8 Good Reasons to Visit Iceland in May

Iceland in May

Iceland in May is a great idea! We’ve spent some time in Iceland in June and October as well, but May remains our favourite. We picked the month of May to visit Iceland for the first time back in 2013 for several good reasons. I will tell you all about it in this post.

Since it was our very first trip to Iceland, we didn’t really know what to expect and only had a vague idea of what Iceland in May was going to be like. It was a little overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be that way for you. This blog post is here to let you know what to expect and help you decide if May is a good time for you to visit Iceland.

Why You Should Visit Iceland in May:

(Note: We were in Iceland from May 18 to June 2.)

Lower Airfares

Flights to Iceland are more affordable, especially if you book months in advance. We booked about 6 months in advance and saved a couple hundred dollars that way. Airline Christmas sales usually include May dates so watch out for those. You might find some great deals.

We flew with Icelandair, direct from Toronto. It was nice enough. They gave each passenger a bottle of pure Icelandic water upon boarding. In-flight entertainment was pretty good. In-flight food was mediocre. Mother Nature, however, was being very generous to me and showed me the Northern Lights through the airplane window for at least three-quarter of the length of the flight. Pretty cool, especially since the Northern Light season in Iceland was already over by then

More Affordable Car Rental

Iceland is best explored by car. At the peak of summer, car rental practically costs twice as much as any other seasons, including springtime. We rented a small, compact car because we weren’t planning on driving to the highlands (or as they like to call it, the Interior) as the mountain roads would still be closed for the season anyway (they’re usually only open in the summer months). It served us well.

We rented our car from Blue Car Rental because it had decent reviews and a little less expensive than the competitors. We had no problems with them.

Iceland Road Trip on a budget.
The little Suzuki Swift that took us around Iceland.

Lower Accommodation Cost

This is another thing that will cost twice as much in the summer. We stayed mostly within the Hey Iceland‘s network of guesthouses. (If you’re interested, they’re currently offering a 15% discount on May self-drive tour packages, which include car rental and accommodations; not a bad deal.)

To save money, we alternated between a room with a shared bathroom and one with a private bathroom. The price difference could be up to $50, which is roughly one dinner for two! The rooms at the guesthouses were basic but nice, warm and clean. A continental breakfast buffet was included, which was another money-saver for us.

In Reykjavik, however, we stayed at an Airbnb apartment downtown because it was cheaper than a hotel room. We had a lovely stay in a top-floor apartment very close to the big church, Hallgrimskirkja. If you’re not an Airbnb member yet, sign up using our referral link and you’ll get a $45 CAD credit for your first stay! We’ll get some credit too so it’s a win-win situation!

Smaller Crowds

The Golden Circle and other major attractions in South Iceland will still be busy because every tour bus operator take their customers there, but it will be multiple times busier during the high season. At some lesser known attractions, we were still able to find ourselves alone with nature.

Longer Daylight Hours

It never really gets completely dark in Iceland in May. At midnight, it still looks like sunset and it stayed that way until dawn. June, July, and August might be warmer but May only has slightly shorter daylight hours. Longer daylight hours means more time to explore and more attractions you are able to see, and there is a lot to see in Iceland! The day will keep getting longer and longer up until the Summer Solstice in the third week of June.

Friendlier Weather

Temperatures in Iceland in May would be generally above 5° Celsius (41°F). I think the highest temperature we had during our stay was around 11° Celsius (51° F). Much better than winter weather! If you love sweater weather, May is perfect for you.

We only experienced a bit of snowfall once in the two weeks we spent in Iceland, and it was right in a valley surrounded by mountains by an old, mostly forgotten swimming pool called Seljavallalaug that we hiked to one morning. Even that didn’t last very long.

Anyway, the weather would still be wet and windy, but that’s Icelandic weather in general, any time of year. Do pack a good rain coat/windbreaker and be sure to check the weather and road conditions before you head out for the day!

We found Seljavallalaug swimming pool, and then it started snowing.

Lambing Season

Lambing season is in progress, and it means cute overload at every turn! Baby sheep are super cute and you’ll see them everywhere when you visit Iceland in May, but especially in South Iceland near the town of Vik. You better watch out, though, because baby sheep have zero understanding of where they should and should not be so you’ll occasionally find them hanging out in the middle of the road. Please keep your eyes on the road to prevent any accidents.

My husband had a nice little chat with these little guys.

Puffins Have Returned

Puffin season is usually between mid-April to mid-August. They spend the rest of the year out in the sea and are only in land to breed. They’ll definitely be out and about in May if you know where to look. We didn’t get to see them in South Iceland where they were supposed to be abundant, but we did see them at a bird-viewing area in Borgarfjörður Eystri, East Iceland. They are very entertaining to watch. You should see them at least once!

My favourite puffin in the whole iceland.

If you need any recommendations on places to visit or have any questions about travelling in Iceland, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below and I’ll try to answer the best I can with what I know from experience. (Having done a road trip around Iceland three times now, I like to think I know a thing or two about it.)

Addendum: Be sure to check out our itinerary! It might help you make your own. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, don’t miss my post about our visit to several Game of Thrones shooting locations in North Iceland! Trying to figure out your way around Iceland? This post might help!


  1. Hi Firda! I’m so glad to have found your write up on your trip to Iceland. My husband and I are looking to travel day in mid-May as well. So I have a couple of questions for you if you don’t mind sharing your itinerary . We are looking to do the ring road and a lot of hiking and it will be somewhat a budget trip of 10 days. I’m a nature lover and enjoy sightseeing of landscape and such and in love with those puffins. So here are my questions to you.

    – How many days were you there?
    – How many days did you spend in Reykjavik?
    – How was the road? Did you encounter any obstacles during your ride around iceland such as road close? river crossing?
    – Did you book hotels/apt/farmhouse before you arrived in Iceland? or did you just stop and stay whichever hotel you came acroos as you traveled around Iceland?
    – Did you rent GPS with the car?

    Thank you so much in advance for your answers. I look forward to hearing from you!


    1. Hey Kim, thanks for your questions and here are my answers:

      1. We were there for 15 days so we had an ample amount of time to go off the ring road to explore.
      2. We spent 2 nights in Reykjavik with only one full day at the end of our trip and wish we’d had allocated more time to spend there because we didn’t get to see much of Reykjavik at all! We booked an apartment in Reykjavik through Airbnb which I can recommend if you’re interested.
      3. The ring road was generally in good condition, but in the northeastern Iceland, there’s a stretch of the ring road where you have to drive through a mountain pass and the road might still be a little snow-covered up there, but nothing to worry about if you’re used to snowy winter driving. We also had a day in eastern Iceland with some really strong wind and I think the road authority might have had to close that stretch of the road because of it, but luckily not before we drove through it. We always checked the road conditions before we were off to venture in the morning. Here’s a handy link to Iceland road condition maps.
      4. We booked all of our accommodations three months in advance (we like to plan ahead) but we probably could’ve got away with booking on the day, except for the places in South
        Iceland around Vik and Jokulsarlon. Those places are always busy so make sure to book in advance.
      5. We didn’t rent a GPS. There were only a few times that we actually needed a GPS but we had a tablet with us with a data plan from a local ISP (a prepaid GSM card) so all we did was open up Google Maps on the tablet, entered where we wanted to go, and off we went! 🙂 We also had a real paper map of Iceland which came in handy at times.

      Hope that helps! If you have any more questions, feel free to ask! I had such a great time answering your questions because they brought back great memories, I wouldn’t mind answering more! 🙂

    2. Hi Firda, thanks for your tips to fellow travellers’ queries. Looking through all, I don’t seem to see any queries on money changing. We are a bunch of 13 from Singapore. Had gotten a local travel agent to do a private tour for us. So itinerary and hotel accommodations all planned.
      Please let us know how and where we could get our Euro changed to Icelandic Krona. Which gives the better rates of exchange? Easily find a money change?
      Also noticed that it is about 5-7degrees, so we really need to pack winter attire with gloves, scarves etc? Do we need thermal inner wear?
      Is it alright to wear sports shoes, eg Adidas running shoes?
      Thank you a zillion
      Siew Wah

    3. Apa Khabar Firda.
      I am Reezy from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My mind has trigger to take a trip to Iceland. I always want to celebrate my birthday on a white snow land. Do you think in mid to end May I still can experience snow?

      1. There won’t be much snow in Iceland in late May except in higher altitudes (like mountain passes). Iceland doesn’t really get much snow to begin with. 🙂

  2. Hi Firda,

    Thank you for the info. I finally booked a flight to Iceland a few weeks ago for mid-late May trip. It will be 11 days (10 nights) trip. Now the planning is on! After doing a little research and planning, I do have a few more questions for you.

    – Do you mind sharing your itinerary? I’m thinking that I will start counterclockwise around the ring road.

    – was there any area that you spent more than 2 nights aside from Reykjavik?

    – Did you have time to go to Westfjord area?

    – Did you do a lot of hiking? I definitely don’t want to feel rush to get back to the car and start driving to the next town.

    – Did you get to see puffins? If so, in which area did you see them?

    Thanks again in advance for replying to my questions! 🙂


    1. Hey Kim. Since it looks like Firda hasn’t replied I will do so:

      – to make it all the way around the island we didn’t spend more than one night in the same place – though most of the places were only an hour or two apart. We liked switching it up but made sure that the drive from one location to the didn’t take the whole day. We also took a lot of side trips from the main road if we found out about something that sounded interesting.

      – we did not make it to the westfjord area. From what we’ve been told the roads are horrible and the weather is still questionable in May. We are planning the westfjords for our next trip (whenever that is).

      – we didn’t do a lot of hiking – though there is a lot of trails out there. We aren’t big hikers so we selectively decide on which ones to do (so we didn’t burn ourselves out early in the day). In May a lot of the hiking trails may still be closed.

      – we did see Puffins in Borgarfjordur Eystri (on the east coast of Iceland). We stayed at the only place inn in town (which is also a spa) and drove out to the end of the road where there is a huge rock with puffins. They are still waiting to head out to sea in May so there are tonnes of them.

      One thing I should also mention. We didn’t have a car GPS but we did have Firda’s tablet and a regular GPS. The regular GPS was good for plugging in coordinates and finding those places we were staying at which were off the beaten path. The biggest problem with car GPS is that there is one brand with the map of Iceland. You might be able to rent one from the car rental place but it was pricey.

      1. Dear Friend
        I am planning a trip myself to ICELAND in May 2017. Do you have some suggestions of where to stay in the North of North West of Iceland. I really want to go to the most Northern point of Iceland without requiring to hire a 4 x 4.

        1. I too am thinking about an iceland trip in may 2017
          please forward any info and recommendations you have gotten
          thanks so much

    2. What Troy said! But I can add a little to it:

      – As far as itinerary goes, we pretty much just followed this sample itinerary from Hostelling International and added a side trip to Heimaey in the Westmann Islands and Borgarfjordur Eystri in East Iceland.

      – We didn’t stay more than one night at one place but we stayed at least two nights in every region, i.e. four nights in South/Southeast Iceland, two nights in East Iceland, two nights in Northeast Iceland, two nights in Northwest Iceland, two nights in West Iceland/Snaefellsnes Peninsula, and two nights in Reykjavik.

      And I think Troy already covered the rest. 🙂 Hope our answers help!

  3. Hi,
    I have been reading your Iceland tips and have booked to go 28 May to 4 June 2015. The weather looks/sounds mixed …. haven’t a clue how to prepare re what clothing to take….apart from the waterproof!!
    Sorry for all of the questions in advance…….
    The trip is a surprise for my partner, he has always wanted to go so i want to make it as special as i can, but don’t have an open ended budget. Any tips on how to make the most of getting to see and experience the key interests? Thinking of whale watching, the volcanoes, lights, but we love good dining too so did you go to any nice restaurants?
    Anything to avoid?
    Is it cheaper to book a car in advance, or when we arrive? What docs do you need to have etc? I have never driven abroad before.
    Any advice / tips etc etc would be MOST welcome.
    Many thanks.

    1. ps. just reading some more comments. i have booked to stay in same hotel for a week….is this a bad idea? Most of you seem to travel to different locations. Thanks

      1. Dee Scott, I’ve been reading up on Iceland and found this blog. It looks like my partner and I, along with another couple will be in Iceland the exact same dates as you! We are flying in from Portland, OR. We are renting a car and driving to different areas. It sounds like there are plenty of one day tours from Reykjavik to see the major tourist attractions but seems like if you want to find the “off the beaten path” type of spots, you’d need to venture to different areas. Have you discovered any advice or plans you’d like to share about the time we’re going?

  4. Hey frida,

    Nicely written blog.
    I have booked a self drive trip across the route 1 for may 2014 starting may 12. I have no experience driving on the right side as well as driving in Snow kind of terrain. Will this have any effect on my trip.
    I have to cover a long distance once in my trip, i.e. through hofn to akureyri (east iceland)

  5. Hi,

    We are heading to Iceland on May 12th and plan on mainly seeing South Iceland since we’re only there for 7 nights. Can you advise as to how wet it actually gets? I’m getting a rain jacket and plan on bringing many layers (I’m Canadian so the snow doesn’t bother me). But am contemplating what type of shoes I need to get.

    Is the rain torrential or more of a constant drizzle?

    1. It’s more like a constant drizzle (at least it was when we were there) but it’s also very, very windy. The wind would be more of a concern than the rain, really, so make sure you pack a good toque that covers your ears (seriously, the strong wind could make your ear-drums hurt, first-hand experience!). Temperatures would still be in the one digit range. As for shoes, a pair of waterproof boots (preferably with anti-slip soles) is a must. Not many things are worse than travelling with wet socks! Have a good trip!

    2. Same travel dates, Van :)! I have been back and forth about whether to stick to one area or travel the ring road. I’m so torn!

  6. Love your blog! Beautiful photos.
    Just back from a week in Iceland; breathtaking West Iceland, Reykjavik & the Golden Circle. The weather late September was surprisingly nice. Only one very windy & rainy day, however it was still beautiful.
    After reading your blog I think the month of May would be a perfect time for a 2nd visit. Puffins & Northern lights!

    1. It barely gets dark in Iceland in May so I’d say the chance to see aurora at that time of year is next to zero. I took an overnight flight to Iceland and was lucky enough to see the aurora from way up there through the window during the flight, but it was definitely not over Iceland.

  7. Hi! Thank you for your article. I’m going to Iceland in May but only for a few days. I want to hike to the dormant volcano and go inside. I also want to go into the ice caves. One day to walk around the city of Reykjavik and of course visit the Blue Lagoon. I travel alone and thought 3 days is enough without getting bored. I would stay longer and do more excursions but they cost money. What would you say is the average cost per night for hotels? I’m not renting a car and want to be close to the city, restaurants, shops, markets, etc.
    Any suggetions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. You might want to check if the ice caves are open in May. As far as I know, they’re only open in tue winter months (November to March) because the ice will be melting in the spring, making it unsafe for people to visit. We stayed in an apartment in downtown Reykjavik rented through Airbnb.com two yeaes ago. I think it cost just under 100 Canadian dollars per night. A hotel room in the same area would have cost at least double the amount. I’d imagine hotel rooms would cost a lot more now because tourism is booming in Iceland and hotel rooms are always high in demand. Check out Airbnb if you’re travelling on a budget.

  8. Hi Firda,
    Your blog is more than helpful and it definitely helped me choose dates for my upcoming trip to Iceland – late May. I am also travelling on a tight budget and any additional tips you may have are more than welcome.
    At the moment I’m planning my route (as I’m planning on going all around the island – Ring Road) and I was wondering if about 9 days would be enough to pull it off?
    Did you have to pre order prepaid sim card or they’re available anywhere when there?
    What about gas? Are gas stations hard to find and I should top up every chance I see one or they have decent amount of them on the road?
    When you went hiking would you just park the car anywhere and go or are there parking places where you have to leave them? (Asking these questions as – coming from Europe myself – I know how strict we are with laws and I’ve read that their fines are very high for any traffic violation).
    And last one (I promise 🙂 ) – if you could share your itinerary with me?

    1. We actually met people who were doing the drive around Iceland in 5 days! You might not be able to stray too far off the ring road but you should be able to pull it off.

      We bought a SIM card at the airport. Shouldn’t be a problem.

      If you rent a small car like we did, you’re not likely to have to fill up too often. I think we filled up only 3 or 4 times during our 2-week trip. Every town will have a gas station. As long as you don’t go off the ring road, you won’t have to worry about running out of gas in the middle of nowhere.

      There is usually a designated parking area by every marked trailhead. If not, just make sure that you’re not blocking anyone’s way where you park and you should be fine.

      Not really knowing much about the country, we pretty much just followed this sample itinerary from Hostelling International. It did the trick.

      Hope that helps! 🙂

  9. My daughter(age 9) and I are traveling to Iceland may 11 to 15. I plan on renting a car. Could you recommend an itinerary as we seem to have the same travel style. Do I really need a 4 wheel drive?

    1. Unless you plan on driving on unpaved roads (F-roads), you won’t need a 4WD. The ring road, especially in the south of Iceland, is generally in great condition and most F-roads will still be closed in May/won’t be open until June anyway. I’d recommend you check out these sample itineraries. Should give you some ideas.

  10. Firda!
    How expensive do you think Iceland is travel-wise compared to the US?
    Also where did you get your hat?


    1. We went to Iceland in 2013 and car rental was expensive because we needed a car with automatic transmission (still expensive now). If you know how to drive stick, manual transmission car rental should be a lot cheaper. Gas was and still is expensive. About $2 a liter. Restaurant food was also expensive. About the price of food in mid-range restaurants in North America but without the fancy bits. That hasn’t seemed to change. Accommodations were expensive back then for what you got but now you can get a nice hotel room for under $100 in low season if booked months in advance.

      I got the hat from Knitwits.com but they don’t seem to stock that particular hat anymore.

  11. Hi Firda,

    Thank you for writing this post! I am planning on going to Iceland in mid to late May this year and am wondering if you encountered any annoying bugs are your trip?
    I am hoping to avoid peak bug season!

    Thank you!


  12. Hi Firda,

    Thanks to your awesome post, I’ve booked my trip to Iceland for the 1st week of May 2016! I wanted to ask you, is a regular small car (eg. VW Golf) okay to drive from Reykjavik to Vik and potentially beyond that along the southern coast to the National Park? Were the road conditions bad in May? or just wet?

    Also, can I ask you what is the frequency you see fast food restaurants?


    1. As long as you stick to the ring road, a regular small car should do the job. We were driving around in mid- to late May and the road was in a pretty good shape, except for the parts that go over some mountain passes in East Iceland. Those were still snow-covered and also steep and winding so a bit scary. 😀 For the most part, it was just wet. I’d recommend getting the sand/ash protection insurance with your car rental, just in case. The sand storm could do a number to your car if you happen to be in the area when it happens.

      As for fast food restaurants, I only saw those in Reykjavik and up north in Akureyri, and even then there weren’t too many of them, but it might have changed now. They don’t have any McDonald’s for sure. We never did but I think you can buy cheap hotdogs from some of the bigger gas stations. There is a good and cheap-ish cafeteria-style restaurant in Vik by the gas station that serves decent fast food-style fares. You should check it out! My husband highly recommends the meat (lamb or beef, not sure) wrap.

      1. Thanks for the information Firda! We are planning to go as far as the Jokulsarlon Iceberg Lagoon using the Ring Road (route 1?) from Reykjavik so hopefully it will be fine but I will make sure to get the sand/ash protection and check out your husband’s recommendation 🙂

        Just noticed you are also from Southern Ontario! Shout out to Ontario, Canada!

        Appreciate all your help!

    2. planning a 5 day trip with my adult boys for early may or mid may.
      working details now.
      i’m wondering if we did friday-tuesday will that be enough time.
      we all have to go back to work.
      what would be the highlights that you all would suggest.
      we are all walkers and runners

  13. Thanks for your post. I’m planning a solo trip to Iceland in May and your experience was helpful. I too, enjoy the thrifty and frugal tips. I’ve heard that the local flea market is a great place to shop. Can’t wait to see a Puffin in the wild. Please email me with any other blogs you feel may be helpful. Bon Voyage!! Peggy

    1. No northern lights in May since it doesn’t get dark. I only saw the northern lights from the plane over the northern part of Canada.

  14. Hi Firda,

    Thanks for your blog! I’m heading to Iceland in May and I’m wondering what to pack. Can you make suggestions for how warm of a coat to pack? Do I need waterproof pants? Thanks!!

  15. I’ve just discovered your blog – love your Iceland posts. I got back from a trip there last month and am hoping to go again during a different season – your blog has so much useful information, and the photos are awesome!

  16. Hi- following your recommendation. Leaving from Toronto to Reykjavik for a week from May 21 to 28. Could you recommend what to see on Golden Circle? Planning to rent a car and do a self drive. Will also research on farm accommodations as you suggested.

    Many thanks again for your post. I can be reached at sharma.vibha@gmail.com

  17. HI , is it easy to obtain Icelandic Krona to EURO or GBP or USD?
    Thanks a lot for your write. its very useful. We are going from 2nd July to 11 July 2016

  18. Hello Firda! So happy to stumble upon your blog 🙂 I hope you don’t mind if I pick your brain! I’m planning a trip from Toronto May 12-21, 2017 for my new-to-travelling mom’s 60th birthday! I’m wondering what you think about our loosely planned itinerary:
    *Sat: Arrive 4:40am. Stay in Reykjavik.
    *Sun: Rent car. Leave for golden circle, Skogafoss, Myrdal. Sleep Vik.
    *Mon: Vik- sleep Hofn
    *Tues: Hofn- sleep Egilsstadir
    *Wed: Egil- sleep Akureyri
    *Thurs: Day 2 sleep Akureyri
    *Fri: Akureyri – sleep Reykjavik
    *Sat: last night sleep Reykjavik

    Does this sound incredibly rushed? We don’t have a lot of time off work, but also don’t want to be stressed out. Was there a place you loooved and wished you had more time in? Or a place you could’ve missed? Thank you so much for any tips, in advance!

    1. I’ve been meaning to reply to this but kept forgetting. So sorry! Your plan seems fine but the drive from Hofn to Egilsstadir is long and involves driving over a mountain pass that might still be snowy so you might want to consider staying the night before the mountain pass in the Breiđdalsvik area instead of Egilsstadir. The next day, I would recommend staying the night in the Myvatn area because there is a lot to see there and then spend the night in Akureyri the next night as planned (there isn’t much to see in Akureyri, imho). The next night, unless you really have to have a full day in Reykjavik, I’d recommend staying the night in the Snaefellsnes peninsula and do the drive around it the next day on your way to Reykjavik. It’s quite a beautiful drive. But whatever you decide to do, I’m sure it’ll be a great trip . 🙂 Have fun in Iceland!

  19. Firda,

    I stumbled on your blog and so happy to have come across it. I’m planning a trip with 2 other ladies 5/11/-5/15/17. We will have 3 full days to work with. Can you provide what you consider the top hi-lights that we can realistically do. Obviously, I would love to spend 1-2 weeks in Iceland but not going to happen. I’m going to rent a car and wondering if we should spend all nights in Reykjavik and just do day trips. I appreciate your input.

    1. I’d recommend doing the Golden Circle on the first day, driving up to Vik on the second day and stopping at the many popular attractions along the way (Seljalandfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, Seljavallalaug swimming pool, Dyrholaey, Reynisfjara, the black sand beach at Vik) and spend the last day exploring the city of Reykjavik. If you’re ambitious, you could push it further by doing the long drive to Jökulsárlón, the glacier lagoon (about 3 hours from Vik, 4.5 to 5 hours from Reykjavik), and back to Reykjavik on your last full day but it’s going to take all day! It’s a beautiful drive, though, and the lagoon and the black sand beach across for it are fantastic.

  20. Hi Firda!
    Love your blog and photography! My husband and I are taking a trip to Iceland this May, the 13th-20th. We arrive at KEF at 5:30am and depart the following Saturday at 8:30am. Most of the travel advice I have been reading has the first day spent in Reykjavik, but what are your thoughts on starting on the road right away? I feel like if we started driving first with a few stops here and there, we could get to a resting destination early and get a good night’s sleep- however I haven’t read that many people do that!
    The other benefit would be spending the Friday returning to Reykjavik and spending time there before leaving Saturday morning. Also, I keep going back and forth between heading north first or south, I know there’s a lot to do right away in the south, but that might also break up the trip a little more towards the end after having been in the car for so long. Thanks for any advice!

    1. We started hitting the road right away by exploring the Reykjanes Peninsula (including having a lovely bath in the Blue Lagoon) after we arrived early in the morning but we were pretty much running on adrenaline since we didn’t manage to get any sleep on the red eye flight (one of the perks of sitting next to a crying baby) and we were already in bed by 4pm. I kept falling asleep in the car and husband would have too if he hadn’t had to drive. 😀 It’s definitely doable, but would be more enjoyable if you actually got some sleep on the plane. We stayed in Selfoss on our first night and hit the Golden Circle from there on the second day. We spent our last full day in Reykjavik but it wasn’t nearly enough time to see everything (we actually went back in October last year just to see more of Reykjavik). As for north or south, I’d say do the whole ring road if you can! We actually met people who were doing the ring road in 5 days. The days are long in May so it’s definitely doable. You might have to spend a lot of time in the car but the ever-changing sceneries make it worth it and there are enough attractions located just by the side of the road. That said, if you have FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), definitely do the south. Otherwise, the north or the west would be a better choice with potentially less tourist-packed attractions.

  21. We r planning to go in April would u mind telling me whats the attractions r a must see. We will b in the town that starts with a ry I think. Getting excited and trying to plan what to see. I hanks for any info u can give me. Sincerely, Carolyn Davis

  22. Hi Firda,

    Can you help me out with a Query. I am planning to visit Iceland in May.

    Do I need to book Rental Cars in Advance or would it be available on Arrival.

    I am not sure where to book Cars from, so is it possible to hire it, once we reach there after inspecting the options.

    Please revert, if possible

    Mayank Gupta

    1. May is now considered high season so probably best to book in advance, just to be safe. I can’t comment on any car rental companies other than the one I mentioned in my post since it was the one we used.

  23. Hi Firda, may I know your total cost for accommodation & car rental for 7 days?
    As I’m now thinking whether to rent a car or a campervan (which means I won’t have to book any accommodation)

    1. It was about $5,000 for two weeks but May was considered low season in 2013 (high season now) so it would probably cost as much for one week now.

  24. I’m so glad I came across your blog while researching my upcoming trip! I’m flying out on the last Friday of April and will be in Iceland until May 7. I’m clueless–what to wear, whether I’ll be able to see the Northern Lights anywhere, how to get around if I don’t want to rent a car. I’m excited, though! I’m looking forward to looking through all your Iceland blog posts.

  25. Hi Firda,
    I’m so gland and lucky to come across your blog. It is so informative and down to earth. Please keep up your good work.
    We shall be travelling in Iceland between 7 May and 18 May, driving a rental car in the anti-clockwise direction from Reykjavik. I would greatly appreciate if you can answer my questions:
    1. We’d already booked the accommodations and shall have to travel from Hofn to Egilssadir on 11 May. I’d read your reply to a reader that is not advisable due to the long distance of driving and the stretch of road is winding and has to drive through a mountain pass. We are driving on the left hand side of the road in Australia and I only have one single experience of driving on the right hand side of the road. How scary is that part of the road? Is Eastern Iceland normally still snowing in May?

    2. As the sun only sets after 10pm in May, was the sky too bright when you photographed the waterfalls etc? Did you manage to get some colours in the sky that are close to sunset?

    3. Are there enough space on roads like the ring road to pull the car over for a photo stop? I’d heard of the (very) strict traffic regulations and heavy fines in Iceland, do you know it would be a traffic offend to stop by the road side?


    1. Hi Anthony

      1. The road between Hofn and Egilsstadir is not as much winding as it is windy. East Iceland seems to be prone to gale force wind. As long as you’re driving a regular car and not a camper van, it shouldn’t be a problem. I had to ask my husband about the scariness of the mountain pass since he’s the driver in our team and he said it wasn’t too bad. It was a little long, steep in the beginning, and also snowy. It had been plowed before we passed but still a little slushy/slippery and steep at some spots. His advice is to drive slowly (up here in Canada we go by “see snow, go slow”) and you should be fine.

      2. The weather is rarely clear in May. You can count on the day being overcast and, more often than not, wet. 🙂 We went out at 11:30 pm once when we were in northern Iceland and saw the closest thing to sunset sky.

      3. I’m not sure about traffic regulations. In 2013, Iceland wasn’t as touristy as it is now and we barely saw other cars, let alone police patrol, on the roads. We usually go by the rule that if the road shoulder doesn’t seem wide enough for parking properly, it’s probably not a good idea to stop there. There will be places where you can park legally along the way. Just keep your eyes open.

      Hope that helps!

      1. Hi Firda,

        Thanks for the information. It is really helpful.

        A bit sad to hear that the clear in May is rarely clear as I’m looking forward to take photos of the gorgeous landscape of Iceland, first I learnt there won’t be sunrise/sunset, now the day is always overcast and wet 🙁 Looking at a positive side, do you know which month shall I have better chance of clear blue sky? May have to plan my second trip even before I set off for the first.

        1. Iceland is not the place to go for sunshine, that’s for sure. 🙂 The weather is unpredictable at best, any time of year. I’m sure you’ll see some clear skies every now and then in May. Just don’t expect it to last all day or you’ll be disappointed. July and August might be the best time to go weatherwise but I doubt it’ll be sunny all day long every single day, and the sun will barely ever set. Iceland looks better when the weather is less than perfect anyway. I personally love seeing the Icelandic landscapes with dramatic skies as a backdrop. This article, I think, describes the mindset you need to have going to Iceland quite perfectly. 🙂

  26. Hello! I’m visiting Iceland for four days at the end of May. What part of the country do you recommend we spend our time?

  27. I too am visiting at the end of May and was thinking of going to the Blue Lagoon early am after we arrive, as you did. However my concern is that air travel is never guaranteed and if we booked our time at the Blue Lagoon ahead of time for the early am and never arrived on time we’d lose what we paid for. We lost out on a tour for this reason in Venice. Thoughts? Also if it’s rainy and cold in May I presume the air temperature at the Lagoon is the same. How do you stay warm when out of the water? Thank you!

    1. You could book your time at the Blue Lagoon later in the day to compensate for the potential flight delay. Either that or go to the Secret Lagoon instead. It’s cheaper and it doesn’t require pre-booking. You don’t stay warm out of the water. You just have to hurry in and out of the water from/to the shower room. 🙂

      Edit: Looks like you need to pre-book your time at the Secret Lagoon as well now. Not so secret anymore, I guess!

  28. Hey there,

    This blog has more information on travel to Iceland in may than just about anywhere else online!

    With that in mind, does anyone have any recommendations on hikes in Iceland that are open in late May/early June? As I’m on a budget, I’m planning on renting a car, taking the rim road, and finding great hikes and camping out while driving around the island. Does anyone have any recommendations to some great hikes that can be reached in late May/early June? Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated.

    Thanks so much!

    1. The trails in the Southwest and West of Iceland (not Westfjords) should be open already, and maybe Landmannalaugar but you need to double check. Trails in higher altitudes might still be snow-covered. I didn’t do much hiking in Iceland so can’t be much help but maybe others would be able to help more.

  29. So. I understand you saw the northern lights in the plane – but assume it won’t be possible in Iceland since it never got dark in May?

    Can you still do the ice caves/glaciers in May?

  30. Help
    I am used to traveling Europe and other areas in non busy times or the shoulder season. There is lots of info I’m not sure if May is an off time to visit or not? And if I don’t want crowds what are the best dates. I am looking to do the ring road and the southern golden route.
    Are things over priced in May too? I only plan on being in the city 2 days and I assume like most cities the weekend is better than week days. So are the crowds mainly the city?? It’s hard to get s straight answer with all the info out there.
    I am currently booked for May 14-23 but I can change that to May 8-20

    Any advice is greatly appreciated


  31. Hi Firda
    We are planning a trip next May 15-31 with main desire to hike in WestFjords. We are used to 4WD roads and snow since we live in Colorado. Would the roads be open near the end of May? How could we check historical data?
    Davey and Willy

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