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Johann - The CEO of Reykjavik Outventure

Jóhann Viking

Everything about Iceland time

Understand the Iceland time and what time is the best for you to visit Iceland

Iceland time is not all cut and dried like most countries. Over here, we have summer months with absolutely no nights, so you can’t even tell when it’s nighttime without a clock.

The opposite is the case in winter when we have very long nights with all-enveloping darkness. However, in Iceland, you can live, work, and play when you understand it’s time. This doesn’t negate the fact that Iceland’s time could be strange, especially when trying to recognize spring and autumn.

There is only the darkness in mid-winter with some parts of Iceland, seeing about four hours of daylight and the warm glow of summer. In remote Icelandic fjords, the sun can go hiding for as long as five months in winter.

Iceland is an exciting country with its summer and winter solstice. In the summer solstice, the longest day of the year falls around June 21st, and we call this the Midnight Sun. on this day, there are twenty-four hours of daylight, meaning that the sun never sets.

Directly opposite this is the winter solstice where the shortest day of the year falls around December 21st. Lying right between these two extremes is the twilight zone, which is ever-changing despite being reminiscent of common light patterns around the world.

However, to fully understand Iceland’s time, we have to start from the beginning.

The Old Icelandic Calendar

Hundreds of years ago, the human race relied on the moon, sun, and stars to navigate through their daily lives. Time plays an essential factor in all our human endeavors, and the Old Icelandic Calendar was what the ancient Icelanders relied on to tell time.

This calendar was based on the movements of the sky with the winter equinox signifying summer. Spring and autumn don’t exactly exist in Iceland as it is perpetually winter or summer. However, this may have close ties with the fact that the old Norse calendar has six lunar phases split into two seasons. Here is how it went:

 

Harpa, Skerpla, Sólmánuðr

May-July

Heyannir, Tvímánuðr and Haustmánuðr

August-October

Gormánuðr, Ýlir, Mörsungr

November-January

Þorri, Góa and Einmánuðr

February-April

 

The days of the week were known as the following:


Sunnudagr
(Sunday which means “Sun’s Day”)

Mánadagr (Monday which means “Moon’s Day”)

Týsdagr (Tuesday which means “Tyr’s Day”)

Óðinsdagr (Wednesday which means “Odin’s Day”)

Þórsdagr (Thursday which means “Thor’s Day”)

Frjádagr (Friday which means “Freya’s Day”)

Laugardagr (Saturday which means “Bath Day”)

South Coast tour with glacier hike and Viking dinner
Golden Circle with Secret Lagoon
Northern Lights tour

The ancient Icelanders were only able to observe 360 days in a year because each month had 30 days. However, they were able to synchronize this with the solar year by adding an extra week every 7 years. They called this the “sumarauki,” which translates to the “the summer addition.”

Therefore, rather than the addition of a day we are familiar with in a leap year, the Icelandic calendar had leap weeks, and this can be traced to the ingenuity of Þorsteinn surtr. He invented the summer addition. It is widely believed that the first day of the early summer month signifies the Viking new year.

We attribute this to the settlers who used the number of winters they had lived through to measure their ages. This method is still used by Icelandic farmers today when they refer to their livestock.

In fact, the first day of summer, which usually falls on the first Thursday after April 18th, is a public celebration in Iceland.

 

The Ancient Icelanders also used tools, such as The Sunstone (Sólarsteinn), to help in the accuracy of their timekeeping efforts. This tool is a crystalline mineral used to locate the sun on an overcast day. To make it work, you would have to hold it towards the sky, study its reflection in the light, and ready how the light passes through it.

Although there is no thorough documentation of the attributes of The Sunstone, it is safe to say that it was accurate as the ancient Icelanders were able to predict and understand seasonal changes effectively. Lots of scientists believe that this sunstone was actually a transparent type of calcite known as the Icelandic Spar.

The Midnight Sun

In Iceland, there is a natural phenomenon that takes place in every region south of the Antarctic Circle and north of the Arctic Circle in summer. This is known as the midnight sun. So, when it’s summer, these areas have whopping 24-hour sunlight consecutively. Even at its lowest point during the day, the sun can still be seen from the Arctic Circle hanging above the horizon.

Cities that are close to the North or South pole have longer days of the Midnight Sun. With fair weather around the summer solstice that falls on the December 22nd in the Southern Hemisphere and June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere comes the sun, which is visible for the entire day.

For now, there is no permanent human settlement in Antarctica. Therefore, only countries crossed by the Arctic Circle like Russia, Greenland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland experience the midnight sun.

 

What really causes this?  The earth takes 365 days for a complete orbit around the sun while simultaneously rotating on its own axis to create a day. The trajectories from the orbiting and rotation on its axis form an angle that results in the four seasons, midnight sun and polar nights.

This simply means that if you live farther north, you will see the sun staying above the horizon more. You can see a classic example in the South Pole and the North Pole. Both alternate between six months of polar night and six months of the midnight sun. If your visit to Iceland means that you get to stay within the arctic circle in summer or from March to September, you will always see the sun above the horizon.

You can see the sun just above you as it rolls around in circles, going higher and higher until June 21st, the day of the Summer Solstice, where it reaches its highest circuit. However, as the sun is not on a fixed point, the atmospheric refractions of sunlight allow the midnight sun to be experienced slightly north of the Antarctic Circle or south of the Arctic circle. In northern parts of Iceland that are as far as 90km from the polar circle, you can still see the midnight sun. On the southernmost side of Iceland are the Westman Islands that are affected by the midnight sun to a lesser degree. No matter what, witnessing the incredible midnight sun is a spectacular experience, and you can be part of it when you head over to Iceland in summer.

Here are some tips to help you make the best out of it.

Sunset in Iceland by the Blue Lagoon

Experiencing the Midnight Sun

No doubt, visiting Iceland to witness the Midnight Sun is quite enchanting and one of the best times to visit the land of fire and ice. You get to have a literally endless day with temperatures warm enough to dress light and enjoy some fantastic outdoor activities.

The light in the evenings is enough to help you unwind with the locals, and witness the majesty of nature through the vivid colors of the mountains. There is no forgetting the beautiful skies during the Midnight Sun. However, this also means that you have to study the times to get some sleep. Daylight all through the night means that the body doesn’t produce melatonin, a hormone that is supposed to make you tired enough to rest. When this is delayed, your body doesn’t get the signal, it needs to signify the time for you to go to bed, which it would if your room was dark. You can still cope with this and get enough rest without damaging your body’s natural processes. Here are some tips to help you:

 

  • One of the most prominent and effective ways is to wear a sleeping mask. A good sleeping mask is thick enough to block out intense sunlight while you sleep. It gives an imitation of a dark environment that encourages sleep. You can also close your curtains before doing this as it will handle up to half of the work before your sleeping mask takes over.
  • Wear sunglasses while you are outdoors in summer, as this will offer a layer of protection for your eyes. It could also help to prop a pillow alongside your head while you sleep. This will block out some light, but don’t put it too close to your face. You will still want to be able to breathe.

 

During the midnight sun, it won’t get dark at night in Reykjavik from May 21st to July 30th. On June 21st, they experience 24 hours of continuous sunlight in North Iceland and the Westfjords. However, Reykjavik’s sun could set below the horizon during the summer solstice, but this will only last a few hours. Here, you can decide to read a book or sit outside in the middle of the night.

Summer Solstice in Iceland

Referred to as Jónsmessa or the Midsummer’s Night in Iceland, the origin of the summer solstice can be traced to the birth of John the Baptist. Icelanders celebrate the Summer Solstice on June 24th with lots of folklore accompanying this tradition. Some of the stories tell of how cows were able to talk and the ability of seals to transform into humans. While it may seem a little weird, the locals encourage people to roll around naked on the dewy grass during the Midnight sun as it has health benefits. On the day of the Summer Solstice in Iceland, there won’t be night but only a few hours of mesmerizing twilight.

 

Winter Solstice in Iceland

As opposed to the Summer Solstice, the Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year in Iceland. This is the time when the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere is far from the sun. On December 21st, every year in Reykjavik, the sun will rise at a few minutes past 11am and set just before 3:30pm. On that day, people in Iceland will witness only a few hours of dim daylight with it being shorter in cities at the northernmost part of Iceland like Grimsey. Just like in the summer solstice, the skies in the winter solstice are as enchanting. Even better, this is considered the best time to hunt for the Northern Lights.

The Northern Lights Season

There is no talking about Iceland without mentioning the Northern Lights. Imagine looking into a sky filled with striking colors that are nothing short of magical. These visual results are caused by solar particles ionizing at the high atmosphere in the earth’s magnetic field.

With increased sun activity comes higher intensity of dancing lights of varying colors high up in the sky. These colors range from orange and pink to blue, green, red, and purple, depending on the specific elements being ionized. So, to find the Northern Lights, you would have to seek a dark, clear night. Also known as the Aurora Borealis, they could be present in the skies on a midsummer day, but the brightness of the sun would make them invisible.

There have been so many theories about the origin of Northern Lights before the explanations revealed by science. For example, the Finnish believed that the lights were the results of a Firefox dashing across the snow. In the process, his tails released sparks into the sky to create the aurora. Hence the Finnish word for the Northern Lights is revontulet, a term that literally translates to Firefox.

Hunting down the Northern Lights is a big deal, and some preset conditions will increase your chances of seeing the aurora during your stay in Iceland. It requires luck, patience, and these tips:

 

  • Hunt for the northern lights between September and April as these are the times when you can experience clear nights necessary for the lights to be visible. Although they occasionally surface towards the end of August, they are mostly very faint due to the lingering sunlight
  • Stay away from unnatural or artificial lights as much as possible when watching out for the northern lights
  • Look out for a little cloud cover as the northern lights are higher than the clouds
  • There should be a solar activity of nothing less than Kp 2, as this increases your chances. To find out more about this, research on the aurora and cloud cover forecasts, which are measured on a scale of 0-9 Kp-index, with 9 being the highest. You will have a better opportunity for more visibility with any forecast above Kp 2.
  • Plan to spend more than a couple of days as shorter vacations limit your chances of a clear sky. Then, travel to North Iceland or the Westfjords, as these areas have longer hours of darkness. Compared to Reykjavik, which gives about twenty hours of darkness at the winter equinox, the northernmost regions could give you as much as twenty-two hours of darkness with less frequent cloud covers.
  • You can also consider camping in Iceland between September and April. Apart from the fantastic experience of sleeping under the stars, this also increases your chance of seeing the northern lights. Most campsites are in rural areas where there is minimal light pollution.

 

Most people look forward to winter in Iceland as it is a chance to see the aurora borealis. However, this has no impact on the chances of seeing the aurora borealis, as you can also hunt in summer in more comfortable conditions.

It is important to note that even with seemingly perfect conditions, nature could be unpredictable. Your chances of seeing the aurora increase the longer you stay in Iceland. However, you can’t ignore the role of luck. You can take all the necessary precautions but still not see them. You may even end up seeing them while on a plane going over Iceland. Your best bet is to move with expert local guides like those at Reykjavik Outventure.

They have seen several northern lights in their lifetimes and know the best ways to hunt for them with a 95% chance of success. So, where are the best places to hunt for the Northern Lights in Iceland?

 

Where to hunt for the Northern Lights

You can hunt for the Northern Lights in Reykjavik city with a guided tour, take a boat cruise, or go on a drive yourself to search for them. Let’s see what these options are all about.

 

Searching for the Northern Lights in Reykjavik

If you’re trying to cut costs, you can try to search for the Northern Lights in Reykjavik without booking a tour or renting a car. First, you have to look for the darkest place in the city. In Reykjavik, there are lots of parks, and you can head over to the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula close to the Grótta lighthouse. This is in the north-west part of the capital city. At this spot, the light pollution is minimal, which gives you a great shot at spotting the northern lights on clear nights. While you wait for the lights, you can warm your feet at the Kvika Foot Bath, the little geothermal tub close by. If you’re a bit far from this spot, you can hunt for the aurora at Oskjuhlid, which surrounds a famous restaurant known as Perlan. This area is also very dark, and observing from one of its clearings have been said to be effective. Better yet, you can head over to one of the parks in the city like the Laugardalur Park or Klambratun. However, this comes with distinct disadvantages. Chief among them is that light pollution in cities is always more than remote untouched areas. As you will be restricted to one point, you will find it challenging to move around when there is a little cloud cover. This doesn’t allow for an optimal viewing experience and could ruin your hunt.

 

Going on a guided tour

This is by far the most common and effective method of searching for the Northern Lights. With tours at Reykjavik Outventure that run from September to April, you can pay an affordable fee and move around with an experienced guide who knows how to find the best spots to see the Northern Lights. Our Northern Lights tour is a perfect one for hunting the aurora borealis. During this tour, you will also be treated to a meal of hot Icelandic chocolate and cinnamon buns, which will warm you up nicely while you wait. You don’t have to worry about the fee as you will be allowed to join the tour for free if, for any reason, the search is unsuccessful. However, this almost always never happens. The experienced guide will drive you around, to keep you safe during the winter conditions, while you will be taken to the most promising locations without going beyond your budget. It will also be an excellent opportunity to meet new people while you witness the wonders of nature.

 

If you want to watch this with just your friends and family, you can opt for Reykjavik Outventure’s private tour, which gives you more privacy while you watch the northern lights. No doubt, a guided tour is a much better option than driving out to see the Northern Lights yourself. Going on a search by yourself means you will miss out on the precious knowledge of experienced guides who understand the best-secluded places to check them out. It also saves you a lot of stress as the holiday is meant to be more for unwinding than navigating through unfamiliar terrains.

 

Going on a boat

You can head out to the port at Reykjavik, where you can take a boat out to sea. When you are far out, there won’t be a lot of light pollution, and this increases your chances of a sighting. However, this is very restrictive compared to being on a bus or super jeep. Still, you get the perk of going out to sea surrounded by a canopy of stars and beautiful landscapes. You can also indulge in some whale watching as whales are common on the shores. The northern waters usually feature Humpbacks while you will find more of Minke Whales in Reykjavik.

 

Searching while on a different tour

You don’t have to book an exclusive northern lights tour when you can experience other significant attractions in Iceland while you search. Since we mentioned that your chances become better, the longer you stay, you can take any of our 3-day or 5-day tours at Reykjavik Outventure. You can admire the beautiful landscapes on a Golden Circle tour during the day while you dedicate the nights to searching the skies for the auroras. Even better, you can take a complete tour of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula before circling back to check out the mesmerizing northern lights. Why settle for less when you can get more?

Time Zone in Iceland

Most countries operate with daylight savings time, and this was first introduced in 1916 as a way of making better use of the day and saving fuel during the war. From here, it spread across Europe, before getting to Iceland in 1917. For about 50 years, Iceland used daylight saving time with the rest of Europe with changes made to the clocks twice a year. However, winter was set to Icelandic Standard Time, which is an hour behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). This was a lot of hassle as summer meant that the clocks would have to be moved forward to GMT again. Things changed in 1968 as Icelanders were fed up with the disruption of sleeping patterns and timetables. As a way forward, the Icelandic Parliament passed a law that keeps GMT “summertime” permanently on the clocks. So, how does this look? Here is a breakdown of the monthly daylight hours in Iceland.

 

Month

Sun Rise Time     

Sun Set Time     

Daylight Hours

January

11:21 PM – 10:15 AM

3:41 PM – 5:08 PM

4:20 – 6:55

February

10:12 AM – 8:44 AM

5:11 PM – 6:39 PM

6:59 – 9:55

March

8:40 AM – 6:54 AM

6:42 PM – 8:12 PM

10:02 – 13:18

April

6:50 AM – 5:08 AM

8:15 PM – 9:44 PM

13:31 – 16:36

May

5:04 AM – 3:29 AM

9:47 PM – 11:23 PM

16:43 – 19:54

June

3:26 AM – 3:02

11:26PM – 11:59 PM

20:00 – 20:57

July

3:03 AM – 4:27 AM

11:58 PM – 10:39

20:55 – 18:12

August

4:30 AM – 6:03

10:36 PM – 9:62 PM

18:06 – 14:49

September

6:06 AM – 7:30 AM

8:48 PM – 7:05 PM

14:32 – 11:35

October

7:32 AM – 9:03 AM

7:01 PM – 5:18 PM

11:29 – 8:15

November

9:06 AM – 10:39 AM

5:15 PM – 3:52 PM

8:09 – 5:13

December

10:42 AM – 11:22 AM

15:50 PM – 15:38 PM

5:08 – 4:16

 

When you pack up your bags and make your way to Iceland, chances are that you are coming over to take a dip in the hot springs, admire our glaciers, or take a pleasant hike on our volcanoes. However, you need to understand the time zones in Iceland and how different it is from your country. In our detailed list below, we talk about the major cities in different countries and how much the time difference is compared to Iceland. Since Iceland functions on a single timezone, the GMT UTC+0 (WET), it has the same time as Ireland, Canary Islands, and Portugal. Of course, you will be able to see the time difference with the closest countries to Iceland, including Greenland, Sweden, Scotland, Norway, and the United Kingdom.

 

Country

Time Difference

Country

Time Difference

Adelaide

+9:30 hours

China

 

Darwin

+9:30 hours

Beijing

+8 hours

Brisbane

+10 hours

Chengdu

+8 hours

Canberra

+10 hours

Hong Kong

+8 hours

Hobart

+10 hours

Macau

+8 hours

Melbourne

+10 hours

Shanghai

+8 hours

Sydney

+10 hours

Colombia

 

Austria

 

Bogota

-5 hours

Salzburg

+2 hours

Cali

-5 hours

Vienna

+2 hours

Medellin

-5 hours

Azerbaijan

 

Congo

 

Baku

+4 hours

Brazzaville

+1 hour

Bahamas

 

Cote d’Ivoire

 

Nassau

-4 hours

Abidjan

same time

Bangladesh

 

Croatia

 

Dhaka

+6 hours

Zagreb

+2 hours

Belarus

 

Czech Republic

 

Minsk

+3 hours

Prague

+2 hours

Belgium

 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

 

Brussels

+2 hours

Kinshasa

+1 hour

Brazil

 

Denmark

 

Brasilia

-3 hours

Copenhagen

+2 hours

Rio de Janeiro

-3 hours

Djibouti

 

Sao Paulo

-3 hours

Djibouti

+3 hours

Bulgaria

 

Dominican Republic

 

Sofia

+3 hours

Santo Domingo

-4 hours

Cambodia

 

Ecuador

 

Phnom Penh

+7 hours

Quito

-5 hours

Canada

 

Egypt

 

Vancouver

-7 hours

Cairo

+2 hours

Calgary

-6 hours

Eritrea

 

Edmonton

-6 hours

Asmara

+3 hours

Regina

-6 hours

Estonia

 

Winnipeg

-5 hours

Tallinn

+3 hours

Ottawa

-4 hours

Ethiopia

 

Toronto

-4 hours

Addis Ababa

+3 hours

Halifax

-3 hours

Helsinki, Finland

+3 hours

 

St. John’s

-2:30 hours

Indonesia

 

Chile

 

Jakarta

+7 hours

Santiago

-4 hours

Iran

 

France

 

Tehran

+4:30 hours

Nice

+2 hours

Iraq

 

Paris

+2 hours

Baghdad

+3 hours

Georgia

 

Ireland

 

Tbilisi

+4 hours

Dublin

+1 hour

Germany

 

Israel

 

Berlin

+2 hours

Jerusalem

+3 hours

Dusseldorf

+2 hours

Tel Aviv

+3 hours

Frankfurt

+2 hours

Italy

 

Hamburg

+2 hours

Milan

+2 hours

Munich

+2 hours

Rome

+2 hours

Ghana

 

Venice

+2 hours

Accra

same time

Japan

 

Greece

 

Kyoto

+9 hours

Athens

+3 hours

Nagoya

+9 hours

Guatemala

 

Osaka

+9 hours

Guatemala

-6 hours

Tokyo

+9 hours

Haiti

 

Jordan

 

Port-au-Prince

-4 hours

Amman

+3 hours

Hungary

 

Kazakhstan

 

Budapest

+2 hours

Almaty

+6 hours

India

 

Astana

+6 hours

Bangalore

+5:30 hours

Kenya

 

Chennai

+5:30 hours

Nairobi

+3 hours

Delhi

+5:30 hours

Kiribati

 

Hyderabad

+5:30 hours

Kiritimati

+14 hours

Jaipur

+5:30 hours

Kyrgyzstan

 

Kolkata

+5:30 hours

Bishkek

+6 hours

Mumbai

+5:30 hours

Latvia

 

New Delhi

+5:30 hours

Riga

+3 hours

Pune

+5:30 hours

New Zealand

 

Lebanon

 

Auckland

+12 hours

Beirut

+3 hours

Christchurch

+12 hours

Lithuania

 

Wellington

+12 hours

Vilnius

+3 hours

Nicaragua

 

Luxembourg

 

Managua

-6 hours

Luxembourg

+2 hours

Nigeria

 

Malaysia

 

Abuja

+1 hour

Kuala Lumpur

+8 hours

Lagos

+1 hour

Marshall Islands

 

Northern Mariana Islands

 

Majuro

+12 hours

Saipan

+10 hours

Mexico

 

Norway

 

Mexicali

-7 hours

Oslo

+2 hours

Tijuana

-7 hours

Oman

 

Cancun

-5 hours

Muscat

+4 hours

Guadalajara

-5 hours

Pakistan

 

Mexico City

-5 hours

Islamabad

+5 hours

Monaco

 

Karachi

+5 hours

Monaco

+2 hours

Lahore

+5 hours

Mongolia

 

Panama

 

Ulaanbaatar

+8 hours

Panama

-5 hours

Morocco

 

Peru

 

Casablanca

+1 hour

Lima

-5 hours

Myanmar

 

Philippines

 

Yangon

+6:30 hours

Manila

+8 hours

Nepal

 

Poland

 

Kathmandu

+5:45 hours

Krakow

+2 hours

Netherlands

 

Warsaw

+2 hours

Amsterdam

+2 hours

Wroclaw

+2 hours

Rotterdam

+2 hours

New Zealand

 

Portugal

 

South Africa

 

Lisbon

+1 hour

Cape Town

+2 hours

Puerto Rico

 

Johannesburg

+2 hours

San Juan

-4 hours

Pretoria

+2 hours

Qatar

 

South Korea

 

Doha

+3 hours

Seoul

+9 hours

Romania

 

Spain

 

Bucharest

+3 hours

Barcelona

+2 hours

Russia

 

Madrid

+2 hours

Moscow

+3 hours

Sri Lanka

 

Saint-Peterburg

+3 hours

Colombo

+5:30 hours

Chelyabinsk

+5 hours

Sudan

 

Yekaterinburg

+5 hours

Khartoum

+2 hours

Krasnoyarsk

+7 hours

Sweden

 

Novosibirsk

+7 hours

Stockholm

+2 hours

Vladivostok

+10 hours

Switzerland

 

Rwanda

 

Bern

+2 hours

Kigali

+2 hours

Geneva

+2 hours

Saudi Arabia

 

Lausanne

+2 hours

Jeddah

+3 hours

Zurich

+2 hours

Mecca

+3 hours

Syria

 

Riyadh

+3 hours

Damascus

+3 hours

Senegal

 

Taiwan

 

Dakar

same time

Taipei

+8 hours

Serbia

 

Tanzania

 

Belgrade

+2 hours

Dar es Salaam

+3 hours

Singapore

 

Thailand

 

Singapore

+8 hours

Bangkok

+7 hours

Slovakia

 

Togo

 

Bratislava

+2 hours

Lome

same time

Tunisia

 

Kansas City

-5 hours

Tunis

+1 hour

Little Rock

-5 hours

Turkey

 

Madison

-5 hours

Ankara

+3 hours

Memphis

-5 hours

Istanbul

+3 hours

Milwaukee

-5 hours

Uganda

 

Minneapolis

-5 hours

Kampala

+3 hours

Nashville

-5 hours

Ukraine

 

New Orleans

-5 hours

Odesa

+3 hours

Oklahoma City

-5 hours

United Arab Emirates

 

San Antonio

-5 hours

Abu Dhabi

+4 hours

Sioux Falls

-5 hours

Dubai

+4 hours

St. Louis

-5 hours

United Kingdom

 

Wichita

-5 hours

Belfast

+1 hour

Atlanta

-4 hours

Birmingham

+1 hour

Baltimore

-4 hours

Edinburgh

+1 hour

Boston

-4 hours

Glasgow

+1 hour

Charlotte

-4 hours

Liverpool

+1 hour

Cincinnati

-4 hours

London

+1 hour

Cleveland

-4 hours

United States

 

Columbia

-4 hours

Honolulu

-10 hours

Columbus

-4 hours

Anchorage

-8 hours

Detroit

-4 hours

Anaheim

-7 hours

Indianapolis

-4 hours

Las Vegas

-7 hours

Knoxville

-4 hours

Los Angeles

-7 hours

Louisville

-4 hours

Oakland

-7 hours

Miami

-4 hours

Phoenix

-7 hours

New York

-4 hours

Portland

-7 hours

Newark

-4 hours

Sacramento

-7 hours

Philadelphia

-4 hours

San Diego

-7 hours

Pittsburgh

-4 hours

San Francisco

-7 hours

Raleigh

-4 hours

San Jose

-7 hours

Tampa

-4 hours

Seattle

-7 hours

Virginia Beach

-4 hours

Stockton

-7 hours

Washington

-4 hours

Tucson

-7 hours

Guam

+10 hours

Albuquerque

-6 hours

Uruguay

 

Boise

-6 hours

Montevideo

-3 hours

Denver

-6 hours

Uzbekistan

 

El Paso

-6 hours

Tashkent

+5 hours

Salt Lake City

-6 hours

Venezuela

 

Santa Fe

-6 hours

Caracas

-4 hours

Arlington

-5 hours

Vietnam

 

Austin

-5 hours

Hanoi

+7 hours

Baton Rouge

-5 hours

Zambia

 

Chicago

-5 hours

Lusaka

+2 hours

Dallas

-5 hours

Zimbabwe

 

Des Moines

-5 hours

Harare

+2 hours

Fort Worth

-5 hours

 

 

Houston

-5 hours

 

 

Flying into Iceland

You can get to Iceland easily from almost anywhere in the world, especially North America and Europe. The most common method of transportation is via airlines for quite obvious reasons. However, to avoid overspending, your first task would be to locate inexpensive flights to Iceland. You can go about this using flight comparison websites like Kayak, Momondo, Skyscanner, Expedia, and Google Flights.

This is quite easy as you can search from the comfort of your home using sites that have an excellent track record. They all have their varying degrees of effectiveness, with some having better user experience and others being perfect for analytical comparisons of prices. However, there is no fixed price of flights to Iceland. Your level of research will determine if you can get the best deals. Costs of flights differ each season, but these airlines offer different packages.

Here are the major airlines that fly to and from Iceland, from different parts of the world every year:

 

Here are other airlines that fly to and from Iceland. This list is based on 2019 operations and usually differ yearly.

Icelandair airline

Airlines that fly to Iceland

Air Baltic, Air Canada, Air Iceland, British Airways, Delta, EasyJet, Edelweiss, Air Berlin, Eurowings, Finnair, Air Greenland, Iberia Express, Icelandair, Austrian Airlines, KLM, Czech Airlines, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Lufthansa, SAS, Vueling, Transavia, Wizz Air, Travel Service, TUI Airways, Luxair, and S7. Air Iceland and Eagle Air operate domestic flights within the country.

 

Direct flights from North America

North America is quite close to Iceland compared to other European countries. It is also a significant stop-over point when traveling across the Atlantic. You can get direct flights to Keflavik International Airport from the following airports: Anchorage, Washington-Dulles, Baltimore-Washington, Vancouver, Boston, Toronto, Chicago, Tampa Intl, Denver, Seattle, Edmonton, San Francisco, Halifax, Portland, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Miami Intl, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Orlando, Montreal, New York Newark and New York JFK.

 

Direct flights from Mainland Europe

People traveling from Africa, Australia, and Asia can connect their flights to Iceland using airports in Mainland Europe. Flights from this region usually leave from the following airports: Aberdeen, Zurich, Alicante, Wroclaw, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Barcelona, Vilnius, Basel Mulhouse, Vienna, Berlin Schönefeld, Trieste, Berlin Tegel, Tenerife, Birmingham, Stuttgart, Bremen, Riga, Bristol, Prague, Brussels, Paris Orly, Budapest, Paris CDG, Chania, Palma, Cologne Bonn, Nurnberg, Cork, Munich, Dresden, Milan-Malpensa, Dublin, Manchester, Dusseldorf, Madrid, Edinburgh, Lyon, Frankfurt, London Luton, Friedrichshafen, London Gatwick, Gdansk, Las Palmas, Geneva, Kaunas, George Best Belfast City, Katowice, Hamburg, and Glasgow. 

 

Direct flights from Nordic Countries

Iceland is a Nordic nation, and as part of fostering its close ties with their various cultural cousins, lots of flights from Greenland and Denmark connect directly to domestic airports. These direct flights usually arrive from: Bergen, Stockholm Arlanda, Billund, Oslo, Copenhagen, Nuuk, Faroe Islands (Tórshavn), Nerlerit Innat, Gothenburg, Narsarsuaq, Helsinki, Kulusuk, Kangerlussuaq, and Ilulissat.

Reykjavik city in Iceland
Reykjavik city in Iceland

Most of these airlines will disembark their planes at the Keflavik International Airport, the primary airport in Iceland. Located at Sandgerði, it is also the largest in the country and is just a 45-minutes drive from Reykjavik. It opened officially in 1943 during World War II when it was built by the United States military. At that time, it was known as the Meeks Field airstrip but was renamed to Keflavik after the war ended.

However, this is not the only airport in Iceland that offers international flights despite being the location where a higher percentage of international travelers will arrive and leave.

There is also a direct connection flight to London from a medium-sized town in East Iceland called Egilsstaðir. While Keflavik is the most popular airport in Iceland, there are other functional domestic airports in the country. These include Akureyri, Þórshöfn, Bíldudalur, Westman Islands, Egilsstaðir, Vopnafjörður, Gjögur, Reykjavík, Grímsey, Ísafjörður, Höfn í Hornafirði, and Húsavík.

 

Iceland’s convenient location between mainland Europe and North America makes it the ideal stop-over for those flying from the United States, Canada, or between Europe. Obviously, the length of time it takes to fly to Iceland depends on your location. For example, flights from New York city are surprisingly short while from Hong Kong, it takes as long as 18 hours. Here is a breakdown of the typical average flight time from major cities around the world.

 

City of departure 

Flight Time 

  Connection/direct 

Stops

Amsterdam

3h 15m

Direct

N/A

Barcelona

4h 30m

Direct

N/A

Beijing

13h 50m

Connection

Yes

Berlin

3h 45m

Direct

N/A

Boston

5h 40m

Direct

N/A

Chicago

6h 35m

Direct

N/A

Copenhagen

3h 10m

Direct

N/A

Dubai

11h

Connection

Yes

Dublin

2h 45m

Direct

N/A

Helsinki

3h 30m

Direct

N/A

Hong Kong

17h 50m

Connection

  Yes 

London

3h 0m

Direct

N/A

Los Angeles

9h 00m

Direct

N/A

Miami

8h 15m

Direct

N/A

Montréal

5h 25m

Direct

N/A

New York

5h 40m

Direct

N/A

Oslo

2h 40m

Direct

N/A

Paris

3h 20m

Direct

N/A

Rome

4h 30m

Direct

N/A

San Francisco

9h 00m

Direct

N/A

Seoul

15h 30m

Connection

Yes

Stockholm

3h 10m

Direct

N/A

Tel Aviv

8h 5m

Direct

N/A

Tokyo

15h 50m

Connection

Yes

Toronto

6h 00m

Direct

N/A

Zurich

3h 40m

Direct

N/A

 

Here is a breakdown of the typical average flight time from cities in the United States to Reykjavik.

 

State

Average flight time

Birmingham, Alabama

7hr 20m

Anchorage, Alaska

7hr 16m

Phoenix, Arizona

8hr 51m

Little Rock, Arkansas

7hr 31m

California

9hr 7m

Denver, Colorado

7hr 42m

Hartford, Connecticut

5hr 32m

Florida

7hr 58m

Atlanta, Georgia

7hr 24m

Honolulu, Hawaii

12hr 44m

Detroit, Michigan

6hr 20m

Relevant documents when visiting Iceland

The first document to check out for is a visa. For the European Economic Area (EEA) Nationals, you don’t need a visa to fly to Iceland. Iceland became a Schengen State in 2001, making this possible. However, all visitors will need to have an up-to-date passport at least three months before leaving to gain entry into the country.

Those who will need a visa will have to fill an online application form, include a passport-sized photo and a passport that is not more than ten years old. You will also need a bank statement that shows proof of financial support, medical insurance, and a document that proves your reason for traveling like your hotel or tour booking.

 

When is the best time of the year to visit Iceland?

This is one of the most asked questions from people who wouldn’t want to miss out on the crucial things when visiting Iceland. However, the best time of the year to visit Iceland will depend on what you want to see.

 

Experiencing Iceland in winter

If you want to experience Iceland in winter, the best time to visit is in February and March because these are the months where you will see Iceland at its best. During these months, you get an appealing blue sky, which sets the stage for a lot of magic. This is also the best time to go if you want to take a lot of photographs as there is great lighting for this. You can sleep in and enjoy some good indoor time before heading out. You still wouldn’t have missed anything important as there is plenty of amazement to go round.

While there is the downside of the limited supply of sunlight hours, there are still lots of beautiful things that make up for this. You can go glacier hiking, take a dip at the Blue Lagoon or visit one of the famous ice caves in Iceland. There are usually fewer people around in winter than in summer, which means that you can have the main attractions all to yourself…well almost. This also means less demand, so you can cash in on the lower rates while our tours are always affordable year-round. So, you can tap into the unique serenity during this time.

Experiencing Iceland in summer

If you would love to visit Iceland in summer, then you are looking at June, July, August, and September. These months are perfect for heading over to Iceland for tons of exciting activities, including touring national parks and visiting the fishing village for Icelandic treats. September is the ideal month out of all these, as you can also hunt for the northern lights. You get the benefit of visiting during the warmer months and getting a chance at seeing the magnificent aurora borealis.

 

The best time to visit Reykjavik

Any time of the year is excellent for visiting the fabulous city of Reykjavik. This bustling city always has something amazing for you, whether it’s winter or summer. You can decide to enjoy a chill beer while admiring the natural landscape during the summer months or walk around with a soft jacket on.

 

The best time to go whale watching

The perfect season for whale watching in Iceland is between April and October. June, July, and August are the months in summer where the whales come out to play, and we have tours that leave Reykjavik to the perfect spots for this daily. You can also go whale watching in the Vestmannaeyjar Islands, Akureyri, Husavik, and Dalvik.

 

The best time to see puffins

From late April to mid-August, you can catch up with the puffin viewing season in the world’s largest puffin colony, the Westman Islands. When you get to the islands, you can grab a ferry and head over to the perfect spot for seeing more than a million puffins living freely during the active puffin season. You will most likely miss out on this if you visit after September.

However, for those trying to visit Iceland on a tight budget, you can try to head over from mid-November to April as this is considered offseason. This also means that your options will be limited, which is not that great. With Reykjavik Outventure, you don’t have to wait till offseason to visit Iceland. Our prices are affordable all year, and you can witness the best of Iceland.

 

Best time to go glacier hiking

It doesn’t matter when you decide to go glacier hiking as you can do this all year. This is a year-round activity, but there is a perk to going in winter. Going glacier hiking in winter is more beautiful because the cold weather keeps the glaciers frozen, instead of melting into unattractive puddles. If you really want to get the best out of glacier hiking in Iceland, then check out our Glymur Waterfall hike. On this tour, you can also take a dip at the Krauma bath.

 

Best time to go ice caving

Going ice caving means you are exploring one of the fantastic natural ice caves in Iceland. The best time to do this is between November 1st and the end of March. Although visiting in summer means a good number of them are melting, there is one ice cave that you can visit all year round, and that is the Katla Ice Cave. This ice cave is located in the Kötlujökull glacier in South Iceland.

You have to drive from Reykjavik city to Vik in Myrdalur, a scenic little village. The ice cave is about a 45-minute drive from Vik with spectacular landscapes all around you, giving extraordinary contrasts from the green mountains to the black lava sand. As soon as you get to the glacier, you will have to put on sturdy helmets and crampons for a good grip on the ice.

Our professional guide will take you on the hike to the entrance of the Katla ice cave. This is a straightforward hike as there are steps carved into the glacier to make it easier to climb into it. Here, you will be face to face with the beautiful ice cave formed as water from the melting glacier creates an opening in the ice, and best of all, it is blue.

 

Inside Katla ice cave, you will be amazed to see black ash gotten from various volcanic eruptions of the Katla volcano. So, you will be walking through a lot of history in the ice cave. T

here will be enough time to take hundreds of pictures, although the glaciers are constantly moving. It is always best to go ice caving with an experienced guide as icefalls tend to move under their own weight. Our experts at Reykjavik Outventure always check out the ice cave to ensure it is safe enough before anyone goes in.

Best time to see the midnight sun

As we mentioned earlier, this is the period in Iceland where there is continuous daylight. Since the summer solstice is around June 21st, this is considered the peak time for viewing the midnight sun. So, you should plan your visit to Iceland around this time.

 

Best time to drive on the Ring Road

Iceland’s Ring Road is excellent to drive on at any time of the year. However, if you were to consider the weather, the best time to drive on the Ring Road is during the summer months. If you don’t want to encounter a crowd of people while on the ring road, then you should visit during the shoulder season months. All in all, the best months which have good weather and less road traffic are May, June, September, and October.

 

Best time to visit the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is available at any time of the year, and our Golden Circle tour will make sure that you get the best out of this experience. It is always beautiful during the sunny summer. It is usually busy from May to October, but with a guided tour, you will have access to some benefits that set you apart from the crowd.

 

Best time to visit the Blue Lagoon

Thousands of people visit Iceland yearly, and they always visit the Blue Lagoon as it is considered Iceland’s star attraction. You can visit this lagoon in summer or winter. The summertime is excellent if you don’t mind a little crowd, but in winter, you don’t have to worry about the water getting cold as it is geothermal. However, you can get the best Blue Lagoon experience on our exclusive tour.

 

Iceland is an amazing country to visit at any time of the year as there is so much to do. It gets even better when you explore Iceland with Reykjavik Outventure, as we will give you an unforgettable experience.

South Coast tour with glacier hike and Viking dinner