Spring in Iceland

ViaHero · May 17, 2018

Springtime in Iceland: when the country beings to emerge from its snowy hibernation. Life in all forms - from wildlife to tourists - returns to the island, ready to soak up all that Iceland has to offer. Once you give the article a read feel free to message us with any questions you have about experiencing Iceland's most magical season.

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Why visit Iceland in spring?

Every season in Iceland has something unique to it, and spring is no exception.  There are many benefits of visiting this time of year.  Logistically, the island is much less crowded, and accommodations and cars are both easier, and cheaper to book.

This time of year is captivating.  As the ice begins to melt and color returns to the valleys, more activities are available - road trips are safer and more accessible, migrating birds return to the island, and more hiking trails are open.

Being at the tail end of winter actually, has many benefits. The days get longer and sunnier, but the mountain peaks are still covered with snow. Additionally, many winter activities are still available in the early part of spring.

spring iceland mountains landscape

When is spring in Iceland?

There is more than one answer to this question.  Technically, springtime in the Northern Hemisphere begins March 20th and ends June 21st, but Iceland has its own way of deciding when spring begins.

Traditionally, Icelanders considering the beginning of spring to be whenever the first Golden Plover, a seasonal bird, is spotted on the island. This typically happens sometime in March.  However, this would make the season incredibly short,  as the country celebrates the “First Day of Summer” on the first Thursday after April 18th - a tradition from the Old Norse calendar.

It might be best to say springtime in Iceland is when the weather is warmer, but not too sunny. More museums and hotels are open, but roads in the central highlands are still closed. Fewer tourists are around, but more and more arrive as the weeks go on.

Things to do in Iceland in Spring

Year round, the highlight of Iceland is its natural beauty, and spring is no exception.  

  • Hiking—Hiking is very popular in Iceland in spring as weather gets nicer, and daylight lasts longer. However, it is important to plan your hike diligently before heading out.  Melting ice means frequent rock falls, and weather is still very unpredictable. A local can take into account recent weather conditions and your location, and suggest a suitable hike. 
  • Lounging in hot springs—check out our guide to everything you need to know about hot springs in Iceland
  • Horseback riding: More daylight allows for longer horseback rides. 
  • Driving tours: Although the roads in the central highlands of Iceland don't open until mid-summer, general road conditions are much safer in the spring, especially for extended road trips.  The Iceland road website gives up to date information on road conditions. A local can help you find a fair deal on a safe rental car. 
  • Golfing—although Icelanders are known for golfing in the snow with bright orange balls, more daylight makes golfing a popular springtime activity. Surprisingly, this tiny island has 65 golf courses! Golf Advisor provides a list of all the courses on the island. 
  • Skiing—skiing comes in many forms in Iceland, including traditional, back country, cross-country and heli-skiing. For those looking for traditional slopes, the ski season in the north lasts from November to May. The slopes are still bustling in spring, but with the benefit of more light. Ski Iceland provides updates on the 5 northern resorts, and pass information. 
  • Northern Light spotting—the Northern Lights are visible in Iceland until April. Our digital guide will give you all the information you need to spot the lights in Iceland.
  • Bird watching—as the island comes alive again, nature invades, including migrating birds from around the world. There are many spots around the island to bird watch. Guide to Iceland provides more information on puffin spotting, a popular activity for visitors. 
  • Snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure—Iceland is the only place in the world where it is possible to snorkel between continental plates. Though the water is never warm, and always requires a drysuit, the warmer weather in spring makes the experience more bearable. Dive Iceland runs the tours, and more information can be found online. 

As always, activities like caving, snowmobiling, glacier walks, and relaxing at pubs are popular in Iceland in the Spring.  

spring iceland mountains 

Average temperature during spring in Iceland

Year round, weather in Iceland is unpredictable.  No matter the time of year, it is best to err on the side of cold and rainy, as temperatures rarely rise above 60°F (16°C). Earlier in spring, temperatures are cold, with average temperatures in March around 30 to 35° F(-1°C to 2°C).  Later in the season, days are warmer and dryer, with highs reaching 50°F (10°C). 

What to pack for Iceland in spring:

As always, it is important to pack layers and be prepared for anything when visiting Iceland. This means:

  • Long underwear
  • Thick sweaters
  • Sweaters
  • Jackets
  • Waterproof shell
  • Thick socks
  • Hiking boots
  • Hat/Gloves/Scarf

A bathing suit and towel and necessary for the abundance of hot springs around the Island (if you don't want to pay to rent them). Additionally, Iceland is a fashion forward country, and locals do not wear their hiking gear to bars and restaurants. 

Going to Iceland soon?  Check out our guides for Iceland in April, May, and June.

Have more questions about hot springs in Iceland? Here is a list of local Iceland Travel Experts who can help you or you can message us any questions you have. And before your trip, make sure to check out: