Carpe Mundo is excited to become the newest member of Slow Travel Tours. For our first blog post, we want to share some information and photos about one of our favorite and most popular destinations: Iceland.
When is the best time of year to visit Iceland?
Iceland has become one of the most popular destinations for travelers in recent years, and our Iceland tours make up the majority of our tour offerings. One of the most common questions we are asked is “When is the best time of year to visit Iceland?”. The short answer: depends on what you’re looking for!
Our Favorite Times: April, September, October
These are our favorite months to visit because there are fewer visitors than in the peak summer months, the days are still long and provide plenty of daylight to do a wide variety of activities during the day, and there’s a chance of seeing the Northern Lights!
Some people visit Iceland and are disappointed that there isn’t more snow/ice; if you are afraid of this happening, then visit in April when there will definitely be snow on the ground (or on the mountains) in some places. If you want to avoid snow, visit in September before the snow has started to fall again (although you won’t see much snow on the ground or on mountains except for glaciers).
Summer: Lots of daylight, lots of people, lots of money
The summer is the most popular time to visit Iceland, partly due to school holidays and vacations, and partly due to Iceland’s warmer weather and longer days. The high demand means high prices (hotel prices can be as high as 3x the winter low season prices) and crowds at many of the main attractions (with parking being an issue). Airfare and rental cars cost more as well, and if you don’t plan your trip far in advance you will have limited choices when it comes to hotels and excursions.
Some summer advantages: this is the only time when you can see puffins (from May to August), it’s one of the best times to go whale watching (especially June & July), there are a lot more hiking opportunities- including the chance to complete the Laugavegur Trek, selected by National Geographic as one of the top hikes in the world. Experiencing the midnight sun can be a lot of fun, and if you’re up to it you can visit a lot of sights without the crowds late at night when everyone else is sleeping (midnight golf anyone?!).
Winter: Less daylight, less people, less money
Winters in Iceland can be… rough. Near the winter solstice (December 21st), depending on which part of Iceland you’re in, the sun only appears above the horizon for 3-4 hours a day. Some towns that are located in fjords will go for months without actually seeing the sun (although it does get light outside).
However, there are significantly fewer tourists in winter and prices are a lot more reasonable (especially from November to February).
This is also a great time to see the Northern Lights- you can generally see them from September to April, with October-March being the most popular times. However, visiting during this time of year does not guarantee a sighting- the skies have to be clear and dark, and there has to be solar activity.
Keep in mind that some restaurants are closed in the winter. It is a better time to see reindeer, and spring is when you have the best chances of seeing orca. If you are thinking about doing a self drive tour, we definitely recommend a 4×4 as roads can be icy and it is not uncommon to see cars stuck in snow after sliding off the road.
For a small country Iceland has some pretty big celebrations! Christmas and New Years draw quite a few visitors- with stories of yule lads, mulled wine and Christmas beers, and festively decorated streets, it can be an enchanting time to visit.
New Years is a big deal in Iceland- it’s estimated that 500-700 tons of fireworks are set off in Reykjavik- an impressive number for a city of ~220,000 (London and Sydney set off around 8-9 tons for their official New Years displays, as a point of comparison). In addition to fireworks, Reykjavik has several huge bonfires throughout the city that are great spots to socialize and celebrate with friends.
In the summertime, there are several music festivals throughout the country. Secret Solstice is one of the most famous festivals with a selection of Icelandic and international artists. There are also opportunities to listen to artists perform inside a glacial ice cave and inside of a 5,000 year old lava tunnel- definitely a unique experience!
We’re offering hiking and highlights tours in Iceland in 2019. Click here to learn more about Carpe Mundo’s tours in Iceland.
|Mero Geesey started guiding tours in college with his university’s Travel and Recreation Program. He loves creating and enabling experiences for others, and this is what led him to start Carpe Mundo. |
Carpe Mundo (“Seize the World”) takes the “Carpe Diem” (Seize the Day) mentality and applies it to travel, encouraging people to live life to the fullest through small group travel. They offer biking, hiking, highlights or self-driving tours,
Iceland and Croatia are two of Carpe Mundo’s most popular destinations; Mero also leads tours in Switzerland, Italy, and Germany. To learn more about their tours, see www.carpemundo.com
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.