Camping in Iceland is a popular way to see the island all year long. It’s not only a cost-effective way to travel for those on a budget, but you’ve also got a lot more freedom than renting a car and staying in hotels. And the spring months of April and May are some of the best times of year to go camping in Iceland. Not only is the weather getting better, but you get more and more hours of sunlight every single day. Spring camping in Iceland means you can fit in extra outdoor activities like hiking Skógafoss waterfall, exploring the ice cave at Skaftafell. or sailing around Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.
So are April and May a good time to visit Iceland? And can you see the Northern Lights during these months? What should you wear in Iceland in April and May? These are all excellent questions, so let’s dig in to find out what it’s like go camping in Iceland in the spring.
Iceland’s Weather in April and May
Iceland’s winter months (November through March) have seen lots of precipitation and average temperatures hovering around the freezing mark. Spring in Iceland means shaking off this snowy, icy weather as the country heads into the summer. Now don’t get me wrong; it’s still what most people would consider cold. Everything is relative, and we are still in Iceland after all. But for us Icelanders, we can most definitely feel the difference from the winter months. Temperatures are slowly rising and getting close to what we consider warm. The days are also getting longer, with more hours of sunlight.
April Weather in Iceland
Average High Temperature in April: 41 ºF (5 ºC).
Average Low Temperature in April: 32 ºF (0 ºC).
Average Precipitation in April: 0.8 inches (20 mm) over 18 days.
Due to slightly raised temperatures, this precipitation usually comes in the form of rain. You’re not completely out of the clear though. It does snow in Iceland in April.
Average Hours of Sunshine in Iceland in April: The days will last between 13.5 to 17 hours.
May Weather in Iceland
Average High Temperature in May: 48 ºF (9 ºC)
Average Low Temperature in May: 37 ºF (3 ºC)
Average Precipitation in April: 1.6 inches (40 mm) over 21 days.
Be sure to pack a good pair of high-quality waterproof boots and a sturdy waterproof rain jacket. You’re going to need it during this wet and windy period.
Average Hours of Sunshine in Iceland in May: The days will last between 17 to 20 hours.
Things to Do in Iceland in April and May
One of the great things about spring camping in Iceland is that you can do activities that are popular during both the winter months and the summer months. Unfortunately, Iceland’s F-roads in places like the Highlands and Landmannalaugar do not open until June or July. Nevertheless, there’s still plenty going on. Some of the best things to do in Iceland in April and May are:
- Reykjavik and Environs
- The Blue Lagoon
- The Golden Circle Route (Thingvellir National Park, Strokkur and Geysir geysers in Haukadalur geothermal valley, Gullfoss waterfall, and other sights)
- Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls
- Vik, Reynisfjara, and the South Coast
- Vatnajökull Nationa Park, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Diamond Beach
- The Eastfjords
- North Iceland and the Diamond Circle (Húsavik, Lake Myvatn, Dettifoss, Godafoss, Asbyrgi Canyon, Krafla Volcanic Fields, Hverir Geothermal Area, Dimmuborgir Lava Fields)
- Askja caldera and volcanic craters
- Akureyri and Dalvik
- The Westfjords
- Snaefellsness Peninsula (Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss, Snaefellsjökull glacier and volcano, Budir black church)
Another great thing about traveling in Iceland is the large number of summer festivals. These activities start up in the spring with numerous local events like the Icelandic horse festival, Sumardagurinn fyrsti (the traditional April festival celebrating the first day of Iceland’s summer), the Isafjordur Rock Festival, and the Reykjavik short film festival called Shorts and Docs.
Can You See the Northern Lights in Iceland in April and May?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is probably no. Northern Lights season in Iceland usually only extends through March. By mid-April, you probably won’t be able to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. As we inch towards the summer solstice in June and the endless days of the Midnight Sun, the Aurora Borealis in Iceland stops being visible.
All Year Campsites in Iceland
Because the majority of Iceland’s 200 or so campgrounds only stay open during camping season (June to August), you’ll need to make sure the ones you plan on staying at are included in the list of 26 campsites open all year in Iceland. Plan your trip accordingly. The good news is that there is plenty of space, even during high season, and you don’t need to make a reservation ahead of time at Iceland campsites.
What to Wear for Camping in Iceland in April and May
We’re big fans of the four-layer system for dressing to stay warm in Iceland. You can read a full post about what to pack for Iceland, and this will help you know exactly what to put in your suitcase for camping in Iceland in April and May. Springtime clothing in Iceland is not much different than what you would wear in the winter. Essentially you need four layers: a base layer to keep moisture out and heat in, a second layer to also trap heat and wick sweat, an insulating layer to keep you warm, and an outer shell layer like a rain jacket to keep water out. Spring is still relatively cold and wet, and nothing ruins a road trip in Iceland faster than not having the right items of clothing to stay dry and toasty.
Spring Camping in Iceland – April and May
April is a good time to visit Iceland, as is May. Make sure that you dress warmly and well for the elements you will face. Renting an Iceland campervan and taking a road trip in the spring is something you won’t soon forget. In a country known for natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes, springtime is the perfect period to get to know this gorgeous island as it shakes off winter and begins to welcome the blooming of a new season.