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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28 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: https://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

  9. Bec says:

    We are thinking of visiting 6th May… I hope that will be the start of the summer? Is there anything we shouldn’t miss around that time? Your website is a great source of information!

    1. mm Ásta - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hi Bec,

      May is more the start of spring, and not the start of summer. It’s a great time to visit though, with the days getting longer and people full of optimism and energy because of the long days!

  10. Andres says:

    Hi!

    Big question. I am planning on going there from April 26th to May 3rd. I would love to rent a van, but I’m afraid of icey roads. Is this a thing at this time of the year or by this time the ice will be mostly melted?

    I appreciate your input very much

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      It depends a little bit on where you plan to go – there can still be ice and snow in certain mountain roads at that time but generally around Reykjavík and south of the country, you should be fine.

      1. Andres says:

        Thank you!

  11. Haider says:

    Hi, my wife and I are doing a 4 day getaway: April 29-may 3 and wanted to know what you recommend? Does it make sense to stay in Reykjavik the 4 nights or city hop and stay closer to destinations? If you had to pick top 4-5 things what would you recommend knowing no kids and a rental car. Definitely want to do blue lagoon and geyser as well as caves/volcanoes?

    1. mm Ásta - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hi Haider,

      have you seen this itinerary? It’s great for a short stay, very packed days, but lots to see and do: https://iheartreykjavik.net/2018/01/how-to-spend-4-days-3-night-in-iceland-in-winter-with-a-rental-car/

  12. Charles says:

    Hi. What type of car rental would you recommend for mid-may? Should I go with a small SUV or would be ok with a compact? So far I am going from KEF to Reykjavík to Hella. Unsure where else yet. I plan to drive around 750 km total staying in the south east.

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      You shouldn’t need a 4×4 in May, unless you’re driving some F-marked roads (which are probably closed anyway). I always recommend you don’t take the smallest car though – just for the sake of comfort.

  13. Asma says:

    Hello! I’m fascinated with the picture you included on the top of this blogpost, it looks like a black sand beach but also not. I couldn’t find a description. I am wondering which part of Iceland is that place located? I’m planning to travel there this May and it would be very nice if you could share the name of the place. Thank you!

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      The photo is taken from Dyrhólaey in South Iceland.

  14. Erik says:

    I am coming to Iceland from America in May. I am looking for a beautiful Viking woman. Can you introduce me! Ha! Ah yes, and I need a place to stay :-)! Cheers… Erik

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Erik, I’m sorry, you’ll have to woo Viking women on your own 🙂

      For accommodation, you might want to look at this: https://iheartreykjavik.net/hotels-in-reykjavik/

  15. Trupti says:

    Hi
    I am planing to spend 15 days in Iceland with my husband and son (8 years) in may 2018 . My dates are flexible +/- a week depending upon the weather and the availability of stay options. I know it’s pretty late to plan.. So want to know if I would get the good options to book the stay… Or planning it form 2019 would make sense?

    1. mm Hrannar - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hi

      It’s never to late to plan. You can always contact us through the contact form on the website and we can help you with your planning.

      We never know how the weather is going to be next week bus as we get closer to summer, the weather should get better. (I’m not promising anything:)

  16. Charlotte says:

    Hi there,

    We are visiting Iceland for the first time this weekend and I have read a few of your blog articles. Can you recommend any Northern Lights tour, or good places to see them? It seems we’re out of season and everything ended on 15th April.

    Thanks in advance,
    Charlotte

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Sorry, I didn’t see this in time – I was out of the country.

      The northern lights tours all stop around the 15th of April because after that it becomes increasingly more difficult to see them due to it getting brighter by the day. As for where to see them, I’ve written multiple posts that might help with that: https://iheartreykjavik.net/?s=northern+lights

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