Guide about the Time in Iceland

Time in Iceland

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

    Going abroad can be confusing if there is a timezone difference. And add in the fact that daylight and darkness can flip entirely on its head like on the island, and you’ll understand why a guide to time in Iceland is needed.

    We have gathered some of the most frequently asked questions that we have received over the years and answered them in the FAQ section below:

    FAQs Regarding Time in Iceland

    What is Iceland’s Timezone?

    Iceland has a pretty interesting timezone history. In November 1907, it was agreed that the standard timezone for the island would be UTC-01:00. But in April 1968, the decision was made to switch to UTC±00:00 and observe Greenwich Mean Time all year round to be in sync with Europe.

    Is Daylight Savings Time Displayed on the Clocks in Reykjavík?

    Since Greenwich Mean Time is observed all year round, there is no daylight savings time in Iceland. Therefore, the clocks in Reykjavík and the rest of the island will never need to be changed a couple of hours forwards or backward.

    Does Iceland’s Daylight Hours Change?

    Whilst there may not be any daylight savings time in Iceland, the actual daylight hours on the island change quite dramatically. It ranges from 22 hours to having only 4 hours of daylight each day. The 4 hours is the least amount of daylight hours you’ll experience on the island, and occurs at the height of the winter months (December and January).

    From there it steadily starts to increase. By the end of March (Spring in Iceland) it would already have increased to roughly 13 hours. But once you hit those summer months, it becomes an entirely different ball game. Even though the daylight hours at the height of summer (June) is technically 22 hours, the sun actually never sets entirely. That means that you literally have no nighttime!

    Time in Iceland

    Should Iceland’s Daylight Hours Dictate when I Plan my Trip?

    Iceland’s daylight hours will have a huge impact on when you decide to visit the island, and for a variety of reasons. Iceland is very well-prepared for its darker months, and most attractions are well-lit. Still, there are certain things that you are simply not advised to do, such as drive in the more remote regions and go on long hikes. Therefore, your itinerary will depend on what you would like to do and the daylight hours available for you to do it.

    Certain experiences also heavily depend on daylight hours. For example, you won’t be able to see the Northern Lights if it never actually gets dark. And you will also not experience a Midnight Sun if you only have a couple of hours of daylight in the middle of the day.

    What is Iceland’s Time Difference to Me?

    Well, that depends on where you call home. Use the following list as a quick reference for all the major cities and countries that visit the island. Please keep in mind that this article was written in December, and times may change along with the daylight savings time in your own country.

    • New York, USA: -5 hours
    • London, UK: 0 hours
    • Berlin, Germany: +1 hour
    • Johannesburg, South Africa: +2 hours
    • Dubai, United Arab Emirates: +4 hours

    If you’re unsure of how to work out the time difference, or you live in another country, check your country’s current time difference here.

    When is the Sunrise in Reykjavík?

    This is a question we often get asked, especially during the busy summer months in Iceland. Right when visitors are trying to get an early start to the day and beat the crowds. But just like with daylight hours, this question doesn’t have just one answer and depends on when you intend to visit the island.

    The earliest sunrise in Reykjavík can be considered to be the summer solstice in June, when the sun doesn’t actually quite set at all. And the latest sunrise in Reykjavík is past 11:00 in the winter mornings of December. Once again, you can check the current sunrise time in Reykjavík here.

    time in Reykjavik

    When does the sun set in Iceland?

    This is a question we often get asked, especially during the winter months with its few daylight hours. Most visitors are trying to figure out by what time they need to reach their destination without getting stuck in the dark somewhere. The answer to this question is very similar to the previous one. This question also doesn’t have just one answer and depends on when you intend to visit the island.

    The earliest sunset in Iceland is in the winter month of December, when the sun already sets before 15:30. And the latest sunset in Iceland will also be considered the summer solstice in June. That's when the sun technically starts to set at 23:30, but it never actually becomes dark. Once again, you can check the current sunset time in Iceland here.

    Where is the Best Place to Catch the Iceland Sunrise?

    In a magical country such as Iceland, there are plenty of places to catch and capture a memorable sunrise. The following are a few places that come highly recommended:

    • Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
    • Diamond Beach
    • Thingvellir National Park
    • Fjadrargljufur Canyon
    • Dyrholaey Lighthouse

    Is There Something I Should Know About Tour Times in Iceland?

    Yes, it is customary for a tour operator to pick you up at least 30 minutes before the tour starts. That means that if the time on your ticket says 13:00, you already need to be at the pick-up point by 12:30. This will ensure that you don’t hold up the tour and the rest of the group.

    Do Operating Hours Differ Between Seasons?

    Yes, they do differ. Along with the increased daylight hours of summer come extended operating hours for activities. During the shoulder months (spring and fall) things start to slow down on the island. Many opt to have fewer daily operating hours or simply open only certain days of the week. 

    When winter hits, some places continue operating on this basis, but others completely close down ‘till spring. This is mostly the case of the attractions and activities in the Highlands and the Westfjords.

    Iceland time difference

    Are There Specific Bus Times in Iceland?

    During peak times in the major cities, you’ll be able to catch a bus at least every 30 minutes or so. As for other times, especially during the off-season and in the more remote regions, buses may run more sporadically. You can check the current bus schedules here.

    How Long Does it Take to Drive from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavík?

    It takes roughly 50 minutes to drive to Reykjavík. In the winter it may be slightly longer depending on how comfortable you are behind the wheel with snow and icy road conditions. And if you’re planning on making a detour to the Blue Lagoon along the way (which many do), the “drive” to Reykjavík will probably take an entire day.

    When is the Best Time to Visit Iceland?

    That honestly depends on you. Take a look at all our previous FAQ answers and decide for yourself what you would like to do and see on the island. Think about during which season (based on what you know about the Iceland weather) do you want to come and visit. And, of course, during which season do you feel the most comfortable driving? The answer to questions such as these will guide you in the right direction and help you determine when the best time to visit the island is for you.

    Iceland travel time zone

    Time in Iceland; Are All Your Questions Answered?

    We hope that you’ve found the answer you’re looking for concerning time matters in Iceland. If not, please don’t be shy to reach out. Armed with this knowledge, there really is no time to waste to book that flight and rent that campervan in Iceland. So, you can come to the island and have the time of your life!

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