Summer in Iceland is the busiest season on the island, and with good reason. There are plenty of fun things to do in Iceland in summer, and luckily, more than enough daylight hours to do it in. You’re also privy to some of the most extraordinary natural phenomena such as the Midnight Sun when visiting Iceland in the summer.
In this article, we give you the lowdown on this popular season and give you some helpful info and advice for you to plan the best summer trip to Iceland ever!
When is Summer in Iceland?
Iceland summer runs from June to August and is a favorite time to visit the island. This is because of the Iceland summer weather, of course. But also for its various exciting outdoor activities, and amazing natural wonders.
When visiting summer in Iceland, you’ll find an array of colors when it comes to the plant life. From the green in the meadows, mountains, to cliffs that almost looks artificially painted on, that’s how intense it is.
The summer weather in Iceland
You can be sure about one thing: the weather in Iceland is always unpredictable. However, during the Iceland summer months (June-August), the island is at its most settled. This is when the temperatures are generally mild and there isn’t too much chance of snow. Although you should still expect about nine to eleven days of precipitation during these months.
The good news is that the icy Arctic winds that alter the felt temperature considerably tend to calm down in summer. Visitors coming to Iceland in summer can expect temps that usually hover around 10-15 °C (50-59 °F), and up as high as 20-25 °C (68-77 °F) on rare occasions.
These are the typical average temperatures in Reykjavík in Iceland in the summertime:
June average temperatures: High 54 ºF (12 ºC) | Low 44 ºF (6 ºC)
July average temperatures: High 57 ºF (14 ºC) | Low 48 ºF (9 ºC)
August average temperatures: High 56 ºF (13 ºC) | Low 47 ºF (8 ºC)
Regardless of what the Iceland summer temperature says, you’ll need to bring sunscreen and sunglasses with you. Oddly enough, the sun’s rays are particularly strong this far up north.
The Pros and Cons of Iceland in Summer
Like most things in life, there will always be pros and cons – even with Iceland summer. Below, you’ll find a short overview to help you decide whether summer is the right season for you:
Luckily, you'll have the luxury of jam-packed Iceland summer itineraries with all the extra daylight hours at your disposal. Likewise, you’ll also get to experience the magical Midnight Sun phenomena. This is when daylight hours reach 22+ and the sun literally never quite sets.
This is an incredibly unique experience and also has some other benefits to it. For example, instead of having to plan your hiking trips to be back before nightfall, you can happily hike until midnight! The same goes for driving. There will be no rush to make it to your next campsite before dark.
The weather is the best you’ll find all year round in Iceland, and it’s not an odd sight to see people hiking in shorts and a t-shirt.
The great weather and the daylight hours are the reasons why so many outdoor activities are open. The best example of these activities are kayaking, horse riding in the Highlands, or hiking the Westfjords. These are only available in Iceland during the summer months.
All those challenging road conditions of the colder months are in your rearview mirror. You no longer need to worry about ice or snow and the dangers they pose (which also has an impact on the number of insurance policies you take out).
The summertime is the perfect time to go on that Iceland road trip, as all the roads and routes are open (some closes during the colder months each year).
The drastically increased daylight hours and the Midnight Sun has a downside too. They have been known to create havoc on some visitors’ sleeping patterns. That’s why it’s recommended that you bring certain sleeping aids such as a sleeping mask with you. The Midnight Sun phenomena and increased daylight hours also leave little to no darkness (and chance) for you to spot the Northern Lights.
As we mentioned, the summer months are extremely busy. You will then need to ensure that you book your accommodation, car rentals, your Iceland summer activities and attractions well in advance.
With peak season crowds come the inevitable peak season prices, so you will need to budget accordingly.
The Best Things to do in Iceland in Summer
As we’ve already touched on, there is plenty to do and see in Iceland in summer. These are some of the things that you can look forward to:
1. Take a Dip in the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is probably one of the most renowned geothermal pools in Iceland. Did you know that it has been featured in movies such as Hostel and Star Trek? That's because of its beautiful aesthetics.
Whether you want to soak in the warm healing waters or want to get pampered at the local spa – the Blue Lagoon does not disappoint. Conveniently located just 50 minutes from the capital city of Reykjavík, it’s easy to make this a stop during your Iceland summer vacation.
2. Go Puffin Spotting
The Iceland Puffins make the island their home during their breeding season (May to August). These odd penguin-looking birds with colorful beaks are an absolute must-see in Iceland in summer. Once those little Pufflings (yes, baby puffins) start moving around, you’ll suffer from a severe cuteness overload.
3. Attend a Festival or Event
If you’re still wondering, where to go in Iceland in summer, rest assured. As you can imagine, great weather brings the perfect opportunity for a party, and you don’t need to entice an Icelander twice to start celebrations. That’s why you’ll find numerous festivals and events you can attend in Iceland in summer, such as Secret Solstice and Reykjavík Pride.
4. Snorkel or Dive the Silfra Fissure
Although this activity is also available during the wintertime, most opt to dive or snorkel during the summer months. Diving or snorkeling the Silfra Fissure is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Here you will literally be suspended in clear glacier water between two continents! The Eurasian and North American Continents.
Just keep in mind that if you wish to dive the Silfra you will need your diving license with you and have sufficient experience under your belt.
5. Ride an Icelandic Horse
Did you know that the island has its own breed of horse? The Icelandic horses are revered all around the world for their short, almost pony-like stature. Their thick winter pelts, lovely temperament, and additional gait called the tölt are also added to the mix. You can experience all this and more when booking a spot on one of the various riding tours offered around the island.
6. Take a Hike
When the summer weather strikes, hiking in Iceland becomes even more enjoyable. The increased daylight hours bring some relief to usual time constraints. All sorts of hikes are available across the island that are suitable for those of various ages, skills, and experience levels.
One can also opt for either a day hike or a multi-day hike. Some of the best hikes include Mount Esja, Glymur Waterfall, Landmannalaugar, and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
7. Go Kayaking
Although many kayaking options remain open all year round, most visitors opt to partake during the warmer summer months. Just like with the Silfra diving.
Kayaking is a great activity if you want to immerse yourself in the breathtaking Icelandic summer scenery. And while doing so, It will get your heart pumping, two-for-one!. Whether you opt for a ride on the sea or on one of the glacial rivers, there is plenty of opportunity to book your spot. Luckily, there are plenty of small group tours around the island.
Tips for Planning a Trip to Iceland in Summer
The following advice and information will be very handy if you’re busy planning your trip to Iceland in summer:
Planning a Road Trip in Iceland in Summer
There is a LOT to do and see on the island, so, firstly, you’ll need to make peace with the fact that you won’t be able to do and see everything in one go. Secondly, you need to give yourself enough time to maybe enjoy a specific activity or attraction a bit longer if you wanted to. Or be able to stop at the waterfall you didn’t even know existed. Just be flexible when creating your Iceland road trip itinerary.
Keep an Eye on the Road Conditions
Irrespective of the season, there might still be sudden road closures due to the Iceland weather and other unforeseen circumstances. So, always check on the Iceland road conditions before heading out and having to make a U-turn.
Ensure that You Have the Right Vehicle for Your Trip
Are you going for a driving tour of the Ring Road? A small city car might be enough if you don’t need too much space. However, be aware that you won’t be able to access certain areas like the Highlands.
Certain roads and routes in Iceland are only accessible via a 4x4 vehicle. Other roads don’t require a 4WD by law, but locals still recommend hiring a 4x4 to access them. Do discuss your road trip route and itinerary with your rental agency. This way, you can be sure that you won’t get stuck in your 2-wheel drive somewhere in the remote regions of the Highlands.
What to Pack for a Trip to Iceland in Summer
It can be confusing to pack for a summer trip to a place called Iceland. That’s why we created this handy packing list that you can use as a guide:
Fleece/woolen sweater (bring just one or two, so you can purchase a few authentic Icelandic woolen sweaters – they are amazing!)
Waterproof hiking boots. (irrespective of whether you’re going hiking or not)
Warm woolen socks
T-shirts & long-sleeved shirts
Casual pants (for when you’re out and about in the city)
Warm hat (we recommend beanies)
Bathing suit. (for hot spring days)
Quick drying towel
Flip-flops. (to use at the hot springs and other public changing rooms)
Toiletries & medications. (remember to check on flight restrictions, so you’re not one of those people that has to leave almost their entire vanity behind at the airport)
Water bottle. (Iceland water is extremely high quality, so you only need to fill up as you go)
Backpack. (one that’s suitable for day outings as well as hikes)
Electronics: chargers, cables, a power bank, an adaptor, etc.
Make the most of Iceland in summer!
If you are wondering what time of year is best for an Iceland escape, know that you can really enjoy the country throughout the year. Keep in mind, however, that some activities are only available in specific months of the year. For example, if you're traveling to see the Northern Lights, summer is not a good season, and you should consider visiting Iceland in spring.
Have you locked your rental car in already? This is the first step to planning the best summer adventure in The Land of Fire and Ice!