When to go to Reykjavik: climate, best time and tips month by month

Who I am
Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is also one of the northernmost capitals in the world. Its name means bay of fumes, due to the numerous geothermal springs in the area that feed as many pools and spas nearby.
Being a place with a very particular climate, however, it is necessary to carefully choose the period during which to visit it, especially considering the unstable climatic conditions and the rather low temperatures (even more so in winter, when the snow storms which can strike suddenly and very violently). So here is some information on the weather season by season, but keep one thing in mind: Reykjavik is always beautiful, the important thing is not to leave unprepared.


  1. Climate, Average Temperatures and Precipitation
  2. When to go to Reykjavik: the cheapest period
  3. Reykjavik in Spring
  4. Reykjavik in Summer
  5. Reykjavik in Autumn
  6. Reykjavik in Winter
  7. User questions and comments

Climate, Average Temperatures and Precipitation

  • Best time: summer from June to September, when the days are longer, the climate is stable and excursions can be organized for whale watching and natural parks. September-October and February-March, coinciding with the equinoxes, are the best months to see the Northern Lights
  • Period to avoid: from November to February. In addition to rain and cold, the amount of sunshine is very scarce

Iceland's climate is cold and cloudy most of the year. Despite the high latitude, however, the temperatures are slightly mitigated by the Gulf Stream and by the presence of the multiple hot springs that flow underground. Sudden changes in temperatures and sudden climate changes are very frequent, however there is no large temperature range between night and day but also between the different seasons.
Rainfall is abundant even if the greatest inconveniences are caused by strong winds which, due to the almost total lack of trees, can reach high speeds and create real dust storms.
The area around the capital, however, is the one most protected from these phenomena: this is why Reykjavik can be an excellent base for a hypothetical trip to Iceland.

When to go to Reykjavik: the cheapest period

To visit Reykjavik and, more generally, Iceland there is no economic period Actually, at most there is a period a little less expensive than the others: this is because Icelandic life costs a lot (even if it is equated to local salaries). For tourists, however, everything seems to have exaggerated prices: from simple eating out, to the costs of accommodation, transport, car rental, etc. However, sometimes you can find significant discounts on air flights (even direct!) And this will allow you to keep your expenses to a minimum. Although the best time to go to Iceland is summer, are the mid-seasons to agree more, both in terms of costs and low tourist presence.

Reykjavik in Spring

Spring in Reykjavik anticipates the arrival of summer and the return of the hours of light (reduced to four daily during the freezing winter). Walking through the main streets of the city is quite pleasant and it is not uncommon to come across some improvised performances by street artists.
Also a stroll along the seafront leading from the beautiful convention center Harp leading to the Solfar (famous sculpture dedicated to the Sun) is not a bad idea. Alternatively, you can decide to stop at the very central Tjornin pond, populated by a wide variety of seabird species, and relax while admiring the west area of ​​the capital.
Among the main festivals of the season, I point out the Reykjavik Art Festival and the celebrations of Independence Day, celebrated in late May.

Reykjavik in Summer

During the summer, Reykjavik explodes with vitality and proudly displays itself in all its wide range of colors. The hours of light increase more and more until the phenomena known as sleepless nights (the sun goes down towards midnight but never disappears below the horizon line). In particular, during the Summer solstice Falling on June 21, Icelanders celebrate the longest day of the year with dancing, singing and various performances held on the streets of the capital.
At the end of August, however, what is considered the largest festival held on the island is celebrated Culture Night, with a day dedicated to art and theater.
Also, don't forget that Reykjavik is nearby Nautholsvik beach, where thanks to the warm water of a natural source it is possible to swim (however, do not expect the sea temperature to be like that of tropical countries!). This is also the best time to take part in a whale watching excursion: every day several boats leave the port of the city to spot the specimens of cetaceans that populate the waters of the bay (it is difficult to go home without having seen at least a couple) .

Reykjavik in Autumn

With the onset of autumn, temperatures drop quickly and the possible rainy days increase. The inhabitants of the city begin to pour into the numerous cafes and covered areas of main roads, as well as in the city ​​museums: among the most beautiful, there are the museum dedicated to the Vikings, the Settlement Exhibition; the National Museum of Iceland, near the university campus; and the Cultural Center, in a wonderful white building. Although the chances of rain and overcast skies are quite high, you can still take advantage of the last days of sunshine to enjoy a spectacular view over the rooftops of the capital: from the bell tower of the Hallgrimskirkja, the most beautiful church in the country, you will admire the entire province of Reykjavik from a height of 75 meters.

Reykjavik in Winter

Icelandic winters generally are very long and perceived temperatures can drop quickly, especially when i blow cold winds from neighboring Greenland and which can lead to -10 ° / -15 °. However, near the capital and the flat areas, average temperatures remain suspended around 0 °, also thanks to the underground heat sources.
Given the choice, the winter season is not ideal for visiting Reykjavik (also counting the almost total absence of light), but it is still worth attending some of the many events and festivals organized: in January we celebrate the Porrablot, or an ancient feast of Viking origins in which you get together with family or friends to share the dishes of the local culinary tradition; in late February, however, there is the Food and Fun Festival, an annual event that attracts chefs and cooking enthusiasts from all over the world.
For those wishing to go on a few excursions outside the capital, however, there are numerous organized tours to enter the ice caves (closed in summer for safety reasons) or to spot thenorthern Lights (frequent phenomenon during the winter).

How to dress: what to pack

  • In winter: very warm clothes and technical clothing are essential: wool sweaters, fleece, thermal t-shirts and trousers, long trousers over thermal ones, heavy socks, boots suitable for water, gloves, scarf and hat. In addition to a windbreaker and a bathing suit (for the thermal springs).
  • In summer: even in summer, sweaters and long trousers, some thermal garments, suitable trekking shoes, raincoat or lighter windbreaker are required. Swimsuit for the more daring.
  • In autumn and spring: there is no big difference between summer, spring and autumn. The clothing recommended for the summer climate can also be fine for the other two seasons, although I still recommend dressing "in layers" to be ready for any eventuality. Better to have two more sweaters in your suitcase than fewer!

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