Does it Rain in Iceland all the Time? A Quick Guide

‘Does it always rain in Iceland?’ is a question that is always asked when people are planning a trip to Iceland and even more so when they have seen the weather forecast a few days before they arrive. Lots of people always wonder if they should cancel their trip because of rain and the easy answer is no!

To answer all of the questions about rain in Iceland I have written this quick guide so you can make the best of your time in the country. I’ll answer the following questions:

Why does it rain so much in Iceland?

Iceland is an island stuck in the middle of the north Atlantic where the cold air mass from the Arctic collides with the milder air brought up from the mid-Atlantic on the Gulf Stream. This collision of air results in moist stormy weather that can change in a moment.

Warm moist air along the south and west coast results in wetter and windier conditions than in the north. Vík í Mýrdal on the southeast coast has an average rainfall of 2250mm, five times more than Akureyri in the north. While the east of Iceland has the highest recorded precipitation in the country through most of the year.

The Vatnajökull ice cap covers a large area and creates a rain shadow to the north and northwest. In this region is the Òdáðahraun desert, one of the driest locations in Iceland. While it does not see significant rainfall, in the winter months it is coated in deep snow.

Does it really rain all day in Iceland?

It very rarely rains ALL day in Iceland but it is very possible that it will rain every day at some point. Rain in Iceland can be anything from a light misty drizzle to torrential downpours and everything in between.

Iceland, like Scotland, is a country where you can experience all 4 seasons in one day. You can wake up to driving rain and an hour later it can be brilliant sunshine. It is just a matter of waiting a short while for the weather to pass through.

Given the rapid change, it is worth having backup plans and flexible food arrangements so you can have lunch as a storm passes through or walk before it arrives.

What are the best websites to check the weather in Iceland?

Given how rapidly the weather changes in Iceland it is essential that you check the weather forecast regularly throughout the day.

The weather forecast in Iceland is always changing, but very accurate so if you find it is raining where you are, check the app and see whether travelling a few miles down the road will find clear weather.

The best places for weather forecasts in Iceland are:

  • Icelandic Met Office Weather –
  • Vedur mobile phone app – Available for Android and IOS
  • Ring +354 902 0600 and press 1 for the weather forecast in English
  • Iceland Monitor –

Which is the wettest month in Iceland?

Given the location of Iceland, it doesn’t really have a rainy season like other countries, and precipitation (rain or snow) is fairly consistent year-round. However, October sees the highest rainfall on average across all regions of Iceland.

Rainfall increases from October to April although this varies from the south where there is more rain and storms to the north where snowfall increases.

Average Monthly Rainfall in Iceland in MM

Location Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
75 84 82 59 43 50 52 62 73 73 73 96
56 42 42 29 20 29 32 34 38 58 54 53
65 66 69 50 32 40 42 50 58 80 65 70
148 112 120 95 99 80 113 126 172 195 157 138

Should I cancel my trip to Iceland? The forecast says rain every day

Even if the weather forecast says that it will rain every day during your trip to Iceland, it is very unlikely to be all day every day. Checking the weather more than 24 hours in advance is a pointless thing to do. It will give you a general impression of what to expect, but until a few hours before the forecast will not be 100% accurate.

However, if the forecast predicts rain in the next 2 hours then believe what it is telling you. It is very rarely wrong.

If the forecast is for a full day of rain unless it is a storm you will find clear moments and changes in intensity. For this reason, there is absolutely no reason to cancel your trip to Iceland if rain is forecast.

The forecast may say it is going to rain but look at the precipitation map to find out if it will be less than 1mm or more than 50mm. There is a big difference!

Check the precipitation map HERE

A road flooding during a rainstorm

Can you enjoy Iceland in the rain?

Some of our best experiences in Iceland have been in the rain. There are lots of museums and indoor displays that you can visit if the weather is horrid and the spray from the waterfalls is going to get you wet so what is a little bit more water?

If you come prepared with the right clothing the rain will not stop you from enjoying Iceland. You may need to look at other weather conditions such as wind and fog before planning your day, but rain alone will not stop you from enjoying Iceland.

Don’t forget, without rain, you don’t get rainbows! The rain can result in some beautiful rainbows in Iceland when you least expect to see them.

For many people, the weather is one of the main attractions of Iceland and a stormy sky can often make a photograph amazing. Don’t hide in your car, get out there and see what the landscape is actually doing!

If the rain is too much or there is a weather warning accept that mother nature has won and enjoy a cosy day of warmth, food, and movies!

What should I pack for my trip to Iceland if it is raining?

The first thing to say is DO NOT bring an umbrella or a poncho to Iceland. Neither will survive the wind which is a common feature of Icelandic weather! They will just turn into an annoyance at best and a kite that will take off if you aren’t paying attention.

You should also avoid denim. This will suck up the water, and become heavy and very cold. Instead of jeans wear lightweight joggers, walking trousers or running tights. These dry quickly and easily and will keep you much warmer.

The main thing to consider when packing for a rainy trip to Iceland is a waterproof material that is still breathable. If it is just waterproof you are going to get incredibly sweaty and cold underneath the protective layer.

It can also be quite cold in the rain so having waterproofs that go over your layers is essential for staying warm. I always go a size bigger to make sure there is space for an extra jumper or thermal layer.

Remember to pack a waterproof cover to go over your bag or a bin bag to go inside your backpack. Bags can get very wet, very quickly and even the most water-resistant bag can become damp.

You may also want to think about where you put your waterproof both in your car and your bag. Rain in Iceland can come without warning and having to unpack to find a waterproof can result in a soaking for both you and your belongings. Always make sure they are handy!

Rain cover on a backpack

Do I need rain pants in Iceland?

Before I go any further I need to clear up one thing! Here in the UK ‘pants’ are underwear that men wear! So please let me talk about ‘waterproof trousers’ rather than ‘rain pants’!

Waterproof trousers are essential when visiting Iceland at any time of the year. Even in summer, you will find that you need them. Not only will they keep you dry but they will act as a barrier against the wind which can be biting even in the summer.

Go for the most waterproof and breathable that you can afford. You may be walking in them and getting warm. Thin waterproofs will eventually leak, especially if the rain is heavy and prolonged.

Do I need rain boots in Iceland?

If you are venturing outside of the towns then waterproof walking shoes are worth having. If you are doing longer walks then waterproof hiking boots are much safer as they give added grip on slippery surfaces.

Unless you are visiting in the depths of winter you will not need snow boots. A good pair of walking boots and ice spikes will be more than enough.

While you can get away with trainers (sneakers) in Iceland, you will find that they become wet and cold very easily. It is much better to have waterproof shoes with good soles for any walking outside of the towns.

Leave the fashion behind when you visit Iceland, clothes will get wet and damp, shoes will get muddy and conditions are tough on clothing. Iceland is a place for practicality over fashion.

Not the best shoes for walking in the rain in Iceland

Rain in Iceland

The rain in Iceland is intermittent and unpredictable. Come prepared for everything from drizzle to heavy rain even in the summer months.

The chances are that it will rain most days and you need to be ready to put waterproofs on quickly.

The rain in Iceland will not spoil your trip but it may need some compromises and adaptations to your plan.

Planning a road trip to Iceland? Read all my Iceland Travel Guides

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