As people are asking me a lot of the same questions about planning trips to Iceland I thought I would put my answers in one place here. Please note that I am currently unable to answer any further questions at this time. However, please read through the questions below – if you are writing concerning driving or the weather you will most likely find that someone else has asked the same question already.
Please note that I am not associated with any of the companies or trips that I recommend.
What time of year is the best to visit Iceland? Iceland is beautiful at all times of year in different ways, so there is no bad time to go. Obviously, longer daylight hours make it easier if you are planning to be more adventurous, but summer also means more tourists and higher prices. If you are doing what most tourists do, which is a combination of Reykjavík/Blue Lagoon/Golden Circle, any time of year is fine. My personal recommendation would be April/May/September/October, cheaper than summer and less busy but not much different in terms of weather and good daylight hours.
Most of the interior of Iceland is only accessible in the summer, but this is not somewhere that most tourists go unless they are doing something more specialised.
If you’ve already visited Iceland, why not try going at a different time of year next time for a different experience?
Bear in mind that the weather in Iceland is unpredictable all year so you aren’t guaranteed good weather just because you choose summer…
How much does food/accommodation/buying things cost? I have been asked many variations on this question about how expensive Iceland is, and really the question behind all of these is: How can I make visiting Iceland cheaper?
- Don’t go in the months of June – August. Prices will be quite a lot cheaper even in May and September, and the weather isn’t much different.
- Be prepared to share a bathroom and/or bring your sleeping bag! ReykjavÍk has more hostels than it used to. Outside of the capital, Iceland doesn’t have hotel chains that you may be used to staying in. The accommodation is often in farmhouses, or on the site of a farmhouse, or a school that has been transformed into a hotel for the summer. You can make staying in Iceland cheaper by camping, staying somewhere with shared facilities, or taking advantage of “sleeping bag” accommodation, where you bring your sleeping bag and sleep on top of a bed in it.
- Eat fast food or food from a cheap supermarket like Bonus, rather than expecting to dine out for all your meals.
- If you already have a trip planned between Europe and North America, Icelandair may do a stopover deal where you can stop in Iceland one way for a very low price.
What kind of holiday can you do there? Iceland isn’t somewhere with lots of big man-made attractions in your face, its greatest appeal is the many natural wonders and isolation. Even if you just do a city break in Reykjavík, you can get out and do day trips and in fact this is what most tourists do. Or you can do a self drive holiday around all or part of the country, or an escorted tour. You can also do more adventurous things like a walking holiday/glacier exploration/horse riding.
When can I see the Northern Lights? The Northern Lights can be seen between approximately mid-October and mid-March. Please don’t go on a holiday to Iceland just to see these, as they are never guaranteed.
Is there good walking in Iceland? Yes – amazing walking! You could go pretty much anywhere and be guaranteed an interesting walk without lots of other people around. Due to the unpredictability of the weather and the fact that there are not the well worn trails that you might find elsewhere, I wouldn’t recommend doing any big walks there on your own, go with a group or with someone who knows the area. I did probably the most famous walk in Iceland from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk (only accessible June-August) and you can see photos from my previous post here.
In addition to my pages that feature “highlights” in terms of scenery and wildlife, here are some other posts you might find useful: