April is an exciting time to travel to Iceland. It holds the promise of northern lights, puffins, reindeer, longer days, and outdoor exploration. It can also be a very tricky and unpredictable time to be in Iceland because it’s the end of the Icelandic winter.
Visiting Iceland in April has its advantages: it’s significantly cheaper and there are fewer people. But, there will be things that are closed, and not offered. When we started planning our 16-day road trip, it was overwhelming. We didn’t know what we could and could not do in April. Could we go to the Westman Islands? Could we drive in the Westfjords?
We’ve created an Iceland Travel Guide and a 2 Week Iceland Itinerary with helpful information for anyone traveling to Iceland in early spring, or any other time of the year. For the purpose of this post, we’ve assembled all the questions we had when we were planning our April in Iceland trip. Our answers are formulated based on our personal experience and on email correspondences with tour companies. Our goal is to help you with your Iceland April travel planning because we know you have lots of questions.
April in Iceland: Everything You Need to Know
Visiting Iceland in April: Quick Tips
- Weather: expect unpredictable weather and winter conditions.
- Driving: 4WD recommended. Use road.is to find out what the road conditions are every morning before you begin your drive.
- Top things to do: (1) Visit Geothermal Sites, (2) Drive the Ring Road, (3) Soak in Hot Pots; (4) Visit Fjallsárlón, Jökulsárlón, and Diamond Beach.
- Places you can’t access in April: Westman Islands, the Interior, and parts of the Westfjords.
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Iceland Weather in April
What’s the weather like in April?
The weather is unpredictable. In our two weeks, we experienced numerous snowstorms, rain, sun and lots of wind. The weather changed dramatically each day.
Is Iceland cold in April?
It’s cold. During our trip, the day temperature ranged from -3ºC (26.6ºF) to 8ºC (46.4ºF). The temperature feels even colder due to the brutal wind.
Did the Iceland April weather impact our trip?
Yes. We couldn’t reach our accommodation in Ísafjörður in the Westfjords, because the road was closed (that particular day) due to weather conditions. We recommend using road.is to find out what the road conditions are every morning before you begin your drive.
Wildlife in April
Can you see reindeer in April?
We did. We saw herds of reindeer several times while traveling in the South-Eastern region and East Fjords, between Jökulsárlón and Djúpivogur.
Can you see puffins in Iceland in April?
Atlantic Puffins are seabirds that spend most of their lives at sea but return to land to breed during spring and summer. It’s possible to see them between early April and early September. If you really want to see them, it’s a safer bet to come between May and August. We didn’t see them in mid-April (because it was a long winter).
Where can you go in Iceland in April
Where Can you Go?
You can go everywhere on this map: Golden Circle, Southern Iceland, East Fjords, Northern Iceland (Lake Myvatn), Westfjords (weather permitting and not all areas), Snæfellsnes Peninsula and Reykjanes Peninsula.
Our favorite places to visit in Iceland in April are Reykjanes Peninsula (especially the geothermal sites), Lake Myvatn, Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach, Vestrahorn and Lækjavik.
Where Can’t you Go?
- The Interior (the Highlands).
- You can’t drive into the interior with your rental car. The roads open up around mid-June. However, it’s still possible to reach the interior by going on a Super Jeep tour. These tours cost $390 and upwards, per person, for a 10-hr tour from Reykjavik.
- Certain areas of the Westfjords aren’t accessible. You can’t drive to Dynjandi waterfall or between Ísafjörður and Patreksfjörður in winter. And, you can’t hike Hornstrandir Nature Reserve.
- Westman Islands. It may be possible to get here in April, but it’s likely that the Landeyjahöfn ferry isn’t operating (usually starts in May).
Things to Do in Iceland in April
What are the best things to do in Iceland in April?
- Visiting Geothermal Sites: (1) Hverir (Námafjall geothermal field), (2) Krýsuvík / Seltún (3) Gunnuhver.
- Soaking in Hot Pots
- Driving the Ring Road. Our favorite stretch was from Eldhraun to Lækjavik. (Southern – Eastern Iceland)
- Visiting the Fjallsárlón or Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoons)
You can read more about these experiences in our Iceland Travel Guide.
Can you drive the Iceland Ring Road in April?
Yes. We drove the whole ring road in April and also made additional detours (all noted in the map above). The ring road is well maintained and in good condition. However, weather can always slow you down, or impact your plans.
Can you tour Fjallsárlón or Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoons) on a boat in April?
No. That activity is only available during the summer months (mid-May to mid-September). However, you can still visit Fjallsárlón and Jökulsárlón in April and walk along the shores of both lagoons. We spent hours at both the lagoons and had an amazing time. A huge bonus of being here in April is not having to share the landscapes with too many people.
Are there Icebergs on Diamond Beach in April?
Yes. As icebergs melt and break off in the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, the broken pieces float out to sea with the tide. At Diamond Beach, you’ll see the ice float and land at the black sand beach.
Keep in mind that the warmer it gets, the more ice breaks off and floats to sea. So, if it’s still really cold, you won’t see too much ice floating in Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, and therefore you’ll see less ice on Diamond Beach. Most likely, the later in Spring you visit, the more ice you’ll see at Diamond Beach.
Can you visit hot pots in April?
Yes. The best way to warm up when the temperature is flirting with zero degrees is by jumping into a hot pot. Hot pots are warm natural baths. Some thermal baths are maintained regularly and charge a fee. These tend to be better, as they are both cleaner and hotter.
There may, or may not be a changing area. To locate a hot pot on your trip, use this website. We did notice that it’s a bit out-of-date, so fact-check the information before starting your drive.
Can you go glacier hiking in April?
Check out this 5-hour glacier hike adventure.
Can you go hiking in Iceland in April?
Yes. Here are the hikes that we did in April.
- Reykjadalur Hot Spring Thermal River. This is a 1-hour hike that takes you to a bathing platform, where you can soak in a hot river.
- Fjaðrárgljúfur. You can walk the rim of this deep canyon to various vantage points. There is an icy blue river that streams through the canyon.
- Svartifoss. Weather permitting, you can hike to this waterfall framed by striking basalt columns. It takes 30-40 minutes to reach the waterfall from the parking lot of Skaftafell / Vatnajökull National Park.
- Skaftafellsjökull Glacier. From the Skaftafell / Vatnajökull National Park, you can also walk to this Icelandic glacier in 30 minutes via a flat trail.
- Dimmuborgir. This lava field at Lake Myvatn is a great place to explore. There are clear walking paths that lead you through the bizarre lava field formations.
- Víti. We hiked to this crater lake near Lake Myvatn, but the whole landscape was carpeted in snow. Unless there’s little to no snowfall, we wouldn’t recommend hiking there.
Is it possible to hike in Skaftafell in early April?
Yes, unless there’s a lot of snowfall. We hiked to Svartifoss waterfall.
Can you go horseback riding in April?
It’s possible. However, many riding companies don’t begin operating until May. Once you experience Icelandic wind, you’ll soon realize that getting on a horse in cold wet conditions is probably not a good idea. If you absolutely want to experience riding an Icelandic horse, we recommend researching what riding companies offer rides in April in advance.
Can you go whale-watching in Húsavík in April?
Yes, but…The whale-watching season in Húsavík begins on April 1st (through mid-November). When we reached out to GG1 Whale Watching tours, they said:
“In the last years, April has been quite successful regarding whale sightings. Humpback whales and minke whales have been most common. It is though, good to keep in mind that this is wild nature and indeed unpredictable. As the Icelandic weather is unpredictable as well, especially in early spring, I would recommend that you plan at least two days in the Húsavík area, in case we would have to cancel tours due to weather.”
We went to Húsavík and inquired about whether there were any whale sightings. There weren’t and because it was uncomfortably cold and windy, we opted out.
If you are interested, check out this traditional whale watching tour from Húsavík (duration: 3 hours).
Driving in Iceland in April
What are the driving conditions in Iceland in April?
The driving conditions vary. The ring road is kept in condition all year. However, a sudden storm can impact road conditions. Not all of the ring road is paved (though most of it is), so you’ll likely encounter potholes. If you do venture off the ring road, you’ll certainly encounter gravel roads and more potholes. During parts of our trip, we drove through total whiteouts on icy roads with little visibility.
Use road.is to find out what the road conditions are every morning before you begin your drive. Check the website safetravel.is for warnings and alerts. This site will provide up-to-date information on storms, road closures, and wind gusts.
Do you need a 4WD?
Yes! We drove on ice, through snowstorms, and on roads with so many potholes, we felt like we were riding on a hyper-slow theme park ride. Renting a 4WD is a necessity. Read our Driving Tips section on our Iceland Travel Guide for more info.
Where to Stay in Iceland in April
Here are all the guesthouses and hotels we stayed in during our trip plus a few more options.
What to pack for an April Iceland Trip?
- Winter Coat. Your coat should be thick, warm, and long (cover your knees).
- Rain Jacket. Rain is part of the Icelandic experience. We recommend the North Face Venture Rain Jacket to stay dry.
- Waterproof Hiking Boots
- Crampons. We used our crampons twice because we were really determined to go outside and explore, despite the icy conditions.
- Travel Towel. You’ll need your own towel for independent hot pot (hot spring) exploring. You can rent towels at the lagoons. Opt for a thin, microfiber towel that dries quickly.
- Bathing Suit
- Flip Flops, or Crocs
- Warm Pants. Thick leggings are suitable.
- Athletic/Hiking Pants that shed water.
- Winter Accessories: Beanie, or a Trapper Hat (Ushanka), Gloves, and a Scarf.
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