Planning a Trip to Iceland in April

Iceland in April

We’re going to Iceland in April! This will be our second trip to Iceland. The trip-planning has been so much easier than the first time around for sure. I remember feeling quite overwhelmed when I was planning our first trip in 2013. So much to see, so little time! (You can’t see everything Iceland has to offer in just two weeks, unfortunately.) Though not being able to afford to rent a 4×4 vehicle did help simplify our plans a little bit.

Having been to Iceland before, we already know what to expect and what we want to see, where to go, 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” didn’t really bring any results that could satisfy my curiosity or that basically said “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 daylight between 6 in the morning and 9 in the evening (13 hours of daylight at the beginning of the month and 16 by the end), the temperature will be hovering between 0 to 5° Celsius (32-41° F), and the weather could be either snowy or rainy, depending on our luck. Doesn’t sound too bad to me. I think I can handle that! (Full disclosure: I’m Canadian and used to cold, wintry weather.) Trying to pack light, however, is going to be a big pain in the butt since I will need to pack my bulky winter coat (the wind is brutal in Iceland; it may not seem that cold, but trust me, packing a good winter coat is always a good idea), which I doubt I will ever need in Paris. But I’ll worry about it later.

Oh, did I say Paris? 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. Our plan is to spend a week in Paris, France 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 start 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 you too will think that visiting Iceland in April is the best idea ever. ;-)

Of course with the climate change in progress, messing up weather patterns 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 exciting photo opportunities! Plus, my husband is an excellent driver. We drive through treacherous weather condition pretty much every winter (we live in rural 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.

What I’m Packing

After putting a little more thought into my packing list, I think if I just wear my winter coat over what I’m planning to wear in Paris (sweaters/cardigans over long-sleeve tops) and wear fleece-lined leggings under my pants, I’ll survive Iceland just fine. Need to make sure my hiking boots are still waterproof, though I’m considering getting an insulated pair, just for the trip. My ideal pair of hiking boots would be mid-top ones that are insulated/winterproof, waterproof, and have good tractions. I like mid-tops because I need ankle-support. My ankles are not exactly the strongest parts of my body. Plus, with a mid-top, you get less chance of getting your feet wet when crossing a stream, or when walking on a beach and a sneaker wave hits you.

Of course I’ll also have to pack an insulated winter hat (we call them toques around here) and gloves, a scarf, and some merino wool socks to keep me warm. Oh, Iceland will be surprised to see how ready I am for whatever weather it’s planning to throw at me. :-)

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?

39 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
    1. Jenny
      June 13, 2017

      Amanda, hello! I am planning a trip to Iceland early April 2018. I’d love any feedback you have from your trip (if you ended up going in April). Thanks!

      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
    2. Jenny
      June 13, 2017

      Leah, did you end up going to Iceland in April? I am planning a trip for the first week of April 2018 and am looking for feedback..

      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
    2. Jenny
      June 13, 2017

      Kenneth, I’d love insight regarding your trip this past April. I am planning a trip for the first week of April in 2018.

      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
  11. Kristin
    February 28, 2017

    I’m excited to have found your blog, Firda! We are traveling to Iceland from April 7-13 and cannot wait. I’m struggling a bit with how much winter wear to pack for us and the kids (ages 13, 12, 9) – we have a variety but I don’t want to haul ALL of it with us. We will be starting in Reykjavik and then going as far as Jokulsarlon & back. The trip is pretty well planned out but if anyone has recent info about how this winter has been there, that would be very helpful!

    Reply
    1. Firda Beka
      February 28, 2017

      Iceland’s weather is pretty unpredictable. For April, dress in layers, bring well-insulated jackets, hats and gloves, wear waterproof boots with good traction, and you should be good to go!

      Reply
  12. Joe
    March 29, 2017

    Great article and great follow up comments. My wife and I are both headed to Iceland this April and had also found very little info on Iceland in April. Sorry to hear about your health scare that is never a fun thing, hope all is well. I read all the comments and everyone was so helpful with places to go and see. see ya’ll in Iceland 2017! Thanks for your post, as bloggers ourselves it’s great when you can read great articles you haven’t covered yourself.

    Reply
    1. Firda Beka
      March 29, 2017

      Glad you found this post helpful! Enjoy Iceland! It’s an amazing place! :-)

      Reply
      1. Joe
        March 29, 2017

        Can’t wait, thank you.

        Reply
    2. Jenny
      June 13, 2017

      Joe, I am planning a trip for early April next year. Any insight you can provide from your trip would be helpful!

      Reply
  13. Darshana
    August 13, 2017

    Hello,
    We are also planning a trip to Iceland late March-Early April (Spring break here in NYC) for about 9 days.
    What to expect during this weather? We have a 6 and 8 year old. Really hoping to catch Northern Lights.
    There is not much information online. So I am hopeful someone can help us navigate how to plan our trip with kids with 9 days.

    Reply
    1. Firda Beka
      August 13, 2017

      Relatives of mine went to Iceland for March break this year. They only made it as far as Vik in South Iceland due to bad winter weather. They didn’t catch the northern lights because, once again, bad weather. March weather is still winter weather in Iceland and it’s unpredictable at best (well, it’s unpredictable year-round but more so in the winter). It’s not all bad news, though. Unpredictable weather also means you could enjoy good weather some days/nights and be lucky enough to see the northern lights! I’d suggest spending your 9 days touring the South and West parts of Iceland as well as Reykjavik, where the winter weather tends to be milder than the rest of Iceland.

      Reply
      1. Darshana
        August 14, 2017

        Thank you! We are still debating whether to go in March/April or move to summer time in July. Since Northern Lights aren’t guaranteed for April… and it’ll be our first trip with kids, may be Summer in Iceland would be easier to drive and access. Thoughts?

        Reply
        1. Firda Beka
          August 15, 2017

          You won’t get to see the Northern Lights in July but the weather will likely be much friendlier than in March or April. The only downside is it’s the high season so everything will be extra expensive and all the major attractions will be packed with tourists. Now, I’ve never been to Iceland in September (would love to, though) but I think it will be an ideal time to visit because you’ll get the best of both worlds. It’s shoulder season so prices have dropped, most of the bulk of tourists are gone, days are still relatively long, the weather relatively mild, and the Northern Light season has started. Something to consider. :-)

          Reply
          1. Darshana
            August 15, 2017

            Hmm.. that sounds ideal. We will have to pull kids out of school though. May be a better option than Spring and Summer. Thanks for your feedback. This is great.

  14. Rima
    August 15, 2017

    Hi Darshana,
    I did a solo trip to Iceland this year in March(10-22) . Drove the complete ring road in 12 days. Luckily I got great weather but when I was leaving south there were storm warnings for South coast. But I feel its normal. There can be storms at any part of the year. The cold also was quite bearish and roads were great. I did get to see lights but not in its full glory. On last day of my trip right outside the airport I saw lights and they were dancing too. I feel you should do South upto Hofn and West Iceland. You have enough buffer days to accomodate bad weather if you just stick to south and west. October is good season too.

    Reply
  15. Nicola
    September 20, 2017

    I love this blog. I have just booked a trip for beginning of April 2018 with my husband and two pre-teens and we are super excited. Cold, rain etc doesn’t bother any of us. Just wondered if you noticed if any whale watching trips were running in April? We have been wanting to go for a very long time

    Reply
    1. Firda Beka
      September 20, 2017

      Hi Nicola! Thanks for visiting my blog. Glad to hear you like it. :-) The whalewatching tour in Reykjavik seems to run all year: https://elding.is/tours?type=whalewatching You’re going to love Iceland! Happy trip-planning!

      Reply
  16. Erin Bond
    November 27, 2017

    What I great blog with alot of information! I’m going end of April 2018 to Iceland by myself. If anyone would like to join me on a adventure for a day or two that would be great. Always looking for new friends to join on some backpacking adventure fun! I actually have a few more ideas in mind now. Thanks so much for posting!

    Reply
  17. Megan Crigler
    January 29, 2018

    Hello!

    Also planning a trip end of March / early April. My main question is should we drive, or do guided tours? Been reading a lot that the weather is all over the place, and want to make sure if we drove we would be safe.

    If anyone has anything to share – must see places, places you would spend more time, please let me know!

    Reply
    1. Firda Beka
      January 29, 2018

      To be safe, if you want to drive at that time of year, rent a heavier car like a SUV equipped with winter tires (campervans in the winter is not a good idea as they can easily be blown off the road by the wind — Icelandic wind is notoriously strong!). Always check the weather forecast (http://en.vedur.is) and for road closures (http://road.is) before heading out for the day. Make sure you have a Plan B in case your Plan A doesn’t work out due to bad weather. Iceland is best explored by car, but if you are not used to or don’t feel comfortable driving in wintry condition, guided tours might be a better option. Snaefellsnes peninsula in West Iceland is amazing and not as packed with tourists as the South. Don’t miss it! You want to spend at least two days there. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  18. Mike
    March 25, 2018

    Thanks fo the info. I have been thinking about renting a car for my visit this year but am unsure. It is not weather (I live in upstate NY and the toads in Iceland out tame compared to what we drive in. My problem is the dam traffic circles and the way they enter. I just cannot handle them! I am traveling alone this year in April as I made the mistake of only brining one child the last time. Any suggestions out side of the circle, glaciers, waterfall things? I live in the woods :) I kind wondered where I could meet some working blokes like myself or maybe go to church? Great blog btw

    Reply
    1. Firda Beka
      March 25, 2018

      If you were to go there in the warmer months, or even in the fall, I would recommend the West and East fjords. Unfortunately in April, those places would still be snowy, some roads would still be closed, and there’s even risk of avalanches. And the thing about Iceland is it’s very windy. Even if you’re used to driving in snowy weather, the strong wind can do all sorts of crazy and unexpected things to your drive. Perhaps you want to try staying at a working farm for the experience?

      https://www.heyiceland.is/day-tours/detail/1202/farmer-for-a-day-1-night-stora-asgeirsa
      https://www.heyiceland.is/tours/detail/1070/living-on-a-horse-farm
      https://www.heyiceland.is/tours/detail/1003/farm-experience

      This might help you meet other working blokes (in this case, farmers). ☺

      Reply

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