Preparation, Why Iceland

Tourism in Iceland

Tourism in Iceland is a booming industry. Take a look. The chart below shows the number of foreign visitors who flew into Keflavik airport in June of each year. I chose June because it allowed me to include 2015 in the data; note that July and August are actually even busier than June. As you look at the numbers on the chart, remember that the total population of Iceland is about 323,000.

Tourism Pic 1

Data from:

So what does that mean to you, as one (or 5 or 6) of those tourists? It means you need to do a little more planning to avoid crowds and lines.

To illustrate that point, let’s use the Blue Lagoon, one of the most popular attractions in Iceland. It attracted about 700,000 visitors in 2014 (source: Again, think about that number relative to the population of Iceland: 323,000.

This is what the Blue Lagoon web site says right now:

Tourism Pic 2

But take a look at the language in 2014:

Tourism Pic 3


Today, pre-booking is “required” and “essential”.  Last year, it was just recommended. Note also that the morning hours have been extended. Here’s what they are now:Tourism Pic 4

Those 8 AM summer openings are actually quite nice—it makes it more convenient to go directly from the airport to the Blue Lagoon, as any flight from North America is going to land in Keflavik early in the morning.

In 2013, pre-booking tickets wasn’t even recommended, it was just a way to save some time:

Tourism Pic 5

Before 2013, it doesn’t even look like you could pre-book tickets online. How quickly things have changed.

As we add more tourism information, we’ll make sure you provide you with tips for beating the crowds. But the name of the game is almost always going to be “off-peak”. The best way to be off-peak is to not go to Iceland during the summer months. Take a look at tourism by month in 2014:

Tourism Pic 6

Yes, there is a very strong correlation with the number of hours of daylight Iceland received by month! (I’ll overlay it if there is any demand; ask for it in the comments.)

Staying away from July and August can be helpful. But if those are the months that work for you, it’s not a problem- you just need a little more planning. Maybe you can take your Golden Circle tour at an off-peak time. For example, Gray Line offers a Golden Circle “Late Afternoon Tour” (Source: that specifically says:  “Visit some of Iceland’s most popular attractions in the late afternoon outside rush hour…”

For families, we think early morning may be a better option. But we’ll give more specific advice as we go along.

Tourism in Iceland was last modified: February 25th, 2016 by Eric