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Summer in Iceland

Best things to do in Iceland in summer

|May 22, 2023
Anhelina is a cat mom with a passion for cycling, adventure, and writing. She spends her days inspiring and educating other travelers through her stories by going down rabbit holes of research.

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. Keep on reading to find out when is the best time to visit Iceland in summer, what attractions you shouldn’t miss, and what fun activities await you during your summer vacation here and when is the best time for them.

Puffin Sitting by Cliff in Iceland

Puffin on a sunny summer day in Iceland

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 of Iceland's summer temperature 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 breathtaking landscape 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
  • Sweater
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimwear
  • Sunblock

As you can see, even if you visit Iceland during summer, you should pack for all four seasons!

DIP YOUR TOES IN GEOTHERMAL HOT SPRINGS

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 natural hot springs and geothermal swimming pools.

Enjoying bathing in a geothermal hot springs!

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 rooms 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.

Travel through Golden Circle and get to see the most important highlights of Iceland and later treat yourself by going to Hvammsvík Hot Springs. 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 to 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.

Beautiful view of idyllic geothermal mountain scenery in Landmannalaugar

Be sure to bring rain gear, 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.

Big tourist camp valley of the park

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.

Summer music festival in Iceland

Metal fans flock to Eistnaflug in the same month. And Secret Solstice is a multi-genre festival in Reykjavik in June!

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.

Tourists Walking in Thingvellir National Park

Landscape in the Thingvellir National Park in Iceland

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.

GO TO VESTMANNAEYJAR (THE WESTMAN ISLANDS)

Vestmannaeyjar archipelago, situated south of Iceland, is a great place to spend your Icelandic summer. The Westman Islands fascinate its visitors with its rich and compelling history and numerous attractions that can be visited during summer. Exploring attractions around the islands, such as Elephant Rock, hiking in Heimaklettur, biking around the islands, and later refreshing in a swimming pool are only a few things you can do here during the warm season.

Ship in Vestmannaeyjar Island

WATCH PUFFINS

Iceland is loved by puffins, as there are 8 to 10 million of these birds residing here. And what's great about it is that the best time to see puffins is during summer time, from May to August. Many travelers aim to see these funny and colorful birds in their natural habitat. However, don't forget that they're a part of nature, so it's important to follow a few rules when spending time with these creatures. These rules include keeping your distance from them and not petting or feeding them. If you follow these rules, you'll have a great time and magnificent pictures of these cute little birds!

Puffins on a cliff in South Coast of Iceland

HOP ON A BOAT TO JOKULSARLON

Enjoy the pleasant weather in Iceland during summer by going on a boat ride to Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. One of the most remarkable ways to enjoy Icelandic nature is by going on a Zodiac boat tour. Here you'll be able to cruise on the glacial lake surrounded by icebergs, appreciate the scenery, and watch the wildlife. It's thought that due to weather changes, there will be a time when the lagoon becomes an inlet, so take the opportunity to enjoy Jökulsárlón as it is now and explore the shores of the famous Diamond Beach.

Boat tour in Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, Iceland

GO WHALE-WATCHING

If you're not yet sure what to do in Iceland in summer, try out a whale watching tour as it's one of the popular activities. It's said that the best time to watch these giant mammals is from April to October, but their "peak season" is from June to August. Iceland in the summer is particularly pleasant because of its not-so-harsh weather and winds. These conditions are great to go on a boat and look for various species of marine life, surrounded by fresh air and spectacular views.

Whale tale above the sea in Iceland

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 the longest. Even if you decide to spend only a summer weekend in Iceland, our range of exciting day tours means you’ll have a fantastic time. 

We look forward to seeing you on one of our summer tours!

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