Are you planning on travelling to Iceland in April? Do you want to know what the weather is like in April? What activities you can do and if you can see the Northern Lights? Then read on!

Visiting Iceland in April is definitely worth doing. You’ll witness as the country emerges from idle hibernation after the winter, and ventures into the spring sunlight. 

Hallgrimskirkja Church in the 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 flowers have begun to bloom, snow is always around the corner.

Because of this, you should be prepared for anything, which is a good rule when visiting Iceland regardless of the month. Winter might still hold some places in its grip, but travelling to sites such as 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 which celebrate the coming spring and bids farewell to the long dark winter. 

Things to do in Iceland in April 

The view from behind the cascading water of Seljalandsfoss waterfall

Visitors in April will find that nearly all of the summer activities are available to them, such as horseback riding, caving, and snorkelling. With an added bonus of some winter adventures like chasing the Northern Lights. 



Northern Lights Hunting in April

In April, you can still catch a glimpse of 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 is 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 on out into the darkened countryside. If you want to view this celestial display in comfort and style, a Northern Lights Tour is highly recommended.  



The tours are as different as they are many. 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 ocean. You can jump in a super jeep which is designed to go off the beaten path to access some of the lesser-known viewing spots or go on an affordable bus tour to see these ever-changing lights.

Visiting Glaciers in April

April is a great time to visit Skaftafell

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. As over 10% of the country is covered with these ice caps, you’ll have numerous options from which to choose a tour. 



En route to the black sand beach of Reynisfjara is the mighty Sóheimajökull glacier. This glacial mass is rugged and filled with impressive blue crevasses, making it an ideal location for both glacier hiking and ice climbing

Ice climber on SólheimajökullPhoto from Solheimajokull Ice Climbing & Glacier Hike tour

Further along on 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 as you can get exceptional views 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.



Seeing the glacier lagoon is a must when visiting Iceland

Ice caves are renowned for their unreal beauty and rarity. However, most ice caves are closed in the spring as they start to melt with the rising sun. There is, however, a cave in Mýrdalsjökull glacier still accessible in April. 

Mýrdalsjökull sits on top of one of the largest volcanoes in Iceland, Katla. Those visiting the village of Vík can hop aboard a super jeep where they will 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.



The dark ash from a volcano mixes with the blue ice at the Katla ice cave Photo from Katla Ice Cave Tour

The second biggest glacier in Iceland is Langjökull. This mighty glacier feeds the river Hvítá which rushes southwards and plunges into a dramatic gorge, creating the stunning cascade Gullfoss

Adventure seekers can take a thrilling snowmobile ride on the ice cap of Langjökull, where they race across the glacier to take in the views of the ancient ice and surrounding landscapes.

In April, you can race across the ice cap on Langjökull glacier on a snowmobilePhoto from Snowmobiling and the Ice Tunnel | Complete Langjökull Glacier Tour

An incredible and intricate tunnel has been carved into Langjökull, where visitors can enter and learn everything about glaciers; from 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.



Whale Watching in April

You can find around 20 species of whales and dolphins in the ocean around Iceland Photo from Close up | Whale Watching Tour with Puffins & Reykjavík Coast

In April the roads have normally cleared enough for it to be easy 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 rather stay in the city, you are sure to find a tour that you like as numerous boats set sails out from Reykjavík’s old harbour each day in search for these friendly giants. You can take tours where the excursion is paired with other exciting activities such as horseback riding or visits to the The Blue Lagoon or the Golden Circle.



Festivals in April

You'll be sure to find a festival in April that suits your interests.

Each month in Iceland you’ll find an abundance of fun and interesting festival 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.



Aldrei Fór Ég Suður

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 the Easter Weekend. Founded by the musician Mugison, this festival has quickly become one of Iceland’s biggest musical celebrations.

Mugison, founder of I Never Went SouthMugison. Photo from Aldrei fór ég suður Facebook page

In 2003, Mugison and his father, PapaMug, had an idea of holding a music festival in their hometown of Ísafjörður. During the 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 a plenty. Between two and three thousand people show up to the Westfjords for the festival, which is almost double the population of Ísafjörður and 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, supported by the biggest names in the Icelandic music scene, such as Páll Óskar, HAM, Retro Stefson, Glowie, Emilíana Torrini and Sólstafir.

Iceland's health minister is the lead singer of HAMThe rock band HAM playing the festival. Photo credit: Hlynur Kristjánsson, taken from aldrei.is

This is a festival for those who love music and the promoters feel that the way to show this is to give everybody a chance to come, regardless of their financial status. That is why the entry to I Never Went South is free, and all artists performing are giving their work. The festival has thus been given the nickname ‘The People’s Rockfest’.



AK Extreme

 

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 one perhaps being AK Extreme



This 4-day snowboarding and music festival attracts over 7000 spectators to the northern town each year, and 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 is when you use handrails as obstaclesJibbing 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 which 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-storeys-high snow ramp in downtown Akureyri, and rider race down this enormous ramp with a great firework display as their backdrop.



Eve Online Fanfest

Set more than 35,000 years in the future, EVE Online is a science fiction, 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 available in the game.

EVE Fanfest brings players and developers together in the city of Reykjavík in April for a 3-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 huge alliances or their own rivalries. They can work together to achieve goals or start battles that can escalate to full-on wars which can last weeks or months in real time.

EVE-Fanfest is an event full of interesting charactersYou'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 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-up of the festival is held each year at Harpan 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).

Children’s Culture Festival

An art show at the Children's Culture FestivalPhoto 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 the 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, and the whole festivals finishes in a big children's dance rave where local artist keep the beat up. Adults get free admission at every event if accompanied by a child.



The First Day of Summer

Flowers in bloom

After a long hard winter, where darkness encompasses the island and ice covers the ground, it is no wonder Icelanders are filled with anticipation for the spring.

April brings forth a few traditions, some of which are international ones, like April Fool’s Day, and others, like the first day of summer, are uniquely Icelandic. 



Spring and Summer in April

The Golden Plover brings the Icelandic spring The Golden Plover. Photo credit: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen. Wikimedia Creative Commons

Technically, springtime in the Northern Hemisphere starts March 20th and ends June 21st when summer takes over. 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 seen. This migratory bird spends its summer here, and when the first one 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 18th 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. 

A police officer celebrating summer An Icelandic Police officer on the first day of summer. Photo credit: The Icelandic Police's Instagram account

Denmark Tried to Stop It

The first day of summer is one of the country’s oldest holidays and is mentioned in some of the Viking Sagas and manuscripts. The reason for this date is not because of Icelanders’ peculiar sense of humour or eternal optimism. This tradition dates back a thousand years when Icelanders still used 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 but got mixed up with Christian practices.

Icelanders used to celebrate the first day of summer with a mass

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. As this was a completely unique Icelandic tradition, the Danish church banned all masses on this day.

However, this ban had little effect on this summer holiday. Masses may have stopped for a few years, but families would still gather and 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.



Summer Presents

Summer presentsPhoto by JD Hancock

Winters in Iceland can be harsh, but before descent 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 for all these years. 

The first day of summer in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th Century was an important day. To celebrate it,  people in the city got the day off and farmers tried to limit their work to the necessities. Families would gather, hold 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. Records of Christmas gifts in Iceland only date back to the 19th Century.

Back then, everybody would receive a present, both children and adults, and a popular gift at the time was bread, as grain was not easy to get. Today, it is mostly children who receive presents which are usually related to summer activities, such as bicycles, balls, outdoor sports equipment and 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 ancient tradition of the first day of summer. 

Things to know about Iceland in April

No trip to Iceland is complete without seeing geysers erupt

When travelling to Iceland, there are a few essential experiences one should not miss, such as seeing the Golden Circle, visiting the healing waters of the Blue Lagoon, and checking out what the city of Reykjavík has to offer. Doing those things in April has some great advantages. 



Crowds in April

Iceland will be less crowded in AprilAlone in nature. Photo by Jórunn Sjöfn Guðlaugsdóttir

If you are 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 accommodations are much less than they will be during the summer months. 

If that’s not enough, off-seasons means that the country’s most popular attractions, such as the Golden Circle and Lake Mývatn, will be less crowded. So you can fully appreciate the wild, empty spaces that make Iceland so special.



Weather in April

Iceland in April gets between 13 and 16 hours of sunlight

In April, the long, dark nights of the Icelandic winter are over. The month starts off with about 13 hours of sunlight each day where you can see the sun rise 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 is 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.

There is still enough darkness in April to see the Northern Lights

Statistically, about half the month of April will experience 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.



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.

Icelandic horses in a snowstorm

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. 



Driving in April

Driving the Icelandic roads in April should be easy, but a 4X4 is recommended.

The Golden Plover isn’t the only migrating bird in Iceland that returns in the spring. After spending the autumn and winter out on the open ocean, the Atlantic puffin returns to coastal areas in April.

Many roads are still closed after the winter but the Ring Road, Iceland’s main road, is usually kept clear in April. Which 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 Atlantic Puffin returns to Iceland in April

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, a 4WD vehicle is recommended when driving on the Icelandic roads.



Recommended itineraries

Seeing Mt. Kirkjufell is beautiful no matter when you visit

This island at the end of the world is rich in natural wonders you should not miss. In April you can see the Northern Lights, visit glaciers, and see the wealth of wildlife surrounding the island.

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 this Winter 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.



In April, you can take a self-drive tour where you visit Goðafoss WaterfallThe beautiful Goðafoss waterfall

Alternatively, you can explore the West on this 5 Day Self Drive Tour. Snæfellsnes Peninsula has one of the most diverse landscapes of the country where 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 Days 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 on extra activities where you can explore a glacier with a hike, or ride around the countryside on a horse.

So what would you like to do on your April visit? Do you want to explore a glacier or go on a whale watching tour? What festivals would you like to check out? Would you like to celebrate the first day of summer with us?