March is a gorgeous month to visit Iceland. Not only has the weather usually calmed a bit down but the Northern Lights are still at their A game. Another positive point is that the time of daylight is growing rapidly throughout the month, so much so that you are able to see the difference from day to day. In March the environment starts showing definite signs of spring and the locals spend more time outside.
The month of March is the time of delicious food traditions such as the Food and Fun Festival. It is also when many Icelanders like to take time to go skiing. Akureyri, Siglufjordur and Dalvik in the North are popular destinations for ski holidays but they are also known for their excellent Whale Watching tours.
One other important thing to mention about March is the Icelandic Design March. It is an annual festival held in Reykjavik, where exhibitions and shows created by artists and designers are scattered all around the city for you to enjoy. Most of them are completely free and a great way to get to know the design scene of Iceland. Who knows maybe you will even take home a unique souvenir.
Weather in March in Iceland
The weather in Iceland in March is most commonly somewhere around 0°c. The average low being -2.2 degrees Celsius (28 F) and the average high 3.3 degrees Celsius (38 F). March can be a bit rainy so prepare by bringing a waterproof jacket. The farther North you go the rain might switch out for snow. Keep it in mind when packing!
Daylight in March in Iceland
There is a remarkable change between the 1st of March and the 31st of March in daylight but each day is adding about 10 minutes of light. In the beginning, you have about 10 hours of light but by the end of the month, you can expect about 13!
Northern lights in March in Iceland
March is an excellent month to witness the Northern Lights dancing in multicolored waves in the dark night sky. It is often said that the auroras are stronger at the beginning of the season and the end, which March would definitely qualify for. The only real difference is that to see them you might need to stay up a bit longer as the daylight has gotten longer and they can’t really be seen until it gets completely dark.
What to pack for March in Iceland
Even though the weather is usually a bit warmer in March you will still need to pack all the Iceland essentials. This means wool underwear, a hat, warm socks, and hiking boots. To cover everything you might need to bring we have simply made a ‘Packing for Iceland in March Checklist!’
- Base Layer: Wool Underwear/Thermals
- Thick Socks (more than usual)
- Mid Layer: Thick Sweater
- Thick Pants
- Hiking Boots
- Waterproof Jacket
- Down Coat
- Bathing Suit
- Lip Balm
- Reusable Water Bottle
What to do in March in Iceland
Go Road Tripping
March is a great time to visit Iceland, it is somewhat of an offseason so the most popular attractions, for example along the South coast, aren’t as crowded as they are in let’s say mid-summer. Use this to your advantage and take a road trip along the Ring Road or maybe if you have the time do the whole Ring Road and enjoy having the open land to yourself.
March is a very popular month to go skiing in Iceland and many like to travel up into the Northern part of Iceland to find even better slopes and great powdery snow. Akureyri is famous for being a skiing town and its hills of Hlidarfjall are excellent. It is the perfect city escape!
Walk around Reykjavik
Reykjavik is known as a hipster paradise, with endless quirky places and streets, colorful Instagram-friendly scenes and the most amazing shops and stores. The main street is Laugavegur parallel to Hverfisgata and runs in a cross with Skolavordustigur. All of those should be on your list along with Harpa Concert Hall, Hallgrimskirkja church and Solfarid, the Sunvoyager Sculpture!
See the Northern Lights
March is a fantastic month to experience the natural phenomenon that the Northern Lights truly are. Make sure to follow the forecast and dress according to the weather. This is going to be a night to remember!
Iceland is known for being one of the countries where the Northern Lights appear in more colors, often red, pink and purple. This is genuinely something you are going to want to be on the lookout for, it’s magical!
Go Horseback Riding
The Icelandic horse has been a pure breed for over 1000 years which has resulted in its unique gait tolt. The famous tolt is a much softer gait than gallop or trot known more widely. This makes the horse riding experience in Iceland a much more enjoyable one. The Icelandic horse is also very comfortable in size, which makes it easy for you to get on and off. But, the last thing, and really what makes horseback riding in March so great is its fur coat. In wintertime the Icelandic horse grows its coat extra thick, so they literally look like complete furballs. It is impossibly cute! You should definitely think about taking a horse riding tour or simply visit a farm where you can pet them. The Icelandic horse is famous for its friendliness.
Take a Whale Watching tour
In March the whale herds that leave during the coldest months return to the Icelandic seas. Which means that your chances of seeing multiple breeds are up by substantially. To enjoy this growth you can take a whale watching tour out from the Reykjavik harbor downtown and in only 45 minutes you are far enough to see them. Minke Whales and Humpback whales are the common breeds seen near Reykjavik but the farther North you travel the better your chances are of seeing even variety. Eyjafjordur fjord where the towns Akureyri, Dalvik , and Húsavik are located is famous for being the best when it comes to Whale Watching. From Dalvik they have even seen nine different breeds in one tour!
Go Inside an Ice Cave and visit a Glacier
The ice of the glaciers is especially blue during the fall and spring so with March being at the beginning of spring in Iceland you are at the perfect time to experience the meeting of the snowy period and the turquoise blue ice period!
Join a glacier hiking tour, an ice cave tour or possibly even a combo but if you aren’t much into hiking or walking a visit to the Jokulsarlon Glacier lagoon is perfect for you!
Take part in the National Festivals (see below)
There are so many exciting festivals and Icelandic traditions to take part in Iceland in March that we made a special section to make sure you don’t miss out!
Events and Festivals in March in Iceland
1st of March Iceland’s National Beer Day
On the 1st of March 1989 beer was officially legal in Iceland again. A beer ban had been in the country for decades so the celebration was understandably ongoing for days. Today we celebrate the dissolution of the beer ban annually on the same day Icelanders were allowed to enjoy ale again. Go downtown for a beer at a much lower price and SKAL with the locals!
Food and Fun
This is one for the Foodie travelers. The Food and Fun Festival is an annual event where all the best restaurants in Reykjavik get guest chefs to play with their fresh quality ingredients and great a special menu just for the occasion. If there ever was a time to splurge on food, this is it!
Bolludagur – Sprengidagur – Oskudagur
The Food Coma Festival Trifecta. Bolludagur, Sprengidagur and Oskudagur change dates each year and can be at the end of February or at the beginning of March. Either way, you should be able to taste a bolla at the beginning of March as they are available in shops and bakeries.
First comes Bolludagur (always on a Monday) where you are supposed to eat everything in the shape of a ball: meatballs, fishballs and last but not least the very Icelandic Vatnsdeigsbollur, buns which are filled with jam and whipped cream. The tradition is that children prepare these special rods with pom poms at the end called bolluvondur. On the morning of Bolludagur the kids wake up their parents by spanking them with their bolluvondur. They receive in return as many cream-filled bollur as the spanks they manage to do. You can purchase these special cream-filled buns at any local bakery.
Sprengidagur is then held on Tuesday the day after Bolludagur and the word Sprengi means to explode and this is exactly what you are supposed to do, simply eat until you feel like you are going to explode. The menu for Sprengidagur is simple, salted meat and bean soup!
Oskudagur is the thirds day in the trifecta and is Iceland’s version of Halloween. Children dress up in costumes and walk in groups to shops, companies, and favorites to sing for candy. After having had everything in the shape of a ball on Monday and salty on Tuesday you close the 3-day festival with as much sugar as you can.
Driving around Iceland in March
March is still that time of the year when you need to be alert that the weather might change abruptly and roads close. This is especially important if you are traveling far North or in the Westfjords. But, fear not, just be sure to check the road conditions and weather forecast at least twice a day. The winter season can be quite stubborn and reluctant to leave. This means that there might still be some ice on the roads, especially those less driven.