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. Traveling in April has its advantages: it’s significantly cheaper and there are less 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 15 Day 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 trip. Our answers are formulated based on our personal experience and on email correspondences with tour companies.
Iceland April Travel Q&A
What’s the weather like in April?
We experienced snowstorms, rain, sun and lots of wind. The weather changed dramatically each day.
How cold is it in April?
It’s cold. During our trip, the temperature ranged from -3ºC (26.6ºF) to 8ºC (46.4ºF)
Did the 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.
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 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 To Go
Where Can you Go?
Check out the interactive map on our Iceland Travel Guide.
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).
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).
Can you go glacier hiking in April?
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 wale-watching in Húsavík in April?
The wale-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 wale sightings. There weren’t and because it was uncomfortably cold and windy, we opted out.
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. This is a necessity.
Iceland Packing List
What should you pack for a trip to Iceland in April?
- Winter Coat. Your coast should be thick, warm and long. It should cover your knees.
- Rain Jacket. Kati’s North Face Venture Rain Jacket is her favorite clothing item. Excellent quality and truly waterproof.
- Crampons. We used ours twice, because we were really determined to go outside and explore.
- Towel. You’ll need your own towel for independent hot pot (hot spring) exploring. You can rent towels at the lagoons.
- Bathing Suit
- Warm Pants. Thick leggings are suitable, especially if you have a long winter coast that covers most of your legs.
- Athletic/Hiking Pants – Our favorite hiking pants is the Macpac Women’s Hike Pants. They’re very flexible, fit perfectly (not too tight), shed water and have an elastic waste (no need for a belt).
- Down Vest. Sabrina has never hiked anywhere without her Eddie Bauer StormDown Vest.
- Waterproof Hiking Boots. We highly recommend the Vasque Women’s Talus Waterproof Hiking Shoes (sturdy and durable with great grip and overall support) and the Ahnu Women’s Sugarpine Hiking Boot (lightweight and comfortable with great ankle support).
- Flip Flops.
- Long-sleeve Shirts
- Winter Hat: Beanie, or a Trapper Hat (Ushanka).
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