If you are looking for best time to visit Iceland, you should highly consider heading there during the off-season. Many people think that high season is the best time to go to Iceland, but there is a mystical draw about visiting a place when everyone else has gone home for the season. Whether you are planning an unforgettable road trip, planning to go on one of the many epic tours in Iceland, or just dreaming about a future vacation, rest assured that the best time to travel to Iceland spans from autumn, through winter, and into early spring.
That being said, let’s first take a look at why different times of the year may or may not be the best time to visit Iceland based on what you personally like or dislike! We will explore why summer vs winter is the best time to travel to Iceland and then will explain why we think the off-season is the perfect time to visit Iceland.
If you are planning your trip to Iceland right now, here are some posts you may want to check out later!
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When Is The Best Time To Visit Iceland?
The best time to visit Iceland depends on what YOU want to see and do! There really is no right or wrong answer and Iceland is a magical country to visit at any time of year! The best time of year to go to Iceland will depend on what you are hoping to do. Looking to spot puffins in Iceland? On the hunt for the elusive Northern Lights? Hoping to capture waterfalls at their best? Hopefully, our breakdown will help you choose when to go to Iceland for what you need!
It is the best time to visit Iceland in the summer if you:
-Want to experience the midnight sun. The summer may be the best time to visit Iceland if you have always wanted to experience 24 hour daylight. You won’t find this experience any other time of year so when figuring out the best time to go to Iceland, make sure you take this into consideration!
-See Iceland 100% green. If you are looking to see Iceland 100% green, then the summer is the best time to visit Iceland for you. That being said, the off-season has the potential to be green, especially if you go to Iceland around April/May and September/October. Iceland will still be green during these months but also brown. If you want to see Iceland 100% green then the best time to visit Iceland is in the summer for you.
-Don’t mind the crowds. Iceland is a popular destination and that won’t stop anytime soon. The summer is the best time to visit Iceland if you don’t mind crowds or a lot of people all at one place. If the summer is the best time for you to go to Iceland, keep in mind that it will be more crowded than any other time of year. If you travel to Iceland in summer and want to avoid the crowds, try and go to less popular areas of the country.
-Have more money to burn. Yep, traveling to Iceland is expensive as it is, and traveling to Iceland during the summer is about as expensive as it gets! The summer is the best time to visit Iceland if you don’t mind paying a little extra to visit during the summer months. This is high season for Iceland so it only makes sense that prices on everything from accommodations to car rentals is higher. If you think the summer is the best time to go to Iceland, be sure to keep this in mind!
Iceland in fall is the best time to visit Iceland if you:
-Want to experience the northern lights without the crowds. Fall in Iceland is what we consider to be the off-season. It is one of the best times to see the Northern Lights in Iceland because the weather is warmer and there aren’t as many tourists.
-Want to go to the Iceland Airwaves music festival. Iceland Airwaves is a huge music festival in Iceland, usually held in November each year. If you are looking to rock out in addition to your usual travels, the best time to go to Iceland will be in the late fall!
The winter may be the best time to go to Iceland if you:
-Want to see the northern lights. We won’t talk much about this here but we will say that the winter is the only time to go to Iceland if you want to see the Northern Lights for many hours and not at 2am!
-Love the snow. Snow completely transforms what Iceland looks like. Many people purposefully decide that the best time to visit Iceland is in the winter because they want to see snow!
-Want to do something a little bit different and unique. The best time to travel to Iceland is the winter if you are looking to do something fun and unique that many travelers would never consider to do! Why not give something different a go?
Iceland in spring may be the best time of year to go to Iceland if:
-You are hoping to see Puffins! Puffins start arriving in Iceland for their annual nesting around April! If you are looking to see these cute birds and photograph them, the best time of year to go to Iceland will be in the spring! There are many places around Iceland where you can see puffins so make sure to do your research in advance.
-You don’t want to drive in the snow. Spring in Iceland is known for better weather and less snow than the winter! Depending on what time of year you visit Iceland in spring, you will most likely NOT encounter any snow. If you are tentative about driving in Iceland in the snow, this is the best time of year to go to Iceland if you still want to travel during the off-season!
High And Low Seasons For Visiting Iceland
Iceland’s travel seasons are broken down into three separate categories. There is the high season, the low season, and the shoulder season. We lump the shoulder and low season together and consider that to be the off-season. We think the off-season is the best time to visit Iceland for a variety of reasons that are listed below, but depending on what you want to see and do in Iceland, another time of year may be the best time to go to Iceland for you!
- Low Season In Iceland [November-Feburary] Low season in Iceland is from November to February and is the least busy time to visit Iceland. Although it is technically the least busy time to go to Iceland, Iceland is getting more and more popular meaning that every time of year is busier than you may think.
- High-Season in Iceland [June-August] Iceland’s high season is dead in the middle of summer. Pros of visiting Iceland during the summer are the 24-hour daylight [not a pro if you want to see the Northern Lights!] and the warmer weather. Cons? More expensive and lots of tourists!
- Shoulder-Season in Iceland [March-May and September-October] The shoulder season in Iceland is the time in between the high and low seasons and is the best time to go to Iceland for weather, cost, lack of tourists and more.
- Off-Season in Iceland [September-April] We consider the off-season in Iceland to be a combination of the low and shoulder seasons and truly one of the best times to travel to Iceland! The off-season is a wonderful time of year to go to Iceland for many reasons which we detail below!
7 Reasons Why The Off-Season Is The Best Time To Visit Iceland
#1 The Low Season Is The Best Time To Travel To Iceland Because The Flights Are Super Affordable
First thing is first….you have to get to Iceland! Low-season is the best time to visit Iceland because the flights are extremely cheap. We are talking $99 one way from America and even cheaper from Europe when you fly WOW air. We love flying WOW to Iceland because of their ultra-affordable fares, on-time performance, and super-cool purple planes [It’s a no-brainer!]
We appreciate WOW air’s fare calendar that pops up during booking because it shows which dates are cheapest and help you choose when to visit Iceland. Sometimes, if you modify a date by a day or two, a few hundred dollars may be shaved off your fare! Even though WOW offers cheap flights all year round [$200-$300 one-way, roughly], their flight prices plummet to $99 as soon as the off-season starts which is why we always suggest slower times of the year as the best time to travel to Iceland. This is WOW’s way of helping to convince you that the off-season is the best time to visit Iceland and we couldn’t agree more!
#2 The Off-Season Is The Best Time To Visit Iceland For Northern Lights
Traveling to Iceland during the fall/winter/early spring is the best time to visit Iceland for the Northern Lights. While Iceland is beautiful all year round, a summer trip will not afford you this once-in-a-lifetime chance. Although the Northern Lights are not a guarantee any time of the year, there is a much higher chance of seeing them during winter in Iceland.
If you are looking for the best time to visit Iceland to see the Northern Lights, plan your trip during the low season or winter months. If you don’t want to see snow but still want darkness, visit Iceland in September, October, or April and May. These slower months are the best time to go to Iceland for the Northern Lights!
#3 It Is The Best Time To Go To Iceland Because The Smaller Crowds Make Travel More Enjoyable
It is no secret that Iceland is an incredibly popular travel destination right now. Millions of tourists flock to the Arctic island year-round to bask in its majestic beauty. For us, the best time to visit Iceland is when we aren’t fighting with hundreds of people to catch a glimpse of a waterfall. Although there are still tons of people visiting Iceland year-round, the number of tourists increases dramatically in the summer months. Whether you are a photographer, couple, or solo traveler, the best time to go to Iceland is when you have a little space to enjoy its natural beauty sans crowds.
If you are on the hunt for when to travel to Iceland, consider if you want to fight crowds at the popular sites or if you would prefer to drive for miles without seeing another soul! If you chose the latter, then the off-season is the best time to visit Iceland!
#4 Accommodations Are More Affordable When Traveling To Iceland In The Off-Season
When deciding on the best time to visit Iceland, do a simple search for hotel or accommodation prices and compare between high and low season. Accommodations such as Airbnb, hostels, hotels, or luxury homes may be as much as $150 cheaper per day in the off-season. Just because the summer is much more expensive does not automatically make it the best time to go to Iceland. Accommodations, flights, car rentals, and more are drastically cheaper during the low-season making it the best time to travel to Iceland.
#5 Visiting Iceland In Winter Is Simply Magical
If you are truly looking for an experience you will never forget, the best time to visit Iceland is during the winter. So many millions of people consider the summer to be the best time to travel to Iceland, but not as many consider visiting Iceland in winter. Winter in Iceland is less cold than many places in the United States and Europe so don’t let that put you off when considering when to visit Iceland. Iceland in winter is breathtaking and seeing it blanketed in snow and icicles is an experience that not many people choose to have.
Even if you have been before, traveling to Iceland in winter may convince you that it is the best time to visit Iceland. If you are considering when to go to Iceland and are thinking about Iceland in Winter, just be sure to peek at our Iceland packing list to be sure you have appropriately warm clothing.
#6 Just Because The Off-Season Is The Best Time To Travel To Iceland Doesn’t Automatically Mean You Will Be Knee Deep In Snow And Ice
Although some people consider winter to be the best time to visit Iceland, tons of other travelers want all the benefits listed of going to Iceland listed above without worrying about snow. We totally understand that when people are searching for the best time to travel to Iceland they want to see the beauty of the country without dealing with snow.
The slow season in Iceland begins in October and November and the country is just lovely during these months. Visiting in late September or early October [or during the spring] will afford you cheap flights, smaller crowds, and the ability to do it all without any, or much snow! It is also one of the best times to see the northern lights in Iceland. If you are on the hunt for the best time to go to Iceland, rest assured that you can travel to Iceland during the off-season without worrying about snow if that is what you are interested in!
Keep in mind that part of Iceland’s draw is it’s changing weather conditions. So one part of Iceland may experience snow during your trip and another part less than an hour away may be sunny and snow-free. The off-season’s interesting and ever-changing weather patterns are just another reason why it is the best time to visit Iceland.
#7 If You Are Searching For The Best Time To Go To Iceland, You Will Want To Know That The Off-Season Is A Photographer’s Dream
Photographers…..what could be better than constant “golden hour” light, cheap flights, diverse landscapes, smaller crowds, and the opportunity to photograph the northern lights? Pretty much nothing which is why the slow season is the best time to visit Iceland. In addition, we know how hard it is for photographers and travelers to diversify their work from all the other content out there. This isn’t always easy to do when we are all taking pictures of the same exact locations that millions of other fantastic artists are showcasing as well.
The off-season is the best time to travel to Iceland because these locations are in transition or are already cloaked in their winter wear. Millions photograph Skogafoss green and summery, but the number of professional shots of the waterfall dressed up in icicles and snow are few and far between. Everyone shoots green lava fields, but what about lava fields in the fall or completely covered in snow?
The low-season is the best time to go to Iceland because photographers and creatives have the ability to showcase the diverse landscape in a way that isn’t typically seen. If you are looking for the best time to travel to Iceland and are looking for something unique and different, this is the time of year that will rock your socks off!
Additional Iceland Travel Planning Tips
Iceland vacation planning articles:
Top Things To Do And See In Iceland:
If you have traveled to Iceland, when did you visit? Would you ever consider going to Iceland during the off-season? What do you think is the best time to travel to Iceland? We would love to chat below!
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