August is the tail-end of summer in Iceland and you’ll find both locals and travelers alike soaking up every last second of it. In this ultimate guide to Iceland in August, it’s easy to see why.
Summer is peak season in Iceland, and even though the days are getting shorter in August, many still grab their last chance at seeing the sites or partaking in activities otherwise closed throughout the year. If you’ve been wondering about the weather in Iceland in August or what to do in Iceland in August, this article will serve as your ultimate guide to everything you need to know.
The Weather in Iceland in August
As we’ve already mentioned August marks the end of summer, but still offers some decent summer weather (in Iceland terms). The average temperature in Iceland in August ranges between 10-15 degrees Celsius and you’ll likely miss some of those extreme Icelandic winds.
Daylight has also decreased so you won’t be able to experience the midnight sun. Since the darkness is slowly descending on Iceland and the summer months are notoriously not the time for seeing Aurora Borealis, we often get asked if you can see the northern lights in Iceland in August.
Although there is a chance that you might spot this natural wonder, it will definitely not be the spectacular display that you envision since, although darker, August is still not dark enough.
Things to Bring to Iceland in August
When planning a trip deciding what to pack is always at the forefront and when planning a trip to Iceland in August it’s no different. Although a lot of it will depend on the events you’d like to attend and the activities you want to partake in, there are a few basics that any traveler coming to Iceland in August should have with them. To make life a little easier for you, we’ve created this handy packing list checklist for your Iceland trip in August:
Hiking boots (yes, even if you’re not planning on going hiking. Many of the tourist areas are wet and muddy)
Flip flops (this is mostly if you’re planning on visiting any of the hot springs)
Leggings (these are great whether you’re planning on going hiking or just want to fight off some chill)
Waterproof trousers (same reasoning as the hiking boots)
Jeans (or other casual pair of long pants)
Thermal vests (so you can insulate underneath your clothes)
Long-sleeved shirts and t-shirts
Hoodie or jumper
Waterproof jacket (to go along with your hiking boots and waterproof pants)
Hat (to guard against the sun as well as the cold)
First aid kit (especially if you’re planning on traveling to the remote areas of Iceland)
Sleeping mask (the extended daylight hours can cause havoc on some people’s sleeping patterns)
Fast-drying towel (you don’t want to be traveling with wet stuff)
Reusable water bottle (the Icelandic water quality is great, so you can literally just top up at taps as you go)
Things to Do in Iceland in August
Iceland is an incredibly unique country that brings with it a wide variety of things to do and the summertime is the perfect time to do them. From visiting waterfalls to boating and going to a music festival – you can do it all in Iceland in August. These are some of the things you need to include in your itinerary:
Iceland is known as the Land of Fire and Ice since this is indeed the country where fire meets ice in the odd combination of volcanic activity and glaciers. This strange combination has resulted in a fascinating and magical landscape that only those who have visited the country will understand. These are some of the natural wonders you do not want to miss when visiting Iceland in August:
Iceland boasts 10 000 waterfalls. And it doesn’t matter where you find yourself on the island, you will be close to one of these powerful water displays. We recommend making these your first stops:
This is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland and not just because it’s an astounding 60 meters tall, but because of the fact that you can walk behind it (which obviously creates a great photo opp). This waterfall is situated in the south of Iceland, about 128 kilometers from the capital of Reykjavik.
This is yet another spectacular 60-meter waterfall in the south of Iceland (about 154 kilometers from Reykjavik). What makes this waterfall so unique is that it is fed from two glaciers directly.
Gullfoss is 32 meters in height and is also situated in the south of Iceland, a 107-kilometer drive from Reykjavik. The thing that makes this waterfall so popular is that it’s conveniently located close to one of the main routes in Iceland as well as the famous Thingvellir National Park.
Although smaller than most of the other waterfalls in Iceland (12 meters) Godafoss, situated in the northeastern part of Iceland (50 kilometers from Akureyri), is mostly made famous by its folklore.
According to the popular Nordic tales (Sagas), the religious debacle in Iceland was finally settled when Chieftain Thorgeir Ljosvetningagodi threw all the old Norse god idols into the falls and symbolized the nation’s conversion to Christianity. Whether these tales told as historic facts, are indeed true, remains to be proven, but it still remains a beautiful waterfall to visit in Iceland in August.
Located in the north of Iceland, this waterfall towers 20 meters overhead but is better known for its incredible aesthetic qualities. This majestic water rushes over the backdrop of basalt column cliffs, making this the perfect photo opportunity with its white and black contrast.
This is yet another unique offering that Iceland. All over Iceland, you will find natural hot springs to take a dip in. The reason why there are so many is that all the volcanic activity on the island heats up the underground water.
It is believed that these hot springs have all sorts of health benefits (especially dermatologically) because of the mineral-rich water. These hot spring hot spots are a traveler's favorite, but please note that at some of these you will need to pay an admission fee. Some of the hot springs that come highly recommended are:
This is one of the most natural hot springs you can get. It is much smaller than some of the other more commercial hot springs and is situated on private land so it’s not the spot to pitch up with your 100-strong tour group. But for an intimate hot spring experience, the land owner will welcome you with open arms (just leave a donation as a nice gesture).
This is essentially a manmade public pool that utilizes hot spring water. Its claim to fame is as Iceland’s oldest man-made pool, so amenities are pretty basic. But the majestic scenery surrounding you can’t be beaten.
This hot spring is simply adorable and reminds one more of a hot tub than a natural spring. This hot spring can be enjoyed in its natural rock formation, but only allows for up to 3 people at a time. But it’s so unique, that it’s definitely not to be missed.
Out of the hot spring and straight to the source. Volcanoes are pretty much a way of life for locals with plenty of active volcanoes still all over the island. It is widely accepted that there will be an eruption at least every 4 years, but don’t worry, it’s nothing to be concerned about in terms of safety (as we said, this is a way of life for Icelanders and they are well-equipped). Here are a few volcanoes we suggest you go and visit when traveling to Iceland in August:
Mount Fagradalsfjall in Geldingadalur (this one was the most recent to erupt in 2021)
Herdubreid in the northeastern part of Iceland
Eldfell in the Westman Islands
Bláhnúkur in the southern highlands
Hekla on the south coast
Due to the beauty of the island (that’s completely free to anyone with eyes), it’s still highly recommended to explore the island by making a proper road trip out of it. Just remember to rent a vehicle that’s suitable to your needs and that can handle the terrain. For example, certain areas are only accessible via 4x4. Some of the most popular road trip routes to take in Iceland include:
These are not your typical swimming beaches although you are allowed to take a dip in some of their oceans. Black beaches are an Icelandic marvel representing what happens when fire meets ice. The black sand is created by the erosion of hot lava that floats across the beach and cools and solidifies into a black sediment once it hits the water. Some of the most popular black beaches to visit are:
As one can expect from any country when the weather is fine, everyone goes out to play. Here are some of the activities you can look forward to when visiting Iceland in August:
The island offers hiking trails all over and caters to the avid and highly skilled climbers to the amateur couch potato just wanting to spend some time in Icelandic nature alike. Some of the best hiking trails in Iceland include:
The Landmannalaugar Highland route
The Laugahraun Lava Field to Brennisteinsalda Mountain hike
The Mount Blahnjukur hike
The Ljotipollur Crater Lake hike
The Laugavegurinn trail
The Fimmvorduhals trail
The Viknaslodit hiking trails
The Oxararfoss Waterfall hike
With unspoilt nature comes magnificent wildlife and the ones you can spot in and around Iceland are quite unique. When visiting Iceland in August you might still be able to spot the Puffin birds who make various places in Iceland their breeding grounds.
Generally, they won’t be as many or as active if you go to Iceland in late August since they start leaving in mid-August, but you’re still guaranteed to see these “clowns of the sea” on one of the many Puffin tours available. If you’re an avid bird watcher, you’ll also be able to spot a few other bird species on your Puffin tour such as a Purple Sandpiper, a Black Guillemot and a Ruddy Turnstone.
If you happen to go on a Puffin tour in the Westfjords, you might also be able to spot the elusive Arctic Fox. There are also many whale watching tour agencies, especially when you’re visiting Reykjavik in August. Some of the whales that might grace you with their majestic presence are the Humpback whale, Orcas and the Blue whale.
Kayaking in Iceland in August is all the fun in the sun it promises to be. There are various places to go kayaking; around Reykjavik as well as other locations all over the island. Some of the kayaking spots that come highly recommended include:
Solheimajokull Glacier Lagoon
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Westfjords to Seydifjordur
Iceland offers avid divers or snorkelers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go diving between two continents. That is because of Silfra, the fissure created by the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates pushing apart.
It’s important to note though that those who would wish to dive there need to be licensed and skilled divers. Snorkeling on the other hand is a different ballgame and makes this a memory anyone can walk away with regardless of experience.
Tourist Must-See Spots
A country with a rich history such as Iceland is bound to have some interesting must-see tourist spots and it absolutely does! Don’t miss out on some of these authentic Icelandic experiences:
Sail on an authentic Viking ship in the Westfjords
Experience a true Viking breakaway in the Viking village of Hafnarfjordur in southwest Iceland. Here you can see first-hand how these warriors lived and you can dine as they did at the Fjörukráin Viking restaurant.
Visit some of the museums the island has to offer. Whether you want to learn more about the Vikings at the Viking Museum, delve into the history of this amazing country at the National Museum of Iceland or dip your toe in the excellent storytelling skills of the Icelanders at the Saga Museum – there is plenty to keep you busy for days.
If you are planning a trip to Iceland in August, you’ll definitely want to keep your eyes out for the myriad of festivals happening on the island. These are a few of the celebrations you can attend:
Verslunarmannahelgi (Celebrated all over Iceland during the long weekend on the first Monday of the month)
Innipúkinn Music Festival, Beginning of August, Reykjavik
Reykjavik Pride, Mid-August, Reykjavik
The Great Fish Day, 10 August, Dalvík
Fireworks at Jökulsárlón, 17 August, Jökulsárlón
Reykjavik Marathon, 24 August, Reykjavik
Anyone still wondering “is August a good time to visit Iceland?” need only read our guide to know that they’ll probably not have enough days in August to do everything that Iceland has to offer.
See you in August!
Whether your plane lands at the beginning of August or you hit the streets of Iceland end of August, you will find majestic beauty all around you, activities galore, unique adventures and celebrations that have no end. See you in Iceland in August!