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First time in Iceland - help with the basics please! (1 Viewer)

Den C


I'm hoping to visit Iceland in the spring/summer and would appreciate any help with the following:

1) Best time to visit - I was thinking May/June, but I'd love to hear any thoughts about weather or tourist numbers (does it get busy?).

2) Reykjavik as a base and hiring a car for exploring - Is there plenty to see and visit doing this, or do I need to think about spending time in another part of the country?

3) Are there any must-visits for birds/wildlife/scenery?

I'm also a bit of a wild swimmer and any thoughts on good hot springs to visit would be most welcome too!

Any and all thoughts and feedback appreciated.



James Lowther

Well-known member
Hi Den,
June is excellent time to visit bird wise. Iceland does get a lot of tourists but most stick to the southwest I believe. Worthwhile booking accommodation in advance though.
You will be able to see a lot traveling out from Reykjavik but a lot more if you tour around. Best areas bird wise; myvatn for breeding ducks, divers and gyrfalcon. Latrabjarg for auks including brunnich’s guillemot. Flatey island for both phalarope species.
Whole country is incredibly scenic.
Good luck


Virtually unknown member
United Kingdom
Agree with James, allow yourself enough time to travel both from Reykjavik to the usual tourist sites nearby (which are well worth visiting) and to drive right around the ring road at least; if nothing else for the experience, the scenery and to get away from the other less adventurous visitors. A fantastic island.

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Hi Den

You'll find quite a lot of information in The Opus. From the main category page for the country, if you scroll down a bit, you'll find links to the 5 main areas of interest to birders. There's also a link to the Birding Iceland site.

A very tempting country!!

May I wish you and your family a very happy 2019.


James and Pete have already covered it but here's my two cents as a local:
1) For birding then late May to early June is definitely the best time but birds are active and easy to see well most of the summer, although the ducks start getting pretty drab from mid-June onwards. The weather is generally more stable in July than earlier on but no guarantees! You don’t come to Iceland for the weather. The weather is also rarely the same throughout the country. Summer 2018 was one of the coldest and wettest on record in Reykjavík but pretty glorious in the North. There has been a huge increase in the number of tourists in recent years, but there is a definite peak in July and August. However, most tourists stick to the same well-trodden path and it’s very easy to find quiet places with no one around. If you want to do the Golden Circle circuit in southern Iceland just accept that you’ll see a lot of tourists. If you go somewhere like the West Fjords (my favourite area probably), you will see far fewer.

2) You can do daytrips from Reykjavík but I’d definitely travel further afield and leave the city behind. As Pete said, you could easily drive the Ring Road and eastern Iceland sees far fewer tourists and is also fabulously scenic.


Well-known member
Go on one of the whale watching trips, even if you're not interested in whales you'll see plenty of sea birds.


Bah humbug
Some years ago (time flies!) myself and 2 others did Iceland, think it was May - taking a week or so to do the ring road + a few days extra. We had one day of drizzle in 10 days, and some great birds/random cetaceans from land, Arctic Fox of course.

Worth doing the whole thing - check out trip reports on here and cloudbirder etc.


Dave Cox

I don't think you've said how long you reckon your trip will be, but if it's at least ten days (ideally more) then I'd certainly recommend doing the ring road. Allow at least two days for Mývatn, and a good time for the west coast.

Edward is the expert, get in touch with him (if he doesn't mind the plug).

But, birds aside, it's a fabulous country to visit anyway. Take your cossie, the water's lovely !
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