When to Visit Iceland – Summer vs. Winter Travel

Thursday, 6th April 2017

Destination Specialist

north iceland eyjafjordur mountain view rth

You might not think it, but Iceland is an extraordinary place to visit all year round. Depending on what you want to see and do, each season has its own distinct appeal. We’ve rounded up our favourite 10 places in Iceland to advise whether they are better to visit in summer or winter.


1. Strokkur (at Geysir)

The geothermal hotspot Geysir is one of the stops on Iceland’s Golden Circle. The sight is home to several bubbling pools and the ancient geyser, named Geysir, for which the phenomena is named – but the erupting plume of water that you’ll see today is known as Strokkur. This is a great attraction to see whatever the season, but be mindful in the winter as the days draw shorter that visibility and opening hours may be reduced.

Our favourite way to visit the Golden Circle? Take inspiration from our Essential Iceland itinerary.

Be sure to visit in…SUMMER

2. Jokulsarlon

Found on the South East Coast of Iceland, Jokulsaron glacier lagoon is one of the most magical places in the world. In summer, it is a photographer’s paradise as icebergs calve off the Breidamerkurjokull glacier tongue into one of Iceland’s deepest lakes before drifting out sea. Our favourite time to get up close to these multi-coloured icebergs is between May and September. In the winter, the dark skies act as a dramatic canvas for the northern lights as you stand in an amphibious craft or observe them from the shore.

Discover it for yourself on our National Parks & Natural Wonders itinerary 

Be sure to visit in…WINTER

3. Kirkjufell on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

During aurora season, which lasts roughly between September and March (depending on conditions) the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is an incredible place to look out for the northern lights as they dance above the conical peak of Kirkjufell. Kirkjufell is particularly beautiful during twilight, swathed in a pristine layer of snow and with no one around.

In Autumn, the land turns into shades of orange, red and gold.

In Summer you can explore the saga-soaked landscapes and the beautiful Snaefellsjokul glacier all hours of the day during the midnight sun and watch as the land comes alive with vivid shades of green and red.

Visit this area in the west on our Journey to the Centre of the Earth self-drive.

Be sure to visit in…SUMMER

4. Seljalandsfoss

Arguably the most beautiful waterfall in Iceland, Seljalandsfoss cascades over a former sea-cliff, with a pathway stretching around it. During the summer months, the sun sets behind the falls and you are able to walk completely around the waterfall. It is a truly mesmerising experiences, but be prepared to get a little wet!  Seljalandsfoss is still an alluring prospect in the winter but due to risk of falling ice, the path behind the waterfall is closed.

Explore Iceland’s south coast yourself with our Summer Nights at Ranga itinerary.

Be sure to visit in…SUMMER

5. Thingvellir National Park

Another of the attractions that makes up Iceland’s Golden Circle, Thingvellir is another spot you can visit all year round. It’s a haven for birds and wildflowers, and offers visitors the rare opportunity to walk between two continents. Late August through early October and late March through early May are a great time to take advantage of the longer days and better weather and enjoy the hiking trails available throughout the park – Thingvellir is essentially an expanse of land waiting to be explored! If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, visit in Winter, so you can envision icicled White Walkers walking across the snowy land.

Circumnavigate the Golden circle on our Around Iceland itinerary.

Be sure to visit in…WINTER

6. Gullfoss

Located in the canyon of the Hvita river in the south west of Iceland is one of Iceland’s most iconic and spectacular waterfalls, Gullfoss. In the summer it is decorated in shimmering rainbows, but in winter the powerful fall freezes over. It is said to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world, and in the winter months particularly, it is an alluring sight.

The South West of Iceland is a popular place to start your exploration of Iceland, especially if you’re planning a short break, as there’s a huge range of things to see and do. One of our favourite itineraries is Wonder of the South West.

Be sure to visit in…WINTER

7. Lake Myvatn

Lake Myvatn and its surrounding area is a fascinating region. There are eerie mud pools at Namaskard, bird watching on the shores of the lake in the summer, the geothermal waters of the Myvatn Nature Baths to bathe in, and the craggy volcanic lava-fields of Dimmuborgir to explore, which are home to Iceland’s Yule Lads in the run up to Christmas.

Explore the geothermal oddities of Lake Myvatn and Northern Highlights.

Be sure to visit in…WINTER

8. Landmannalaugur

In summer and in winter alike, Landmannalaugur, or the ‘People’s Pools’ in Iceland’s Highlands is a remote and incredibly beautiful region. Throughout the summer, it is one of the most popular places for hiking or natural hot spring bathing. The Laugavegur trail is one of the most notable routes in the area, connecting Landmannalaugur and Thorsmrk (The Valley of Thor), and ending at Skogafoss waterfall. In winter, only specialised Superjeeps can reach the highlands, if you are looking to escape the crowds and enjoy the ultimate serenity of the mountains and valleys – a winter adventure might be for you!

Why not embark on an adventurous self drive such as our Highlands and Lowlands itinerary.

Be sure to visit in…SUMMER

9. Skogafoss

Skogafoss, also located on Iceland’s south coast, thunders 60m down in a solid curtain of water from two glaciers, Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull.  In the summer months, we recommend climbing the 370 steps to the top of the waterfall to be rewarded with an awe-inspiring view of south Iceland’s coastline. If you are lucky, you may also be greeted by a double rainbow on sunny days. Skogafoss turns into a true winter wonderland during the colder months, the slopes turn icy and white with snow. The prospect of the northern lights dancing over the frozen waterfall makes any trip to the area incredibly thrilling.

Discover more of the natural wonders in store in South West Iceland.

Be sure to visit in…SUMMER

10. Route 1

Taking the ring road in Iceland is the best way to travel around the country. The route takes you past many of Iceland’s great attractions but also offers options for detours around the island so you can explore hidden gems. In the summer you will be graced with more daylight hours and able to explore the Icelandic highlights. In the winter months you will need to plan around reduced daylight hours and visibility, and look at driving a Superjeep. If you aren’t confident driving around yourself, there are many group tour options available.

Try a self drive holiday for yourself with our Reykjanes Explorer and Blue Lagoon break.

Be sure to visit in…SUMMER

Feeling inspired?

Find out more about the best time to visit Iceland with our seasonal guide or view our range of Iceland holidays from fly drives to small-group escorted trips, hiking adventures to northern lights escapes.

For help and advice on planning your Iceland holiday, send an enquiry or speak to one of our Travel Specialists today, who will be happy to share their first-hand experience and offer recommendations.

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