Is there anything more exciting than experiencing summer in Iceland?
Imagine for a moment that summer is in full swing, the scenery is nothing short of spectacular and there’s a ton to see and do.
Plus, if you’ve ever caught yourself saying:
“I wish there were more hours in the day to [Insert epic experience here]” – then you’re in luck because you’ve got all the daylight hours you could wish for to soak it all in.
It’s no wonder that summer is the go-to season to visit Iceland!
Before you start packing your bags and daydreaming of midnight sun adventures, we need to chat about what you can expect in summer in Iceland – you know, those insider tips that’ll help you plan your trip like a pro.
Thankfully, I’m your local expert who’s been there and done that and I’ll take you behind the scenes of everything you need to know.
From understanding what the weather in summer is like, special events and festivals, and even the pros and cons of an Iceland summer holiday.
Eeek! I hope you’re as excited as I am!
Let’s get into it. 💪
Table of Contents:
- When is Summer in Iceland?
- Iceland Summer Trip Vs Winter
- Iceland Summer Weather
- Iceland Summer Daylight Hours
- Iceland Summer: Northern Lights
- Summer Festivals + Events
- Iceland: Things to Do in Summer
- Iceland Summer Tours
- Summer Iceland Itineraries
When is Summer in Iceland?
Iceland’s summer months are June, July and August.
The transition months are typically May and September and you may be able to score on good weather, but to be safe, most of the summertime benefits will be from June to August.
If you’re traveling to Iceland, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you’re a nature enthusiast and adventurer at heart!
And because of the longer days, and pleasant weather, it’s the best time of year to tick things off your to-do list and see as MUCH as possible!
Because of this, it’s by far the most popular time of year to visit Iceland.
What’s Better: An Iceland Summer Trip or Winter One?
Iceland is pretty magical any time of year, so picking the right time to visit depends on what you want to see and experience.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a trip to Iceland in summer vs winter.
Pros of Summer Travel to Iceland
This is pretty easy because there are a lot of pros for summer in Iceland!
Extended daylight hours: The long daylight hours and midnight sun give you unlimited time to explore Iceland. Even though you can fit in seeing a lot more, your daily itineraries don’t feel as rushed because you don’t have to worry about it getting dark so soon.
In full bloom: Another obvious advantage is that summer is when Iceland comes to life. Picture lush green landscapes, vibrant flowers, and gushing waterfalls. Everything is at its peak in terms of color and beauty.
Animals and wildlife: For all of my animal lovers, summer is when all of Iceland’s amazing animals come out to explore! The ones that migrate away from Iceland during the winter season are back. You’ll see a variety of birds, puffins, and whales. Not to mention sheep, horses, and all of those wonderful creatures that add charm to the landscapes!
Accessibility: A huge advantage, in my opinion, is that summer marks the opening of the Highlands and interior roads, granting access to destinations like Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk. This is a massive bonus if you want to get to the interior of the country, off the beaten path and away from most of the other tourists.
There’s also the added benefit of easier access to the Westfjörds. Generally, I recommend exploring the Westfjörds during the summer because travel and driving are a lot more convenient and safe.
Driving: Driving in Iceland in the winter is EXTREME! Everything is easier to explore in summer in Iceland. If you plan on driving and are not used to doing so in snowy weather, summer may be the better option for you.
Cons of Summer Travel to Iceland
There are times when a trip to Iceland in winter will be your best option, and that’s why we’re taking a look at the cons of summertime travel.
Crowded: The main drawback about summer in Iceland, is that it’s peak tourist season. This will affect your planning and it’s important to note that there’s going to be a lot more people at the tourist attractions. You can expect areas to be a lot busier and it’ll be harder to find parking and get a photograph without someone else in the background!
Expensive: Another result of it being peak season is that everything is way more expensive – from tours, flights, and food, to accommodation. Prices soar during this time because providers know that people will be there and are likely to purchase the products and services regardless.
Availability: Peak season also brings with it the likelihood of accommodation spots being booked up several months in advance. So, do yourself a favor and book as far ahead as you can for your accommodation. Trust me, you’ll thank me later when you’ve saved yourself from paying $500 a night for a basic hotel!
Iceland Summer Weather
It’s no secret that Iceland’s weather is not the most predictable and summer here certainly doesn’t look like the summers in your usual tourist destinations!
You can expect the monthly average rainfall to be between 50mm-90mm (2-3.5 inches) in the summer in Iceland. Plus there are still areas in the country where you’ll see snow and glaciers – that’s wild!
Iceland Summer Temperature
The temperatures in summer in Iceland range anywhere from 7 to 15/16 degrees Celsius (45-65 degrees Fahrenheit).
I have seen temperatures go up to 18 and even 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) in the summer but this is super rare, so I wouldn’t expect that.
I’d say that an average summer day in Iceland is around 12 to 15 degrees Celsius (55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit).
I think it’s safe to say that you can leave your shorts at home!
While these temperatures feel good after the harsh Icelandic winter, chances are, it’s not going to feel like the summer you’re used to.
Especially if you’re coming from a warm climate, it’s going to feel colder.
What to Wear in Summer in Iceland
When packing, you’ll still want to bring along layers that you can easily remove when the weather is nice.
Pack thermal base layers, wool sweaters, wind and waterproof layers and an outer shell, especially if you’re going to the waterfalls.
You’ll want to bring along your swimsuit because Iceland has a huge pool culture and one of the best things to do here is to visit the geothermal pools and hot springs.
There’ll be a lot of walking, so it’s important to invest in a good pair of hiking shoes.
If you’re still scratching your head, wondering what to pack, then you’ll want to download my Ultimate Iceland Packing Guide – for FREE! You’ll get a clear breakdown of weather averages by month, suggested packing lists for summer AND winter and the best tips from a local (psst… it’s me! 😉) on how to dress for Icelandic success! There’s much more, so download it below and see for yourself!
Iceland Summer Daylight Hours
The daylight hours vary during the summer.
Iceland’s summer solstice is June 21st, meaning that every day after that gets a little less daylight.
Summer is a brilliant time to explore because of these long daylight hours.
In June, there’ll be around 20-22 hours of daylight. The sun is bright in the sky and you can do all. the. things.
Experiencing the midnight sun is so bizarre. As midnight rolls by, it still looks like it’s the middle of the day. This really does a number on your brain, let me tell you! 🤯
Come July, the average daylight drops to 19 hours, and by August, it’s 16 hours. However, you still have plenty of time to explore.
Iceland Summer: Northern Lights
I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it must be to book an Iceland summer trip, hoping to see the Northern Lights, and miss it!
You need dark, clear skies to see the aurora, and with the extended daylight hours in the summer, I’m afraid it won’t be something you’ll be checking off your bucket list.
The best time of year to catch the Northern Lights is in the winter between September and March.
If it is something you’re interested in seeing, I go into more detail in the blog post below.👇
Summer Festivals + Events
Icelanders love celebrating art, culture, and innovation, making Reykjavík the vibrant cultural hub of the country.
Rest assured, the capital is abuzz with events over this time. Let’s take a look at a few things to do in Reykjavík in summer – arts and culture edition!
Reykjavík Arts Festival:This Festival draws artists from around the globe. It’s a great one to catch if you love art and music.
Secret Solstice Festival: Ironically, this festival is not so secret – it’s one of Iceland’s biggest musical events! Local and international musicians perform on a grand stage in the heart of the capital over the summer solstice weekend.
Menningarnótt: This yearly tradition is a celebration of when Reykjavík became recognized as a town. Lively events take place from morning until night around the city revolving around art, music, and other cultural activities. And best of all? Culture Night events are free!
There are many other exciting things to do in Reykjavík in summer, but I’ll get to that in a bit…
Not spending much time in the capital? Even the smaller towns in Iceland host festivals. So, if you’ve ventured out of Reykjavík, take note of some of these if you’re visiting the area.
LungA Art Festival: Location 👏Location👏 Location👏This art and music festival takes place in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland, at one of Iceland’s most beautiful fjords.
Bræðslan: If you’re into folk and indie rock music this outdoor festival is worth checking out.
Þjóðhátíð: Just a heads up, this weekend is the highlight of the year for many locals. The tickets for this music festival sell out well in advance. There are outdoor concerts and bonfires and if you can get tickets, I highly recommend it.
Iceland: Things to Do in Summer
If you’re on the hunt for summer activities in Iceland, here are a few of my favorites. Some of these destinations are inaccessible in the winter, so this is an extra special time to make a point of exploring them.
Driving is SO much easier in the summer in Iceland and taking road trips is one of the best ways to experience this beautiful country on your own.
Explore popular routes such as the Ring Road, Golden Circle, South Coast, Westfjörds, and Diamond Circle.
Your schedule is your own, and you can spend as much or as little time as you want at each of the attractions.
An amazing way to experience the natural beauty of summer in Iceland is by camping.
But if you’re not quite sold on the idea of traditional camping, and see yourself as more of a ‘glam-per’. Then don’t worry, you can also reap the benefits of being out in nature – but from the comfort of a campervan.
I recommend the campervan company Happy Campers. They’re fantastic!
Plus, You’ll receive a 10% discount with them when you sign up for my email list.
Don’t you just love discounts?!
Want an adventure without having to spend a dime? Try taking a scenic drive to one of Iceland’s hot springs. There are so many to choose from, like Hellulaug in the Westfjörds or Landmannalaugar Hot Springs.
They’re totally free and accessible.
If you’re interested in discovering free hot springs in Iceland, find out more in this blog👇
➡️ READ: 5 FREE Hot Springs in Iceland
If you haven’t heard me rave about Icelandic ice cream yet, then let me tell you, it’s absolutely delicious!
One of the best things to do in Reykjavík is walk around Old Harbor and indulge in a delicious cone of ice cream from Valdís.
It’s worth writing home about. Yum!
National Parks and Highlands
Summer in Iceland is the perfect time to hit up some of the national parks that are closed during the winter. For an unforgettable adventure, I highly suggest hiking the Highlands.
The F-Roads are open and there are so many trails to choose from, whether you’re a beginner or serious hiker. You can finally enjoy hiking in Þórsmörk (Thórsmörk) and visit Landmannalaugar.
Want to get ALL of my top recommendations for top attractions and hidden gems in The Westfjords?
My handy Westfjords Iceland map gives you everything you need, right at your fingertips!
The summer months are the BEST time to visit the Westfjords. All of the roads are open, and driving is a breeze, making it easily accessible. It’s remote with a beautiful coastline and stunning views.
If you like to get away from the crowds, this would be the place to do it!
Try visiting Rauðisandur (red sand beach) Dynjandi waterfall and Hornstrandir Nature Reserve while you’re at it.
A must-see in Iceland in the summer is the plethora of GORGEOUS waterfalls!
Those that were tricky or downright impossible to access during the winter can now be seen in all their glory.
I’m thinking, Glymur, Háifoss, and Hengifoss to name a few. Want to know what my top 10 waterfall picks are in Iceland? Take a look👇
Iceland Summer Tours
You won’t be left short of choices for excursions in Iceland in summer.
It’s finally the time of year when you can access the areas that are closed off or difficult to reach in the winter.
Have you got your notebook ready?
This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface, but here’s a list of some of Iceland’s summer tours.
If you want to stay close to town, you can take a guided boat tour from Reykjavík to either Engey or Lundey. These islands have a lot of birdlife and you’ll be able to spot puffins.
You won’t be getting off on the island, so as not to disturb the wildlife, but the boat gets really close. I suggest you bring binoculars to ensure a good view!
Want to venture a little further out?
Here are some of the country’s top puffin-viewing spots in the summertime!
- Westman Islands (South)
- Borgarfjörður Eystri (East)
- Látrabjarg (Westfjords)
Seeing these adorable creatures is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
➡️ Tour: Reykjavík Classic Puffin Watching
Did you know that Skjálfandi Bay in Húsavík is famous for being one of the best places in Iceland for spotting whales?
Get a 10% discount when you book with Gentle Giants by using the code WHALESWITHAVIEW.
➡️ Tour: Gentle Giants Whale Watching Tours
Opt for walking tours around Reykjavík, like the private walking tour with a Viking – wait, what?! You’ll learn about Iceland’s history and riveting stories from Icelandic mythology.
The perfect walking tour for foodies is hands down the Reykjavík Food Walk – 4 hours, 6 restaurants, and incredible food. Where do I sign up?!
(Right here, actually!👇)
➡️ Tour: The Reykjavík Food Walk
There is also a selection of FREE walking tours that’ll take you around Reykjavík to iconic landmarks, and it won’t cost you a thing!
Explore the Golden Circle by horse. And not just any horse – oh no, these horses are the descendants of the original Viking horses.
Icelandic horses are known for their gentleness, resilience, and loyalty. There are many ways to experience these gorgeous landscapes, but nothing quite compares to getting out in nature on horseback.
➡️ Tour: The Viking Horse & Golden Circle
If you thought that you could only visit the glaciers in winter, think again!
If you visit Iceland, a summer trip means you can access some of the glaciers that are difficult to access in winter like the Hofsjökull Glacier located in the highlands. A few other glacier options are Vatnajokull (the largest glacier in Europe!) and Langjökull Glacier.
➡️ Tour: Langjökull Glacier.
When you visit Iceland in summer, especially in July, there are almost 24 hours of daylight! You can pack your days full of sightseeing and enjoy the midnight sun.
This tour is a great one as you’ll also go whale watching.
There are several museums to choose from in Reykjavík, but a really fun one to explore is The Whales of Iceland Museum – especially with children. There are impressive life-size whale models and exhibits that bring the underwater world to life.
Once you’ve been through the museum, there’s a souvenir and café where you can grab a coffee and a bit to eat after.
➡️ Tour: Whales of Iceland
Snorkel between tectonic plates at one of the top-rated dive sites in the world!
It’s located at Þingvellir National Park and the water is so clear, which is great because you’ll get free photographs afterward!
As I said, this is only the tip of the iceberg of what you can expect in summer in Iceland. But it’s a great place to start.
For a closer look at each summer month, read through the comprehensive blogs below:
- Exploring Iceland In June? Here’s Everything You Need to Plan Your Adventure
- Iceland in July: What to Expect, Where to Go, and How to Plan
- August in Iceland: Everything You Need To Know For An Unforgettable Adventure
Iceland Summer Itineraries
Whether you’re artsy, a nature lover, enjoy history, and adventure, or just prefer a laid-back holiday, Iceland truly caters to everyone.
So, cancel your plans for the rest of the day, and let’s daydream a little bit about your summer in Iceland.
Imagine how great it would be to have your itinerary planned out for you – a detailed daily plan with a digital map featuring main sights, hidden gems, and essential facilities like grocery stores, clinics, and grocery stores.
With my 👉 Iceland Summer Itineraries, you get a daily plan at your fingertips – just open your digital map and voila! No more internet searches or information overload with this itinerary!
In it, you’ll find:
✅ A detailed daily itinerary that won’t leave you feeling rushed
✅ Digital map pinpointing main attractions, hidden gems, fuel, grocery stores, and toilets
✅ A packing list
Discover Iceland and the exciting things to do in summer.
Here’s to an extraordinary trip!
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