Oh, traveling to Iceland! Just the thought of it makes many start to daydream about their glorious vacation. Vik’s black sand beaches, Vatnajökull glacier, temperamental volcanos like Eyjafjallajökull, places bursting with tourists. Wait, what? If you are a little puzzled by reading that last sentence, it’s probably because visiting overcrowded places is not what we look for when traveling. That’s precisely why planning when to visit a country is so important. Today, I won’t give you just one single reason to avoid high season. Let’s look at seven reasons why you should visit Iceland in the off-season. For me personally, it’s the best time of year to travel here. You’ll be glad you did it.
#7: Iceland in the Off-Season – It’s Just Nature and You
Iceland is all about nature, everyone knows that. Most of the travelers that decide to visit our tiny Nordic island feel attracted to its scenery. It is not hard to understand why. You can enjoy glaciers, volcanos, meadows, snowy mountains, and black sand beaches. All packed into just one country. Now, does it feel that special when every landmark and place you visit is full of people doing exactly the same thing as you? Probably not.
I am aware this is a bit selfish, but we all behave like tourists. We all love taking pictures, visiting the same famous places. We all have typical tourist behavior, in a good way, when abroad. But ironically, we don’t like it when other people do. As an Icelander myself, I grew up in remote areas, and I’m very used to being on my own in nature. So, to me, Iceland in the offseason is everything any traveler could wish for. Nowadays, you can still enjoy the raw side of Iceland all by yourself. You just need to know the right time.
Spending time alone is nature is not related to any type of social phobia. It has a therapeutic effect. It reduces anxiety, and stress is gone when sitting in a quiet, peaceful environment. Iceland is full of places that match that description, but mostly in the low season. During the summertime, the weather is more stable, and there is plenty of sunlight. So travelers all flock to the most popular, touristy areas, and it can get pretty packed sometimes.
Do you want to enjoy the feeling of being alone, surrounded by impressive nature? Would you like to get back in contact with your primitive side? Then the low-season in Iceland is the perfect time for you.
#6: Availability of Accommodation and Rentals During Iceland’s Off-Season
Iceland is a small Island and is not very populated. There are only 350,000 Icelanders to meet the demands of 2.2 million travelers. That means facilities, accommodation, and services are scarce. To top it all off, most of those travelers decide to visit the island over the same period. That automatically translates to fully booked hotels, tour operators with no availability, and car rental companies with their fleet sold out several months in advance.
The above situation does not happen during the off-peak season. If you decide to visit Iceland in the low season, you will have plenty of options to choose from. Traveling means planning, and it can be extremely stressful to know there are barely any choices or alternatives that suit your traveling needs.
#5: The Northern Lights – One of the Biggest Perks of the Off-Season in Iceland
The off-season is the least popular time of the year for travelers. Now, does it mean it is a bad time to visit Iceland? Of course not!
For various reasons, many tourists prefer to come during the summer time. The Midnight Sun provides almost 24 hours of daylight so visitors can make the most out of Iceland if they don’t have many vacation days. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any interesting activities for you to enjoy during low season. Iceland still has not only plenty of things to see and do but also some magic for those who want to experience it.
That magic comes in the form of Mother Nature’s light show: The Northern Lights. People that come in the high season are missing one of nature’s most beautiful performances. To me, the Aurora Borealis is like the visual soundtrack of the off-season. A winter hymn which you simply cannot enjoy in the summertime.
You can only enjoy the Northern Lights only under certain conditions. Darkness, solar activity, and clear skies are the key ingredients. Due to Iceland’s northern latitude, the first condition can only be met during the colder months of the year. In the summer, the sun barely sets. There is way too much light for you to see the colorful waves dancing in the sky. Solar activity varies throughout the year and clear skies depend upon the cloud cover.
#4: Iceland’s Off-Season Means Less Stress
Have you ever been to any of the Disney Parks? Or any local theme park? I bet you have all experienced what if feels like to wait in long queues. You stand there, desperately waiting for your turn to come. Meanwhile, the stress causes the magic to disappear. Ok maybe not for those who are less dramatic but stress is a huge factor anyway.
Many travelers come on a five-day vacation to Iceland. They don’t have time to waste. You need to make the most of your trip within a limited period. If this is your case, then coming in the busiest season of the year is a not such a great idea. The most popular tourist areas are bursting with people. You might need to wait to make your way to our beautiful waterfalls like Seljalandsfoss, wait for a parking spot, wait even longer for a table at a restaurant. And then spend even more time waiting in a lot of other situation. It can be quite distressing and make you feel like you’re wasting your time.
#3: Fewer People Means Better Contact with Locals
Traveling means breaking away, getting to know new places, and immersing yourself in other cultures and customs. Interacting with locals when traveling is one of the better parts of this new adventure. In the low season, the chances of having more time to enjoy a pleasant chat with locals are higher. People are less stressed, they have fewer customers to attend to in stores, restaurants, at ticket offices, etc. There are fewer lines and more time. Services can, therefore, be more personalized, and you can get up close and on a deeper level.
Connecting with local people in a new destination is always a great way to get to know their culture better. We are used to foreign people and visitors; we enjoy sharing our culture and learning from yours. Don’t be afraid of striking up a conversation with us.
#2: You Can Spend More Time at Each Landmark During the Off-Season
This one is very easy to understand after everything we’ve said. If you don’t get too much traffic, it means you will arrive at your destination on time. Once you’ve arrived, there are no queues to enjoy the fantastic sights.
In my personal opinion, going to a popular area like Kirkjufell to only spend five minutes there and take a couple of pictures is missing the whole point of what traveling and tourism are. Every traveler should take time to enjoy the views, explore the nature and the area. Learn about its history, why it is so popular or important to the Icelandic society. That will definitely transform your whole trip, especially historically significant places like Thingvellir National Park. You will be able to see Iceland from a different perspective and understand why we are the way we are.
#1: Iceland’s Off-Season Offers Lower Prices
Last but certainly not least. The low season is the time of year when Iceland receives the fewest visitors. Therefore airfare, car rental services, and holiday accommodation are often cheaper. Iceland is an expensive destination, there’s no getting around it. So if you are on a budget, coming in the offseason is a great idea. Cars, campers, and motorhomes can have up to a 50% discount off their high season rate. The same applies to hotel rooms and other tourism-related services.
Don’t be afraid of not having enough options to enjoy during the off-season in Iceland. There are plenty! Things like glacier hiking on Skaftafell, ice cave visits in Langjökull, snowmobiling, skiing. And so on. All of them at a reduced fare!
7 Reasons Why the Best Time to Visit Iceland Is the Off-Season
The low season in Iceland usually ranges from late fall to spring. November to February and March are the less busy months of the year. There are many advantages if you decide to come during this time. The possibility of visiting sightseeing areas with much more tranquility is great. And don’t forget about the Northern Lights! Dare to discover what Iceland has to offer in the offseason, you’ll be glad you did.