Best Time to Visit Reykjavik: Month-by-Month Guide (+Photos)

The northernmost capital in the world, Reykjavik is tucked away in the southwest of Iceland, not far from lots of incredible geysers, waterfalls and volcanoes. The main point of entry for most people, it is a quiet, relaxed place with sprawling suburbs and a cute, colourful center.

The vast majority of visitors head here in summer when the almost never-ending days are at their sunniest and warmest. While snow-coated landscapes look stunning in wintertime, the long nights mean there’s not much time for exploring. These are by far the best months, however, to see the breathtaking Aurora Borealis.

To help you plan your holiday, let’s now take a look at what the weather, crowds and prices are like each month in Reykjavik. We’ll also cover any big events taking place and when you are most likely to spot whales, seals and other wildlife.

In this post, we’ll cover:

What’s the Weather Like in Reykjavik?

Although Reykjavik lies just south of the Arctic Circle, its winters aren’t too extreme with temperatures only dropping just below freezing at night. Its days are very short though with November, December and January seeing just 4 to 6 hours of daylight each day. It also snows during these months, blanketing the capital and its surroundings in a pristine white.

In contrast, the summer days of June, July and August stretch roughly 16 to 21 hours long with the sun also finally shining a decent amount. Averages of 11 to 13°C (52 to 55°F) are the highest of the year. The city’s coastal setting means it is often very windy and it also rains for around 16 to 20 days each month.

Best months to visit Reykjavik


As conditions are best for sightseeing and enjoying outdoor activities, June through August is the absolute peak season in Reykjavik. Both hotels and flights are at their most expensive though with its center, the Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle all being pretty packed. Loads of great festivals are held with this also being the best period to see whales, puffins and seals.

While the weather is not as good, the shoulder seasons of April and May or September and October can also be very pleasant times to visit. Prices are much cheaper with fewer visitors being around. Aside from seeing the glimmering glaciers and geysers, you can check out the many interesting museums and modern architecture.

Despite the days being short, dark and cold, winter in the capital also has its charms. Other than watching out for the Northern Lights, you can explore ice caves or admire frozen waterfalls with barely anyone else around.

Reykjavik in January

Reykjavik in January

Once the Christmas holidays are over and the New Year’s Eve celebrations have died down, January is one of the quietest months in Reykjavik. Also one of the coldest, it sees very few people visit as most are put off by the lack of light. Bonfires are lit for Epiphany with many houses leaving up their cheery Christmas lights all month.

Besides scanning the skies for the Aurora Borealis, you can visit the enchanting ice caves at Vatnajokull. After skiing or trekking about its icy landscapes, soaking in its hot springs feels divine. Be aware though that many tours don’t run due to the bad weather with some roads also closing. You can also listen to some excellent musicians at its Dark Music Days festival.

Reykjavik in February

Northern Lights

While it is still just as cold, wet and windy, the days do at least start to lengthen in February with 9 hours of light in which to explore. Due to the school half term, there is an increase in visitor numbers with airfares rising as a result. You’ll still have the epic waterfalls, geysers and craters along the Golden Circle mostly to yourself though.

As average temperatures remain around 2°C (35°F), you’ll want to layer up and spend more time indoors at Perlan and the National Museum of Iceland. You can also warm up with tasty dishes and drinks during its traditional Thorrablot mid-winter festival. Numerous art exhibits and light installations are also up around town for its Winter Lights Festival.

Reykjavik in March

Reykjavik in March

As it is still winter, March is also the off-season in Reykjavik. The weather is unpredictable with rain, sleet, snow and sunshine all possible within a couple of hours. This is the last month though to go snowmobiling, ice caving or stand a decent chance of seeing the Northern Lights. More people visit if the Easter holidays fall in March.

While you’ll have to brave its 19 days of rain, there are at least lots of exciting events going on. These include its National Beer Day and the Food and Fun Festival. You can also listen to upcoming acts at the Icelandic Music Experiments or watch grandmasters battle it out at the Reykjavik Open chess tournament.

Reykjavik in April

Reykjavik in April

With the weather now brightening up a bit, April can be a wonderful time to visit before the huge crowds and high prices of summer arrive. While its dramatic landscapes still look quite wintery, conditions are way better for driving around the Golden Circle.

Although you’re now less likely to see the Aurora Borealis as the days are longer, you can spy cute puffins, golden plovers and other bird species nesting along its nearby shores.

As its temperatures are still pretty cold, you’ll need to layer up when visiting Hallgrimskirkja and the Solfar Sculpture, among its other main tourist sights. Things are livening up a bit in the city though as parades and concerts celebrate The First Day of Summer. Loads of events are also held for Easter and its Children’s Culture Festival.

To top it off, interesting movies are screened at the Stockfish Film Festival with the Reykjavik Blues Festival also going on.

Reykjavik in May

Reykjavik in May

May is an even better month to explore Reykjavik as there are now around 6 hours of sunshine and 19 hours of daylight a day. While temperatures average around 9°C (48°F), it rains a lot less and the prices and crowds are still low. Aside from hiking about its gorgeous glaciers and volcanoes, you can now go whale watching with birdwatching also being popular.

Other than enjoying its nearby nature, there is of course the Saga Museum and Settlement Exhibition to see if you want to learn more about Iceland’s rich history and culture. This is a good time to soak in the Blue Lagoon before it gets too busy.

Some visitors go on fishing excursions out into the ocean or scuba dive between two tectonic plates at the Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park.

Reykjavik in June

Reykjavik June

The number of people visiting Reykjavik shoots up considerably in June as its long, sunny days are perfect for exploring all its scenic surroundings. On the Summer Solstice, Iceland’s brightest night, there are almost 24 hours of daylight! Locals and tourists make the most of the fantastic weather with plenty of fun events taking place.

These include colourful parades for Icelandic National Day and reenactment fights at the Viking Festival at Hafnarfjordur.

While prices are higher and its main sites are much busier, June is still more affordable than either July or August. These months are the best too for whale watching or seeing dolphins, seals and porpoises. As well as hiking Mount Esja or clambering through lava tubes, outdoor lovers can enjoy all its stunning landscapes now coated in a lush green.

The capital also has its Fringe Festival and the two-week-long Reykjavik Arts Festival to attend.

Reykjavik in July

Reykjavik in July

As it is the summer holidays, the sun is shining and its days are warmest, the absolute peak tourist season arrives in July. Accommodation prices are almost double what they are in the low-season with flights also being much more expensive.

While both its city center and sites around the Golden Circle are packed, averages of 13°C (55°F) are much more enjoyable for hiking, sightseeing or taking tours to waterfalls and glaciers.

Although it rains a little for around 18 days of the month, downpours are rare with its nights still being very short. It’s worth packing an eye mask as sleeping can pose a challenge with the bright light everywhere. Many also use these sunny months to visit the black beaches of Reynisfjara and Vikurfjara, just a couple of hours’ drive from Reykjavik.

Reykjavik in August

Blue Lagoon

August is another extremely busy month in Reykjavik with many tours, hotels and the Blue Lagoon being fully booked. While its temperatures are still relatively mild, the days do start to shorten again. There is ample time though to amble around the Arbaer Open Air Museum or take a short ferry ride to Videy Island.

Hiking is a very popular pastime in summer as are unforgettable trips to see massive blue whales, humpbacks and orcas.

The normally quiet city has a very lively feel with large crowds wandering along Laugavegur, trying out its trendy restaurants and bars. Joyous parties and parades are also held for Pride with the Reykjavik Culture Night’s art exhibitions and events also attracting loads of people. Music lovers instead head to all the great gigs put on for its Innipukinn and Jazz festivals.

Reykjavik in September

Reykjavik September

Once the summer holidays are over, both the prices and crowds come down considerably in September. As the weather is quite mild and there are still roughly 4 hours of sunshine and 13 hours of daylight a day, this is a good time to look for some deals. The Northern Lights return with both sea kayaking trips and whale watching tours still being possible.

September is also the only real autumn month when all the trees in Thingvellir National Park look absolutely sublime. Besides hiking or driving around the Golden Circle while conditions are still decent, you can visit either the Reykjavik Maritime Museum or its Whales of Iceland Museum. At the end of the month, its International Film Festival has lots of fantastic movies to watch, continuing into October.

Reykjavik in October

Imagine Peace Tower

Although October is by far the rainiest month of the year, quite a few people still visit. With around 10 hours of light per day, you can explore its glaciers, ice caves and volcanoes without the crowds of summer and September. Hotels are also more affordable though some trails and roads do close for the winter.

The cultural life in the city is still very active with plenty of top-class performances being put on for its Opera Days festival. Many also visit Videy Island to see its Imagine Peace Tower lit up on the anniversary of John Lennon’s birthday. Otherwise, there is also the Sequences Art Festival to enjoy and all FAR Fest Afrika’s music shows and dance workshops to take part in.

Reykjavik in November

Reykjavik in November

With the temperatures dropping and days turning shorter, you’ll want to wrap up warm and spend more time indoors if you do visit Reykjavik in November. Other than checking out the National Museum of Iceland, it’s a great month to wallow in the Blue Lagoon or take tours to see the wonderful Northern Lights.

As it is the off-season, both airfares and accommodation options are at their cheapest with very few visitors found at its main attractions. While orca and humpback whale sightings are more common in winter, the waves are choppier with trips sometimes cancelled due to the bad weather. Numerous acts also perform all around town during its Iceland Airwaves music festival.

Reykjavik in December

Reykjavik Christmas

As Reykjavik is now in the depths of winter and there are just 4 hours of daylight a day, the first couple of weeks in December are very quiet and calm. This all changes in the run-up to Christmas when more people pour in and prices rise. Although temperatures drop to around -4°C (25°F) during its long, dark nights, it’s a great time to experience a real Nordic winter.

Brightening up its center are thousands of twinkling lights with cozy Christmas markets also dotted here and there. Aside from seeing frozen waterfalls and ice caves, December is one of the best months to watch the Aurora Borealis. You can also enjoy ice skating, skiing and snowboarding when you’re not exploring its museums, attractions and nature sights. Lovely fireworks displays and bonfires then light up its dark skies for New Year’s Eve.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *