Iceland Tours Travel Blog
Find inspiration and information about traveling the Land of Fire and Ice. These Iceland blog articles give you insider tips, hot takes and trending news.
Interested in visiting Iceland in May? Or trying to find a fantastic destination for your upcoming May vacation?Look no further!
In this article, we unveil it all for you: the best things to see in Iceland in May, our favorite activities to do at that time, and what you can expect of the weather (with a useful packing guide).
We even share our top reasons to make Iceland your next May getaway – just in case you needed more convincing.
- Browse our Iceland summer packages to visit in May
Is May a good time to visit Iceland?
Yes! Actually, May is an excellent month to visit Iceland. And we’ve got all the reasons you might need to book your Icelandic getaway in late spring or early summer.
Top 10 reasons to visit Iceland in May:
- Longer days with an average of 20 hours of daylight
- The weather is warming up
- Less crowded than at height of summer (June-August)
- Ideal for whale watching as it is the start of the feeding season
- More availability as accommodation and activities can book out early in summer
- Blooming nature
- Puffins start arriving to nest along Iceland’s coast
- Beginning of camping season
- Beginning of hiking season
- Snow-topped mountains for stunning backdrops
Not convinced yet? Continue reading to find out what you could get up to and all the amazing places you could visit.
Best things to do in Iceland in May
With the arrival of the summer season, there are longer daylight hours to explore and even more outdoor activities to take on.
The best 10 things to do at this time are:
- Going hiking along the coast
- Dipping in natural hot springs in the countryside
- Meeting Icelandic horses to go riding
- Adventuring yourself on top or inside a glacier
- Walking inside a lava tunnel or an ice cave
- Taking a whale-watching tour
- Spotting puffins and going bird watching
- Spending time on the red or black sand beaches of Iceland
- Touring around the Ring Road
- Feeling the mist of majestic waterfalls
- Look up all the great activities you could add to your Iceland itinerary
Events in Iceland in May
From April and May, Iceland opens up after a dark winter and there are plenty of celebrations to join in. In May, you could attend one of the biggest events of the Icelandic cultural calendar, the Reykjavík Arts Festival.
Two smaller festivals may also interest you. There is the Vaka Folk Festival in Akureyri, which welcomes the top folk performers from Iceland and Northern Europe.
Closer to Reykjavík, at Stokkseyrarsel farm near Selfoss, you could attend Saga Fest. It is a music and arts festival based on storytelling and the Icelandic Sagas.
Best places to visit in Iceland in May
And where should you go if you’re visiting Iceland in May? You have probably heard of some hot spots, but here are our suggestions:
It’s never a bad time to visit Iceland’s capital, but in May the buzzing summer atmosphere starts to set in. You’ll find even more events, festivals, and activities to take part in.
Here are the top things you can do in Reykjavík during the summer months:
- Go on a food tour around the city to get a taste of Iceland
- Head to the harbor to board a whale-watching cruise
- On rainy days, visit the Perlan to see its interactive exhibition about the wonders of Iceland
- Explore the nature trails on the nearby Viðey Island
- Hike up Mount Esja to get a sweeping view of the surroundings and capital city
- Dip your feet in the Atlantic Ocean or soak in hot tubs on Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach
- Take in the view of the city from the top of Hallgrímskirkja
You could also book an array of day trips from the capital, from visiting the Golden Circle to taking helicopter rides.
- Enjoy a city break in Reykjavík, Iceland
2. Golden Circle
If you’re in Iceland for a shorter period, don’t miss visiting the highlights of this famous route. It is perfect for a city break as it is a fantastic day tour from Reykjavík.
See the wonderful waterfalls of Faxifoss and Gullfoss. Explore Þingvellir National Park, where you can observe the tectonic plates and even go snorkeling between them.
And finally, see the OG of geysers! Geysir isn’t as active anymore, but its neighbor Strokkur erupts columns of hot water in the air every 6-10 minutes.
3. South coast
There are so many highlights to check off your bucket list on the south coast, so we had to include it as one.
Some of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, are located here. Seljalandsfoss is especially popular because you can walk behind the fall, giving you a different perspective.
You’ll also find two of the most famous black sand beaches in Iceland. Reynisfjara near the lovely town of Vík í Mýrdal. From here you can admire the basalt columns of the cliffs and see the rock formations of Dyrhólaey and Reynisdrangar.
A word to the wise: be careful of the waves on Reynisfjara. They can come up quickly and the currents are really strong.
Further along, Diamond Beach is a stunner. You’ll be able to admire glistening chunks of ice on the stark black sand. And literally across the road from here, you can admire more icebergs along the stunning Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.
- Look up our summer camping tours of Iceland
4. Vatnajökull National Park
As you journey from the south coast to North Iceland, you’ll travel along the Vatnajökull National Park. It stretches this far covering nearly 15% of Iceland’s landmass.
With such a diverse landscape, you’ll find plenty to enjoy inside this vast park. The protected area includes 10 volcanoes and a large ice cap. It’s no wonder it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019.
We recommend you visit the Skaftafell area in the south. Here you’ll find plenty of great hiking trails, with scenic valleys and mountains to explore. In Jökulsárgljúfur, in the north, don’t miss the glacial river canyon and the manymajestic waterfalls.
5. Snæfellsnes peninsula
This peninsula stretches 86 kilometers (55 miles) into the Atlantic Ocean from Iceland’s western coast.
It is renowned for being “Iceland in miniature.” It means that in this region you’ll find a bit of everything that makes up the Icelandic landscape. From vast lava fields to grand waterfalls, scenic cliffs to quaint fishing villages, and more.
It is also the location of the Snæfellsjökull National Park and its subglacial volcano.
Points of attractions include:
- Admiring the impressive Gerðuberg basalt cliffs
- Walking to the stark Búðakirkja black church amidst lava fields
- Hiking up to the Eldborg crater
- Spotting the iconic Kirkjufell Mountain (you may recognize it from Game of Thrones!)
- Going bird watching at the cliffs of Arnarstapi
- Visiting the local museums in the main town, Stykkishólmur
- Taking in the sweeping sea views from Djúpalónssandur
As May is the start of the hiking season, we recommend driving up to the Westfjords for an off-the-beaten-path adventure. This region, in the north-west of Iceland, is a fantastic destination for coastal scenery.
We recommend you visit the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. It is ideal for long walks with scenic views. Here you’ll also find one of Europe’s largest bird cliffs, Látrabjarg. And from late-April until August, you can observe the cute puffins who make it their home.
- Book a hiking tour of Iceland for a memorable adventure
7. Westman Islands
You could visit the Westman Islands, or Vestmannaeyjar, from Reykjavík, or add it to your itinerary as you visit the south coast.
The main island, Heimaey, is ideal for a day tour to learn about this volcanic island’s history. Don’t miss the crater and lava left from the 1973 volcanic eruption that buried a part of the island.
You could even book a boat tour around the island. This way you’d get to admire the teeming birdlife, including the world’s largest puffin colony, and maybe even spot some whales.
8. Diamond Circle
So, you’ve heard of the Golden Circle, but not the Diamond Circle? This is another one of Iceland’s most popular sightseeing routes.
Located in the north of the island, it encompasses the amazing landscapes of the Lake Mývatn area, coastal scenery of the Tjörnes peninsula, and the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park.
- The most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss
- Ásbyrgi, a lush, horseshoe-shaped canyon
- Iceland’s capital of whale watching, Húsavík
- Goðafoss, the “Waterfall of the Gods”
- Lake Mývatn Nature Reserve
- Check out our summer self-drive tours of Iceland
What about the highlands?
Did you hear about the fantastic hiking trails located in this remote area of Iceland? They are colorful, memorable, and ideal for hikers looking for their next challenge.
If that’s something you’re interested in, visit between June and August. The roads into the highlands open depending on the weather and are usually only accessible at this time of year. So May is a bit too early.
Weather in Iceland in May – What to expect
May marks the beginning of the summer season in Iceland. The country is opening up again with better weather and more travel opportunities. But in May things are only starting to ramp up and therefore quieter than during the peak summer months of June to August.
May, together with September, is known as the shoulder season. And these are good times to visit Iceland if you want to enjoy decent weather, longer daylight hours, and fewer visitors.
So what can you expect of the weather in May? It is a transitional month between spring and summer, so temperatures are usually mild. The average temperature is around 6 °C (43 °F), with possible highs of 10-15 °C (50-59 °F).
The weather is changeable all year long, so it’s best to be ready for anything when traveling to Iceland.
Does it snow in Iceland in May?
It is unlikely to snow in Iceland at this time of year. In early May, it may snow in the north, but this is rare. What you’re likely to see are snow-topped mountains on the horizon. It depends on the year’s weather, but at least it makes for a beautiful backdrop.
Can I see the Northern Lights in Iceland in May?
In May, it is unlikely you’ll see the Northern Lights in Iceland. You need proper darkness to spot them in the sky and the number of daylight hours will make it very difficult.
To see them in summer, your best bet is to visit between late August and September. Or more specifically take a trip to Iceland between October and March for Northern Lights galore. Those are quieter months with longer nights, giving you more opportunities to see the famous Aurora Borealis.
What to pack to travel to Iceland in May?
As we said previously, even in May, Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable. For that reason, we advise that you pack for all possibilities.
The top tip is to bring plenty of layers. So if it’s cooler or warmer than expected, you can add or remove layers to adapt to the day (even hour!) ahead of you.
In the Nordics, we have the saying: “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. Keep that in mind and you won’t miss out on any of the great days of exploration and activities you have booked.
Here is a list of packing essentials for your trip to Iceland in May:
- Short-sleeved shirts and lightweight layers
- Fleece or lightweight wool jumpers
- Waterproof and windproof jacket or shell layers
- Waterproof trousers
- Gloves, scarf, and warm hat
- Cap and sunglasses
- Sturdy walking or hiking boots with good socks
- Thermal underwear and socks
- Binoculars for wildlife watchers
- Swimwear, flip flops, and towel to go for a dip
Planning your May trip to Iceland
What do you want to see most? How do you want to travel? And how long do you want to stay? Answer these questions first and you’ll have a better idea of how to prepare for your journey.
Whether you want to camp, stay in hotels, take a road trip, or guided tours, Iceland has it all. Pick what suits you best and start reserving. Accommodation, tours, and activities can book out early in summer, so make sure to start early.
Or let us help you! Iceland Tours is run by local travel experts based in Reykjavík. We have crafted tours based on popular routes and with plenty of added benefits for you to have a memorable trip.
It’s simple enough to book via our website. Select your vacation start date and length of travel and then pick your car, accommodations, and activities based on your budget. Then all you have to do is enjoy yourself. See you next May!
Iceland has become, over the years, one of the best places in Europe for whale watching. If you’re keen on this activity, we are here to say “do it!” and recommend the best whale watching in Iceland.
The Icelandic waters are rich with wildlife, making it the ideal destination if you want to see whales, dolphins, seabirds, and more. It’s also good to know that tours are available all year long and are suited for the whole family.
Read below to learn what to expect of whale-watching tours in Iceland, when to visit, and where to go for the best sightings.
- Browse our Iceland vacation packages to start planning your dream trip
Fun facts about whales in Iceland
There is so much to learn about whales, as these gentle giants of the sea are truly fascinating. The bonus of whale-watching tours is that you won’t just get to see whales but learn about them too. Often naturalists or marine biologists will act as guides on cruises.
Here is our little introduction to whales if you’re keen to have a head start:
First things first, whales are not fish, but cetaceans (aquatic mammals). This means they can’t actually breathe underwater. They have to surface depending on their lung capacity. Some whales can stay underwater for up to 2 hours.
There are 39 whale species recognized in our oceans. It goes up to 90 if you count porpoises and dolphins too. Whales are separated into two: baleen (with a filter system) and toothed (with teeth).
Come get acquainted with them even better on a whale-watching tour!
Whales you could see in Iceland
There is quite an array of whales that can be seen off Iceland’s shores all through the year. This is thanks to the cold Arctic Sea and warmer Northern Atlantic waters. They mix off the coast, thus creating the perfect habitat for small fish and squid, both prized by whales.
These are the ones you’re most likely to observe on your whale-watching trip:
Minke whales are the most common because of their large numbers. But they are generally shy and may not approach boats. That said, they are around all year long.
Humpback whales can be found everywhere in the world, but Iceland is a great place to see them. They swim from warm tropical waters where they mate to the colder seas of the northern latitudes to feed in summer.
They breach more than any other baleen whale. So if you come across them on a tour, they should be easy to spot from the boat.
Sperm whales are the largest toothed whales in the world. On average they measure between 11 and 16 meters (36-52 feet), which is impressive. When and where are you most likely to see them? During spring or summertime off the west coast.
Bowhead whales are wide and swim slowly to conserve their energy in the polar waters of the Arctic Circle. Their name comes from the shape of their head, which they use to break through thick ice. You’ll likely find them off the coast of North Iceland.
Beluga whales are distinctly white, so you’ll probably recognize them right away. You may hear them as well. They are extremely vocal whales and were nicknamed the “canaries of the sea”.
You’re likely to spot belugas in the north of Iceland during the winter. This is because they migrate south when the ice starts to form in the Arctic.
Sightings of blue whales are rarer around Iceland, but they do happen. But as they are the world’s largest whales and mammals, we had to mention them. If you’re lucky enough to see one, you’ll have to tell us all about it!
While in Iceland, you may see the whales spy hopping. This is when they poke their head out of water. But maybe you’ll see them breaching (jumping) and playfully slapping their fins against the water. Making for even more dynamic photos!
- Find a family-friendly tour of Iceland to suit you and your children
Other wildlife to watch out for during your boat tour
While you’re out at sea, keep your eyes open for more wildlife. The marine and birdlife are so rich, especially in the summer.
Dolphins can be spotted all year long, especially white-beaked dolphins. They will usually travel in pods, from a handful of them up to 100 dolphins. As they are powerful swimmers, you may see them bow-riding your vessel.
Harbor porpoises also live in the waters around Iceland all year long. They are more shy than dolphins, but you may catch them racing or feeding.
Orcas – wait, why are we including killer whales in the “other” category? Orcas are actually a type of dolphin, the largest species in fact. The best place to spot them is in West Iceland, like off the coast of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Come in winter for your best chances of sightings.
You may also encounter many seals during your trip to Iceland. There are several colonies around the country. They often poke their heads out to spy on boats and people as they are curious creatures. Or you could visit the Icelandic Seal Centre in Hvammstangi in North Iceland.
And finally, make sure to look up at the sky for seabirds. Puffins, Iceland’s unofficial bird, come in high numbers every summer to nest. Nearly 8 million of them! They start arriving in late April before going back to sea in August. The best place to witness them is in North Iceland and the Westfjords.
Keen birdwatchers should also keep an eye out for gannets, guillemots, razorbills, cormorants, gulls, kittiwakes, and more, depending on the time of year.
- View all the fun activities you could add to your Iceland itinerary as well as whale-watching cruises
Where to see whales in Iceland
Whales can be seen around the island, but there are prime locations you’ll want to visit for specific day tours. These include Reykjavík, the capital city in the south-west, and Húsavík, in North Iceland.
They both have their advantages, but your decision may come down to your itinerary. Reykjavík is perfect if you’re in town for a city break. Húsavík is an ideal stop along the way if you’re driving the Ring Road.
Whale watching from Reykjavík
As the first port of call on most trips to Iceland, Reykjavík is the most accessible location to watch whales. Even if you only stay in Iceland for a long weekend, you should still have time to add this tour to your itinerary.
The cruises usually leave from the old harbor, located a 10-minute walk away from the city center. Lasting around 3 hours, you’ll then travel through the Faxaflói Bay in search of marine wildlife.
The most common species encountered on these tours are humpback whales, minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, and harbor porpoises.
- Learn more about whale watching from Reykjavík
Whale watching from Húsavík
Húsavík is the most famous whale-watching port of Iceland. Over the years it also transformed from a quiet fishing village to the “whale-watching capital of Iceland”.
It owes this reputation to the thriving ecosystem of the Skjálfandi bay. Because of its shape, the bay draws in a lot of “food” turning into a feast for whales. It is the ideal location for them to dive deep to hunt and feed.
This makes Húsavík the best place for spotting whales in their natural habitat. In fact, most summer tours record a 100% sighting rate.
When to go whale watching in Iceland
Whale watching is an activity you could do at any point of the year. So whenever you are planning your trip to Iceland, you could book this excursion.
But if you want to visit Iceland just for the whales, you may want to keep a few things in mind.
Summer vs winter tours
Summertime is probably, by most people’s standards, the best time to come to Iceland to whale watch. Summer excursions have 2 major benefits: the weather and a greater number of whales.
Because the weather is more stable, there are fewer chances of storms and better prospects of clear skies. This is great if you want to spend more time on the deck as it’ll be more comfortable.
At this time of year, you also have longer days thanks to the midnight sun. And you’ll enjoy plenty of other activities and attractions, like dipping in hot springs and hiking.
- Check out our summer tours of Iceland
In winter, the conditions may be a bit choppier on the water. But it makes up for it with a different set of interesting wildlife to look out for and small groups on the boat. When there are whale sightings, this means you’ll have a great view to witness the beautiful sea creatures and take fantastic photos.
Another bonus of winter is the splendid snow-covered peaks as a backdrop. And do we even have to mention the Northern Lights?
So, what are the best months for whale watching in Iceland?
Generally speaking, we would recommend the summer months. June until August is a good period to see more whales and even puffins.
Tours are popular at this time, so if you want a bit more of the deck to yourself, try scheduling your trip for April, May, September, or October.
But if it’s your dream to see whales and you’re visiting Iceland in winter, don’t be put off by the conditions. Go on this memorable excursion!
Booking your whale-watching tour
It’s easy to organize your whale-watching excursion when you visit Iceland.
First, you’ll want to plan your trip to the Land of Fire and Ice. Whether you’re coming on a road trip, a city break, a camping adventure, or a private tour, you’ll find an itinerary that suits you on Iceland Tours.
Then you can add a whale-watching cruise to your itinerary. We offer tours in both Reykjavík and Húsavík, so pick the one you prefer. Or both if you want to go all out!
Ready to plan? Browse our Iceland vacation packages to find your dream trip.
Road trips are one of the best ways to see Iceland. You get to explore at your own pace and stop whenever you want at all the breathtaking viewpoints. And there are so many!
How long does it take to drive around Iceland, you ask? Or wondering how much time to set aside for your trip to the Land of Fire and Ice for a road trip?
We’ve compiled all the information you’ll need about the Ring Road below. Discover how long to drive around Iceland in terms of days, a guide to the seasons, and a suggested itinerary.
- Browse our self-drive tours of Iceland based on your preferred length of travel.
About the Ring Road
The Ring Road, or Route 1, is the national road that circles Iceland. This is the way you’ll be able to drive around the island. The whole length of it adds up to 1,322 kilometers (821 miles) and it connects most of the inhabited regions of Iceland.
Other regions can be added to your itinerary too. These include:
- The highlands, opened only in summer
- The Snæfellsnes peninsula, often described as “Iceland in miniature”
- Parts of North Iceland, excellent for day detours
- The stunning Westfjords
How many days do you need?
In Iceland, the speed limit in urban areas is 50 kilometers (30 miles) an hour and 90 on rural paved roads. This technically means you could tour the entire Ring Road in about 17 hours’ driving time. But that’s not recommended!
Not only because it’ll be an exhausting journey and it’s all dependent on the weather and road conditions, but also because where’s the fun in that? The journey is so important, and in Iceland, the journey is worth taking your time.
We recommend a minimum of a week or 6 to 8 days in Iceland. This way you’ll be able to drive comfortably around the country while also soaking up the sights.
Photograph the vast lava fields, take in the thundering waterfalls, dip in hot springs, and take time to explore the national parks.
Ultimately, it’s up to you. Build your itinerary based on what you’d like to see and discover. If you go off the beaten path or visit in winter, this may result in a longer tour. But that means seeing even more of stunning Iceland, so who would complain?
- You can view all our Ring Road tours for your Iceland road trip.
- Related: Read more about driving the famous Ring Road in our expert blog.
Recommended length of travel to drive around Iceland
Wondering how long you should stay for? Or not sure how many places you can visit during your planned vacation? We break it down for you based on different timelines.
Less than a week: Not recommended
If you’re visiting for a few days, consider doing a city break or short road trip to the south coast.
Stay in Reykjavík and go on day tours to visit top attractions such as the Golden Circle. Or pick a region, like the west or south coast, to explore in more depth.
- Find an Iceland city break to suit you.
7-10 days: Taste of Iceland
This is a good amount of time to visit Iceland if you want to drive around the Ring Road. With at least 7 days, you should be able to make your way around the country comfortably while visiting the top sights.
In summer, with the extra daylight hours, you could plan an action-packed getaway.
10+ days: In-depth exploration
With 10 days and more, you start being able to take your time and really delve into Iceland’s culture, history, and formidable natural landscape.
The possibilities are endless. You could spend more time in certain locations, instead of rushing through. Stop at all the breathtaking attractions you want and maybe even go off the beaten path to explore remote regions.
Imagine going for day-long hikes or adding fun, unique activities to your itinerary. These will make your adventure in Iceland even more memorable.
- If you would rather leave the driving to someone else, book a private tour instead. You’ll enjoy a local guide as your driver.
When should you visit to drive around Iceland?
Iceland’s changeable climate can impact the way you’ll travel and what you can visit during your vacation.
For that reason, pick your season depending on what you’re interested in seeing and doing. Both the winter and summer seasons have benefits, so don’t rule either out just yet.
Driving around Iceland in summer
Summer in Iceland is during the months of June, July, and August, which make up the high season and attract the most visitors. This is thanks to its endless daylight, best weather of the year, and access to hiking trails and remote areas, such as the Highlands.
Visit during this time if you like to go hiking, maybe even dip in the sea, or enjoy birdwatching.
Yes, you should expect to find more visitors at top attractions at this time of year. But visiting Iceland in summer means you’ll be able to take advantage of the longer daylight hours to explore more of the country.
For good weather and fewer fellow travelers, come during the shoulder season, in May or September.
Driving around Iceland in winter
The Icelandic winter is the low season, but attracts more and more visitors, thanks to the colorful light show of the Northern Lights. This is the main benefit of traveling at this time, although sightings are never guaranteed.
- Look up our winter tours in Iceland for a snowy getaway.
You’ll also enjoy the white and frosty landscape as well as the possibility to dip in hot springs while it’s snowing around you. It’ll make your stay even more magical!
At this time, however, you can expect mountain roads to be closed and driving to be a bit slower due to the conditions.
If you’ll be driving in Iceland between November and March, be aware to:
- Take your time driving on icy roads
- Check on weather and road conditions before setting off each day
- Keep an eye on your map and do not rely solely on GPS
- Hire a 4×4 car to have a more comfortable and safer experience
Itinerary suggestion for driving around Iceland
If you browse through our website, you’ll be able to find plenty of Iceland itineraries depending on how much time you have. The following is a 12-day itinerary suggestion if you want to travel around the whole country, including the Westfjords and Snæfellsnes peninsula.
Day 1: Arrive in Iceland
Depending on when you fly into Iceland, you’ll have the rest of the day to explore Reykjavík. The capital city is a treasure trove of interactive museums, fun activities, cozy cafés, and excellent restaurants.
If you would like to relax after your flight, you could also book a slot at the Blue Lagoon to dip into the geothermal waters. This is the perfect way to decompress before setting off on your adventure!
Day 2: Snæfellsnes peninsula
Today you start your road trip by heading to the Snæfellsnes peninsula. You’ll first drive through the Borgarfjörður area with its landscape of vast fields and waterfalls. Once you reach Snæfellsnes, take some time to visit the beach Djúpalónssandur, and admire the basalt columns of Gerðuberg and seaside rock formations at Arnarstapi.
Day 3: Journey to the Westfjords
Half of your day will be taken by a scenic ferry ride from the Snæfellsnes peninsula to the Westfjords. You can start discovering this remote region of Iceland at your leisure. One of the recommended stops on the south coast is Rauðisandur with its reddish-colored sand.
Day 4 and 5: Explore the Westfjords
You have two whole days to discover the gems of the Westfjords, an area few people take the time to explore. The landscape is characterized by high bird cliffs, sweeping sea views, dramatic fjords, and high mountains.
We recommend stopping by the majestic Dynjandi waterfall. On the way, take in the stunning coastal scenery and pass by quaint villages like Flateyri as well as the unofficial capital of the Westfjords, Isafjörður.
Day 6: North Iceland
Continue on to North Iceland, all the way to the capital of the region, Akureyri. You’ll pass through Skagafjörður, an area known for exceptional horse breeding. Keep an eye out for stocky Icelandic horses as they can be seen grazing along the way.
- Check out all the thrilling activities you could add to your Iceland itinerary.
Day 7: Lake Mývatn area
You are staying for a second night in Akureyri, but you still have a day of adventure ahead of you. Drive to the Lake Mývatn Nature Reserve to see why it is one of the most inspiring areas in Iceland.
On the way, don’t miss the impressive Goðafoss, known as “the waterfall of the gods”.
Day 8: Exploring the northeast
Are you a fan of whales? Start the day by driving to the charming fishing village of Húsavík. It is known as the capital of whale watching in Iceland.
You’ll then follow the coast and drive the Tjörnes peninsula. We recommend making a pitstop at the extremity of the peninsula to enjoy the view and try to spot some seabirds.
Continue your journey south to East Iceland. For leg-stretching stops, we highly recommend the lush canyon of Ásbyrgi and Dettifoss waterfall.
Day 9: The East Fjords
Today you drive through East Iceland and discover the East Fjords. You may think of Norway when you hear of fjords, but this region would give it a run for its money. At times, the road hangs precariously on the mountain slope providing stunning views below.
Day 10: Highlights of the southeast
Today you’ll stop by one of Iceland’s biggest bucket list sights. After passing various outlet glaciers from Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest ice cap, you’ll arrive at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Many travel to Iceland just to see its glistening icebergs.
In summer, you could book a boat trip to go onto the lagoon to see the bobbing icebergs from up close. You can then spend some time in the Skaftafell National Park. This natural oasis, surrounded by glaciers and stark black sand beaches, is ideal for hiking.
Day 11: The Golden Circle
Today, you’ll visit highlights of the south coast. See the water being propelled in the air by Strokkur at the Geysir area. Walk through history and marvel at the geology of Thingvellir National Park (or Þingvellir). Photograph the majestic Gullfoss waterfall.
If you are visiting for a shorter amount of time, don’t miss the Golden Circle as it is an ideal day trip from the capital.
As you make your way back to Reykjavík, stop by Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. These last two waterfalls will not disappoint!
Day 12: Departure
And just like that your journey in Iceland is over. Make your way back to Keflavík Airport for your flight home. Depending on what time it is, you may have time to squeeze in more activities in Reykjavík.
Booking your Icelandic road trip
When asking how long it takes to drive around Iceland, you’re taking the first step in planning your road trip to the Land of Fire and Ice.
What is left to do is:
- Plan what you want to see most
- Book your transportation and accommodation
- Add any activities to your itinerary
- Familiarize yourself with driving rules
Getting an idea of what you’d like to see will help direct you to when to visit and where to go. Iceland is so full of marvels and unique experiences and you’ll need to narrow it down.
To rent a car and reserve your accommodations and activities, start organizing in advance. Whether you want to spend the night camping or in a budget hotel, accommodations can book out early, especially in summer.
It’s the same for fun activities. From walking in ice caves to horse riding and relaxing at the Blue Lagoon, arrange them early to avoid disappointment. And remember these will enrich your itinerary even more.
Finally, make sure to pack wisely. Look into getting a map and a GPS and bring a phone you can use when you’re on the road. And fear not, credit cards are widely accepted in Iceland for petrol, food shops, and even ice cream.
Maybe you want help with it all. Then why not trust a local company like Iceland Tours?
It’s simple. You pick the itinerary you’re interested in and then you add in your car and accommodation preferences. You can also select optional activities and day tours. All while keeping an eye on your budget.
- Look up all our Iceland vacation packages to get started with planning your dream trip.
Now you should know what to expect when you come to drive around Iceland. If you have more questions or you’re ready to book the road trip of a lifetime, get in touch with our travel consultants.
Imagine exploring glistening icebergs and stark black sand beaches during the day. Then spending your evening relaxing or partying at festivals in the glow of the midnight sun. This is what awaits you on a summer trip to Iceland.
To help you plan, we’ve compiled this guide of what to see and do during your Iceland summer adventure. You’ll also find a few added tips of what to pack and what to expect from that famous Icelandic weather.
How is Iceland in summer?
What can you expect when you visit Iceland in summer? Long days, the best weather of the year, good driving conditions, and plenty of outdoor activities.
All of this makes summer a great time to visit Iceland. The longer daylight hours mean you can take more time to explore each day, drive greater distances, or simply bask in the sunlight well into the night.
How is the weather in Iceland in summer?
The summer months enjoy the best weather of the year. It won’t be the Caribbean, but it is called Iceland after all.
Generally, you can expect average temperatures to hover around 10-13°C (50-55°F). But every year there are warm days in the low 20s°C (68-77°F).
When to visit in summer?
This may depend on your summer holidays, but here is our advice.
The height of summer, between June and August, is the popular travel season. For that reason, you may find you’re not alone at famous sites and on the roads.
This is especially true along the south coast and for day tours from Reykjavík. If you want to visit at that time, maybe you could head off the beaten path instead.
Or, to see a quieter side of the country, visit during the shoulder season, in May or September. During these months, you’ll still benefit from some lovely weather and long days, but with more of the popular sites to yourself.
- Browse our Iceland summer packages.
Top things to do in Iceland in summer
Spend your summer vacation in Iceland and you could get up to so much. Experience new things and relish Iceland’s stunning landscape.
We’ve compiled our favorite 15 things to do in Iceland in summer to give you some inspiration:
1. Take a dip in swimming pools and hot springs
Thanks to its volcanoes and geothermal activity, Iceland has a large number of naturally heated pools. In Reykjavík only, you’ll find almost 20 of them. Or you could book a slot to soak in the soothing waters of the Blue Lagoon in the Reykjanes peninsula.
You could also experience the more natural pools in the countryside. Go hiking and then relax in hot springs. Make sure to bring your swimsuit and towel for this activity.
2. Camp your way around the country
While the winter isn’t as harsh as you may expect from this Nordic island for camping you’ll want to do so in summer. Camping is a fantastic way to wake up each day amidst the scenic landscape. And it’s cheaper than hotels, so you’ll save money along the way too!
- Look up our summer camping tours of Iceland.
3. Experience long days with the midnight sun
The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon whereby the sun doesn’t set at all below the horizon. It occurs in the summer in the extreme north and south of our planet. As Iceland is almost within the Arctic Circle, it boasts extended daylight hours in summer.
Between May and July, you can expect between 18 to 23 daylight hours each day. This means you have longer days for driving, exploring, hiking, or simply enjoying the midnight sun.
4. Hike in the stunning landscape
Discover Iceland along the hiking trails for an adventurous getaway. With the better weather, hiking paths start to open for the summer season around April and May.
If you’re in Reykjavík for a short stay, you could hike up the nearby Mount Esja. With more time, drive to the highlands to take on the multi-day Laugavegur Trail. You’ll find plenty of other options, from East Iceland to the Westfjords.
- If you’re an intrepid traveler go on a hiking tour of Iceland.
5. Celebrate the summer solstice
The summer solstice is either on the 20 or 21 June in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks the longest day of the year and in Iceland, it happens to be very long!
The period surrounding the summer solstice is also called midsummer. You have probably heard about it being celebrated in many Nordic countries. Iceland is no exception, and you’ll find parties across the country at this time of year.
The biggest one has to be the (not-so) Secret Solstice festival in Reykjavík. Don’t miss it if you’re visiting during midsummer.
6. Go off the beaten path
As we’ve mentioned before, Iceland’s top sights attract a lot of visitors in the summer months. So, if you have time, travel off the beaten path. This way you’ll discover other fantastic attractions and have them more to yourself.
Certain regions, like the Westfjords, aren’t as accessible in winter. Another great example is the highlands. The roads into this region only open between June and August (dependent on weather). So, summer is the best time to head up there.
Explore parts of Iceland that few take the time to see and you’ll find breathtaking scenery at every corner.
- Spend some time in the highlands with these Iceland tours.
7. Spot whales on a cruise
Whale-watching tours are available all year long but keep a few things in mind before booking this fun activity. Summer has 3 major benefits for whale watching.
First, the weather is usually better, meaning you’re more likely to want to spend your time on the deck waiting for the whales to make an appearance. At this time of year, the water is usually less choppy too, perfect if you don’t have the strongest sea legs.
But the biggest benefit is the higher number of whales that migrate to Iceland’s coast in summer. You may spot minke, humpback, and sperm whales, and, if you’re lucky, even the elusive blue whale.
8. Enjoy some fresh local food
Iceland is a pleasure to visit for foodies. You’ll find plenty to dig your teeth into here.
Make sure to visit Dalvík in North Iceland. In summer, you could join the friendly locals for “Great Fish Day,” a celebration over a large seafood feast.
In Reykjavík, there are restaurants of all kinds that serve delicious Icelandic dishes as well as international cuisine. You could even take a food tour of the capital to get a taste of local ice cream, pastries, seafood (including shark!), Icelandic spirit, and more.
Or take a day tour to the idyllic Friðheimar greenhouse cultivation center. Or include it in your itinerary as you tour Iceland. At Friðheimar, they grow pesticide-free tomatoes and cucumbers with the aid of geothermal heat.
9. Party at music festivals
Summer is a great time to visit Iceland to immerse yourself in the culture. The country opens after a dark winter and Icelanders celebrate with loads of festivities.
Attend festivals with the locals or join an international audience at major events, such as:
- Reykjavík Arts Festival – May or June
- Seafarer’s Day – June
- Iceland’s National Day – 17 June
- Viking Festival in Hafnarfjörður – June
- Secret Solstice in Reykjavík – June
- Siglufjörður Folk Music Festival – July
- Bræðslan music festival – July
- Þjóðhátíð in the Westman Islands – August
- Reykjavík’s Culture Night and Marathon – August
- Reykjavík Pride – August
10. Try a sea swim
Although not for the faint of heart, why not dip your toes in the cold Northern Atlantic Ocean? A beautiful spot to do so is Nauthólsvík, a beach in Reykjavík. It’s probably best to keep this activity for a warm summer’s day!
- Visit on a city break of Reykjavík, Iceland.
And in case it’s too cold, there are hot tubs nearby to warm you up. Or you can keep your dips exclusively for hot springs and heated pools instead.
11. Explore the national parks
Iceland has 3 stunning national parks: Þingvellir, Snæfellsjökull and Vatnajökull. They are oases of natural wonders that are worth taking the time to discover. Not only because they encompass magnificent beauty, but because they are a treasure trove of fun activities. Imagine hiking, snowmobiling, or chasing waterfalls.
12. Go on exciting day trips
- Look up all the great activities you could add to your Iceland itinerary.
13. See glaciers from up close
Did you know there are 269 named glaciers covering 11% of Iceland’s landmass? That’s a whole lot of glaciers! You could take a day tour to explore one or more of them with an experienced guide.
Try your hand at driving a snowmobile on top of Mýrdalsjökull glacier or along the Langjökull Ice Cap. Or go glacier hiking on an outlet glacier in Skaftafell. These will allow you to see the snowy landscape, glacial ice sculptures, ice ridges, and deep crevasses from up close.
14. Spot puffins in the wild
Ever wanted to see these cute birds in person? From late April to early August, around 8 million puffins come to mate and nest on the Icelandic coast. That’s 60% of the entire Atlantic puffin population that call Iceland their home during the summer.
The 4 million pairs create colonies along large sea cliffs. You’ll find quite a few around the country, but the best ones are in North Iceland and the Westfjords. A great way to see them is hiking, or you could take a whale- and puffin-watching tour.
15. Tour the island along the Ring Road
Think we would have forgotten this one? The Icelandic summer is nothing but perfect for an impressive road trip. With long days, you have more time to explore and enjoy yourself. Or you could also take fewer days to travel around Route 1 as you could drive more each day.
- Check out our summer self-drive tours of Iceland.
- Related: Learn more about driving the Ring Road on our expert’s blog.
Top places to add to your must-see Iceland summer list
You now have an exciting list of things to do and activities to add to your itinerary. But what are the must-see places? Pick some (or all!) of the following Icelandic locations for a memorable summer tour.
Here are the 15 best places to visit in Iceland in summer:
- Explore the Golden Circle’s top attractions – Geysir, Þingvellir and Gullfoss
- Experience the summer buzz of the capital, Reykjavík
- Walk around the lush canyon of Ásbyrgi in North Iceland
- Drive through the fjords of East Iceland
- Visit the village of Vík and its nearby beach, Reynisfjara
- Discover the varied wilderness of the Vatnajökull National Park
- Roam around the lunar landscape of the Lake Mývatn area
- See the icebergs glistening in the sun at the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon
- Tour the volcanic Heimaey in the Westman Islands
- Visit the remote Westfjords for unspoilt beauty
- Witness the highlights and rock formations of the Snæfellsjökull National Park
- Photograph epic waterfalls like Goðafoss and Seljalandsfoss
- Adventure yourself into the mountainous highlands
- Spot whales on a cruise from Húsavík
- Wander around the mossy boulders of Iceland’s lava fields, such as Eldhraun
Can you see the northern lights in summer?
If you’re visiting between mid-April and mid-August, the answer is no. Because it takes darkness to see the Northern Lights, you should avoid the months with endless daylight hours.
Peaking in June, the midnight sun is a spectacular phenomenon, but will restrict your ability to see the Aurora Borealis.
But visit in late summer, from mid-August into September, and you may be able to spot them. At that time, the nights are growing longer, giving you more opportunities to see the lights.
- To see the Northern Lights, look into visiting Iceland in winter instead.
What to pack and what to wear on a summer trip to Iceland
Icelanders have a saying: “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. This is the philosophy to keep in mind when visiting Iceland, even in summer.
With its ever-changing weather, the best thing to do is to be ready for everything. Bring layers so you can adapt to the day’s weather and appreciate all that Iceland has to offer, come rain or shine.
Here is a list of packing essentials for your Iceland summer trip:
- Short-sleeved shirts and lightweight layers
- Fleece or lightweight wool jumpers
- Waterproof and windproof jacket or shell layers
- Waterproof trousers
- Gloves, scarf, and warm hat
- Cap and sunglasses
- Sturdy walking or hiking boots with good socks
- Thermal underwear and socks for cooler excursions
- Binoculars for wildlife watchers
- Eye mask to help you sleep with the midnight sun
- Swimwear, flip flops, and towel to take a dip or go to the spa
Planning your summer vacation to Iceland
Activities, tours, and accommodation book out early during this popular travel season, so start planning early.
Decide what you want to see and experience most and then put together your tour. For road trips, look at renting a car and booking accommodation or camping spots. Then add activities to your day-to-day itinerary.
Or you could let a local do the work for you. The travel experts at Iceland Tours are based in Reykjavík and know the country inside-out. They can advise you on the best activities and routes to take.
Get in touch or browse our Iceland vacation packages to pick the one that’s right for you. You can choose from self-drive itineraries, camping tours, city breaks, or even privately guided experiences of Iceland.
Iceland is a fascinating country, rich in heritage and natural wonders. Just like its landscape and history, Iceland is multi-faceted and intrigues visitors from around the world.
Before you set off on your journey, learn more about its culture and history. And know what to expect in terms of the best things to visit and the best time to travel.
We’ve put together a guide to Iceland, detailed and useful, just for you.
- Look up all our Iceland vacation packages to get started with planning the trip of a lifetime.
Let’s start with the basic facts about Iceland. It is a unique island set in the northern Atlantic Ocean. Nicknamed the Land of Fire and Ice, Iceland offers an amazing landscape of glaciers and volcanoes.
Iceland has a population of only 350,000 inhabitants making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. Nearly two thirds of Icelanders live in or around Reykjavík as it is the financial and cultural center of the country.
Around 75% of Iceland is uninhabited, including the highlands, glaciers, lava fields, and beaches. So there is plenty of tranquil and untouched places to visit!
Quick facts about Iceland:
- Capital: Reykjavík
- Currency: Icelandic króna (ISK)
- Time zone: Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) all year
- Language: Icelandic
- Religion: majority Lutheran
- Main industries: fishing, geothermal power, and tourism
- Drinking age: 20 years old
Our guide to Iceland continues with more about Icelandic history, weather, and wildlife below.
The Norse origin of the early settlers is what influenced the language and culture of Iceland today. Most of the evidence indicates that the first permanent settlers came from Norway and from parts of the British Isles where Viking settlements had been established.
According to The Book of Settlements (Landnámabók), Ingólfur Arnarson was the first permanent settler of Iceland, establishing himself there in 874. A few decades later, in 930 the settlers established their central parliament, the Alþing. It is still active today, making it the oldest surviving parliament in the world.
In the 1200s a pact was made with the King of Norway and later Iceland fell under Danish rule due to Scandinavian pacts and wars. It wasn’t until 17 June 1944 that Iceland was going to regain its independence. This national holiday is now celebrated every year.
Weather in Iceland
Is it always cold in Iceland? With a name like that, you would think so, wouldn’t you? But the climate in Iceland is milder than you may expect. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland enjoys a temperate ocean climate with cool summers and relatively mild winters.
Icelandic weather is very changeable and it can happen fast too. This is why, when you’re visiting, you should always be prepared for unexpected weather. You may experience all four seasons in one day, so pack well to adjust your clothing at short notice.
The average summer temperatures in Reykjavík are 10-13°C (50–55°F). But you may encounter some warm days into the 20s°C (68°F +). In winter, expect temperatures to hover around 0°C (32 °F). In the north, they may fall to -10°C (14°F) or below.
What to pack, all year long, for a trip to Iceland:
- Lightweight under layers such as long-sleeved shirts and t-shirts
- Woolen sweaters and fleeces
- Rainproof and windproof coat (insulated for winter travel)
- Rainproof pants
- Sturdy walking or hiking shoes with woolen socks
- Warm hat, scarf, and gloves
While Iceland’s stunning landscape is the main reason people travel here from far and wide, there is also a variety of wildlife to witness. In fact, the water, sky, and land are teeming with beautiful animals!
Icelandic marine life is exquisite. Go on a boat tour to try to catch sight of the many types of whales, dolphins, and seals feeding around Iceland. The capital of whale watching in the country is the northern town of Húsavík.
All land mammals, except for the Arctic fox, have been brought by settlers to the country. These include the many, many sheep and the reindeer of East Iceland that all roam freely.
Finally, bird watchers will be pleased to hear that there are over 70 species that nest regularly in Iceland. This even includes some that do not breed anywhere else in Europe.
Up to about 10 million puffins spend their summers in Iceland. Find them on the high bird cliffs around the country, such as the Látrabjarg cliffs in the Westfjords. Also be on the lookout for harlequin ducks, Barrow’s goldeneyes, gyrfalcons, and Brünnich’s guillemots, among others.
Fun fact: Did you know that Iceland is one of the few places in the world without snakes?
Iceland’s natural beauty
One of the biggest draws of Iceland is its stunning and rugged natural beauty. You may be wanting to visit to be able to witness the tall peaks, windy cliffs, ice caps, and black beaches, among many other highlights.
Read a little bit more about these natural gems you can find in Iceland here.
A relatively young land, geologically speaking, Iceland is located on both the Iceland hotspot and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which runs right through it. This location means that the island is highly geologically active with many volcanoes.
There are at least 30 active volcanoes in Iceland. In fact, Iceland’s volcanic activity made world news recently with the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in March 2010. It disrupted international air traffic for some weeks.
Geothermal activity takes many shapes and forms too. They are an important part of Icelandic nature and include mud pools, steam vents, sulfur pits, and geysers.
You’ll also want to keep in mind the relaxing hot springs in which you can dip to warm up after a day of hiking or exploring. There are some ‘wild’ ones, but you can also visit spas and baths that tap into geothermal springs.
Geothermal power is also used for domestic and industrial purposes around the country.
If you love to see majestic waterfalls of all shapes and sizes, Iceland is the country to visit. There are in fact thousands of waterfalls around the country, so you’ll have plenty to choose from.
You will generally find at least one or two waterfalls on itineraries including the Golden Circle, south coast or the Ring Road. But you may want to go off the beaten path and visit even more.
Here are our top 10 waterfalls to see in Iceland:
- Gullfoss, part of the Golden Circle
- Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, located on the south coast
- Svartifoss in Skaftafell
- Dettifoss in the Vatnajökull National Park
- Goðafoss in North Iceland
- Dynjandi in the Westfjords
- Hraunfossar waterfalls in the west
- Hengifoss in East Iceland
- Haifoss in the East Fjords
Iceland’s nickname as the Land of Fire and Ice comes less because of its climate and more because of its glaciers. The various ice caps, outlet glaciers, alpine glaciers, mountain glaciers, and ice streams bring the total of glaciers in Iceland to 269! They cover over 11% of its landmass.
The largest Icelandic glacier is Vatnajökull, which is 8,200 square kilometers and up to 1,000 meters thick in places. It is also the biggest of its kind in all of Europe!
The landscape of the island bears witness to the last Ice Age. And the powerful glacial torrents continue to shape the land, carving spectacular gorges into the lava landscape.
Black sand beaches
You may have heard about the black sand beaches of Iceland. If you’ve never witnessed those before, you’ll surely be awed by the stark color of the Icelandic coast.
Black sand occurs because of the volcanoes nearby. It is a mix of molten lava entering in contact with the water. The lava cools down so rapidly that it breaks up into sand instantly.
Some of the most famous black sand beaches include Reynisfjara and Diamond Beach, on the south coast, as well as Djupalonssandur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula.
If anything, while you’re visiting Iceland, you’ll find the other colors of sand bizarre. Like the red sand of Rauðisandur in the Westfjords.
Be careful when walking along the beaches in Iceland. You should try to keep a safe distance from the shoreline due to rogue waves and strong undercurrents.
Iceland has 3 main national parks:
Þingvellir (or Thingvellir) is where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. It is an impressive sight and one of cultural importance too.
It was inscribed as one of Iceland’s UNESCO World Heritage sites because it is the original location of the Icelandic parliament, the Alþing.
Snæfellsjökull is located along the Snæfellsnes peninsula and is a must-see if you’re visiting the area. You’ll find Vatnajökull in the southeast. The glacier that makes up the national park is Europe’s largest ice cap and can be admired from a faraway distance.
Visiting the capital, Reykjavík
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland, where nearly two thirds of the country’s population lives. It is a lively and thriving city at the center of Icelandic culture, with fun activities and attractions for you to explore.
You’ll also find a range of excellent cafés and restaurants offering delicious international cuisine.
Whether you’re in town for a city break or staying the night before you tour the island, it’s worth taking the time to explore the capital.
Here are the 10 best things to do in Reykjavík:
- Taste Icelandic cuisine
- Learn more about history at the National Museum of Iceland
- Walk along the seaside and see the Sun Voyager
- Dip in one of the city’s geothermal swimming pools
- Take in the view from the top of Hallgrímskirkja
- Try the most popular ice cream in the country
- In summer, hike up Mount Esja
- Sail to Viðey Island to see the Imagine Peace Tower
- Take the bus to Grótta Lighthouse for a relaxed day
- Visit the Perlan and its Wonder of Iceland exhibition
Music and culture in Iceland
We couldn’t write about Iceland without mentioning the amazing cultural scene of this small but vibrant country. You’ve likely heard about an artist or two from the Land of Fire and Ice.
And if you’re just dreaming of your future trip to Iceland, you can look up some of these to travel via art. It’ll keep you entertained until you can see the real thing in person!
Famous Icelandic musicians and bands
Boasting such world-famous artists as the queen of Icelandic music, Björk, and the popular indie band Sigur Rós, Iceland is clearly a musical country.
For your Iceland playlist, you’ll also want to add Of Monsters and Men, Kaleo, and Sóley, who are all making their mark around the world.
International artists often play in Iceland, while at the other end of the spectrum you will find that many pubs offer a variety of live music.
Literature in Iceland
Nowadays Iceland is known for its Nordic noir crime fiction books. But way back when, it was the Icelandic sagas that made their way into the world consciousness. They are a great way to learn more about the local mythology as most date back to the 12th and 13th centuries.
Then modern Icelandic literature was recognized in 1955 when Halldór Laxness won the Nobel Prize of Literature.
To travel to Iceland through books, pick up authors such as Thor Vilhjálmsson, Einar Kárason, Arnaldur Indriðarson, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, and Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, amongst others.
Best festivals and events to attend
Iceland is a lively nation with many celebrations. All year long, there are international festivals or smaller events you could attend to immerse yourself in the Icelandic cultural scene.
Here are the events and dates to remember:
- The midwinter festival of Þorrablót in January
- Winter Lights Festival in February
- Beer Day on 1 March
- Iceland Winter Games in March
- First day of summer in late April
- Reykjavík Arts Festival in June
- Seafarers’ Day in early June
- Iceland’s National Day on 17 June
- Secret Solstice Festival in late June
- Folk Music Festival in July
- Bræðslan in July
- Reykjavík Jazz Festival in August
- Reykjavík Culture Night and Marathon in August
- Pride in Reykjavík in August
- Réttir in September
- Reykjavík International Literary Festival in September
- Reykjavík International Film Festival in late September
- Iceland Airwaves in November
Northern Lights in Iceland
The Northern Lights are one of the biggest draws for travelers visiting Iceland in winter.
But what are Northern Lights, you ask? Also known as the Aurora Borealis, they are caused by the interaction of particles from the sun with the upper atmosphere near the North Pole. That reaction creates the wonderful light effects we know as Northern Lights.
We often get asked, “what is the best month to see Northern Lights in Iceland?” Well, there isn’t one month in particular. We do recommend visiting in winter for the best chances of sightings. That’s because you need a dark northern sky, which Iceland has plenty of at that time of year.
Wondering where to go to see the Northern Lights in Iceland? You could see them about anywhere, even from the capital. But follow our top tips to put all the chances of sightings on your side:
- Visit in winter as the skies are darker at that time
- Head to the countryside if possible
- Stay up late as the best sightings occur between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.
- Check the forecast as you’re looking for good weather conditions and clear skies
- Be patient and dress warmly to stay out in the Icelandic winter
- Book a fun outing like a cruise or bus tour to hunt for the Northern Lights
And always remember that this phenomenon is natural and so cannot be timed or guaranteed. There is always some luck involved!
Guide to Iceland – What and when to visit
Finding out what you want to visit and when you’ll travel to Iceland are the first two steps in the planning process. Below you’ll find some tips to pick the right season for your travels and our top tens of things to do and see during your visit.
What is the best month to visit Iceland?
Iceland is a beautiful and exciting country all year long. This is why Iceland Tours has created itineraries for summer and winter alike.
Only you can choose which is the best time for the adventure you have in mind. Fantastic activities and sights are available in both travel seasons and each one has different draws and benefits.
Exploring Iceland in summer
The summer is by far the most popular time to visit Iceland. There are also a wide variety of activities and festivals to attend, and the landscape is at its best. Hiking is an activity favored by locals and visitors, and you could even dip your toes in the sea.
Iceland’s stunning highland region opens in late June if you want to go off the beaten path. The Westfjords also become more accessible at this time of year.
The months of June, July, and August are the most popular as they enjoy the best and most stable weather of the year. During these months, you can enjoy the never-ending daylight thanks to the midnight sun. It means the days are long and you can explore to your heart’s content.
For a slightly quieter time, visit during the shoulder months in May or September.
- Check out our summer tours to Iceland for more inspiration.
Exploring Iceland in winter
Due to the darkness and winter weather, the period between October and March attracts fewer visitors. But it is more and more popular!
In fact, there are some big draws to visiting at this time. You’ll enjoy a quieter side of Iceland, with less traffic on the roads and at the popular attractions. There’s less demand for accommodation and activities too.
And don’t let the winter weather keep you away. Iceland in winter can be as enchanting as ever, with frosty waterfalls and snow-capped mountains.
While winter driving in Iceland can be more challenging, it is a great way to travel. You could discover the south coast or even drive around the Ring Road. You just need to be flexible and always check on the weather and road conditions before setting off each day.
The biggest attraction of visiting Iceland at this time of year has to be the Northern Lights. They are sure to be on many bucket lists! This natural phenomenon can best be enjoyed in darkness, which is why winter is ideal for sightings.
- Look up our winter and Northern Lights tours of Iceland.
- Related: Find out more about when to visit Iceland with our expert’s blog.
Best things to do and places to visit
Wondering what you should not miss while visiting Iceland? We’ve compiled it all for you. The best things to do, the best places to visit, and even the best activities or day tours to add to your itinerary.
Top 10 things to do in Iceland:
- Go hiking in national parks
- Relax and dip in hot springs
- Photograph the Icelandic wildlife
- Marvel at countless waterfalls
- Witness the Northern Lights in winter
- Learn about Icelandic folklore and legends
- Taste the Icelandic cuisine
- Admire the bobbing icebergs on glacier lagoons
- See the rock formations along the coast
- Explore the highlands in summer
Top 10 places to visit in Iceland:
- Golden Circle
- Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon
- Lake Mývatn
- Blue Lagoon
- Snæfellsnes peninsula and Snaefellsjökull National Park
- Vatnajökull National Park
- Vík í Mýrdal and its surrounding attractions
- Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls
- Visit some of these with a Ring Road tour of Iceland.
- Related: Read more about driving the famous Ring Road in our expert blog.
Enrich your stay even more with one or more of these fun activities:
- Go horseback riding
- Try ice caving
- Take a helicopter tour
- Hike on top of a glacier
- Snorkel between the tectonic plates
- Drive a snowmobile in winter
- Watch for whales or Northern Lights on a cruise
- Walk “Into the Glacier”
- Sail onto the glacier lagoon
- Visit the Fridheimar greenhouse
- Kayak by Sólheimajökull glacier
Traveling with the family
Iceland is a great destination to visit with your family. In fact, there is something here for all ages. And Iceland is very family-friendly, with festivals, activities, and restaurants for all.
If you want to travel to Iceland with young children, we recommend visiting in summer. This isn’t just about the school holidays, but also about the way you’ll be able to explore. There is more daylight to take advantage of at this time and more kid-friendly activities available too.
Here are our recommendations for top family adventures in Iceland:
- Walk through lava caves and tunnels
- Hike to an abandoned farm at Kleif
- Learn about geology at the Perlan
- Ride an Icelandic horse
- See the wild reindeer in East Iceland
- Go puffin- and whale-watching
- Visit the Háafell goat farm
- Try the flight simulator at FlyOver Iceland
- Attend the Children’s Culture Festival in April
- Let them try the slides at the Reykjavík swimming pools
Hiking in Iceland
Iceland is a fantastic location for hikers, amateur or experts alike. If that is the reason you’re visiting this Nordic nation, you’re in for an unforgettable adventure.
You could hike Mount Esja outside Reykjavík or take on trails in the countryside. A popular multi-day hike is the one at Laugavegur in the highlands. The national parks are also ideal for days of walking.
The best time to visit Iceland for this outdoor endeavor is between June and September. It is during these summer months that the paths are accessible. With the longer daylight hours, you can also take full advantage of the trails and Iceland’s natural beauty.
Please always be careful as a hiker to not put yourself in danger and always be ready for the weather conditions.
How to explore Iceland
There are many ways to travel around Iceland. It’ll all depend on your personal tastes and requirements. You could go on a guided or self-guided vacation. Read more below.
Is Iceland expensive to visit? How much money do you need per day in Iceland? These are frequently asked questions that we answered in our expert blog post about the subject.
But the short answer is that it is possible to travel to Iceland on a budget. With Iceland Tours, you get good local deals and the options to pick your preferences in terms of accommodation, activities, and car hire.
Iceland is the perfect destination for a road trip. Taking the wheel means you can go at your own pace. Stop whenever you want to take in the breathtaking views or to visit attractions.
Are you thinking of touring the Ring Road all the way around Iceland? We answer the question “How long does it take to drive the Ring Road in Iceland?” in our expert blog.
Driving in Iceland is an adventure that you won’t regret! Especially when you book with Iceland Tours as you’ll get in-car Wi-Fi, unlimited mileage, GPS, collision damage waiver, and more as part of your booking.
- Browse our self-drive tours of Iceland.
Privately guided tours of Iceland
A private tour of Iceland means you’ll get the undivided attention of your own expert guide who will also act as your personal driver. Iceland Tours will even handpick a guide for you to make sure they match your interests.
You then sit back and relax. Enjoy the views and all the insight your guide will bring you about Iceland. They will also be able to tailor your tour even more chatting with you every day about your preferences.
- Book a private tour of Iceland to enjoy the company of a local guide.
Camping tours of Iceland
A camping trip to Iceland can be the same as a normal self-drive tour, but you get to sleep closer to nature. You’ll stay in camping grounds around the region you picked or the whole country if you’re touring the Ring Road.
Iceland Tours will always include camping gear so you don’t have to lug your own items on the flight over. Your gear will be made up of a tent, sleeping bag, mattress, cutlery, stove, and cool box.
You only have to cover the camping fee, which is usually between 1500 and 3500 ISK per night per person.
- Browse our camping tours in Iceland.
If you’re looking for a fun but short getaway, Iceland is still excellent for that kind of stay. Come explore Reykjavík, the buzzing capital, and take day tours to famous attractions. This is great if you want to stay put for your getaway or only have a few days to explore.
There is so much to visit in Reykjavík, as you may have read above, and many fun activities to add to your itinerary.
Take a day tour of the Golden Circle or go relaxing at the Blue Lagoon. Enjoy whale watching, a visit to the Westman Islands, or adventure yourself “Into the Glacier” or in a lava tunnel.
- Find an Iceland city break to suit you.
You’ve learned so much about Iceland and maybe you’re ready to create or pick an itinerary. If you’re wondering how many days you need to see Iceland, we recommend at least a week for a tour of the island.
With less time than that, you may want to focus your adventures around one or two specific regions instead.
Here is our suggestion for a 7-day itinerary:
Day 1: Arrive in Iceland
Depending on when you fly into Iceland, you’ll have the rest of the day to explore Reykjavík. The capital city is a treasure trove of interactive museums, fun activities, cozy cafés, and excellent restaurants.
Day 2: Drive north to Akureyri
Today you start your road trip. You’ll pass through Borgarfjörður and Skagafjörður. The latter is known for its horse breeding so keep an eye out for the fluffy and sturdy Icelandic horses. Along the way, make a pit stop by the beautiful Hraunfossar waterfalls.
Day 3: Lake Mývatn area
Drive to the Lake Mývatn Nature Reserve, one of Iceland’s most inspiring areas. On the way, don’t miss the impressive Goðafoss as well as the Námaskarð geothermal area to see bubbling mud pools and hissing steam vents. There are two craters worthy of your time too, Víti and Hverfjall.
Day 4: The East Fjords
Today you drive through East Iceland and discover the East Fjords. Visit small history museums, try local seafood, and enjoy the charming villages. At times, you’ll see that the road hangs precariously on the mountain slope providing stunning views below.
Day 5: Highlights of the southeast
After passing various outlet glaciers from Vatnajökull you’ll arrive at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. This enchanting sight with bobbing icebergs is a must-see! We then recommend spending some time in the Skaftafell area. This natural oasis, surrounded by glaciers and stark black sand plains, is ideal for hiking.
Day 6: The Golden Circle
Today you discover the highlights of the famous Golden Circle. See geysers, admire the stunning Gullfoss waterfall, and marvel at the geology of Þingvellir National Park.
Day 7: Departure
And just like that, it’s time to say goodbye to Iceland. Depending on when you’re flying home, you may be able to squeeze in some last few sights in Reykjavík.
Congratulations you made it to the end of this article! Do you feel like an expert on Iceland now?
Have you always wanted to witness the Northern Lights in Iceland? Or are you intrigued by them? This magnificent feat of nature has inspired people for centuries and it’s definitely worth adding to your bucket list.
With our ultimate guide to the Aurora Borealis in Iceland, you’ll learn more about this phenomenon, how it is formed, and where and when to see it in the Land of Fire and Ice.
About the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights, also Aurora Borealis, are the green and sometimes pink ribbons of color that can be seen in dark skies. They are “northern” because they occur near the north pole. You’ll find a similar occurrence in the southern hemisphere called Southern Lights or Aurora Australis.
Now onto the real questions. What are they? How long do Northern Lights last? Do the Northern Lights happen every night? We’re here to dish it all out for you.
What are the Northern Lights?
This phenomenon is created by giant flares from the sun or solar storms. These happen about 150 million kilometers away from Earth. The flares then send blasts of charged particles towards our planet.
These solar winds take around 40 hours to reach Earth, and once the particles come into contact with Earth’s atmosphere, it creates a reaction. The results are glowing emissions that create the light show in our night skies: the Northern Lights!
It’s good to know that the lights can have more than one appearance. The type of atoms involved, the intensity of the solar activity, and the pull of Earth’s magnetic field all have a role to play. The lights can appear in a variety of shapes, movements, brightness, and colors.
The most common color of the Northern Lights is green. But, if you’re lucky, you may be able to see pink, violet and red ones. As for shape, they vary from simple ribbon to a full rippling curtain, and sometimes arcs and streaming rays.
The length of the display also varies depending on the solar activity. Generally, you can expect a good light show to last between 15 and 30 minutes. And if you’re really lucky, it may go on for a couple of hours.
- See all the activities you could add to your itinerary, from Northern Lights to super jeep tours.
Can you predict Northern Lights?
As they are dependent on the “space weather”, it’s difficult to accurately predict the Northern Lights in advance. Just like normal weather, it can vary and change at a moment’s notice.
But once you’re in Iceland, you can keep an eye on the Icelandic Met Office’s aurora forecast. It gives you a rating, between 0 to 9, of your likelihood of seeing the Auroras. Anything above a 2 is promising.
As the Northern Lights are best witnessed on a clear night, one without cloud cover, you should keep an eye on the weather conditions too.
These tools can also help with your Northern Lights hunt:
- Aurora Forecast app: Track where and when the Northern Lights will appear.
- Cloud Cover Forecast: Receive the latest weather updates to find out whether you’ll have a clear night or not
- SolarHam: Get a reliable 3-day geomagnetic forecast so you can plan your upcoming excursions.
Is Iceland a good place to see the Northern Lights?
This is the question if you want to see them while visiting Iceland. And thankfully the answer is yes! Iceland is an excellent location to witness the Aurora Borealis.
Did you know that there is a region called the “Northern Lights belt”? It circles the Earth between 65 and 72 degrees north (parallel) and has a high auroral frequency and intensity. The north of Iceland sits just within this belt, making it a prime location for a sighting.
How often are Northern Lights visible in Iceland? As part of the country is sat within this famous belt, in winter your chances of seeing the Northern Lights are high. That said it is a natural phenomenon and therefore always dependent on weather and solar activity, as explained above.
- Book a private tour of Iceland to hunt for the Northern Lights with a local guide.
When to visit Iceland to see the Northern Lights
So when should you plan your trip to Iceland if your main goal is to see the Auroras? Read below to plan your dream winter getaway. (And yes, that was your first clue!)
When is Northern Lights season in Iceland?
You could simply call the Northern Lights season winter. This is the best time to visit Iceland to see the Northern Lights thanks to the longer nights of the season. Some regions get as many as 19 hours of darkness in the depth of winter.
This means you’ll have a greater chance of seeing the lights between October and March.
- Browse all Iceland Tours’ winter and Northern Lights packages.
Can you see the Northern Lights in summer?
Anytime between mid-April and mid-August is not ideal. With the phenomenon of the midnight sun, it’s much harder to see Auroras with the naked eye at that time of year.
But we can dispel the myth that the Northern Lights aren’t visible in summer. From mid-August you may be able to see the lights in the dark sky. This is because daylight hours are starting to decrease. Longer nights give you more opportunities to see the Aurora Borealis.
What is the best month to see the Northern Lights in Iceland?
There is no single best month to see the Northern Lights. As mentioned above, you should visit Iceland between the months of October and March for your best chances.
Check out our expert’s blog about when to visit Iceland to pick the best month for you.
When is the best time of the day to see the Northern Lights?
As you can only see the Aurora Borealis if the sky is dark, that rules out the daytime. Even in wintertime, you’ll want to avoid hunting for the lights during the few hours of daylight.
Once darkness sets in, the Auroras can be visible at any time. To increase your chance of seeing them, stay up late at night. The optimum time for sightings is between 9:30 PM and 1 AM.
Where to go in Iceland to see the Northern Lights
Iceland is a fantastic destination to witness the Aurora Borealis, and you’ll probably be able to spot them from just about anywhere on the island. That’s exciting, isn’t it? But we realize this may not narrow down your choices. Read below for our top locations.
Which part of Iceland is best for Northern Lights viewing?
The best part of Iceland to witness the lights is in the countryside as you’ll be away from light pollution, like streetlighting. Thankfully, that means a lot of the island is ideal for this nocturnal activity.
We also recommend heading north if you can cross into the “Northern Lights belt”.
Where in Iceland can you see the Northern Lights?
Our favorite spots in Iceland to see the lights dancing in the sky are:
Westfjords – As it is a remote peninsula, the Westfjords are perfect to seek dark skies. Here you’ll definitely be away from light pollution and enjoy stunning, unspoilt natural beauty.
North Iceland – From Lake Mývatn to Akureyri, passing by the Tjörnes peninsula, North Iceland is ideal to hunt for the Northern Lights. That’s because the north of Iceland is almost inside the Arctic Circle and sits right inside the “Northern Lights belt”.
And, thanks to its small population centers, you’ll have a lot of darkness to look forward to.
Snæfellsnes peninsula – Located off the Ring Road and with a magnificent national park, this peninsula is another worthwhile, quiet region to discover. And bonus point, you’ll recognize some of the top filming locations from Game of Thrones here.
Reykjavík – Yes, even the capital is on our list! If you’re lucky you’ll be able to admire the lights straight from the city. Maybe you’re only staying in Reykjavík for a short stay? Try heading out to the Grotta Lighthouse or go on a boat tour to step away from the city lights.
But also keep an eye out near Vík, on the south coast, and in the East Fjords. If the conditions are good, anywhere in Iceland could become a backdrop to these spectacular natural wonders.
Planning your Northern Lights getaway to Iceland
Are you even more excited about your adventure in Iceland now? To start planning consider our further advice below.
There are multiple ways to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. On a road trip, you could drive to remote corners of Iceland to hunt for the lights. See a quieter side of the country and take your time to enjoy it.
- Browse our winter self-drive tours of Iceland.
Or leave it to the experts. A private tour will allow you to enjoy Iceland from the passenger seat and with a dedicated, local driver-guide.
There are also day tours and optional activities you can add to your itinerary. Pick from bus tours that drive to the countryside, or even cruises to enjoy the Northern Lights from the sea. Group tours take the hassle out of planning it by yourself.
And, did you know some hotels offer wake-up calls if the Northern Lights show up in the middle of the night? It’s a good option if you’d rather not stay up and wait.
When you’re ready to book your Northern Lights adventure to the Land of Fire and Ice, browse our Iceland vacation packages or get in touch with our travel experts. They’ll tailor an itinerary for you to enjoy the best winter getaway!
You may have seen the tranquil photos of bathers in milky-blue waters set against stark lava fields. The Blue Lagoon in Iceland is synonymous with relaxation and incredible spa experiences. It’s no wonder this geothermal pool has become one of the most popular attractions in Iceland!
If you’re looking to know more about this spa and what you can expect from your visit, we answer your frequently asked questions about the Blue Lagoon below.
- Interested in Blue Lagoon tours? All of Iceland Tours’ packages can be tailored with a visit to this geothermal spa
About the Blue Lagoon
First things first, what is the Blue Lagoon? Maybe you’ve heard the name and know it’s a must-see in Iceland, but not much more?
The Blue Lagoon is a spa pool with milky-blue waters enriched with minerals. As the lagoon is soothing as well as a spectacular sight, it has become a very trendy stop in Iceland. In fact, it is one of the most visited places on the island!
Read on to learn about how it was formed, what is in those iconic blue waters, and more.
What is in the Blue Lagoon?
The Blue Lagoon is famous because of the unique color of its water: a milky shade of blue. This is thanks to its high silica content. The water is also rich in salts and algae.
And you’ll be glad to hear nothing else is added. In fact, the Blue Lagoon holds 9 million liters of geothermal seawater, which naturally renews itself every 40 hours or so. As foreign bacteria don’t thrive in this ecosystem, no disinfectants are needed.
Where is the Blue Lagoon in Iceland?
The Blue Lagoon is located on the Reykjanes peninsula, south of Reykjavík. It is set amidst the lava fields of Grindavík near Þorbjörn mountain.
The lagoon is only a 20-minute drive from Keflavík International Airport and about 45 minutes from Reykjavík. This handy location makes the Blue Lagoon an ideal spot to visit upon arrival or departure from Iceland, or as a day trip from the capital.
- Find an Iceland city break to suit you
Is the Blue Lagoon a natural spring?
It may surprise you to hear that no, the Blue Lagoon is not a natural hot spring but is actually man-made. And in the same vein, the water actually comes from the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant.
After the geothermal extraction at the power plant, the extra water that isn’t used to heat the homes of Icelanders is released onto the nearby lava field. This is how the Blue Lagoon got its humble beginning.
After a lot of research into the benefits of geothermal seawater, including the algae and silica, the Blue Lagoon was founded officially in the 1990s. It has since evolved into the well-known hub of hospitality and wellness that exists today.
Does the Blue Lagoon smell like sulfur?
Generally, the hot water in Iceland sometimes smells of sulfur, the effects of its geothermal origin. Although some geothermal areas you might visit smell strongly of sulfur, like Námaskarð or Seltún, you may not notice it at the Blue Lagoon.
Some do smell it upon arrival, but you’ll get accustomed to it as you relax and enjoy this memorable experience.
Good to know: The smell is natural and nothing to be worried about. In fact, did you know Iceland has one of the cleanest waters in the world? Icelanders drink it straight from the tap, unfiltered. So, to do like the locals, don’t forget your bottle to refill during your trip.
Is the Retreat Spa at Blue Lagoon worth it?
Only you can answer that question. It depends on what you want out of your visit, how much time you have and, importantly, your budget.
The Retreat Spa is the luxury spa of the Blue Lagoon and therefore you’ll enjoy an exclusive experience if you book it. The price starts around 50,000 ISK (321 EUR, 390 USD, 278 GBP) for a 5-hour stay.
You can expect access to:
- The famous Blue Lagoon
- The exclusive Retreat Lagoon
- A private changing room
- The Blue Lagoon Ritual, an exhilarating spa journey
- The Blue Lagoon skincare amenities
- The Spa Restaurant
- The 8 subterranean spaces (relaxing rooms, a sauna, and more)
You’ll also get a drink of your choice and the chance to enjoy massages and beauty treatments.
How much does it cost to go in the Blue Lagoon, Iceland?
Prices to visit the Blue Lagoon depend on the package you choose. There are 3 levels: comfort, premium and luxury. For up-to-date information and prices, we recommend checking the Blue Lagoon website.
And if you’re wondering how much money you need for a trip to the Land of Fire and Ice, check our budgeting guide to Iceland.
What are the Blue Lagoon opening hours?
The Blue Lagoon is open 365 days a year, but the opening hours vary depending on the season. In summer, you’ll find that opening times are longer. Check their website for up-to-date information.
Please be aware that pre-booking is essential. As it is one of Iceland’s most popular spots, you’ll want to reserve your slot in advance to avoid disappointment.
During your visit to the Blue Lagoon
You’re booked in and ready for all the comforts of bathing in the Blue Lagoon. Here is what you can expect of your visit.
What is included with the Blue Lagoon entrance?
There are 3 different packages you can purchase at the Blue Lagoon. Comfort, premium, and the luxury entrance for the Retreat Spa, which we’ve discussed above.
On a comfort package, you’d enjoy:
- Entrance to the Blue Lagoon
- A silica mud mask
- One drink at the in-water bar
- Use of a towel
- Sauna, steam room and steam cave
- Lagoon waterfall
In addition to these, on a premium package you’d also have:
- A second mask of your choice
- Slippers and use of a bathrobe
- Table reservation at the Lava Restaurant and a glass of sparkling wine if you dine here
How long do you need to spend at the Blue Lagoon?
It is recommended that you schedule at least 2 hours to savor the full wonders of the Blue Lagoon. But on average people spend around 4 hours here. This way you’ll have plenty of time to soak up all the benefits of the warm waters.
And it’s good to note that you book an arrival slot, but there is no time limit until closure, so relax and enjoy!
- As well as a visit to the Blue Lagoon, see all the activities you could add to your itinerary with Iceland Tours
What to pack to visit the Blue Lagoon?
If you’re visiting on a day trip from Reykjavík, you’ll want to pack a small bag with:
- Your swimsuit (and bag for the wet swimsuit)
- Flip flops or water shoes
- Any soaps or products you want to use
- Water bottle to stay hydrated
- Sunglasses for bright days
Please note that shower gel, conditioner and body moisturizer are available in the changing rooms. So are hair dryers.
Every package also comes with the use of a towel, but you can bring your own if you would rather do that. You may want to pack a robe too as it is not included in the comfort package.
You don’t need to pack a lock as you’ll be given a wristband upon entry which also acts as your changing room locker key.
If you have your luggage with you, on your way to or from the airport, you can still store it at the Blue Lagoon. You’ll have to pay a small fee to leave your suitcase or large bags in the Luggage House in the main Blue Lagoon parking lot.
Don’t forget to pack a smaller bag with your essentials.
- Book a private tour of Iceland to enjoy the company of a local guide
Does the Blue Lagoon ruin your bathing suit?
No, the water of the Blue Lagoon is unlikely to ruin your swimsuit, or even cause stains. But it is recommended that you rinse your swimsuit with cold water and soap after your stay. If you’re worried about it, you can actually rent a swimsuit from the Blue Lagoon for a small fee.
On that note, the Blue Lagoon does recommend you remove any jewelry or glasses, so they aren’t damaged (or lost) while you’re in the water.
Does the Blue Lagoon ruin your hair?
No, your hair won’t be ruined as the water isn’t harmful. But the silica of the water may make your hair stiff and difficult to manage for a few days after your visit.
Our recommendation is to tie your hair up if it’s long, and apply plenty of leave-in conditioner, which you’ll find in the changing rooms. We also advise you not to put your hair in the water.
Is the Blue Lagoon good for eczema?
While eczema isn’t mentioned specifically, the waters of the Blue Lagoon are generally soothing for the skin. The water is rich in minerals as well as silica, algae and salts, and the combination helps improve the skin barrier.
In fact, the Blue Lagoon offers treatments for psoriasis. You could book a stay at the Silica Hotel for this. Bathe in the private lagoon and follow that up with UVB narrowband light therapy, all supervised by a nurse and a dermatologist.
There are decades of research that support the efficacy of the Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater for treating psoriasis.
Do you shower after the Blue Lagoon?
Yes, you should shower before and after your stay at the lagoon.
Guests are required to shower, without their swimsuit, prior to using the geothermal spa. Simply use the showers and soaps available in the changing rooms.
After your stay, you’ll probably find it more comfortable to shower, wash your hair and dry up before leaving.
Can you eat at the Blue Lagoon?
There is a café located in the main Blue Lagoon complex, where you can grab some light snacks and beverages. Make sure to keep hydrated while at the spa.
To make it a full day, you could also lunch or dine at one of the restaurants on site. They all combine stunning views of the lava field surroundings with fresh Icelandic cuisine.
The Spa Restaurant and Lava restaurant are more casual. You could even dine in your bathrobe! For a treat, book dinner at the Moss Restaurant.
Can children visit the Blue Lagoon?
The lagoon is not suitable for children under the age of 2. Children age 8 and under are allowed entry with the use of arm floaters, which are provided free of charge. This is because in some places the lagoon has a depth of 1.4 meters (4 feet 7 inches).
Best time to visit the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is open all year long, so you have the choice to come for a dip whenever is best suited for you. If you’re visiting Iceland in order to bathe in the mineral-rich waters, here are our suggestions.
- Find out more about when to visit Iceland with our expert’s blog
Visiting the Blue Lagoon in summer
As it is never too hot in Iceland, you’re likely to enjoy the soothing warmth of the Blue Lagoon even in summer.
Another bonus point of the high season is that you could actually bask in the midnight sun if you book for late in the evening.
Keep in mind that the summer months of June to August are the most popular with visitors to Iceland. For that reason, we recommend visiting in the shoulder months of April, May and September if you want to see a quieter side of the lagoon.
- Check out our summer tours to Iceland for more inspiration
Visiting the Blue Lagoon in winter
We often get asked if the Blue Lagoon is warm in winter. Yes, it is! The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages 37-39 °C (99-102 °F). So it’s pleasant whatever the season.
The only difference is that if you’re visiting between October and April, you may want to walk from the complex to the pool swiftly. Don’t worry, it’s just a short distance, and you’ll warm right up once you’re in the water.
- Look up our winter and Northern Lights tours of Iceland
Is it worth going to Iceland and the Blue Lagoon in winter? We think so! Winter is a generally quieter season if you want more time and space to yourself. After days of adventures on glaciers or in national parks, you’ll really appreciate a visit to the geothermal spa.
One of the added benefits of visiting in winter is the chance to see the Northern Lights. If you book later in the day, you may be able to admire them dancing in the sky as you bathe below. What a sight that would be, right?
When you’re ready to book your adventure to the Land of Fire and Ice, browse our Iceland vacation packages or get in touch with our travel consultants. They’ll tailor a memorable trip for you, including a visit to the famous Blue Lagoon.
Have you always wanted to go on an epic road trip? Take the wheel and drive around an entire country. Sing along to the radio as your partner in crime puts their feet up on the dashboard. Then you look outside, and you can see black sand beaches, volcanoes, ice caps, and steaming hot springs.
This is what awaits you when driving the Ring Road in Iceland. A safe route with amazing sights and attractions along the way. In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about driving Iceland’s famous Route 1.
What is the Ring Road in Iceland?
First and foremost, the Ring Road is the nickname for Route 1, or Þjóðvegur 1, its official name on the map. This is the national road that makes its way around the island in a circular loop.
It is 1,322 kilometers (821 miles) long and connects most of the inhabited regions of Iceland.
Look at a map of the route and you’ll see that some areas aren’t included on the Ring Road. These include parts of North Iceland, the Westfjords, the highlands, and the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Any of these can be added to your summer itinerary if you want to head off the beaten path.
- You can view all our Ring Road tours for your Iceland road trip.
How long does it take to drive around the Ring Road?
But we don’t recommend doing that! Not only because the journey would be exhausting, but because you’d miss all the amazing sights and attractions that make a visit to Iceland so memorable. It’s all about the experience along the way, isn’t it?
For a good amount of time to visit locations along the Ring Road, we recommend taking at least one week to explore the route. This should get you around the country with a comfortable amount of driving each day.
Depending on what you want to visit during your time in Iceland, you can extend your road trip as much as you want. Then you can stop at iconic waterfalls, take detours, and spend more than one day in a single location. The possibilities are endless!
Is it also worth pointing out that the speed limit is only 90 kilometers (55 miles) an hour? And the speeding fines aren’t cheap. So take your time and enjoy it!
- Check out our summer tours to Iceland for more inspiration.
Tips for driving the Ring Road in Iceland
Ready for your road trip but unsure about how to take on the Icelandic roads? We’re here for you. Read these tips to know what to expect and make driving in Iceland easier.
Drive on the right
If you’re coming from North America, you won’t have to worry about this. But if you’re visiting from Australia, the UK, or South Africa, among other places, be aware that motorists in Iceland drive on the right side of the road. And the left side of the car.
- If you would rather leave the driving to someone else, book a private tour instead. You’ll enjoy a local guide as your driver.
Be aware of Icelandic conditions
Driving in Iceland may be slightly different than you’re used to. This includes the weather and road conditions. So it’s best to come prepared.
Always check the coming day’s conditions before setting off, especially in winter. And make sure to leave enough time to reach your next accommodation safely.
It’s good to also be aware of potential road hazards. These may be unique challenges you’ve not encountered before, such as the many sheep in the country.
Most of the highway is paved, but short stretches of the road in East Iceland have a gravel surface.
There are also a number of narrow passes, blind summits, and single-lane bridges to take with caution. When in doubt, always slow down.
Finally, be aware that you’re likely to drive through road tunnels, built to bypass mountain roads. These includethe sub-sea Hvalfjörður Tunnel (5.7 kilometers) and the Almannaskarð Tunnel (1.3 kilometers).
- Browse our camping tours in Iceland.
Stop when you can
Don’t take stops for granted. In certain parts of Iceland, there can be long stretches of road without shops or towns. This is especially true along the south and east coasts.
For that reason, refuel, use the bathroom, and grab snacks whenever you can. Most importantly, make sure to keep an eye on your fuel levels to avoid running out.
Do not drive off-road
Off-road driving is prohibited and you shouldn’t attempt it. This is because it damages the vegetation and could potentially be dangerous. People caught driving off-road are fined heavily by the authorities.
You can always go for a hike if you wish to see the natural beauty from up close.
Enjoy the journey
After taking these tips and precautions to drive safely in Iceland, all that’s left is for you to enjoy yourself. It isn’t a race. Take your time to make the journey and marvel at the scenic views along the way.
- Check out all the amazing activities you could add to your Iceland itinerary.
Which way do you drive the Ring Road in Iceland?
As the Ring Road is a circle, you can pick whichever way you want to drive it. You’ll notice a lot of our tours go clockwise. This means you’ll first head north before coming around the east and south coast, finishing with the famous Golden Circle. What a way to end your epic Iceland adventure!
But maybe you want to start with the Golden Circle? It’s all up to you. As it’s a loop, you’ll see all the same spots regardless of which way you drive.
Can you drive the Ring Road in Iceland in the winter?
Yes, you can drive the Ring Road in wintertime. In fact, some people prefer to visit in winter to experience a quieter side of the country.
At this time of year, you can enjoy less traffic on the roads as well as the stunning beauty of the snowy landscape. You can maybe even spot the Northern Lights. Winter road trips are growing in popularity for these reasons.
If you decide to visit at this time, you should prepare yourself for the adventure. Be aware of road safety precautions, be a confident winter driver, and always purchase travel insurance!
The top tip for a winter road trip is to always check the weather and road conditions before setting off each day.
For the best experience, why not hire a 4×4 vehicle? It will make driving in such conditions easier and more comfortable.
Suggestion for an Iceland Ring Road itinerary
There are so many ways to see the highlights of the Ring Road in Iceland. Here is one of our most popular itineraries, taking you around Route 1 over 8 days in Iceland. This timeframe allows you to relax and explore to your heart’s content.
Day 1: Arrive in Iceland
Depending on when you fly into Iceland, you’ll have the rest of the day to explore Reykjavík. The capital city is a treasure trove of interactive museums, fun activities, cozy cafés, and excellent restaurants. You can also marvel at the surrounding natural beauty from here.
If you would like to relax after your flight, you could also book a slot at the Blue Lagoon to dip into the geothermal waters. It’s the perfect way to decompress before setting off on an adventure!
- Book one of our self-drive tours in Iceland for a memorable road trip.
Day 2: Drive north to Akureyri
Today you start your road trip by heading north. You’ll make your way through Borgarfjörður and Skagafjörður. The latter is known for its horse breeding, so keep an eye out for the fluffy and sturdy Icelandic horses.
As one of your stops for the day, you’ll want to see the magnificent Hraunfossar waterfalls, flowing from lava fields into a river.
Reach the capital of the north, Akureyri, for your overnight stay.
Top tip: If you want to extend your stay to include the Snæfellsnes peninsula or the Westfjords, this is when you would do it. These regions are located in the western parts of Iceland.
Day 3: Lake Mývatn area
You have a full day of adventure ahead of you. Drive to the Lake Mývatn Nature Reserve to see why it is one of the most inspiring areas in Iceland. On the way, don’t miss the impressive Goðafoss, known as “the waterfall of the gods”.
The Mývatn Baths are very popular if you would like to spend the day relaxing instead of exploring.
You are staying for a second night in Akureyri.
Day 4: Exploring the northeast
Are you a fan of whales? Because today you’ll start the day by driving to the charming fishing village of Húsavík. It is known as the whale watching capital of Iceland.
You’ll then follow the coast and drive the Tjörnes peninsula. We recommend making a pitstop at the tip of the peninsula to enjoy the view and try to spot some seabirds.
Another recommendation for a leg-stretching stop is the lush canyon of Ásbyrgi where you could go for a walk.
Continue your journey southwards to the edge of East Iceland. You’ll spend the night in the Egilsstaðir area.
Day 5: The East Fjords
Today you drive through East Iceland and discover the East Fjords. Visit small museums and marvel at the long fjords and quaint seaside villages. At times, you’ll see that the road hangs precariously on the mountain slope providing stunning views below.
You’ll spend tonight in the Höfn region.
Day 6: Highlights of the southeast
Today you’ll stop by one of Iceland’s biggest bucket list items. After passing various outlet glaciers from Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest ice cap, you’ll arrive at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Many travel to Iceland just to see its glistening icebergs.
This enchanting sight nestles at the foot of Iceland’s highest mountain, Hvannadalshnúkur. In summer, you could book a boat trip to go onto the lagoon to see the bobbing icebergs from up close.
We then recommend spending some time in the Skaftafell National Park. This natural oasis, surrounded by glaciers and stark black sand plains, is ideal for hiking.
You’ll stay in the Vík area tonight.
Day 7: The Golden Circle
From Vík, you’ll continue west back to Reykjavík. Along the way, you’ll discover some breathtaking waterfalls and the highlights of the famous Golden Circle.
As you make your way back to the capital, through South Iceland, stop by Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. These last two waterfalls will not disappoint!
And then head on to the Golden Circle, featuring three of Iceland’s most famous landmarks. See jets of steam being blasted over 50 feet in the air by Strokkur at the Geysir area. Walk through history and marvel at the geology of Þingvellir National Park. Take a picture of the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall.
If you are visiting for a shorter amount of time, don’t miss the Golden Circle as it is an ideal day trip from the capital.
Day 8: Departure
And just like that, your journey in Iceland is over. Or maybe it isn’t if you’ve extended it. Stay as long as you wish!
But in this itinerary, you’re boarding your flight back home today. Depending on what time it is, you may have time to squeeze in more visits and tasty treats in Reykjavík.
Top tip: Don’t leave without trying the local ice cream!
If you didn’t go on arrival, you could book a slot at the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. It is located near the airport and the perfect activity to say goodbye to Iceland.
How to book a trip to Iceland to drive the Ring Road
You may think the first step is renting a car and booking accommodation, but we recommend choosing what you want to see before doing anything else. Pick what you want to experience most and it’ll direct you to the best time to visit.
Then you can start reserving your transportation, hotels, camping sites, flights, and so on. When you travel around the Ring Road, make sure to keep the driving distances in mind when booking your accommodations.
Want to have it all done in one? Book through the local travel specialists at Iceland Tours. We know the country like the back of our hand and have created tried-and-tested packages so you can see the very best of Iceland.
We can even tailor your tour or advise you on attractions and activities depending on your interests. Just ask!
It’s easy to do on the Iceland Tours website. Select your vacation start date and length of travel and then add what you’d like to do. You can pick your car, accommodations, and activities based on your budget. Then we organize it all for you, so when you arrive, all you have to do is enjoy yourself!
Look up all our Iceland vacation packages to get started with planning your dream trip.
Before traveling, you may be wondering just how safe your destination really is. As you are looking forward to a trip to Iceland, we’re here to tell you that, well, you can’t pick a safer destination!
The Land of Fire and Ice is indeed the safest country in the world. And you don’t have to simply trust our word. Below we explain how and why Iceland is so safe and the measures you can take to make it even safer.
You’ll even learn about traveling to Iceland in the time of Covid-19 as we detail how Iceland is facing the global pandemic.
Iceland, the safest country in the world
When we say that Iceland is the safest country in the world, you can rest assured that this is based on the Global Peace Index (GPI). These facts make our claims justified, right?
Every year the GPI ranks all countries in terms of safety and security. It looks at all kinds of stats from countries across the world, from appealing things like health care quality and happiness index to extreme things such as national war involvement and murder rate.
Important note: this isn’t something you need to worry about in the Nordics!
GPI is considered the leading measure of global peacefulness. So, you can trust them when they say that Iceland is at the top.
In fact, Iceland has held the title of safest country in the world since 2008. Okay, we’re bragging a little bit now… But hopefully that simple fact reassures you.
- Look up all our Iceland vacation packages to get started with planning your dream trip
Why is Iceland so safe?
There are many factors that make Iceland a safe and unforgettable vacation destination.
Did you know that Iceland is in the top 5 happiest countries in the world? According to the 2020 World Happiness Report, it ranks high in all cornerstones of wellbeing.
A study found that this was in part thanks to the Icelandic class system. The country’s social welfare and education promote an equal society. During your travels, you’ll meet locals who are passionate about their jobs, their land and happy to show you why.
Because people are happy, there are very few social problems, including a low crime rate. Don’t trust all those Nordic noir novels and TV shows. They do not paint an accurate portrayal of Iceland! You’ll even find in Iceland that police officers do not carry guns.
Iceland also boasts one of the best health care systems in the world. According to the Healthcare Access & Quality Index 2020 and the WHO’s report, it ranks at number 15 worldwide. It is only topped by a handful of European and Asian countries.
And it has definitely been one of the best countries in the world for Covid response and management in 2020.
Another bonus point of this inclusive nation? Iceland is one of the best destinations for LGBTQ+, female and solo travellers thanks to its liberal outlook and welcoming atmosphere.
- Browse our camping tours in Iceland
Staying safe in Iceland
While Iceland is already a safer country than most, you can still always look out for yourself. Whether that’s on the roads, the mountains or in the city, it’s best to be aware of your surroundings and use common sense.
In this section, you’ll learn our top 5 tips for staying safe during your trip.
1. Purchase travel insurance
Before you set off for Iceland, make sure you have travel insurance to cover you and your family. For safe travel, this is a must! It protects your health, your luggage, your flights and even your bank account in case of bigger claims.
Make sure your policy is comprehensive to include all the activities you want to do as well as coronavirus-related claims.
If you are from an EEA country, don’t forget to bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you.
2. Learn about local road safety
Driving in Iceland is an adventure you won’t soon forget. Just imagine the open road in front of you with views of the white glaciers, stark volcanoes, and the majestic sea.
Before you set off on the road trip of a lifetime, familiarize yourself with the driving laws and potential hazards you may face. These include the many sheep that populate Iceland as well as the one-lane tunnels and bridges in remote areas.
It’s also good to be aware that gas stations are sparse in the countryside. Keep an eye on your fuel levels and fill up when you have the chance.
Finally, off-road driving is strictly prohibited as it can damage the vegetation.
For peace of mind, you may want to watch this short video on “How to drive in Iceland”.
- Book one of our self-drive tours in Iceland for a memorable road trip
3. Check the weather daily
Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland’s climate isn’t as cold as you may think. What you should expect though is weather that can change quickly and often.
For that reason, be sure to pack and dress appropriately when visiting Iceland. This is especially true if you intend to do outdoor activities, go camping, or want to travel in winter.
You’ll also want to check the weather forecast every day before setting off. In winter this is important because the conditions could affect your route, with road closures and such.
And if you intend to look out for the northern lights, a clear sky is what you’re hoping for!
4. Go hiking with peace of mind
The terrain in Iceland is magnificent and attracts outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. You could go hiking in the national parks, on glaciers, and even along volcano craters. But whether you are a newbie or experienced hiker, make sure to be ready for the Icelandic experience.
Hiking is extremely dependent on the weather and season due to the accessibility to the trails. Visit between May and September to take advantage of the beautiful hiking paths and long daylight hours.
Never put yourself in danger! Bring the required gear, plenty of water, and always look up the mountain you’re about to hike to know what’s ahead.
- Check out all the amazing activities you could add to your Iceland itinerary
5. Take precautions with your valuables
Although violent crimes are few and far between, petty crimes occur, like in most countries.
Be vigilant with your possessions, especially in public. Don’t leave your belongings unattended, for example at swimming pools or in restaurants.
Generally, and with all these precautions, you can rest assured that your stay in Iceland will be safe. You can sleep soundly, just like children in prams that the trusting Icelandic parents leave outside shops.
Traveling to Iceland in the era of Covid-19
In normal circumstances, Iceland is very safe to visit. But these aren’t usual times, and travel to Iceland has extra considerations, as with everywhere else. This is because of the quarantine and social restrictions put in place due to the current global pandemic.
We’ve gathered useful information about Iceland and coronavirus below to help you stay informed.
How is Iceland dealing with the coronavirus?
The Icelandic government faced the crisis head on at the start of the year, implementing a rigorous tracing, testing and isolating policy to avoid further spread of the virus.
All these precautions were put in place to protect both visitors and people who live in Iceland, as everyone’s health and safety is the top priority. And thanks to all these efforts, cases dropped to single figures and Iceland’s borders reopened over the summer.
As is true around Europe, cases have gone back up with the arrival of winter. This means there have been more restrictions in place, which are reviewed every two weeks.
The positive news is that data suggests that Iceland is one of the world’s leading countries when it comes to testing. Yes, we’re bragging again…
How is it traveling to Iceland right now?
The Icelandic government has updated the entry requirements for visitors to Iceland:
- As of 18 March 2021, anyone with a full WHO-approved, international vaccination certificate can enter Iceland. This includes citizens outside the EU/EEA.
- You do not need to quarantine or undergo border screening upon arrival in Iceland if you have a full vaccination certificate.
- Anyone else entering Iceland must submit a certificate of a negative PCR test for Covid-19 prior to boarding a flight or ship to Iceland. The result must have been collected no more than 72 hours before departure.
- You must also take 2 PCR tests upon arrival in Iceland, with a quarantine of 5-6 days between each test.
You should always check with your local travel advisory to find out if international travel is allowed and please be aware of local restrictions currently in place before your journey. As the local restrictions and conditions of travel are reviewed every two weeks, please visit covid.is for up-to-date information.
Looking forward to future travel with Iceland Tours
Despite everything happening with the coronavirus, with breakthroughs and vaccines, it is time to be optimistic about the future. And to get excited about traveling again!
To look forward to a fantastic trip during which you can tour the Ring Road or discover the Golden Circle, you could take advantage of our Book with Confidence plan.
As part of these new terms, Iceland Tours is offering you risk-free booking for 2021. This means you can rebook your tour without any changing fees or cancel your tour and receive a 100% refund if Covid-19 directly impacts your travel.
We will also cover the cost of a PCR test for you, if there is one.
Read more about this new flexible terms and conditions.
We hope that this article answers any questions you may have had about visiting Iceland. Because, yes: Iceland is a safe country for visitors. Come and experience it for yourself!
When you’re ready to book, you can browse our tours to find the one that suits you, or get in touch. One of our expert agents will answer any queries you may have and help you craft the trip of your dreams!