Iceland’s Weather, Climate, and Temperature Year-Round

Here in Iceland, the weather has a mind of its own and surprises await at every turn. You may even hear a well-worn joke during your trip: “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes!” At Ice Guardians, we have spent countless hours outside exploring our country’s natural wonders, both on our Iceland adventure activities and during our free time. You can be sure that we’re well acquainted with the elements!

We’ve used our local insights and knowledge to write this guide to Iceland’s weather, climate, and temperature year-round. We hope you can use the information below to plan an adventure in the Land of Fire and Ice at the time of year that’s perfect for you!

Scroll down to get started — and if you have any questions for the Ice Guardians team, please just get in touch for the answers you need.

Iceland is a Year-Round Destination

First things first, let’s dispel a common myth: there’s no bad time to visit Iceland, only unrealistic expectations. This remarkable island offers a plethora of wonders regardless of the season. Whether you’re chasing the midnight sun in the endless days of summer or hunting for the elusive, mesmerising Northern Lights in winter, Iceland promises an adventure like no other. 

But to truly relish your experience, it’s crucial to prepare for the ever-changing weather conditions. This is a topic we have covered in great detail in our blog A Smarter Iceland Packing List + What to Wear in Iceland, so be sure to check it out when you have finished here.

For now, here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  • Always bring waterproof clothing, no matter when you visit
  • Going hiking? Bring broken-in, sturdy, waterproof boots
  • Pack a sleep mask if you’re visiting in the height of summer
  • Wear layers so you can regulate your temperature
  • Bring lip balm and hand cream — it’s windy in Iceland!

Iceland’s Climate: Not as Cold as You Might Think!

Given its name and location (the Arctic Circle is only 25 miles off Iceland’s north coast), some would-be visitors assume that Iceland is frozen solid for most of the year. Of course, it does get cold here, but probably not as cold as you think. We have provided the average temperatures in Iceland by month in the next section, so let’s focus on the broader climate.

Two natural phenomena help to keep Iceland’s temperatures higher than they otherwise would be. The first is the Atlantic Gulf Stream, which is essentially a river of warm water flowing north from the Caribbean. A branch of the Gulf Stream passes along Iceland’s southern and western coasts, moderating the climate. While this helps to keep the temperatures up, especially in coastal areas, the clashing of cold Arctic air and mild Atlantic air also creates Iceland’s famous wind and frequent changes in weather! It also explains why the south and west of Iceland see higher amounts of rainfall than the northern regions. 

The second natural phenomenon that helps to keep Iceland warmer than you may expect is geothermal activity. Our country sits on one of the world’s hot spots where two tectonic plates meet. This is why Iceland has hot springs, mud pools, volcanoes, and geysers. While the Gulf Stream has by far the largest impact of the two, geothermal heat offers welcome warmth on a local level. So, if you’re feeling chilly, simply seek out the closest hot spring!

If you’re looking for travel inspiration for specific areas of Iceland, we think you’ll appreciate our blogs Iceland South Coast Itinerary and Best Things to Do on Iceland’s East Fjords.

Raudasandur beach or Red Sands beach is a beautiful red beach in a very remote area in the Westfjords of Iceland, best known for offering long walks

Average Temperatures in Iceland by Month

To help you plan your Icelandic adventure, here’s a breakdown of average temperatures throughout the year:

  • January: 1°C (33°F)
  • February: 1°C (33°F)
  • March: 1°C (33°F)
  • April: 3°C (37°F)
  • May: 7°C (44°F)
  • June: 10°C (50°F)
  • July: 12°C (53°F)
  • August: 11°C (52°F)
  • September: 8°C (46°F)
  • October: 4°C (39°F)
  • November: 2°C (35°F)
  • December: 1°C (33°F)

As you can see, Iceland experiences relatively mild temperatures compared to its Arctic neighbours. However, it’s essential to remember that these are averages, and weather patterns can vary greatly from region to region and with changes in altitude. Broadly speaking, the further north you travel, the more the temperature drops.

It’s important to remember that not all activities are available year-round, so think carefully about what kind of experiences you want to have. For example, we only run our Iceland canyoning adventures during the summer, while you can only join certain  glacier ice cave tours in the winter, whilst others are all year round.

What is the Best Season to Visit Iceland?

Choosing the best season to visit Iceland ultimately comes down to personal preferences and the experiences you’re seeking. To help you decide, here’s a glimpse into what each season has to offer:

Spring (March to May)

As winter loosens its grip, Iceland awakens with vibrant hues of green and blooming wildflowers. With milder temperatures and longer days, spring is an excellent time for exploring the countryside, hiking trails, and witnessing the dramatic waterfalls in full flow.

Summer (June to August)

The land of the midnight sun beckons adventurers to bask in its endless daylight. Summer in Iceland is a time of boundless exploration, with opportunities for glacier hikes, whale watching, and camping beneath the stars. Just be prepared for the crowds, as this is peak tourist season.

If you’re hoping to hit the trails in spring or summer, we think you’ll love our Complete Guide to Hiking in Iceland.

Autumn (September to November)

As the days grow shorter and the landscapes are painted in hues of gold and crimson, autumn casts a spell of tranquillity over Iceland. This is an ideal time for capturing breathtaking photographs, soaking in hot springs, and embarking on road trips along the stunning coastline.

Toward the end of autumn, some roads will start to become inaccessible and close until spring. Before setting off on any journey, check the latest road conditions.

Winter (December to February)

Despite the shorter days and colder temperatures, winter holds a special appeal for those seeking adventure off the beaten path. From chasing the Northern Lights to snowmobiling across frozen landscapes, Iceland transforms into a winter wonderland straight out of a fairytale.

Take a deeper dive into this alluring season by reading our blog How Challenging is Winter in Iceland?

Feel the Thrill of Our Iceland Adventure Activities!

We hope our local insights into Iceland’s weather, climate, and temperature year-round have inspired you to start planning your trip to the Land of Fire and Ice. If you’ve got a thirst for adventure, look no further than Ice Guardians! Our range of Iceland adventure activities will ensure you return home with incredible stories to tell. 

Our team is here to help however we can, so please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

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