PLEASE NOTE that hiking on the glacier requires mountain experience and special equipment (crampons, ice ax, ropes etc.) Hiking in "very warm" weather during summer season can be dangerous because
The best time for hiking is usually from the end of May till the end of June, then September till the start of October. July and August are very hot and the glacier can melt very fast in the afternoon when the sun is out. It is necessary to start early in the morning to be sure you will get back down as soon as possible. However, it's pretty cold minus degrees throughout the year
Due to the easy accessibility, the mountain is often a bit busy. The cable car is often very full of skiers. However, it's a perfect climb for beginners in such a height. To avoid crowds and the melting glaciers take the first cable car to the Kleinmatterhorn.
Located in Westland National Park, this is one of New Zealand's most spectacular natural attractions. 12 km long, 7000 years old.
The glacier is open year-round. The best time to visit Franz Josef depends on what you’re looking for. Mild temperatures? Ice highlights? Fewer Crowds? Read on for our detailed ‘WHEN TO GO’ tips below. In addition, make sure to check our complete season guide and must-know tips for the breathtaking heli tours!
- Season Guide | Monthly Weather - Busy Times
- Avoiding Tourist Crowds | Time of Day
- Helicopter Tours | 2 Types (Recommended!)
- Hotel Tips | + Hotel Deals with Low Price Guarantee
- Walks and Hikes (Main Hike, Treks, Valley Walk)
- 10 Must-Know Tips | + Things to Do
Special Tip: Planning to visit Milford Sound as well? Check out our detailed guide with many tips: 7 Tips for Milford Sound| A Complete Guide Link to our article. If you need tips about combining Queenstown - Milford Sound and Franz Josef Glacier, read this TripAdvisor Post: How to combine Queenstown - Milford - Franz Josef — TripAdvisor. If you're looking for a New Zealand guide book. This is our tip: Fodor's New Zealand (via Amazon)
Seasons | Weather - Busy Times
In general, the weather is highly unpredictable in this region, regardless of the season. Within one day it can change radically. Always bring rain gear, despite a sunny weather forecast. The Franz Josef town experiences more than 5 liters of rain each year and 10-15 meters of snow at the top of the glacier. However, in the winter it’s more stable.
Winter (June - August)
Temperatures are low: 5 – 15°C (41-57°F), but the weather is more stable than during other seasons. Winter has the clearest days; everything is clean and pristine. Highlight: The ice moves less in winter, resulting in amazing ice features like crevasses and ice caves which stay much longer. There are significantly fewer tourists, and it’s a lot quieter than in summer months.
Spring (September - November)
Temperatures are rising: 9 – 17°C (48-63°F). September is still quiet but also still a cool month with 6-13°C. October gets a little more busy and warmer. November is already peak season which means it gets crowded during the day.
Summer (December - February)
Mild daytime temperatures between 12 and 25°C (53-77°F). Great for exploring. However, the weather is very unpredictable and can quickly change from sun to heavy rainfall which can last for hours or a whole day. It’s also the very busy peak season: Starting in November (spring) and lasting until March with up to 2700 tourists each day. Be prepared for crowded tracks and photo spots.
Autmn (March - May)
Temperatures continue to be pleasant: 9 – 17°C (48-63°F). However, be prepared for rain like in the summer. In March it’s still busy. The heavy crowds start to dissipate during April and thin out even more in May.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds | Time of Day
It’s usually very busy and crowded in high season between November and March with one million visitors each year. Especially if you want to take the popular 45 minutes walk to the glacier (90 minutes round trip). Although there is plenty of parking space, it fills up pretty quickly by mid-morning. In peak season it can become quite difficult to find a parking spot after 10 AM. The main track itself gets crowded as well, although it thins out a little as you near the glacier. When parts of the track are closed during or after heavy rainfall, it feels even more crowded. Moreover, the helicopter sightseeing and hiking flights start at 8 AM making a lot of noise. Expect one helicopter each minute during the peak season. To dodge the crowds and avoid the disturbing helicopter noise be there early around 7 AM. You’ll experience a much more peaceful walk to the glacier and enjoy the fascinating sights in solitude. You might also try to go after 6 PM in the summer or after 4 PM in the winter when the crowds dissipated again and heli flights are terminated soon for the day. However, the views sometimes can get worse since when clouds descend later in the day. But still, a late hike, still daylight etc., is a great way to dodge the crowds.
Jokulsarlon (Jökulsárlón) is a glacial lake at the Vatnajökull National Park in direct front to the Atlantic Ocean.
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.
A must-visit in Argentina! Before we give you all the details about the glacier, let some quotes from visitors speak for themselves:
This is our ultimate guide to Perito Moreno Glacier with 9 essential must-know tips before you go, including the best time, getting to the glacier, bus tips, weather, and more.
The best time with the most pleasant weather is from November to March, which means summer in the southern hemisphere. Just be prepared for more crowded viewing platforms during that time. The best time of day for hearing the fascinating ice cracking sounds is on a sunny afternoon.
Quick Glacier Guide | Table of Contents
Below you can find a quick navigation. This whole article was updated in December 2019 / January 2020. Please check #9 El Calafate to Perito Moreno — Bus to Perito Moreno for the best tips on how to get to the glacier.
- Highlights - Cracking Ice | Time of Day
- Avoiding Tourist Crowds | Busy Times
- Weather | Best Time
- Opening Hours & Entrance Fee
- The Best Itinerary
- Hotel Tips and Rental Cars
- 9 Must-Know Tips
- How to Get to Perito Moreno Glacier | Bus From El Calafate
- How to Visit | Best Tours - Boat - Ice Trekking (Recommended!)
And a lot more incredibly useful advice as well as stunning photos! We highly recommend either the Mini Ice Trek or the Big Ice Trek. You'll regret it if you miss that once in a lifetime experience.
The 3 Best Tours | Getting onto the Glacier
Tip: Choose one of the two Ice Trekking Tours (mini or big). Ice trekking is the only way to get onto the glacier! And a stunning experience you won't forget! Need more details? Read our guide below, especially the 'How to Visit' part. See an overview of the best 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 or you'll run the risk of not getting a spot!
Highlights - Cracking Ice | Time of Day
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 | Busy Times
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.
Weather | Best Time
The glacier is a year-round destination. In terms of weather the summer (November - March) is the best time to visit. It’s 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 also cold temps, rough weather (sometimes below 32°F/0°C) and fewer agencies offer tours to the glacier.
Opening Hours & Entrance Fee
It's important to know, that the opening times as well as the entrance fees changed many times over the last 2-3 years. Please keep that in mind when reading older guides and blogs. The official entrance fee as of late 2019 is 800 ARS (about 47 USD). You don't have to pay cash in local currency any more. Credit cards are accepted. Remember, that you have to pay the entrance fee even if you booked a tour. The official opening times as of late 2019 / early 2020:
- Summer | September to April: Park/Perito Moreno opens at 8 am and closes at 6 pm
- Winter | April to August: Park Perito/Moreno opens at 9 am and closes at 4 pm