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Best Time to Visit Iceland - Let's Talk About Summer

|June 13, 2017
Finance educated, mountain and glacier loving, imaginary ski extraordinary and current resident of Reykjavik.

What are the pros and cons to traveling to Iceland during summer? What is there to see, to know and to do? Inga takes on the Icelandic summer in an excellent way.

Iceland is a place of extremes, on this little island, way out in the Atlantic we have dark days and sunny nights, bare rocks and moss, so neon green it almost makes you dizzy staring at it for too long. We have wind, sun, rain and three types of snow in one day. You could say we have it all.

When you are planning your trip to Iceland there are many things to think about. To start with think about what is the one most important thing for you to experience, something you have been dreaming of for years, something you want to get out of your vacation, the feeling you want to come away with. Would you like to step out of your comfort zone, hike a glacier, eat some good food and relax, see the northern lights, float in hot geothermal water for hours, experience the highlands, make new friends, golf in the midnight sun, the possibilities are endless. Each season has its own charm, their pros and their cons, their own little magic.

Secret Lagoon Hot Spring

Now let’s find out what is the best time, for you, to visit Iceland.

The summer of endless light welcomes you to experience the magic and madness that comes with eternal sunshine. This most popular season to visit and for good reason too. During summer most everything is possible. The summertime is prime time for hiking, it’s also the only time that you can access the wonderful highlands of Iceland and hike the now famous, Laugavegur Trail. If you are here to hike the summer is without a doubt your time. But the summer isn’t just a hikers paradise, during this time of year, everyone will find something to their liking.

Mountain views on the Laugavegur trail

Landmannalaugar geothermal paradise

Great options for day hikes in Iceland in Summer

Great options for multi-day tours in Iceland in Summer

Icelandic Roads

Driving the narrow Icelandic (and often gravel) roads becomes quite manageable to most during this warmest season, road closings are rare and it’s uncommon for strong winds to interfere with your plans. These favorable conditions make it easier to explore more remote places, something that is a good idea in summer.

Where to go during Summer in Iceland

Try to spend a couple of days in the south and then move on to other more quiet parts of the country. The mountain roads of the Westfjords (also known as the Bestfjords) are quite a treat this time of year. If you are bothered by heights these may give you a little adrenaline rush, all worth your while, you’ll see when you get to the magnificent Látrabjarg (where puffins are casually hanging out) and the white sand beaches of Rauðisandur.

My Dog Cohen playing at Rauðisandur

Exploring the beach at Aðalvík in the Westfjords

The north is another bit of paradise, the nature baths at Lake Mývatn, some ridiculously fun white water rafting, for the brave hearts out there check out The Beast of the East, Whale Watching in Dalvík and perhaps a ride out to the Arctic Circle visiting Grímsey Island. Last but not least, a visit to the capital of the north, Akureyri is a must.

See also Things to Do around Akureyri during Summer.

Next up are the wonderful Eastfjords, and my personal summertime favorite. Here you have majestic mountains towering over each fjord and their tiny villages, being here always serves as a reminder, overwhelming yet comforting, of just how small and almost insignificant we are in our smallness. The East Fjords are a true hikers paradise, for longer guided hikes, check out In the Footsteps of Elves, it is as magical as the name implies. This is also the place to go if you want to maximize your chances of proper summer temperatures.

Driving in Iceland in Summer

Now for the summer explorers that are planning on driving there are a few things that are very important to keep in mind.

Don’t stop just anywhere
Even though roads are clear of snow, they are still narrow, make sure you never pull over unless you can turn completely off the road and safely park your car.

Road in the South Coast of Iceland

Summer, the season of cuteness

You’ll be treated to views of beautiful farm animals, one of the best things about summer, roaming free enjoying the summer months. Since they are free to go where they want they will on occasion take their roaming to the road. It’s particularly important to be on the lookout for a solo sheep, her lambs are always close by but could be on different sides of the road, when they hear a car coming they will get scared and they will find a way to their mom, we don’t want them to reunite in front of (or worse under) your car.

Photo from the Farmlife Iceland Instagram

Remember to get rest

Last but not least, it’s easy to get carried away during the summer sunlight, make sure you don’t drive for too long at a time, even tho its eternal daylight your body is still going to want some rest. If you prefer to just take in the view, and focus less on the road in front of you and the animals surrounding it, you can always hop on a local bus, or join a locally planned tour.

Summer Festivals in Iceland

Although summer is prime time to explore nature, there are plenty of other things to do around the country. Most towns will have summer festival, in fact, there is at least one every weekend, you’ll have everything from the Lobster Festivals in Höfn to Danish Days in Stykkishólmur, and everything in between.

Reykjavík – Secret Solstice

In Reykjavik, The Secret Solstice Music Festival takes place in late June, one of two big music festivals in the capital, this particular one has enjoyed good weather for the three consecutive years it’s been held, sparking rumors of some sort of magic weather contraption that blast away clouds, leaving us with nothing but sunshine. Summer is the season of festivals and celebrations you’ll have plenty of things to choose from both in and out of Reykjavik.

In short, if you are here for hiking, exploring by car, river rafting, and kayaking or hanging with puffins summer is your season. The glacier will be yours to explore and the whales will be swimming about happily. The midnight sun touches everything with its magic, the weather is mild and the vegetation is green. Traveling around the island is easy. The only downside, there will be more people at the most accessible tourist attractions, that being said you’ll be enjoying the beautiful sights with like-minded travelers that usually are quite handy with a camera.

Anything you love doing in summer in Iceland and isn't mentioned? Tell us about it in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!

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