What to do in Summer in Iceland
Summer might be the best time of the year to head to Iceland. The weather is at its most pleasant and hospitable; the evenings are gloriously long; and it’s the best time to find a tour to any one of our bucket-list locations.
Here’s a guide to the top summer activities in this magical country. We’ll kick off with some recommended activities and then move onto what weather to expect and what to pack…
Iceland might not be world-famous for its cuisine, but it should be. We’re proud of our locally sourced, varied and creative dishes here.
Summer is a great time for a walking food tour, as the weather is (usually) fine and the tourist-season restaurants are all open for business. On our Reykjavik food tour, you’ll try fare from restaurants, markets, and even food trucks.
You can expect to taste at least some fish on this tour. And you’ll also get to try the famous Icelandic Skyr, our protein-packed take on yogurt!
If seafood is your thing, you might be interested in the Viking sushi tour, which is about two hours from Reykjavik.
Pub and Beer Tours
Iceland has a range of craft beer breweries and even more fabulous bars to drink them in. We’ve also mastered the art of the cocktail. So, our bars range from the rustic and fun to the chic and cool to the welcoming and cozy. And summer is also a terrific time to hit the Icelandic bars and breweries.
Our Reykjavik pub crawl tours are especially popular with small groups, couples or people traveling alone. If you want to go a little further in local drink knowledge, there are brewery tours. And, if you want to precede a drink with an activity (to work up that thirst), we have combo tours like beer tasting & rafting, and river jet & beer tasting.
Swimming, Springs and Water Sports
Icelanders like to take a dip year-round, but, with milder weather and longer days, summer suits this activity more than any other season.
As you might have heard, Iceland is bursting with hot, geothermic springs and with naturally heated swimming pools.
Hot springs, dotted throughout the country, can range from the decidedly simple (no changing rooms, very remote) to luxurious (part of a spa, with changing room and sometimes even cafés).
Geothermal pools are like swimming pools you know and love, but with naturally heated water and they are often built into the landscape.
Our hiking and hot springs tour is a great way to get to know the landscape and – at the end of the 7k hike – experience the waters first-hand. If you’d like a more relaxed experience, the Blue Lagoon tour might be for you.
Go for a Hike or Walking Excursion
Iceland is nothing if not scenic. In fact, our incredible waterfalls, mountains, volcanoes, and glaciers are literally the stuff of legend.
Hiking is the best way to get up close with this glorious landscape, and summer is the time to do it. You really are spoiled for choice, but as a sampler, you can try the towering volcanoes and epic views of the Thorsmork hike; the caramel peaks of Landmannalaugar; or Glymur, the tallest waterfall in Iceland, among many others.
Be sure to bring raingear, the right shoes and maybe even a change of clothes. (We’ve written a blog post about packing and prepping for hiking if you’d like to know more.)
Camp in the Icelandic Highlands
Accommodation is one of the priciest parts of any trip, and Iceland is no exception. But despite the changeable weather, much of Iceland is very camper-friendly. There’s a culture of outdoor adventure here, which means that there are plenty of camping spots (both wild and structured). The air is incredibly fresh. Plus, there’s the chance to wake up to an awe-inspiring view.
Be sure to check out our comprehensive guide to camping in Iceland.
Take in Live Music
From vintage classics to Bjork and far beyond, music is a big part of Icelandic culture, and many of the biggest gigs and festivals take place between June and August.
Reykjavik has numerous live music venues, and then there are music festivals in the capital and throughout the country. Lunga takes place in July in the relatively remote and quiet Seyðisfjörður and is a music and arts festival of international renown.
That’s just the beginning, and new events are always springing up, so we’d advise doing a little extra research on Icelandic festivals and gigs before you go.
Visit the National Parks
We appreciate the value of our environment in Iceland and have several protected national parks. And, as you might imagine, summer is the best, most accessible time to see them.
Þingvellir (or Thingvellir) might be the best known. It sits between two continental plates, which helps create its unique appearance and terrain. This is the site of the stunning Öxarárfoss Waterfall, Almannagjá ravine, numerous Game of Thrones shooting locations and the world-famous Silfra Fissure snorkeling site.
Skaftafell, in South Iceland, is packed with adventure. Visitors take to this region for its hiking, cycling, ice caves and incredible glaciers and icebergs.
Jökulsárgljúfur is the site of the deepest canyon in Iceland. It really comes alive in summer, when its lush foliage is in full bloom.
To the West, Snæfellsjökull is the national park for you. Its legendary stratovolcano was first immortalized in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Finally, in the northeast, there’s the frozen wonderland of Vatnajökull, with Iceland’s biggest glacier, glacial rivers, lagoons, and epic waterfalls.
Iceland Summer Temperatures & Weather
A warm summer day can reach as high as 20-25 (68-77 °F), but please pack a coat along with your shorts! Lows can reach about 6.7 °C (44.1 °F). Iceland can be showery, even in the summer, and the temperature is noticeably lower in the highlands and mountaintops.
This unpredictable weather is the price you pay for the beautiful skies and breath-taking landscapes views you’ll experience. And the air and water are the freshest you’ll ever experience.
What to Pack for an Iceland Summer Trip
We’re not sure where the saying comes from, but we say it in Iceland a lot: “There’s no bad weather, just wrong clothes.”
What you pack will depend on the activities you intend to pursue, but we would recommend:
- Hiking boots
- A good quality raincoat
- Rain-resistant pants/trousers
- Thermal underwear
As you can see, even if you visit in one season, you should pack for four!
See You in Summer!
Every summer, visitors from all over the world come to Iceland to bask in its natural beauty. Summer is the time when roads are most accessible, the skies clear, tours are most frequent, and bars and restaurants are open for longest.
We look forward to seeing you on one of our summer tours!
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.