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View of basalt stacks near the village of Vik

When is the best time to visit Iceland?

Thanks to its isolated position reached by the Gulf Stream, Iceland enjoys a temperate maritime climate, with short, cool summers and long, surprisingly mild winters. As there’s little fluctuation in temperature, it’s a great year-round destination, although certain activities are seasonal.

There can also be unexpected rain throughout the year, so you should always be prepared for chilly, wet and windy days. Winter blizzards may delay travel plans, and late thaws in the highlands might affect travel in the summer. But, as Icelanders will say: if you don't like the weather, just wait a bit.

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An Icelander once told me there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes choices. No matter what time of year you’re in Iceland and whatever the weather’s doing, you’re left with plenty of things to do. I particularly like visiting between June and mid-August, when you can see puffins and humpbacks and follow hiking trails through the Highlands.

Grace, Canada & Iceland Specialist

Iceland Climate Guide

Destination Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Blue Lagoon 2°C 104mm 3°C 101mm 3°C 102mm 5°C 82mm 9°C 68mm 11°C 71mm 13°C 67mm 13°C 92mm 10°C 97mm 7°C 124mm 3°C 104mm 2°C 111mm
Dettifoss -2°C 68mm -1°C 52mm -1°C 58mm 2°C 45mm 6°C 38mm 10°C 50mm 12°C 61mm 11°C 66mm 7°C 71mm 3°C 82mm 0°C 71mm -1°C 69mm
Flatey -1°C 87mm -1°C 77mm -1°C 77mm 2°C 57mm 6°C 42mm 9°C 47mm 11°C 51mm 10°C 60mm 7°C 78mm 3°C 102mm 0°C 96mm -1°C 83mm
Golden Circle 0°C 93mm 0°C 92mm 1°C 92mm 4°C 77mm 8°C 60mm 11°C 76mm 13°C 79mm 12°C 92mm 9°C 91mm 5°C 111mm 1°C 97mm 0°C 99mm
Reykjavík 1°C 99mm 2°C 97mm 2°C 99mm 5°C 75mm 9°C 60mm 11°C 67mm 13°C 66mm 12°C 83mm 9°C 86mm 6°C 115mm 2°C 97mm 1°C 100mm
Snæfellsnes Peninsula 0°C 87mm 0°C 85mm 0°C 84mm 3°C 67mm 7°C 49mm 10°C 55mm 12°C 57mm 11°C 68mm 8°C 78mm 5°C 103mm 1°C 94mm 0°C 90mm
Troll Peninsula -2°C 64mm -1°C 52mm -1°C 59mm 2°C 46mm 6°C 33mm 10°C 43mm 11°C 54mm 11°C 60mm 7°C 62mm 3°C 73mm 0°C 62mm -1°C 65mm
Vatnajökull National Park -2°C 174mm -1°C 148mm -1°C 147mm 2°C 123mm 5°C 122mm 9°C 130mm 11°C 122mm 10°C 152mm 7°C 153mm 3°C 199mm -1°C 159mm -2°C 164mm

Month-by-month guide to travelling in Iceland

Aurora in Iceland

Visiting Iceland in December

A wonderful time to visit Iceland, when festive lights illuminate towns and cities. Towards the end of the month, the sun lingers on the horizon for just four hours, creating a strange, ethereal twilight. Tours need to be planned carefully to make the most of the limited daylight hours, and, weather permitting, the northern lights frequently make an appearance.

Events & Festivals

  • In the 13 days before Christmas, troll-like Jólasveinar (‘Yule lads’) are said to visit children one-by-one in the days leading up to Christmas. Formerly, they tried to play tricks on people, but now they leave children small gifts. You might see the Jólasveinar projected onto buildings in Reykjavík, and they visit some hotels to leave small tokens for guests.
  • New Year’s Eve is the biggest party of the year in Iceland, when bonfires and fireworks are lit, and Icelanders gather to share the warmth and sing. Belief in elves (huldufólk) is widespread in Iceland and they’re said to be most active at New Year, so it’s common for Icelanders to reference them in songs at this time of year.
  • The northern lights can be viewed in Iceland between early September and early April, if skies are clear and aurora activity is forecast. Chances of seeing them are best between November and February, when the sun sets before 6pm and the nights are longest.

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Trip ideas and travel guides to exploring Iceland