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Iceland counts as among the most developed nations in the world. Not only that, it is an exciting tourist destination with hordes of attractive places and a landscape of volcanoes, hot springs, geysers, and lava fields. In your quest for the best time to visit Iceland in 2020, we give you a host of recommendations to enjoy every moment of your entire trip.
The best time of the year to visit Iceland depends on the activities you are keen to pursue in this beautiful country. Summer is typically the preferred time for a visit to Iceland due to warmer temperatures and midnight sun. However, if you are a hiker, the months of July and August are more suited to your needs. For avid fans who come for Northern Lights, the months of February, March, October, and September are the best times to travel to Iceland, with an increased probability of spotting this mysterious event in the sky.
Iceland is a great country to travel to at any time of the year, depending on the kind of fun travelers want to pursue. Across the year, travelers can relish and come to Iceland for photography, hiking, whale watching, hot springs, visiting the blue lagoon, visiting the golden circle, to see orcas and various other activities according to the weather. The following is a month-by-month guide to go to Iceland for travelers across the year:
In terms of weather, January has the lowest average temperature in Iceland and is considered the peak of winter in the country. If you are a fan of the Northern Lights and love the snow, then January is the best month to go to Iceland. Though not a part of the peak tourist season in Iceland, January has its fair share of visitors who are up for something unique, different and fun. The average high temperature this month is 2 degrees Celsius and the average low is -3 degrees Celsius. The sunlight time (day time) is short, ranging from 4 hours at the beginning of January to around 7 hours towards the end of the month. Overall, you can visit Iceland this month if you enjoy the spectre of the Northern Lights and can bear the long nights and short days in the month of January.
February has more daylight hours for tourists to come with family and enjoy the scenery, with temperatures ranging from 0 to 2 degrees celsius. However, visitors with toddlers may find it more challenging to bear the frosty conditions. That being said, there is a high probability of spotting the Northern Lights and even getting to see lush gardens as the temperature is above 0 for most of the month. February has days with almost 10 hours of sunlight, which gives visitors more time to enjoy the bounties of nature with their family. The best part of going to Iceland in February is the crowd-free experience of the winter season that you can enjoy while being at ease. This is in stark contrast to the summer season when the weather is warmer but tourist arrivals peak along with much higher crowd and footfalls.
March has a daylight time over 13 hours by the end of the month even as temperatures have not changed much amidst the winter season. March also marks the start of the Spring season and visiting folks can witness the green landscape that Iceland has to offer. This is a time when prices are lower and there are also fewer tourists, but this can get soured by rainy and windy days. This can be the best time of the year to visit Iceland if you are on a budget. Visitors can also enjoy the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa which is situated in southwestern Iceland. Photography is yet another activity that can be enjoyed in Iceland across the year as the landscape changes every month, ranging from 3 hours of day to 21 hours of day in the year. The average high temperature in March month is 2 degrees Celsius and the average low is 0 degrees Celsius.
April is unofficially seen as the beginning of the summer season in Iceland. The average high temperature crosses 5 degrees Celsius, with precipitation also dropping to a large extent. The length of the day considerably increases in April, with over 16 hours of sunshine every day towards the end of the month. Tourists can enjoy the lambing season which is in full swing at this time. Waterfalls can also be seen as ice melting picks up and water enters the streams and waterways. This month is also an opportune time to drive on the Golden Circle and the Iceland ring road. The ring road is a loop 1300 km long which has the most eye pleasing scenery and gives an overview of the island. April is also a time when prices are on the lower side along with few tourist footfalls.
In terms of weather, May is among the most fabulous times to be in Iceland. With a lot of sunny days despite the chill of around 9 degrees Celsius, the country has less wet days and more attractions to explore in this time of year. The days are longer at 16-18 hour of sunlight while the night is short in duration.
The month of June is home to the longest day of the year in Iceland. The sun rises around 2:42 am and sets at 11:30 pm on an average. The higher up north of the country you go, this time gap between sunset and sunrise narrows. Temperatures also follow the uptrend as June is summer time, with numbers ranging from 11 degrees to 15 degrees Celsius. Since there is less rain and wind, the month of June is a great time to enjoy the outdoor adventures offered in Iceland. Therefore, this month marks the beginning of the tourist season, with higher crowds and higher prices. This is the reason why you need to book your accommodations well in advance for June.
In terms of weather, July has high similarities with June,with a pleasant temperature range across the month. This is also a time when the adventures is Iceland simply do not stop. Be it midnight golf, touring the Golden Circle, visits to black sand beaches, seeing the geysers or visiting waterfalls, the country has a lot to offer in terms of tourist attractions. If you are a fan of whales, you can go to see orcas in this time of the year. These killer whales have a lot of popularity among visitors and to see orcas in the wild is part of many wishlists.
Iceland is known for its short summer and August is the time temperatures start declining in the country. Although August itself is quite on the warmer side, temperatures will only go downhill from this month. The midnight sun is gone but the daylight time continues with sunrise at around 5 am and sunset around 9 pm. You can enjoy the famous Icelandic past time of going to an ice-cream drive to the nearest town, also called ‘isbiltur’. August is also famous for the Great Fish Day which takes place this month. This day is like a blessing for lovers of seafood and foodies in general. Also, the Cultural night and Gay pride takes place in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik in August
With average daylight of 13 hours, September is the time of the year when summer ends and winter is beginning to take shape. The temperatures are still pleasant, but the hordes of tourists are no longer visible and prices also drop in conjunction with lesser visitor footfalls. September in Iceland has a good chance of rain and even an occasional snow, so it is advisable to bring in various kinds of clothes and wear multiple layers of clothing. It is also possible that you get to spot the Northern Lights, which is generally seen between late September and late March every year in Iceland.
October is the month of the year when the colors of autumn are at their peak. Temperatures drop gradually and the length of an average daytime decreases. Towards the end of the month, the sun rises at 9 am and sets at around 5 pm, thus reducing the daylight time to merely 8 hours. However, as an upside, the most of the country is still quite accessible to tourists and visitors who look for reduced prices and fewer crowds can opt for this time of the year for a visit to Iceland. Other things to do in this time of autumn in the country are swimming in the numerous hot springs and natural pools. It is advisable to pack gloves and scarves die to the unpredictable nature of the weather in Iceland.
Temperature in the month of November can drop to as low as 0 degrees but stay at an average of around 3 degrees to the maximum. The sunshine is also reduced to around 6 hours, rising by 10am and setting around 4 pm. Fewer crowds mean that this time of the year is popular with bargain hunters due to the lowest prices of the year. Visitors also come for aurora as part of the Northern Lights experience and stay in camps for days to witness the aurora experience. The Iceland airwaves musical festival is also held in November every year. This is the largest music event in Iceland and if you are a rock and music aficionado, then travel to Iceland in the late fall is the best time to visit the country. Of course, if you are a snow lover, the low temperature and snow will be yet another icing on the cake.
December is the time in Ireland when it is very cold and dark, while also being beautiful in its own sense. Snow covers the landscape of the country whereas holiday lights dazzle across the country to brighten up both the areas and the mood. You can be sure to receive snow or rain or a combination of both in this month of the year. The days are very short and seem the opposite of the long Sunlight days in the month of June. The longest night of the year is experienced in December and visitors can enjoy the ‘long blue’, which is a blue light that lingers before sunrise every day. The average low temperature in Iceland at this time is minus 1 degrees Celsius, not dipping to a large extent from the freezing point. There are fewer tourists at this time of year, resulting in higher availability of accommodation and low prices. This is among the best time to be in Iceland if you can visit in a group and enjoy like a native. Not only that, just as you see the Northern Lights and Aurora in the sky besides the camping setup, you can feel teleported to a different universe altogether.
The Bottom Line
Iceland is a wonderful country with a plethora of attractions suited for everyone who loves nature and its bountiful gifts. Tourism in the country has increased manifold over the years, making it among the most sought after destinations. Many visitors like to find when is the best time to visit Iceland beforehand due to its ever-changing weather. Summers are crowded and have midnight sun as a unique experience. Photography, whale watching, hot springs and hiking experiences are best enjoyed in the summertime.
Iceland is welcoming to all ages and profiles, be it backpackers, families with toddlers, young children and even middle aged adults. There is something for everyone in this beautiful place and if you want to avoid crowds, the best time to visit Iceland is at the onset of Spring during the month of March and April when the prices are low and footfalls are lower. You can also enjoy the waterfalls in Iceland across this time while traversing the Golden Circle in the south of the country.