Complete Guide to Iceland in August

Updated: Nov 13, 2019

August is the last official month of summer and it is a popular time to visit Iceland. You’ll find some of the mildest temperatures at this time of year and lots going on. The Icelandic social calendar is busy with festivals, parties and outdoor events. With winter approaching it is important to make the most of the sunshine and those precious daylight hours. So it really is a lively month in Iceland for culture and a really fun time to visit.

The long daylight hours mean that it is also an ideal month for sightseeing and perfect for a road trip. In this article we will look at the August weather and daylight hours in a little more depth. We will also run through the top things to do in Iceland in August. If you’re thinking of planning a high summer trip to Iceland then read on.

Iceland weather and daylight hours in August

August marks the end of the season of the Midnight Sun and the days get swiftly shorter over the course of the month. Around the beginning of the month there are around 18 hours of daylight, but by the close of August it is just 15. Quite a big change over the course of a month! This does mean that there are some beautiful sunsets and sunrises to see. Golden and pink light bathes the landscapes and adds another dimension to their beauty.

Sunset over a black sand beach. The ocean reflects the light and there are craggy black columns rising from the water. Sunsets in August in Iceland

Especially towards the end of the month there are a few good hours of pitch-black darkness too. This means that there is a fair chance of seeing the Northern Lights in August! If you’d really like to see the dancing lights then plan your trip later in the month.

Wild, unpredictable and changeable to say the least the weather in Iceland is a hot topic of conversation. However August is consistently one of the warmest months of the year. Alongside July the average temperature ranges from about 10-15 degrees Celsius. There are often many warmer days too with highs of 20-25 degrees. The flip side of this is that it can also get quite chilly in August too. An artic wind can make it feel pretty cold. There could even be a flurry of snow although it is much more likely to be rain at this time of year. All in all though it’s a steady month for weather with mild days and not too much moisture in the air.

Top things to do in Iceland in August

Camping and Road Trips

With an average of 16 hours of daylight August is the prime time of year for a camping road trip. You will have plenty of daylight hours for sightseeing and road tripping and also twilight and darkness for sleeping. You will also enjoy beautiful sunsets and sunrises. Do make sure that you set your sleeping pattern to coincide with these special times of day. Getting up bright and early to see a glorious sunrise over Iceland’s spectacular landscapes is a must. You might also catch the Northern Lights towards the end of the month. Camping in or near a national park away from any light pollution will give you even more chance of seeing them.

If you plan on renting a campervan in August the whole island will be open to you. All of the roads will be navigable and you could easily drive around the entirety of the Iceland Ring Road. Shorter road trips are also a good option. If you have a week or less then you could stick to the South Coast of Iceland. Short road trips also include the Golden Circle route or spending a few days exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in the west.

Wildlife Watching

There are several opportunities in August for seeing the wildlife in Iceland. August is the tail end of puffin season. These feathered characters nest in their hundreds on various coastal cliffs around the island. By August the chicks are fledging and they are preparing to set off for warmer climes. It is still a prime time to see them though.

Whale watching is also very popular at this time of year with plenty of action in the waters around Iceland. The Blue Whale, the Minke Whale and more can be spotted on whale watching boat trips around the coastal bays. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula in west Iceland and the northern town of Húsavík are some of the favourite places to see them.

Join the Festivities

Cultural events and festivals abound in August with something going on every weekend right across the country. If you are travelling around Iceland at this time of year you can’t help but stumble across a celebration or two. Here we’ve highlighted a few of the main events.

Fireworks over a city. View from the sea. August in Iceland.

Thjodhatid in the Westman Islands

Music festivals in Iceland have grown in popularity and one of the biggest and best is Thjodhatid in the Westman Islands. The Westman Islands are just off of the South Coast of Iceland. Heimaey the one inhabited island in the archipelago hosts this annual event. The festival is traditionally a celebration of Medieval Icelandic Culture with sporting events, music and cuisine. Today it has evolved and you can catch a mix of music, fireworks and revelry in a stunning island setting. This festival falls on the first weekend in August.

Culture Night

Culture Night is held in the latter part of August but has a changing date each year. This is a citywide celebration of all things art and culture in Reykjavik. Galleries and museums open their doors for free with all sorts of special events going on. Music, poetry, visual arts, theatre, film, you name it! If you are a culture vulture visiting Iceland in August then do time your Reykjavik visit around this one.

Reykjavik Gay Pride

Iceland is a progressive country and Gay Pride in Reykjavik is a fun filled and sizeable event. In fact the event regularly draws around 100,000 people, so that’s about a third of the population of Iceland! Instead of just one day the whole week is given over to music, shows and parties celebrating the LGBT community. Everyone is welcome!

Great Fish Day

Iceland is a proud fishing nation with a long tradition of seafaring. Historically with little food available on land the Icelandic people ate a lot of seafood and fish. This is still true today and in the far northern town of Dalvík on the Tröllaskagi Peninsula they celebrate it is style. The whole town will cook up a feast together and anyone and everyone is invited to join in for free. There will also be music, fireworks and a lively carnival atmosphere.

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