When is the best time to go to Iceland?

We know it’s beautiful all year round, but if you want to catch the Northern Lights or gaze at the Midnight Sun, keep scrolling.

While people often refer to Iceland as the ‘land of ice and fire’ (no thanks to Game of Thrones), the reality is more complex.

During winter, thick fog rolls off the endless tumbling weight of the North Atlantic. By summer, lush vegetation and warmer days wage a gentle war against the blue-white ice. It’s not all knee-deep snow and boiling lava, you see. It’s also charming fishing towns, the untouched landscapes of the Diamond Circle, and the mighty explosions of geothermal geysers.

Because we’re partnered with local guides and deeply knowledgeable experts on the ground, we can ensure that your adventure falls at the best time to visit Iceland – not only for your calendar, but for the types of things you want to see and do once you get there.

Below, you’ll find our account of when to go to Iceland, our favourite luxury travel experiences and things to do in Iceland during each season, and some of our favourite hotels to retreat to after days spent exploring this otherworldly country. It’s by no means an exhaustive guide. But it’s a good place to start. If there’s some specific insight you’re looking for, you can click on the individual links below:

A seasonal guide on when to visit Iceland
When to see the northern lights in Iceland
When to see whales in Iceland
The best time to visit Iceland’s hot springs
Our favourite luxury travel experiences in Iceland

Puffin watching in South Iceland

A seasonal guide on when to visit Iceland

Spring in Iceland

March to May sees the start of sunny weather and blue skies in Iceland, giving way to singing birds and blooming wildflowers. It’s all about puffin-watching on the Westman Islands, uncovering the myths of Reynisfjara black sand beach and getting the perfect shot of the thundering water at Seljalandsfoss waterfall.

One of our favourite Iceland experiences in May? Heading deep into the dormant volcano of Þríhnúkagígur (translating to Three Peaks Crater). Last erupting over 4,000 years ago, one of our expert guides will lead you safely across the lava field and to the crater entrance, from which you’ll descend 400 feet down. Not for the faint-hearted, you’ll travel to the bottom in an open cable lift and get a unique perspective on Þríhnúkagígur that few have experienced before. If this method isn’t for you, there are in fact two ways to journey to the base of the volcano. Let us know, and we’ll arrange a thrilling private helicopter ride in instead.

Golden Circle tour in Iceland

Summer in Iceland

Summer in Iceland falls between June and August – but things are mostly at their warmest after July. And this is Iceland, so don’t expect to melt too quickly. Picture epic ice climbing excursions, summer festivals and mornings spent in geothermal pools.

Iceland in the summer is home to the famous Midnight Sun – a period during which daylight hours are significantly lengthened, and at a local time of midnight, the sun remains visible. Peaking in June, it lasts broadly from May to August. Due to Iceland’s proximity to the Arctic Circle, you’ll discover days when it seems the sun will never set (although it does, eventually). We’ll take you to the best spot in Þingvellir National Park to catch a glimpse of this remarkable spectacle.

Iceland in the Fall

Visiting Iceland in the Fall – from early September through to early November – is simply beautiful. As rich red and burnt orange hues emerge, every day gets a little colder, leaving behind a trail of crisp Icelandic air in its wake. And a feast for the eyes.

From the grounds of the fourth-largest lava tube in Iceland, we’ll set you up with an expert caving guide for an adrenaline-pumping tour of the tunnels. Suited and booted with a helmet, headlight, and gloves, you’ll start the journey past huge rocks, passing over jagged terrain and through dark passages towards the source of the cave: the lava falls. Of course, if you’d rather a night-time tour of the cave – minus the crawling, our luxury travel experts can arrange that too. Just give us the nod.

Iceland in the Fall

The best times to visit Iceland for natural sights

When to see the northern lights in Iceland

Winter here welcomes two magical words: Aurora Borealis. Because of the country’s astonishing lack of light pollution, the night sky in Iceland is not only great for stargazing, but also for chasing the elusive Northern Lights. Properly speaking, the best time to see the northern lights in Iceland is between October and March – and for many, this is the best time to visit Iceland. There’s no guarantee that you’ll catch sight of them (weather conditions, cloud, and other factors can intervene), but we’ll ensure you’re guided by the region’s biggest aurora-fanatics who will do everything they can to light up your trip – whether it’s on a snowmobile tour, a late-night hike or an afternoon jeep ride. The choice is yours.

A stay at Torfhús Retreat in South Iceland is ideal for Northern Lights sightings. Staying true to the region’s Viking roots, this is true modern ecoluxury – where you’ll stay in turf covered houses amongst sublime rural landscapes. We also love the incredible views of the lights from one of Iceland’s most remote and luxurious properties – Deplar Farm – set in seclusion amongst the wild terrain of the Fljot Valley.

Iceland in Winter
When to see the northern lights in Iceland

When to see whales in Iceland

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of spotting a pod of whales rising gracefully to the water’s surface from over the side of your own private boat. It’s a truly unforgettable encounter. Ephemeral. And Iceland is one of the few countries in the world where you can see them. Your best chances of seeing minke and humpback whales here are between the months of May and October – and if you’re there in June, orcas might also make an appearance.

And if seeing them wasn’t enough, why not go for a swim? This time, dressed in a dry suit and in the company of a migrating pod of humpback whales. You’ll get to know these gentle giants in the most intimate way, sharing the Arctic waters with them beneath the midnight sun.

The best time to visit Iceland’s hot springs

There’s a reason that Iceland’s soothing Blue Lagoon hot springs are one of the country’s most popular draws. Best experienced in the late summertime, they’re accessible all year round for an invigorating dip – and we’re here to help you beat the crowds on your very own private visit. Or, for a twist on a classic, we also have specialist guides who can lead you to some alternative hidden hot springs that tap directly into Iceland’s geothermal activity.

For an even more personalised experience, we’d recommend a stay in the Lagoon Suite at the Retreat at Blue Lagoon – complete with a private terrace that has steps directly down into your very own corner of the Lagoon. This is no ordinary hotel, and no ordinary spa. How could you resist?

When to see whales in Iceland


Whether it’s hiking during the warm summer or chasing the Northern Lights in the winter. We can tailor your Icelandic adventure exactly to your needs. Head to our Iceland country page to see all of our epic – and chilled – example Iceland itineraries.


Now you know when to visit Iceland, here’s some inspiration on what to see while you’re there

The black sand beaches of Iceland

Awash with silky dark sand, Iceland’s black sand shores – a product of volcanic activity – are far from your typical beach vacation. Approaching Reynisfjara beach, it’s hard not to notice the huge sea stacks rising from the seafloor, protruding from the waves and into the moody sky. Icelandic folklore tells that the basalt formations were once trolls, turned to stone during battle as they failed to drag a three-mast ship to shore before the sun rose. It’s believed that when driving near the cliffs, you can still hear their cries. Just one of the many mysterious tales you’ll uncover when you visit.

The. best time to visit Iceland

Five must-do things in Iceland

For those who think they’ve seen it all in Iceland, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve. First, Flatey Island on the north-western part of Skjálfandi Bay, which sits on the brink of the Arctic circle. It’s the perfect place for a yoga session. Next, a trip to Vogafjós restaurant. Here, you’ll taste a lunch like no other – the bread is prepared inside the ground, harnessing its natural geothermal heat to bake it.

On the list is also an afternoon spent unwinding in the GeoSea salt baths, flying east along the dramatic South Coast of Iceland in a private helicopter, and a Superjeep tour of the Holuhraun lava field, home to Iceland’s largest lava flow in 230 years.

You can read more about our top five must-do luxury travel experiences for seasoned Iceland travelers here.

Snorkelling in Iceland's Silfra Fissure

Make it a family trip to remember

Two of our favourite things to do in Iceland are part of our series of Field Trip classes – fun and fascinating educational encounters, designed especially for families.

The first takes place at a sustainable geothermal energy site in Hellsiheiðavirkjun, where you’ll spend the day with engineers who run the plant, learning how they’re working to keep Iceland green.

The second will take you to Silfra Fissure, which marks the gap between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Where the water is so pristine you can drink it, you’ll snorkel this incredible and ever-changing underwater site, where visibility continues over one-hundred metres down.

The best time of year to visit Iceland is really any time. We’d stay the year round if we could.

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