Guide to Summer in Iceland
Updated: Apr 13
Spending your summer in Iceland can be adventure-filled since the weather is nice and there are plenty of activities and events to keep you busy and entertained. We detail everything you can expect from these fun-filled summer months.
Visitors from all over the world flock to spend a summer in Iceland, and for good reason. Instead of scouring cyberspace to collect information from various sources before you can start planning your trip, we decided to compile a helpful article that includes everything you need to know about Iceland’s summer travel.
From the weather and the roads to packing lists and activities – we discuss it all. So, without further ado, let’s dig in!
Why Visit Iceland During the Summer Months?
Well, that depends on your requirements and what you have on your Icelandic bucket list. So, to avoid any disappointment, here are a few pros and cons of Iceland summer travel to weigh up against each other to make the right decision for you:
Pros of Spending Summer in Iceland
Driving is much easier, with many of the treacherous road conditions of the winter months a distant memory.
You will also have more routes to choose from when driving, as many of the roads are closed due to conditions during the winter months.
With days of up to 24 hours long, you’ll get to experience the infamous midnight sun.
If you plan your trip for before the end of August, you’ll be able to go Puffin spotting.
All activities and attractions will be open to the public, and operating hours are much longer than winter months.
Cons of Spending Summer in Iceland
With visitors flocking to spend summer in Iceland, finding accommodation, booking a spot for activities, events, etc. can be quite challenging. Many who don’t book well in advance leave Iceland disappointed that they couldn’t do everything that’s on their to-do list.
Since it’s peak season, prices skyrocket. Your Iceland winter trip budget won’t cut it in Iceland during summer.
With days up to 24 hours long, you won’t be able to see the Northern Lights.
The long days create havoc with some peoples’ sleeping patterns.
The Iceland Weather in Summer
The Iceland summer months are between June and September (or the end of June until the end of September if you want to get really technical). Summer kicks off with the summer solstice and there’s a lot to celebrate, with long (up to 24 hours of daylight, in fact!) days and sunny weather reaching temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius.
Gone are the snow-filled days, and the infamous Icelandic winds that could move mountains, have also gone on holiday. If you’re still on the fence in terms of which month to book your flight, here’s an outline of what the Iceland weather’s like during each of Iceland’s summer months:
Keep in mind that summer only really starts at the end of June, so there might still be a bit of an autumn chill in the air the earlier you arrive. Since this is still a bit of a transition period, you can still expect the tail-end of those pesky Icelandic winds and drenching rainfall. The good news is that the temperature is starting to rise and the June average will be between 6-10 degrees Celsius.
The season has officially changed, and it shows in July. The weather regarding rainfall and winds is much milder. July is the warmest summer month, with the average temperature now ranging between 13-20 degrees Celsius.
August in Iceland is pretty much your last chance to visit during the summer. Whilst temperatures have already started to go down (ranging between 8-13 degrees Celsius), the weather in August is still nice enough to enjoy the many outdoor activities the island has to offer.
September in Iceland is summer’s last breath. It is clear that the season is changing, and the temperature has fallen to between 6-11 degrees Celsius. The wind and rainfall are still not at their winter worst and whilst September's weather allows many activities to still be open, many opt to visit the island when most of the peak summer tourist traffic has gone.
What to Pack for Your Summer in Iceland
Summer in Iceland is definitely not summer in the Caribbean, and we often have people asking us what to pack for their trip. Here is a handy packing list of all clothes and essentials:
Waterproof hiking shoes
T-shirts and long sleeve shirts (so you can layer)
Hats (to protect against sunburn as well as the cold)
Quick dry towel
Flip-flops (when visiting the hot springs and public showers)
Sleep mask (to try to mitigate the sleeping pattern issues when faced with daylight for almost 24 hours)
Water bottle (the Icelandic water is of such high quality that you only need to refill throughout your trip)
Backpack (suitable for day outings as well as hikes)
Everything you need for your electric devices: adapter, cables, chargers, and power bank.
What to Look Forward to on Your Summer Trip to Iceland
As we already mentioned, there’s no lack of activities and events during the Iceland summer months. These are some of the things that you might want to add to your to-do list:
Stopping by one of the many volcanoes on the island
Attending a wide variety of festivals
Taking a walking food tour in the capital Reykjavík
Taking a dip in one of the hot springs
Visiting stunning waterfalls
Learning about Vikings and their way of life by visiting Viking museums or a Viking village, or sailing on an authentic Viking ship
Helpful Tips When Visiting Iceland in Summer
From camping and road tripping to watching waterfalls and eating out, here are a few helpful tips to make your summer trip an easy and memorable one:
Camping is yet another activity that’s very popular during Iceland’s summer travel. Not only do you get to be surrounded by the most majestic Icelandic sceneries, but it’s also an affordable accommodation option that will extend your stay. If you’re planning on going camping, we highly recommend that you get the Iceland Camping Card.
It costs €159 and gives a family (2 adults and 4 children) access to multiple camping sites across Iceland for a maximum stay of 28 nights. If you take into account that campsite prices range between $10-20 per person a night, the Camping Card is a great cost-saving solution.
Since the summer months in Iceland are some of the busiest months, you need to ensure that you book well in advance. Everything from accommodation to camping spots and activities needs to be booked before your arrival to avoid disappointment.
We understand that setting things in stone like this can be quite restrictive and time-limiting, but that’s why we also advise renting a campervan. That way, you’ve taken care of your accommodation in a budget-friendly manner. This will also, at least, give you a certain sense of freedom when planning your itinerary without having to book in and book out in specific places at specific times.
Visiting Popular Tourist Spots
The saying goes “you snooze you lose”, and it’s never been as true as it is when trying to visit a popular tourist spot in Iceland. If you have already done the unthinkable for summer in Iceland and didn’t book in advance, there is still a way that you might beat the crowds. Getting up really early and being first in line might just give you a fighting chance of reserving a spot or a ticket.
Whether you opt for a campervan or not, you will need to rent a motorhome or a campervan. Whilst the capital and other cities such as Kopavogur and Hafnarfjordur will have public transport solutions, exploring the rest of the island without your own transport is a hassle.
If you intend to explore the rest of the island via self-drive, you’ll also need to remember that many routes and roads can only be accessed via a 4x4 vehicle. So, if you don’t want to find yourself screaming “whyyyyyy?!?!” at the Westfjord heavens, you’ll need to chat to your rental agency before leaving the lot with a vehicle that’s not suitable for your planned drive.
Many visitors bring along cash on their trips abroad. If that sounds like you, you had better leave your cash in the bank where it belongs when visiting Iceland. Except for tips for guides, you won’t find anyone or any place that will prefer cash. It will be pretty much useless and just excess baggage to worry about.
Summer in Iceland – The Perfect Time to Visit?
Summer in Iceland is a time in which the island is alive and bustling with visitors from all around the world, one can enjoy the best possible weather Iceland has to offer and take part in a wide variety of activities that otherwise might be closed the rest of the year. Unless you have crippling social anxieties when it comes to crowds or are pretty adamant about seeing the Northern Lights, Iceland’s summer months truly are the best time to visit the island.