A trip to Iceland at any time of year is special, and it is especially so during the warmer months. Our tiny island comes alive, and as anyone can tell you, Iceland in the summer warrants a visit at least in your lifetime. So what is Iceland summer weather like and do you know what to do in Iceland in July and the rest of the summer season? There are lots of outdoor activities and music and art festivals, so let’s take a look at things to do in Iceland in summer.
What are the Iceland summer months?
Many people recommend summer as the best time to visit Iceland. But when is summer in Iceland exactly? As with most places, the traditional summer months are June, July, and August. But don’t let that fool you. Icelandic summer is relative as compared to hotter months in other places. Remember, we are located just below the Arctic Circle, so this season might not be what you’re expecting weatherwise. In addition to your swimsuit, you’ll also want to pack warming layers and waterproof items like a rain jacket and hiking boots.
Iceland summer weather
Iceland’s weather is unpredictable; it doesn’t matter if you come in March or in October. And don’t assume summer is a safe bet either, because we’ve experience snowstorms in June. While that is an extreme case, you’ll still find some overcast days with wet and windy conditions. You might have glorious sunshine, and you might not, so it’s best to come prepared for anything and everything.
These are the typical average temperatures in Reykjavik you can expect during 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)
You’ll also see about nine to eleven days of precipitation during these months.
Visiting Iceland in June
If you travel to Iceland during the summer months, I highly recommend you go glacier hiking at Skaftafell glacier in Vatnajökull National Park. As you make your way around the Ring Road, this should definitely be one of your main stops. Heading along the South Coast towards Vík and Vatnajökull, I also suggest making a detour to the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar).
This small archipelago sits just off the coast and the largest island is Heimaey. It has an active volcano on the eastern side that you can visit. Eldfell, which means “hill of fire” in Icelandic, formed during an eruption in 1973. A previously unknown fissure beneath the island opened up and started spewing fire, lava, and ash. Luckily the residents were all evacuated within 24 hours and were able to return eventually.
Visiting Iceland in June also gives you the chance to see our adorable puffins. Both the Westman Islands in the south and the Westfjords in the north have large concentrations of the North Atlantic puffin. In the summer, Iceland becomes home to the largest puffin colony in the world as these beautiful creatures flock here to mate, nest, and socialize. The Látrabjarg cliffs in the Westfjords are home to eight to ten million birds. Pretty unbelievable, right?
June festivals and celebrations
Reykjavik summer kicks off with the Reykjavik Art Festival, Iceland’s preeminent cultural festival. We also celebrate Iceland’s National Day during the month of June, so come take part in the annual events marking our independence. The Viking Festival in Hafnarfjordur is a fun chance for fans of Viking culture to be in their element. And sports enthusiasts will enjoy events like the Color Run, the Mt. Esja Ultra Marathon, the Arctic Open, the Suzuki Midnight Run, and the WOW Cyclothon.
June in Iceland also means the Midnight Sun. Party under nearly 24 hours of daylight as you await the summer solstice. The Secret Solstice Festival brings together singers, bands, and other musical acts from all over the world.
In addition to the Secret Solstice Festival, there are different celebrations all summer long in different parts of the country. We’ve listed the highlights, but you can find a full list here.
Things to do in Iceland in July
Iceland in July means it’s the peak of summer, and you can’t go wrong with taking a dip in one of Iceland’s swimming pools. In most places, people usually swim during the warmer months to refresh and cool off. Iceland summer is different, thanks to the temperature. Maximum temperatures hover around the 50s Fahrenheit (10-15 Celsius), so you’ll already be pretty cool. Pools in Iceland are geothermally heated, so they’re great for hopping in year-round.
Of course, there’s the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. This is Iceland’s top destination for tourists. The healing, turquoise blue waters of this manmade lagoon are just right for a day of relaxation. You can also go for the ultimate experience and get a massage. And don’t forget to give yourself a silica face mask. Just remember to wear your hair up and if it gets wet, add lots of conditioner. We don’t want you driving around Iceland with crunchy tresses.
And if swimming pools, hot pots, or the Blue Lagoon aren’t your style, then get back to nature with a natural hot spring. Iceland is known for its bathing culture, and sometimes there’s nothing better than jumping in after a vigorous hike. Reykjadalur hot springs, also known as Iceland’s hot river, are close to Reykjavik and make for an excellent day trip.
Iceland waterfalls: One of our best natural attractions
If you’re visiting during Iceland’s high season, another must-do for your road trip is visiting our incredible waterfalls. There are several that stand out, so take your pick, and you’ll be amazed by the majesty and variety of Icelandic waterfalls. Some of the top ones are Seljalandsfoss (the most beautiful waterfall in Iceland), Svartifoss (the black waterfall), Dettifoss (Europe’s most powerful waterfall), and Godafoss (the waterfall of the Gods). There are over 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland and these are some of the best, most stunning, and most impressive.
Summer festivals in July
Let’s continue with more things to do in Iceland in July: the festivals! While road trip games and rocking playlists provide entertainment on the road, there’s nothing quite like live music and outdoor activities.
July in Iceland sees the Siglufjordur Folk Music Festival, the Eistnaflug Heavy Metal Festival, and the Reykholt Chamber Music Festival. There’s also the renowned LungA Art Festival and Medieval Trading Village at Gasir. If you feel like getting some exercise, take part in the Laugavegur Ultra Marathon or the Thorvaldsdalur Terrain Run.
August in Iceland
As summer draws to a close, this is the last month with really nice weather before things start to cool down. It’s the perfect time of year for a road trip around the island or doing one of the many day tours available. A trip in your Iceland car rental to the Golden Circle could be the perfect chance to visit the outdoor wonders of the Silfra Fissure at Thingvellir National Park, Strokkur and Geysir geysers in the Haukadalur valley, or Gullfoss waterfall.
Whale watching in Iceland
From mid-April to early September, more than a dozen species of whales and dolphins make their way to our waters. Of the 20 different types of cetaceans swimming around, you can see blue whales, humpback whales, fin whales, minke whales, killer whales, porpoises, and several more when close to the shores of Reykjavik, Husavik, and Snaefellsnes peninsula. While you can go whale watching from pretty much any coastal town, I recommend Húsavik. It’s known as the whale watching capital of Iceland, so you’re bound to spot some flipping fins off the coast.
Whale watching season peaks in the summer, so July and August are the perfect months to take a whale watching excursion in Iceland.
Hiking in Landmannalaugar
By now all of the Highland roads (F-roads or mountain roads) have completely opened up. Iceland’s famous hiking territory is filled with colorful rhyolite volcanic mountains. If you have a few days to spare, trek the Laugavegur Trail and take in the area’s scenic landscapes. If you’ve packed a sleeping bag, you can also go camping or stay at one of the Icelandic mountain huts along the route.
August festivals and events
The Dalvík Fish Festival is one of the highlights of August. Known as the Great Fish Day, it takes place during the second Saturday in August. Local fisherman come to the port of this northern Icelandic seaside town and have a large cookout. As a bonus, it’s free of charge! And who doesn’t love free food, especially when you’re on vacation.
Other August festivals in Iceland are the Reykjavik Pride Parade, Reykjavik Culture Night, and the Reykjavik Marathon.
And probably the most special of them all are the fireworks at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. It’s a magical night with multicolored fireworks illuminating the floating icebergs. This annual event is not to be missed, and all proceeds from ticket sales benefit the Hornafjordur Search and Rescue Association.
Things to do in Iceland in the summer
Summer is a wonderful season in Iceland. The country has shaken off its icy winter coat and is now in full bloom. It’s really lovely to see everywhere come alive with the activities and enjoyment of summertime. With everyone leaving the house the experience these fleeting summer months to the fullest, make sure you’re also part of the fun. Enjoy hiking glaciers, trekking the colorful landscapes of Landmannalaugar, exploring waterfalls, going whale watching, and just appreciating summer in Iceland.