Iceland in April: Things to Do, Weather, and Northern Lights | Guide to Iceland (2024)

Spot a Puffin in April in Iceland

Iceland in April: Things to Do, Weather, and Northern Lights | Guide to Iceland (1)

The adorable Atlantic puffin nests on Iceland’s coast in early April, and you can catch a glimpse of one in several ways.

Latrabjargcliffs in the Westfjords is the westernmost point of Iceland, and 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, creating the perfect photo opportunities.

The road to Latrabjarg 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.

Like whale watching, many tour operators across Iceland offer boat trips to reach known puffin hotspots. For example, thispuffin tour departs from Reykjavikand visits the islands Lundey and Akurey, taking you as close to the nesting site as possible without disturbing them.

You can also book a puffin-watching tour from Stykkisholmuronthe Snaefellsnes peninsula to see these iconic birds.

  • Seealso:Birds in Iceland
  • See also:Where to See Puffins in Iceland

Hiking in Iceland in April

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Many of Iceland’s most popular hiking trails open in April, and the weather is generally mild enough to venture out. While places like the Landmannalaugar area in the Highlands are still not accessible, you can easily enjoy day hikes around Reykjavik.

Mt. Esjais one of the most popular locations for hiking among Icelanders, and it's just around a half-hour drive from downtown Reykjavik with a small rental car.

If you want something more private, you can hike up the Glymur waterfall in the Hvalfjordur fjord. It's the second-highest waterfall in Iceland and just an hour's drive from Reykjavik. It's the perfect way to spend an afternoon, and afterward, you can relax at the nearby Hvammsvik Hot Springs!

  • See more aboutHiking in Iceland: A Complete Guide to the Best Hikes and Trails

Festivals in April in Iceland

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Each month in Iceland, you’ll find an abundance of fun and exciting festivals around the country, but April has some of the most diverse ones. From snowboarding to music, those visiting Iceland in April should have no trouble finding a festival to their liking.

  • Find out what the Top 20 Festivalsin Iceland

April Fools’ Day

April Fools' Day is a celebration of European origin that has taken root in Iceland. Icelanders have fully embraced the spirit of pranks, and you’ll find plenty of jokes by the locals, media, and even the hotels and tour operators on April 1st. Watch out for fake stories in the newspapers, and we might even participate on our social watch out!

Aldrei For Eg Sudur Music Festival

Like Christmas, Easter is a time of celebration in Iceland. But unlike Christmas, there aren’t as manyquirky Icelandic traditions as during Christmas.

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,”orAldrei For Eg Sudur is a festival held during Easter weekend in the town ofIsafjordurin the Westfjords.

Founded by the Westfjords musician Mugison, this festival quickly became one of Iceland’s most significant musical celebrations.

Iceland in April: Things to Do, Weather, and Northern Lights | Guide to Iceland (4)

Photo by Hreinn Gudlaugsson, from Wiki Creative Commons. No edits made.

In 2003, Mugison and his father, PapaMug, decided to host a music festival in their hometown, Isafjordur. During Easter weekend, snow usually covers the roads to the Westfjords, 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 2000 and 3000 people show up to the Westfjords for the festival, almost double the population of Isafjordur 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 Paul Oscar, HAM,Retro Stefson, Glowie, Emiliana Torrini, and Solstafir.

Iceland in April: Things to Do, Weather, and Northern Lights | Guide to Iceland (5)

Photo from Piotr Drabik, from WikiCreative Commons. No edits made.

This is a festival for those who love music, so the organizers 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 performing artists do so without compensation.The festival has thus been nicknamed “The People’s Rockfest.”

If you're planning to go, we recommend booking accommodations in Isafjordur, so you'll have somewhere to stay during the festivities.

  • Learn everything about the Music of Iceland

AK Extreme

The Hlidarfjallmountain byAkureyri 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 participate in friendly competitions.Events are held both at Hlidarfjall mountain and in the town of Akureyri.

You’ll find numerous concerts at local venues in town and a specially built snowpark in the center where Burn Jib sessions are held.“Jibbing” is when snowboarders use handrails, stairs, benches, and other human-made objects as obstacles while riding.

Iceland in April: Things to Do, Weather, and Northern Lights | Guide to Iceland (6)

Photo by ‘sergjff,’ from Wiki Creative Commons. No edits made.

At the slopes of Hlidarfjall mountain, snowboarders compete in the AK-Downhill competition, a standard race down the hill 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 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-story-high snow ramp in downtown Akureyri, and riders race down this enormous ramp with a colossal firework display in the background.

  • Read everything about Skiing and Snowboarding in Iceland

Children’s Culture Festival

At the end of April, various events dedicated to children and young people are held throughout Reykjavik.TheChildren’s Culture Festival introduces youth to various arts through workshops and performances.

The emphasis is on the child as an artist, so various activities are available in schools, museums, libraries, theaters, and other cultural institutions across the city. Children and young people can attend workshops to learn everything from rapping and DJ-ing to hula-hooping and kite-flying.

The children host art shows and family-friendly exhibitions in places like the National Museum of Iceland and Reykjavik City Hall.The festival naturally concludes in a giant 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.

  • Discover the Top 10Museums in Reykjavik
  • Get to know the city and get free entry to museums with the 24 Hour Reykjavik City Card

The First Day of Summer

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

April brings forth a few traditions, some of which are international, like April Fools’ Day, and others, like theFirst Day of Summer, are more specific to Iceland.

  • Learn about

Iceland in Spring

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Technically, spring in the Northern Hemisphere starts March 20 and ends June 21. But Icelanders have their own way of deciding when spring and summer begin.

Spring doesn’t start in Iceland until the first Golden Plover, or 'Lóa', is spotted. Known by all Icelanders for its golden coat and distinct melodic bird call.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, usually in late March.

First Day of Summer

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Spring doesn’t last very long because Icelanders celebrate the First Day of Summer on the first Thursday after April 18.Looking out the window on this day, it might not look summerlike outside.

Traditionally, the day has brought wind, rain, and even snow, but Icelanders still celebrate this day with local fairs and parades led by scouts bearing the Icelandic flag.

The First Day of Summer or 'Sumardagurinn fyrsti' is the first day of the lunar month Harpa in the Old Icelandic calendar, which divided the year into two seasons, winter and summer.

In A.D. 1000, Iceland’s Christianization saw the end of the Old Icelandic calendar, as the Julian calendar was implemented at the behest of the Vatican.

Some pagan traditions related to the old calendar, such as the First Day of Summer, have survived to modern times.

Iceland in April: Things to Do, Weather, and Northern Lights | Guide to Iceland (10)

According to tradition, it is considered a good omen if summer and winter "freeze together," meaning if there's night frost before the First Day of Summer, then the coming season will be sunny and warm.

Until 1744, Icelanders would celebrate this day 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 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. 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’s a country-wide festival and a public holiday.

  • Learn more about the History of Iceland

Summer Presents

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Winters in Iceland can be harsh. Before decent roads and modern transportation, the Icelandic winter seemed more prolonged and difficult as farmers were isolated with little to 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 significant in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.People in the city took the day off to celebrate it, and farmers tried to limit their work to the bare minimum. Families would gather, have a massive feast and exchange presents.

This holiday might sound like a rip-off of Christmas, but it’s not. In Iceland, summer presents are much older than Christmas presents, with the earliest record of these gifts dating back to 1545.However, records of Christmas gifts in Iceland only date back to the 19th century.

Everybody would receive a present back then, and a popular gift was bread because grain was not easy to get.

Today, it's mostly children who receive presents. They usually relate to summer activities, like bicycles, balls, outdoor sports equipment, and other toys.So, if you are traveling around 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.

Weather in Iceland in April

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What’s the weather like in Iceland in April?

In April, the long nights of the Icelandic winter are over. The month starts with about 13 hours of sunlight each day. You can see the sunrise at 6:46 AM and the sunset at around 8:18 PM.

By the end of the month, Iceland will have gained three more hours of daylight, with the sun shining from 5:04 AM to 9:47 PM.

But because there’s still darkness in April, you still have a chance to catch the enigmatic northern lights. Ifthe weather forecast is good and the sky is clear of clouds, remember to watch for the aurora borealis during your April holiday.

Iceland in April: Things to Do, Weather, and Northern Lights | Guide to Iceland (13)

Iceland’s Temperature in April

The temperature in Iceland in April can be described as mild. The average high temperature is 44° Fahrenheit(6.8° Celsius), and the low temperature is 39°Fahrenheit(3° Celsius). It usually remains above freezing overall, but there’s still a chance it might drop below.

In April, the weather in Reykjavik continues to be slightly warmer, so expect the countryside to be a few degrees colder.

Statistically, about half the month of April will have some precipitation. However, the chances of rain decrease significantly between March and April and continue to dwindle throughout the month.

The precipitation will most likely come as rainfall, but snow is always possible.

We recommend all travelers use Safe Travel to report their itinerary before venturing out. There’s also a handy app and an emergency number, should you need it.

  • Read more about Iceland's Weather, Climate, and Temperature Year-Round

Is Iceland Green in April?

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 traveling 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.

  • See more:What To Pack for Iceland for All Seasons

Visiting Iceland in April

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When traveling to Iceland in April, there are a few experiences one shouldn’t miss, like seeing the Golden Circle, visiting the blue waters of the Blue Lagoon, and checking out what the city of Reykjavik has to offer.

Doing these activities in April has some significant advantages because it’s off-season.

Crowds in April

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Is April a good time to visit Iceland?

April in Iceland is considered the off-season, and flights and accommodation prices are much cheaper than in the summer months.

If that’s not enough, off-season means that the country’s most popular attractions, such as the Golden Circle and lakeMyvatn, will be less crowded. Reykjavik is also quieter in April.This low-traffic time allows you to fully appreciate the wilderness of Iceland.

Driving in Iceland in April

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Many roads are still closed after the winter, but the Ring Road, Iceland’s main route, is usually kept clear in April.

This access means you can drive to popular puffin sites, such as the Dyrholaeypeninsula on the South Coast, to try and catch a glimpse of these adorable creatures. To explore this region further, we recommend this scenic 5-day self-drive tour with stops at the Blue Lagoon and the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon.

The highways leading to the South Coast, Snaefellsnes peninsula, and the Golden Circle are relatively easy to traverse. In April, you should also be able to travel up north to places such as Akureyri, Husavik, or Myvatn.

However, since there’s always a chance of snow in April, we recommend renting a 4x4 vehiclewhen driving on Icelandic roads.The best way to rent cars to travel around the country is on Iceland's largest rental car marketplace,where youcan find any type of vehicle you need at the best price.

  • Learn more:Driving in Iceland: The Ultimate Guide to Road Trips

Recommended April Itineraries

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In April, the perks of being in Iceland are seeing the northern lights, visiting glaciers, and catching a glimpse of wildlife.

If you wish to explore the country and do so on your terms, you can take a self-drive tour around the country, creating your own adventures. That way, you don't have to worry about booking accommodations and tours; everything will all be pre-booked for you, and all you need to do is drive between places and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

You can chase the tail end of winter with this epic 7-day North Iceland self-drive tour. It’ll take you to the otherworldly area of lake Myvatn, the spectacular waterfalls Godafoss and Dettifoss, and the town Akureyri, which lies just 62 miles (100 kilometers) from the Arctic Circle.

If you want more, you can add extra tours where you race across the ice cap of Langjokull glacier with a snowmobile or snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of Silfra fissure.

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Alternatively, you can explore West Iceland on a 5-day self-drive tour. The Snaefellsnes peninsula has one of the most diverse landscapes in Iceland. You can see large lava fields, stretches of black pebble beaches, tiny villages, and vast mountains.

Towering over the peninsula is the mighty glacier, Snaefellsjokull. Adventure seekers can add on a tour where they venture into the ice tunnels of Langjokull glacier or descend into the stunning Vatnshellir lava cave.

If you are only visiting for a short while but want 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 South Coast attractions, and the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. You can also add extra activities to explore a glacier with a hike or do a horseriding tour around the countryside.

Iceland in April: Things to Do, Weather, and Northern Lights | Guide to Iceland (2024)
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