woman on a beach

Winter and Summer
Solstice
in Iceland

All about the rotating daylight hours in Iceland

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Winter and Summer Solstice in Iceland

For centuries the Icelanders have celebrated the arrival of the summer and winter solstice with bonfires and a feast: each one boasting multiple traditions, folklore, and legends. In winter, there are days with only 3 hours of sunlight, and during the summer there are days with 24 hours of daylight.

Summer Solstice in Iceland

The summer solstice is observed between June 21st and June 23rd when the sun stays visible for 24 hours a day. If you spend your night outside, you can see the sun settle on the horizon, and then it appears to abort and starts climbing once again. At the end of that period, on June 24th, Icelanders celebrate Jónsmessa in Iceland, which means St. Johns Mass after John the Baptist. It signifies the end of the lambing season and the approaching long nights. 
The Icelanders who believe in the Huldufólk (Hidden people, elves, and trolls) know these beings are up to mischief on this day, and cows can talk, seals turn into humans, and you must roll naked in the grass. It is no laughing matter!
There are also more modern traditions cropping up, such as the Arctic Open (a midnight golf tournament) and the Suzuki Midnight Run.

couple sitting by camper at midnight in Iceland

The neverending days

The days are long (neverending), and it can be disorientating to fall asleep with the sun visible in the sky, but also it means that keeping to your home countries time-zone during your trip is entirely possible. Many take advantage of this constant daylight to entirely skip the jetlag and wander during the night hours! We can attest to the dreamy ambiance this can offer throughout your journey. If you choose this method of travel, a sleeping mask is a definite must-have, as you’ll be napping during the brightest hours of the day. The camper’s way of travel is especially susceptible to the brightness, or the lack of control of said brightness in your sleeping quarters. (Sleep masks are available at CampEasy)

This photo was taken just after midnight in early July. During the peak of the summer solstice period, the night won’t ever get this “dark.”

The campers for the job

Icelandic celebrations in summer

Icelanders have a few celebrations and festivals in June, including the Secret Solstice festival- probably the most (internationally) famous music festival of the summer. Locally, the National Festival ‘Þjóðhátíð’ is by far the most known and attended, although, that’s later in the summer. Iceland’s National Day of Independence is marked by a national holiday with parades on June 17th, and Icelanders come out in large crowds to celebrate.
24-hour sunlight is convenient for those participating in the Rúntur, AKA, the pub-crawl in downtown Reykjavik. Crowds of people enjoying the midnight sun go from pub-to-pub and can head home in the early hours, though it still feels like midday. Summertime is also perfect for those wishing to visit the Icelandic Highlands, as the mountain roads (F-Roads) begin to open in early June.
Check out the Secret Solstice “Aftermovie” from 2019.

Winter Solstice in Iceland


Icelanders celebrate Winter solstice, the darkest part of winter when the sun does not rise at all. With the skies lighting up for about 4 hours, and only 2 hours in the North of Iceland. During these dark months, it is not pitch-black, but the day consists of twilight for most of the (short) day. 
The half-way point of winter signifies the longer days ahead. In Viking times, Icelanders celebrated with a feast called ‘Jól,’ which means ‘Christmas’ in Icelandic. Although, what they called Christmas bears little resemblance to the modern festivities we know today. Followers of the pagan religion Ásatrúarfélagið still celebrate with a feast and ceremony called Jólablót.
Iceland has 13 Santa’s called the Yule Lads- who come down from the mountains one-by-one, and you can spot them hiding downtown, projected onto buildings. It is the Yule Lads, not Santa Claus, who bring Icelandic children their Christmas gifts, or a potato if they have been naughty! And the Christmas cat comes to eat them if they are unlucky.

outside winter shower

The time of seclusion

The winter solstice is an excellent time to experience the northern lights, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy live music at the Christmas Markets in downtown Reykjavik (Jólaportið) and take advantage of low tourist numbers and explore Iceland during winter in relative isolation. 
Many of the main attractions in Iceland are significantly less visited during winter. Many choose this time of year to experience a lot of what Iceland offers due to the calmer atmosphere and fewer tourists. The snow-covered mountains, beaches, and scenery are a beautiful sight to behold during these twilight times. The sunsets during this season are a magnificent fiery orange and pink and linger for a long time. Prices in Iceland are also significantly lower in the off-peak winter season.

Many of the main attractions in Iceland are significantly less visited during winter. Many choose this time of year to experience a lot of what Iceland offers due to the calmer atmosphere and fewer tourists.

The campers for the job

Below is a slider that summarizes each month’s climate, temperature, chances of northern lights, daylight hours, and more.

January
in Iceland
In Constant Twilight

The winter solstice has just passed, and every passing day lasts about 5-minutes longer than the last. The sunrise and sunset come and go, making for a short but beautiful days in constant twilight. An excellent time to find yourself at popular tourist destinations in complete solitude.

January:

Bring:
- Thermals and lots of thick socks.
- A thick coat. Maybe even two.

Rent:
- Shoe spikes at CampEasy. Or bring your own.
- Extra towels.

What To Read:
January
UPSIDES

Long Nights for Northern Lights

A lot Cheaper

A Lot Fewer Tourists

Winter Activities

January
DOWNSIDES

Coldest Month

Rough Weather

Very Short Days

Fewer Campsites

Reykjavík Average
Temperature
High: 1.9 °C (35.4 °F)
Low: -3 °C (26.6 °F)
Northern Lights Icon
Darkness: 5/5
Aurora Season: 3/5
Min/Max
Daylight Hours
Shortest day: 4h 22m
Longest day: 6h 57m
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February
in Iceland
Time To Strap On The Skis

February in Iceland offers some unique experiences with the highest number of opening days in the ski areas. If you are into any kind of snow-sports it's a good time to visit. Tourist season hasn't started, and February is a great time to find solitude on the Icelandic roads. Rent skis or snowboard for the trip, or bring your own and mount it on the roof.

February:

Bring:
- Thermals and lots of thick socks.
- A thick coat. Maybe even two.

Rent:
- Shoe spikes at CampEasy. Or bring your own.
- Extra towels.

What To Read:
February
UPSIDES

Long Nights for Northern Lights

A lot Cheaper

A Lot Fewer Tourists

Winter Activities

February
DOWNSIDES

Cold Month

Rough Weather

Short Days

Fewer Campsites

Reykjavík Average
Temperature
High: 2.8 °C (37 °F)
Low: -2.1 °C (28.2 °F)
Northern Lights Icon
Darkness: 4/5
Aurora Season: 3/5
Min/Max
Daylight Hours
Shortest day: 7h 4m
Longest Day: 10h 7m
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March
in Iceland
Northern Lights Explorer

March is one of the best months to come and hunt the northern lights. The 2 "high-seasons" for the Aurora Borealis are in March/April on one end, and September/October on the other. And in March, it is still very dark during a relatively long night, making it ideal for hunting the elusive lights.

March:

Bring:
- Thermals and lots of thick socks.
- A thick coat. Maybe even two.
- A tripod for Northern Lights photography.

Rent:
- Shoe spikes at CampEasy. Or bring your own.
- Extra towels.

What To Read:
March
UPSIDES

Great Season for Northern Lights

A lot Cheaper

Fewer Tourists

Winter Activities

March
DOWNSIDES

Cold Month

Rough Weather

Fewer Campsites

Reykjavík Average
Temperature
High: 3.2 °C (37.8 °F)
Low: -2.0 °C (28.4 °F)
Darkness: 3/5
Aurora Season: 5/5
Min/Max
Daylight Hours
Shortest day: 10h 13m
Longest Day: 13h 29m
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April
in Iceland
Northern Lights, Oh Thy Glory

April is one of the best Northern Lights months, but the night time needed for Aurora Viewing is getting shorter. You are likely to get a more vibrant Northern Light show in early April. It gets a bit warmer, with temperatures rising to a 7°C average high at the end of the month. The Island is thawing and the environment changing, fast.

April:

Bring:
- Thermals and lots of socks.
- A thick coat.
- A tripod for Northern Lights photography.

Rent:
- Extra towels.

What To Read:
April
UPSIDES

Great Season for Northern Lights

A lot Cheaper

A Lot Fewer Tourists

Winter Activities

April
DOWNSIDES

Somewhat Cold

Somewhat Rough Weather

Fewer Campsites

Reykjavík Average
Temperature
Thermometer Icon
High: 5.7 °C (42.3 °F)
Low: 0.4 °C (32.7 °F)
Rain Icon
Darkness: 2/5
Aurora Season: 5/5
Min/Max
Daylight Hours
Sunshine Icon
Shortest day: 13h 36m
Longest Day: 16h 48m
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May
in Iceland
Weather, Tips, and Recommendations

Nights are now short, snow can still be scattererd around, and visible on tops of mountains and in the highlands. Days are getting warmer, with occasional sunny days reaching 15 °C (59 °F), mixed in with regular cold spells. One F-road opens up, loads of campsites open, and most "summer" activities become available.

May:

Rent:
- the BBQ Unit, it rocks!
- a Toy

What To Read:
May
UPSIDES

Lots of Daylight Hours

Cheaper

A Lot Fewer Tourists

The Least Overcast

Many Campsites Open

May
DOWNSIDES

Somewhat Chilly

All the Weather Types

Reykjavík Average
Temperature
Thermometer Icon
High: 9.4 °C (48.9 °F)
Low: 3.6 °C (38.5 °F)
Reykjavík
Precipitation
Rain Icon
Chances of Rain: 30%
Rainfall: 61 mm (2.4 in)
Min/Max
Daylight Hours
Sunshine Icon
Shortest day: 16h 54m
Longest Day: 20h 04m
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June
in Iceland
24/7 Daylight

In June, we leave the Astronomical and Nautical Twilight behind, just barely dipping into the Civil Twilight in the "dark" of night, with daytime brightness round-the-clock. On the longest day of the year, Summer Solstice on June 20th, the sun is visible in the sky for 21 hours and 8 minutes. The snow is mostly gone, roads are clear, but F-Roads are still mostly closed. F-Road Openings vary every year.

June:

Bring:
- Sunscreen.

Rent:
- the BBQ Unit, it rocks!
- a Toy

What To Read:
June
UPSIDES

24 Hours of Daylight

Slightly Cheaper

Warmer Month

Driest Month

All Campsites Open

June
DOWNSIDES

24 Hours of Daylight

More Tourists

Reykjavík Average
Temperatures
Thermometer Icon
High: 11.7 °C (53.1 °F)
Low: 6.7 °C (44.1 °F)
Reykjavík
Precipitation
Rain Icon
Chances of Rain: 30%
Rainfall: 57 mm (2.2 in)
Min/Max
Daylight Hours
Sunshine Icon
Shortest day: 20h 9m
Longest Day: 21h 8m
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July
in Iceland
Highlands, Here I Come

In July you get the Icelandic Summer. The hottest month and the least windy, roads are clear and most F-Roads open. Get an Easy 4x4 and explore the geothermal-active tundra that is the Icelandic Highlands. Vast expanses of lava covered fields, no cell service, sparse vegitation, no inhabitants.
Want to bring a buggy?

July:

Bring:
- Sunscreen.

Rent:
- the BBQ Unit, it rocks!
- a Toy

What To Read:
July
UPSIDES

Lots of Daylight Hours

Warmest Month

Gentlest Climate Month

All Campsites Open

July
DOWNSIDES

More Tourists

Most Expensive

Reykjavík Average
Temperatures
Thermometer Icon
High: 13.3 °C (55.4 °F)
Low: 8.3 °C (46.9 °F)
Reykjavík
Precipitation
Rain Icon
Chances of Rain: 32%
Rainfall: 66 mm (2.6 in)
Min/Max
Daylight Hours
Sunshine Icon
Longest Day: 20h 48m
Shortest day: 18h 0m
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August
in Iceland
Highlands, Here I Come Again

Another excellent summer month in Iceland, with the best available weather. Roads are good, F-Roads open, and remote areas easily accessible.
We recommend having a small electric bike on the back for shorter commutes.

August:

Bring:
- Sunscreen.

Rent:
- the BBQ Unit, it rocks!
- a Toy

What To Read:
August
UPSIDES

Plenty of Daylight Hours

Warm Month

Gentle Climate

All Campsites Open

August
DOWNSIDES

Most Expensive

Most Tourists

Reykjavík Average
Temperatures
Thermometer Icon
High: 13.0 °C (55.4 °F)
Low: 7.9 °C (46.2 °F)
Reykjavík
Precipitation
Rain Icon
Chances of Rain: 39%
Rainfall: 89 mm (3.5 in)
Min/Max
Daylight Hours
Sunshine Icon
Longest Day: 17h 53m
Shortest day: 14h 39m
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September
in Iceland
Northern Lights In Cozy Weather

September is one of the best months to view the northern lights, with decent amount of clear skies. Short nights are still a drawback. The 2 "high-seasons" for the Aurora Borealis are in March/April on one end, and September/October on the other. Good weather for the most part, gets a bit cold at the end of the month.

September:

Bring:
- A tripod for Northern Lights photography.

Rent:
- the BBQ Unit, it rocks!
- a Toy

What To Read:
September
UPSIDES

Great Season for Northern Lights

Slightly Cheaper

Warm Month

Gentle Climate

All Campsites Open

September
DOWNSIDES

Expensive

More Tourists

Reykjavík Average
Temperatures
Thermometer Icon
High: 10.1 °C (50.2 °F)
Low: 5.0 °C (41.0 °F)
Northern Lights Icon
Darkness: 3/5
Aurora Season: 5/5
Min/Max
Daylight Hours
Sunshine Icon
Longest Day: 14h 30m
Shortest day: 11h 23m
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October
in Iceland
The Photographers Favorite Aurora Month

October is an excellent month to hunt the Northern Lights, especially the first 2 weeks. In October, days are short, making it ideal for hunting the elusive lights. Most F-Roads are closing but normal roads are mostly accessible. Some years we get snow, but not much.

October:

Bring:
- Thermals and lots of socks.
- A thick coat.
- A tripod for Northern Lights photography.

Rent:
- Extra towels.

What To Read:
October
UPSIDES

Great Season for Northern Lights

Cheaper

Fewer Tourists

Winter Activities

October
DOWNSIDES

Chilly

All the Weather Types

Fewer Campsites

Reykjavík Average
Temperature
Thermometer Icon
High: 6.8 °C (44.2 °F)
Low: 2.2 °C (36.0 °F)
Northern Lights Icon
Darkness: 4/5
Aurora Season: 5/5
Min/Max
Daylight Hours
Sunshine Icon
Longest Day: 11h 17m
Shortest day: 8h 3m
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November
in Iceland
Back Again, The Long Night

Days are now short with intermittent snowfall. Some years there's plenty of snow, some there's little-to-none. Fluctuating weather, with plenty of both rough and calm days. Most roads are open, but none of the F-Roads. Northern lights aplenty and excellent opportunities for bargain deals and exciting activities to choose from.

November:

Bring:
- Thermals and lots of thick socks.
- A thick coat.

Rent:
- Shoe spikes at CampEasy. Or bring your own.
- Extra towels.

What To Read:
November
UPSIDES

Long Nights for Northern Lights

A Lot Cheaper

A Lot Fewer Tourists

Winter Activities

November
DOWNSIDES

Somewhat Cold

Somewhat Rough Weather

Very Short Days

Fewer Campsites

Reykjavík Average
Temperature
Thermometer Icon
High: 3.4 °C (38.1 °F)
Low: -1.3 °C (29.7 °F)
Northern Lights Icon
Darkness: 5/5
Aurora Season: 3/5
Min/Max
Daylight Hours
Sunshine Icon
Longest Day: 7h 56m
Shortest day: 5h 4m
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December
in Iceland
Join The Festivities

It is increasingly popular to combine a visit to Reykjavík with a few days out of town on a camper mixed in. Winter Solstice is on the 21st, with only 4 hours of daylight. Surprisingly, it's the month with the fewest visitors. Reykjavík lights up with decorations, with heavy use of Christmas lighting in most homes in Iceland. New-Years Eve is spectacular as Icelanders blow up their hard-earned cash with fireworks.

December:

Bring:
- Thermals and lots of thick socks.
- A thick coat. Maybe even two.

Rent:
- Shoe spikes at CampEasy. Or bring your own.
- Extra towels.

What To Read:
December
UPSIDES

Longest Night for Northern Lights

A Lot Cheaper

The Least Amount Of Tourists

Winter Activities

December
DOWNSIDES

Cold Month

Rough Weather

Shortest Days

Fewer Campsites

Reykjavík Average
Temperature
Thermometer Icon
High: 2.2 °C (36.0 °F)
Low: -2.8 °C (27.0 °F)
Northern Lights Icon
Darkness: 5/5
Aurora Season: 3/5
Min/Max
Daylight Hours
Sunshine Icon
Longest Day: 4h 59m
Shortest day: 4h 7m
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