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Planning Your Trip: Understanding Iceland’s Weather by Month

July and August are dry months in Iceland, with favorable conditions for outdoor exploration. If you plan to visit the island during this time, consider booking a multi-day tour that includes transportation and accommodation for added convenience. The harsher weather elements kick in during October, and daylight hours decrease. This month, we recommend packing warm clothes, including wool or fleece layers and rugged hiking boots.

June – August

Iceland weather by month can change at a moment’s notice, and there is even an old saying that “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” Thanks to its location in the North Atlantic and influence from the Gulf Stream, Iceland is more relaxed and wetter than most European countries. The island’s climate is temperate but can still be chilly and windy, particularly in the highlands or near glaciers.

The best time to visit Iceland for the best hiking and horseback riding is in June and July, when the days are long, and temperatures are warmer than in winter. These are also the months when the midnight sun is in full swing, allowing visitors to explore the country after dark.

By August, the days get shorter, and temperatures start cooling down. However, it is still warm enough to spend the day exploring waterfalls and geological wonders or soak in one of Iceland’s many natural hot springs and hot pots. This is also the perfect time to see the Northern Lights, as it is yet to be so dark that seeing them is impossible. As a bonus, the crowds of tourists are starting to disperse, making it easier to enjoy everything Iceland offers.

September – October

The summer crowds have dispersed in September, and the weather can still be beautiful with sunshine and light showers. The autumnal colors are taking hold, blazing over the moss-laden lava fields and thundering waterfalls.

It is also an ideal month for a self-drive trip. There is plenty of daylight, and the roads remain open and unrestricted. However, it can be windy, and it is a good idea to bring layers, and waterproofing is key (plus a hat, scarf, and gloves).

This month marks the transition between a calm summer and a volatile winter, so you’ll see both worlds if you’re lucky. The temperature dips, and in North Iceland and the Westfjords, it is possible to find snow in the mountains.

For those hoping to witness the Northern Lights, September is an excellent month as the sky becomes dark enough for them to dance at night. It’s also the best time to watch whales, as many animals have migrated to the sea. And, of course, there are plenty of hot springs and warm swimming pools to enjoy. Pack a long-sleeved base layer, Patagonia down jacket, thermal leggings under jeans, hat, thick Smartwool merino wool socks, and waterproof hiking shoes or boots. You may also want a swimsuit for the many natural hot pools and geothermal baths that Iceland is known for nationwide.

November – December

November is an excellent month to explore Iceland’s incredible landscapes and see the Northern Lights. Although it can be pretty cold, the weather in Iceland usually gets too snowy later in the month. This is also the low season for tourism, so it’s less busy than other months.

The days start to shorten at the beginning of the month and reach their shortest on the 30th. However, it can still be sunny and mild for much of the day, especially if you visit the southern and eastern areas of the country. A camper rental is ideal for this time of year as it allows you to visit remote places and explore other options unavailable during the summer.

As the weather gets colder, it’s common to see more rainfall and snow. This is why staying informed and heeding road closures or weather warnings is essential.

The great thing about visiting Iceland during this period is that it’s a lot cheaper than during the summer. This means you can still enjoy all the activities and attractions Iceland offers without costing a fortune. So, if you’re on a budget, November is the perfect time to plan your trip. You can experience ice cave adventures, hunt for the Northern Lights, and more!

January – February

Despite being one of the coldest months of the year, visiting Iceland in January provides a unique opportunity to witness the country’s stunning winter wonderland. It’s also a great time to enjoy the Northern Lights as long as solar activity is good and no clouds are in the sky.

With fewer tourists around than in the peak of summer, January is ideal for enjoying activities like snowshoeing or exploring ice caves without dealing with huge crowds. This is also an excellent time to save on airfare and accommodation rates, which are at their lowest of the year.

March marks the vernal equinox and the transition from winter to spring in Iceland, bringing some lovely surprises, like warmer temperatures and blue skies. However, the weather can still be quite changeable with occasional snowstorms and sub-zero temps. This is a fantastic month to go ice-caving or skiing or soak in hot springs, which are still open in the winter. Whenever you travel to Iceland, be sure to pack plenty of layers. This will give you the flexibility to adjust as the conditions change. A fleece or wool sweater, waterproof jacket, and sturdy hiking boots will keep you comfortable on any outdoor adventure. A hat, gloves, and scarf protect your head and neck from the wind.

Thomas Leishman

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