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Planning a Trip to Iceland in April

February 10, 2016

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 4×4 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?

10 Comments

  1. 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.

    1. 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!

      1. 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!

  2. 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!

    1. 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.

  3. 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?

    1. 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.

  4. 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!!!

  5. 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!

    1. 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

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