Here’s all you need to know about the weather in Iceland to help you decide when to go.
Weather in Iceland
It’s no surprise that the weather is often a deciding factor when weighing up when to go to Iceland, and it just so happens that the weather in Iceland is notoriously unpredictable.
In summer there’s a fair chance of bright and sunny days, and temperatures can reach 17°C, but good weather in Iceland is often interspersed with wet and misty spells when the temperature can plummet to a chilly 10°C.
Winter weather in Iceland is a frosty and dark affair with temperatures fluctuating at 7–8°C either side of freezing point.
When to go to Iceland
When it comes to visiting Iceland for the first time, the chances are that you’ve got one of two things on your mind: seeing the Northern Lights or experiencing the Midnight Sun.
In actual fact, almost all of Iceland lies south of the Arctic Circle and therefore doesn’t experience a true Midnight Sun. But nights are light from mid-May to early August across the country, and in the north, the sun never fully sets during June.
Between September and January the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights can often be seen throughout the country, although it’s never guaranteed to actually show up. Daylight in wintertime is limited to a few hours – in Reykjavík, sunrise isn’t until almost 11am in December; the sun is already sinking slowly back towards the horizon after 1pm.
Average temperature and rainfall
We’ve put together an average temperature and rainfall chart to give you a rough idea of what to expect of the weather in Iceland in any given month. We’ve looked at the weather in Reykjavík, the capital, as it’s where many people choose to base themselves and so provides a good basis to help you decide when’s the best time to visit Iceland.
The best time to visit Iceland
In a nutshell, when to go to Iceland depends on what you plan to do:
Are hiking and outdoor activities the main items on the itinerary? Want to spot a whale? Then you’ll benefit from the long days of summer. Best time to visit: June to August.
Keen to experience cosy Nordic interiors, snowy landscapes and catch a glimpse of the magical Northern Lights (no promises)? Best time to visit: September to mid-April.
No matter when you decide to visit, prepare for rain and wind and hedge your bets with plenty of layers and sunscreen.
When thinking about the best time to visit Iceland, it’s also worth bearing in mind that most museums and attractions are only open from late May to early September, and it’s at these times, too, that buses run their fullest schedules.