A Great Place
When should you visit very special and unique places in the world that touch you? Places with an atmosphere you can’t describe or where you even get overwhelmed with emotion.
Stunning view regardless of the season. However, it's busy almost year-round. Read on for our detailed 'when to go' insider tips:
Time of Day / Opening Hours
Elephant Mountain – Skyline View: Most impressive and perfect for a good shot in the early morning or early evening. In the afternoon the sky is often not clear.
Taipei World Trade Center 101: The outdoor observatory opens only if weather permits, check the large billboard above the ticket counter before you pay. Opening hours from 9 a.m. to 9.30 p.m.
How to Avoid Crowds
It’s a popular place, and the view is for free the reason that it is always a bit crowded. Anyhow, the view to the skyline is spectacular and a must when visiting Taipei. Even in the rain people walk uphill for this incredible experience as we did.For Chinese New Year's (usually late January or early February) fireworks people even come here a day before to occupy a good spot. Our tips to avoid the crowds at almost any time:
- Get there early to avoid the crowds. It’s very popular for the sunset and the city lighting.
- Avoid visiting on a weekend which already starts on Friday midday.
- If the weather is fine, it’s more crowded.
- June is also a favorite month due to the Computex; the biggest IT Show in Asia.
The iconic landmark may be one of the top attractions apart from museums and temples in Taipei. During our visit on a Friday, there were already too many people queuing; one hour waiting to get up and one hour to get down. We decided to see the skyline including the huge 101 Tower from above and walked to Elephant Mountain.
From April until October temps can be unpleasant hot with high humidity at daytime. In summer day temps are around 30°C and in winter (Dec. to Feb.) around 20°C while nights are cold with less than 10°C. Most precipitation from May to September but a dry season does not exist. The driest months are November to January with rainfall on average less than 100 mm.
Avoid the summer months and Chinese New Year when prices are on the highest level, accommodations are often fully booked and many places are overrun.
The glacier is an amazing year round destination. During southern summer (November - March) the weather is pleasant with the most sunshine but it also gets very crowded. The temperatures are mild, especially in Dec/Jan/Feb: 44-74°F (7-24°C). Howerver, please keep in mind that the weather is unpredictable. Always bring rain gear and dress in layers.
To hear more of the deep thunderous sound of the cracking ice you should visit during sunny weather in the late afternoon (see options below). You will hear those sounds even in the morning hours quite often, but they are more frequent and intense in the (late) afternoon, when the ice is warmed by the sun. The light to take photos is great in the morning as well as in the late afternoon, before sunset.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
During high season (southern summer, Nov-Mar) it gets crowded between 9:30 AM and 5 PM. Dodge the crowds and you won’t have to fight the best viewing spots. Even more important: Being able to listen to the cracking sounds of the glacier without other noise distractions from groups of visitors is just magical. Three ways to avoid those large groups of people:
Late Shuttle Bus:
The best way to avoid the crowds while using the public shuttle bus is to take the late one: Departing at 1 PM (or 2 PM) and going back at 7:30 PM. Using the late bus you have about 1-2 hours left later in the early evening at the glacier with significantly less tourists, as most of them leave between 4 PM and 5 PM. However, choosing this option you’d have to stay overnight in El Calafate as the last bus from El Calafate to El Chalten for example departs at 6 PM.
Go Early or Late (Rental Car/Taxi):
A rental car gives you the highest flexibility to dodge the crowds: You could either get there very early in the morning before any of the crowds arrive. Or preferably arrive around 4 PM to stay late and experience a magical sunset after most tourist have already left. You could also pay a taxi, including staying a couple of hours at the site. For both options it only makes economic sense when you are in group of at least 3 people or money is not an issue.
It usually starts to get busy from mid-October until March. The peak months with the most crowds are December/January/February. Moderate month (still/already slightly busy): October/November, March/April. Late September until mid-October or mid-April until early May are great times with less tourists, lower rates and decent weather. However, it's not as warm as in the peak summer months. Monthly weather overview (you can switch between F and C): El Calafate Weather. A travel blogger who visited in late May: Read his article
Visiting in the Winter (late May - August): Virtually no crowds, but really cold, rough weather (sometimes below 32°F/0°C) and less agencies offer tours to the glacier.
Jokulsárlón (Google Maps) is one of the most popular sites in Iceland. That's why the place gets incredibly crowded during the daytime. Read on for our guide on how to avoid the crowds, when to see the most icebergs and more useful tips:
The lagoon is accessible year-round. Even in the winter, the part of Route 1 (Ring Road) between Reykjavik and Jokulsárlón is usually snow-free. There might be some exceptions when heavy snow-storms occur. Tip: You'll have the best experience and more freedom if you rent a car, preferrably a 4WD. Most of our tips below can only be followed with a (rental) car.
The icebergs are present year round. However, it's impossible to predict the amount of ice on a certain day. Our tips on increasing your chances:
Visit In Winter:
You'll often see more icebergs during the winter months. Another great advantage to visiting in winter is the Northern Lights. The downsides: It's colder, and no boat tours are available in winter.
Visit In Summer:
In the summer, as well as late spring and early fall, there are slightly fewer icebergs, but boat tours are available, and the weather is more pleasant. However, you'll usually spot enough icebergs in every season. A great experience in the summer: Afternoon on a sunny day for incredible contrasts between light, ice and the black beach.
Stay Two Days:
Regardless of the season, you should stay at least two days. Book a nearby hotel (Best Hotels at Jokulsárlón). First you visit the Lagoon in the afternoon/evening, then you stay the night in the hotel and on the next day you get back to the lagoon early in the morning. That way you'll avoid the crowds at both times (evening and morning). Staying two days also means, you can experience different tide levels, often different wind/weather and different light. You'll maximize the chances to see enough icebergs as well. Few visitors report, that almost no icebergs were there on a given day. It's not very likely but possible. Visit 2 days to be on the safe side.
Avoiding the Crowds
Crowds at Jokulsárlón are usually present year-round. The peak summer months bring the most tourists. However, there are easy ways to get away from the crowds:
Be Early or Stay Late:
Be there as early as possible, preferably around 7:30 AM. Then you'll have about an hour until the first tour buses arrive. Since a drive from Reykjavik takes about 5 hours, the best bet is to stay at a nearby hotel the night before (see above: stay two days). On your first day of the visit, you may also stay late until most tourists are gone.
The area around the main parking lot is always crowded: Check out the layout drawing below. Most people stay within 60 m of the parking area. Just walk a little farther, and you'll get away from the main crowds. About half mile down the road is another parking lot. From there you can go down the cliff to the beach. It's significantly less busy here and most of the time you see as many icebergs. The two beaches are nearly identical, while one of them often has more icebergs than the other. It's impossible to predict that on a certain day. If you'd like to avoid crowds, just go to the beach with fewer icebergs.
Visit In Shoulder Months:
Usually, the place is busy year-round nowadays. The peak season used to be from June until August. However, in the recent years, many visitors also come for the Northern Lights in winter. A chance of a slightly less busy place is the months of late September - October or April - early May. However, don't expect a quiet place during daytime regardless of the season.
Pre-booking is necessary for this famous spa in Iceland, as they only allow a limited number of visitors. In this way, they avoid a heavily crowded lagoon. However, regardless of the season and month it still gets busy during the day.
Avoiding the Crowds
Long waiting lines, hectic locker rooms, ... You’ll enjoy a much more peaceful lagoon and its surreal surroundings by visiting either very early in the morning or as late as possible. Stay at a close hotel as it's more comfortabel. Our recommendation: Northern Light Inn (scroll down to our 'Where to Stay section for more choices). Also try to avoid weekends (Fri-Sun), because it's busier then, even in the morning or evening. Make your reservation a couple of weeks in advance to get the desired slot:
Book the first time slot available (see opening hours below). Being there first thing in the morning, you won’t see any crowds and no waiting lines, regardless of the package you booked. Often there are only 20-30 people within the first hour of operation.
It usually thins out in the evening. Book a time slot about two hours before they close. Timing your visit for sunset will make your photos even more amazing. After sunset, there is even a chance to see the Northern Lights in winter. Check sunrise and sunset times here: Sunrise / Sunset Grindavík
Weather and Water Temperature
Regardless of the season, weather and outside temperature, the water is always kept at 37–39°C (98–102°F). However, if it’s really cold and windy, some parts of the lagoon can be cooler (different temperature zones). Check the monthly weather details for the area, as well as average rainy days here: Average Monthly Weather Grindavík (you can switch between °F and °C). Keep in mind, that the weather is unpredictable, particularly in the winter months. However, almost everyone says that a visit is always a fantastic experience, even on a cold, windy and rainy day. The warmth of the water and the shelter of the heaters help a lot. Especially with rain and fog the atmosphere is just otherworldly and even more amazing.
Great to visit any time of the year. Gets crowded on holiday weekends....but its still ok.
You can visit this national park any time of the year. But it can be amazing cold and wet sometimes. We visited it at the end of october and had wonderfull weather. Since you are unprotected in an open landscape, it can be very windy and cold. We had sun and wind, it was a good period on our opinion