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Best Time to Take an Iceland Cruise

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June, July, August, and September are the best months to take a cruise in Iceland. June starts the extended days of summer daylight where whale watching is in full effect, and the lingering clear nights of fall begin in September when spectacular sightings of the Northern Lights often occur.

Although Iceland is a year-round destination, the summer weather makes it the time of year that cruises have many different itineraries in the region. For fewer crowds, both spring and fall give way to adventures on the water exploring the glaciers, fjords, national parks, and small villages of the island. 

A sow leads her cubs across the ice
A sow leads her cubs across the ice (David Gomez)

Iceland Climate

The weather in Iceland is not as frigid as one might expect, although it can vary depending on where you go. In general, the south of Iceland is warmer, but it's also windier and rainier than the north. Northern regions see more snowfall, while the Central Highlands experience the coldest weather.

When it comes to natural wonders, Iceland has a lot to offer, regardless of how unpredictable the weather and seasons might be. Iceland's natural beauty may be enjoyed throughout the year. The summer solstice and the lovely winter northern lights will be stunning. Between spring and autumn, there are a plethora of activities.
 
Puffins on the Latrabjarg Cliffs
Puffins on the Latrabjarg Cliffs (Monika Sundem)

Iceland in June: Weather and Wildlife

Iceland’s average temperature in June is just below 50 F. The month has the least amount of rain and is the time of the midnight sun. From the 16th to the 29th, the sun sets after midnight and the 21st of the month is the longest day of the year with only a few hours of darkness.

Reykjavik weather in June is the ideal camping and hiking climate, with the majority of trails open, including the Laugavegur trek. During this time, the currents of the sea create ideal conditions for a thriving underwater ecosystem which brings 23 species of whales to the waters including orcas, humpbacks, minke whales, and blue whales. Around 60% of Atlantic Puffins live on the shores of the islands surrounding Iceland during the summer, and June is one of the earliest months to see them.
 
Whale sighting in Polar waters!
Whale sighting in Polar waters!

Iceland in July: Activities and Adventure

July in Iceland is an ideal time when the elements of good weather, prolonged daylight hours, and active wildlife converge. At sea, whale watching while relaxing on the deck in the late hours of the evening is a unique experience. On land, discover colonies of terns and puffins, trek to waterfalls close to traditional fishing villages, and wander the streets of towns near isolated fjords for fun-filled days.

Iceland in August: The Last Days of the Midnight Sun

Iceland temperature in August is often the warmest month. Temperatures average about 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit, the skies are still clear, and by the end of the month, dark nights begin again. It’s a shoulder season where the wildlife is active and weekend festivals take place in the cities and villages of the island. This is the time to see whales before they migrate south for the winter to places as far off as the Galapagos Islands, and look for puffins before they head out to sea.

Enjoy northern lights on an Arctic cruise
Enjoy northern lights on an Arctic cruise

Iceland in September: Start of Northern Lights Season

September in Iceland is considered the best of all worlds. The temperature is slightly lower than in the previous months but the crowds thin as the school year begins. Whales are often still spotted and clear nights make it the start of the Northern Lights season.

The Northern Lights, the weather, and the wildlife in Iceland during September are by nature unpredictable. The ideal conditions to see aurora borealis combine clear night skies with celestial activity. The Icelandic Meteorological Office publishes an online forecast that gives up-to-date info about cloud cover and the chance of seeing the lights in person.

Best Time of Year for Northern Lights in Iceland

Iceland is a magnificent place to view the aurora borealis, or northern lights. Although these amazing dancing lights can be seen in other parts of the world, their light show is amplified by Iceland's crisp, dark winters and unpolluted night sky. A cruise might be less likely in winter, however Northern Lights tours at land do exist. The Northern Lights come out between the months of September and April, but they really start to wow in February and March. 

Take a soak in the Blue Lagoon waters
Take a soak in the Blue Lagoon waters (Monika Sundem)


Best Time to Visit Blue Lagoon

The waters of the lagoon remain at 100° degrees year-round, but if you’re looking to avoid crowds, winter is your best bet. During the holiday period, however, popularity picks up with travelers who visit for relaxing in the geothermal spa waters and to see the Northern Lights. For a summer adventure, go in late August or early September as it is after peak season but typically has long days and warm weather.

There are many popular Iceland cruise options to suit a variety of interests. For example, some Iceland cruises offer whale watching and northern lights tour excursions that split time on land and by sea for the best opportunity to see both whales and the magic of aurora borealis. Join a circumnavigation cruise of Iceland for a diverse experience that combines nature, history, and culture. For details about planning an Iceland trip around specific months, contact one of our Trip Planners.
 

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