Things To Do In Reykjavík In April

Visitors to Iceland in April will find an island in transition from winter to summer, as the snow and the dark finally give way to milder temperatures and longer days. And the season really does change from winter to summer: spring and autumn (or fall) are relatively new concepts which didn't exist in Iceland's old Nordic calendar.

So, with the harshness of winter receding but the peak season crowds still a long way off, April is a very good time to visit Iceland.

1. Seasonal switch

Sumardagurinn fyrsti

The official change of season takes place on sumardagurinn fyrsti, (the first day of summer), a public holiday which falls on the first day of the old calendar month Harpa. In the modern calendar, that equates to the first Thursday after April 18th, which in 2024 puts it on April 25th.

Icelanders often celebrate the day by giving gifts to children which relate to playing outdoors, such as a ball or a bike. And visitors can add watching sumardagurinn fyrsti parades by local scout groups to their list of things to do in Reykjavík in April.

2. Through birch, pine and lupins

Perlan fifth floor cafe

A striking sight in Reykjavík in April is the carpet of lupins which emerges to cover the hillsides of Öskjuhlíð, the hill on top of which Perlan sits. The hillside also hosts one of the few forested areas in the city, and to stroll up Öskjuhlíð should be top of your list of things to do in Reykjavík in April.

Walk, catch a bus or take a rental scooter to the base of Öskjuhlíð; the Reykjavík University building is a good place to start your walk. Wind your way up the hill on foot, past the lupins and through the dense forest of birch and pines planted in the years after the Second World War. You may even come across the old concrete structures used by British armed forces to fortify the hill.

When you reach Perlan, go to our fifth-floor cafe to reward yourself with coffee and cake. And take in the magnificent panoramic view of Reykjavík and beyond, for which our observation deck is famous.

3. Design for life

Design March

Another top thing to do in Reykjavík in April is dive into DesignMarch, the city's design festival. Fashion, food, furniture and more feature in this event, which showcases local and international design through events and exhibits.

In 2024, DesignMarch takes over the capital from April 24th to 28th for its sixteenth year. And if you're wondering about the name, it always used to be held in March until the Covid pandemic disrupted things in 2020. Since then the festival has hopped around dates in April and May, but it seems a shame to change its name at this point.

4. Kids' culture

The Children's Culture Festival

If you're here with children, then a festival that they can really get stuck into may top their list of things to do in Reykjavík in April. The Children's Culture Festival, which began in 2010, runs from April 23rd to 28th in 2024 and focuses on culture created by—rather than for—the under-17s.

The emphasis is on participation, and experienced practitioners will lead hundreds of events and workshops at schools, libraries and cultural institutions across the city, encompassing theatre and circus workshops, music, puppetry, dance and much more.

5. Hiking returns

Mount Esja

Now that the snows have gone—well, mostly—easier road travel outside the capital opens up all sorts of exciting options, including hiking in Iceland in April.

Many of Iceland's hiking trails open during this month, and a favourite which is within easy striking distance of the capital is Mount Esja. When you look northeast over the bay from tourist spots such as Sólfar and Harpa, Esja is the huge majestic mountain that you see on the other side of the water. It's every bit as beautiful up close as it is from afar and less than an hour's drive from downtown Reykjavík.

5. See the glaciers while you still can


The warmer weather also makes longer-distance driving in Iceland in April a much more attractive proposition, as Route 1—the famous ring road which circumnavigates the island—becomes easier to navigate.

Located just off the ring road in the south is Sólheimajökull, an outlying spur of the massive Mýrdalsjökull glacier. It's the ideal place to hike a glacier or do some ice climbing, and being only a five-hour round trip from Reykjavík, it's feasible to visit and return in a day.

If you prefer a more mechanised experience of Iceland's iconic glaciers, Mýrdalsjökull offers snowmobile tours to get the adrenalin pumping. Tours include insulated winter overalls (which you will need), crash helmets (which hopefully you won't), and comprehensive training (in English) on how to control the powerful beast between your legs. Snowmobiling to the top of Mýrdalsjökull Glacier will allow you to survey one of the most beautiful spots of wilderness in Iceland.

Unfortunately, like all of Iceland's glaciers, Mýrdalsjökull and Sólheimajökull are disappearing due to increased global temperatures. To understand better how man's behaviour is causing the irreversible loss of Iceland's glaciers, visit Perlan's exhibit about Okjökull, or Ok Glacier. It was the smallest of Iceland's glaciers, and in 2014, was the first to be declared destroyed by the climate crisis.



Is April a good time to visit Reykjavík?

April is such a good time to visit Iceland. It's the time of year that the whole island stretches, yawns and throws off its winter blankets to welcome a warmer season. Nature comes into bud, and the less treacherous weather and longer days make road travel around the country much easier.

Reykjavík in April is halfway on the transition between midwinter sleepiness and midsummer tourism mayhem, making it quite possibly the best time of year to come.

Is April too late to see the northern lights in Iceland?

To see the northern lights or aurora borealis, you need three things: the solar activity that causes them; dark skies against which to see their faint, wispy lights; and a lack of cloud cover so that your view isn't blocked.

April is the time of year when the nights start to get noticeably shorter. At the start of the month, Reykjavík has about 13.5 hours of daylight, but by the time April is done, that figure has shot up to nearly 17 hours. Not only does that shorten the hours of darkness during which you might spot the lights, but it also means that the darkest part of the night gets lighter as the month progresses.

So, while it is possible to see the northern lights in April, it's really your last opportunity until the dark returns later in the year. As a result, many northern lights tours operate at the start of the month but close down for the summer before April is out. So get here early in the month if you want to make seeing the aurora one of the things you do in April in Reykjavík.

Is it too cold to go to Iceland in April?

April temperatures in Reykjavīk usually hover between about 3 °C and 10°C, (around 37°F to 50°F). That's reasonably chilly—depending on what you're used to, of course—and you will need to dress warmly. However, it's a lot less brutal than for visitors in December and January, and April in the capital city rarely sees a freeze.

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