Weather in Iceland

Weather in Iceland

Spring, summer, autumn or winter: learn all about the weather in Iceland so you can decide when to travel, when to see the Northern Lights and what to pack!

Iceland in winter

Winter in Iceland is cold, rainy and snowy, but no more so than in other Nordic cities such as Copenhagen or Oslo. During the Icelandic winter, which runs approximately from October to April, the average temperatures are around 0°C (32°F). However, the chill from strong winds and regular snow and rainfall means it often feels colder.

What's more, daylight hours are considerably reduced, with as little as four hours of sunlight in December and January. In Iceland, this can be an advantage, as these dark, cold months are the best time to see the Northern Lights, and also the best time to enjoy winter activities like touring the Langjökull Glacier ice cave.

Iceland in summer

Summers in Iceland are generally cool but pleasant, with average temperatures ranging from 10 to 14°C (50°F to 57.2°F). On clear days, however, the heat of the sun can make it feel much warmer, allowing visitors to enjoy great days of walking in Iceland's nature parks or strolling through the streets of its cities.

The summer sees long hours of sunlight with up to 22 hours of daylight in June, and even more in the northernmost towns of Akureyri or Isafjordur. This means you can visit Iceland's main tourist attractions throughout the day and night, as many of them don't have a set scheduled in summer. Imagine admiring the Skógafoss Waterfall in broad daylight at midnight!

When should I visit Iceland?

As the weather directly affects the activities and attractions available, when choosing what time of year is best to visit Iceland, you've got to decide what it is you want to see on your trip to the country. If you're dying to see the Aurora Borealis or swim in the Blue Lagoon, winter is the best option, while hiking trails and nightlife in Reykjavik are more enjoyable in summer. 

If you're looking to rent a car to explore Iceland at your own pace, it's better to opt for the summer months. During June, July and August, most roads will be open and you won't have to worry about driving on ice or using snow chains. This website informs of weather conditions and warnings on an interactive map to allow you to plan your trip safely.

What should I pack for Iceland?

The weather in Iceland can vary dramatically even during the same day, so much so that the locals joke: "if you don't like the weather today, wait five minutes!". The day may start out cold and cloudy, and then move on to rain with strong gusts of wind at midday and splendid sunshine at lunchtime... and end up with snow at night!

This can make packing challenging even once you've decided when to visit - the best thing to do is pack plenty of layers and ensure you have a warm, waterproof jacket and footwear.