The weather is one of the most important factors to consider when planning a trip. It can make or break your experience in Iceland!
The wind is common in Iceland and can be pretty intense. Rain is also common, especially in October and March. You should bring warm and water-resistant clothing when visiting Iceland, regardless of your chosen season.
1. Be Prepared
While Iceland’s weather is unpredictable, it tends to fall into a few general patterns, so it is better to check the Iceland weather by month. For example, the spring months of April and May usually bring mild temperatures with some rain.
June often has sunny weather and is a great time to enjoy hot spring bathing or stay up late to see the Midnight Sun. However, the temperature can drop dramatically at night, and it is expected to have windy conditions.
The best time to visit Iceland is during the summer, which runs from June through September. This is when all of the roads are open and accessible, which makes it easier to access the many famous trails and mountains throughout the country.
September through October usually bring cool temperatures, with the potential for rain. The wind can make these temperatures feel even colder, as well.
Winter, from December through February, is when you’ll find the heaviest snow and the worst weather conditions. This is also when it’s possible to see the Northern Lights.
Preparing for Iceland’s weather is essential no matter what time of year you visit. Fortunately, the locals have a saying—that reddest—which means, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” So, no matter what happens during your trip, be patient and know it will eventually clear up.
2. Pack a Raincoat
Packaging a raincoat when visiting Iceland is essential, no matter the season. The weather can change quickly, whether cold, windy, or rainy. The best way to stay warm in these conditions is to dress in layers of wool, which helps trap body heat.
It also helps to have a breathable layer so that moisture can escape, keeping you from overheating. The best option is a lightweight merino wool jacket, such as this one from Cotopaxi, which is both insulated and waterproof. It also packs into a small pouch, occupying very little space in your bag.
In addition to a warm merino wool layer, it is essential to pack a pair of thermal leggings for warmth. These are available from many outdoor apparel stores and even some department stores. A basic set of these will be perfect for keeping your legs warm while hiking, and they can even be worn under your regular jeans or travel pants if it gets freezing.
A good basic set of thermal underwear will help to keep you dry in Iceland. You should also bring a pair of warm wool socks and warm shoes. Depending on the season, consider bringing hand and foot warmers, which are great for keeping your hands and feet toasty.
3. Keep an Eye on the Forecast
Icelanders are famous for saying, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes.” This is because they know that no matter how much they prepare, they can only partially predict the weather in Iceland. The temperature, wind speed, and precipitation will change on a whim, making it challenging to keep up with the forecast.
In March, winter still has the reins, and you’ll likely experience snow, sleet, and rain. However, the temperatures will climb, and daylight hours will increase.
The snow melts in April, and you’ll see green grass dotted with purple lupins on roadside farms. The birds and whales will also be out in force, which makes this a great time to spot them.
With warm weather and increasing daylight hours, May is when summer kicks in. Although it can still be windy, the chance of rain is lower than in other months.
August brings the warmth of Iceland’s summer but is also the wettest month. Don’t let this rainy forecast deter you, though, as it is one of the best times to see the Northern Lights. It’s also the perfect time to go horseback riding, hiking, and soak in natural hot springs. So remember to pack your waterproofs!
4. Keep a Backup Coat in Your Vehicle
Iceland’s weather is notoriously unpredictable and can change in the blink of an eye. Keeping a backup coat in your vehicle is a good idea, especially in winter. In the winter, you might be driving to your next destination, and suddenly, there’s a wind storm. This is why it’s important always to check the forecast daily.
The weather in Iceland is affected by the Gulf Stream, which brings warm waters and rapid winds from the Caribbean. The Icelandic language has 156 words to describe the wind, including logn (calm), gola (gentle breeze), rok (gale), and fervid (storm). Precipitation also tends to be highest in fall through spring, although this does not apply everywhere in the country.
You can start to feel the transition between winter and spring in March. Temperatures are still below freezing, but daylight hours begin to increase.
During the summer, the sun does not set for several months, and it’s truly a magical time to visit Iceland. It’s also the busiest season.
In conclusion, while Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable and challenging, it is possible to make the most of it by following a few key steps. By packing the right clothing and gear, being flexible with your itinerary, and taking advantage of the unique opportunities that Iceland’s weather presents, you can have an unforgettable experience in this stunning country.
Embracing the elements and being prepared for all types of weather will allow you to explore Iceland’s natural wonders in their full glory. So don’t let the weather deter you – embrace it and make the most of your time in this beautiful land of fire and ice. Plan your trip, pack your bags, and get ready for an adventure like no other!