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Best Time to Visit Iceland

The best time to visit Iceland is anytime. Read about the best time of year to travel to Iceland for Northern Lights, wildlife and hot springs.

Learn more about Northern Europe cruises.

Iceland’s fantastical landscapes, shaggy horses and soothing hot springs make it a favorite country on Northern Europe cruises. But everyone has their own take on the best time to visit Iceland. The truth is, it’s incredible any time of year. 

Iceland cruises stop into colorful, oceanside towns and glide long fjords that aren’t easily reached by driving. It’s a great way to see the country. Cruise season is from May to September.


Best Time to Travel to Iceland For the Great Outdoors

Iceland is known for amazing landscapes, from moon-like lava fields to breathtaking waterfalls, moss-covered cliffs to glimmering ice caves. The best time to visit Iceland is mid-June through August to hike, bike, horseback ride or otherwise explore Iceland’s great outdoors. Even then, prepare by dressing in waterproof layers that can stand up to Iceland’s fierce wind. 

The drawback: Summer is high season. Reykjavik swells with thousands of nature-hungry tourists. If you want to see the geysers and waterfalls without a lot of people blocking the view, consider Iceland’s brief shoulder season. Iceland has fewer tourists in Mid-May through Mid-June and September through Mid-October. You’ll have cooler temps, but extra elbow room. 


Best Time to Travel to Iceland for Wildlife

Iceland is a dream for ornithologists and photographers. There are rainbow-beaked puffins nesting on sea cliffs and fascinating skuas, kittiwakes and golden plovers. The best timing for most Icelandic seabirds is April to September. 

The artic fox—a gray/white or brown fluffball—is Iceland’s only native mammal and journeyed to the country by loping over frozen seas. Cubs are usually born in May. Artic foxes are all around the island, but the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is their number one hangout.

May to September is the best time to whale watch in Iceland with up to 20 species in the surrounding waters. You can also see orcas in West Iceland feeding in February and March. 

Even the horses in Iceland are half-wild. In the summer, they’re driven to the highlands where they live for months without their human owners. They come back in fall, to reunite with their people. Some return with new foals. You can learn more about Icelandic horses on this popular shore excursion


Best Time to Visit Iceland for a Blue Lagoon Dip

Iceland is home to hundreds of hot springs. Sitting in a hot spring in Iceland’s chilly, pure air is heavenly. The Blue Lagoon combines the hot spring experience with a spa, where you can float up to various stands for an invigorating mineral mask or a chilled glass of wine. As one of Iceland’s most famous attractions, the lagoon packs in travelers during high season (June through August). 

Off season (winter) and shoulder season (spring and fall) are the best to soak in the hot springs, especially the Blue Lagoon. Plus, the chillier temps make the bubbling hot water even more enticing. Ahhh. 


Best Time to Visit Iceland for the Northern Lights

Bundle up. If you want to see the Northern Lights, winter is the best time of year to visit Iceland. Specifically, September through March, when the nights are long and dark. September is one of the best times to travel to Iceland for the Northern Lights as there’s increased solar activity around fall equinox, which helps your chances and there’s still plenty to do in temperate weather, even if the lights never come out. 

The drawback: The conditions and timing could be perfect and … the Northern Lights don’t appear. Travel to Iceland not for the aurora borealis, but because you want to experience the beauty of the country in winter. You can sink into a hot spring as the snow falls around you and have it all to yourself. Plus, Iceland hot chocolate is world-renowned. 

From that snow-globe feeling in winter to fields full of lupine in spring, to the midnight sun in summer and the gold-flecked hills in autumn, any time is best time to visit Iceland. Find a cruise to Iceland now.

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