Travellers You can expect to meet crowds at the most popular spots at peak season, but if you come in March and venture slightly off the beaten path you are faced with a completely different scenario. Photo/Raffaele Piano
According to estimates by the Icelandic Tourist Board the average number of foreign visitors in Iceland each day during last year ranged from 15,000 in January to 77,900 in August. The estimates are based on figures on the number of arrivals at Keflavík Airport and estimates on the number of nights each traveller stayed.
Only rough estimates
The Icelandic Tourist Board stresses that it's calculations are only rough approximations, as there are a number of uncertainties. The number of arrivals is deduced from the number of people departing from Keflavík, while the average stay of each traveller is based on surveys done by the board.
According to the Icelandic Tourist Board the average stay by foreign travellers is estimated to be 6 nights, except during the peak season, in June, July and August, when the average stay was 10 days. Now, using the number of travellers who arrive in Iceland, multiplying that with the number of nights each traveller stays and dividing by the number of days in that month the board arrives at an estimate of the number of travellers in Iceland each day.
Foreign travellers add 4.5%-24% to the population
The estimates done by the Icelandic Tourist Board show that foreign travellers are most numerous in August, when 77,900 travellers were in Iceland each day, followed by July (76,100) and June (62,000).
During the summer foreign travellers therefore add significantly to the local population of 330,000 people, pushing the total to 400,000. In August foreign travellers can be expected to have added nearly a quarter to the population. Out of the roughly 400,000 people in Iceland in July and August, travellers and locals, 19% can be expected to have been foreign travellers.
Outside the peak months the numbers drop significantly. In September only 35,100 foreign travellers were in Iceland each day, and 20-30,000 in the other months. In January 2016 only 15,000 foreign travellers were in Iceland at any given moment, according to the estimates of the Icelandic Tourism Board, at which time they would have added just 4.5% to the total population.
Avoiding the crowds
It is easy to meet these crowds when visiting the most popular tourist destinations, the Golden Circle, Skógafoss waterfall, Mýrdalssandur black sand beach or Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon during the peak season. However, Iceland is a relatively big country, and despite growing numbers of travellers it is still among the least visited countries in Europe.
By coming in the off-season and venturing off the beaten path by visiting areas which are mostly ignored by foreign travellers, despite their remarkable beauty, visitors can easily get in touch with the serene quiet of Icelandic nature and dramatic beauty of its landscapes.