Everything You Should Know About Icelandic Weather and Climate
Updated: Aug 9
Most of the tourists who plan to visit Iceland mistakenly think that it is an extremely cold and windy country. They are probably right about the second fact while the first one may be up for debate. Thanks to the influence of the North Atlantic current which is the extension of the Gulf Stream, Iceland is not that cold as you might think.
The Icelanders often use this phrase to describe the weather of Iceland:
“If you do not like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it will change”. The weather in Iceland is unpredictable and changes so dynamically that you can experience all four seasons on one single day. You should definitely know more about our weather and what to expect before coming to Iceland.
Average temperatures and daylight hours in Iceland
Summer in Iceland is a great time for travelling around the country as you get almost 24 hours of daylight. It makes a strong contrast with Icelandic winters where you have only three or four hours of the sunlight. The brightest month of the year is June and the darkest is January.
The average annual temperature varies between 2.0°C (35,6°F) - 5.7°C (41°F). The temperature can be lower in the mountains and Highlands. The highest temperature recorded in Iceland was 30.0°C (86°F) in 1939 in Teigarhorn. However, do not expect such temperatures in summer. The average temperature in summer is around 10°C (50°F) and its warmest month is July.
Winter in Iceland lasts from October to April. The Icelandic climate is mild thanks to the northern latitude and the influance of the Gulf Stream. The average temperatures in January oscillates around 0°C while it goes down to even - 25°C (- 13°F) in the mountains. It’s the perfect weather to wear Icelandic lopapeysa. You can expect heavy snow, icy roads and landscapes just like from the wonderland.
A small but windy island
Iceland is an extremely windy country and you should be aware of that. The wind in Iceland can reach a really high speed and can even be dangerous. You should be extremely carefull while driving and remember to always check the weather forecast and the safety alerts before hitting the road. You can check our tips for safely driving in Iceland here.
The rain is not as symbolic as for the United Kingdom but it is very common in Iceland as well. Autumn and early winter are when we have the largest rainfall. Prepare a good waterproof and windproof jacket for your trip and a good pair of trekking shoes. You do not want the rain and wind spoil your trip right?
The phenomenon of the Midnight Sun
It is thought that due to the location of Iceland close to the Arctic circle, the temperatures should be extremely low with little daylight. And then you find out about Midnight Sun. This is when you get 20-24 hours of sunlight. How is that possible? Simple, the Earth is in the inclined position. For those territories close to the pole, the sun never goes below the horizon. In Iceland, it takes place in summer months of June, July and August. If you are planning to rent a campervan to circle the whole island and you need lots of time for hiking and sightseeing, this is the perfect season for your trip.
The Northern Lights - the Mother Nature’s best show
Cold, dark, winter nights have to be lit somehow. This is when Mother Natures’s most famous natural show starts. To be able to see the Northern Lights, you need to have a clean sky with no clouds and complete darkness. The best season for the Aurora Borealis in Iceland lasts from mid Sptember to mid April. This is when the probability is of finding the above mentioned conditions. To make your chances to see the Northern Lights even higher, it is recommendable to go further from the city, far from the city lights. If you are not ready for hunting the lights on your own, you can always choose to hire an experienced guide. They will know exactly when and where is the most possibility to catch the show so your experience with the Northern Lights is unforgettable.
Everything You should know about Icelandic weather and climate
Now you know how the weather and climate in Iceland is. It will definitely help much in planning your trip to Iceland. Many would ask which season is best for the trip, which is not easy to answer. Each one has its own charm and have much to offer. Summer offer long days, perfect for trekking long walks and winter have the most beautiful natural spectacle- the Northern Lights. Whichever you choose, I guarantee you the unforgettable memories and adventures.