March begins to warm up slightly as the days grow longer (10-13 hours of daylight) where temperatures range between 28-38 degrees Fahrenheit. Forever unpredictable, you can expect all kinds of weather during your stay, sometimes all in one day.
Typically March is the last month you can see a decent amount of snow, though due to the warming effect of the Gulf Stream reaching Iceland’s southern and western coast, you can expect rain as well. Pack your thermals beside your wind and waterproof jacket and boots.
Much of the island is still accessible, though with unpredictable weather it’s important to take into consideration possible hazardous road conditions slowing down your drive to and from attractions.
Crowds & Costs
Still very much off-season for most of the country, March is a great time to explore Iceland at a slower pace without the hordes of tourists you can expect during the summer months. Flights, car rentals, as well as hotels will still be at their cheapest further adding to March’s appeal. Keep in mind, however, that inclement weather can slow down plans so be sure to check for road closures and allow for flexibility in your itinerary.
Where to Go
Most travelers begin or end their stay in the capital, Reykjavík—home to design-forward architecture, funky boutiques, and trendy restaurants, with easy access to drool-worthy landscapes and major attractions.
Other towns worth checking out are nearby Hafnarfjörður for its Viking past and Kópavogur, for its Art Museum and seal-pup sightings. Further afield, there are the coastal gems, friendly Seyðisfjörður on the eastern coast and charming Húsavík in the north, both are great branching off points for excellent hiking trails.
As March continues to see few tourists, now is a great time to explore all along the southern coast, in particular, the popular Golden Circle with Þingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and the Gullfoss waterfall. The equally popular Southern Shore route covers the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, and the iconic black-sand Reynisfjara beach just outside of Vík.
If you’re after snow, take a short flight to Akureyri, a charming town chock full of boutiques, restaurants, and bars in Iceland’s north. It’s also a hop, skip, and a jump away to some of the country’s best ski slopes and stunning nature.
What to Do
Even though toward the end of the month there will be more hours of daylight than darkness, March is still one of the best times of the year to view the Northern Lights, particularly around the Spring Equinox. Rent a car or join a tour to seek them out away from the light pollution.
Try a cruise from Akureyri into the still waters of the Eyjafjörður fjord or sail into the Faxaflói Bay, between the Reykjanes and Snӕfellsnes peninsulas. Wildlife and photographer enthusiasts will want to stay out on the water to capture the pods of orcas that visit the Iceland coast this month.
Get out of the wind and into an ice decorated cave, or lava tube: icy stalactites and stalagmites form to create an enchanting experience. Consider Viðgelmir or Raufarhólshellir, with paved and gravel paths throughout, these options create a more comfortable experience. Alternatively, the more adventurous will appreciate sliding, crawling, and scrambling over ice and lava rock at Leiðarendi.
Add a glacier hiking tour to your Golden Circle and South Shore itinerary and trek up Svinafellsjökull from the Skaftafell Nature Reserve in the island’s southwest. While there, consider exploring the ice caves under Vatnajökull glacier—the largest glacier in Europe—and visiting the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon for endless photograph-worthy views of floating blue ice. Read Best Day Trips from Reykjavík for more ideas on what to do in Iceland’s southwest.
Important to maintain a laid-back attitude as some roads might be closed due to inclement weather.
Events in March
Beer Day. To commemorate the legalization of alcohol above 2.2% in 1989, Icelanders take the whole day off on March 1 and drink alcohol above 2.2% with friends and family in the local pubs and taverns. A favorite among locals is Brennivín (“Black Death”), an herbal schnapps liquor at 40% volume.
Rainbow Reykjavík Winter Pride. Small international pride festival that takes place in Reykjavík for three days in the middle of the month, highlighting Iceland’s top attractions.
Design March. From fashion to furniture, architecture to the environment, food to product design, the festival showcases the best of local design alongside international names and takes place in the capital.
Iceland Winter Games. A unique annual festival in Akureyri that started off as a single Freeski event has morphed into an international winter festival with ski and snowboard competitions (some taking place on a volcano), dogsledding, Arctic horseback riding, and snowmobile racing to name a few.
Traveling to Iceland in March? Check out these great itineraries.
Classic Circle Tour of Iceland - 9 Days. If you want to see Iceland's top natural highlights, a self-drive tour is by far the most popular option. Travel at your own pace with plenty of changes to head off the main road in search of your own adventures. This tour also includes the Snaefellsnes peninsula which many call "mini-Iceland" as almost every natural phenomenon in Iceland can be found there, albeit on a smaller scale than elsewhere.
Northern Lights & Snowboarding on Iceland's South Coast - 6 Days. Looking for an eventful winter vacation? The South Coast of Iceland is chock-full of fun winter activities, from glacier hiking to snowboarding, snowmobiling and more. If you're lucky, you'll have the chance to witness the unparalleled beauty of the Northern Lights that often grace the crisp Arctic sky. Here's our recommended way to spend the winter on Iceland's South Coast.