If you are looking for best time to visit Iceland, you should highly consider heading there during the off-season. Now, don’t take our word for it because the best time to go to Iceland is truly based on your preferences, but we are here to convince you that the slower season is a great time to visit Iceland!
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.
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The Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Best Time To Visit Iceland
Table of Contents
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 go to 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 go to 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 visit 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. If you are considering visiting Iceland during the low season, make sure to read our guides about visiting Iceland In November, Iceland In December, and Iceland in January!
- 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 affordable flights from both the USA and Europe to Iceland because of affordable fares, on-time performance, and free stopovers.
We recommend checking out Skyscanner to find the best and most affordable flights into Italy. We use this tool to discover the best flights for our trip because you can easily compare rates.
We appreciate Icelandair’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 Icelandair offers free stopovers all year round, their flight prices are much more affordable 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 the airline industry’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!
How To Get Around Iceland
When choosing the best time to visit Iceland may be difficult, figuring out how to get around Iceland is quite easy! You have a few options and they depend on your travel style. Once you figure out when to go to Iceland, decide if you prefer to drive yourself, go with a tour, or hitchhike [it is a real thing in Iceland!]
If you choose to self-drive, check out our 3 day Iceland itinerary or our 5 day Iceland itinerary and get to planning your road trip! We also put together this detailed guide to driving in Iceland with everything you need to know to plan your trip.
Driving is the best way to get around Iceland if you want more freedom to stay at places as long as you want. The downside is you will have to plan the whole trip yourself so depending on your travel style this may or may not be an issue.
If you don’t want to plan the whole trip yourself or drive on your own, consider taking a tour in Iceland! There are so many Iceland tour options and they take you all over the entire country. You will go by motorcoach instead of car and will usually be with a local guide.
Finally, if you are really looking to save money, you can try your hand at hitchhiking in Iceland. During our past trips to Iceland, we saw countless people trying to hitchhike and since Iceland is such a safe country, people do indeed pick them up!
Cost Of Travel In Iceland
Iceland is far from a budget destination but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few hacks to bringing down the cost of travel!
When considering the best time to visit Iceland, take the cost of travel into account.
Summer will be the best time to go to Iceland if you have money to spend, while winter and parts of the off-season will be the best time to visit Iceland if you are on a budget.
Luckily, the majority of attractions in Iceland are completely free so you don’t have to take the cost of doing things into consideration when figuring out when to go to Iceland!
That being said, the cost of gas in Iceland is quite high as well as food which is why we always recommend grocery shopping in Iceland!
Safety Tips For Iceland
When you choose the best time to visit Iceland for you, you are going to want to read up on some safety tips. Depending on when you go to Iceland, the tips may differ. First off, no matter what time you travel to Iceland, you are going to want to ensure you pay attention to the weather.
The weather in Iceland can change quickly and it can go from a nice day to a dangerous storm within 5 minutes. The popular saying goes that if you don’t like the weather in Iceland, simply drive down the street and it will be different!
The most important safety tip is to pay attention to the wind warnings when visiting Iceland. Wind in Iceland is serious and gusts can get up to hurricane force between 80-90mph. When driving in Iceland, be sure to heed warnings to stay off the road.
If you plan to visit Iceland in the winter, these warnings are even more serious because the icy road coupled with wind can cause you to slide or blow off of the road. Wind warnings in Iceland are serious and no matter when you go to Iceland, they should be taken very seriously.
During your time in Iceland, always make sure to have extra food and water on hand in case of an emergency. If you get into an accident or break down when driving, you are going to need food and water to keep you hydrated until help comes. Sometimes it can take up to 10 hours for help to come, depending on where in Iceland you have an issue.
You don’t want to get dehydrated in the cold weather while you wait so having some protein-rich snacks and water on hand can potentially save your life.
Finally, make sure to always drive the speed limit in Iceland. The roads are long, flat, and straight, so you may be tempted to drive over the speed limit but we encourage you to follow the local laws. Not only is driving over the limit illegal, but it can also be dangerous.
The weather is unpredictable in Iceland and speed limits are put into place for your safety by officials who know and understand the elements. Driving the speed limit ensures your safety and that you are following the law.
Getting To/From Iceland
Depending on where you are coming from, the best time to visit Iceland may differ based on flights and prices! The main airline is Icelandair and offers free stopovers!
Icelandair provides things such as a pillow and blanket and food included in the cost of your flight. If you are heading to Iceland from Europe, other carriers such as Easyjet and Vueling also fly to Iceland.
When choosing the best time to visit Iceland, keep in mind that routes from some cities in North America and Europe are seasonal!
If you are dying to fly direct from your city to Iceland, choose when to go to Iceland based off of the airline routes! Popular American carries such as United and Delta also fly from the USA to Iceland.
Always make sure to check your options to see which flight option works best and is the most affordable for you!
Where To Stay In Iceland
Choosing where to stay in Iceland is also dependent on choosing the best time to visit Iceland! As you can see, figuring out when to go to Iceland impacts pretty much every aspect of planning your trip to Iceland!
When figuring out where to stay in Iceland, the country has everything from 5 star luxury hotels to guesthouses, hostels, airbnb, and of course, camping in Iceland!
Camping in Iceland is very popular and many people rent a campervan which allows them to sleep and drive all in one vehicle. If you aren’t all about camping in Iceland, we don’t blame you and there are plenty of other options!
Since the cost of food is so high in Iceland, we always recommend booking an Airbnb in Iceland so that you can buy food from the grocery store and cook at your accommodation.
If you stay at a hotel, you will have to go out to eat for meals and will end up spending a lot more money than you can ever imagine! Airbnb allows you to have access to additional facilities such as kitchen and laundry for even cheaper than it costs to stay at a hotel!
When choosing the best time to visit Iceland, understand that prices on accommodations are sky-high during the summer! Many Airbnb and hotels are even sold out and not listed!
If you plan to go to Iceland in the summer, make sure to book in advance! If you want a little more flexibility, visiting in the off-season or winter will be the best time to go to Iceland as there will be many more accommodation options!
Additional Reading For Your Trip To Iceland
- If you are on the hunt for what to pack for Iceland, check out our All-Season Iceland Packing List as well as our Iceland Packing List for Men and check out our recommendations for the best shoes and boots for Iceland and the best jackets to pack for Iceland. These are real suggestions we have actually used for different seasons in Iceland!
- Trying to visit Iceland on a budget? It is totally possible! Here are our 7 Tips For Visiting Iceland On A Budget as well as 5 More Things You Shouldn’t Forget To Budget For In Iceland so you can save the most amount of money possible! You can also check out these 10 Budget Iceland Travel tips to help plan for visiting Iceland! This will help you choose the best time to visit Iceland based on your budget!
- If you are thinking about driving in Iceland during your trip, we urge you to check out our 7 Tips For Driving In Iceland!
- Planning your Iceland itinerary during the winter? Here are 5 Things To Know Before Visiting Iceland In Winter to make sure you are on the right track to enjoy your trip as well as 30 Bucket List Things To Do In Iceland In Winter!
- Check out our super popular 5 Day Iceland Road Trip Itinerary to start planning!
- Our 3 Days In Iceland Itinerary can be completed any time of year!
- If you are driving in Iceland, you will want to check out our guide to Gas Stations In Iceland!
- Getting excited about wildlife? Check out the Top 10 Animals In Iceland You Will Want To See During Your Trip.
- Are you a photography buff? There are so many amazing sites to photograph and these 25 Iceland Photography Locations That Will Blow Your Mind
- Looking to hike to some of the best views in Iceland but don’t want to trek for days? We don’t blame you! That’s why we gathered the 11 Best Easy And Rewarding Hikes 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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