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Everything about Iceland time

Understand the Iceland time and what time is the best for you to visit Iceland

Iceland time is not all cut and dried like most countries. Over here, we have summer months with absolutely no nights, so you can’t even tell when it’s nighttime without a clock.

The opposite is the case in winter when we have very long nights with all-enveloping darkness. However, in Iceland, you can live, work, and play when you understand it’s time. This doesn’t negate the fact that Iceland’s time could be strange, especially when trying to recognize spring and autumn.

There is only the darkness in mid-winter with some parts of Iceland, seeing about four hours of daylight and the warm glow of summer. In remote Icelandic fjords, the sun can go hiding for as long as five months in winter.

Iceland is an exciting country with its summer and winter solstice. In the summer solstice, the longest day of the year falls around June 21st, and we call this the Midnight Sun. on this day, there are twenty-four hours of daylight, meaning that the sun never sets.

Directly opposite this is the winter solstice where the shortest day of the year falls around December 21st. Lying right between these two extremes is the twilight zone, which is ever-changing despite being reminiscent of common light patterns around the world.

However, to fully understand Iceland’s time, we have to start from the beginning.

iceland calendar

The Old Icelandic Calendar

Hundreds of years ago, the human race relied on the moon, sun, and stars to navigate through their daily lives. Time plays an essential factor in all our human endeavors, and the Old Icelandic Calendar was what the ancient Icelanders relied on to tell time.

This calendar was based on the movements of the sky with the winter equinox signifying summer. Spring and autumn don’t exactly exist in Iceland as it is perpetually winter or summer. However, this may have close ties with the fact that the old Norse calendar has six lunar phases split into two seasons. Here is how it went:

Harpa, Skerpla, Solmanudr May-July
Heyannir, Tvimanudr and Haustmanudr August-October
Gormanudr, Ylir, Morsungr November-January
Thorri, Goa and Einmanudr February-April

The days of the week were known as the following:


Sunnudagr
(Sunday which means “Sun’s Day”)

Manadagr (Monday which means “Moon’s Day”)

Tysdagr (Tuesday which means “Tyr’s Day”)

Odinsdagr (Wednesday which means “Odin’s Day”)

Thorsdagr (Thursday which means “Thor’s Day”)

Frjadagr (Friday which means “Freya’s Day”)

Laugardagr (Saturday which means “Bath Day”)

South Coast tour with glacier hike and Viking dinner
Golden Circle with Secret Lagoon
Northern Lights tour

The ancient Icelanders were only able to observe 360 days in a year because each month had 30 days. However, they were able to synchronize this with the solar year by adding an extra week every 7 years. They called this the “sumarauki,” which translates to the “the summer addition.”

Therefore, rather than the addition of a day we are familiar with in a leap year, the Icelandic calendar had leap weeks, and this can be traced to the ingenuity of Thorsteinn surtur. He invented the summer addition. It is widely believed that the first day of the early summer month signifies the Viking new year.

We attribute this to the settlers who used the number of winters they had lived through to measure their ages. This method is still used by Icelandic farmers today when they refer to their livestock.

In fact, the first day of summer, which usually falls on the first Thursday after April 18th, is a public celebration in Iceland.

The Ancient Icelanders also used tools, such as The Sunstone (Solarsteinn), to help in the accuracy of their timekeeping efforts. This tool is a crystalline mineral used to locate the sun on an overcast day. To make it work, you would have to hold it towards the sky, study its reflection in the light, and ready how the light passes through it.

Although there is no thorough documentation of the attributes of The Sunstone, it is safe to say that it was accurate as the ancient Icelanders were able to predict and understand seasonal changes effectively. Lots of scientists believe that this sunstone was actually a transparent type of calcite known as the Icelandic Spar.

The Midnight Sun

In Iceland, there is a natural phenomenon that takes place in every region south of the Antarctic Circle and north of the Arctic Circle in summer. This is known as the midnight sun. So, when it’s summer, these areas have whopping 24-hour sunlight consecutively. Even at its lowest point during the day, the sun can still be seen from the Arctic Circle hanging above the horizon.

Cities that are close to the North or South pole have longer days of the Midnight Sun. With fair weather around the summer solstice that falls on the December 22nd in the Southern Hemisphere and June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere comes the sun, which is visible for the entire day.

For now, there is no permanent human settlement in Antarctica. Therefore, only countries crossed by the Arctic Circle like Russia, Greenland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland experience the midnight sun.

What really causes this?  The earth takes 365 days for a complete orbit around the sun while simultaneously rotating on its own axis to create a day. The trajectories from the orbiting and rotation on its axis form an angle that results in the four seasons, midnight sun and polar nights.

This simply means that if you live farther north, you will see the sun staying above the horizon more. You can see a classic example in the South Pole and the North Pole. Both alternate between six months of polar night and six months of the midnight sun. If your visit to Iceland means that you get to stay within the arctic circle in summer or from March to September, you will always see the sun above the horizon.

You can see the sun just above you as it rolls around in circles, going higher and higher until June 21st, the day of the Summer Solstice, where it reaches its highest circuit. However, as the sun is not on a fixed point, the atmospheric refractions of sunlight allow the midnight sun to be experienced slightly north of the Antarctic Circle or south of the Arctic circle. In northern parts of Iceland that are as far as 90km from the polar circle, you can still see the midnight sun. On the southernmost side of Iceland are the Westman Islands that are affected by the midnight sun to a lesser degree. No matter what, witnessing the incredible midnight sun is a spectacular experience, and you can be part of it when you head over to Iceland in summer.

Here are some tips to help you make the best out of it.

Sunset in Iceland by the Blue Lagoon

Experiencing the Midnight Sun

No doubt, visiting Iceland to witness the Midnight Sun is quite enchanting and one of the best times to visit the land of fire and ice. You get to have a literally endless day with temperatures warm enough to dress light and enjoy some fantastic outdoor activities.

The light in the evenings is enough to help you unwind with the locals, and witness the majesty of nature through the vivid colors of the mountains. There is no forgetting the beautiful skies during the Midnight Sun. However, this also means that you have to study the times to get some sleep. Daylight all through the night means that the body doesn’t produce melatonin, a hormone that is supposed to make you tired enough to rest. When this is delayed, your body doesn’t get the signal, it needs to signify the time for you to go to bed, which it would if your room was dark. You can still cope with this and get enough rest without damaging your body’s natural processes. Here are some tips to help you:

  • One of the most prominent and effective ways is to wear a sleeping mask. A good sleeping mask is thick enough to block out intense sunlight while you sleep. It gives an imitation of a dark environment that encourages sleep. You can also close your curtains before doing this as it will handle up to half of the work before your sleeping mask takes over.
  • Wear sunglasses while you are outdoors in summer, as this will offer a layer of protection for your eyes. It could also help to prop a pillow alongside your head while you sleep. This will block out some light, but don’t put it too close to your face. You will still want to be able to breathe.

During the midnight sun, it won’t get dark at night in Reykjavik from May 21st to July 30th. On June 21st, they experience 24 hours of continuous sunlight in North Iceland and the Westfjords. However, Reykjavik’s sun could set below the horizon during the summer solstice, but this will only last a few hours. Here, you can decide to read a book or sit outside in the middle of the night.

So for many, this might be the best time to visit Iceland.

Summer Solstice in Iceland

Referred to as Jonsmessa or the Midsummer’s Night in Iceland, the origin of the summer solstice can be traced to the birth of John the Baptist. Icelanders celebrate the Summer Solstice on June 24th with lots of folklore accompanying this tradition. Some of the stories tell of how cows were able to talk and the ability of seals to transform into humans. While it may seem a little weird, the locals encourage people to roll around naked on the dewy grass during the Midnight sun as it has health benefits. On the day of the Summer Solstice in Iceland, there won’t be night but only a few hours of mesmerizing twilight.

Winter Solstice in Iceland

As opposed to the Summer Solstice, the Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year in Iceland. This is the time when the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere is far from the sun. On December 21st, every year in Reykjavik, the sun will rise at a few minutes past 11am and set just before 3:30pm. On that day, people in Iceland will witness only a few hours of dim daylight with it being shorter in cities at the northernmost part of Iceland like Grimsey. Just like in the summer solstice, the skies in the winter solstice are as enchanting. Even better, this is considered the best time to hunt for the Northern Lights.

The Northern Lights Season

There is no talking about Iceland without mentioning the Northern Lights. Imagine looking into a sky filled with striking colors that are nothing short of magical. These visual results are caused by solar particles ionizing at the high atmosphere in the earth’s magnetic field.

With increased sun activity comes higher intensity of dancing lights of varying colors high up in the sky. These colors range from orange and pink to blue, green, red, and purple, depending on the specific elements being ionized. So, to find the Northern Lights, you would have to seek a dark, clear night. Also known as the Aurora Borealis, they could be present in the skies on a midsummer day, but the brightness of the sun would make them invisible.

There have been so many theories about the origin of Northern Lights before the explanations revealed by science. For example, the Finnish believed that the lights were the results of a Firefox dashing across the snow. In the process, his tails released sparks into the sky to create the aurora. Hence the Finnish word for the Northern Lights is revontulet, a term that literally translates to Firefox.

Hunting down the Northern Lights is a big deal, and some preset conditions will increase your chances of seeing the aurora during your stay in Iceland. It requires luck, patience, and these tips:

  • Hunt for the northern lights between September and April as these are the times when you can experience clear nights necessary for the lights to be visible. Although they occasionally surface towards the end of August, they are mostly very faint due to the lingering sunlight
  • Stay away from unnatural or artificial lights as much as possible when watching out for the northern lights
  • Look out for a little cloud cover as the northern lights are higher than the clouds
  • There should be a solar activity of nothing less than Kp 2, as this increases your chances. To find out more about this, research on the aurora and cloud cover forecasts, which are measured on a scale of 0-9 Kp-index, with 9 being the highest. You will have a better opportunity for more visibility with any forecast above Kp 2.
  • Plan to spend more than a couple of days as shorter vacations limit your chances of a clear sky. Then, travel to North Iceland or the Westfjords, as these areas have longer hours of darkness. Compared to Reykjavik, which gives about twenty hours of darkness at the winter equinox, the northernmost regions could give you as much as twenty-two hours of darkness with less frequent cloud covers.
  • You can also consider camping in Iceland between September and April. Apart from the fantastic experience of sleeping under the stars, this also increases your chance of seeing the northern lights. Most campsites are in rural areas where there is minimal light pollution.

Most people look forward to winter in Iceland as it is a chance to see the aurora borealis. However, this has no impact on the chances of seeing the aurora borealis, as you can also hunt in summer in more comfortable conditions.

It is important to note that even with seemingly perfect conditions, nature could be unpredictable. Your chances of seeing the aurora increase the longer you stay in Iceland. However, you can’t ignore the role of luck. You can take all the necessary precautions but still not see them. You may even end up seeing them while on a plane going over Iceland. Your best bet is to move with expert local guides like those at Reykjavik Outventure.

They have seen several northern lights in their lifetimes and know the best ways to hunt for them with a 95% chance of success. So, where are the best places to hunt for the Northern Lights in Iceland?

No doubt, this is might be one of the best time to visit Iceland

Where to hunt for the Northern Lights

You can hunt for the Northern Lights in Reykjavik city with a guided tour, take a boat cruise, or go on a drive yourself to search for them. Let’s see what these options are all about.

Searching for the Northern Lights in Reykjavik

If you’re trying to cut costs, you can try to search for the Northern Lights in Reykjavik without booking a tour or renting a car. First, you have to look for the darkest place in the city. In Reykjavik, there are lots of parks, and you can head over to the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula close to the Grótta lighthouse. This is in the north-west part of the capital city. At this spot, the light pollution is minimal, which gives you a great shot at spotting the northern lights on clear nights. While you wait for the lights, you can warm your feet at the Kvika Foot Bath, the little geothermal tub close by. If you’re a bit far from this spot, you can hunt for the aurora at Oskjuhlid, which surrounds a famous restaurant known as Perlan. This area is also very dark, and observing from one of its clearings have been said to be effective. Better yet, you can head over to one of the parks in the city like the Laugardalur Park or Klambratun. However, this comes with distinct disadvantages. Chief among them is that light pollution in cities is always more than remote untouched areas. As you will be restricted to one point, you will find it challenging to move around when there is a little cloud cover. This doesn’t allow for an optimal viewing experience and could ruin your hunt.

Going on a guided tour

This is by far the most common and effective method of searching for the Northern Lights. With tours at Reykjavik Outventure that run from September to April, you can pay an affordable fee and move around with an experienced guide who knows how to find the best spots to see the Northern Lights. Our Northern Lights tour is a perfect one for hunting the aurora borealis. During this tour, you will also be treated to a meal of hot Icelandic chocolate and cinnamon buns, which will warm you up nicely while you wait. You don’t have to worry about the fee as you will be allowed to join the tour for free if, for any reason, the search is unsuccessful. However, this almost always never happens. The experienced guide will drive you around, to keep you safe during the winter conditions, while you will be taken to the most promising locations without going beyond your budget. It will also be an excellent opportunity to meet new people while you witness the wonders of nature.

If you want to watch this with just your friends and family, you can opt for Reykjavik Outventure’s private tour, which gives you more privacy while you watch the northern lights. No doubt, a guided tour is a much better option than driving out to see the Northern Lights yourself. Going on a search by yourself means you will miss out on the precious knowledge of experienced guides who understand the best-secluded places to check them out. It also saves you a lot of stress as the holiday is meant to be more for unwinding than navigating through unfamiliar terrains.

Going on a boat

You can head out to the port at Reykjavik, where you can take a boat out to sea. When you are far out, there won’t be a lot of light pollution, and this increases your chances of a sighting. However, this is very restrictive compared to being on a bus or super jeep. Still, you get the perk of going out to sea surrounded by a canopy of stars and beautiful landscapes. You can also indulge in some whale watching as whales are common on the shores. The northern waters usually feature Humpbacks while you will find more of Minke Whales in Reykjavik.

Searching while on a different tour

You don’t have to book an exclusive northern lights tour when you can experience other significant attractions in Iceland while you search. Since we mentioned that your chances become better, the longer you stay, you can take any of our 3-day or 5-day tours at Reykjavik Outventure. You can admire the beautiful landscapes on a Golden Circle tour during the day while you dedicate the nights to searching the skies for the auroras. Even better, you can take a complete tour of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula before circling back to check out the mesmerizing northern lights. Why settle for less when you can get more?

Time Zone in Iceland

Most countries operate with daylight savings time, and this was first introduced in 1916 as a way of making better use of the day and saving fuel during the war. From here, it spread across Europe, before getting to Iceland in 1917. For about 50 years, Iceland used daylight saving time with the rest of Europe with changes made to the clocks twice a year. However, winter was set to Icelandic Standard Time, which is an hour behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). This was a lot of hassle as summer meant that the clocks would have to be moved forward to GMT again. Things changed in 1968 as Icelanders were fed up with the disruption of sleeping patterns and timetables. As a way forward, the Icelandic Parliament passed a law that keeps GMT “summertime” permanently on the clocks. So, how does this look? Here is a breakdown of the monthly daylight hours in Iceland.

Month Sun Rise Time      Sun Set Time      Daylight Hours
January 11:21 PM – 10:15 AM 3:41 PM – 5:08 PM 4:20 – 6:55
February 10:12 AM – 8:44 AM 5:11 PM – 6:39 PM 6:59 – 9:55
March 8:40 AM – 6:54 AM 6:42 PM – 8:12 PM 10:02 – 13:18
April 6:50 AM – 5:08 AM 8:15 PM – 9:44 PM 13:31 – 16:36
May 5:04 AM – 3:29 AM 9:47 PM – 11:23 PM 16:43 – 19:54
June 3:26 AM – 3:02 11:26PM – 11:59 PM 20:00 – 20:57
July 3:03 AM – 4:27 AM 11:58 PM – 10:39 20:55 – 18:12
August 4:30 AM – 6:03 10:36 PM – 9:62 PM 18:06 – 14:49
September 6:06 AM – 7:30 AM 8:48 PM – 7:05 PM 14:32 – 11:35
October 7:32 AM – 9:03 AM 7:01 PM – 5:18 PM 11:29 – 8:15
November 9:06 AM – 10:39 AM 5:15 PM – 3:52 PM 8:09 – 5:13
December 10:42 AM – 11:22 AM 15:50 PM – 15:38 PM 5:08 – 4:16

When you pack up your bags and make your way to Iceland, chances are that you are coming over to take a dip in the hot springs, admire our glaciers, or take a pleasant hike on our volcanoes. However, you need to understand the time zones in Iceland and how different it is from your country. In our detailed list below, we talk about the major cities in different countries and how much the time difference is compared to Iceland. Since Iceland functions on a single timezone, the GMT UTC+0 (WET), it has the same time as Ireland, Canary Islands, and Portugal. Of course, you will be able to see the time difference with the closest countries to Iceland, including Greenland, Sweden, Scotland, Norway, and the United Kingdom.

Country Time Difference Country Time Difference
Adelaide +9:30 hours China
Darwin +9:30 hours Beijing +8 hours
Brisbane +10 hours Chengdu +8 hours
Canberra +10 hours Hong Kong +8 hours
Hobart +10 hours Macau +8 hours
Melbourne +10 hours Shanghai +8 hours
Sydney +10 hours Colombia
Austria Bogota -5 hours
Salzburg +2 hours Cali -5 hours
Vienna +2 hours Medellin -5 hours
Azerbaijan Congo
Baku +4 hours Brazzaville +1 hour
Bahamas Cote d’Ivoire
Nassau -4 hours Abidjan same time
Bangladesh Croatia
Dhaka +6 hours Zagreb +2 hours
Belarus Czech Republic
Minsk +3 hours Prague +2 hours
Belgium The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Brussels +2 hours Kinshasa +1 hour
Brazil Denmark
Brasilia -3 hours Copenhagen +2 hours
Rio de Janeiro -3 hours Djibouti
Sao Paulo -3 hours Djibouti +3 hours
Bulgaria Dominican Republic
Sofia +3 hours Santo Domingo -4 hours
Cambodia Ecuador
Phnom Penh +7 hours Quito -5 hours
Canada Egypt
Vancouver -7 hours Cairo +2 hours
Calgary -6 hours Eritrea
Edmonton -6 hours Asmara +3 hours
Regina -6 hours Estonia
Winnipeg -5 hours Tallinn +3 hours
Ottawa -4 hours Ethiopia
Toronto -4 hours Addis Ababa +3 hours
Halifax -3 hours Helsinki, Finland +3 hours
St. John’s -2:30 hours Indonesia
Chile Jakarta +7 hours
Santiago -4 hours Iran
France Tehran +4:30 hours
Nice +2 hours Iraq
Paris +2 hours Baghdad +3 hours
Georgia Ireland
Tbilisi +4 hours Dublin +1 hour
Germany Israel
Berlin +2 hours Jerusalem +3 hours
Dusseldorf +2 hours Tel Aviv +3 hours
Frankfurt +2 hours Italy
Hamburg +2 hours Milan +2 hours
Munich +2 hours Rome +2 hours
Ghana Venice +2 hours
Accra same time Japan
Greece Kyoto +9 hours
Athens +3 hours Nagoya +9 hours
Guatemala Osaka +9 hours
Guatemala -6 hours Tokyo +9 hours
Haiti Jordan
Port-au-Prince -4 hours Amman +3 hours
Hungary Kazakhstan
Budapest +2 hours Almaty +6 hours
India Astana +6 hours
Bangalore +5:30 hours Kenya
Chennai +5:30 hours Nairobi +3 hours
Delhi +5:30 hours Kiribati
Hyderabad +5:30 hours Kiritimati +14 hours
Jaipur +5:30 hours Kyrgyzstan
Kolkata +5:30 hours Bishkek +6 hours
Mumbai +5:30 hours Latvia
New Delhi +5:30 hours Riga +3 hours
Pune +5:30 hours New Zealand
Lebanon Auckland +12 hours
Beirut +3 hours Christchurch +12 hours
Lithuania Wellington +12 hours
Vilnius +3 hours Nicaragua
Luxembourg Managua -6 hours
Luxembourg +2 hours Nigeria
Malaysia Abuja +1 hour
Kuala Lumpur +8 hours Lagos +1 hour
Marshall Islands Northern Mariana Islands
Majuro +12 hours Saipan +10 hours
Mexico Norway
Mexicali -7 hours Oslo +2 hours
Tijuana -7 hours Oman
Cancun -5 hours Muscat +4 hours
Guadalajara -5 hours Pakistan
Mexico City -5 hours Islamabad +5 hours
Monaco Karachi +5 hours
Monaco +2 hours Lahore +5 hours
Mongolia Panama
Ulaanbaatar +8 hours Panama -5 hours
Morocco Peru
Casablanca +1 hour Lima -5 hours
Myanmar Philippines
Yangon +6:30 hours Manila +8 hours
Nepal Poland
Kathmandu +5:45 hours Krakow +2 hours
Netherlands Warsaw +2 hours
Amsterdam +2 hours Wroclaw +2 hours
Rotterdam +2 hours New Zealand
Portugal South Africa
Lisbon +1 hour Cape Town +2 hours
Puerto Rico Johannesburg +2 hours
San Juan -4 hours Pretoria +2 hours
Qatar South Korea
Doha +3 hours Seoul +9 hours
Romania Spain
Bucharest +3 hours Barcelona +2 hours
Russia Madrid +2 hours
Moscow +3 hours Sri Lanka
Saint-Peterburg +3 hours Colombo +5:30 hours
Chelyabinsk +5 hours Sudan
Yekaterinburg +5 hours Khartoum +2 hours
Krasnoyarsk +7 hours Sweden
Novosibirsk +7 hours Stockholm +2 hours
Vladivostok +10 hours Switzerland
Rwanda Bern +2 hours
Kigali +2 hours Geneva +2 hours
Saudi Arabia Lausanne +2 hours
Jeddah +3 hours Zurich +2 hours
Mecca +3 hours Syria
Riyadh +3 hours Damascus +3 hours
Senegal Taiwan
Dakar same time Taipei +8 hours
Serbia Tanzania
Belgrade +2 hours Dar es Salaam +3 hours
Singapore Thailand
Singapore +8 hours Bangkok +7 hours
Slovakia Togo
Bratislava +2 hours Lome same time
Tunisia Kansas City -5 hours
Tunis +1 hour Little Rock -5 hours
Turkey Madison -5 hours
Ankara +3 hours Memphis -5 hours
Istanbul +3 hours Milwaukee -5 hours
Uganda Minneapolis -5 hours
Kampala +3 hours Nashville -5 hours
Ukraine New Orleans -5 hours
Odesa +3 hours Oklahoma City -5 hours
United Arab Emirates San Antonio -5 hours
Abu Dhabi +4 hours Sioux Falls -5 hours
Dubai +4 hours St. Louis -5 hours
United Kingdom Wichita -5 hours
Belfast +1 hour Atlanta -4 hours
Birmingham +1 hour Baltimore -4 hours
Edinburgh +1 hour Boston -4 hours
Glasgow +1 hour Charlotte -4 hours
Liverpool +1 hour Cincinnati -4 hours
London +1 hour Cleveland -4 hours
United States Columbia -4 hours
Honolulu -10 hours Columbus -4 hours
Anchorage -8 hours Detroit -4 hours
Anaheim -7 hours Indianapolis -4 hours
Las Vegas -7 hours Knoxville -4 hours
Los Angeles -7 hours Louisville -4 hours
Oakland -7 hours Miami -4 hours
Phoenix -7 hours New York -4 hours
Portland -7 hours Newark -4 hours
Sacramento -7 hours Philadelphia -4 hours
San Diego -7 hours Pittsburgh -4 hours
San Francisco -7 hours Raleigh -4 hours
San Jose -7 hours Tampa -4 hours
Seattle -7 hours Virginia Beach -4 hours
Stockton -7 hours Washington -4 hours
Tucson -7 hours Guam +10 hours
Albuquerque -6 hours Uruguay
Boise -6 hours Montevideo -3 hours
Denver -6 hours Uzbekistan
El Paso -6 hours Tashkent +5 hours
Salt Lake City -6 hours Venezuela
Santa Fe -6 hours Caracas -4 hours
Arlington -5 hours Vietnam
Austin -5 hours Hanoi +7 hours
Baton Rouge -5 hours Zambia
Chicago -5 hours Lusaka +2 hours
Dallas -5 hours Zimbabwe
Des Moines -5 hours Harare +2 hours
Fort Worth -5 hours
Houston -5 hours

Flying into Iceland

You can get to Iceland easily from almost anywhere in the world, especially North America and Europe. The most common method of transportation is via airlines for quite obvious reasons. However, to avoid overspending, your first task would be to locate inexpensive flights to Iceland. You can go about this using flight comparison websites like Kayak, Momondo, Skyscanner, Expedia, and Google Flights.

This is quite easy as you can search from the comfort of your home using sites that have an excellent track record. They all have their varying degrees of effectiveness, with some having better user experience and others being perfect for analytical comparisons of prices. However, there is no fixed price of flights to Iceland. Your level of research will determine if you can get the best deals. Costs of flights differ each season, but these airlines offer different packages.

Here are the major airlines that fly to and from Iceland, from different parts of the world every year:

Here are other airlines that fly to and from Iceland. This list is based on 2019 operations and usually differ yearly.

Icelandair airline

Airlines that fly to Iceland

Air Baltic, Air Canada, Air Iceland, British Airways, Delta, EasyJet, Edelweiss, Air Berlin, Eurowings, Finnair, Air Greenland, Iberia Express, Icelandair, Austrian Airlines, KLM, Czech Airlines, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Lufthansa, SAS, Vueling, Transavia, Wizz Air, Travel Service, TUI Airways, Luxair, and S7. Air Iceland and Eagle Air operate domestic flights within the country.

Direct flights from North America

North America is quite close to Iceland compared to other European countries. It is also a significant stop-over point when traveling across the Atlantic. You can get direct flights to Keflavik International Airport from the following airports: Anchorage, Washington-Dulles, Baltimore-Washington, Vancouver, Boston, Toronto, Chicago, Tampa Int, Denver, Seattle, Edmonton, San Francisco, Halifax, Portland, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Miami Int, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Orlando, Montreal, New York Newark and New York JFK.

Direct flights from Mainland Europe

People traveling from Africa, Australia, and Asia can connect their flights to Iceland using airports in Mainland Europe. Flights from this region usually leave from the following airports: Aberdeen, Zurich, Alicante, Wroclaw, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Barcelona, Vilnius, Basel Mulhouse, Vienna, Berlin Schönefeld, Trieste, Berlin Tegel, Tenerife, Birmingham, Stuttgart, Bremen, Riga, Bristol, Prague, Brussels, Paris Orly, Budapest, Paris CDG, Chania, Palma, Cologne Bonn, Nurnberg, Cork, Munich, Dresden, Milan-Malpensa, Dublin, Manchester, Dusseldorf, Madrid, Edinburgh, Lyon, Frankfurt, London Luton, Friedrichshafen, London Gatwick, Gdansk, Las Palmas, Geneva, Kaunas, George Best Belfast City, Katowice, Hamburg, and Glasgow. 

Direct flights from Nordic Countries

Iceland is a Nordic nation, and as part of fostering its close ties with their various cultural cousins, lots of flights from Greenland and Denmark connect directly to domestic airports. These direct flights usually arrive from: Bergen, Stockholm Arlanda, Billund, Oslo, Copenhagen, Nuuk, Faroe Islands (Torshavn), Nerlerit Innat, Gothenburg, Narsarsuaq, Helsinki, Kulusuk, Kangerlussuaq, and Ilulissat.

Reykjavik city in Iceland
Reykjavik city in Iceland

Most of these airlines will disembark their planes at the Keflavik International Airport, the primary airport in Iceland. Located at Sandgerði, it is also the largest in the country and is just a 45-minutes drive from Reykjavik. It opened officially in 1943 during World War II when it was built by the United States military. At that time, it was known as the Meeks Field airstrip but was renamed to Keflavik after the war ended.

However, this is not the only airport in Iceland that offers international flights despite being the location where a higher percentage of international travelers will arrive and leave.

There is also a direct connection flight to London from a medium-sized town in East Iceland called Egilsstaðir. While Keflavik is the most popular airport in Iceland, there are other functional domestic airports in the country. These include Akureyri, Þórshöfn, Bíldudalur, Westman Islands, Egilsstaðir, Vopnafjörður, Gjögur, Reykjavík, Grímsey, Ísafjörður, Höfn í Hornafirði, and Húsavík.

Iceland’s convenient location between mainland Europe and North America makes it the ideal stop-over for those flying from the United States, Canada, or between Europe. Obviously, the length of time it takes to fly to Iceland depends on your location. For example, flights from New York city are surprisingly short while from Hong Kong, it takes as long as 18 hours. Here is a breakdown of the typical average flight time from major cities around the world.

City of departure Flight Time   Connection/direct Stops
Amsterdam 3h 15m Direct N/A
Barcelona 4h 30m Direct N/A
Beijing 13h 50m Connection Yes
Berlin 3h 45m Direct N/A
Boston 5h 40m Direct N/A
Chicago 6h 35m Direct N/A
Copenhagen 3h 10m Direct N/A
Dubai 11h Connection Yes
Dublin 2h 45m Direct N/A
Helsinki 3h 30m Direct N/A
Hong Kong 17h 50m Connection   Yes
London 3h 0m Direct N/A
Los Angeles 9h 00m Direct N/A
Miami 8h 15m Direct N/A
Montréal 5h 25m Direct N/A
New York 5h 40m Direct N/A
Oslo 2h 40m Direct N/A
Paris 3h 20m Direct N/A
Rome 4h 30m Direct N/A
San Francisco 9h 00m Direct N/A
Seoul 15h 30m Connection Yes
Stockholm 3h 10m Direct N/A
Tel Aviv 8h 5m Direct N/A
Tokyo 15h 50m Connection Yes
Toronto 6h 00m Direct N/A
Zurich 3h 40m Direct N/A

Here is a breakdown of the typical average flight time from cities in the United States to Reykjavik.

State Average flight time
Birmingham, Alabama 7hr 20m
Anchorage, Alaska 7hr 16m
Phoenix, Arizona 8hr 51m
Little Rock, Arkansas 7hr 31m
California 9hr 7m
Denver, Colorado 7hr 42m
Hartford, Connecticut 5hr 32m
Florida 7hr 58m
Atlanta, Georgia 7hr 24m
Honolulu, Hawaii 12hr 44m
Detroit, Michigan 6hr 20m

Relevant documents when visiting Iceland

The first document to check out for is a visa. For the European Economic Area (EEA) Nationals, you don’t need a visa to fly to Iceland. Iceland became a Schengen State in 2001, making this possible. However, all visitors will need to have an up-to-date passport at least three months before leaving to gain entry into the country.

Those who will need a visa will have to fill an online application form, include a passport-sized photo and a passport that is not more than ten years old. You will also need a bank statement that shows proof of financial support, medical insurance, and a document that proves your reason for traveling like your hotel or tour booking.

When is the best time of the year to visit Iceland?

This is one of the most asked questions from people who wouldn’t want to miss out on the crucial things when visiting Iceland. However, the best time of the year to visit Iceland will depend on what you want to see.

Experiencing Iceland in winter

If you want to experience Iceland in winter, the best time to visit is in February and March because these are the months where you will see Iceland at its best. During these months, you get an appealing blue sky, which sets the stage for a lot of magic. This is also the best time to go if you want to take a lot of photographs as there is great lighting for this. You can sleep in and enjoy some good indoor time before heading out. You still wouldn’t have missed anything important as there is plenty of amazement to go round.

While there is the downside of the limited supply of sunlight hours, there are still lots of beautiful things that make up for this. You can go glacier hiking, take a dip at the Blue Lagoon or visit one of the famous ice caves in Iceland. There are usually fewer people around in winter than in summer, which means that you can have the main attractions all to yourself…well almost. This also means less demand, so you can cash in on the lower rates while our tours are always affordable year-round. So, you can tap into the unique serenity during this time.

Experiencing Iceland in summer

If you would love to visit Iceland in summer, then you are looking at June, July, August, and September. These months are perfect for heading over to Iceland for tons of exciting activities, including touring national parks and visiting the fishing village for Icelandic treats. September is the ideal month out of all these, as you can also hunt for the northern lights. You get the benefit of visiting during the warmer months and getting a chance at seeing the magnificent aurora borealis.

The best time to visit Reykjavik

Any time of the year is excellent for visiting the fabulous city of Reykjavik. This bustling city always has something amazing for you, whether it’s winter or summer. You can decide to enjoy a chill beer while admiring the natural landscape during the summer months or walk around with a soft jacket on.

The best time to go whale watching

The perfect season for whale watching in Iceland is between April and October. June, July, and August are the months in summer where the whales come out to play, and we have tours that leave Reykjavik to the perfect spots for this daily. You can also go whale watching in the Vestmannaeyjar Islands, Akureyri, Husavik, and Dalvik.

The best time to see puffins

From late April to mid-August, you can catch up with the puffin viewing season in the world’s largest puffin colony, the Westman Islands. When you get to the islands, you can grab a ferry and head over to the perfect spot for seeing more than a million puffins living freely during the active puffin season. You will most likely miss out on this if you visit after September.

However, for those trying to visit Iceland on a tight budget, you can try to head over from mid-November to April as this is considered offseason. This also means that your options will be limited, which is not that great. With Reykjavik Outventure, you don’t have to wait till offseason to visit Iceland. Our prices are affordable all year, and you can witness the best of Iceland.

Best time to go glacier hiking

It doesn’t matter when you decide to go glacier hiking as you can do this all year. This is a year-round activity, but there is a perk to going in winter. Going glacier hiking in winter is more beautiful because the cold weather keeps the glaciers frozen, instead of melting into unattractive puddles. If you really want to get the best out of glacier hiking in Iceland, then check out our Glymur Waterfall hike. On this tour, you can also take a dip at the Krauma bath.

Best time to go ice caving

Going ice caving means you are exploring one of the fantastic natural ice caves in Iceland. The best time to do this is between November 1st and the end of March. Although visiting in summer means a good number of them are melting, there is one ice cave that you can visit all year round, and that is the Katla Ice Cave. This ice cave is located in the Kötlujökull glacier in South Iceland.

You have to drive from Reykjavik city to Vik in Myrdalur, a scenic little village. The ice cave is about a 45-minute drive from Vik with spectacular landscapes all around you, giving extraordinary contrasts from the green mountains to the black lava sand. As soon as you get to the glacier, you will have to put on sturdy helmets and crampons for a good grip on the ice.

Our professional guide will take you on the hike to the entrance of the Katla ice cave. This is a straightforward hike as there are steps carved into the glacier to make it easier to climb into it. Here, you will be face to face with the beautiful ice cave formed as water from the melting glacier creates an opening in the ice, and best of all, it is blue.

Inside Katla ice cave, you will be amazed to see black ash gotten from various volcanic eruptions of the Katla volcano. So, you will be walking through a lot of history in the ice cave.

here will be enough time to take hundreds of pictures, although the glaciers are constantly moving. It is always best to go ice caving with an experienced guide as icefalls tend to move under their own weight. Our experts at Reykjavik Outventure always check out the ice cave to ensure it is safe enough before anyone goes in.

Best time to see the midnight sun

As we mentioned earlier, this is the period in Iceland where there is continuous daylight. Since the summer solstice is around June 21st, this is considered the peak time for viewing the midnight sun. So, you should plan your visit to Iceland around this time.

Best time to drive on the Ring Road

Iceland’s Ring Road is excellent to drive on at any time of the year. However, if you were to consider the weather, the best time to drive on the Ring Road is during the summer months. If you don’t want to encounter a crowd of people while on the ring road, then you should visit during the shoulder season months. All in all, the best months which have good weather and less road traffic are May, June, September, and October.

Best time to visit the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is available at any time of the year, and our Golden Circle tour will make sure that you get the best out of this experience. It is always beautiful during the sunny summer. It is usually busy from May to October, but with a guided tour, you will have access to some benefits that set you apart from the crowd.

Best time to visit the Blue Lagoon

Thousands of people visit Iceland yearly, and they always visit the Blue Lagoon as it is considered Iceland’s star attraction. You can visit this lagoon in summer or winter. The summertime is excellent if you don’t mind a little crowd, but in winter, you don’t have to worry about the water getting cold as it is geothermal. However, you can get the best Blue Lagoon experience on our exclusive tour.

Iceland is an amazing country to visit at any time of the year as there is so much to do. It gets even better when you explore Iceland with Reykjavik Outventure, as we will give you an unforgettable experience.

South Coast tour with glacier hike and Viking dinner