Iceland is a Nordic island nation in Europe, located in the North Atlantic Ocean, between North America and Europe. It is the most sparsely populated country in all of Europe, with only 332,529 residents in an area of 102,775 square kilometers. The volcanically & geologically active island is known for its strange, dramatic landscapes with 130 volcanoes, glowing-blue glaciers, 800 hot springs, moss-covered lava fields, turbulent waterfalls, geysirs, beautiful glacial rivers, endless mountains, fissures, winding fjords, black sand & ice fragment beaches, scattered plane wrecks, colorful craters, incredible turf houses, raging rivers, and deserted highlands. The "Land of Fire & Ice" truly is a photographers paradise, & quite the unforgettable adventure.
Best Time to Visit & Climate Your experience in Iceland, has a lot to do with when you choose to go. The locals say, "If you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes..." and it is 100% accurate!
Shoulder Season (spring): In April & May, the rich green landscapes are much less crowded. You still have a chance to witness the Northern Lights in April, but the chances wither as the daylight hours become longer. During these months, you have around 13-20hrs of daylight. The average high temperature is around 50°F (10°C), and low temperature ranging around 34°F (1°C). Flowers begin blooming, which makes the lupine fields a must-see! The roads to access the Highlands are closed at this time & the Ice Caves have began to collapse. Puffins migrate to Iceland in April.
High Season (summer): June through mid-August, the beautiful landscapes will have many others admiring the same view. You have a slight chance to witness the Northern Lights in late August, but it can still be a rarity due to the lack of darkness. There are 16-20hrs of daylight (24hrs of effective daylight when factoring in the sunrise & sunset), and you can witness the "Midnight Sun"! The average high temperature is around 57°F (14°C), and low temperature ranging around 48°F (9°C). The roads to access the Highlands open in July. No Ice Caves. Puffins are still on the island.
Shoulder Season (autumn): Late August through late October, enjoy the vivid autumn colors & much smaller crowds. The Northern Lights during this season, are visible. There are about 8-15hrs of daylight. The average high temperature is around 45°F (7°C), and low temperature ranging around 32°F (0°C). The roads to access the Highlands may still be open, but will be closing soon. No Ice Caves. Puffins are still on the island until September.
Low Season (winter): The months from November through March, the desolate beauty is perfect, with only seeing a small group here and there. Northern Lights are visible, and these are the darkest months of the year with only 4-5hrs of daylight. The average high temperature is around 36°F (4°C), and low temperature ranging around 28°F (-2°C). The roads to access the Highlands are closed. Ice Caves have formed & are open to explore in mid-November. Puffins are no longer on the island.
I traveled to Iceland at the end of November, early December (winter season) because I had to explore the Ice Caves & wanted to chase the Northern Lights!
The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are electrically charged particles from the sun, entering the earth's magnetic field. When these particles collide with different gases, they produce a colorful light show in the sky. When it comes to witnessing this phenomenon, there are certain things that will improve your chances. In Iceland, you can view the Northern Lights for almost 8 months out of a year (end of August until early April). Keeping an eye on solar activity, weather, travel during a new moon, and distancing yourself from any light pollution are things to keep in mind when planning and chasing the northern lights. Every 11 years, there is a new Solar Cycle. When the cycle is at it's peak, there are more sunspots, meaning more solar flare energy is being released. This increases your chances of witnessing the aurora more often, and the colors will also be much more intense. The color of the Northern Lights depend on what altitude the aurora occurs in the atmosphere, and with what atom the charged particle, collides. Red is due to Atomic Oxygen & occurs at 180km+. Green is due to Molecular Oxygen, occurs between 120-180km, & is the most common color, witnessed. Blue & Purple are due to Molecular Nitrogen & occur below 120km. At times, you can even witness beautiful yellows, pinks, white, and oranges dancing in the sky! When you witness the aurora dancing in the sky, it is something that will live in your heart & mind, forever. Remember, patience is key & look north!
Exploring Iceland The beauty around this island is truly overwhelming. Beyond Reykjavík, is one of my favorite spots, is the Snæfellsnes peninsula. It has some of the most dramatic landscapes in all of Europe. This area of Iceland is absolutely one of my favorites due to its unmatched beauty. It was voted "Best Winter Destination in Europe" by Travel + Leisure Magazine, and "Most Scenic Destination in Europe" by The Luxury Travel Guide. Búðir, Arnarstapi, Hellnar, Kirkjufell/Kirkjufellsfoss are some of my favorite spots along the peninsula! I stayed in the cute town of Stykkishólmur, which definitely ended up being one of my favorite towns in all of Iceland! Along the South Coast, Seljalandsfoss, Lómagnúpur, Skógafoss, Kirkjufjara, Reynisfjara, Skógafoss, Reynisfjall, Reynisdrangar, Vík í Myrdal, and the plane wreckage of the United States Navy Douglas Super DC-3 (former C-117) that crashed in November 1973 along the black sand beach of Sólheimasandur, are some of my favorites! Many of the deserted planes have now been turned into homes! Be sure to not miss out on the Fjallsárlón & Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoons, along with Diamond Beach,Svartifoss in Skaftafell National Park, and Crystal Cave in Vatnajökull National Park! Be prepared for your mind to be blown, with the unreal beauty around this incredible country! There is no doubt in my mind, why this is one of the most traveled countries in the world!