April is one of the least busy months in Iceland. The winter season is mostly over, and the summer season hasn’t started. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do in April. In many ways, it is best to visit Iceland in April. And we will tell you why!
According to the old Icelandic calendar, einmánuður, the last winter month starts at the end of March and ends on the last Wednesday of April. That means that the last Thursday of April is the First Day of Summer (and the first day of harpa)!
April is also an Easter month (along with March); the days are getting longer, but it can still snow, and you can still see the Northern Lights!
Festivals in Iceland in April
Easter in Iceland
Icelanders aren’t a very religious nation, despite having a state church. Those who believe in God say it is more like the innocent child-like faith rather than actual belief.
Most Icelanders are confirmed into the state church (or any other church in Iceland or with Siðmennt – Humanists Iceland). Most teenagers do it because everyone else does it, and they get gifts. Why are we talking about confirmations? Well, they usually happen around the Easter holiday.
Icelanders also love their holidays, even if they are primarily old religious relics. We wouldn’t trade them for anything. When you visit Iceland in April it is good to know which days are holidays and which aren’t.
The best thing about Easter in Iceland is the Easter Eggs for many. Heavenly chocolate eggs filled with candy! And, of course, the first thing Icelanders look for is the small paper with a proverb or saying.
Holy Thursday in Iceland
Unlike many other countries, Holy Thursday is a holiday in Iceland. But not to fret, it is akin to a regular Sunday. The liquor store will be closed, and other stores and places are generally closed on Sundays. Other places will most likely be open.
Good Friday and Easter Sunday in Iceland
Until 2019, it was forbidden by law to have a public celebration of any kind on Good Friday and Easter Sunday (and Christmas Day). But in June that year, it was abolished. That doesn’t mean that everything will be open. Most stores will be closed as well as many restaurants. Bars will not open until late in the evening in most cases.
Some museums will be open, like the National Museum of Iceland and the National Gallery of Iceland.
Not all supermarkets will be open on Good Friday, and most will be closed on Easter Sunday.
Easter Monday in Iceland
You will find more stores closed on Easter Monday than on Holy Thursday. However, restaurants are generally open, and supermarkets will have a typical Sunday opening.
Museums are generally closed on Mondays during the winter months.
First day of summer
The First Day of Summer is always on a Thursday between 19 and 25 April. What makes it unique is that it is a legal holiday in Iceland.
There are usually separate celebrations between neighbourhoods, so you will unlikely miss the festivities. There are parades led by brass bands, which start at 13:00. The celebrations are made for families and especially children. Face painting, bouncy castles, grilled hot dogs and the like are offered.
Northern Lights in April
Although the days have become longer, it is still possible to see the Northern Lights when you visit Iceland in April. Organised Northern Lights tours generally end in the middle of the month, but if you’re willing to do it on your own, it is possible to see the lights as long as the skies are clear and dark.
By the middle of the month, the sun sets at 9 in the evening with complete darkness an hour later. By the end of the month, the sun sets at 10 in the evening and darkness sets in an hour later.
Best Things to do in Iceland in April
As it is still wintery in Iceland in April, you can do many of the traditional winter excursions. If you do a Golden Circle tour, you will still see Þingvellir National Park in its winter coat. With the longer days, you will be able to enjoy it for longer.
We recommend trying to catch the First Day of Summer celebrations in the city if you can. It is traditional for parents to give their children a summer gift on the day, usually some sort of summer toy (ball, skipping rope, chalk, and that sort of thing). However, it is not uncommon for others to give presents as well.
Weather in Iceland in April
Icelanders sometimes joke about the spring weather. It sometimes seems to revert to winter a few times.
The temperatures are going up, though, and the days are getting longer. The average temperatures in Reykjavik in April are 34.2°F (1.2°C) to 44.2°F (6.8°C), with 164 mean monthly sunshine hours. However, there is about 4.8” (12.2cm) of snowfall this month on average.
The dreaded Easter Cold Spell could happen in April. Which means cold weather with snow and wind. However, it is a bit of a loose concept and doesn’t necessarily have to occur during Easter. Meteorologist Trausti Jónsson said: “The weather in Iceland is usually somewhat unstable; it alternates between northern winds with cold and southern winds with warm weather. Sharp windy weather from the north typically happens during the two weeks in and around Easter. But it can also occur every other two-week period during spring.”
What to Pack to Visit Iceland in April
It is best to pack warm clothes when travelling to Iceland. We can still get cold weather despite the average temperature keeping above freezing.
Layering is the best choice of action when dressing in Iceland. If you are spending a lot of time outside, we recommend woollen underwear. Hat, scarf, gloves, winter coat, warm socks and sturdy boots are also recommended.
However, there is no need to dress like you’re going hiking if you’re spending your time in the city. Icelanders wear winter coats, hats, scarves, and mittens. But many have banished the woollen socks and winter boots to the back of the closet when it comes to April.
Your Friend in Reykjavik Tours in April
As April brings warmer weather than the months before, it is perfect for walking tours. With holidays like the First Day of Summer and Easter, the Reykjavik Folklore Tour would be an ideal addition. You will learn everything about the elves, trolls, ghosts and magic of Iceland. The Reykjavik CatWalk, with a stop at the one and only Cat Café, is also a fun tour. We recommend the Reykjavik Food Lovers Tour if you want to be more traditional. Get a taste of Icelandic food and culture.