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Iceland: Best Time to Visit


When planning a trip anywhere, we always consider what the weather is going to be like because we need to know what to pack beforehand and what to wear when we are at our destination. In the case of Iceland, the climate can vary and therefore there are a few things to consider when deciding the best time to visit for an Iceland vacation.

First of all, the name Iceland, in some respects is a misnomer, weather-wise. However, it should be remembered that geographically, Iceland is far enough north to experience short daylight in winter and short nights in summer. Iceland is located just south of the Arctic Circle, but due to the Gulf Stream, temperatures are cool in the summer and mild in winter. New York's and Toronto’s winter lows are usually lower than Reykjavik’s. Secondly, the busy times (or high season) is June to August inclusive. Thirdly, there are times of the year when it is best for different types of activities.

The Midnight Sun brings warmer temperatures in the summer. There are almost 24 hours of daylight during summer season months. Winter can be a spectacular time to visit but temperatures can drop down considerably, especially from December to February. You don't have to avoid Iceland in winter but do take appropriate clothing. Experiencing the snowy landscapes can be rewarding. However, there are usually only around 4 to 5 hours of daylight. Another consideration is that the heaviest rainfalls are between October and February. If driving, roads in the hinterland are generally closed from October to May. In spring and fall, daylight hours are roughly the same as in North America or Europe.

When it comes to enjoying specific activities, here are some guidelines. The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis appear from September until April but February to March and September to October are the best months to see them. For whale watching, try April to October when you can see the whales in their natural habitat. Cross-country skiing is excellent from February onwards. For cultural activities and nightlife, Reykjavik offers these year-round. Geothermal pools also operate year-round. Xmas and New Year bring many special activities and attractions. Outside of summer, day tours from Reykjavik are less varied but still available. The popular Golden Circle tour runs year-round and two of its main attractions, the Strokkur geyser and the Gullfoss waterfall are even more fascinating in winter.

Reykjavik Average Temperatures.

Jan Apr Jun Aug Oct
3 C/37 F  5 C/41 F 11 C/52 F 13 C/55 F 6 C/43 F

NOTE – All quoted temperatures are daytime average highs unless otherwise stated and can vary.


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