Iceland in August: Everything You Need to Know
There’s something magical about Iceland in August. As summer gives way to fall, temperatures stay mild and breezy. The Midnight Sun wanes in August, meaning 16-17 hours of daylight instead of 21 — enough time to explore all day and still get some shut-eye.
But what really sets August apart is its incredible cultural events. This is festival season, and each weekend, towns across Iceland turn into their very own mini-Woodstock. From the crazy outdoor events on Verslunarmannahelgi Bank Holiday Weekend to the Reykjavik Pride Parade, there’s something for everybody.
Top Things to do in Iceland in August
August is your last chance to make a splash in Iceland’s hottest water sport before the rivers freeze over.
The Hvítá river offers Gullfoss canyon white water rafting on the South Coast. After all, hvítá is the Icelandic word for “white”. Rafters of all experience levels can paddle their way past the spectacular Gullfoss Waterfall and the dramatic cliffs of Brúarhlöð canyon. You’ll be rewarded with a steam in a hot sauna at the end of your journey.
If you find yourself up north, turn to the roaring waters of the West and East Glacial River Canyons. Beginners and families are sure to enjoy the gentle waters of the West Glacial River Canyon. More experienced rafters should head to the Eastern Glacial River Canyon for an exhilarating thrill ride. We don’t call it the Beast of the East for nothing!
The best way to explore Iceland’s coastline is in a kayak. The water is still relatively warm in August, guaranteeing a calm paddling experience.
A sea kayaking day tour near Reykjavik brings you deep into Geldinganes Fjord. Surrounded by natural beauty and tranquility, it’s easy to forget that the capital city lies only 10 minutes away. Keep an eye out for the friendly seals.
Jet Boat Rides
Step back, Daniel Craig – there’s a new 007 in town. Soaring through Hvítá river canyon on a jet boat, you’re sure to feel like an action movie star.
Our jet boat tour is the only white water jet boat experience in Iceland. The roaring waters bring you past bizarre rock formations, stunning cliffs and deltas, and the breathtaking torrents of Gullfoss Waterfall.
We don’t serve shaken martinis, but adult special agents can combine a jet boat tour with a local beer tasting.
Hiking (and Berry Picking)
August is berry season. Blueberries, bilberries, brambleberries, crowberries, wild strawberries – these tasty wild fruits are at their ripest in late summer.
The best place to find ripe berry bushes is on a hiking path. Iceland offers fantastic hiking year-round, but the promise of a free snack along the way is a bonus.
Summer hiking highlights include the breathtaking Thorsmork Volcano Hike in the southeast and Landmannalaugar geothermal area in the highlands. Check out our full list of hiking tours for all experience levels.
Summer is camping season in Iceland, and August is the best month of them all. The Midnight Sun in June and July can keep you up all night, while August’s 16 hours of daylight is enough time to find a campsite and still get your beauty sleep.
Iceland’s wilderness provides some of the best camping in the world. Plan carefully and you can set up camp next to spectacular waterfalls, glaciers, mountain peaks, and hot springs. If you’re camping in late August, you might even fall asleep under the Northern Lights.
Iceland is serious about protecting its natural habitats and has specific guidelines for campsites. Be sure to read up on camping rules before you head out.
Drive the Ring Road
August is the perfect time to embark on one of the world’s best road trips. The Ring Road circles around the best-known waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, and black sand beaches.
Roads in Iceland can be icy for most of the year, but conditions in August are crystal clear. Switch on the ignition and drive into the late summer sun.
Drive the Arctic Coast Way
Iceland opened its first official tour route in June 2019. Already, the new Arctic Coast Way is giving the Ring Road a run for its money.
The one-of-a-kind road trip encompasses 560 miles of coastline along North Iceland. The route snakes through peninsulas, passing by imposing mountain peaks, fishing villages, and the natural wonders of Vatnajökull National Park. Make sure to stop in Akureyri, the capital of the north, and Dalvík, the whale watching hub of Iceland!
Take a Self-Drive Tour
Self-drive tours are ideal for independent travelers. We plan the itinerary for you, personalizing the perfect road trip. This is the best way to see the country’s most impressive sights without joining a guided tour.
Our self-drive tours can be as long as you want and can take you to any corner of Iceland.
Best Things to See in Iceland in August
You haven’t experienced Iceland until you’ve seen its most magnificent creatures. Iceland’s waters are known for their high marine life populations, including humpbacks, minke whales, porpoises, and dolphins. August weather all but guarantees calm waters and high visibility.
Whale watching tours set out from both Reykjavik and the northern village of Dalvík. The Reykjavik whale watching tour is centrally located and offers good chances of spotting the marine mammals. Dalvík is farther away, but whale watching tours from this charming coastal town have a whopping 99.5% success rate.
August is your last chance to see Iceland’s favorite birds before they head south for the winter! These feathered friends can be spotted all over the island. Our puffin watching tours take visitors directly to the best viewing areas.
Puffins are a very social breed. Watching these little guys flirt, argue, squabble, and swim is enough to keep you entertained all day long.
Events and Festivals in August
Þjóðhátíð (Thjódhhátidh) National Festival (August 1-5)
Celebrated annually since 1874, Thjódhhátidh is the biggest outdoor festival in Iceland. Thousands of locals and visitors flock to the Westman Islands every August for a weekend of bonfires, fireworks, and concerts. The biggest crowd-puller is the giant sing-along on Sunday night. More than 17,000 voices join together in song.
Verslunarmannahelgi Bank Holiday Weekend (August 1-5)
The first weekend of August is a major festival weekend throughout Iceland. Verslunarmannahelgi was historically a merchants’ holiday. Today, it’s a huge celebration for people of all professions and backgrounds.
The biggest Merchants Weekend celebration in North Iceland is Ein með öllu (“The One With Everything”) in Akureyri. The name ein með öllu derives from a popular Icelandic hotdog order with lots of toppings. Like its hotdog namesake, the Ein með öllu festival really does have everything. For four days, the capital of the north dedicates itself to concerts, museum tours, walking tours, and markets.
Icelanders take their punk rock and heavy metal seriously. The long holiday weekend is a great excuse to get together for some beer, camaraderie, and hardcore music. Check out the Innipúkinn music festival in Reykjavik or the DIY Norðanpaunk festival in Laugarbakki.
Fireworks Show at Jökulsárlón (August 17)
The annual fireworks show at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is unlike anything you’ve seen before. The colorful explosions in the sky reflect against surrounding icebergs, creating a 360° firework spectacular.
Reykjavík Pride (August 8-17)
Feel the love at Reykjavik Pride, a week-long celebration of freedom and acceptance. Pride week in Reykjavik has grown exponentially since it was inaugurated in 1999. These days, up to 100,000 guests from all over the world flock to the festival.
Reykjavik will host over 40 events in honor of LGBTQ+ pride, including performances, lectures, competitions, and parties. The celebration culminates with a city-wide Pride Parade on Saturday, August 17.
Reykjavik Culture Night (August 24)
On Culture Night, the streets, museums, businesses, and gardens of Central Reykjavik are alight with celebration. Culture Night marks the beginning of the city’s cultural season. The evening culminates with a firework show by the Old Harbor.
Things to Know Before Visiting Iceland in August
What to Expect from the Weather
August is one of the warmest months of the year in Iceland. The average daily temperature hovers around 50-59°F (10-15°C), but it can leap up to 77°F (25°C). Rain and chilly arctic breezes are possible, so be sure to pack for all types of weather.
What to Pack for Iceland in August
Any seasoned outdoorsman will tell you that layers are crucial in Iceland. This is especially true in August, when sunshine, rain, and wind are all fair game. Pack everything on this list and you’ll be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you:
- Long-sleeved shirts
- Durable trousers
- Sturdy hiking boots
- Thermal underwear
- Thick socks
- Waterproof jacket
Will I see the Northern Lights?
The Northern Lights are easier to spot at the very end of August. Still, it’s no guarantee. Your chances of spotting Aurora borealis are best on a Northern Lights tour led by an expert aurora guide.
Tours in Iceland for August
Silfra Fissure Snorkeling
Silfra Fissure is the gap between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Snorkeling through these clear blue waters, you are literally swimming between the continents. No wonder Trip Advisor named snorkeling in Silfra one of the top 5 activities in the world!
3-Day Summer Package
Get the most out of your summer with the ultimate 3-day tour of Iceland. Our local guides take you to the Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, Geysir Hot Spring, and more. You’ll go whale watching and river rafting, and even hike a glacier.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Slip between massive icebergs into one of the quietest corners of the world. Our tours of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon are the best way to see Iceland’s monumental glaciers. We offer a zodiac raft tour, amphibian boat tour, and kayaking tour.
See you in August!
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