When is the best time to visit Iceland? As I’ll go into in this post, the weather in Iceland varies so much and each time of year has a positive and a negative, but I loved visiting Iceland in May and Iceland in June!
This year, I ran a group tour to Iceland in May which also continued on to the month of June. A family member of mine went to Iceland in June and had a similar experience as I did weather wise and with their small children, they found June to be a great time to visit Iceland,
So in this Iceland travel blog, I want to tell you what to expect when visiting Iceland in May and June, weather-wise, activity wise and help you with what to wear in Iceland in May or June as you’ll still need to pack lots of options for all weathers!
Iceland in May and June
One thing to note is that although I did cover a lot of Iceland travelling from Reykjavik in the South Western part of Iceland all the way to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in the far South Eastern part of Iceland. I did stick to the popular Southern Iceland route and didn’t go to Northern Iceland.
The weather changes dramatically depending on where you are in Iceland, so if you are doing a Northern Iceland itinerary in May or June, this guide to the weather in Iceland might not be reflective of your trip as it is based on my experience travelling the Golden Circle in Iceland and South Coast of Iceland.
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Best time of year to visit Iceland?
When it comes to ‘when to visit Iceland?’ it really depends on what you want from your trip.
Do you want to see the Northern lights? The best time to see the Northern lights in Iceland is from September to April.
Do you want to go hiking in Iceland? You’ll want to visit between June and August.
Do you want to miss the minus temperatures and all the snow in Iceland? You’ll need to visit from April to September.
Why I choose May and June to visit Iceland
As much as I’d love to visit Iceland in winter and I hope I will soon because I was organising a trip for 16 ladies from all around the world to visit Iceland with me, I wanted the weather to be comfortable. I wanted to ensure we could drive everywhere without getting stuck in the snow and do all our planned activities such as hiking, whale watching, glacier walking and so much more!
This is why I chose the end of May and the start of June for our tour and I wasn’t disappointed.
I think May or June are great months for visiting Iceland!
Weather in Iceland in May
May is the shoulder season before Summer starts but don’t expect European spring-like weather in Iceland in May. (I must say, I did make this mistake, I thought Iceland in late Spring like May and June would be warmer than it actually was!)
In May, the snow has thawed and the minus temperatures have passed but the average temperature in Iceland in May ranges from 2C (36F) to 11C (53F) with the end of May reaching up to around 15C (59F) on sunny days.
We had a lot of rain in May during our tour, especially in the South Western part of Iceland around Reykjavik and the Golden Circle, but as we went East we had 2 really sunny days and I must say, even though the weather app said it was only 15C, when the sun was shining, it felt so much hotter than that!
ICELAND TRAVEL TIP: One of the things I learnt from my Iceland guide is that the further East you go in Iceland, the better the weather generally becomes and we certainly experienced this.
We left Reykjavik and the Golden Circle in rain and as we drove East along the South East it became more clear and sunny and we had a beautifully sunny day (although also windy) at Diamond Beach and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in the East.
This might not be the case in the depths of winter but during spring in Iceland when the weather is differing and getting warmer each day, moving locations to get better weather can help!
Weather in Iceland in June
In June, the temperature is increasing, locals say the average temperature in Iceland in June is 9C (48F) (which is still very chilly compared to the rest of Europe!) but there can be highs of 15C (59F).
It can rain in Iceland all year round and my relatives experienced quite a bit of rain in Iceland in June, especially around the Golden Circle, however, there is a lesser chance of rain than in other months.
Is May a good month to visit Iceland?
On many travel blogs, when planning a trip to Iceland for my group tour, I read that May is a popular month to visit Iceland because winter is over, but, the high summer tourist season hasn’t started yet and I have to agree.
Although we had a few days of rain, we experienced a few beautifully sunny days too.
And although we saw lots of tourists, especially at the major sites like Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Gullfoss and The Great Geyser, the crowds didn’t feel too big, in fact, it was nice seeing other people enjoy these sights like we were and we visited places like Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon and Reykjadalur Valley and barely saw any other people!
We also visited at the end of May during the UK and Europe’s May school holidays. Had we visited mid-May I imagine there would have been even fewer people around.
In May, we found there to be lots of activities open including the Glacier Lagoon Boat Ride which closes from November to April.
Benefits of visiting Iceland in May:
- 1 – Being on the shoulder of high season, accommodation and car hire are still very bookable and available in May whereas as you get into the summer in Iceland, these become harder and more expensive to book.
- 2 – Because the major summer school holidays have not started yet, flights to Iceland can be cheaper in May than later in the summer, and in winter when it’s popular to visit Iceland for the Northern Lights.
- 3 – The sun does actually set.. even if it’s a tiny bit. If you’re worried about the midnight sun and having 24-hour daylight, the earlier you visit in May, the more hours of darkness you will have. When I was in Iceland at the end of May the sun was setting at 11:30 pm and rising at 2:30 pm which gave 2 hours of twilight and darkness before it got light again.
Downsides of visiting Iceland in May:
- 1 – Not all hiking routes are open yet. We planned to hike Glymur waterfall on the last day of our tour from Reykjavik but the path wasn’t open yet. For this, you’ll want to visit in June, July or August.
- 2 – Whilst we were too early for some hiking routes, we were too late in the year for the Ice Caves which close at the end of March.
Is June a good month to visit Iceland?
June is another good month to visit Iceland because of the warmer temperature, in fact, many Iceland travel guides say June gets the best weather in Iceland all year, and although technically the peak season in Iceland has started, most school summer holidays in Europe haven’t started yet in June.
July and August are when Iceland can get very busy due to the European and North American school holidays breaking up, and the attraction of the warmest temperature Iceland experiences and the longer days.
My sister and brother-in-law visited Iceland in mid-June with their baby and 3-year-old. They did experience rain and similar weather to what we had in May, but as for travelling to Iceland with children, the temperature and extremity of the weather were much better suited in June than October to April.
Benefits of visiting Iceland in June:
- 1 – Hiking trails that have been shut during the winter should be open (weather dependent).
- 2 – Iceland’s beautiful Lupine flowers will be blooming towards the end of the month and this is a sight to see!
- 3 – June will offer more accommodation and car rental availability than the busier peak months of July & August.
- 4 – You’ll get to actually experience the ‘midnight sun’ as it will still be light in June at midnight.
- 5 – June is the peak season for Whale Watching in Iceland.
Downsides of visiting Iceland in June:
- 1 – Flight prices may be likely to increase as it is the start of the peak season in Iceland.
- 2 – The weather is still unpredictable and not ‘summer’ temperatures as you might expect.
What to wear in Iceland in May?
I read lots of posts on what to pack for Iceland in Spring and what to pack for Iceland in Summer and the biggest mistake I made was thinking that May would be inching closer to summer when this was not the case!
Iceland requires lots of options and this is the case in May and June.
Coat – You won’t need a really thick and big winter coat in Iceland but a jacket that offers warmth and is rain resistant will be needed.
Waterproof Jacket & Trousers – It’s very likely it will rain in Iceland in May and June and even if you have no rain in Iceland during your visit, you’ll still want a set of waterproofs, including waterproof trousers for when you visit the waterfalls!
The waterfalls are in full power in Iceland in the spring because of the recently melted snow above them and if you want to walk behind Seljalandsfoss (which you will!) and not be cold and wet for the rest of the day, you’ll want a full set of waterproofs.
Full-Length Trousers – Don’t go packing any shorts for Iceland in May and June, you’ll want long trousers like gym leggings or hiking trousers. Jeans are also NOT recommended for Iceland unless it’s out for dinner in the evening. If it suddenly starts raining (and it could do!) and you’re in jeans, they’ll get wet and be wet until you change them at your hotel later that night.
Fleeces & Hoodies – I lived in my fleece in Iceland and it was perfect. You’ll still need a Jumper (or Pullover if you’re North American) for what to wear in Iceland in May, but as the temperatures are kind of increasing you won’t need a thick wooley top. Fleeces are great for being breathable but also keeping us warm.
Long-Sleeved Tops – You won’t need to think about layers as much in Iceland in May (unlike when you’re packing for Iceland in Winter) but I found that I wore long-sleeved tops under all of my fleeces and jumpers and I didn’t touch the t-shirts I stupidly packed!
Walking Boots – We practically lived in our walking boots in Iceland in May and no matter what time of year you go, the best footwear for Iceland is walking boots because then you are always ready to walk on rough terrain, it doesn’t matter if they get wet from the waterfalls or rain and they’ll give more safety because of their grip.
Trainers – Also pack a pair of trainers. Iceland isn’t a fashion show and whilst I saw a few people in fashion boots, walking boots and trainers are the only footwear you need for Iceland and any fashion shoes should be left at home!
Hat & Gloves – A warm hat like a beanie and gloves are still worth packing for Iceland in May. I wear hijab so that kept my ears warm and I didn’t end up wearing my beanie but you’re better to pack these small items and not use them than not pack them and be cold. I did wear my gloves from time to time and was glad I had them!
What to wear in Iceland in June?
What to pack for Iceland in June is very similar to what to pack for Iceland in May which I have given above.
In June in Iceland, you can go slightly easier on your layers, especially if you are visiting Iceland at the end of June.
But you’ll still want a full set of waterproofs, full-length trousers and no shorts or jeans, fleeces and warm jumpers, a light coat, walking boots and trainers, long-sleeved tops and a warm hat.
Things to do in Iceland
Below I have listed things to do in Iceland in May and June, most of the activities can be done in both months though as the weather can be very similar in both months.
Things to do in Iceland in May
May is a great time to visit Iceland to experience the popular waterfalls and hot springs with ease because of the weather easing but without too many summer tourists.
With the snow (mostly) thawed, the waterfalls in Iceland are great in May as they are gushing this water.
At many of the waterfalls in Iceland, you’ll get some spray from the water and this is much more pleasant in May than in the middle of the winter when it’s freezing!
Sólheimajökull Glacier Hike
We loved doing this easy glacier hike in Iceland and May was a great time for it.
The glacier wasn’t cold but because the summer temperatures hadn’t arrived yet, the ice wasn’t too soft for us to walk on giving us a great glacier experience.
You need to do this glacier hike with a guide, here are some recommendations:
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Boat
One of the best things to do in Iceland is to go on the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon on an Amphibian Boat and get up close to the icebergs!
This Iceland activity is closed over winter so it should be taken advantage of in Spring and the Icebergs are still pretty big after the freezing winter.
May is well within the Whale Season in Iceland so going on a Whale Watching tour like this is one of the best things to do in Iceland in May! Unfortunately, we didn’t see any on our outing at the end of May but the company had seen them earlier in the day so we were just unlucky.
Check out the Whale watching tours on offer from Reykjavik:
Things to do in Iceland in June
There are lots of activities to do in Iceland in June. June is a great time to visit Iceland for the Whales, Puffins and Hiking so this should all be taken advantage of!
June is the peak Whale season in Iceland. Many people will go Whale watching in Iceland from Reykjavik which is still a great option but as the ice thaws further North in Iceland, Whale Watching in Northern Iceland is an amazing experience as you can go out on small zodiac boats and see Whales really up close!
These are great Whale watching tours in Northern Iceland that are amazing during the summer in Iceland:
Colonies of Puffins start appearing in Iceland in June so you can add Puffin watching on your list of things to do in Iceland in June.
Here are some great ways to see Puffins in Iceland in Summer:
Hiking trails that have been closed in May and during the winter will be opening up in June. Here are great places to go hiking in Iceland in June.
I really loved our hike to Reykjadalur where there are natural hot springs at the top!
Although you can go horse riding in Iceland for most of the year, sitting on horseback in the freezing cold isn’t the most pleasant thing to do.
Therefore, horse riding in June in Iceland is a great activity to take advantage of.
Book your horse riding excursion in Iceland in advance here:
Silfra Tectonic Dive
Diving in Iceland between the two tectonic plates of Europe and North America is one of the best things to do in Iceland because it’s so unique!
Whilst this activity that you can book as a half day tour is actually open all year round as the water temperature doesn’t vary much all year staying between 2C – 4C (35.5 and 39oF ), getting out of the weather in June is going to be a lot more pleasant than getting out of the water in January, let’s just say that!
This is one crazy experience you can’t miss in Iceland:
Waterfalls, Glaciers, Hot Springs, Museums and enjoying the food
These are all the top things to do in Iceland all year round and can be enjoyed fully in June!
Is it better to visit Iceland in May or June?
Overall, if you are focused on activities and hiking, it’s best to visit Iceland in June.
As mentioned, some trails are still opening up in May and the start of May can still be pretty cold and wet after the long winter whereas June starts warming up (to Iceland standards) and more activities are available.
That said, June brings the start of the 3 month summer season where tourism starts to quickly increase in Iceland as the Northern Hemisphere breaks up for summer. So, if you prefer fewer crowds, May and particularly the start of May (because the end of May bring 1-2 weeks of school holidays) is a great time to visit.
Prices and availability for flights, accommodation and car hire are also more likely to go up in price and be harder to source in June because of the peak tourist season starting.
I really want to run another women’s group tour in Iceland. As I said, I was super happy with my decision to go at the end of May and the start of June, however next time,
I will organise it around mid-June instead as it’s likely we’ll get a few more warmer days, more trails will be open for hiking, and we’ll hopefully catch the start of the bloom of the Lupine Flowers in Iceland which look so gorgeous!
I hope this post helped you work out what it’s like to visit Iceland in May and Iceland in June!
- For more of my posts see:
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- Hiking Mount Teide! How To Hike Spain’s Highest Mountain at 3715m, Easily!
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