Touring Iceland in April is ideal. The long winter is pretty much over, and though there’s still snow on the mountains, things are definitely warming up. Coupled with extra hours of daylight, it’s the perfect time to get out and venture further afield.
Watch the sunrise at Jökulsárlón
For many visitors, Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon is a highlight and consequently, it’s rammed in summer. Icebergs calve from Breiðamerkurjökull, a tributary of the much large Vatnajökull.
They bob around in the tranquil lagoon, the silence only interrupted when their ice chunks flip over, causing gasps of surprise to roar through the viewing crowd.
Jökulsárlón’s icebergs float gently down to the ocean, where powerful Atlantic breakers shove them back onto the shore. There, they slowly melt into the black sand.
As they glitter in the sunshine, it’s not hard to see why people call this Diamond Beach. A sunrise visit in April ticks all the boxes, not least because it’s still at a fairly sociable hour.
Make the most of lighter evenings
Since long days are prevalent in April, you’ll be able to cover more ground on a road trip in your campervan or motorhome. If you can spare ten days or more, then it’s a good time to loop the ring road.
With less time at your disposal, take advantage of lower visitor numbers and tick off some of the sights in busy South Iceland, such as splendid waterfalls and glaciers.
If you plan to base yourself in or near Reykjavík, there are plenty of day trips:
- The iconic Golden Circle route
- The lush Snaefellsnes peninsula
- The lava fields of wild Reykjanes
- Vik and its dramatic beaches
Take your kids to the Children’s Culture Festival in Reykjavík
If you’re taking advantage of the school holidays and travelling with the kids in tow, then they’ll love the Children’s Culture Festival in Reykjavík.
It usually kicks off during the first half of April and boasts a variety of events devoted to younger members of the family. Museums and other public spaces get involved too and host special events.
A popular part of the Children’s Culture programme is the Big Bang Festival. This Europe-wide initiative is coming to the Icelandic capital for the first time in 2022.
Hosted by Harpa Concert Hall, it boasts concerts, workshops and installations. A highly interactive event, musicians introduce young people to sound and song, encouraging them to join in.
Eat freshly baked bread
If you’re a fan of baking, you’ll enjoy learning how Icelanders use the earth’s geothermal heat instead of a regular oven to make bread. One of the easiest places to see this in action is at Laugarvatn Fontana, conveniently placed on the Golden Circle route between Geysir and Thingvellir National Park.
Sign up for Fontana’s bread-making tour and you’ll be shown to a spot close to the shore of the lake. A guide will then use a shovel to dig up the bread tin that was buried the previous day and pop the next batch into the same holes.
Back indoors, the steaming bread is sliced and spread with an indulgently thick layer of butter. Served with locally smoked trout, it’s likely to be the best thing you’ll eat during your stay.
Greet returning puffins
Puffins are delightful birds. Their colorful beaks and short, rounded bodies make them easy to identify and a joy to watch. However, it’s their comical behavior that attracts visitors most, with their clumsy landings and awkward walk.
If you’re keen on spotting them, these characters return from the open sea in mid to late April and prepare to nest on Iceland’s craggy coastline.
The Westman Island archipelago is home to Iceland’s largest puffin colony. To get there, stick your campervan on the ferry to Heimaey and then drive a short distance out of town to the Stórhöfði peninsula.
Close to a small parking area, you’ll see a little wooden hut on the side of the cliff. Through its windows, you’ll have a close-up view of the hollows and grassy knolls that these cheeky birds love so much.
Celebrate Easter in Iceland
Most years, Easter falls during the month of April. About 70% of Icelanders are Lutherans, with that number steadily increasing. As in the rest of Europe, the holiday has become more about chocolate than Christ.
Until 2019, it was illegal to participate in lotteries or festivities on Good Friday. This led to the rather bizarre custom whereby atheists protested outside parliament with a fun game of bingo on Austurvöllur.
On your visit to Iceland, you can mark Easter Sunday with a lunch of roast lamb, served with potatoes and gravy. If you don’t score an invite into someone’s home, there are plenty of restaurants that will serve this traditional lunch.
Just remember to save room for chocolate in the form of Easter eggs (páskaegg). Inside you’ll find an old Icelandic proverb (malshaettir).
Welcome the beginning of summer
According to the Old Norse calendar, there are only two seasons: winter and summer. This is why Icelanders celebrate the beginning of summer in April.
Sumardaguvinn Fyrsti kicks off on the first Thursday after April 18th and has been a public holiday since 1972. You’re likely to see parades and other community events on the day.
Greet locals with a cheery “Gleðilegt sumar!” (Happy summer!) It’s also a good idea to keep a close eye on the weather when you get up in the morning.
Tradition dictates that if winter and summer ‘freeze together’, i.e. if there’s a frost on the ground, then Iceland can expect plenty of sunshine and a hot summer. Never will you be more pleased to scrape the ice off your campervan windscreen.
Go heli skiing in North Iceland
Ironically, given that April marks the start of summer in the Norse calendar, it’s also a great time to go heli-skiing in North Iceland. Though in general the weather in Iceland in April is getting milder, a combination of altitude and a higher latitude makes for reliable snow.
You’re going to need experience, fitness and stamina as well as deep pockets, but the lure of pristine snow where you can carve your own path as you descend is irresistible.
Arguably the best place in Iceland to go heli-skiing is Tröllaskagi. This vast area in the north of the country promises panoramic views out over the North Atlantic Ocean, enabling you to ski long runs from summit to sea.
Conditions vary from fresh powder to the rough granulated surfaces of corn snow, but the scenery remains consistent: idyllic.
Take a dip at The Beer Spa
Iceland’s not short on geothermal baths, with everything from the most rustic hot pot to the fanciest spa awaiting visitors. But in an unspoilt location overlooking pretty Eyjafjördur, you’ll find Iceland’s most unusual.
Located about a 45-minute drive south-east of Siglufjörður, Bjórböðin offers the chance to wallow not in warm water, but in warm beer.
Guests are invited to relax in one of Bjórböðin’s bespoke cubicles in which a wooden tub is filled with beer, water, hops and yeast. While it’s not for drinking, there’s beer on tap for adults.
After bathing, there’s a chillout room where you can recline for a while longer; you’re encouraged not to shower for a few hours afterwards to let the beery liquid work its magic on your skin.
Attend No, I Never Went South
April’s when Icelanders stage a music festival called Aldrei fór ég suður. This lively event is held in Ísafjörður, the capital of the Westfjords. Make it in time with your campervan as you won’t want to rush the winding roads that hug the sides of the fjords – the scenery’s simply glorious in this part of the country.
Aldrei fór ég suður translates as ‘I never went south’, which is why people shorten its name to ‘Never’. This unique festival celebrates the friendliness (and eccentricity) of the people who live in the Westfjords.
With a strong emphasis on community and having fun, whether you’re a fan of folk, pop or rock, so long as you have a smile on your face, you’ll be welcomed. Thanks to generous local sponsorship, it’s free, which is the icing on the cake.
Enjoy April in Iceland!
So, as you can see, an Iceland trip in April doesn’t disappoint. It’s definitely a good time to hit the road. As you explore far and wide in your campervan rental, you’ll appreciate the contrasts between Iceland’s regions.
Put together an itinerary that includes both town and countryside destinations and you’re sure to have a holiday that you’ll remember for years to come. It’s time to have that Icelandic adventure you always dreamed about!