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 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?

5 thoughts on “Planning a Trip to Iceland in April

  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.

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