Are you planning on travelling to Iceland in April? Do you want to know what the weather is like in April? Will there still be snow in April? What activities can you do and is it possible to see the Northern Lights? Read on for all you need to know about Iceland in April.
Visiting Iceland in April is definitely worth it. You'll watch the country as it emerges from the idle hibernation of the winter into the light of spring.
In April, the ice thaws, the birds begin to chirp, and the landscape gets greener. The days grow longer, temperatures start to rise, and precipitation wanes.
However, April weather is especially capricious, and although the flowers have begun to bloom, snow is always around the corner.
Because of that, you should be prepared for anything, which is a good rule when visiting Iceland regardless of the month.
Winter might still hold some locales in its grip, but travelling to sites like the Golden Circle, South Coast and Snæfellsnes Peninsula should be relatively easy.
Each winter, Icelanders wait eagerly for the snow to disappear and for the sun to stay longer. So springtime is a season of hope and anticipation.
April brings forth an array of festivals and activities that celebrate the coming spring and bid farewell to the long dark winter.
Visitors in April will find that nearly all summer activities are available to them, such as horseback riding, caving, and snorkelling, with the added bonus of some winter adventures like chasing the Northern Lights.
In April, Iceland experiences between 13 and 16 hours of daylight, which is a significant change from the 20 hours of darkness during the winter months.
However, the nights are not as bright as in May and the summer months, which means that there's still a chance to see the dancing Northern Lights.
The best way to see the bashful Auroras is to get out of the light pollution of the city on a clear night and head out into the darkened countryside.
If you want to view this celestial display in comfort and style, we highly recommend a Northern Lights Tour.
The tours are many and varied. You can sail out from the old Reykjavík harbour on a boat where you’ll witness the Auroras as you breathe in the fresh air of the North Atlantic.
You can also jump in a super jeep, a vehicle designed to go off the beaten path, to access some of the lesser-known viewing spots.
Or you can take a more affordable bus tour from a number of locations around the country to see these ever-changing lights.
Iceland is a place where you can combine incredible natural landscapes with the thrill of an adventure, and the perfect way to do this is by visiting a glacier.
Since over 10% of the country is covered with ice caps, you’ll have numerous touring options.
Further along the South Coast is Skaftafell Nature Reserve, which lies in the realm of Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier.
The area is known for its many hiking trails and tracks and is a popular spot for glacier hiking because of the exceptional views it offers of Vatnajökull and its frosty wilderness.
Just a short drive away from Skaftafell is the beautiful Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.
Floating on the lagoon are countless titanic icebergs that have broken off Vatnajökull glacier, and are moving with the waves towards the open sea.
Ice caves are renowned for their unreal beauty and rarity. However, most ice caves are closed in the spring because they start to melt with the gain in sunlight.
There is, however, a cave in Mýrdalsjökull glacier near the village of Vik that's still accessible in April.
Mýrdalsjökull sits atop one of the largest volcanoes in Iceland, Katla.
Those visiting the village of Vík can hop aboard a super jeep where they'll be driven up the mountain to witness the stark contrast of black lava and ash frozen in the blue and white glacier.
The tour also departs from Reykjavík, where participants will get to visit famous attractions of the South Coast as well.
Photo from Katla Ice Cave Tour
Adventure seekers can take a snowmobile ride on the ice cap of Langjökull, where they race across the glacier to take in views of the ancient ice and surrounding landscapes.
An incredible and intricate tunnel has been carved into Langjökull, where visitors can enter and learn everything about glaciers, including how they are formed to the dangers they face.
Unlike the ice caves, the tunnel in Langjökull is open year-round, and accessible in all but the most turbulent of weather.
In April, the roads have normally cleared enough for you to reach the northern part of the country, although you should always check road conditions and the weather forecast before embarking on a journey.
You could drive up to the northern town of Akureyri and check out a whale watching tour.
With over 20 species of whales and dolphins around Iceland, you are sure to spot a few with an excursion like this.
In the North, the most commonly spotted whales this season are humpback whales, minke whales and harbour porpoises.
Orcas, or killer whales, have also been seen in these waters in April as well as the enormous blue whale.
Of course, if you would rather stay in the city, you are sure to find a tour that you like as numerous boats set sail out from Reykjavík’s old harbour each day in search of these friendly giants.
You can take tours where the excursion is paired with other exciting activities such as horseback riding or visits to the Blue Lagoon or the Golden Circle.
The adorable Atlantic puffin nests on Iceland's coast in early April and there are a number of ways you can catch a glimpse of one.
Látrabjarg in the Westfjords is the westernmost point of Iceland. It boasts a large puffin population.
At this epic cliffside, you can spot puffins taking off to look for food or sitting in the grass (clearly, waiting for you to take the perfect photo of them).
The road to Látrabjarg is bumpy and takes you across steep mountains. However, the milder April conditions make the route passable.
While on the cliffside, be careful not to venture too close to the edge as puffins burrow in the cliffs, making the ground quite unstable.
As with whale watching, a wealth of tour operators across the country offer boat trips to reach known puffin hotspots.
This tour, for example, leaves from Reykjavík and visits the islands Lundey and Akurey, taking you as close to the nesting site as possible without disturbing them.
You can also book puffin tours leaving from Snæfellnes or the Westman Islands.
Many companies also offer to combine your puffin seeking experience with activities such as whale watching and horse riding.
Each month in Iceland you’ll find an abundance of fun and interesting festivals around the country, but April has some of the most diverse ones.
From snowboarding to music and computer games, those visiting Iceland in April should have no trouble finding a festival to their liking.
Like Christmas, Easter is a time of celebration in Iceland. But unlike Christmas, there aren't a lot of quirky traditions.
During the Easter weekend, families get together for a meal, everybody eats way too much chocolate, and many Icelanders leave town for a short trip to the countryside.
I Never Went South, or Aldrei Fór Ég Suður, is a festival held in Ísafjörður during Easter Weekend.
Founded by the musician Mugison, this festival has quickly become one of Iceland’s biggest musical celebrations.
Mugison. Photo from Aldrei fór ég suður Facebook page
In 2003, Mugison and his father, PapaMug, decided to host a music festival in their hometown, Ísafjörður.
During Easter weekend, the roads to the Westfjords are usually covered in snow, so they knew that the only people who would venture out to the festival were true music lovers.
And in Iceland, true music lovers are aplenty. Between two and three thousand people show up to the Westfjords for the festival, which is almost double the population of Ísafjörður and its nearby towns.
Everybody should be able to find something they like at I Never Went South. Performers range from brass bands and accordion players to heavy metal bands and rappers.
You'll find an array of local artists performing, backed up by the biggest names in the Icelandic music scene, such as Páll Óskar, HAM, Retro Stefson, Glowie, Emilíana Torrini, and Sólstafir.
This is a festival for those who love music. So the management decided to give everybody a chance to come, regardless of their financial status.
I Never Went South is free and open to the public, and all artists performing are giving their work for free.
The festival has thus been given the nickname ‘The People’s Rockfest’.
The mountain Hlíðarfjall, located right next door to Akureyri town, is arguably Iceland's premier ski resort.
It holds many skiing and snowboarding events throughout the year, the most extravagant of which is perhaps AK Extreme.
This four-day snowboarding and music festival attracts over 7,000 spectators to the northern town each year.
Snowboarders from all over the world come to the festival to compete in friendly competitions.
Events are held both at Hlíðarfjall mountain and the town of Akureyri.
You’ll find numerous concerts at local venues in town, and a specially built snowpark in the centre where Burn Jib sessions are held.
'Jibbing’ is when snowboarders use handrails, stairs, benches, and other man-made objects as obstacles while riding.
Jibbing session. Photo from AK Extreme Facebook page
At the slopes of Hlíðarfjall mountain, snowboarders compete in the AK-Downhill competition, a standard race down the mountain with a little twist.
Scattered along the way are poles that racers are encouraged to grab to enter a random lottery draw.
Each contestant must also hold an open can of Burn energy drink, and the amount of spillage is measured for added time.
The main event is the Eimskip Big Jump. Fifteen shipping containers are used to build a five-storey-high snow ramp in downtown Akureyri, and riders race down this enormous ramp with an enormous firework display in the background.
Set more than 35,000 years in the future, EVE Online is a sci-fi, massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by the Icelandic company CCP Games.
Players explore, trade, and fight throughout the 6,000 strange new worlds in the game.
EVE Fanfest brings players and developers together in the city of Reykjavík in April for a three-day celebration of EVE Online.
People across the world come to Harpa Concert Hall for tournaments, presentations, exclusive reveals, and developer roundtables.
EVE Online offers a truly freeform in-game universe where players from all over the world can form alliances or their own rivalries.
They can work together to achieve goals or start battles that can escalate to full-on wars that can last weeks or months in real-time
You'll find lots of interesting people, and creatures, at EVE-Fanfest. Photo credit: Arnarldur Halldórsson, taken from EVE-Online Facebook page
At the Fanfest, friends and rivals in the game can meet up in real life and discuss the game, enjoy parties, and participate in a pub crawl on the streets of Reykjavík.
They can also take scheduled trips to various attractions around Iceland, such as the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and the Ice Tunnel.
The cherry on top of the Fanfest experience is the infamous Party at the Top of the World.
This massive wrap party is held each year at Harpa Concert Hall where the CCP in-house band, The Permaband, plays alongside famous artists, such as Skálmöld and DJ Kristian Nairn (also known as Hodor from Game Of Thrones).
Photo credit: Barnamenningarhátíðin
At the end of April, various events dedicated to children and young people are held throughout Reykjavík city.
The Children’s Culture Festival’s aim is to introduce youth to a wide variety of arts through workshops and performances.
The emphasis is on the child as an artist, and so a multitude of activities are available in schools, museums, libraries, theatres and other cultural institutions across the city.
Children and young people can attend workshops where they learn everything from rapping and DJing to hula-hooping and kite-flying.
The children host art shows and family-friendly exhibitions in places such as the National Museum of Iceland and City Hall.
The festival naturally concludes in a big children's dance rave where local artists drum up a beat fit for dancing.
Adults get free admission at every event if accompanied by a child.
After a long hard winter, in which darkness encompasses the island and ice covers the ground, it's no wonder Icelanders are filled with anticipation for the spring.
The Golden Plover. Photo credit: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen. Wikimedia Creative Commons
Technically, springtime in the Northern Hemisphere starts March 20 and ends June 21. But Icelanders have their own way of deciding when spring and summer begin.
In Iceland, spring doesn’t start until the first Golden Plover is spotted.
This migratory bird spends its summer here, and when the first is spotted in the country, spring has arrived.
The Icelandic media always covers the first plover sighting, which is usually in late March.
However, the spring doesn’t last very long because Icelanders celebrate the first day of summer on the first Thursday after the 18 of April.
Looking out the window on this day, it might not look summery outside.
Traditionally, the day has brought wind, rain, and even snow but this day is still celebrated around the country with local fairs and parades led by scouts bearing the Icelandic flag.
An Icelandic Police officer on the first day of summer. Photo credit: The Icelandic Police's Instagram account
The first day of summer is one of the country’s oldest holidays.
It's on the first Thursday after 18 April and between April 19th to April 25th. The date is preserved in the Viking Sagas and manuscripts.
The date was chosen not because of Icelanders’ peculiar sense of humour or eternal optimism, but because of the Old Norse calendar which divides the year into only two seasons; winter and summer.
The Christianization of Iceland in the year 1000 AD saw the end of the Old Norse calendar and other customs.
However, some pagan traditions, such as the first day of summer, survived the conquest.
Until 1744, Icelanders would celebrate the first day of summer with mass. At that time, Iceland was a territory ruled by Denmark and was under their laws.
Inspectors representing the Danish church came to Iceland in April one year and heard about these festivities.
Because it was a completely unique Icelandic tradition, the Danish church banned all masses on this day.
However, the ban had little effect on the holiday. Masses may have stopped for a few years, but families continued to gather for the First Day of Summer. Eventually, the festival would make its way back to the church.
Youth clubs took over these celebrations at the beginning of the last century and now it is a country-wide festival and a public holiday.
Photo by JD Hancock
Winters in Iceland can be harsh, but before decent roads and modern transportation, the Icelandic winter seemed much longer and harsher as farmers were isolated with little or no means of communication.
The coming summer meant freedom, which is perhaps why this holiday survived all these years.
The first day of summer was immensely important in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
To celebrate it, people in the city took the day off and farmers tried to limit their work to the bare minimum. Families would gather, have a massive feast, and exchange presents.
This might sound like a rip-off of Christmas, but it is not. Summer presents in Iceland are much older than Christmas presents, with the earliest record of these gifts dating back to the year 1545.
However, records of Christmas gifts in Iceland only date back to the nineteenth century.
Back then, everybody would receive a present and a popular gift at the time was bread because grain was not easy to get.
Today, it is mostly children who receive presents, which are usually related to summer activities, like bicycles, balls, outdoor sports equipment, and other toys.
So if you are travelling in Iceland in mid-April, zip up your coat, put on a hat, and join a parade. Give your loved ones a gift celebrating this age-old tradition.
When travelling to Iceland in April, there are a few experiences one shouldn't miss, like seeing the Golden Circle, visiting the healing waters of the Blue Lagoon, and checking out what the city of Reykjavík has to offer.
Doing these activities in April has some great advantages, particularly with crowds of people and the weather.
Alone in nature. Photo by Jórunn Sjöfn Guðlaugsdóttir
If you're still wondering if a visit to Iceland in April is a good idea, let me tell you this: April is considered off-season.
This means that prices on flights and accommodation are much less than during the summer months.
If that’s not enough, off-season means that the country’s most popular attractions, such as the Golden Circle and Lake Mývatn, will be less crowded.
This allows you to fully appreciate the wild, empty spaces that make Iceland so special in greater tranquillity.
In April, the long, dark nights of the Icelandic winter are over. The month starts off with about 13 hours of sunlight each day. You’re able to see the sunrise at 6:46 and set around 20:18.
At the end of the month, Iceland will have gained three more hours of daylight, with the sun shining from 5:04 in the morning to 21:47 in the evening.
But because there's still darkness in April, you still have a chance to catch the enigmatic Northern Lights.
When the weather forecast is good and the sky is clear of clouds, remember to keep an eye out for the Aurora Borealis on your April holiday.
Statistically, about half the month of April will have some precipitation. However, the chances of rain go down significantly between March and April and continue to dwindle throughout the month.
The precipitation will most likely come in the form of rainfall, but snow is always a possibility. This is not Greenland but snowstorms are still a possibility.
We continue to recommend that all travellers use Safe Travel to report their itinerary before venturing out. There is also a handy app and an emergency number, should you need it.
The weather in April is very unpredictable.
Every year, there comes a day when Icelanders look out the window and see green grass and the sun shining, and they think ‘Finally! The summer has arrived’. Only to have their hopes crushed moments later when a snowstorm hits.
So when travelling in Iceland in April, be prepared for anything.
Pack warm layers and good waterproof shoes, so you’ll be ready for that glorious summer’s day and the storm that will eventually follow.
Many roads are still closed after the winter but the Ring Road, Iceland’s main road, is usually kept clear in April.
This means that you can drive to popular puffin sites, such as Dyrhólaey on the South Coast, to try and catch a glimpse of these adorable creatures.
The highways leading to the South Coast, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and the Golden Circle are usually relatively easy to traverse, and in April, you should also be able to travel up north to places such as Akureyri, Húsavík, or Mývatn.
However, because there is always a chance of snow in April, we recommend a four-wheel-drive vehicle when driving on the Icelandic roads.
This island at the end of the world is rich in natural wonders. In April you can see the Northern Lights, visit glaciers, and catch a glimpse of wildlife.
If you wish to explore the country and do so on your own terms, you could hop in a car and take a Self Drive Tour where you travel around the country, creating your own adventures.
You could drive up North on a 7-day self drive tour, and visit the otherworldly area of Lake Mývatn, the spectacular waterfalls Goðafoss and Dettifoss, and the town of Akureyri, which lies just 100 km away from the Arctic Circle.
If you want more, you can add on extra tours where you race across the ice cap of Langjökull glacier or snorkel in the crystal clear waters of Silfra fissure.
The beautiful Goðafoss waterfall
Alternatively, you can explore the West on a 5-day self drive tour. Snæfellsnes Peninsula has one of the most diverse landscapes in the country—you can see large lava fields, stretches of black pebble beaches, tiny villages, and vast mountains.
Towering over the peninsula is the mighty glacier, Snæfellsjökull. Adventure seekers can add on a tour where they venture into the ice tunnels of Langjökull glacier or descend into the empty magma chamber of a volcano.
If you are only stopping a short while, but want to get the full Icelandic experience without worrying about driving, you should check out this 4-day summer vacation package.
This tour will take you to the Blue Lagoon, the Golden Circle, the many attractions of the South Coast, and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. You can also add extra activities where you can explore a glacier with a hike, or ride around the countryside on a horse.
So, whether you’re planning on visiting for the numerous amounts of outdoor activities, or to avoid the crowds and enjoy the festivals, Iceland caters well for you. We’d love to hear about both your questions and experiences of visiting Iceland in April in the comments below.