Planning a Trip to Iceland in April

Planning a trip to Iceland is so much easier when you've been there before. I remember feeling quite overwhelmed when I was planning our first trip in 2013. So much to see, so little time! (Two weeks is not enough time to see everything Iceland has to offer, unfortunately.) Though not being able to afford to rent a 4x4 vehicle did help limit our options a little bit.

Planning for this year's trip in April is a lot easier because we already know what to expect and we know what we want to see and where, how to get there and so on. Well, at least we kind of know what to expect. We've never been to Iceland in April before and googling "Iceland in April" doesn't really yield in anything that can satisfy my curiosity (I tend to trust independent reviews from other travellers more, but here's a summary from a hotel chain), or anything that basically says "go to Iceland in April, it's the best time ever!" which is what I'd really like to hear. ;-)

I did find out that in April there'll be light between 6 in the morning and 9 in the evening, the temperatures will be hovering between 0 to 5 degrees Celsius, and it will be rainy at best. Doesn't sound too bad to me. I think I can handle that! (Full disclosure: I'm Canadian.) Trying to pack light, however, is going to be a big pain in the butt since I will need to pack a bulky winter coat (the wind is brutal in Iceland so, even though it doesn't seem that cold, a good winter coat is still needed to stay warm), which I doubt I will ever need in Paris. But I'll worry about it later.

Why did we decide to go to Iceland in April, you ask? Well, you might have heard that if you fly with Icelandair, you are entitled to a free stopover in Iceland for up to 7 nights. The plan is, we're going to spend a week in Paris first (because I would like to know what the fuss about Paris in the springtime is all about; have you been?), and then we're going to do the one week stopover in Iceland on our way back.

Since it still gets dark at night in April in Iceland, there is a slight chance that we might see the northern lights! I also read that puffins starts to go back to land in April to breed so there is also the slight chance that we might see those funny birds again. Add to that the smaller crowds, the still affordable hotel rooms and the slightly cheaper car rental to the equation and visiting Iceland in April will seem like the best idea ever. ;-)

Of course with the El Niño still in effect, messing up weather pattern everywhere, April could totally be a bust and we could end up being stuck in a late winter storm for days, but I'll take my chances. I've never been one to let the weather hold me back from having a great time while on vacation. The way I see it, crappy weather makes for some interesting vacation photos! Plus, my husband is an excellent driver. We drive through treacherous weather condition pretty much every winter (we live in Canada after all) and he's always brought us home safe.

Since we will only have one week to spend in Iceland this time, we're not going to do the drive around Iceland like we did the last time. We're just going to spend a couple of days in Reykjavik and then rent a car and spend the rest of the week driving as far as Jökulsárlón (the famous glacial lagoon) in Southeast Iceland and back, stopping at some old favourites and some other places of interest we missed on our first visit along the way. I think it's doable.

I'm really looking forward to visiting Iceland for the second time, admittedly more than I'm looking forward to visiting Paris for the first time. But then again, I might fall in love with Paris the way I did Iceland when I get there. You'll never know! April can't come soon enough. Have you been to Iceland in April? Or are you planning to?

17 Comments

  1. Jarek
    February 11, 2016

    We drove around Ice­land as part of the 7-night lay­over around April 28 — May 5 in 2014. We actu­al­ly end­ed up going even into the west­fjords up to Dyn­jandi and Bíl­du­dalur. It’s pos­si­ble but ends up being pret­ty com­pressed and a *lot* of dri­ving, if you don’t have to see whole of Ice­land I would not rec­om­mend.

    Our weath­er was good, even roads in west­fjords were alright (the Öxi pass in the east was an expe­ri­ence, but ulti­mate­ly doable even in a nor­mal two-wheel-dri­ve), but we were almost in May so ear­ly April weath­er might be fair­ly dif­fer­ent.

    We also went in March 2015, we had rel­a­tive­ly decent weath­er but I’ll note what was pass­able in case it helps. Only real­ly use­ful things that come to mind is not­ing that north shore of Snæfell­snes can be a lot snowier than the south side, and any high­er moun­tain pass­es are going to be snowier than val­leys (e.g. the route 48 con­nec­tion between Hvalfjörður and Þingvel­lir was a lot whiter than Hvalfjörður). The road around Hvalfjörður was per­fect­ly pass­able and love­ly in some­what misty, over­cast weath­er.

    I don’t have any­thing super un-obvi­ous to sug­gest vis­it­ing, except for may­be rec­om­men­da­tion to check out Fjall­sár­lón near to Jökul­sár­lón — it’s small­er but much less peo­ple. The road to Fjall­sár­lón was pass­able in nor­mal car in March and has a park­ing lot rel­a­tive­ly close to the lagoon with a nice view. Breiðalón is also in the area but the road was blocked off, might be an alright hike if it’s not windy though we didn’t try.

    A lit­tle east of Skaftafell you can dri­ve up then walk up to Sví­nafell­sjökull which is a rather nice view of an out­let glac­i­er that is a rel­a­tive­ly easy hike. The glac­i­er can be viewed from above from a val­ley side and it looks nice and impres­sive.

    I don’t know if you’ve been, but Sand­holt Bakarí in Reyk­javik is actu­al­ly pret­ty great and open rel­a­tive­ly ear­ly on Sun­days when the rest of Lau­gave­g­ur is dead shut — fun thing to do if you wake up ear­ly.

    Sel­javal­lalaug was very acces­si­ble even in March, though that will prob­a­bly depend on weath­er in last few days before you go. The path to Svar­ti­foss was edgy in parts due to mud from melt­ing snow though with half-decent hik­ing boots it’s not too ter­ri­ble, and we saw some tourists in ten­nis shoes man­age it as well.

    The Dyrhólaey promon­to­ry is open, unlike in parts of May and June (depend­ing on when exact­ly you’ve gone in May). But it tends to be very windy, which makes it espe­cial­ly unfun when it’s rainy. Make sure to check the tides around Dyrhólaey / Reyn­is­f­jara. There is an offi­cial page for check­ing tide times on Veg­agerdin web­site, http://www.vegagerdin.is/vs/ArealDetails.aspx?type=tides&lat=63400&lon=-19000&nohead=false&scope=1&la=en has the Reyn­is­f­jara area pro­grammed in.

    If you’re look­ing for indie points and the weath­er is nice, Valah­núkur in Reyk­janes (near to Reyk­janesvi­ti) is the cliff from the Sig­ur Rós Gló­soli video. If the weath­er is not so nice, it’ll be windy and blow­ing rain and you won’t want to get out of the car at all ;)

    If you’ve not yet booked your accom­mo­da­tion, the hostel in Gaul­ver­jaskóli is a lit­tle out of the Reyk­javik bustle, very nice, with rare-for-Ice­land views of flat fields around :) and ran by love­ly peo­ple.

    Reply
    1. Firda Beka
      February 17, 2016

      We did go to Sand­holt Bakari the last time. Their klein­ur were quite greasy! Also went to Fjall­sár­lón the day after they res­cued the tourists who thought hav­ing a pic­nic on a piece of float­ing ice­berg was a great idea. The road there was fun. Pot­hole-y fun. ;-) Actu­al­ly went to Valah­nukur on our first day. Also pot­hole-y fun and so windy most of the pics I took there were blur­ry.

      Might do the trek to Sel­javal­lalaug again if it’s not too snowy. And I am think­ing of vis­it­ing one of the glac­i­ers. Sví­nafell­sjökull might be a good choice. I am plan­ning to vis­it Reyn­is­f­jara at low tide. Also hop­ing there’ll be a cou­ple of puffins in Dyrho­laey already but not get­ting my hopes up too high. I’m sad to be miss­ing West­fjords again but won’t even try to dri­ve there that ear­ly in the year.

      Have you been to Reykjadalur/the hot spring river near Hver­agerdi in April? Just won­der­ing how acces­si­ble the trail will be. It’ll be a chal­leng­ing hike for me in ide­al con­di­tion, prob­a­bly even more so when the trail is snowy/icy. :-)

      We booked all our accom­mo­da­tions six months in advance when they were still quite cheap (all hotels). I hope none of of them los­es our reser­va­tion or we’re screwed!

      Reply
      1. Jarek
        February 21, 2016

        Haven’t been to Reyk­jadalur at all so can’t com­ment direct­ly about that, sor­ry. But most of the main­stream hik­ing trails else­where were fair­ly good in March, plus a hot spring area might be less snowy, so it might be alright as well? It might be a day-of deci­sion based on recent weath­er, but I would at least have hopes.

        Pot­holes are just nature’s way of beta-test­ing sus­pen­sion! :)

        Good luck and have fun! Post a sum­ma­ry once you’re back!

        Reply
  2. Cerina
    February 27, 2016

    Hi Fir­da,
    I love your blog!! Real­ly well writ­ten and the ones about Ice­land real­ly helped me plan my trip. I will be going the last week of May so I look for­ward to hear­ing about your trav­els! I’m Cana­di­an too so I’m not wor­ried about the cold but I’d like to know what the weath­er will be like when you go so I’ll know what to pack. Also, do you know any­thing about trips to Green­land from Ice­land? I’ve been check­ing it out online and think­ing of going for a few days if the flight is not too expen­sive. You’re going to love Paris too!

    Reply
    1. Firda Beka
      February 28, 2016

      Glad to hear that you found my blog posts about Ice­land use­ful. :-)

      The thing about Ice­land is it’s very, very windy and the wind makes the tem­per­a­ture feels much cold­er than it is. You may not need to pack a bulky win­ter coat in late May but it would be a good idea to pack a coat that’s wind resis­tant and water repelling since it also rains a lot. Just dress in lay­ers and you’ll be fine. Ice­land weath­er can be like four sea­sons in one day and unpre­dictable so it’s bet­ter to be pre­pared for the worst.

      I, too, researched the pos­si­bil­i­ty of vis­it­ing Green­land from Ice­land but found every­thing to be too expen­sive and just a few days there wouldn’t be worth my while. I think Air Ice­land (not Ice­landair) has day tours to Green­land from Reyk­javik but it doesn’t start until June and costs over 1,000 Cana­di­an dol­lars. o_O A bit too much for a day tour.

      Reply
  3. Karilyn
    October 20, 2016

    So did you go in April? How was it? We are look­ing at obscene­ly cheap flights from LA and the lat­est in the sea­son we can get is Mar 28-April 4th…Will it be too hard to dri­ve our­selves? Will we be too lim­it­ed in what we can do.. with a 6 yr old with us? Any chance of north­ern lights?

    Reply
    1. liz
      November 17, 2016

      I can’t speak to the time of year, but we took our almost 6 year olds (at the time) to Ice­land in late May last year and IT WAS AWESOME!!!! what an incred­i­ble place to bring kids. the nature is mag­i­cal and the swim­ming pools are too fun.

      Reply
  4. Amanda
    October 21, 2016

    Fir­da,
    Did you go this past April? Any updates? We are going ear­ly April of 2017, and you are right, i’m hav­ing a hard time find­ing any­thing about “Vis­it­ing Ice­land in April”. We have nev­er been, any advise you can give would be great­ly appre­ci­at­ed. (FYI- we are from Flori­da, the freez­ing temps + the wind is my major con­cern. We don’t even own win­ter jack­ets!) Thanks for your post!!!

    Reply
  5. Leah
    November 21, 2016

    Can we get an update on this? We’re think­ing about a trip in late March/early April of 2017 and would love to hear how yours went!

    Reply
    1. Firda Beka
      November 23, 2016

      I had a can­cer scare just before we were sup­posed to leave so had to can­cel the April trip, unfor­tu­nate­ly. I end­ed up going on a road trip in Scot­land instead for a cou­ple of weeks and then spent a cou­ple of nights in Reyk­javik in Octo­ber on the way back. Sor­ry about that! From what I read, Ice­land in April this year seemed love­ly and there were north­ern lights and all. Not sure if that helps! :-D

      Reply
  6. Juan
    December 26, 2016

    Yeah… real­ly wan­na know what camper­van-ing dur­ing ear­ly april will be like. Have read so many arti­cles on all the advan­tages April camp­ing will be but tri­pad­vi­sor have so many peo­ple advis­ing again­st april camper­van camp­ing. Real­ly con­fus­ing. We are from Sin­ga­pore (super hot and sun­ny) but enjoyed win­ter dri­ving (march) in lofoten last year. Thus we are look­ing at camper­van-ing in ear­ly April 2017. Hope some­one can advise some­how?

    Reply
  7. Mishee
    January 3, 2017

    This blog got me real­ly excit­ed for our April 2017 trip! We’re bring­ing our pre-teen and are look­ing for­ward to Iceland’s scenery. Will the North­ern Lights still be vis­i­ble? Is dri­ving in Ice­land rec­om­mend­ed? Any restau­rant rec­om­men­da­tions? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Firda Beka
      January 9, 2017

      I had to can­cel my April trip due to health prob­lem. North­ern lights are not quite pre­dictable but might be vis­i­ble in ear­ly April, if you’re lucky. :-) If you’re com­fort­able with dri­ving in win­try con­di­tions, by all means, do it! It’s the best way to see Ice­land. I have some rec­om­men­da­tions for cheap eats in Reyk­javik from my Octo­ber stopover here.

      Reply
  8. Rima
    January 9, 2017

    That was insight­ful. I will be going to Ice­land in March for 11 days. I heard its a good time for north­ern light but after book­ing my tick­ets I fig­ured out its not a great time to explore ice­land because of the weath­er. Since you have already done this before you can help me with the itin­er­ary. I have 11 days and I am trav­el­ling solo. I was con­tem­plat­ed to do the ring road but I have nev­er dri­ven a 4 X4 and nev­er dri­ven long dis­tances. The dri­ve till Hofn and Jökul­sár­lón looks doable but I am a lit­tle scared to do the next bit till Lake Myvatn (I dont think there is any­thing great in between except a night stopover). I can also come back to Rejavik from Hofn and take a flight to Akureyri and cov­er the north but will that be real­ly worth thats the ques­tion. Thanks

    Reply
  9. Kenneth Miller
    January 10, 2017

    I would love to talk or email you about our plans.
    our 1st. time, even though I am a trav­el agent.
    Arriv­ing April 11- 19
    Cant wait, very exceit­ed

    Reply
    1. Mishee75
      February 7, 2017

      Hel­lo Ken­neth!
      We’ll be there April 16–23. Hop­ing we will still get to see the north­ern lights:). We’re doing the gold­en cir­cle tour and prob­a­bly will rent a car to get around more freely. I’ve not final­ized our itin­er­ary, but if you would like to make sug­ges­tions please email me at mishee75@yahoo.com

      Reply
  10. Parker
    February 8, 2017

    Thank you for your blog! I hope your can­cer scare is all ok. We’ll be in Ice­land this April and are very excit­ed! We also went last Octo­ber and fell in love with it. Cheap Ice­landair tick­ets make it eas­ier for us to get back there!
    bless­ings~
    Park­er

    Reply

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