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Iceland in March

Things to know before traveling to Iceland in March

|February 7, 2024
Anthropologist, social media guru, Icelandic nature and food enthusiast.

What to expect when visiting Iceland in March? What’s the weather like? Can you still see the Northern Lights? What to see and do in Iceland in March? Find your answers in this guide!


If you're thinking of visiting Iceland in March, you might be surprised to know that it's actually a great time of year to go. The temperatures are milder than earlier in the winter, and there's more daylight to explore the sights. It's also the last good chance to catch the Northern Lights before they disappear for the season. 

So don't rule out a March trip to Iceland just yet!

March is also a good time to go because it's considered an "off-season." This means you can save money and avoid crowds you would find during the summer. During March, more roads will start to open up, so you can even consider driving yourself around. 

Want to know what you can do in Iceland during this month? Keep reading!

Quick facts about Iceland in March

  • March means fewer tourists and better deals – it's the off-season charm of Iceland.
  • Shops and restaurant openings can be affected by Easter. Check the calendar to see if Easter is in March this year.
  • Dressing warm is still very important, as the weather can change quickly.
  • Enjoy brighter days with around 10-13 hours of daylight – perfect for sightseeing.
  • Roads might be closed due to weather.
  • Driving can also be tricky with icy roads, so a 4x4 might be your best buddy.
  • Expect chilly weather, temperatures hover between -2.2°C and 3.3°C.
  • Snorkeling in Silfra? It's as cool as it sounds, even in March.

Weather in March in Iceland

Icelandic spring is quite unique compared to many other countries. March is the last month that you should see a decent amount of snow, but like with anything weather-related in Iceland, you simply never know. 

The traditional Icelandic calendar actually classifies March as a winter month. However, by the end of March, the first signs of spring start to appear.

Temperature in Iceland in March

During March, you are likely to experience all sorts of weather. Prepare for some rain and wind, and dress warmly. The average temperature in Iceland in March is quite cold at -2.2°C (28°F) to 3.3°C (38°F). 

Don’t let the sun play tricks on you. As you can see by the numbers, it’s still chilly! Longer days and warmer temperatures signal the start of spring, but blooming flowers and milder temperatures are yet to come.

Daylight in Iceland in March

In March, Iceland starts to shake off its winter darkness and greets you with ever-lengthening days. This change is quite a highlight if you're planning a trip there during this time. 

More sunlight means more time to enjoy all those outdoor activities Iceland is famous for. Whether exploring stunning glaciers or just taking in scenic landscapes, the longer days towards the end of the month are a real game-changer. 

Plus, if you're into photography, the extended daylight offers more opportunities to capture Iceland's beauty in the best light.

Here's a quick overview of how the daylight hours change during March:

  • Early March, sunrise is around 8:35 a.m., and sunset is around 6:45 p.m., giving about 10 hours of daylight.

  • Mid-March sees a noticeable increase in daylight, around 11 hours 40 minutes total.

  • End of March has about 13.5 hours of daylight, with sunrise approximately at 6:50 a.m. and sunset around 8:15 p.m.

So, by the end of March, you're looking at around 13.5 hours of daylight, which is quite a leap from the beginning of the month. And remember, Iceland doesn't have daylight savings time, so that's one less thing to worry about during your visit!

Can you see Northern Lights in Iceland in March?

Absolutely, you can see the Northern Lights in Iceland in March. In fact, March is one of the ideal months for this spectacular natural display. Here's why.

March still falls within the Northern Lights season in Iceland, which typically runs from mid-August to mid-April. During this time, the nights are dark enough to create a suitable backdrop for the lights.

In early March, you'll find the nights are long and dark enough for Northern Lights hunting. And even as the days get longer towards the end of March, there are still enough dark hours to catch the Northern Lights, especially late at night.

Weather in Iceland in March can be quite cooperative for Northern Lights viewing. Clear, cold nights are fairly common, offering optimal conditions for the lights to be visible. However, it's good to remember that the Northern Lights are elusive and depend a lot on the weather and solar activity.

Many visitors opt for guided Northern Lights tours. These tours are led by experts who know the best viewing spots and can interpret weather and solar activity forecasts to maximize your chances of seeing the aurora. Plus, if you don't see the Northern Lights on your first tour, we offer the opportunity to join another tour the next night for free.

In summary, March is a great time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. Just keep an eye on the weather and solar activity forecasts, and consider joining a guided tour for the best experience.

Driving in March in Iceland

Driving in Iceland in March can be quite an adventure, given the unique conditions of the Icelandic winter transitioning into spring. You'll likely encounter a mix of snowy, icy, and sometimes clear roads this time of year, so it’s important to be prepared. Major storms can also occur, making travel conditions even more challenging. 

As the days get longer, you can enjoy more scenic drives in March. However, you still need to be extra cautious during the darker hours, especially at the beginning of the month.

If you are not familiar with driving in these conditions, you should plan for some extra time. There might be road closures and storms, which can delay your trip. Therefore, it's crucial to keep an open mind and be ready to adjust your itinerary accordingly.

One of the key things to consider is your vehicle choice. A 4x4 is highly recommended as it provides better stability and handling on Iceland’s winter roads. All vehicles are equipped with winter tires during this period, but for extra safety, you might want to opt for studded tires, which offer even better grip.

Additionally, here are a few tips for driving in Iceland in March:

  • Drive cautiously and adjust your speed according to the road conditions.
  • Be careful where you park in snowy areas, as getting towed can be expensive.
  • Always have an emergency kit in your car, including blankets, snacks, water, and a first-aid kit.
  • Keep your phone charged for emergencies, and consider carrying a portable charger.

To help you plan your trip, these websites can be handy, but keep in mind that they should be used as a guide only and not as the final word on road conditions:

Remember, driving in Iceland in March is all about being prepared and staying informed. You will still need to be on the lookout for icy spots on the roads, but the South Coast is much easier during this time than, for example, Eastfjords, Westfjords, or far North. Reykjavík should be mainly snow-empty by this point, but as mentioned before, but as previously mentioned, Icelandic weather can be unpredictable. It just might decide to act up.

What to pack & what to wear in Iceland in March

If you plan to visit Iceland in March, you'll need to pack carefully due to the unpredictable weather. It can also be quite chilly, so our top tip is to bring crampons (or rent them) to avoid slipping on icy surfaces!

Also, pack water and windproof clothing to protect yourself from snow, rain, and even the spray from waterfalls. The weather can be a mix of winter conditions with occasional milder days as spring slowly sets in.

To help you out, we've put together a detailed guide on what to wear and what to pack for your trip:

Clothing

  • Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, like thermal underwear, to keep you dry and warm.

  • Add a fleece or wool sweater as a mid-layer for insulation.

  • A good quality waterproof and windproof jacket will protect you from rain, snow, and wind.

  • Waterproof and insulated pants are great if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors. For city exploring, jeans or other durable trousers are fine.

  • Waterproof and insulated boots with good grip are essential, especially for walking on icy surfaces.

Accessories

  • Insulated and waterproof gloves are a must to keep your hands warm and dry.

  • A warm hat that covers your ears and a scarf or neck gaiter will protect you from the cold wind.

  • Wool or wool-blend socks will keep your feet warm during long days of exploring.

Other essentials

  • Don't forget your swimsuit for the hot springs or geothermal pools.
  • Sunglasses, as the sun can be quite bright, especially when reflected off snow.
  • A sturdy backpack for day trips to carry water, snacks, extra layers, and your camera.
  • Tap water in Iceland is safe to drink, so bring a reusable bottle to refill.

Gadgets & extras

  • Camera.
  • Portable Phone Charger.
  • Adapters (Iceland uses European standard plugs).
  • Lip Balm and Moisturizer (the cold, windy weather can be harsh on your skin).
  • First-Aid Kit.

If you're going to Iceland in March, it's important to pack for the weather. You'll want to be comfortable and able to move around easily. With the right clothes and equipment, you'll be prepared to explore the cities and experience the stunning natural beauty of Iceland.

What to do in Iceland in March

There are plenty of things to do in Iceland in March. Here are some of the best:

Glacier hiking

March is ideal for glacier hiking and exploring ice caves. This is the month the glacial ice gets extremely blue, and the view of it is unbelievably beautiful. Be it on Langjökull, Sólheimajökull, or any of the outlet glaciers found at Vatnajökull, the biggest glacier in Europe, you are in for a treat!

Northern Lights

March still offers dark enough nights to witness the mesmerizing aurora borealis. This is the last month with a very good chance of seeing the Northern Lights – at this time, they will be best around 11:30 pm to around 01:00 am. Joining a guided tour can increase your chances of a successful sighting.

Northern Lights tour in Iceland

Whale watching

March marks the return of the whales, making it a great month for whale watching tours where you can spot humpback and minke whales. The range of different whales you might spot is very wide at this time of year, so basically, fewer people and more whales. Drive or fly North to meet them out from Dalvík, or join a road trip around the country with a stop for the show!

Whale Watching from rib boat

Whale Watching tour from a rib boat in Iceland

Snowmobiling

Many of the guides say that this is their favorite month to snowmobile. The winter snow is still there, but the summer sun is out, and the views are greater than ever. Also, the ice cave on Langjökull is still accessible, so March is just the perfect month to visit!

Snowmobiling tour in Iceland

Sightseeing on the Golden Circle

Heading out on the Golden Circle tour in March is an amazing choice. It's a time when Iceland's nature is simply stunning, with the winter snow adding extra magic to Thingvellir National Park and the impressive Gullfoss Waterfall. Plus, seeing the Strokkur geyser shoot up in the chilly air is something special. March brings longer days, too, so you've got more time to soak in all these sights. Besides, you can also enjoy the Golden Circle with more personal space and fewer people around. This will make your experience more peaceful and intimate.

Festivals and events in Iceland in March

March in Iceland is also a time for some unique and exciting events and festivals that showcase the country's culture. Each event offers a different slice of Icelandic spirit and is a great way to engage with locals. Here's a detailed look at what you can expect:

National beer day (Bjórdagurinn)

Icelanders have an annual celebration on the 1st of March, commemorating the day their Beer Ban was lifted in 1989.  It's a lively day where locals and visitors flock to bars and pubs in Reykjavik and across the country to enjoy Icelandic beers.

On this day, most bars and restaurants offer beer at a special price. Moreover, a beer festival has started taking place for the past few years, lasting for two weeks leading up to the day itself. Special deals and a festive atmosphere make it a fun event for beer lovers.

Reykjavik food and fun festival

If you ask anyone who has visited Iceland what makes it special, they will always mention the quality of the food. A restaurant-made meal in Iceland is exceptional 98% of the time because the ingredients are mainly fish and meat, which didn’t travel far to make it to your plate. 

Every year, Icelanders celebrate their love for food for a week and call it the Food and Fun Festival. Happening in early March, this festival is a dream come true for foodies. Most restaurants will have a special menu, and guest chefs come in from around the world to try their skills on the Icelandic ingredients. Reykjavik's best restaurants join in, too, with exciting events. The chefs are given the best material to work with, so you are in for a delicious adventure.

 Join the party – it’s well worth it!

Fried meat and potatoes

Battle of the bands (Músíktilraunir)

For music fans, the Battle of the Bands is a must-attend. This event showcases young, up-and-coming Icelandic bands so you can get a taste of the country's dynamic music scene.  The competition and celebration of new talent get nationwide attention, as the finals are broadcast live on national TV and radio. And who knows, you might catch the next big Icelandic music sensation!

Moustache March (Mottumars)

If you visit Iceland in March, you might notice many men have mustaches. This is not the custom for Icelanders - they are just showing their support. What are they supporting?

Mustache March is a unique Icelandic twist on the "Movember" concept of raising cancer research awareness and funds. People grow out their mustaches, and various events and campaigns run throughout the month. 

It's a quirky yet meaningful event that sees wide participation. You can support them by buying the goods for sale from their partners or the specially made socks at many supermarkets and shops nationwide from the 5th to the 19th of March.

Easter

Do Icelanders celebrate Easter? Yes, they do! Easter in Iceland is a delightful long weekend that starts on Maundy Thursday (Skírdagur) and ends on Easter Monday (Annar í páskum). Families get together for a big Easter dinner, usually featuring roasted lamb, which is a tradition. Many Icelanders also head out to ski, and there's often an Easter egg hunt for kids.

One of the highlights of Easter in Iceland is the Icelandic Easter Egg, a chocolate egg filled with candy and often a little proverb inside. This is called a “málsháttur” and is, for many, the most important part of “Egg Eating.” We suggest going local and buying yourself an easter egg to celebrate. Visit any grocery shop during the weeks leading up to it, and you will see them everywhere. 

Easter dates In Iceland can fall on either March or April, depending on the year:

  • 2023 Easter Sunday was on April 9.
  • 2024 Easter Sunday is on March 31.
  • 2025 Easter Sunday will be on April 20.

There are public holidays during Easter in Iceland, from Maundy Thursday to Easter Monday. This may affect stores', restaurants', and bars' opening hours, but most dining places usually remain open. However, Icelandic law does not allow festivities on Good Friday, which means that bars and clubs must close at midnight on Maundy Thursday and can only reopen after midnight on Good Friday. Exceptions to this rule are cultural events, like theatre shows and concerts.

Easter eggs

Decorated Easter chocolate eggs

Design March

DesignMarch is a major design festival in Reykjavik, Iceland. It usually happens in March, but 2024 is scheduled for April 24th to 28th. This event celebrates different design forms, such as architecture, fashion, and graphic design. It's an annual gathering that attracts designers from all over the world, including Iceland, creating a vibrant atmosphere in the city.

The festival is packed with various events, including exhibitions, workshops, and talks, held at different locations in Reykjavik. It's an exciting opportunity for anyone interested in design, whether they're professionals or just love creativity and new ideas.

Iceland in March FAQ

Is March a good time to visit Iceland?

Yes, March is a great time to visit Iceland, especially if you enjoy winter activities and fewer crowds. You'll experience Icelandic winter but with milder weather and longer days.

Can I see the Northern Lights in Iceland in March?

Yes, March offers one of the last opportunities in the year to see the Northern Lights, with sufficiently dark skies early in the month. However, you need to remember that it depends on the weather and solar activity, so there's no guarantee.

How cold is it in Iceland in March?

Temperatures in Iceland in March usually range from -2.2°C to 3.3°C (28°F to 38°F). It's moderately cold, with temperatures often hovering around freezing, but it's bearable with the proper clothing.

Are roads open in Iceland in March?

Most main roads, including the Ring Road, are open, but conditions vary, especially in rural or mountain areas. Always check road conditions before traveling!

Is March a good time to go to Iceland?

Yes, March is a good choice for visiting Iceland. It's a time when you can still enjoy the stunning winter landscapes and have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Plus, there are generally fewer tourists compared to the peak summer months, so you'll likely find less crowded attractions and better deals on accommodations and tours.

Is February or March better to visit Iceland?

February and March both have their unique features. March offers slightly longer daylight hours and a glimpse of spring activities like wildlife tours and boat trips. Meanwhile, February is deep in winter, providing more snow, various ice caves, and other glacier activities, as well as longer nights to see the Auroras!

Can I wear jeans in Iceland in March?

Yes, you can wear jeans, especially in urban areas, but waterproof and insulated pants are much better for any outdoor activities.

Is Iceland snowy in March?

Yes, there's often still snow in March, especially in the highlands and northern areas.

Does it rain a lot in Iceland in March?

March can be quite mixed with both rain and snow. It's definitely one of the wetter months, so be prepared for various weather.

Can you see puffins in Iceland in March?

It's unlikely to see puffins in March as they typically return to Iceland in April or May for the breeding season.

Conclusion

March is a great time to visit Iceland, so if you've been thinking about a trip, now's the perfect moment to take the leap! 

Considering everything we've discussed about March in Iceland, from its unique weather to the range of exciting activities, you're well-prepared for a memorable journey. This time of year combines winter's magic and the early signs of spring. Whether the Northern Lights draw you or the scenic landscapes under longer daylight, March in Iceland has it all.

So go ahead and gear up for what's sure to be an unforgettable winter trip to Iceland!

Are you visiting Iceland in March? Or do you know someone who is? Share this guide with your fellow travel companions!

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