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Iceland in August: Your Ultimate Guide

Everything you need to know about visiting Iceland in August

|June 9, 2022
Anthropologist, social media guru, Icelandic nature and food enthusiast.

August marks the end of summer and the beginning of new adventures. With fall approaching, the warm weather starts to wind down. However, this only enriches the experience you’re going to have in Iceland.


EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VISITING ICELAND IN AUGUST

Iceland in August feels different. While lush and green, the changing weather brings a temperature drop and colder winds. Combined, an atmosphere of adventure looms in the air, perfect for a long vacation.

So, if you plan to vacation in Iceland in August - we’re here to help you. We’ll explain why it’s the best month for it, what you can see and do, and how you can celebrate the end of summer throughout the nation.

Is August a good time to go to Iceland?

Of course! August is the perfect time to explore Iceland. The month is considered to be the peak of summer. Officially in weather, unofficially in fun. There is so much to see and do that you can spend every day doing something different… if you plan it out beforehand.

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.

Cheering crowd of children in multicolors with pride flags celebrating Reykjavik pride in Iceland.

Things to Know Before Visiting Iceland in August

Weather in Iceland in August

August is the opposite of Icelandic June - it gets colder every day. Temperatures in August in Iceland can reach as high as 77°F (25°C) and fall as low as 50°F (10°C). Rain and chill wind are possible, so grab some warmer clothes.

As the summer comes to an end, days start to become shorter. Instead of 21, there are, on average, 15 to 17 hours of daylight. With winter approaching, the weather becomes more unpredictable.

You can always check our main weather page for more specific information.

Iceland landscape in August.

CAN YOU SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS IN ICELAND IN AUGUST?

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.

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:

  • Sunglasses
  • T-shirts
  • Long-sleeved shirts
  • Sweater
  • Shorts
  • Durable trousers 
  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Swimsuit
  • Thermal underwear
  • Thick socks
  • Waterproof jacket
Woman dressed in birhgt orange and yellow for weather in August in Iceland.

TOP THINGS TO DO IN ICELAND IN AUGUST

Wondering how to spend August in Iceland? We’re here to help you. Below, you’ll find a list of the best activities you can partake in in August. Browse our incredible multi-day guided tours to maximize your time in Iceland this August.

River Rafting

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 steam in a hot sauna at the end of your journey. 

Gullfoss Canyon river rafting through clear waters in Iceland.

Guided River Rafting tour

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!

Sea Kayaking

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.

Tourist on sea kayaking experience in Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland.

Sea Kayaking in Iceland

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!

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 the Landmannalaugar geothermal area in the highlands. Check out our full list of hiking tours for all experience levels.

Woman in outdoor gear with backpack on hiking trail in Landmannalaugar, Iceland.

Camping

Summer is the 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.

TAKE A DRIVE AROUND ICELAND

Man looking out to a mountain in Iceland, next to car on road from a scenic route.

August is the perfect month for a drive around Iceland. Rent a car, open that window, and just enjoy the experience. Let us suggest interesting routes and tours to make your road trip feel more special.

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. 

The one-of-a-kind road trip, Arctic Coast Way, encompasses 560 miles of coastline along with 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!

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 sightseeing tour.  Our self-drive tours can be as long as you want and can take you to any corner of Iceland.

Snorkel

Dive beneath the water in August. It’s the last month of summer and the best time of the year for a swim. Iceland is perfect for such an activity, as there are a lot of snorkeling tours to choose from.

Iceland sits in a unique geographical location - on two tectonic plates known as the Silfra Fissure. The Silfra Fissure snorkeling tour allows you to see it with your own eyes. It’s not every day that you’ll swim in such locations.

Silfra fissure snorkeling, two tourists dressed in snorkeling gear resting next to lake.

BEST THINGS TO SEE IN ICELAND IN AUGUST

Want to take a beat and enjoy the view? We’ve got you covered. Our list of places to see offers terrific views and other perks that further lift the experience.

Whales

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 splashing tail out of sea in Reykjavik whale watching tour, Iceland.

Whale Watching tour in Iceland

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 marine mammals. Dalvík is farther away, but whale watching tours from this charming coastal town have a whopping 99.5% success rate.

Puffins

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.

Two puffins standing on grass on cliff, on puffin watching tour in Iceland.

Puffin watching tour

Puffins are a very social breed. Watching these little guys flirt, argue, squabble, and swim is enough to keep you entertained all day long.

MIDNIGHT SUN

It’s the last chance to see the midnight sun phenomenon in action. It’s visible till August 22nd. After that, you’ll have to wait a whole year, till April 20th, to see it again.

Make the most of the long days by camping in the wild, exploring the cities of Iceland, or just sitting and enjoying the unique twilight of the midnight sun.

HIGHLANDS

August is the perfect time to explore as much of the Highlands region as possible. It’s the last month when you can do so safely. As winter approaches, the mountain roads leading to it are closed.

NAUTHÓLSVÍK GEOTHERMAL BEACH

A nice view and a relaxing experience? Sign us up! The Nauthólsvík geothermal beach is a man-made paradise that is too good to miss out on. Located near Reykjavik, it’s a warm lagoon that allows people to swim all year round. 

It’s the perfect place to round out your August vacation. You can swim in the warm water and enjoy the view. Combine it with a food-orientated tour to make the experience feel legendary.

WESTMAN ISLANDS

The Westman Islands are Iceland’s very own vacation spot. The archipelago has everything the mainland provides: volcanoes, interesting rocks, and awesome events. Is there a more perfect spot for an August adventure?

The best part? It takes a single day to experience the beauty of the islands. Hike to a volcano, see the elephant rock and puffins. Our Westman Islands tour covers that and more that you will want to see

What to do in Reykjavik in August

Reykjavik has a lot more to offer than beautiful buildings and friendly people. You can attend interesting events, shop around and have a fun adventure. Below, our list of interesting activities and locations will make you wish for another August.

Reykjavík Pride

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.

 

Crowds dressed in multicolors at Reykjavik pride celebration in Iceland.

Reykjavik Pride

It’s the pinnacle of Iceland’s pride celebrations. 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.

REYKJAVIK CULTURAL NIGHT

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.

 

Reykjavik Cultural Night

The date can change. Make sure to check out the official page of Reykjavik to find out when it’s happening this year.

REYKJAVIK FLEA MARKET

Bring back memories and memorabilia. Reykjavik flea markets offer the chance to buy cheap souvenirs, clothes, and more to take home.

Visit Kolaportið, the biggest flea market in Reykjavik, to find the best wares. It is located in the city's center and loved by the locals. You can find jewelry, hand-made objects, and even artifacts on sale.

EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN ICELAND IN AUGUST

August is the month of celebrations, not only in Reykjavik but in other parts of Iceland too. To prepare you for all the fun you’ll have, we compiled some interesting events and festivals you should visit.

ÞJÓÐHÁTÍÐ (THJÓDHHÁTIDH) NATIONAL FESTIVAL

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.

 

Sunnudagur Þjóðhátíð 2016

See more about Þjóðhátíð National Festival

It takes place on the first Monday of August.

VERSLUNARMANNAHELGI BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND

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

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.

 

The Fireworks show at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in the Vatnajokull Region in Iceland

 

Its date varies. If you want to find out more about, make sure to visit the official page of Vatnajökull.

TOURS IN ICELAND FOR AUGUST

Our tours cover more or less the same places, activities, and events listed above. You can always read up on our summer guide to better understand what is worth visiting.

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.

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, an amphibian boat, and a kayaking tour.

ICELAND IN AUGUST - FAQ

IS IT WORTH GOING TO ICELAND IN AUGUST?

Absolutely! August provides as much (even more) fun as July and June. The weather is perfect for a hike, and summer-end festivals occur throughout the month.

IS AUGUST A RAINY MONTH IN ICELAND?

August sees 23 days of rain, but it is light and short. Heavy rain is rare in this month. Still, it’s important to prepare for it with waterproof clothes.

IS ICELAND TOO CROWDED IN AUGUST?

August is one of the busiest months of the year. Tourists flock to Iceland to enjoy the views and warm weather. So yes, it can get crowded in Iceland. However, if you plan it out, visit more niche spots, or wake up earlier than the rest, you might avoid the crowds.

CAN YOU SEE GLACIERS IN ICELAND IN AUGUST?

Yes. Most of the Icelandic glaciers are accessible in August. Even better, the warm weather opens up more routes.

DOES IT GET DARK IN ICELAND IN AUGUST?

It depends. Until mid-August, no. After that, yes, nights are darker. It’s mainly due to the midnight sun that stops appearing at the latter half of the month.

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