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Off-Season Iceland Travel: 5 Tips for the Best Time to Visit

Visit Iceland in off season

Most of us consider the best time of the year to visit Iceland in summer, but I strongly disagree. Yes, it is true that you have almost 20 hours of light per day and is the best period to explore the country, but the prices and the crowds might ruin your holiday.

Everybody wants to go to Iceland in summer, so be prepared for thousands of tourists going to the same places as you do and being interested in the same things as you are. Thing again! Do you thing this is the best time of the year to see Iceland? For me is very tiring and annoying to be surrounded by crowds and not being able to sense the local vibe of the place.

You can find listed below my reasons why I consider shoulder season the best time to see Iceland and I am sure you will agree with me after you will read them!

1. The accommodations, car rental and meal costs are more affordable

In summer the prices explode! For some categories of goods and services the prices even double! And trust me, we are talking about high prices in any circumstances because everybody knows that Iceland is a very expensive country!

The prices are one of the main reasons why I consider summer not to be the best time of the year to visit Iceland!

And it is not all about the prices! It is also about availability! During the summer season the hotels and cars offer is very limited comparing to the number of tourists and this is the main reason why the prices go up!

In shoulder season, for the same amount of money you can get better services than in peak season!

Iceland Car Rental Road Autumn, visit Iceland in off season

Iceland Car Rental Road Autumn| Visit Iceland in Off season

Let’s take for example rental car prices! In summer not only that it is very difficult to find available cars but they are also very expensive! In shoulder season, you have more options to choose from and the prices are more affordable!

Get the best price for your car rental today

For hotels, it is the same! We booked our accommodation at hotels all over the country and we get a really good price-quality ratio.

For Reykjavik, for example, we choose the stay at Midgardur By Center Hotels , a very cosy hotel located very close to the main attractions. The food, the services, everything was great! It was a really good choice and we did not pay much.

So, don’t be impatient and wait for September, October or April and May and visit Iceland! It is way cheaper than in summer!

2. The tourists are gone

Oh, the tourists! In summertime everywhere you look you will see crowds! Lots of people running from one place to another, searching for the best shot and the perfect view! This is why I don’t consider summer as the best time of the year to see Iceland!

These things make me nervous and even if I am on holiday I cannot feel completely relaxed. The attractions are spectacular but because of the increased number of tourists, they lose their charm.

In shoulder season things change dramatically! The tourists are gone and you can have more time to relax and enjoy the view! Especially on the north side of the island it is just you and nature! On the south part, there are some tourists but nothing annoying!

3. Best time of the year to visit Iceland and see the Northern Lights

A very well-known thing is that around equinox the chances of seeing the Northern Lights on the Icelandic sky are pretty high. You know why? Because of the solar activity, one of the main conditions of seeing the green lady dancing in the sky is increased. And if you are lucky enough and have a few nights with a clear sky, then you win the jackpot!

Seeing Northern Lights was one of the most incredible moments of my life! I have never dreamed of seeing them! Yes, I must confess, it was on my bucket list for such a long time, but I have never thought that I will see them!

perfect period to view northern lights in Iceland

perfect period to see northern lights of Iceland| best time of the year to see Iceland

We chose to visit Iceland in off season and travelled to this magnificent at the end of September and it was a very smart decision! We booked a charming guesthouse on the south side of the island, Seljavellir Guesthouse Hofn, and from our room, we saw the magical spectacle on the sky! The guesthouse was outside the city, far from any light pollution, so it was perfect for spotting Northern Lights!

4. The days are still long enough to explore the country

You don’t have to worry about the weather or the length of the day if you travel to Iceland in shoulder season! The days have about 8 hours of light and the weather is still good and you can drive along the Ring Road and explore the country!

You always should keep an eye on the weather website and on the road conditions website because things can change dramatically from one minute to another. But no worries! Spring and autumn are the best time of the year to visit Iceland no matter what others say! The local websites are constantly updated and give you a really clear picture of the reality!

We did not experience any issues when we visit Iceland! The roads were open and the weather was good! Actually, I must say that the experienced all the four seasons in just one day! When we left in the morning from our hotel it was snowing, then it was raining and then in a couple of hours, it was sunny!

I was amazed by how rapid changes the weather in this country!

5. You can take the best photos of the land

Because of the light and the length of the day, you will have the opportunity to take really amazing photos of the places! The sunset or the sunrise on a black lava beach or near a glacier or a volcano is something you should not miss!

The shoulder season is the best time of year to visit Iceland, especially if you are a photographer! You will have the unique opportunity to discover the diverse landscape in a completely unique way!

best time of the year to visit Iceland Mountain winter

best time to visit Iceland Mountain winter landscape

It is commonly known that Icelandic scenery changes dramatically from one season to another and shoulder season is the best time to observe this phenomenon. Visit Iceland in off season is one of the best decisions you could take!

After just one trip you will have photos with summer landscape, winter, spring and autumn, all packed together in a wonderful movie! This is definitely the best time of the year to see Iceland!

I hope my reasons convinced you that the best time to visit Iceland is during shoulder season!

It was late September to the beginning of October by the time when we visited this country and the landscape was incredible! Not to mention that we were so lucky that we saw the Northern Lights!


Saturday 2nd of May 2020

I am desperate to see the Northern lights this post has fuelled my wanderlust for sure! Just hoping we can do it as cheap as possible as I know it is very expensive but we don't have much spare cash after this time!

Alex Hash

Monday 11th of May 2020

Seeing the northern lights is never cheap. But if you wish to save some money or to go on a lower budget, my advice is to choose a shoulder season, like October or April and you might just have the right time with the right budget. I hope you enjoy your trip to see Northern Lights in Iceland.