A wildly popular travel destination, Iceland vacations top the charts for bucket list adventures, romantic getaways, graduation gifts, wellness trips and more. The underpopulated island packs magic into every square inch, from its rich folklore to the raw majesty of the wilderness that begs for exploration.
Boasting world-famous attractions such as the Northern Lights and the Blue Lagoon, Iceland is already irresistible, but its lesser-known charms are what will really transform first-time travelers into repeat customers. Here’s everything you need to know about Iceland.
Despite its name, Iceland enjoys a temperate climate. Winters are mild with an average January temperature in Reykjavik of 31°F, similar to New York City. Outdoor activities carry on as usual during this time with the added bonus of possible sightings of the Northern Lights. Spring arrives in April with temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s, Fahrenheit. Summers can warm to anywhere between the mid-50s to high 70s. Temperatures usually drop down to the 40s in the fall as the hours of sunlight decrease during the day. Iceland does not necessarily have a “rainy” or “dry” season, but experiences volatile weather year-round, so be sure to be prepared for both rain and sunshine on your trip. If you are traveling during cold months, layers will be crucial.
The best time to see Iceland depends on what you would most like to see. May-September is the time to visit is whale watching is on the agenda. September is the right month to add Northern Lights excursions to a whale watching itinerary, while June through August are the ideal months for summer festivals, camping, and endless days for hiking and being outdoors. Winters can be snowy but beautiful for Aurora Borealis, soaking in hot springs, seeing ice caves, and exploring glacial lagoons.
Here are a few of Iceland’s most popular festivals and events:
January: Dark Music Days, WOW Reykjavik International Games
February: Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival, Rekjavik Blues Festival, Rainbow Reykjavik, Art in Light, Annual Icelandic Beer Festival
March: Food and Fun, Design March, Stockfish Film Festival, Designtalk, Sonar Reykjavik, Iceland Winter Games, Aldrei For Eg Sudur
April: Eve-Online Fanfest, AK-Extreme, Reykjavik Children’s Culture Festival, Iceland Writer’s Retreat, Fossavatn Ski Marathon
May: Vaka Folk Arts Festival
June: Midnight Sun Run, Festival of the Sea, Viking Festival, Secret Solstice Music Festival, Iceland National Holiday, Mt Esja Ultra, Blue Lagoon Challenge, Arctic Open, WOW Cyclothon, The Color Run, Reykjavik Arts Festival
July: Lunga, Eistnaflug, Bræðslan, Folk Music Festival in Siglufjordur, Music Festival Reykholt, Medievaldays at Gasir, Laugavegur Ultra Marathon, Kexport, Thorvaldsdalur Terrain Run, The National Icelandic Horse Competition
August: Pjóðhátíð Í Eyjum, Reykjavik Pride, Reykjavik Culture Night, Bank Holiday Weekend, Innipukinn Music Festival, Reykjavik Marathon, Fireworks at Jokulsarlon, Swampsoccer
September: Reykjavik International Film Festival, Reykjavik Literary Festival, Reykjavik Jazz Festival, Iceland Noir
October: Lighting of Imagine Peace Tower, The Moorland Festival, cycle Music and Art Festival
November: Iceland Airwaves, Everybody’s Spectacular
December: Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Centenary of Icelandic Independence and Sovereignty