May is the time when Iceland begins to transition into its peak tourist season, making it a popular time to visit. With milder temperatures and longer days, visitors can experience Iceland’s stunning natural beauty without the extreme weather conditions of the winter months by visiting Iceland in May.
However, May can also bring unpredictable weather patterns and crowded tourist sites. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of visiting Iceland in May and provide tips to help you make the most of your trip.
About Iceland in the Spring
As winter transitions into spring, Iceland begins to come back to life after a long, dark season. In March, the days begin to get longer and temperatures start to rise, although snow and ice can still be found in many parts of the country.
By April, Iceland is in full bloom with wildflowers and greenery blanketing the landscape. May is when the weather truly starts to warm up, with average temperatures ranging from 5-12°C (41-54°F), making it a great time to explore the country’s outdoor attractions.
Spring is an excellent time to visit Iceland for those who want to avoid the crowds of the peak summer season. It’s also a great time for outdoor activities such as hiking, birdwatching, and soaking in hot springs. The weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to come prepared with layers and waterproof gear.
Keep in mind that some roads and hiking trails may still be closed due to snow or icy conditions, especially earlier in the season, so it’s a good idea to check ahead before planning your itinerary.
For a deeper dive into the best time to visit Iceland, please see our comprehensive guide to the best time to visit Iceland.
Pros and Cons of Iceland in May
As with any month of the year, there are going to be advantages and potential disadvantages to exploring Iceland in May. Keep in mind, every month is wildly different for Icelandic adventures. May is no exception. Below are some of the pros and potential cons of Iceland in May.
Iceland in May: Pros
May is a wonderful time to visit Iceland because the weather is mild and pleasant, making it a great time to explore the country’s stunning landscapes. The days are longer than in winter, and the midnight sun begins to make an appearance, allowing for more time to enjoy the natural beauty of Iceland.
Additionally, the wildflowers and greenery start to bloom, adding pops of color to the landscape. This is especially true in the countryside, where visitors can see fields of lupines and other colorful flowers. May is also a great time to spot puffins and other seabirds, as they start to return to Iceland’s coastal cliffs for the breeding season.
Visiting Iceland in May also means that there are fewer tourists compared to the peak summer season, making it a great time to avoid crowds and enjoy a more peaceful vacation. Many popular tourist sites, such as the Blue Lagoon, are also less crowded during this time, allowing visitors to relax and take in the beauty of the area without feeling rushed or overwhelmed.
Additionally, May is a great time to take part in outdoor activities such as hiking and horseback riding, as the weather is mild and comfortable. Overall, May offers a great balance of mild weather, beautiful scenery, and fewer crowds, making it an ideal time to visit Iceland.
Iceland in May: Cons
Visiting Iceland in May can be a great time to experience the country before the peak tourist season hits, but there are also some downsides to keep in mind. One major con of visiting Iceland in May is that the weather can be unpredictable, with a mix of sunshine, rain, and sometimes even snow.
This can make it difficult to plan outdoor activities or sightseeing trips, and visitors may need to be flexible and willing to adjust their plans depending on the weather. Additionally, while May is before the peak season, it is still a popular time to visit, which means that accommodations and tours may be more expensive or booked up in advance.
Another potential downside of visiting Iceland in May is that some popular tourist destinations may not be fully accessible or open for the season yet. For example, some hiking trails may still be closed due to snow or wet conditions, and some natural attractions may not be fully accessible due to road closures or maintenance.
This could limit the options for outdoor activities or sightseeing, and visitors may need to do more research to ensure that they can still visit the places they want to see. Finally, while May is a relatively mild time of year in Iceland, visitors should still be prepared for chilly temperatures and possibly even high winds or storms.
Events in Iceland in May
There are plenty of events taking place throughout Iceland in the month of May. Here are just a few of the events in Iceland in May:
- First Day of Summer – This public holiday marks the beginning of summer in Iceland and is celebrated on the first Thursday after April 18th.
- Reykjavik Arts Festival – This festival celebrates a variety of art forms, including music, theatre, dance, and visual arts. It usually takes place in late May or early June and attracts both local and international artists.
- Icelandic Horse Expo – This event showcases the unique Icelandic horse breed and features competitions, exhibitions, and demonstrations. It usually takes place in early May in Reykjavik.
- Saga Fest – This literary festival celebrates Icelandic sagas and storytelling traditions. It features readings, discussions, and workshops by local and international writers and scholars. It usually takes place in late May in Reykjavik.
- Arctic Open Golf Tournament – This golf tournament takes place at the Akureyri Golf Club in northern Iceland and is known for its unique setting and midnight sun. It usually takes place in late May or early June.
Tips for Visiting Iceland in May
Visiting Iceland in May is a great idea for those who want to experience the country’s natural beauty at its finest. The weather is mild, with temperatures ranging from 5°C to 12°C (41°F to 54°F), and the days are getting longer, with up to 20 hours of daylight towards the end of the month. This is a great time to go hiking or explore Iceland’s scenic landscapes.
One thing to keep in mind when visiting Iceland in May is that it is a popular time for tourists, so it’s important to book accommodations and tours well in advance. While it’s not the peak tourist season, many people come to Iceland during this time to take advantage of the mild weather and longer days. Another consideration is that May can still be a bit chilly, especially at night, so be sure to pack warm layers.
Overall, May is a great time to visit Iceland for those who want to explore the outdoors without being too cold or dealing with the crowds of peak season. With proper planning and a sense of adventure, visitors can make the most of their trip and enjoy all that Iceland has to offer.
As always, if you’re looking to get up-to-date information on the unpredictable weather in Iceland, there is one primary source. That source is Vedur.is.
Visiting in April Instead
While May is a great time to visit Iceland, April has its own unique charm. In April, you can still catch some of the winter activities and attractions like ice caves, snowmobiling, and northern lights, but with slightly milder weather.
The crowds are also smaller in April, which means you’ll have more space to explore and enjoy the scenery. Plus, the longer days mean you’ll have more time for activities and sightseeing.
For a deeper dive, please see our full article on Iceland in April.
Visiting in June Instead
June is the start of the busy summer tourist season in Iceland, and for good reason. The weather is milder, the days are long, and the landscape is alive with greenery and colorful flowers. In June, you can experience the midnight sun, where the sun doesn’t set at all, making it a perfect time for exploring the outdoors and going on long hikes.
The whale watching season also starts in June, and you can spot some of Iceland’s most magnificent marine creatures.
For a deeper dive, please see our full article on Iceland in June.
Our Final Thoughts
No matter what time of the year you choose to visit Iceland, there’s always something special and unique to experience. May is a great time to visit if you want to avoid the peak summer crowds but still enjoy the warmer weather and longer days.
However, keep in mind that the weather can be unpredictable, and you should always be prepared with warm clothing and rain gear. With the right planning and preparation, a trip to Iceland in May can be an unforgettable experience.