Why Visit Iceland? This island is a nature lover‘s paradise, with an unspoiled and surreal landscape including glaciers, geysers and thousands of waterfalls.
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 surreal landscape that inspires countless artists, writers and photographers. Travellers seeking an adventure won‘t be disappointed, with kilometres 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 continuous 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 Icelanders, a people fiercely proud of their well-preserved language and heritage that stretches back over a thousand years to the Viking Age. (But have no fear—English is widely used here!) From the lively Reykjavik city centre to the rural fishing villages, 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 Iceland Travel Guide.
HOW TO GET TO ICELAND
The main gateway in Iceland is Keflavík International Airport (KEF), about 50 minutes from Reykjavik. Flight times are approximately 3 hours from London and 5 hours from New York City. 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 Iceland Travel Guide.
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 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—at our Iceland Travel Guide.
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!
HIGH SEASON: June, July and August are the busiest months in Iceland, when you can expect the warmest weather, longest daylight hours and best availability of outdoor activities. Many consider June to be the best month as you can enjoy the midnight sun at its peak.
SHOULDER SEASON: May and September are ideal months if you want to avoid crowds and save some money. The temperatures are generally mild—though the weather can be a bit more unpredictable than in summer—and there is a good amount of daylight hours for sightseeing, especially from mid to late May. There is also the possibility of seeing early northern lights in September as night-time darkness returns.
LOW SEASON: This is when prices are at their lowest and you can really enjoy the tranquillity of Iceland, with northern lights tours, winter activities or spa relaxation. New Year’s is also a great time to visit with all the fireworks and festivities. Many consider mid-February to early April as the best time, when the weather is more stable and the daylight hours start to increase.
And, as we say in Iceland, "there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing". If you need some ideas about good clothing choices, check out local Icelandic brand 66°North before you travel and visit their shop in Reykjavik after arrival.
TOP THINGS TO SEE
There are countless things to see all around Iceland, including these most popular highlights:
- Reykjavik, the small yet lively capital city
- The Golden Circle route, including Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir hot springs area and Þingvellir National Park
- Eyjafjallajökull volcano and glacier
- The village of Vík and the interesting rock formations of Dyrhólaey
- Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Vatnajökull glacier
- Landmannalaugar, a geologically unique area in the highlands
- The lunar landscapes of the Lake Mývatn area
- Akureyri, the “Capital of North Iceland”
- The Westfjords and the Látrabjarg cliffs
- Snæfellsjökull glacier and Snæfellsnes National Park
See more attractions by region at our Iceland Travel Guide.
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 and Culture
- Try the fresh fish and free-range lamb at gourmet restaurants in Reykjavik
- Visit some of the many museums, offering everything from Viking history to modern art
- Enjoy Reykjavik nightlife and the diverse music scene and sample some local brews
- Take part in one of the many festive annual events in Reykjavik
Relaxation and Nature
- Soak in the Blue Lagoon or one of the many geothermal pools
- Go on a whale watching tour to see wildlife and great scenery
- Ride an Icelandic horse, a pure breed since the Viking age
- Lace up your boots for a hike through nature, perhaps to a hidden waterfall
- Look up to the sky to see the majestic northern lights (winter only)
- Visit cliffs where millions of puffins and other birds nest each summer
- Explore the vast and uninhabited highlands with a 4x4 super-jeep safari
- Get wet and wild with a white water rafting tour on a glacial river
- Zoom across a glacier on a snowmobile excursion
- Experience a world of blue ice with a guided glacier walk
- See the hidden side of Iceland on a cave exploration tour
- Dive or snorkel between continents at Silfra in Þingvellir National Park
- Hike to a volcano! (Iceland has dozens of these, so finding one is not difficult)
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 customise a tour.
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.
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.
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 Highland Route / Guided Groups / Luxury and Lifestyle
14 day – 20 days: Start in Reykjavik. Add the Westfjords to your Ring Road tour, or enjoy more planned activities along your journey. You can also add a trip to Greenland (flight from Reykjavik).
20 days+: Start in Reykjavik. Do the Ring Road journey and include detours to more remote areas like Borgarfjörður Eystri, the Westfjords, Snæfellsnes Peninsula or—if travelling by 4x4—the highlands.
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.
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
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.
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 Westfjords 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 packing tips at our Iceland Travel Guide.View Travel Guide