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When is the best time to visit Iceland?

When is the best time to visit Iceland?

best time to visit iceland

While most people will tell you, summer is the best time to visit, you should not forget about the Northern Lights and other benefits that only await you during the winter. If you plan to visit Iceland on a budget, camping in the summer can save you lots of money. On the other hand, the prices for accommodation are less expensive in the winter. Here is all you need to know about the two seasons.

visit iceland in winter
Iceland road trip in the wintertime. Photo by Anna_Om

Summer vs. Winter

Why you should visit Iceland in the summertime

Summertime is the main season for most tourists to visit Iceland. Milder temperatures, long daylight hours, and puffins attract most people during May and August. Additionally, most cruise ships dock during the summer and bring thousands of people into the capital for a few days.

visit iceland with midnights sun
Midnight sun behind Mt. Kirkufell. Photo by mstandret

If you want to get the most out of your vacation: Visiting Iceland in the summer opens up more options as driving the ring road 1 which is the road the takes you around the country. Also for birdwatching, especially puffin watching you should come in the summertime.

For a budget visit, we recommend renting a campervan which will be both your car and home during a drive around the country. Buy groceries at Bónus and avoid dining out. You are not limited by the nighttime and can visit attractions at any time, 24 hours a day.

Why you should consider to visit Iceland in the wintertime

Wintertime is also the off-season for tourism, which brings you more privacy and fewer people at main attractions. No. 1 reason to visit Iceland in the wintertime is, of course, Northern Lights. If you get through the darkness, you might be rewarded with breathtaking auroras in the sky.

Visit iceland in wintertime
Northern Lights over Iceland. Photo by mdurinik

Ice Caves form during the summer, when meltwater runs underneath the glacier, forming spectacle fissures, tunnels, and caves. When the water freezes in the wintertime, you can visit the caves with a guided tour. A once in a lifetime experience.

Prices for accommodation are lower during the winter and last but not least, the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival is a unique event to get to know Icelanders, the music scene, and the culture of Iceland. It is held at the beginning of November. Definitely worth taking a trip during this time.

best time to visit iceland airwaves
Reykjavík during Iceland Airwaves. Photo Carly Zeiser

Wintertime is also the time of colder temperatures, and storms that hit the country on a regular basis. Some of these storms are more severe than others and can lead to road closure. Therefore it will be much harder to drive around the ring road 1 in the winter months in Iceland.

See Also
Pack for Iceland Trip

Best time to Visit Iceland: Conclusion

We always recommend to visit Iceland twice: summer and wintertime. Only then, you can experience the full beauty of both seasons and get to know the country from different angles. Flights will be cheaper in the wintertime, so if darker days and colder temperatures work for you, planning your first visit around November, able to catch the Iceland Airwaves Festival, is a good way to start.

We hope you stay happy and healthy during the pandemic, and that you can plan your 2021 trip to Iceland. Please contact us if you have any questions. You can send us an email to info(at)

Steffi & Aðalbjörn

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