- What to Know About March in Iceland
- Driving in March in Iceland
- Best Things to Do in March in Iceland
- Visiting the Ice Caves in March in Iceland
- Spotting the Northern Lights in March in Iceland
- Whale Watching in March in Iceland
- Snorkeling and Diving in March in Iceland
- Glacier Tours in March in Iceland
- Caving Tours in March in Iceland
- Horseback Riding in March in Iceland
- Sightseeing in March in Iceland
- Driving the Ring Road in March in Iceland
- Visiting the Golden Circle in March in Iceland
- Tour the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in March in Iceland
- The Westfjords in March in Iceland
- Festivals and Traditions in March in Iceland
- Battle of the Bands Festival
- Mustache March
- What is the Weather like in March in Iceland?
- What to Wear in March in Iceland
- Tour Options for Visiting Iceland in March
Find out everything you need to know about visiting Iceland in March. Learn more about what activities are available during this time, such as ice caving and seeing the northern lights. Explore the wide selection of tours in March that you can be a part of. Get some expert tips on what to pack and what to expect from the weather.
Towards the end of March, winter finally begins to lift, and there are more hours of sunlight than darkness. The stubborn snow that has settled across the country starts to melt.
Being in between the Christmas season and the summer season, March is one of Iceland's least busy times, allowing you the perfect opportunity to experience its sights without the crowds.
There are also some unique Icelandic festivals and events that take place in March, and some winter activities, such as ice caving and northern lights hunting, are still going strong.
Here are some great things to do in Iceland in March to get you started.
- Learn about the northern lights in Iceland
- Read about visiting Iceland in February and visiting Iceland in April
What to Know About March in Iceland
Is March a good time to visit Iceland? Absolutely!
You can still enjoy winter tours and activities like visiting ice caves and chasing the northern lights, but it’s the off-season, making it less crowded. However, there are things to keep in mind if you're thinking of visiting at this time of year.
Driving in March in Iceland
You may be considering renting a car in Iceland. Driving gives you more freedom, but it also means that you may have to deal with icy roads, dark winter nights, snowdrifts, heavy precipitation, high winds, and other drivers who may have less experience than you.
Therefore, renting a car in Iceland in March is only recommended for confident drivers used to driving in cold weather. And during the winter months, you should only drive a four-wheel-drive vehicle in Iceland.
In March, all vehicles use winter tires, but you can request studded tires for a better grip if you want to be extra careful (until April).
If there's heavy weather, keep an eye out for road markings that might be under the snow, and be careful where you park because towing services are not included in most insurance packages and can be very expensive. Being cautious in sandy or muddy areas is also advised.
When driving in March, you need to be aware not just of the weather but of the road conditions in Iceland too. Avalanches and floods are not unheard of in March, so you need to be sure there is no risk of them on your travels. Always check the weather and road information before setting out on the road.
For more information, make sure to read our tips on driving safely in Iceland.
Best Things to Do in March in Iceland
The old Icelandic calendar was very sensibly divided into six winter months and six summer months.
According to this calendar, March is part of the winter. That means tours such as ice caving and northern lights hunting are still running. However, the longer days and slightly increasing temperatures mean that you're not limited to winter activities.
Here are some of the best things to do in Iceland in March.
Visiting the Ice Caves in March in Iceland
The electric blue ice caves in the Vatnajokull glacier are among Iceland’s most incredible attractions. By just looking at a few pictures and videos, you'll understand why they draw travelers from around the world. However, they’re only open for a few months of the year, and thankfully March is one of them.
Several spectacular cave tours run in Southeast Iceland, and most excursions leave from Reykjavik. A great option is this three-day South Coast and Golden Circle ice caving and glacier hiking tour, which stops by popular sites like the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon and Skaftafell Nature Reserve.
If you're already in the southeast, you could take the Vatnajokull glacier ice cave tour starting from the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon.
You'll need sturdy hiking boots and warm, waterproof clothing. Navigating the glaciers without a trained guide is dangerous, so it’s necessary to join a tour.
This 2-day South Coast and Jokulsarlon lagoon tour is available throughout March and takes you ice caving and northern lights hunting.
Spotting the Northern Lights in March in Iceland
Seeing the northern lights is at the top of the list for many people traveling to Iceland. Thankfully, it's still possible to see them in March.
Whenever the sky is dark and clear, and there's the right amount of solar activity, you have a great chance of spotting the aurora borealis dancing in the sky.
The best way to find the lights is by taking a northern lights tour, and there are plenty of options if you're coming from Reykjavik.
You could join an affordable northern lights minibus tour or hop onto this super jeep northern lights tour with a photographer guide for a more personal experience.
Staying in Reykjavik is not recommended if you want to see the northern lights because of light pollution. If you don’t want to go far from the city, you can take a ferry to Videy island to try and see them.
Another option is to rent a car and search for the aurora yourself using Iceland's northern lights forecast as your guide. You should, of course, only be hunting in the dark hours.
You can see how the daylight hours change during March here:
- Time of sunrise: 8:34 AM
- Time of sunset: 6:46 PM
- Hours of daylight: 10 hours and 11 minutes
- Time of sunrise: 6:48 AM
- Time of sunset: 8:16 PM
- Hours of daylight: 13 hours and 27 minutes
- See also: Understanding Time in Iceland
Renting a car in Iceland in March is a little risky because the roads can still have snow and ice. However, it can be a great way to explore the country as long as you are comfortable driving in Iceland.
Whale Watching in March in Iceland
Whale watching in Iceland is a great activity all year round. Even in the depths of winter, you can often spot pods of white-beaked dolphins and harbor porpoises. However, in March, the great whales begin to return from their breeding grounds.
If you decide to take a whale watching tour, you have the best chance of seeing humpback whales and minke whales, but you can also spot orca, fin, and blue whales. Beaked, pilot, and sperm whales also sometimes make an appearance.
Many tours set off from the capital city in a standard whale-watching boat, as the weather can be too volatile for smaller RIB boat vessels.
You can also go on a whale-watching tour departing from Grundarfjordur harbor on the north side of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Other tours set sail from Breidafjordur, a renowned herring ground. This area provides you with the best chance of seeing orcas in the country.
For those who've ventured north, you can take a whale watching tour from Akureyri. This journey also takes you along the longest glacial fjord in all of Iceland.
If you want to make the most of your time, you can also choose to combine activities by taking a whale watching and northern lights cruise.
Snorkeling and Diving in March in Iceland
Yes, you can snorkel and dive in Iceland in March! The best and most popular destination is the Silfra fissure. This ravine in Thingvellir National Park is also a freshwater spring and has a visibility of over 300 feet (100 meters).
Even though the water is 35.6 F (2 C), snorkeling in Iceland is a truly thrilling activity you shouldn't miss. This activity is growing in popularity among travelers thanks to Iceland's unique underwater sights.
Note that you must meet the following conditions to snorkel in Iceland (though requirements can vary between tour providers):
- Minimum age: 12
- Maximum age: 60
- Minimum height: 4 feet 9 inches (145 centimeters)
- Minimum weight: 106 pounds (45 kilograms)
- Experience needed: must be a swimmer
- Minimum age: 14
- Maximum age: 60
- Minimum height: 4 feet 11 inches (150 centimeters)
- Minimum weight: 110.3 pounds (50 kilograms)
- Experience needed: must be a swimmer
- Minimum age: 17
- Maximum age: 60
- Minimum height: 4 feet 11 inches (150 centimeters)
- Minimum weight: 106 pounds (45 kilograms)
- Experience needed: At least 10 logged drysuit dives OR be drysuit diving certified
Snorkeling is usually done in a drysuit for added protection, but the daring may choose to snorkel in a wetsuit. For scuba diving tours, a drysuit is always required. Additionally, you cannot dive or snorkel while pregnant, and you will need a waiver if you:
- Are over 60
- Are over 45 and a heavy drinker or pipe smoker
- Have a history of respiratory, circulatory, or neurological problems
All tours are led by experienced divemasters who will ensure you’re confident with the equipment and temperatures before setting out.
- See also: Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in Iceland
Glacier Tours in March in Iceland
Iceland’s glaciers cover 11% of the country’s surface, and many people travel to Iceland to see them.
Photo from Glacier Hiking Tour on Solheimajokull
Two fantastic ways to experience Iceland's glaciers are the Solheimajokull glacier walk tour and the 10-hour super jeep tour to the Eyjafjallajokull volcano and glacier, where you can also see the Solheimasandur DC plane wreck.
This glacier hiking tour of the Fallsjokull glacier departs from the Skaftafell Nature Reserve in Southwest Iceland. This is a hiker’s paradise and a must-see destination for those who want to immerse themselves in Iceland's natural beauty.
- See also: The Ultimate Guide To Glacier Tours in Iceland
Snowmobiling in Iceland is another extremely fun and popular activity to do.
Many people choose to snowmobile on the Langjokull glacier, though another popular option is snowmobiling on the Vatnajokull glacier, the largest glacier in Europe. For the former, you can join a tour that departs from Reykjavik or Gullfoss waterfall.
Travelers often choose to include snowmobiling as part of a Golden Circle tour.
Caving Tours in March in Iceland
Caving tours are an excellent option when traveling to Iceland in March as the lava tubes are still decorated with beautiful ice formations.
Icicles dangle from the ceiling, and the ice stalagmites and stalactites make the tunnels feel like they’re part of a fairytale grotto.
- Read more: Complete Guide to Caves in Iceland
Horseback Riding in March in Iceland
Horseback riding is a popular activity among Icelanders and travelers alike, regardless of the season.
Riding an Icelandic horse is an authentic Icelandic experience, as they're part of the country's history and culture.
Icelandic horses are remarkable creatures. They’re powerful and resilient in the face of challenging weather. But they’re also playful, social, and intelligent, so you're sure to make friends if you meet one.
Icelandic horses are famous abroad for their dressage skills because they have five gaits, including the "tolt," which is unique to them.
If you'd like to go horse riding in Iceland, there are many options available.
If you'd prefer a full-day trip, why not combine horse riding with a Golden Circle tour or take a wildlife tour including both whale watching and horse riding?
Even though Icelandic horses are incredibly sturdy and resilient to the weather, the heavy snow in East and North Iceland means few riding tours take place there.
Sightseeing in March in Iceland
Iceland offers a wealth of incredible things to see in March. Every region except the Highlands should be at least partially accessible. Be aware that the weather can be unpredictable, though. There can occasionally be flooding, heavy snowfall, or unexpected avalanches.
Driving the Ring Road in March in Iceland
The Icelandic Ring Road, or Route 1, circles the entire country and can usually be completed during March.
Going counterclockwise on this route takes you along the South Coast, through the Eastfjords, across North Iceland, and down the west (without turning into the Westfjords or the Snaefellsnes Peninsula).
The roads are generally well maintained. The only places you may experience problems are in the Eastfjords and the eastern side of North Iceland. These areas are less populated, and the roads are more rural, so heavy snowfall could affect your journey.
The South Coast of Iceland is one of its most popular regions. It hosts many of the most famous sites that are accessible from Route 1.
These sights should be accessible in March, though it may not be possible to take a walk around the Seljalandsfoss waterfall due to icy conditions.
You should also be careful if admiring the Reynisdrangar sea stacks from Reynisfjara black sand beach. Sadly, sneaker waves along the shore can be very dangerous and even fatal, so please don’t stray too far out into the forceful waters.
The South Coast section of the Ring Road ends at the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, which is as majestic in March as it is the rest of the year.
The next section of the Ring Road, between Reykjavik and Akureyri, goes through the country’s greener western region.
When traveling this route, you'll be tempted to detour and see sites like the Hraunfossar region, Barnafoss waterfalls, the Deildartunguhver hot spring, and the Vatnsnes Peninsula, the best seal-watching spot in the country.
When it arrives in the north of the country, the Ring Road will take you to the Lake Myvatn region.
The landscapes here will mesmerize any visitor, but Game of Thrones fans especially are in for a treat. Many of the Game of Thrones filming locations in Iceland are in this region. For instance, the Myvatn area is the "North of the Wall," where Mance Rayder’s troops camp.
Visiting the Golden Circle in March in Iceland
Iceland’s most popular sightseeing trail is the Golden Circle. It's definitely worth including in any visit to Iceland.
It's easy to follow the route all year round, even throughout March. The trail will bring you to three of Iceland’s most famous sites: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall.
The Thingvellir National Park is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Icelandic mainland. It was the founding site of the Althingi in the year 930, which is the world’s oldest parliamentary assembly.
The national park is located in both North America and Europe, in a geological sense, as it sits between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. This is what gives it such incredible geology, like the Silfra ravine.
The Geysir Geothermal Area has its own claim to fame. The English word "geyser" comes from the Icelandic "Geysir," the name of Iceland's most famous hot spring geyser.
Though Geysir is no longer active, its sister, Strokkur geyser, erupts every five to ten minutes and can blast water higher than 66 feet (20 meters). The surrounding area is also filled with hot springs, steam vents, and mud-pots.
The final site on the Golden Circle trail is Gullfoss waterfall, perhaps the best-known waterfall in the country. The waterfall is even more magical when the rocks around it are covered with glimmering ice and the surrounding area is buried deep in snow. So, March isn't a bad time to visit.
As well as the main sights, there are plenty of worthwhile detours along the Golden Circle with more natural beauty to discover.
Tour the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in March in Iceland
The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is accessible year-round and continues to attract many visitors. Due to the diversity of its landscapes, this area is often nicknamed "Iceland in Miniature."
Though the mountain passes are likely to be closed (and really should be avoided in March even if open), you can still drive along both sides of the peninsula.
The route will introduce you to places like Ytri Tunga beach, which is famous for its seals. There are also the Londrangar basalt cliffs, Snaefellsjokull glacier and volcano, the fishing villages of Arnarstapi and Hellnar, and the Kirkjufell mountain, to name a few.
There’s so much to see here that we’ve condensed the main sites into our guide of the top tips for places to visit on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
The Westfjords in March in Iceland
If weather conditions allow, it may be possible to explore some of the Westfjords in March.
While snow will block many of the roads, particularly the mountain passes, you should still be able to navigate most of the coastal routes.
As mentioned earlier, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is essential if you plan to drive through the Westfjords yourself in March.
Festivals and Traditions in March in Iceland
Reykjavik in March is a busy time. Many of the festivals in Iceland in March take place in the capital. Easter activities also sometimes cross over into March, and many locals will have several days off to celebrate.
Iceland has plenty of unique traditions that take place over this period. Taking part in "Bun Day," "Explosion Day," or "Ash Day" could add some extra fun to your visit and help you to experience local culture.
Battle of the Bands Festival
Iceland’s Battle of the Bands, otherwise called the Icelandic Music Experiments, is a competition between up-and-coming bands from Iceland with members between 13 and 25 years old.
The competition has produced many success stories. Perhaps most notably, the band Of Monsters and Men won the competition in 2010 and rose to fame on the international stage in less than a decade.
- See also: The Ultimate Guide to Icelandic Bands
November is nicknamed "Movember" or "No-Shave November" in many other countries. It has become traditional for men to grow out their mustaches during this month to raise awareness about men's health issues.
But Icelanders prefer to grow out their facial hair in March and seek to raise awareness and funds for a broad cross-section of cancer research. They call the occasion "Mustache March" or 'Mottumars' in Icelandic. Even the city buses have mustaches stuck on their fronts.
If you're coming to Iceland in March, consider growing your mustache to fit in with the beardy crowd!
What is the Weather like in March in Iceland?
How cold is Iceland in March? The average low temperature is 28 F (-2.2 C), and the average high temperature is 38 F (3.3 C), making it relatively frosty.
The weather in Reykjavik in March tends to be warmer, but even the warmest recorded temperature over the past two decades was only 54 F (12.4 C). And the coldest was 9.5 F (-12.5 C). So even if you’re only visiting the capital, don’t underestimate the weather in Reykjavik in March.
There's an average of 3.3 inches (84 millimeters) of precipitation per day throughout the month, which predominantly falls as rain, though it's not unusual to have snow.
What to Wear in March in Iceland
If you are traveling to Iceland in March, be prepared for cold and potentially wet weather. The weather in March in Iceland can change quickly, so it might still rain even if the weather seems pleasant in the morning. So don't forget your waterproofs and warm layers as you leave your accommodation.
Warm winter clothing, complete with thermal underwear and windproof outerwear, is essential for visiting Iceland in March. A hat and a good pair of gloves are also required for exploring the outdoors. Here is a list of essentials to pack for your Iceland winter trip.
You should check the weather forecast each day to plan ahead. Compared to the darker winter months, storms are less common in March, but they can still happen. High winds often accompany them, so be sure to check for weather warnings.
- See also: Weather in Iceland & Best Time to Visit
Tour Options for Visiting Iceland in March
Many tours in Iceland in March include must-see attractions and authentic experiences such as chasing the northern lights, exploring ice caves, and witnessing spectacular winter landscapes.
There are several ways you can enjoy these activities on your holiday in Iceland.
You can book a guided winter tour package, in which all of your accommodation, transfers, and tours are taken care of before arrival.
Or it may suit you better to book a self-drive winter tour. This means you'll navigate the country yourself with a car rental but have your itinerary and your accommodation pre-organized for you.
With so many options available to you, it's worth spending some time browsing and researching to find the best tour package for you.
March in Iceland is truly remarkable. It's an excellent time to visit if you seek the wintry landscapes, sparse crowds, and longer spring days to fill with activities. As long as you dress appropriately and make responsible choices regarding driving and tours, you're sure to have a great visit to the Land of Ice and Fire!
Have we answered your questions on what Iceland is like in March? Did you find out what to do in Iceland? Did any of the festivals and events in Reykjavik in March catch your eye? Let us know which tour or event you’re most intrigued by in the comments.
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