Iceland summer is our peak season here on the island. And it’s not hard to understand why. We have wonderful weather, extended daylight hours that allow for jam-packed trip itineraries. And more than enough things to do and see to create those itineraries in the first place.
If you want to know what all the hype around Iceland in summer is all about, then read on. We tell you everything about what you can expect from Iceland during the summer months, including all the exciting things to do and see.
When is Summer in Iceland?
The Iceland summer starts in June and lasts till August. The season is characterized by the perfect conditions for all outdoor activities.
On the 21st of June, we celebrate the summer solstice with various events and festivals all across the island.
The Iceland Summer Weather
The Iceland summer months bring some of the best weather the island sees all year. The harsher weather elements such as snow and our legendary Iceland winds have taken a break.
The Iceland summer temperature is also nice and toasty (in Iceland terms), ranging between 5 – 25 degrees Celsius. There’s a misconception that the weather in Reykjavík is somehow better than on the rest of the island. But this is an illusion created by the buildings, forming some sort of shelter against certain weather elements, and making it feel warmer.
But this phenomenon is not just limited to Reykjavík and is true for all cities and towns on the island. Here’s a general idea of the temperatures you can expect in the capital city of Reykjavík in Iceland during summer:
- June – Max 12 degrees Celsius, Min 6 degrees Celsius
- July – Max 14 degrees Celsius, Min 9 degrees Celsius
- August – Max 13 degrees Celsius, Min 8 degrees Celsius
What to Pack for Iceland in Summer
We can tell you exactly what to expect from the Iceland weather during summer. But many are still left scratching their heads when they have to start packing for a summer vacation. That’s why we created this handy packing list for you to use as a guide:
- Waterproof jacket
- Fleece/woolen sweater (just bring one or two, so you can purchase a few authentic Icelandic woolen sweaters)
- Waterproof pants
- Waterproof hiking boots (whether you’re planning on hiking or not)
- Thermal vests
- Thermal leggings
- Warm woolen socks
- T-shirts & long-sleeved shirts
- Casual pants (for days spent in the city)
- Warm hat (beanies work really well)
- Warm gloves
- Warm scarf
- Bathing suit (for those dips in the hot springs)
- Quick drying towel
- Flip-flops (for at the hot springs and other public changing rooms)
- Toiletries & medications (just check the flight restrictions, so you don’t end up having to leave half your vanity at the airport)
- Water bottle (the water on the island is so pure that you only need to fill up at the tap)
- Backpack (suitable for day outings and hikes)
- Electronics: chargers, cables, a power bank, an adaptor, etc.
The Pros and Cons of Iceland in Summer
An Iceland summer vacation has its pros and cons. We created this handy overview, so you can see if Iceland during the summer is the right time for you to visit the island:
- With daylight hours of 22+ hours each day, you can experience one of the most famous natural phenomena in Iceland, called the Midnight Sun. This is when, even though the sun technically sets over the horizon, darkness never really falls. Hence, as the name suggests, you’ll be able to experience daylight at midnight.
- The weather is amazing and summer is that rare period on the island that you’ll actually be able to wear shorts and t-shirts sometime.
- The weather and the extended daylight hours are the perfect combo for all sorts of outdoor activities. So, if you consider yourself a bit of an adrenaline junkie or a nature lover, summer in Iceland is the perfect time for your trip.
- All the roads and routes in Iceland that are usually closed during the colder months have reopened. And the tricky road conditions of the winter season are a thing of the past. This makes it the perfect time for a road trip.
- There are a few downsides to all these extended daylight hours. The lack of darkness has proven to be problematic for some individuals’ sleeping patterns. And if you were thinking of ticking the Northern Lights off your Iceland bucket list, visiting Iceland in the summer will not be the right time for you. You need darkness to see lights, right?
- You can’t do an impromptu summer vacation to Iceland. As we already mentioned, it’s peak season here on the island, so you will need to contend with the peak season crowd. That means you will need to book everything well in advance - from accommodation, and transport to activities. If not, you might miss out, and be left thoroughly disappointed.
- With the peak season crowds come peak season prices. Your vacation budget might not stretch as far as during some of the other seasons here on the island.
The Best Things to do in Iceland in Summer
There are plenty of must-see places in Iceland in summer, and there’s no shortage of Iceland activities in the summer months. So, how do you choose which ones make it to your trip itinerary? Well, here are a few of our personal favorites that you can consider:
Take a Dip in a Hot Spring
You will find hot springs all over the island. This is due to all the volcanic activity on the island heating up the underground water supply. Whilst some hot springs in Iceland can still be enjoyed in their original and natural form, others are incorporated in public geothermal pools.
At the natural hot springs, you’ll be treated to amazing views, whilst the geothermal pools have other features such as spas, bars, and restaurants. Some of the best places to visit in Iceland in summer include:
Visit the National Parks of Iceland
There are three official national parks in Iceland; Thingvellir, Vatnajökull, and Snæfellsjökull. A few years ago, there were still four national parks, but Skaftafell has since been incorporated into Vatnajökull.
Each of these national parks has its own unique attractions, but the Iceland scenery during summer is quite an experience in each of these parks.
Visit the Waterfalls
There are 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland – one more impressive than the next. We recommend that you try to add at least the following places to visit in Iceland in summer to your trip itinerary:
- Selljalandsfoss Waterfall
- Dynjandi Waterfall
- Godafoss Waterfall
- Svartifoss Waterfall
- Dettifoss Waterfall
Go Wild Over the Wildlife
It just so happens that the visitors flocking to our shores are not just limited to Homo sapiens. From April to September, there are certain migratory species of whale that call the Iceland coast their home.
And from May to September you can see the Iceland Puffins breeding on the island. These odd penguin-like birds with their colorful beaks are quite the sight. Did you know Iceland is credited as “housing” 60% of the world’s Puffin population?
Attend Local Festivals and Events
Icelanders don’t need an excuse to celebrate, but the summer certainly has everyone in good spirits. The nice weather and extended daylight hours allow for many festivals and events to take place during the summer season. Here are a few things to add to your calendar if you are still wondering where to go in Iceland in summer:
- The Viking Festival
- The Secret Solstice Music Festival
- The Reykjavík Marathon
- Menningarnott/Culture Night
- Reykjavík Pride
Go on a Road Trip
The Iceland summer is the perfect time to hit the road and explore the island properly. All the roads and routes such as the F-roads in the Highlands that are closed during the colder months each year have reopened. Some of the road trip routes on many Iceland summer itineraries are:
Explore the Icelandic Landscape on Horseback
Iceland boasts its own breed of horse called the Icelandic Horse. These animals are known for their fluffy coats during the winter months. They're also known for their pony-like stature and the fact that they can perform a fifth gait called the tölt. Exploring the Icelandic landscape on the back of one of these animals is a wonderful experience.
Visit Our Interesting Museums
There is an abundance of museums all across the island, and we can assure you that most of these will have you picking up your jaw from the floor.
Some will take you back in time to take a look at Iceland’s history. Others, will delve into the folklore of the island or bring homage to the sea-faring lineage of the Icelanders. But whatever your preference, there will be a museum that’s right up your alley. We highly recommend the following:
- Saga Museum
- Icelandic Phallological Museum
- Icelandic Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft
- Reykjavík Maritime Museum
Walk on Thousand-Year-Old Lava
Yes, really. But it’s not what you think. We’re talking about Iceland’s famous black sand beaches. These beaches are also a result of the volcanic activity on the island. After an eruption, hot lava flows across the land till it is cooled down by the cold air and ocean water. Once cooled, it turns into a big mass of black sediment.
This sediment then slowly gets broken down over time by the crashing waves and other weather elements. It happens over and over till all that remains are these small grains of sand. If you would like to marvel at the beauty of a thousand-year-old process, we suggest you take a stroll here:
- The Black Sand Beaches of Vik
- Diamond Beach
Go on a Hike
You will find hiking trails all across the island, and you don’t need to be an experienced hiker to enjoy them. The trails vary in difficulty level and length, so you are bound to find one suitable for you. The following trails are definite favorites:
- Mt. Esja Trail
- The Laugavegur Trek
- Glymur Waterfall Trails
- The Askja Trail
- The Hornstrandir Trek
Snorkel or Dive in Between Two Continents
This is not clickbait, we really mean that you can snorkel or dive between two continents. The Silfra Fissure is where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates push apart, seemingly leaving a tear or fissure in the earth.
This fissure is filled with the purest and clearest glacial water. There, the public can now snorkel and dive to lie suspended between the two continents.
Just keep in mind that if you want to dive the Silfra you will need a valid diving license and sufficient experience underneath your belt. Otherwise, you’ll have to grab the snorkel gear like the rest of us.
Explore the Capital City Whilst Stuffing Your Face
Life doesn’t get better than this. You can now go on a tour where a guide will take you all across the city. You'll get showed with their pearls of knowledge whilst stopping all along the way for delicious local cuisine and craft beer.
Does that sound like something that should be on your Iceland summer itinerary? Then don’t forget to book your spot on the Reykjavik Food Walk.
Take a Boat Tour on Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Want to get within arm’s reach of a floating iceberg or a glacier? Then you need to take one of the boat tours at Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. What’s more, you’ll probably see a few seals playing in the water or lazying around on sheets of ice. Jökulsarlon is a magical place, and you are left awed by its beauty and its magnitude.
This is one of the summer activities in Iceland that visitors simply can’t get enough of. You can find all sorts of kayaking options and operators all over the island, and, once again, you don’t need to be a pro or have the gear to take part. Whether you want to get the heart racing a bit and kayak the open ocean or you want to glide down the glacial rivers – it’s the ultimate summer vacay fun!
Snowmobile Across a Glacier
This may seem very counterintuitive as a summer activity in Iceland, but the glaciers in Iceland actually remain open to the public all year round.
Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to explore a glacier all by yourself. That's due to certain safety concerns, so be sure to book your spot on one of the tours. We can’t think of anything more fun than snowmobiling across gigantic glaciers such as Vatnajökull and Langjökull.
Grab Every Opportunity When Visiting Iceland in Summer
With wonderful weather and days that feel like they stretch into eternity, the world (well, Iceland) is your oyster. There is a legion of fun things to see and do on the island. So, why not rent a car in Reykjavík and start your road trip, so you can explore some of the stops mentioned in this article? Your Iceland adventure awaits!