May in Iceland

Quick facts about the weather and daylight in May

Average temperature: 6,49°C /  43.68°F
Average hours of sunlight: 198.53
Average of lowest and highest recorded temperature in May: Low -2.20°C / 28.04°F –  High 14.56°C / 58.21°F
Length of day on May 1st: 16 hours and 21 minute

I must admit that May is one of my favorite months in Reykjavík. It has the most sun on average, the least rain and not as much wind as the winter months. It’s not high season so there are not as many tourists around as in the summer but you can feel it getting busier – especially towards the end of the month. You’ll still have incredibly beautiful long sunsets and you can take advantage of the increased daylight on long road trips out of the city.

The only downside to traveling in May is the fact that the flora hasn’t really woken yet and everything can look a little bit dull. It isn’t until the end of the month or the beginning of June that you will see the lush scenery you see in photos in all the tourist brochures but this varies of course between year and on each day, for that matter (things will look more dull in the rain, more beautiful when it’s sunny). If you are traveling outside of the southwest corner, to the north or the Westfjords, for example, the spring and summer arrive even later there as the photos from this trip I did to Akureyri at the end of May once will show you.

I also did a road trip around Iceland in the middle of may once that you might want to check out.

One thing to keep in mind though is that even though we are all very happy that the weather is getting nice in May it still may feel a bit cool to you if warm springs and early summers is the norm where you come from. So make sure you pack for that.

From mid-May you can expect high-season prices and you will run into more difficulties finding accommodation in problem areas like the south coast.

Annual events and festivals in May worth checking out.

Raflost: Festival of Electronic Arst and media

Reykjavík Art Festival: A big biannual celebration that attracts amazing international artist and guests from all over the world

Tours you might want to consider in May

The long days and better weather in May it becomes feasible again to do long day tours like the Jökulsárlón in a day and a tour around the Snæfellsnes peninsula.

May also marks the return of the Puffin tours (like Puffin Express tour from Reykjavík or the Ingólfshöfði PuffinTour) and the amazing Inside the Volcano tour.

This post is part of a series about the best time to visit Iceland where we go through things to consider before visiting Iceland for each month of the year. All the weather related statistics come from the Icelandic Met Office but the rest is based on our feelings and experience. 

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11 thoughts on “May in Iceland”

  1. Deanna Schultz says:

    I went to Iceland for the first of what I hope will be many times last May and found it to be a spectacular display of lupine and many other wildflowers. (Hyvergardi was hosting an International Flower Show). Emerald green grass, dazzling waterfalls, and as Audur says, not crowded. Temperatures are pleasant. I highly recommend it!

  2. Jill says:

    I spent 10 days in Iceland last May. While I had a great time, it rained every day, sometimes VERY hard. I never saw the summit of a single volcano! This does not create much of a problem when soaking in hot water, but it definitely throws the kill switch on whale watching, and make horseback riding considerably less pleasant. Waterfalls, however, were quite spectacular.

  3. Mark says:

    Jilll/ Deanna – I know weather is unpredictable, so I won’t ask specific, but we’re thinking about 4/20 – 5/5 +/- a day or so.
    What part of May did you both travel – early, midle, late etc?

    Best

  4. Mark says:

    That should read 4/30 not 4/20

  5. Ny says:

    I have the same question as Mark and my dates are surprisingly the same 🙂

  6. mm Auður says:

    Mark, Ny,

    I did 10 days around Iceland a few years back and we got every kind of weather. It was beautiful one day – raining cats and dogs (and a few elephants) the next and we even got a couple of snowstorms. We were traveling from the 10th to the 20th if I remember correctly.

    You can read all about our trip here: http://www.iheartreykjavik.net/tag/around-iceland-in-10-days/

  7. Heidi says:

    I will only be in Iceland for 3 full days. Arriving 6:30pm on the 25th, leaving 5pm 29th. What are your favorite highlights that I should be sure not to miss? I wish I could stay longer and drive the Golden circle!
    I was thinking of following the 2 day trips listed here, http://www.hostel.is/SampleItineraries/, but I’d love your input as well!
    Thanks!
    Heidi

    1. mm Auður says:

      Hi Heidi,

      I would recommend you just read through the blog for recommendations – there are a lot of them there.

      1. Heidi says:

        Thanks for your reply, have a lovely Easter!

  8. ALDO VILLALTA says:

    I can’t wait…
    I’ll be Iceland mid May for the first time ever.
    May 15 thru May 20th
    Is there anything special happening that week that I should be aware of, and not miss?
    I’m excited to see Jokursarlon up close on a boat ride ….
    Are they available mid May?
    Thank you

    1. mm Auður says:

      The boat rides are available from May 1st.

      I don’t remember anything special going on at that time but you can always check the Grapevine for what’s going on: https://grapevine.is/happening?=rhead

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