A Guide to August in Iceland: Everything You Need to Know
Updated: Apr 12
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.
Weather in August
We can’t discuss traveling to Iceland in August without touching on the most important aspect of this part of the season: the weather in Iceland in August. The summer is coming to an end, and the winter is approaching rapidly!
This is a topic that Icelanders want to deal with by frolicking in the last bits of summer warmth, rather than dreading the winter. In August, the official summer is ending. This means that you can start to notice the days getting shorter, the weather getting more hectic, and the temperature getting colder with each day. You will go from 18 to 15 hours of daylight, and the temperatures will drop down to under 10°C.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Iceland in late August doesn’t offer up the best weather conditions. This is a time of year when the weather is getting more and more unpredictable, and you are running the risk of experiencing the four seasons in a day. The temperatures are dropping over the course of the month, and the chance of rain is getting high.
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.
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.
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
Warm sweaters (Icelandic wool is the best)
Both shorts and long pants
Scarves to protect from the wind
Mosquito net or repellent
Things to Do
We are in the last gaps of the summer and Icelanders are hellbent on making these last, warming rays of the sunshine count. With the days getting shorter and the inevitable cold closing in, it’s time to throw as many outside events and parties as you possibly can. See below for our pick of the events happening in August in Iceland:
Mýrarbolti - the Swamp Soccer Championships
If you’re not in the mood to go to a festival or event, here are some other things to do in August in Iceland:
Scuba diving (especially in the Silfra fissure)
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.