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  • Einar Páll Svavarsson

When is the best time of year and season to visit Iceland?


In the summer months, the Highland is open, adding multiple destinations to your options
In the summer months, the Highland is open, adding multiple destinations to your options

Summer has always been the best season to visit Iceland and travel around this remarkable country. Years ago, before international tourism set foot in Iceland, we Icelanders only traveled during the summers—around the country and into the Highland for camping and hiking. Summer in Iceland stretches over three months, from the beginning of June to the end of August. And even though summer only lasts for three months, it is by far the best time to explore the country. It is the most favorable time for any road trip—be it a tour of the Westfjords, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and Reykjanes Peninsula or just a simple drive to the Ring Road, or even a day-long excursion to one or more of the many magnificent natural wonders it is host to. There are numerous reasons for this period being the most suitable time to visit Iceland.

There are many interesting options available to take advantage of the 24 hour sunlight in summer in Iceland
There are many interesting options available to take advantage of the 24 hour sunlight in summer in Iceland


 

Summer in Iceland


Summer at Gjáin oasis in Iceland
Summer at Gjáin oasis in Iceland

Since Iceland is situated in the planet’s northernmost part, hinging the arctic circle, this place is never warm, even during summers, unlike most countries worldwide. Additionally, the weather here always remains rather unpredictable. In the summer months, however, the temperature varies from around 6 °C to 18 °C (42 °F to 60 °F). The weather itself stays relatively calm and stable—the gusts of winds and rainy days are but an occasional occurrence (the precipitation is around 6 mm–10mm). More importantly, during summer, all the roads are open, well-maintained, and comfortable to drive on. Visibility on the roads is good, and it is by far the best time to drive around the Icelandic countryside. It would also do you some good to remember that Iceland is an extremely small island, and you can easily drive from one end of the country to another, all in a day’s time. The distance from Reykjavík to one of the easternmost towns Egillsstaðir is only about 650 kilometers (around 403 miles)! If you follow the weather forecast, you can easily change your travel plans without muddling up your itinerary.

Iceland is the perfect country to travel in a rent a car on your own
Iceland is the perfect country to travel in a rent a car on your own

The most beautiful season, and 24 hours of daylight

One advantage is to take long hikes to spectacular places
One advantage is to take long hikes to spectacular places

Since most travelers visit Iceland to feast their eyes on one or more of its natural wonders, summer is the most beautiful season for this indulgence. In summers, everything in Iceland is blooming and bursting with colors. It is also the most suitable time for camping and any other kind of outdoor activities. All restaurants, hotels, camping grounds stay open in every town and village along the coastline. It is during summers when the Icelandic wilderness, the Icelandic Highlands, are also accessible by travelers. And, of course, last but not the least of its lures, this is also the time of the year when Iceland receives 24 hours of daylight and basks in the warmth of the midnight sun. For all these reasons and more, summer is truly the most wonderful time to visit Iceland. And, as for families, those travelling with young adventurous minds, the country offers the most unique vacation spot.


Tours and activities during summer

One option during summer is to visit the many interesting places in the Highland
One option during summer is to visit the many interesting places in the Highland

Everything that the country has to offer in terms of activities and adventure tours is available in the summer months. It is a great time to watch whales and puffins go for sea tours and tread on glaciers. It is an excellent time to hike, and is, at times, the only time to enjoy these exceptional activities. The greatest variety of short tours to exotic places, spectacular landscapes, or highland adventures can be relished at this time. This is also the most excellent time to enjoy Reykjavík—the one-of-its-kind small city with its colorful nightlife that unfolds on bright and sunny nights.


Accommodation in summer

The small village of Fáskrúðsfjörður is an example of a great place to accommodate when driving the Ring Road
The small village of Fáskrúðsfjörður is an example of a great place to accommodate when driving the Ring Road

With Iceland’s ever-growing tourist appeal, finding proper and affordable accommodation during summer can be very difficult. Often, most, if not all, hotels and guest houses are more or less fully booked for the summer in March and April. So, if you are planning to travel during the summer months, you must book early. Accommodation is expensive at this time, only getting pricier as summer approaches. One alternative, of course, is to camp at some of the spectacular sites around the country. It is definitely one of the advantages you can enjoy during summer. And for this, you should remember that almost every town and village in Iceland boasts a good camping site and great swimming pools with great showers.


The bottom line for summer - the best time to visit Iceland

Summer is a great time to visit Gullfoss and the Golden Circle
Summer is a great time to visit Gullfoss and the Golden Circle

Anyone who is planning to have a great vacation in Iceland should visit the country in the summer months. It is the best time to witness its most fascinating natural wonders, bask in its exquisite weather, enjoy long hours of daylight, and make the most of hikes and camping in its remarkable courtside. It is also the perfect time to enjoy the tranquil places and personal sanctuaries, appreciate the beauty of the highlands, and to explore the entire country overall. It is also the only time when every service and every tour operator is open for business along the coastline as well as the inlands.


 

Autumn in Iceland


Autumn in Iceland is especially interesting for photographers
Autumn in Iceland is especially interesting for photographers

Like summer, the fall or autumn is also an excellent season for visiting Iceland, but in a different way and for different reasons. Around this time, the weather starts getting colder, and the days shorter. But this is also the season that offers spectacular light and clear skies— the time when frost and snow is just approaching.

The changes in sunlight during autumn is often a great addition to the tour
The changes in sunlight during autumn is often a great addition to the tour

Weather and roads in autumn/fall

Autumn in Iceland is a great season for photograpers
Autumn in Iceland is a great season for photograpers

Autumn or fall begins in September and stays till the middle of November. The temperature remains at around 1 °C to 9 °C (34 °F to 48 °F). During this period, travelers can expect snowfall, since the temperature plummets considerably by this time, especially in late October and November (rainfall is around 9 mm– 16mm). As you can see, compared to summer temperatures, the autumn temperatures show a considerable decline. Most roads are open and fairly easy to traverse, apart from the possibility of slippery roads if the temperature falls below 0 °C (32 °F). This is particularly true for roads at higher altitudes, mountain passes, and the Highland roads. Driving is not as easy as it is in summer, requiring more preparation and caution. But, it is also important to understand that most of the highland roads close in late September or at least around the beginning of October.


Autumn/fall is the preferred season and time for photography lovers and people who don't like crowded locales.