Climate of Iceland

Climate of Iceland

Where is the country of Iceland located? Iceland is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic Ocean. Iceland, with its name and location, gives the impression that it is always freezing cold. Given its fairly northern location, it is not that bad when it comes to cold and ice. Iceland lies with the northernmost part almost against the Arctic Circle and has a cold maritime climate (type Cfc according to the climate system), changing into a tundra climate (type ET). The winters are on the cool side and the summers are also quite cold. Striking for Iceland is the often quite rough weather, which fits with the also rugged landscape of the island. The many depressions that are driven across Iceland at a fast train pace often cause bleak weather conditions of rain (or snow) in combination with strong winds. Especially the sometimes strong gusts of wind in combination with cold rain or snow can make it unpleasant on the plains and in the streets of Iceland. The water here doesn’t just fall from the sky. The island, where there is a lot of volcanic activity, also has water that is sprayed into the air by geysers. This spouting warm water is a phenomenon that contributes to the natural beauty of the island.

Influence of the Atlantic Ocean

Iceland benefits from the warm seawater that is brought in from the south via the Atlantic Gulf Stream. This relatively warm seawater ensures that Iceland is not ravaged by extreme cold in winter, as is often the case in countries at the same latitude. However, the Atlantic Ocean also supplies depressions with moist air from the southwest and west. Remnants of hurricanes that hit the Caribbean and the US in the fall. have attacked, come as a considerable low pressure area over or close to Iceland, but in a considerably weakened form. However, rain and especially wind can still cause quite a bit of inclement weather that suits the rough landscape of Iceland.

Cool summers

The summers in Iceland do not lend themselves to a sun and beach holiday. The best place to put on your swimsuit or bikini is at hot springs, which ensure that the natural pools have a very pleasant temperature. The average afternoon temperature in the summer months is around 10 to 14 degrees Celsius. In the higher areas, such as the southwest (Vatnajökull), the temperature in summer barely rises above freezing. Here you will also find glaciers and glacial lakes.

Mild winters

Grey, quite wet and relatively mild – that’s the best way to describe winters in Iceland. The fact that December and January only have an average of 4 to 5 hours of daylight per day, making it a very gloomy period. Under the influence of the warm sea water, it is certainly not really cold in the southwest and along the south coast, although periods with strong winters can also occur here. In the south, the average 24-hour temperature in the winter period (December to February) is just below freezing. In the north it is several degrees below zero. Average daily temperatures between minus ten and minus fifteen degrees are measured on the glaciers and the temperature can even drop to really low values ​​of around minus 30 degrees Celsius during cold nights with clear skies.


The precipitation amounts in Iceland are between seven hundred and eighteen hundred millimeters per year. The north is the driest and the south the wettest, which can be explained by the supply of the many depressions from the south and southwest. The west is fairly dry by Icelandic standards. Here, between 800 and 950 millimeters of precipitation is recorded annually.

Climate figures

The figures below are based on long-term average climate statistics. The temperatures are displayed in degrees Celsius (°C).

Maximum temperature Minimum temperature Hours of sunshine per day Days of rainfall per month Water temperature
January -1℃ -7℃ 1 16 3℃
February -1℃ -5℃ 2 14 2℃
March 1℃ -3℃ 3 17 2℃
April 4℃ -2℃ 4 18 2℃
May 8℃ 2℃ 6 16 3℃
June 10℃ 5℃ 6 15 5℃
July 12℃ 7℃ 6 16 7℃
August 11℃ 6℃ 5 17 8℃
September 8℃ 3℃ 4 18 7℃
October 4℃ -1℃ 2 20 5℃
November 1℃ -3℃ 1 18 4℃
December -1℃ -6℃ 0 19 3℃

Best time to visit Iceland

Do you want to know when is the best time to travel to Iceland? You can determine the best time to travel to a destination based on the weather and climate. In addition, there are other factors that are not directly related to the weather and that can influence the best travel periods for a travel destination. Think, for example, of holidays or festive periods, which makes traveling more interesting or not, because daily life comes to a standstill as a result. When you think of Iceland, you will quickly think that it is always icy and cold. Especially when you see that this country lies against the Arctic Circle. This assumption is partly correct. In the winter it is mainly cool, there is regular snow and you can therefore speak of serious winter conditions. However, there is a ‘but’ and that is that it is less cold than you might think. Since Iceland is surrounded by relatively warm ocean water, the cold is tempered. This also applies to the summer. Then the water has a cooling effect, because the water temperatures are relatively low.

Best Months for Iceland

The least cool period is the best time to visit Iceland. In this case, that is during the summer that lasts from June to August. Do not expect any summer weather during this period. Only in exceptional cases does the thermometer reach 25 degrees once. Normal afternoon temperatures in Iceland in summer are between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius. The minimum temperatures during an Icelandic summer are between 3 and 10 degrees. What you mainly benefit from is the enormous length of the day. At the end of June it is midsummer night. The night of June 21 (in a leap year June 20) the sun in the Arctic no longer sets. This also applies to the far north of Iceland. In the rest of the country, the sun does set for a few hours, but stays so close to the equator that it doesn’t get dark. This phenomenon is also known as ‘white nights’. White nights occur in Iceland from about May 20 to about July 23. It ensures that you have very long days at your disposal to travel, do things and enjoy the beautiful sights.


It does not matter in which month you travel to Iceland: you always have a chance of precipitation. In the summer it is rain and in the winter it is almost always snow or sleet. In the spring there is a high chance of sleet or snow, especially in the north and inland. As the autumn progresses, the chance of winter precipitation increases. The south of Iceland is wetter than the northern side. Count on about 800 millimeters of annual precipitation in the capital Reykjavik and no less than 2400 millimeters in the southernmost place Vík Myrdal. The precipitation does little to detract from the experience. Winter precipitation can have an impact on traveling around, because the roads are then less passable.

See the Northern Lights

A beautiful natural phenomenon that you can see in Iceland is the northern lights (aurora borealis). This magical light phenomenon is manifested by solar winds, which hurl electrically charged particles into the universe. To see the aurora well you need darkness. During the high season (June to August), the chances of seeing the Northern Lights are nil. It is better to travel to Iceland in winter if you want to see the aurora with your own eyes. The months of December and January are the best in terms of darkness. The nights unfortunately last so long that there is hardly time during the day to see or do other things. We would therefore opt for October, November, February or March if the aurora is an important element during your holiday in Iceland.