Are you thinking of going to Iceland and wondering when the best time to go is? When my cousin Maggie and I first decided that we were going to go to Iceland, we wondered the same thing. We knew that we wanted to see the Northern Lights and we knew that we wanted to at least drive the Golden Circle. This led me to google search, “when can you see the northern lights in Iceland?” This google search revealed that the northern lights are visible for eight months out of the year, from September to April. This is because you need total darkness to see the northern lights and Iceland experiences midnight sun in the summer months. Since we did not decide definitively on traveling to Iceland until January, we felt that it would be too soon to go in winter or spring and opted for early fall. I then researched the average temperatures, hours of daylight, and precipitation and this is what I discovered:
Average temps in October: Highs range from 53-48 degrees F
Lows range from 39-25 degrees F
Hours of daylight: October 1 – Sunrise – 7:37 AM, Sunset – 6:55 PM
October 31 – Sunrise – 9:07 AM, Sunset – 5:14 PM
- October starts with 11:18 of daylight and decreases rapidly throughout the month
- By the end of November and into December daylight is severely decreased
Precipitation: 74%, low to moderate rain
With all of this considered, I realized that September and October can be good months to go to Iceland to get “the best of both worlds”. Here is why we felt that October may actually be one of the best months to travel to Iceland.
- There is enough daylight to explore during the day. With October starting with >11 hours of daylight, there is plenty of time to explore the landscape by car or on foot. Depending on the number of stops you decide to make and the amount of time you spend at each stop, the golden circle can take at least 3-4 hours to complete, if not more. With that being said, if you wait too far into winter to make the trek to Iceland, you may be limited in the activities you choose to do if they require daylight.
- There is a high probability that you will get to see the northern lights.
- It is not unbearably cold….yet….if you’re lucky.
- It is between peak tourist season and off season.
- Most of the access roads are still open.
- You can still do some of the “winter” tours as well as some of the “summer” tours.
- The ferries are still running to the Westman Islands.
- The whales have already migrated.
- The chances of bad weather are higher.
- It can be very rainy.
- You won’t get to experience the midnight sun.
- It is too early for ice cave tours.
- The Puffins have migrated.