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A Guide to August in Iceland: Everything You Need to Know

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

August in Iceland is perfect for anyone who wants to mix cultural events with summer outings. All roads are still open, and tourist attractions are in full bloom. Even though the price is a bit hiked, the payoff is worth it, and this is the last summery part of the year when you can mission around the country to see all the animals without getting too cold.


Being one of the summer months, August in Iceland is one of the popular months for tourists. Knowing what to do and where to go is essential for a perfect Iceland holiday. This is why we put together an article that covers everything from things to bring to Iceland in August, to which museum to visit on a cloudy day.


Iceland in August: weather

Weather in Iceland in August


The average temperature in Iceland in August is going to keep around 10 °C to 15 °C, but it can still spike over 20 °C on a good day. It will still be warm enough for all the summer activities, as you will see when you travel around the island. If you’d rather stay around the capital, the temperature in Reykjavík in August will usually keep somewhat steady at around 15 °C and rarely become cold.


The upside of this is that certain activities are more pleasurable in “bad” weather. Sitting in one of the many hot springs is way more pleasurable when you know how cold everything else is around you. Submerging yourself in the natural hot springs in the mountain somewhere, or simply hanging with the locals in a public pool, is an amazing feeling when you get one of the first arctic winds tickling your neck.


Can I See northern lights in Iceland in August?


In August, Iceland experiences limited hours of darkness. During these brief night hours, the initial appearances of the Northern Lights emerge. However, witnessing them is contingent on favorable conditions and often necessitates staying awake quite late. The opportunity to see them is present, but it's largely influenced by chance.


Camping in August


You can’t really experience August in Iceland without going on a camping trip. It doesn’t have to be a long one and to be honest, there is nothing wrong with having a short camping trip. Especially if you happen to indulge in some camping in Iceland in late August. The weather isn’t going to have that super summery warm feeling, but you will still pay summer prices, even if it is just a weekend or short, midweek getaway.


Best Time to Camp in August in Iceland


Going in early August is the best camping tip we can give. The price is going to be roughly the same as late August, but you will still enjoy the nice weather of the high summer and the long days. This time of year, you will be on the campsites in prime tourism-time, meaning less space and more people. Camper people are generally friendly in Iceland, so this isn’t something negative.


Camping in Iceland in August


Camping in the North


When planning a trip to Iceland in August, you could also still consider the northern part of Iceland, as the winter isn’t going to set in there until late September. Summer in the northern part of Iceland is an amazing thing to behold, and contrary to popular belief, temperatures can still go up quite high, even in the late summer. Camping in the northern part of Iceland end of August will also give you quite the unique opportunity: Northern Lights in summer vibes.


Aurora Borealis is usually a winter thing and is often seen on really cold winter nights. However, warm summer nights can also invite this amazing light spectacle. At the end of August in Iceland, you will start to experience the really dark nights once again, and that is the most important ingredient when you want to spot the Northern Lights.


Driving in August


If you want to take your campervan or motorhome rental and have a good old-fashioned road trip in August in Iceland, you are in luck. With the decent weather conditions, the roads are going to be in good shape. When you are planning your trip to Iceland in August, make sure to add a few days for a road trip, even if you only do the Golden Circle close to Reykjavik.


State of the Roads


Since they don’t have any trains for transport in Iceland, the state of the road is a key aspect in making sure society functions. Everyone needs to be able to know what’s happening on the road ahead of them and avoid any trouble, so Iceland has set up a service to do just that! The site can be read in English and is the perfect tool for any road trip enthusiast.


Driving in Iceland in August

Highland Roads in August in Iceland


Driving in August in Iceland also offers you the possibility of using the mountain roads if you have rented a 4x4 car. These roads, the F-roads, are only open during the summer and usually close somewhere in September, which means they are good to go all throughout August. Traveling these roads will allow you to explore the Icelandic highlands and truly experience the serenity that envelopes these mountains.


The highlands also contain a couple of hidden gems that most people will overlook since it’s harder to get there. In the mountains, you can find amazing camping spots and hidden hot springs that most tourists won’t see or experience. We strongly suggest that you go up to the highlands if you get the chance.


Ring Roads


The far most popular route to take when hitting the road in Iceland is either Ring Road 1, or the Golden Circle. Ring Road 1 is the road that literally goes around the entire Island. From here, you will be able to reach most tourist spots without going off the trails too far. August is a great time of the year to go along Ring Road 1 since the number of tourists will start to diminish and the traffic on the roads will follow suit.


Smaller ring roads, like Ring Road 2 in the northwest, Golden Circle in the southwest, or the Diamond Route in the northeast, are perfect examples of longer routes to take off Ring Road 1 that will be perfect in August in Iceland. These will add 1-2 days to your itinerary but will be well worth it.


Ring Road Iceland in August


Why Go to Iceland in August (Pros & Cons)


When you are planning a trip to Iceland in August, you need to consider the advantages as well as the drawbacks of this time of year.


Tourism


The summer months (June – August) are the busiest time of year in terms of tourism. This means two things: a lot of people and access to (almost) all tourist experiences. There are some things you can only do in the winter, but for argument’s sake, we will leave those things out right now.


Having a lot of tourists comes with price hikes and crowded places. This is obviously one of the drawbacks. Reykjavik in August is a prime example of this since this is the hub for almost all activities in Iceland. Regardless of what you are doing in August in Iceland, you are likely to have to travel through Reykjavik and maybe stop there for a little while, just like everybody else. This makes it a crowded area that doesn’t suit everyone, but if you are a people person, this is the prime time to hit the bars and clubs to make new friends and have fun!


When visiting Iceland in August, you will be able to do all the tourism activities in somewhat decent weather. Even though this means that some of them will be crowded, they will be open, and you will be able to experience them, which is a positive aspect. Unfortunately, the price hike applies here too, just as with anything else in summertime Iceland.


Daylight


The summer sun is an amazing thing that most will marvel at when they first arrive. Some people won’t have an issue with the illuminated nights, while others are heavily affected by the extra sunlight.


August in Iceland is a time when the daylight hours are going down to the “normal” levels that most of us are used to. The midnight sun is gone, and the days won’t be longer than 18 hours, meaning a minimum of 6 hours of dark nights. This is great for those who rather sleep in the dark, but it can have a negative effect on the spirits of some.


The absence of daylight does invite the Northern Lights, so the darkness can be a positive aspect of your Iceland trip. This is more likely to be experienced in Iceland end of August.


Midnight sun Iceland in August

Events


August in Iceland is literally teeming with events. If you are the kind of person who loves crowds, celebrations, and loud festivals, then this is the time of year for you. Sporting everything from Pride parades to odd football tournaments in the swamps, traveling to Iceland in August is the festival you make it to be.


The drawback is if you are not big on festivals and are planning on having a calm and cozy holiday in any of these towns, you will not have a good time. Iceland doesn’t have that many inhabitants so whenever there is a festival, most people will join in and the cost of that is that little care is given to those who don’t want to partake.


Helpful Tips


When planning a trip to Iceland in August, you need to make time for the fauna in the country. August is the prime time to go whale spotting along the coast, and it’s the start of the migration time for some of the wildlife.


The most prominent animal event is the migration of the puffin birds when the small ones are literally hurling themselves off the cliffs and down into the sea. Puffins are very well insulated and very buoyant, so the cold Nort Atlantic Ocean doesn’t bother them at all.

In the north, you can still spot the acrobatic humpback whales and all around the coast, you will find plenty of dolphins.


For the days when the weather isn’t as nice outside, we suggest you take the gloomy part of the day and visit some of Iceland’s many museums. August in Iceland is a great time to enjoy the museums without wasting good weather, so pop into the National Museum in Reykjavik, the raunchy Penis Museum, or visit the Viking World at Reykjanesbæ.


Iceland in August: puffin watching

Packing List


Braving nature in August in Iceland demands protection against the elements. Unpredictable weather is your worst enemy since it can go from warm summer weather to autumn showers in a matter of minutes. See our packing list for Iceland in August to be best prepared:

  • Waterproof shoes. Extra important if you are going on a hike

  • Windproof jacket

  • Warm sweaters (Icelandic wool is the best)

  • Cotton t-shirts

  • Both shorts and long pants

  • Swimsuit

  • Scarves to protect from the wind

  • Warm socks

  • Mosquito net or repellent

  • Sunglasses

  • Sunblock

Things to Do


August is arguably one of the best months to visit Iceland. With the summer solstice slightly behind, there’s not quite 24 hours of daylight, but still, plenty to work with. August's weather is usually as calm as it gets in Iceland, and fairly warm by local standards. For that reason, it’s best to maximize your outdoor time with adventurous activities.


If you’re wondering what to do in Iceland in August, here are some recommendations.


1. Go Hiking in the Icelandic Highlands


Iceland’s wild interior is only accessible between June and September. For the rest of the year, extreme weather and heavy snow make the roads leading to the highlands—known as F-roads—impassable. Take advantage of this brief access by heading into Iceland’s uninhabited center for the best views and hiking trails.


The country’s best—and longest—hiking routes are found in the highlands of Iceland, giving unrestricted scenery for miles upon miles. The Laugavegur Trail and Fimmvörðuháls are two multi-day trails that continuously attract hundreds of people every year. Prepare yourself well and tackle these challenging routes for a real Iceland summer adventure.


Iceland’s F-roads may only be driven on with a 4x4 vehicle, and sometimes even that isn’t enough. Most of the mountain roads involve river crossings, which sometimes only larger vehicles can handle. Do your research and select your rental vehicle accordingly.


Although you won’t be able to see the northern lights in August, Iceland’s clear skies are perfect for watching sunsets. And there’s nowhere that offers a better, more unrestricted view than the highlands.


Things to do in Iceland in August: hiking


2. Go Whale Watching


Although whales and dolphins frequent the ocean around Iceland all year long, their concentration is highest in summer. Whale watching, then, is one of the top things to do in Iceland in August as you’re almost guaranteed a sighting. Twenty-two different species of whale and dolphin have been spotted in the past, so who knows what you’ll see when it’s your turn!


Boat tours with destinations to whale hot spots leave from many harbors around the country, on every coast. If you’re sticking close to Reykjavík, several companies operate from the city’s harbor. The most popular place to spot whales, however, is Húsavík, aptly named the “whale watching capital of Iceland”.


Whale watching in Iceland in August


3. See the Puffins on Vestmannaeyjar


In the summertime, there are up to ten million Atlantic puffins living on the cliffs across Iceland. At the end of August, these birds and their newly-hatched young fly into the ocean. They’ll spend the rest of the year in the ocean, so August is the last time to see them.


Puffin watching is actually one of the most incredible things to do in Iceland in August. It’s a rare opportunity to see baby puffins up close, as they leave their nests for the first time. Nowhere is this more spectacular than in the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar), where a large portion of Iceland’s puffins live.


The Westman Islands are a series of small islands below Iceland’s south coast, and only the largest, Heimaey, is inhabited. Take a short ferry here in August and see as many puffins as your heart desires, ideally with a boat tour!


Puffins in Iceland


4. Travel the Ring Road


Iceland’s Ring Road is one of the world’s most epic road trip routes, so it’s best driven slowly without rushing. Ideally, you’ll want to spread the 1,322km (821 miles) of Route 1 over seven days or more. This will give you enough time to stop, hike and explore every day, with only a few hours of driving in between.


With everything being open, a Ring Road trip is the pinnacle of things to do in Iceland in August. You’ll need to book in advance to stay in hostels or hotels, but campsites will almost always have space. Pitch your tent or park your campervan rental in an awesome campground each night, and continue the adventure the next day.


Things to do in Iceland in August: Ring Road


5. Camp in Iceland’s Biggest Forest


If you’re a fan of camping—whether in a tent or motorhome—staying in Iceland’s biggest forest is a must-do. You may notice as you drive around that the country doesn’t have a lot of tree coverage. Fortunately, Hallormstaður forest in the east has been preserved and is a great destination for the whole family.


There are two main campsites in Hallormstaður, and they also act as the beginning of many hiking trails. In August, the forest’s atmosphere will be tranquil, and at times filled with energy, as many locals holiday there. Playgrounds, lakes and quad-biking tours will keep you fully entertained.


Iceland largest forest


6. Join the Reykjavík Marathon/Celebrate Culture Night


Iceland’s most popular running event takes place around mid-August and attracts thousands of participants. The race, in which a variety of distances are available, takes you around downtown Reykjavík. Running is a great way to explore an area, as it gives you a workout combined with a sightseeing tour!


In the evening after the race is complete, what follows is always the Reykjavík Culture Night. This is a celebration of the capital’s art scene, and music, art exhibitions, and theater performances fill the city. The event comes to an official close at 11 pm with a display of fireworks. Don’t hesitate– come and join in the cultural fun!


Things to do in Iceland in August: Marathon


7. Attend the Festivals

  • Þjóðhátíð. This is Iceland’s national festival, taking place at the beginning of August on Vestmannaeyjar. Thousands of locals travel to the island of Heimaey for three days of camping, music, dancing, and fireworks.

  • Reykjavík Pride. A week-long celebration of diversity, taking place right in the heart of Reykjavík.

  • The Great Fish day. An event in north Iceland celebrating the country’s fishing culture with a seafood buffet, is scheduled for mid-August.


Iceland festivals in August

8. Visit the National Parks


Iceland has three massive national parks- Snæfellsjökull, Þingvellir, and Vatnajökull. All three are full of incredible natural features and contain giant campsites. Exploring Iceland's national parks, then, should be top of your list of things to do in Iceland in August.


Snæfellsjökull National Park lies in west Iceland, and a handy highway circles the park’s edge. Drive around this highway to see the nearby glacier from all sides, and stop at the beaches on the way.


Þingvellir is both a geological and political point of interest. It’s this famous spot where you can clearly see where tectonic plate movement is slowly splitting Iceland in half. It’s also the site where Iceland’s first parliament was held, a tradition that has continued for hundreds of years.


Vatnajökull is Iceland’s largest national park and contains the country’s largest glacier. Some of Iceland’s most stunning volcanoes, lava fields and other features are located somewhere inside. You could spend weeks exploring this park, so leave some time to complete a few hikes in Vatnajökull.


Vatnajokull National Park, Iceland

9. Snorkel in Silfra Fissure


One of the gems of the above-mentioned Þingvellir National Park is Silfra fissure. This fissure was created by plate movement and then filled with meltwater from the nearby glacier. The result is a calm “river” of sorts, containing some of the clearest water in the world. Visibility is up to 100 metres, and the water stays between 0-2°C year-round.


Snorkeling (or diving) in Silfra is one of the most exhilarating things to do in Iceland in August. Several companies operate tours in which they provide you with all the necessary equipment and guide you around the fissure. Being able to see that far underwater gives a magical feeling.


Things to do in Iceland in August: diving


10. Visit the Wild Hot Springs


Iceland contains many springs that are filled with naturally-heated water. The temperature varies and some are not safe to enter, but the locals have taken note of the best ones. There’s nothing like bathing in geothermal water while enjoying the view of the surrounding landscape. Talk about a great ending to a day of incredible adventure!


Many of the best Iceland’s hot springs can only be reached via a hike, sometimes of an hour or more. If you want to skip the hike and just bathe, visit one of the country’s geothermal spas or hot pools. Almost every town has a swimming pool, and there are special places like the Blue Lagoon which offer more luxury.


Iceland wild springs in August

Getting Going


Now that you know everything to know about August in Iceland, you are ready to start planning your trip for real. Make sure to pack the right stuff and rent the right campervan for your trip around the country in this magical month or stay in Reykjavik and enjoy the festivities.

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