Iceland Travel

Planning a Trip to Iceland in April

Iceland in April

We’re currently planning another trip to Iceland in April. Planning a trip to Iceland or anywhere 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 barely 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 to Iceland in April has been 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” didn’t really yield in anything that satisfied my curiosity (I tend to trust independent reviews from other travellers more, but here’s a summary from a hotel chain), 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 we’ll have dayight 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.

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 visiting Iceland in April will seem like the best idea ever. ;-)

Of course with the El Niño still in effect, 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 the 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 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.

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?

35 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.

  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!!!

    1. 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!

  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

    2. 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..

  6. 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?

  7. 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!

    1. 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.

  8. 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

    1. 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

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

  9. 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

  10. 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!

    1. 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!

  11. 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.

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

  12. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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?

        1. 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. :-)

          1. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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!

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