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.
Milford Sound, one of the wettest regions on earth with up to 9 meters of rain each year is one of the most visited places in South New Zealand. To figure out the best time for your visit depends on the season you plan to come. Continue reading to get the insights we got told by local rangers or read get answers to your questions by jumping directly to a topic via our quick navigation (most popular are the 7 Must-Know Tips):
Milford experiences minimum 200 days of rain, 7 meters of rain on average each year. One of the few places where rain is measured in meters. Usually, it rains 2 days in 3. In 2017 the precipitation was even 9 meters, and on the opposite, the summer in 2018 was pretty dry even accompanied by forest fires. Nevertheless, rain occurs quite often throughout the year. With a high amount of rainfall, the fjord is full of awesome temporary waterfalls, and the existing ones are at its peak. It’s spectacular when waterfalls thunder down from the cliffs.
Kayaks in front of Bowen Waterfall
We wanted to experience the sound on a clear day, and we did. We just monitored the weather forecast and booked our tour just two days before. We drove 10 hours from Christchurch to Te Anau and another two for the 120 km from Te Anau the next morning before sunrise.
Milford Sound Cruise Tips (Crowds & Booking)
Milford is the most popular place in New Zealand with more than 500.000 visitors each year. If you like to go on a cruise at midday advanced booking is recommended. These tours are frequently fully booked, that's why you must book in advance! Our favorite cruise is this one: Milford Sound Nature Cruise. The morning and afternoon tours are often less crowded but to be sure of getting a cruise we recommend to book at least one or two days before. There are different tours at different times offered. The first starts around 8.30 am, but at this time of the day, there is still not enough light for a good picture in the sound. It improves a lot an hour later. However, you still should arrive early at Milford Sound. Why? Read on below:
How to Get to Milford Sound (With Tips for the Drive)
You should (or must) drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound: Google Maps - Te Anau <> Milford Sound. It's the one of the most gorgeous drives we've done! Start early and arrive around 8 latest 8.30 am at Milford Sound parking from December to March. This ensures you don’t need to park far away and have to take the shuttle to get close. The shuttle is offered at the busiest time of the year only. The two different parking areas fill up soon. It takes about 1 hour 45 minutes from Te Anau very early in the morning. If you start later schedule two hours minimum for the drive plus half an hour for the shuttle. The sunrise in the morning and later the sunset on the way back were breath-taking. Keep in mind there isn’t any gas station or fuel stop along the Milford road just an un-manned in Milford. Between May and November, snow chains are required. The Homer Tunnel at an altitude of 945 m above sea level is just one narrow single lane, 1.2 km long, and traffic is controlled by a traffic light.
Milford Sound Weather & Crowds (Seasons/Months)
Read our detailed Milford Sound weather guide for every season and month below. We also included information about peak tourist times with possible crowds and less busy periods.
Spring (September/October - November)
Photo by Timothy Chan on Unsplash
It’s still chilly in the night but days tend to be warmer and longer. It’s the shoulder season, less crowded and overrun. There are hundreds of waterfalls gush down from rocky cliffs due to the spring rain and the melting snow. The countryside is covered with wildflowers. In November and December, the rata and the pohutukawa trees are in full bloom. These trees are also called Christmas trees. Mountains are still snow-capped. The Fiordland Crested Penguin can be seen until November latest December raising the cheeks.
Summer (December- January - February)
Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash
December and January have the highest amount of precipitation but these months are also the warmest and busiest. The average temp is almost 20°C, and it can increase up to 28°C. In turns of sun and rain, the humidity is quite high. The Christmas Trees are in bloom until December. A shuttle service from the overflow parking is offered from December to March.
Crowds thin a little bit out and the shoulder season starts around mid-March. There are still many hours of daylight. The temps may be still close to 20°C at daytime. Nights become already chilly. It's the best time of the year for hiking. Waterfalls are not at their peak. There is a slightly higher chance to experience Milford on a clear day as we did at the end of March.
Winter (May - June - July - August/September)
That's the low season, and it’s less busy. Snow is common on the road to the Milford Sound, especially in higher altitudes. This makes the mountains even more photogenic. Seals and especially penguins are more active during colder temps. The Fjordland crested penguin comes to the same beach for mating each year. They lay their eggs in August and cheeks fled between November and December. The downside the road to the sound can be closed due to avalanche warnings although the roads are accessible. Often the rangers get asked for the reason of closing the road. There is a team monitoring the mountains and snowfields if they ascertain a high risk for an avalanche the only route to the sound can be closed for days. Hiking isn't possible everywhere. Avalanche-prone bridges get removed to prevent destroying by flooding or debris avalanches. The average day temp is around 4°C. This makes the cruises pretty cold outside on deck. Most of the ships offer indoor and outdoor seating and viewing area.
Lofoten Islands in Norway - Our complete guide! The answer to the ever popular "when is the best time to visit?" is difficult. Of course, there are common patterns in the weather that can help you to plan out your trip to Lofoten based on what you wish to see. This guide will help you to narrow that down (scroll directly to the winter, spring, summer or fall section if you'd like to find out about a specific season only). Quick links to the 5 must-know things:
- Season Guide: Winter - Spring - Summer - Fall
- Spotting Northern Lights
- Lofoten Weather
- Hotel Deals and Tips
- 5 Amazing Activities
- 8 Must-Visit Places
Winter (November, December, February, March)
- Weather: It's cold – but not unbearable (average lows around -5°C, average high 2°C). Unpredictable in November/December with either rain or snow. January - March provide more predictable winter conditions.
- Crowds: Quiet season, but February and March became slightly more popular recently.
- Highlights: Polar Night (24 hours of darkness) from December 9 - January 4 and Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) throughout the winter. Fishing: Historical seasonal cod fishing in February/March.
For many, the quintessential landscape of Lofoten is a wintery one, with white-capped mountains and regular snowfall. However, in November and December the weather is usually very unsteady. Besides snow, a lot of rain is also possible during both month. That's why those who seek this famous winter wonderland view, should visit between mid-January and March, when there is less rain and more snow. However, keep in mind that even in February it may rain for a full week. By mid-January, the days are also slightly longer, with the sun at least peering over the horizon for a few hours each day to give you some exploring time. You should still expect long periods of darkness, however. But the lack of light is usually worth it: Because at night, you may see the Northern Lights (possible during the whole winter season).
By March, you can expect the sun to hang around for long enough to make wintery adventure activities a possibility. For those who seek fun in the snow, March is a great time to enjoy things like skiing and snowboarding, all against Lofoten's stunning backdrop. Lofoten's ski slopes cater to all ages and abilities, and the resorts are beautiful to see even if you aren't quite ready to brave the slopes.
Of course, this all assumes that you want some time in the daylight during your visit. There are many arguments in favour of visiting during the Polar Night (December 9 – January 4), where the sun does not rise at all. For those who have never experienced this phenomenon, it is a unique experience that is an attraction in itself. Plus, the pitch-black conditions mean that this is a great time to seek out the elusive Northern Lights in Lofoten, which are jaw-dropping in their beauty.
Tourism usually is at its lowest in November, so if you wish to experience a bit of peace and quiet amongst the striking environment, this may suit you well. Many tourists avoid this time as it does tend to be quite rainy and dark, but for others this only adds to the atmosphere. The chance to miss the crowds makes it an appealing time to visit Lofoten as you will have plenty of time and space to really embrace all it has to offer.
Main ski season is February - April. If you're not into winter sports: It's the perfect time for visiting those small but very unique museums (see below). You definitely need a car to get around. Taking photos along E10 and exploring the must-see places. The best time to photograph the Northern Lights with snow covered mountains as backdrop is from mid-January until late March. Also check out the offered tours in winter like the Trollfjord Cruise or Lofoten Lights Tours (Winter Orca Whale & Safari or Northern Lights Tour). While the warmer months are perfect for hiking, winter is definitely not. Darkness, rain and snow make a hike on your own very difficult and even dangerous. Exceptions are guided hikes/walks like this a Snowshoe Walk or a Guided Lofoten Winter Hike. In general November and December are probably the worst month for longer outdoor activities, as it's usually very rainy, windy and icy. A traditional and memorable activity is the famous historical cod fishing every winter in February and March.
Road conditions depend on the weather and you need to drive carefully in the winter. However roads are cleared on a regular basis and are usually open to traffic and drivable. Experienced Lofoten visitors and locals say a 4x4 is not necessary if you stay on the main roads.
Some restaurants are closed in the winter. However, in towns like Svolvær or Leknes you'll have no problem finding open restaurants, even in deep winter. Shops are usually open regardless if they're in 'smaller' or bigger town. Which means that self catering is an option in the small towns.
Spring (April - May)
- Weather: Still chilly, snow can continue until May. April feels and looks like winter. More sunshine than in winter, however!
- Crowds: Quite reasonable, although they begin to pick up a bit as the days get longer and warmer.
- Highlights: Northern Lights are still visible until mid-April. Midnight sun begins May 26.
The months of April and May are usually still fairly chilly, while snowfall is quite common in early April. It may also snow throughout May. Those who visit Lofoten should bring warm clothing to keep warm on the crisp days and nights. Many consider this a great time to visit, as the conditions are more accessible yet you avoid the heavy crowds of the summer months.
Due to the ongoing snowfall and the added bonus of much longer days, those seeking wintery activities will not be disappointed if visiting Lofoten. You may also notice a change in the scenery, as the white snow gives way to lush green foliage in many places.
Spring also brings a welcome relief from the short days of winter, you can expect to have long days with plenty of light to make exploring Lofoten much more accessible. Lofoten's waterways and waterfalls will be at their powerful best due to the melting snow.
The main ski season is still in full swing in April, and many resorts stay open through May. Other outdoor activities include hiking, fishing and kayaking. While April is too difficult for self-guided hikes, in May hiking tours are more likely. However, you need to be careful, as rockfalls and avalanches can present a danger as much of the ice melts quickly and causes the terrain to be unstable in some parts. Museums are a must-visit in spring and of course you need a rental car to get around on your own. Check with the operators for available tours in the spring like kayaking along the Lofoten islands coast or other Lofoten Tours. Tip: Although the Northern Lights can still be spotted until mid-April, this phenomena shouldn't be the main reason to travel here in April. There are definitely better month for the Northern Lights.
Summer (June, July, August)
- Weather: Best chance of good weather during July and August. Average degrees about 15°C. On sunny days max temp of 25C° is not uncommon. Most sunshine, although rain and especially many cloudy days in a row can happen.
- Crowds: The most popular time of year, Lofoten is very busy with local and international tourists. Many hotels and attractions will be at full capacity.
- Highlights: Midnight sun from May 26 - July 17 (24 hours of daylight). Northern lights are back by the end of August
Although it is only in more recent years that international tourists have flocked to Lofoten, it has long been a beloved summer destination for Norwegians. Thanks to its beautiful scenery and up to 24 hours of sunshine per day, summer is peak tourist season in Lofoten as locals and international travellers flock to this outdoor paradise. Expect these months to be lively and busy.
By the time June rolls around, almost all of the snow has melted away and been replaced by lush green plant life, completing transforming the look of the islands. By early July you can spot hillsides covered flowerbeds. Although the weather remains somewhat unpredictable, it sometimes even reaches highs of 25 degrees Celsius. Blue skies are common, although so too are many cloudy overcast days and rain.
Unique is the midnight sun, which means all-day and all-night sunshine. It occurs between late May and mid-July. For those who have never experienced this, it is incredibly surreal to be able to hike in full sunshine at 2am. Even for those who experience it regularly, there is a certain charm that comes with such abundant sunshine and all it allows you to do.
Given all the benefits of summer in Lofoten, it is unsurprising that this is peak tourist time, with many accommodation places and restaurants completely booking out, even months in advance. While its popularity means that Lofoten in summer is a lively, exciting place, it is recommended to book well ahead of time so as to avoid any disappointments. While the whole summer is busy, the peak month is definitely July. Then all the famous areas like Reine or for example the parking lot to popular Kvalvika beach will be overcrowded. Especially when cruise ships arrive, the well-known places will be packed. Read our tips in the section below on how to dodge the crowds. By mid-August, the crowds have died down a fair bit, although so too has the sunshine. For many, a visit between mid-August and late August is the best of both worlds – allowing you to experience summer in Lofoten, but without the intense crowds.
Summer time has the most opportunities to try every outdoorsy activity like fishing tours, canoeing and of course hiking. From mid-June the trails are usually snow-free and you can do almost everything from short 1-3 hour walks at the coast to full day hikes or even longer. Be careful until mid-June, as some routes are still snow covered in early June, especially on Austvågøy. Besides hiking every other activity, except skiing of course, is available in the summer: From amazing day tours, like a midnight sun walk to kayaking or fishing trips. For more flexibility getting around in a rental car is recommended. The museums can be a bit crowded in summer. Visit them early in the morning.
Not only is the summer weather perfect for outdoor activities, but it also makes camping a great option. Norway famously gives everyone "the right to roam", and camping in the mountains and countryside is permitted anywhere by anyone as long as you are at least 150m from any inhabited houses or cabins.
Autumn (September - October)
- Weather: Days are getting shorter and more rainfall. It gets worse in October with storms, even more rain and first snowfall.
- Crowds: A quiet time to visit Lofoten, as the summer crowds are gone.
- Highlights: Northern lights are visible in September and October
The autumnal months of September and October bring even more unpredictability to the weather on Lofoten, discouraging the crowds and leaving much more room for visitors to breathe and relax. While autumn's reputation for being extremely unpredictable discourages many visitors, others enjoy seeing this side of the islands. Lofoten is a nature lover's paradise and it is so beloved due to its dramatic landscapes. In many ways, autumn is the best time to experience this, as it is when mother nature shows her true power on Lofoten and the weather becomes the most volatile. This allows visitors to experience the many faces of Lofoten, whether in the midst of a rainstorm or on a crystal-clear day. Another advantage are the lower accommodation rates and the possibility to book last-minute.
September: An interesting month, since the crowds thin out even more. The one downside is falling temperatures together with even more unpredictable weather. However, it doesn't get too cold in September and besides rain and strong breezes it can be sunny and warm as well. Additionally, September is bringing many beautiful colours to the landscape. Visitors can see diverse landscapes where leaves are a startling red-orange. Many outdoor tours from summer are usually still being offered till the end of September.
October: This is the time when it gets 'worse'. Visitors may experience heavy rainfall, storms, dark days, falling temperatures and the first snow. That's why at the beginning of October many 'part time locals' pack their things and leave. Of course, there are often still nice days in October, but the odds are getting lower.
However, autumn sees the return of the Northern Lights to Lofoten, so those looking to experience this unique and enigmatic phenomena may wish to consider September or October. This is a big plus, regardless of the weather conditions.
Most summer tours are still available till the end of September. Thus, you can do all kinds great day tours, like kayaking or even a Summer Photography Tour in September. Even self-guided hiking is still an option. However, you need to be careful as the rain can be responsible for a very slippery terrain. No tourist crowds, hiking tours, wide range of outdoor activities and the chance to spot northern lights make September a very interesting month. Later in October the downside is fewer tours offered by operators. Due to first snowfall hiking tours along with longer outdoor activities are no longer a good idea. But still, even in October you can admire the scenery from inside your car, stop at beaches or fjords, get out for taking photos, get back in warm up and drive to the next spot.
Long, cold winters. Mild, but short summers. The warmest months are from June to August and a great time for hiking. In spring the weather is unpredictable: Cold and even snow can linger into April and May. A warm jacket and rain gears are a must-have in spring. Fall months, especially SEPTEMBER and early OCTOBER may be the best months with mild weather, fewer crowds and lots of wildlife. In winter heavy snowfall occurs from December to March.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds:
July and August are also the peak tourist months. Crowds start to thin out after Labor Day in September. In October it even gets much quieter. A perfect month to enjoy many places without many others. Just keep in mind that a lot of facilities close sometime in October and November: NPS Yellowstone - Operating Hours.
Please note, that September became busier in the recent years. It's less busy than in summer but not a super quiet shoulder month anymore. Follow our September Tips:
- Go mid-September, as it gets quieter. A great sweet spot week is the last week in September.
Go as early as possible. If you get up early you'll avoid heavy traffic at the busy areas like Old Faithful or elk rutting spots along the road.
Another great month is the first week of June with warm weather and fewer crowds before the peak summer season starts. Again, keep in mind that June became much busier recently: Go early in the morning and try to avoid weekends.
Stunning view regardless of the season. However, the TWTC is busy almost year-round. Don't miss the view to the World Trade Center 101 from the Elephant Mountain Hill which is less crowded and for free. Regarding the weather, December to March are the best months to come here. Read on for our detailed 'when to go' insider tips or check out our unique Taiwand article:
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. The trail is well-lighted in the evening.
Taipei World Trade Center 101: The outdoor observatory opens if weather permits, check the large billboard above the ticket counter before you purchase the tickets. Opening hours from 9 a.m. to 9.30 p.m.
How to Avoid Crowds on the Elephant Mountain and the Top of TWTC
Elephant Mountain is a popular place, and the view is for free the reason that it is always a bit crowded. Anyhow, the view of 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 for the top of the TWTC 101 and the Elephant Mountain:
- 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 at 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 enormous 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. Same in June when the Computex takes place.
Taipei is the capital city of Taiwan with an estimated population of almost three million people. Choosing the perfect location for a visit to Taipei is important. For example, if you stay close to the airport, you may need a minimum of 1 1/2 hour with public transport to get just to the Xiangshan metro station red line. You may also like to visit the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Therefore, it makes sense to stay in the city center close to these attractions. We recommend the Dandy Hotel-Daan Park Branch with an excellent location. Breakfast is provided, and there are many outstanding restaurants within walking distance.
This is our ultimate guide to Perito Moreno Glacier with 7 essential must-know tips before you go, including the best time to visit. Weather-wise the most pleasant time is from November to March. Read on for more details including our 7 must-know things: 1) Highlights 2) Avoiding Tourist Crowds 3) Weather 4) Facts 5) Getting to Perito Moreno Glacier 6) How to Visit 7) The Best Itinerary. And a lot more incredibly useful advice as well as stunning photos! In case you'd like to jump directly to our most popular tips, click the following navigation links:
Quick Tip: We highly recommend to read our guide below, especially the 'How to Visit' part. However, if you're in a hurry and like it comfortable, check tours to the platforms via bus, on a boat or ice trekking tours here: Perito Moreno Tours from El Calafate (very safe and reliable booking via GetYourGuide) Make sure to check the ratings and read the reviews! Book in advance!
Highlights (Cracking Ice)
To hear more of the deep thunderous sound of the cracking ice you should visit during sunny weather in the late afternoon if possible (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. It gets better: To witness a chunk of ice falling off, you might have to wait a while, but it's worth it. Great weather with sunshine really helps here. Regardless, it's a once in a lifetime experience and absolutely worth it. The light to take photos is great at both times: In the morning as well as in the late afternoon, before sunset. Bottom line: In order to see the ice chunks falling off and listening to thunderous sounds, sunny weather drastically increases the chances and frequency. That's why we highly recommend staying 2 full days (spend 3 nights!) in nearby El Calafate: If it rains on one day, you still have at least one other day with a good chance of sunshine. Being there 2-3 full days will maximize your chances of spending a perfect sunny day at the glacier with those amazing phenomena. We added an itinerary suggestion at the end of this article.
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 for 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 fewer tourists, as most of them leave between 4 PM and 5 PM.
Go Early or Late (Rental Car/Taxi):
A rental car offers the highest flexibility to dodge the crowds: You could either get there very early in the morning before any of the crowds arrive. As of 2018 the area is usually quiet until 9:30 A.M. Sometimes the hordes of tourists even arrive later. That means arriving at 8 A.M. gives you about 2 hours of solitude. Alternatively, arrive around 4 PM to stay late and experience a magical sunset after most tourists have already left. You could also pay a taxi, including staying a couple of hours at the site. For the expensive taxi option it only makes economic sense when you are in a 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 fewer 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
The glacier is a year-round destination. However, during southern summer (November - March) the weather is more 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). However, please keep in mind that the weather is unpredictable. Always bring rain gear and dress in layers. Visiting in the Winter (late May-August) means virtually no crowds, but really cold, rough weather (sometimes below 32°F/0°C) and fewer agencies offer tours to the glacier.
Jokulsárlón (Google Maps) is a truly striking spot to visit in Iceland and was one of the Game of Thrones filming locations for season 7. However, it does get 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 or more 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 you visit early. We highly recommend to stay two days (see section above: stay two days for the icebergs and light). Example: Day #1: Stay late at the lagoon until at least 4 or 5 PM when most tourists are gone. Staying late is a great idea even if you are not planning to visit again the next day. The night: Stay at the nearby hotel. Day #2: Be at Jokulsárlón early in the morning (see above).
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.