Iceland in Summer: Top 10 things to do!
What are the top things to do in Iceland during summer? What is the best time to visit Iceland? What is the Iceland summer temperature like? Is it possible to see the Northern Lights in the summer? And should you visit Iceland during summer or winter?
In this "Iceland in Summer: Top 10 Things to do" blog I will give you all my best local tips and recommendations on what to do in Iceland during the summer. I believe visiting Iceland is absolutely awesome all year round but every season has it's own pros and cons. The summer is my personal favourite season, so that is why I am especially excited to give you all my best tips on what to do in Iceland in the summer!
Visiting Iceland in the Summer: Basic Information
First things first, here are a few things to keep in mind before your Iceland summer holiday ...
- The temperature in Iceland during summer is warm! ... Well, at least most Icelanders think it is nice since we are used to long and cold winters. June, July and August are the "official summer months" but May and September can also be very nice.
However, the average temperature in Iceland during summer is only 10°C (50 Fahrenheit) and the absolute warmest it gets is 20°C (68 F).
- So, even though Icelanders think the summer is a warm and wonderful time of the year, you can see that it still isn't that warm!
Therefore, I really recommend you to pack your swimwear and warm clothing for if you get lucky and will enjoy nice weather during your Iceland holiday. But the odds are that you just might get some cold or windy days - So I also recommend you to be well prepared and pack your warm outdoor clothes as well.
- Summer is the "high season" in Iceland. Although locals and travellers alike travel Iceland all year round - Summer is the most popular travel season. This means more cars on the road, more hikers, natural hot spring hunters and so on and on ...
Local tip: It might be clever to plan some trips or hikes out of the most common time of the day. For an example, it will still be daylight at midnight, why not take a midnight trip somewhere?
- As I mentioned, every season has it's pros and cons. One of the most wonderful thing about summer is that it is bright all day, every day!
However, that also means that you can't see the Northern Lights over Iceland in the summer. You can read more about the Northern Lights here.
- Hotels, tours and rental cars get fully booked. Yup, this is the biggest downside of visiting Iceland in the summer. Accommodations get more expensive and tours get fully booked early. I experience this personally with our Food Tours and Bar Crawls. The summer dates usually get fully booked first and way in advance.
But there is an easy solution! I simply recommend all my guests to plan their summer trip in advance. As soon as you have an idea of what you want to do - Secure your accommodations, tours and reservations. This way you can make sure you will get to do everything your way :)
Now let's get on with that top 10 list ...
1. Explore Iceland
Drive around, explore and be exposed by Icelandic nature. This has to be the number one thing on my list as this is what your Iceland trip should be all about. Explore our magical waterfalls, hike the mountains, hunt down natural hot springs and soak in the views wherever you go!
Only in the summer are you able to drive literally everywhere where your mind pleases in Iceland. The roads won't be blocked by snow or ice, mountains will be coloured by purple lupins and you will be wanting to stop your car every 5 minutes to photograph the very moment you are in.
The most popular self-drive day trips from Reykjavik are the Golden Circle and the South Coast of Iceland. Other recommended routes from Reykjavik are Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Reykjanes and Hvalfjordur fjord.
2. Swimming Pools in Iceland
Ah, dipping into geothermal heated swimming pools might just be the most local thing to do in Iceland. And it's one of my favourites ... wether it's hot or cold, summer or winter!
There are 9 swimming pools in Reykjavik, lot more on the whole capital area and there are hundreds all over the country! They are all geothermally heated so they are warm. Some people go there to swim and exercise but most people are like me ... and I usually just sit, relax and meet new people in the numerous hot tubs!
My favourite swimming pool in Reykjavik is Laugardalslaug. It's also the largest one and has a big selection of hot tubs, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, saunas and waterslides. See photo above!
There are also amazing swimming pools around the country and many pools on the countryside have breathtaking mountain views.
3. Go Camping in Iceland
Icelanders are crazy for camping ... in the summer!
How wonderful does it sound to make the most out of your Iceland exploration and not only see and do the most beautiful attractions but also sleep right in the action and enjoy the natural beauty all day and into the morning.
When Iceland is blessed by the weather gods, most Icelanders agree on that there are few things in this world that beat camping in Iceland. There are camping areas all around the country and obviously, it is a lot more budget friendly than staying at hotels.
We recommend staying at special camping areas but you are allowed to camp everywhere that is not a private property.
4. Visit the Icelandic Glaciers
So, we are looking at the best things to do in Iceland during summer and I mention visiting the glaciers?!
Most people think the Icelandic glaciers and glacier activities in general are only accessible during winter. However, during summer you will have just the same conditions except the weather is more likely to be warm, sunny and clear! Meaning - the summer is perfect for exploring the best of our Icelandic glaciers!
Hiking, ice climbing, skiing or snowmobiling - How fund does that sound? Just make sure that you always visit the glaciers with a guide or on a organised tours. The glaciers can be very dangerous for those who don't know it.
5. Visit Vestmannaeyjar Islands
For me personally, I think Vestmannaeyjar (the Westman Islands in English) is one of the most beautiful places in all of Iceland. These are tiny islands just off the south coast of Iceland, surrounding the largest island, Heimaey island.
The tiny island of Heimaey has an active volcano which can be explored when visited. The volcano last erupted in 1993, resulting in the whole island being evacuated in one night. Another known attraction of the Westman Islands are the cute puffins ... but here you will find one of the largest puffin colonies in the world!
Furthermore, the Westman Islands are also the home of Slippurinn restaurant. And once again I will allow myself to use very big words, but I believe this just might be the best restaurant in the whole country and it is very much worth the visit when visiting the Westman islands. Just make sure to make a reservation before hand. You can find the website for Slippurinn here.
6. Enjoy the best of seasonal iceland food
One of our most important goals at Wake Up Reykjavik is to show our guests from around the world how amazing Iceland is and how much we love our hometown, Reykjavik. And we choose to do this through our best restaurants and bars. After all, is there any better way to explore a new culture than through it's local cuisine?
We want our guests to experience first hand how amazing & unique the Icelandic cuisine can be. If you are a foodie or if you would simply like to explore the best of Reykjavik and it's cuisine in the same day then I would highly recommend you to check out our Reykjavik Food Tour!
7. Whale and Puffin watching
YES! Another huge reason to visit Iceland in the summer. During our warmest months of the year you will find tons and tons of whales swimming around the coast of Iceland. And Iceland in the summer also happens to be the largest puffin colony in the world with an estimate of 8-10 million birds! #wow
Whale watching is available from Reykjavik and almost every coastal town in Iceland, usually with different sights from different locations.
To see the adorable puffins can be a little more tricky but they are specially common to see in the West fjords and in the Westman Islands in the South of Iceland. The Whale and puffin season is usually from mid-April to September, peaking in the mid summer. Whale watching tours are available all year round but the chance of seeing something magical is always higher in the peak season.
8. Music Festivals in iceland
Summer is the power season for music festivals in Iceland!
In Reykjavik and in almost every small town around the country, there are strong traditions for celebrating summer and gather for a long weekend of drinking, dancing and camping with friends and/or family.
One of the most recent but also one of the the largest festivals is Secret Solstice that is held in Reykjavik. Secret Solstice has been going strong, growing each year since their first festival in 2014. It is always held in mid June, when the sun doesn't set and festival goers can party under the midnight sun until morning!
You can find more information about almost every music festival in Iceland, right here.
9. Party Under the Midnight Sun
And speaking off partying under the midnight sun ...
Icelanders love partying ... and we do party our ass off wether it is summer or winter! But, there is just something incredible about partying in the summer, in complete daylight! The Reykjavik nightlife is therefore extraordinary awesome in June & July where the nightclubs close at 4.30am but when weather allows, the party continues on the streets of Reykjavik looong after that!
If you are visiting Reykjavik and want to see what this wild Reykjavik nightlife is all about, we created our awesome Reykjavik Bar Crawl just for you. For the past three years we have been hosting our Reykjavik Bar Crawl to bring people from all over the world together and show them the BEST of the Reykjavik nightlife through our eyes.
We visit our most favourite local bars and clubs at each time and have both some must have Icelandic drinks and some crazy local things you wouldn't dare to order on your own!
If this sounds like something, you can find more info and make your Bar Crawl reservation here.
10. Enjoy Natural Hot Springs
Last but so not least: The AMAZING natural hot springs that are hidden everywhere around Iceland!
I know I say this a lot, but the natural hot springs are seriously one of my favourite things about Iceland. And nothing beats a fun "Natural hot spring mission" where you drive into the middle of nowhere to track down a hidden pool.
The photo above is Seljavallalaug pool and it is actually the oldest "man made" pool in Iceland, hidden between tall mountains on each side. Actually it was built around a natural hot spring and today it is abandoned, still attracting tons of locals and travellers every day.
The Blue Lagoon is without a doubt the most known natural hot spring in Iceland. Still, very much worth seeing. Another pool that I love is Gamla Laugin, or the Secret Lagoon in English. That is truly the oldest swimming pool in Iceland but a few years ago locals in the area built nice changing rooms etc. around it and opened it for the public.
And the most beautiful part about it all, the natural hot springs in Iceland are so many and so scattered around the country that they could never make it into one blog post. But I am sure that when you do your exploring around Iceland, you will find your own heavenly pools along the way - If you just look carefully!
Psst! This blog we wrote about Natural Hot Springs might come in handy!
Blog written by Egill Fannar Halldorsson. Co-founder of Wake Up Reykjavik, adventurer, hot spring fanatic and a HUGE foodie from the North of Iceland.
I really, really hope that this blog about my favourite things to do in Iceland during summer was helpful and that it gave you some nice ideas or inspirations on what to do in Iceland!
If there is anything that I might help you with or if you have any questions don't hesitate to leave me a comment below and I will personally make sure to get back to you asap! And also, if you will find yourself in one of our local tours to see Reykjavik, then I hope to meet you in person as I might be your guide :)
Thanks for the read and see you in ICELAND!
What are the top things to do in Iceland during summer? What is the best time to visit Iceland? What is the Iceland summer temperature like? And is it possible to see the Northern Lights in the summer?