Visiting Iceland: Summer vs Winter

If you talk to any locals on your first trip to Iceland in the Winter, they will tell you “Oh you will have to come back in the Summer – it is a totally different country then.” The same is true if you see Iceland for the first time in Summer. They also like to use the phrase that seems to be popular in many countries with changeable weather “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” It is certainly typical that you can have 4 seasons in one day, but there is definitely a difference traveling to Iceland in Winter and Summer.

The Summer (May – August)

During this time, there is a midnight sun which means the days are incredibly long. This makes for some amazing views especially the vibrant colors as the sunset turns into a sunrise. Not only does the midnight sun make for breathtaking views, but it comes in handy while traveling. The incredible length of daylight means that you won’t ever get lost in the dark or need to reach a destination before it gets dark. Iceland is very popular in the summer months so most tours are available. The average temperature is between 10 and 15 degrees celsius and there is occasional rain. The country is very windy so there is a good amount during every season. Although most people think of Iceland as a snowy destination there are many things to do during the summer months:

  • There are a lot of beautiful places to camp and music festivals that happen throughout the summer!
  • Also, in June and July the roads in the highlands begin to open back up after having been closed all winter. This allows visitors to fully explore the highlands regions.
  • You can also see more wildlife during the summer as many of the birds and puffins migrate during the winter months.
  • The waterfalls are also more accessible during the summer months because there is no fear of surfaces getting too slippery.
  • Hiking can be done throughout the year but there are many more possibilities during the summer months!

Our best escorted Summer tours:

                                 Iceland Complete Escorted Tour                  Volcanoes and Glaciers Escorted Tour                                                          


The Winter (November – March)

The winter is the darkest season of the year. In contrast to the summer’s midnight sun, winter can have as few as 4-5 hours of daylight. The average temperature is around 0 degrees Celsius and can fluctuate about 5 degrees in either direction. The temperatures are cold but, Iceland is not constantly covered with snow during the winter. The snow has a tendency to appear and melt and appear again. Although there is not a large amount of sunlight, the winter has the most beautiful light for photography. The lighting is so amazing because the sun is so low on the horizon that it looks like sunset all day long. There are many fun things to do in the country during the winter months:

  • The winter means there is a better chance to see the northern lights!
  • Visit some glaciers that are accessible.
  • Explore the spectacular blue caves – during the summer months you can’t visit the ice caves because they are melting but the winter is the perfect time to explore!
  • Iceland is a great place to cuddle up indoors over a nice cup of hot chocolate or relax in one of Iceland’s many hot tubs, hot pools or hot springs.

Our best escorted Winter tours:

                                Winter Wellness Northern Lights Escorted Tour                            Landmannalaugar in the Time of Northern Lights Escorted Tour

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