Iceland has one of the most distinctive and diverse climates on earth. Located in the North Atlantic, just south of the Arctic Circle, Iceland has a temperate maritime climate influenced by the Gulf Stream. This means that, although located in the north, the country does not often experience the severe cold like other Arctic regions.
Though it is difficult to predict the climate, Icelandic weather is very unpredictable and subject to abrupt changes. This is partly because the country lies on the edge of the Arctic Circle, where it is subject to both polar and tropical air masses. As a result, Icelandic weather often changes from one extreme to the other within hours.
Iceland is blessed with warm water and warm air thanks to the Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current that moves from the tropics to the poles. As a result, the country's temperature is considerably milder than in other areas at the same latitude.
Spring, summer, autumn and winter are Iceland's four distinct seasons. When planning a vacation to the country, it is vital to be prepared for everything, as each season has its own weather patterns and environment.
As the country emerges from the gloom and cold of winter, spring is a period of transformation in Iceland. At this time of year, temperatures are chilly, fluctuating between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius. Sunny days can alternate with rain and snow showers, and the weather can be quite unpredictable.
Summer in Iceland is the warmest and most enjoyable season. It has the longest days and most continuous sunlight of the year, with temperatures ranging from 10 to 20 degrees Celsius. The "midnight sun" phenomenon, in which the sun never sets completely and there is up to 20 hours of sunshine every day, is famous for occurring in Iceland throughout the summer. So if you want to take advantage of Iceland's natural beauty and engage in outdoor activities, summer is the ideal season to go there.
Iceland experiences changes in autumn as the leaves begin to change color and the days become shorter. At this time of year, temperatures usually range from 5 to 15 degrees Celsius, with chilly, cool days and sporadic rain or snow showers. If you want to see the Northern Lights, autumn is a great season to go to Iceland, as the longer, darker evenings are ideal for this phenomenon.
Winter in Iceland is chilly and dreary, with lows of about -5 to 5 degrees Celsius. It is not unusual for the entire country to be covered in a layer of snow. Snow and ice are also common. Even when it is cold outside, Iceland's pristine environment is beautiful in winter because it is covered with a layer of snow. Winter is a great time to come if you want to see the Northern Lights because it is much more noticeable.
The climate in Iceland's many regions
Iceland's climate is generally uniform throughout the country, but there are slight regional differences. For example, the southern and western parts of the country tend to have warmer and wetter weather than the more chilly and dry northern and eastern parts.
Reykjavik, the country's capital, is located in the southwestern part of the country and has moderate temperatures compared to other regions. The Gulf Stream affects the city, which helps maintain pleasant temperatures in winter. Reykjavik's average winter temperature is about 2 degrees Celsius, while the summer maximum is 16 degrees Celsius.
In contrast, the northern and eastern parts of the country, including Akureyri and Egilsstadir, are known for their chilly, dry winters and cool summers. These areas usually have winter temperatures of about -5 degrees Celsius and summer temperatures of up to 10 degrees Celsius. Strong winds and clear, bright days are also more common in these areas.
In short, Iceland has a very different and variable climate, with each season having its own weather patterns and conditions. Its proximity to the North Atlantic Ocean and the influence of the Gulf Stream cause temperatures to decrease, although the weather can still be quite erratic. Iceland is a beautiful and unique location that is likely to amaze visitors, whether you go there during the hot, glorious summer days or the chilly, dark evenings of winter.
Click on a region of Iceland to view the climate:
- South Iceland (Reykjavík)
- North Iceland (Akureyri)
- East Iceland (Egilsstaðir)
- West Iceland (Ísafjörður)
Climate South Iceland (Reykjavík) by month
South Iceland has a tundra climate. It is cold here all year round. The average annual temperature for South Iceland is 6° degrees and there is about 312 mm of rain in a year. It is dry for 140 days a year with an average humidity of 80% and an UV-index of 2.
|Day temp. (°C)||2||2||2||5||8||12||14||13||10||6||3||1|
|Night temp. (°C)||-1||-1||-1||1||4||8||9||8||6||3||1||-2|
|Water temp. (°C)||-3||7||8||16||18||19||17||18||12||8||6||6|
|Days with rain||13||11||11||14||14||15||17||14||17||14||12||10|
|Days with snow||6||6||9||6||1||-||-||-||-||-||4||6|
|Sun hours per day||2||3||4||5||7||4||7||8||5||4||3||3|
|Wind force (Bft)||4||4||4||4||4||3||3||3||4||4||4||4|
Weather data from: Reykjavík
Climate North Iceland (Akureyri) by month
North Iceland has a tundra climate. It is cold here all year round. The average annual temperature for North Iceland is 2° degrees and there is about 731 mm of rain in a year. It is dry for 82 days a year with an average humidity of 88% and an UV-index of 1.
|Day temp. (°C)||-3||-3||-2||0||4||9||11||10||7||2||-1||-4|
|Night temp. (°C)||-8||-8||-8||-6||-1||4||6||5||2||-2||-5||-9|
|Water temp. (°C)||6||4||4||6||7||8||11||11||9||7||6||6|
|Days with rain||12||8||9||11||17||18||22||22||21||17||12||10|
|Days with snow||17||17||21||15||6||1||-||-||2||9||14||18|
|Sun hours per day||2||3||4||5||7||1||5||7||5||4||2||1|
|Wind force (Bft)||3||3||3||3||3||2||2||2||3||3||3||3|
Weather data from: Akureyri
Climate East Iceland (Egilsstaðir) by month
East Iceland has a tundra climate. It is cold here all year round. The average annual temperature for East Iceland is 4° degrees and there is about 813 mm of rain in a year. It is dry for 76 days a year with an average humidity of 85% and an UV-index of 2.
|Day temp. (°C)||-1||0||0||2||6||10||12||11||8||4||1||-1|
|Night temp. (°C)||-5||-5||-5||-3||1||5||7||6||4||1||-3||-6|
|Days with rain||16||14||13||15||18||17||19||18||18||19||16||15|
|Days with snow||17||16||19||14||6||1||-||-||1||8||13||17|
|Sun hours per day||2||3||4||5||7||4||7||6||5||4||2||1|
|Wind force (Bft)||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||3|
Weather data from: Egilsstaðir
Climate West Iceland (Ísafjörður) by month
West Iceland has a tundra climate. It is cold here all year round. The average annual temperature for West Iceland is 3° degrees and there is about 503 mm of rain in a year. It is dry for 138 days a year with an average humidity of 86% and an UV-index of 2.
|Day temp. (°C)||-1||-1||-1||1||4||8||10||9||7||3||1||-1|
|Night temp. (°C)||-4||-4||-4||-2||1||5||6||6||4||1||-2||-4|
|Water temp. (°C)||-1||2||2||2||10||9||10||10||8||6||6||5|
|Days with rain||8||7||8||10||12||9||12||11||17||12||8||7|
|Days with snow||12||13||17||15||6||-||-||-||1||8||9||11|
|Sun hours per day||1||2||3||4||5||0||3||6||4||3||2||1|
|Wind force (Bft)||4||4||4||4||3||3||3||3||3||4||4||4|
Weather data from: Ísafjörður