The month of May brings renewed excitement. It is one of the most favored months for tourists in Iceland. The reason is that during May, most flights to Iceland, accommodations, and car rental services are significantly cheaper.
The natural landscapes and attractions are generally less crowded during this month. The weather undergoes significant changes with minimal rainfall and the longest days of sunshine in the year.
May marks the beginning of the flowering season in Iceland. Flowers start to bloom, and most animals that were in hibernation return to their normal surroundings. The sunsets in May are enchanting, with long days, meaning more time for excursions. Although the temperatures are not as warm as in mid-summer, they are much more pleasant compared to the cold and darkness of winter.
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Weather and daylight hours in May
Temperatures in May are relatively comfortable, ranging from 8 to 12 degrees Celsius during the day and 4 to 6 degrees Celsius at night. Daylight extends from 3-4 AM to 10-11 PM.
May is the driest month in Iceland. Reykjavik, the capital, records 42 mm of precipitation in May, and snow is not an option unless you are exploring mountainous areas that may still have snow in May.
Things to do and see
Even though it’s not yet summer, May in Iceland offers numerous activities, sometimes leaving you with the feeling that the vacation time for exploration is not enough. Some of these activities include swimming in hot springs and geothermal pools, a popular tourist attraction. With so much sun, less wind, and pleasant weather, visiting hot springs is a must.
Many of these hot springs are well-known and open to the public, while others, still new and privately owned, require permission for access.
Additionally, there are many geothermal swimming pools in towns and scattered settlements across the country, often accessible spontaneously.
Scuba diving and snorkeling are also worth considering if you plan to visit Iceland in May. In Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, you’ll find one of the top ten diving sites globally, Silfra Fissure. Diving in Silfra requires meeting minimum requirements to ensure the safety of divers and guides. Diving with balloons requires a medical approval and a recognized diving license.
Despite the unpredictable weather in Iceland, hiking is possible in May. It’s a good aerobic activity and is recommended after driving segments.
It provides an excellent close-up view of Icelandic nature, offering glimpses of fertile valleys, grasslands, rivers, mountains, and forests. One of the most accessible hiking trails from Reykjavik is Mount Esja.
Iceland is considered a paradise for both amateur and professional fishermen. In May, most fish start to become active for the spawning season, allowing fishermen to experience catching various species such as trout, salmon, and even sea fish like cod.
River fishing in Iceland is private, and anglers need the landowner’s permission or can opt for guided fishing trips to avoid logistical issues.
In addition to these activities, you can also choose horseback riding, cave tours, glacier hikes, whale and bird watching tours, and more.
With so many activities in May, you won’t run out of things to do in Iceland.
Festivals and events
Iceland is a country of festivals and events, and May is no exception. With festivals throughout the year, May is exceptional.
Some amazing festivals to consider are the SAGA Festival, a music and arts festival that has captured the hearts of many.
The Feast of the Ascension is also celebrated during this period, marking 40 days after Easter, commemorating the ascension of Jesus to heaven.
Iceland, being a secular but non-segregated state, celebrates this day nationwide. It’s an opportunity to visit Icelandic churches to experience a different atmosphere compared to the more conventional churches in Europe.
The RAFLOST Festival, an electronic arts festival, also takes place in May. It attracts visitors from local communities and around the world.
These festivals and celebrations, among many others, await you in Iceland.
- Bring layers, including thermal or moisture-wicking base layers, insulating layers (fleece or down), and a waterproof and windproof outer layer. This allows you to adjust your clothing according to the temperature and weather.
Waterproof Jacket and Pants:
- May in Iceland can still have rain, and having a good-quality waterproof jacket and pants is crucial. It will also protect you from the occasional drizzle and strong winds.
Sturdy Waterproof Boots:
- Comfortable, waterproof, and sturdy boots are essential, especially if you plan to explore natural sites or go hiking. Ensure they provide good ankle support.
Gloves, Hat, and Scarf:
- Even though it’s approaching summer, temperatures can still be cool. Pack a pair of warm, waterproof gloves, a hat to protect against wind, and a scarf for added warmth.
- Don’t forget your swimsuit. Iceland has numerous hot springs and geothermal pools, and visiting them is a must. Many of these are open-air, providing a unique experience in the cool Icelandic air.
- Bring a small daypack for daily excursions. It’s useful for carrying water, snacks, an extra layer, and any essentials you might need during the day.
Reusable Water Bottle and Snacks:
- Stay hydrated, especially if you’re engaging in outdoor activities. Bring a reusable water bottle and some snacks to keep your energy up.
Sunscreen and Sunglasses:
- Even though the temperatures might not be high, the sun can be intense, and the days are long. Pack sunscreen with a high SPF and sunglasses for eye protection.
Lastly, as Iceland becomes an increasingly popular tourist destination every day, regardless of the month of May itself approaching the peak season, it is recommended to book accommodations and activities well in advance to ensure you don’t miss out on suitable places or options due to full bookings.
Come to Iceland in May and embark on the mysterious magical journey into a country awakening from winter slumber to a world of enchanting landscapes and experiences.