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Iceland at a Glance

Why Visit Iceland? This island is a nature lover‘s paradise, with an unspoiled and surreal landscape including glaciers, geysers and thousands of waterfalls, along with hundreds of other activities and attractions.

WHY VISIT ICELAND

For many people, the mention of Iceland evokes images of volcanoes with difficult names or maybe the hip Reykjavík music scene that spawned famous exports like Björk, Of Monsters and Men and Sigur Rós. Naturally, as Europe‘s least densely populated country, and as an island long isolated from the rest of the world, Iceland may seem like a curious place for a travel destination.

But this land of hot springs, glaciers, lava fields and waterfalls is a nature lover‘s paradise, with an unspoiled and truly surreal landscape that inspires countless artists and photographers. Travellers seeking an adventure won‘t be disappointed, with miles of scenic roadway circling the entire country and endless opportunities for outdoor pursuits—from leisurely, family-friendly activities to more active excursions for thrill seekers.

And despite the country‘s name, Icelandic summers are surprisingly mild and green, with nonstop daylight around the midsummer thanks to the phenomenon known as the midnight sun. Whereas during winter, the longer nights create ideal conditions for the northern lights—a fascinating experience on many travellers’ bucket lists.

Of course, no matter the season, you can always count on the warm hospitality of the Icelanders, a people fiercely proud of their well-preserved language and heritage that stretches back over a thousand years ago to the Viking Age. (But have no fear—English is widely used here!) From the lively Reykjavik city centre to the rural fishing villages, the unique Icelandic culture with its blend of old and new can be experienced at every turn.

See more travel information, such as currency, internet access and more, at our practical information section.

HOW TO GET TO ICELAND

The main gateway in Iceland is the Keflavík International Airport (KEF), about 50 minutes from Reykjavik. Flight times are approximately 3 hours from London and 5 hours from New York. Icelandair operates direct flights from several European and North American cities and budget carrier Wow Air also offers many European routes, particularly in summer.

Find more information, including entry requirements and airport transfers, at our Getting to Iceland section.

GETTING AROUND

Route 1, or the “Ring Road”, is the main highway that circles the island and connects most communities. As there are no trains in Iceland, most visitors choose to explore the countryside by rental car or by bus as part of a guided tour. Air Iceland and Eagle Air also provide domestic flights from the Reykjavik Airport to many towns around the country.

In the capital city, Reykjavik, you can easily do most of your sightseeing by foot. Reykjavik is also the starting point for many exciting day tours to the surrounding countryside, such as bus sightseeing tours, 4x4 jeep safaris, horse riding excursions, whale watching tours, etc. See what other activities are available at our day tours site.

Note: English is widely spoken in Iceland, so most visitors should have no problem getting around. See more about the Icelandic language—and learn a few useful words for your stay.

WHEN TO VISIT & WEATHER

There really isn’t a bad time to visit Iceland – it’s just a question of what you are looking for! 

Are you looking for maximum sunlight for driving and sightseeing? June, July and August are the months when you can expect the longest daylight hours, the mildest weather and best availability of outdoor activities. In late June you can even enjoy the peak of the midnight sun phenomenon, in which the sun doesn't fully set below the horizon. Just make sure to bring a sleep mask as it can be hard to fall asleep while it's still bright outside!

Do you like it a little quieter? May and September are ideal months if you want to avoid crowds. The temperatures are generally mild — although the weather can be a bit more unpredictable than in summer — and there are still ample daylight hours for sightseeing. There is also the possibility of seeing early northern lights in September as night-time darkness returns.

Do you prefer winter scenery and chances for seeing the northern lights? October to April are the best months for northern lights tours, when the nighttime darkness is longer. Of course, the weather is at its most chilly and unpredictable at this time of year, but the snowy and frosty conditions make for fabulous geothermal spa relaxation. For something that will truly blow your mind, consider joining the Icelandic New Year’s festivities! 

And, as we say in Iceland, "there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing". If you need some ideas of good clothing, check out local Icelandic brand 66°North before you travel and visit their shop in Reykjavik after arrival.

Learn more about Iceland's climate or sunrise and sunset times.

TOP THINGS TO SEE

There are countless things to see all around Iceland, including these most popular highlights:

See more attractions by region.

TOP THINGS TO DO

Iceland offers a wide range of activities to suit all tastes, from family-friendly recreation to more adventurous pursuits. Why not try one of these popular activities below?

Food & Culture
Relaxation & Nature
Adventure

Our itineraries are designed to be flexible, allowing you to add optional activities and day tours, either at the time of your booking or on location during your stay. Your dedicated travel consultant will be able to advise you about available activities or you can browse our selection of day tours in Iceland for ideas.

If you would like to include more activities into your holiday, we recommend booking a package that includes more time at each overnight location (e.g. two or more nights at the same accommodation). You can also send a us a request to customize a tour.

POPULAR ITINERARIES

An average stay in Iceland is about 12 days in summer and 5 days in winter, but there is so much you can do in Iceland that you could spend months travelling around and still not cover it all! The capital city, Reykjavik, is a great starting point for any journey or makes a wonderful destination on its own for short breaks and stopovers.

To help you make the most of your time in Iceland, see our helpful itinerary suggestions below. Underneath each suggestion are travel themes that include holidays with similar itineraries.

FROM MAY TO SEPTEMBER 3 – 4 DAYS: Stay in Reykjavik. Join some day tours to the south coast and/or highlands. A visit to the Blue Lagoon and a “Golden Circle” tour is also highly recommended. Other popular activities include snowmobiling, horse riding, whale watching, ATV tours and glacier hikes.
City Break / Relaxation & Spa / Luxury and Lifestyle

5 – 7 days: Start in Reykjavik. Visit the south coast and/or West Iceland, including the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. With 7 days, you can do an express tour around the Ring Road.
Self Drive Tours / Honeymoon / City Break / 4x4 Rental / Relaxation & Spa / Luxury and Lifestyle

8 – 13 days: Start in Reykjavik. Travel around the Ring Road. With 10 days or more, you can also include Snæfellsnes Peninsula or, if travelling by 4x4, a visit to the highland area.
Self Drive Tours / Honeymoon / Family Travel / 4x4 Rentals / Guided Small GroupsLuxury and Lifestyle

14 day – 20 days: Start in Reykjavik. Add the West Fjords to your Ring Road tour, or enjoy more planned activities along your journey. You can also add a trip to Greenland (flight from Reykjavik).
Self Drive Tours / Honeymoon / Family Travel / 4x4 Rentals

20 days+: Start in Reykjavik. Do the Ring Road journey and include detours to more remote areas like Borgarfjörður Eystri, the West Fjords, Snæfellsnes Peninsula or—if travelling by 4x4—the highlands.
Self Drive Tours

FROM OCTOBER TO APRIL
3 - 4 days: Stay in Reykjavik. Join some day tours to the south coast and/or highlands. A visit to the Blue Lagoon and a “Golden Circle” tour is also highly recommended. Many activities offered in summer are also available in winter, and if conditions are right we suggest a northern lights tour.
City Break / Relaxation & Spa / Luxury and Lifestyle

5 - 9 days: Visit the south coast and/or West Iceland, including the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, or fly to Akureyri and go on guided tours in the Lake Myvatn or Eyjafjörður areas. Another good option is to base your stay at a comfortable holiday cottage.
Self Drive Tours / Honeymoon / City Break / Luxury and Lifestyle

10 days+: Start in Reykjavik. Visit the south coast and/or West Iceland, including the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. With at least 10 days, you can drive the Ring Road (though we recommend a 4x4 rental vehicle). Another good option is to base your stay at a comfortable holiday cottage.
Self Drive Tours / Honeymoon / City Break / Luxury and Lifestyle

OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Iceland is already an “off the beaten path” destination on its own, but if you want an experience further from the ordinary then consider including the West Fjords region and/or the highlands as part of your holiday. These are the least-travelled parts of the country, making them ideal for nature lovers and active travellers.

Need help figuring out what to bring for a visit? See our packing tips.

 

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