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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? 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!

Egill Fannar
Egill Fannar
Last updated: January 03, 2022

Summer update 2022:

All our tours are small group with limited availability. Summer is our busiest time of year which (unfortunately) results in our experiences getting fully booked in advance. We highly recommend securing your spots ahead of time for your Iceland adventure ahead.

You can view my top recommendations for summer tours and activities further down in this blog post or ...

Click here to view our full selection of day tours in Iceland.

Icelandic waterfall


Weather / Temperature in Iceland during Summer

weather graph showing average temperatures in Iceland

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).

What to wear in Iceland during Summer

guest exploring the black sand beach in Iceland

So even though us Icelanders think the summer is a very warm and wonderful time of the year, you can see that it still isn't that warm (compared to other places).

Here are a few items that I recommend bringing along on your trip.

  • Swimwear & towel:
    For swimming pools, natural hot springs or Blue Lagoon
  • Hat & gloves:
    Just in case, since it can get a little chilly/windy (especially outside of Reykjavik.)
  • Rain jacket:
    Our summer most have the least amount of rainfall here in Iceland. However, we do get a rainy summer every now and then which is why it can't hurt having a nice rain jacket.
  • Comfortable sneakers / walking shoes:
    Summer is the best time of year to do some exploring outside of Reykjavik. (exploring waterfalls, black sand beaches, hikes etc). The walking / hike distances can vary on which spots you'd like to visit but you can't go wrong having a nice pair of comfortable shoes for your sightseeing / hiking adventures in Iceland.

Other then that, just the travel basics in regards to clothing and you'll be good to go!

​Can you see Northern Lights in Iceland in summer?

The northern lights in Iceland

Sadly, no.

The Northern Lights are out and about all year round. But it's simply too bright to see them during summer since we have 24 hours of daylight.

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! Welcome the midnight sun!​

Unfortunately, that also means that you can't see the Northern Lights over Iceland in the summer.

However, we do have a full list of incredible activities and things to do during the summer time.

You can either view our full selection of best small group day tours here.

I'll also list a few of my personal favorites at the bottom of this blog post.

Local tip: Plan your Iceland summer holiday in advance

packing essentials for travelers

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 Tour. 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 ... 

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ICELAND DURING SUMMER

1. ENJOY THE BEST LOCAL FOOD IN ICELAND

Our passion at Wake Up Reykjavik is to show our guests from around the world how amazing Iceland is - along with all of it's delicious food!

After all, is there any better way to explore a new culture than through it's local cuisine?

We host our Reykjavik Food Walk tour every single day and give travellers the chance to explore beautiful downtown Reykjavik with a new fun local friend while visiting some of the absolute best kept secrets of Reykjavik.

​Our food tour is packed with brilliant Icelandic food, fun local info and tips for your stay in Iceland and we're so proud to be the #1 rated activity to do in Reykjavik on Trip Advisor.​

​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! 

PRO TIP:

Psst! I always recommend friends and travellers to do this early on their trip since it gets fully booked in advance & since you'll be exploring and learning all about downtown Reykjavik:

Click here for more info, photos & tickets for Reykjavik Food Tour.

2. Explore the south coast tour

The South Coast in Iceland is my favorite areas to explore and this is especially true during the summertime.

Just look at this photo above of Skógafoss waterfall ... simply stunning!

The South Coast area has many incredible sights to explore:

  • Skógafoss waterfall (picture above)
  • Seljalandsfoss waterfall
  • Black Sand Beach
  • Sólheimajökull Glacier

As you can see in the photo above - and as the name indicates. You'll leave Reykjavik behind and head towards the south coast of Iceland.

It takes a couple of hours to drive through these areas and sightseeing spots along with some time to explore and then drive home. So it'll be 8-10 hours (full day of fun) to visit the South Coast and return back to Reykjavik.

The South Coast has certain 'highlight areas' (mentioned above).

However, the drive towards the south coast is particularly beautiful, especially during summer time.

You'll pass majestic mountains, horses and cute little towns which is a fun little bonus to this activity.

SMALL GROUP SOUTH COAST TOUR

We offer a brilliant tour of the South Coast area which visits all of the sightseeing spots above (and a few extras!) It is a small group experience so I do recommend securing your spots in advance.

Click here for more info, photos and tickets to South Coast tour.

3. explore the local swimming pools

laugardalslaug during summer

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!

There are also amazing swimming pools around the country and many pools on the countryside have breathtaking mountain views.

The photo above is from Laugardalslaug (10 min drive from downtown Reykjavik)

My current favorite swimming pool is called Sundhöll Reykjavíkur. An old but newly renovated swimming pool in downtown Reykjavik (within walking distance from most hotels.)

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!

My top 3 glacier tour:

How amazing 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. SEE THE PUFFINS!

puffins in iceland

Iceland in the summer just so happens to be the largest puffin colony in the world with an estimate of 8-10 million birds!

When asked about how and when to see the puffins in Iceland I often say that they're opposite to the northern lights.

Meaning that it is possible to see the Northern Lights in Iceland from August-April and possible to see the puffins from April-August.

The puffins aren't far away either. If you're visiting Iceland, you'll most likely be staying in the downtown central area within walking distance from the Old Harbour where the puffin tour departs for those interested in seeing the cute little creators.

SMALL GROUP RIB SAFARI PUFFIN TOUR:

A lot of tours / activities in Iceland take place outside of Reykjavik. Where you'll need to drive a bit to reach your destination.

However, that's not the case with the puffins tours. It departs from downtown Reykjavik and takes place in a RIB Safari Boat (super fun! picture above.)

Click here to for more info, photos and tickets to the puffin tour.

6. SEE THE WHALES

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.

Whale watching is available from Reykjavik and almost every coastal town in Iceland, usually with different sights from different locations.

It's possible to see whales in Iceland all year round. But the peak season for some magical sightseeings are during summer.

Click here to for more info, photos and tickets to Whale Watching.

Pro tip:
If you're interested in seeing BOTH whales and puffins. Then I recommend checking out the Puffin x Whales combo tour. You can view that one here.

7. 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! Click here to view natural hot spring guide / blog.

CONCLUSION

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 :)