm
Mar
15°C 9mm
Apr
17°C 8mm
May
20°C 7mm
Jun
23°C 8mm
Jul
24°C 10mm
Aug
23°C 10mm
Sep
22°C 7mm
Oct
17°C 10mm
Nov
14°C 12mm
Dec
13°C 10mm
Jan
12°C 10mm
Feb
12°C 8mm
Mar
15°C 9mm
Apr
17°C 8mm
May
20°C 7mm
Jun
23°C 8mm
Jul
24°C 10mm
Aug
23°C 10mm
Sep
22°C 7mm
Oct
17°C 10mm
Nov
14°C 12mm
Dec
13°C 10mm
Jan
12°C 10mm
Feb
12°C 8mm
Mar
15°C 9mm
Apr
17°C 8mm
May
20°C 7mm
Jun
23°C 8mm
Jul
24°C 10mm
Aug
23°C 10mm
Sep
22°C 7mm
Oct
17°C 10mm
Nov
14°C 12mm
Dec
13°C 10mm
Jan
12°C 10mm
Feb
12°C 8mm
Mar
15°C 9mm
Apr
17°C 8mm
May
20°C 7mm
Jun
23°C 8mm
Jul
24°C 10mm
Aug
23°C 10mm
Sep
22°C 7mm
Oct
17°C 10mm
Nov
14°C 12mm
Dec
13°C 10mm

Due to its location just south of the Arctic Circle, Iceland experiences cool weather most of the year, with temperatures in the summer months averaging around 10-13°C, and between 0 and 5°C in the winter. However, Iceland is prone to rapid shifts in weather conditions, including rain, wind, fog, and even occasional snowstorms, regardless of the season.

When thinking about the best time to go to Iceland, it’s important to take into consideration its extreme variations in daylight hours throughout the year. During the summer months, particularly from late May to late July, Iceland experiences the phenomenon of the Midnight Sun, with almost 24 hours of daylight, offering plenty of time for exploration and outdoor activities. On the other hand, the winter months, usually from late November to late January, have only a few hours of dim daylight, making this the best time to visit Iceland for the Northern Lights.

Understanding Iceland’s Seasons

Iceland is a stunning country; the lure of its ethereal, natural landscapes – from exploding geysers to balmy hot springs – calls to visitors year-round, making it hard to pinpoint just one best time to visit Iceland. However, here’s season by season what delights await throughout the year.

Best time to visit Iceland for…

Northern Lights

Known as Aurora Borealis, the dramatic nocturnal summer sun of the 'white nights' is one of the main attractions in Iceland. The best time to visit Iceland for northern lights is from September to March, between 9 pm and 2 am. And it is the only country (apart from Greenland) where you can see the lights from anywhere dark, which isn’t hard most of the year. Although it isn’t a guarantee that you will see them, by booking with Scott Dunn, we will ensure you have the best chance possible by guiding you to the top destinations to find unbeatable viewing spots and hotels. Our local guides and experts will have insider tips and knowledge about the northern lights as they happen, which means we can advise you on where best to go for optimal viewing.

Because you can see the lights all over Iceland, most of the luxury hotels we work with will be excellent choices. However, some of the more remote properties offer up uninterrupted views in unforgettable settings, such as Deplar Farm, Hotel Ranga, Torfhus Retreat, Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon, and Highland Base Kerlingarfjolll.

Outdoor Adventure Holidays

You’ve got a few options when it comes to adventure holidays in Iceland. Either go in the summer – from June to August – to make the most of the long summer days – or in winter and embrace the snowy adventures like snowmobiling, heli-skiing and climbing ice caves.

At both times of the year, you could head to places like the Blue Lagoon and other geothermal baths to either warm up from the cold or enjoy the mild temperatures outside the springs in the summer.

Summer is the best time of year to visit Iceland for birdwatching when migratory species flock to the country and the surrounding landscape shows off its finest flora and fauna. While whale watching is possible all year round, the best opportunities are from April to September, when various whale species, including humpback whales and minke whales, frequent Iceland's coastal waters.

Keen hikers will also find the summer months (June to August) the best time to visit Iceland thanks to the clear skies, lush green landscapes, and vibrant colours. Another exciting way to see the outdoors this time of year is on an RTV or jeep tour, which will take you around lava fields, waterfalls and across remote locations.

Capturing the incredible natural beauty of Iceland through a lens draws many photographers to the country. Any time of year will allow you the chance to take pictures of some of the most photogenic places in the world, whether that’s of magical glaciers, from inside a volcano, or of the northern lights.

Off-Peak Travel

The busiest time to travel to Iceland is typically during the summer. This is when you’ll find warmer temperatures, long daylight hours, and a plethora of exciting outdoor activities, making it highly popular. Additionally, the allure of the Midnight Sun and festivals (such as the Lobster, Viking, and Reykjavik Arts Festival) also contribute to the peak season rush.

Off-peak times, such as autumn and early spring, offer fewer crowds and more affordable accommodation and flight options. While daylight hours are shorter, visitors can still enjoy experiences like the northern lights, whale watching and horse riding.

Meet Our Iceland Experts

Our team of specialists are waiting to help you book your next adventure. Contact us today to start planning your tailor-made trip.

Best Time to Visit Iceland FAQs

  • How many days in Iceland is enough?

    We suggest you need between four and eight days to visit Iceland. Our shortest holidays to Iceland are four days, which is enough time to fly into Reykjavik and then head to a destination to see the northern lights. Other tours will be longer (a week or more) and allow you to travel around the country and enjoy a wider range of activities and destinations.

  • When is the best time to visit Iceland with family?

    The best time to visit Iceland with family and children is in the summer, between June and August. This is because the winter can get very cold, which could be uncomfortable for young children, and the warmer summer months will allow you to take part in more of the country’s activities. However, if you want to see the northern lights, it’s best to travel between November and March. While, if you’re travelling with older kids, they might love the likes of heli-skiing and snowmobiling in the winter months – during the Christmas or half-term holidays, for example.

  • When is the best time to visit Iceland and Norway?

    Many of the Nordic countries are best in the summer – from June to August – which is also true for finding the best time to visit Iceland and Norway. The longer days and warmer weather make the outdoor activities easier to navigate, however, there is something very magical and festive about visiting Iceland and Norway in the winter, particularly around Christmas. To decide when the best time to travel is for you, call one of our specialists and let them know what’s on your bucket list.

Call us on 020 3993 6439 to start planning your holiday

Plan your Iceland trip today
Plan your Iceland trip today

Our team of travel specialists are waiting to help you book your next adventure.

Plan your trip

Why Choose Scott Dunn for Your Luxury Iceland Holiday?

Why SD and In the Know Icons_Unique
Unique to You
Unique to you

  • We listen to your travel goals and craft unique trips that are bespoke to you.
  • We’re with you every step of your life’s travel journey, from honeymoons to family trips and beyond.

Why SD and In the Know Icons_Service
Seamless Service
Seamless Service

  • Global offices in the UK, US, and Singapore for 24/7 seamless service.
  • We offer flexibility if your plans change so you can book with confidence and peace of mind.
     

Why SD and In the Know Icons_Collection
Carefully Curated Collection
Curated Collection

  • We’ve curated an elevated collection of accommodation, experiences, and guides.
  • Committed to fostering close global relationships to continue bringing you unique experiences.

Why SD and In the Know Icons_Luxury
Luxury in Every Sense
Luxury in every sense

  • We deliver a sense of luxury that matters most to you.
  • Awarded Condé Nast Traveller’s Top Travel Specialists in the World 10 years in a row.
     
     

You are on our UK website
We noticed that you are in US and recommend that you explore our US website instead.
switch to US website
Or continue to explore our UK website