Iceland is a fascinating place and with the number of attractions and activities growing every year, there are a lot of visitors who have Iceland on their travelling bucket list. Find out what makes Iceland the best place to travel to in 2023.
Whether you want to marvel at the natural beauty or take part in extreme sports such as river rafting – Iceland has it all. In this article we dive into everything there is to do and see in this magnificent country and reveal what makes Iceland the best travel destination in 2023.
Best Seasons to Travel to Iceland
The best time to travel to Iceland will undoubtedly be during the summer months. Then you will find most activities available and most routes open. Unless you want to see the Northern Lights. Then you’ll need to reschedule your trip for the winter months when the nights are darker the longest. The summer months in Iceland are June to September although the summer feeling (and temperatures) start tapering off in late August. Here are a few things to look forward to when travelling to Iceland in summer:
Where to Travel in June 2023
In June you can look forward to an average temperature of 9 degrees Celsius. You can also look forward to experiencing the infamous midnight sun since June has the longest days of the year with the sun quite literally not setting for a couple of weeks. This can create havoc with some visitors’ sleeping patterns, but for others, it’s the perfect opportunity to go out exploring 24/7!
Here are a few things that make Iceland one of the best places to travel now in June:
Eat ‘Till You Drop in the Capital
Reykjavik has so much to offer in terms of local cuisine that you can take an entire tour dedicated to it. Not only do you discover Reykjavik but you also get to stuff your face with all kinds of local delicatessen such as homemade Icelandic ice cream, lamb soup, cheese and much more. Your mouth starts watering just thinking about it!
Take a Hike – Literally
With the days being warm and long, there’s no better time to pack your backpack and traverse the beautiful hiking trails Iceland has to offer. Some of the most famous hiking trails include:
- Mount Esja (a good option for beginners that will take just 1-2 hours)
- Kjolur (for the experienced hiker and will take between 4-7 hours depending on skill and experience)
- Glymur (another option perfect for beginners that takes 3-4 hours and rewards you with the view of the falls at the end)
- Thakgil (for the most amateur among us and takes only 1-2 hours)
- Reykjadalur (another easy trail where no experience is needed and will take a total of 3 hours)
- Fimmvorduhals (a guide is recommended for this one and will take between 10-12 hours for those with moderate hiking experience)
- Landmannalaugar (this trail varies between easy and moderate experience needed and can take between 2-6 hours depending on skill and experience)
- The Seven Peaks of North East Iceland (this one is not for the faint of heart and is only recommended for highly experienced hikers)
- Hornstrandir Nature Reserve (this trail also varies between easy and needing moderate hiking experience and you choose your own pace)
- Laugavegur Trail (definitely a favourite for avid hikers with moderate experience and skills and takes 4-6 days)
Celebrate the Icelandic Independence Day
The 17th of June is a national holiday when Icelanders celebrate their independence from Denmark and their start as a republic. There are quite a lot of festivities to take part in such as the parades in Reykjavik along with food stalls and other entertainment.
Where to Travel in July 2023
In July the weather heats up even more to between 10-15 degrees Celsius and even though you technically won’t be experiencing a midnight sun, you’ll still have daylight ‘till the early morning hours.
It’s still in the height of summer so you’ll want to grab the opportunity to do as much outdoors as possible. Some activities to take part in during July include the following:
In a country where accommodation can reach quite hefty prices (especially during the summer months), camping is a great and affordable option. Pitch your tent as a base and go exploring all around from there. There are many campsites around Iceland varying in amenities and location. Some of the most popular include:
Dive into the Deep
Snorkelling and diving may seem like something that you do on your vacation on a tropical island, but this island offers a very unique experience not to be missed. You can literally go diving between two continents which alone makes Iceland the best place to travel to in 2023 if you’re a diving and snorkelling fanatic.
The Silfra fissure is where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates push apart. With the sunlight increasing visibility and the weather not being so cold, July is the perfect month to take on this dive. But please note that if you want to go diving you will need the necessary certification.
Experience the Tolt
Horse riding in Icelandic is a different ballgame from anywhere else on earth. Not only are Icelandic horses a breed of their own, but they’ve even coined their own movements. The tolt is a gait similar to trotting, but during which the horse keeps one foot on the ground.
The tolt is apparently so smooth that there is an entire activity called the beer tolt dedicated to showcasing this. During a beer tolt, someone is holding an entire pint of beer while the horse is tolting and it is said that not one drop will be spilt.
Where to Travel in August 2023
Mid to late August is when Icelanders start waving goodbye to summer, but you can still experience weather of up to 13 degrees and everyone is milking the daylight for all its worth. Some of the things you can do that make Iceland the best place to travel to in 2023 during August is the following:
Make a Road Trip Out of Your Travels
One of the best ways to see and experience everything this fascinating island has to offer is by taking a road trip. Just remember to book your rental car in Iceland well in advance, as things get quite busy during the summer months. Some of the most popular routes include:
Ring Road 1
The longest road trip you can take is along Ring Road 1 which goes around the entire island. From this road, you can take multiple detours and make sure to catch every place to travel to in 2023.
If you are planning on staying in the Reykjavik area, you should look into the most popular route in Iceland: Golden Circle. From there, you can check out Pingvellir National park, see the world-famous Geysir, and the amazing Gullfoss waterfall.
If you plan on spending time in the north, the Diamond Circle is our best road trip tip. Just like the Golden Circle, you can visit a stunning national park, geothermal areas, and amazing waterfalls.
Ring Road 2
The newest addition to the Icelandic roads is the upgraded roads in the Westfjords. In the northwest, you can enjoy the untouched and wild Icelandic nature paired with amazing deep fjords and the most famous puffin cliffs in Iceland.
Watch Some Whales
Iceland is frequently visited by at least 12 different whale species, and many of them stay for the entire year. Here you can see every type of whale, including the humpback whale that is known for its acrobatics, the blue whale that is known for being the largest animal to have ever lived, and the infamous killer whale that got famous after the movie “Free Willy”.
Whales can be found all around Iceland, but some places are better than others. Husavik is considered the whale watching capital of Iceland, so that is the place to travel to in 2023 if you want to have the best chances of seeing a whale.
Attend One of the Many Festivals August Has to Offer
August is the last breath of summer in Iceland, making it the ultimate month for parties and cultural events. If you are looking to get the most out of your area when it comes to festivals, Reykjavik is the place to travel to in 2023. Some festivals to look out for include:
- Reykjavik Culture Festival
- Reykjavik Jazz Festival
- Reykjavik Pride
- Annual Jokulsarlon Fireworks
- The Great Fish Day
Definitely, the best place to travel to!
There is plenty more to do in Iceland – whether summer or winter. Each season has its own unique offerings for travellers that make Iceland the best place to travel to in 2023.