Iceland is one of those special places that’s always a good idea, no matter what time of year it is. This is a country of extremes: where sunny nights can be met with dark days, and you could even discover onyx basalt columns near neon green mossed boulders. There’s snow, wind, rain and sun (sometimes all in one day) but that’s kind of what makes Iceland magical. Whilst winter has the Northern Lights and ice caves, June-August is still arguably the best and brightest time to visit. Let us walk you through what makes Iceland in summer our favourite.
Take advantage of the midnight sun
Summer in Iceland is a strange and wonderful time. What if I told you that you could get up at 7am for breakfast, conquer a few hike trails by the afternoon, and continue posting selfies at midnight? That’s the beauty of these long summer days in this part of the world: you can explore as long as you please without worrying about losing light. In fact, the sun doesn’t really set during the peak of summer. The sun literally dips to the surface of the water before rising again. It’s a trippy thing to experience at first but then you realise all the incredible possibilities. Just remember that you still need to sleep!
Forbidden lands become open again
In the winter, a large part of the country becomes either unreachable or very difficult to access. However, once the snow and ice thaws, impassable roads are unblocked and the whole of Iceland is yours to explore. Iceland in Summer is when idyllic villages spring to life and the mountains are coloured by purple lupine flowers. One of our favourite areas is the Westfjords where you have gems such as the white sand beaches of Rauðasandur, the Dynjandi Waterfall, the island of Vigur, and the Hornstrandir nature reserve for hiking.
There’s also the north which features its own slice off-the-beaten-path paradise. From the natural hot springs in Mývatn to the artsy town of Akureyri, there’s something for everyone up here. If you’re feeling a little daring, there’s also white water rafting and boat rides out to Grímsey Island which is part of the Arctic Circle.
Explore the country on foot
To get the full Icelandic experience and true appreciation of its rugged and raw beauty, you really need to strap on a comfy pair of hiking boots and tackle the highlands. Only open for traffic during the summer months, you’ll be transported to the otherworldly landscape of Iceland’s interior that can only be accessible by these hiking trails. There are many to choose from but the most famous is the Laugavegur trek, which can take anywhere from 4-8 days to complete. Named by National Geographic as one of the top 20 hikes in the world, people from across the globe come to Iceland just to do this hike.
If you want to explore Iceland in Summer, but don’t want a multi-day trek, there’s the Fimmvörðuháls hike between Skógar and Þórsmörk that passes the infamous Eyjafjallajökull glacier volcano, the Víknaslóðir trail in the east, and Hornstrandir in the Westfjords that I mentioned above.
Puffins and whales
During the warm summer months, Iceland’s environment becomes the perfect home for a wide variety of incredible animals. Over 20 species of whale – including the Orca, Minke, Humpback, and Blue Whale – can be seen near the shores which become a flourishing feeding ground. To add to this, the summer season is also a prolific time to see the adorable puffin. Iceland just so happens to be home to the largest colony in the world with an estimated 8-10 million birds.
Whale watching excursions are widely available throughout the country from the Old Harbour in Reykjavik to the small towns in the north of Iceland. These tours typically use small vessels, which means a more personal and intimate experience to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. When it comes to puffins, they’re found in very specific parts of the island. The best places for this special type of bird watching is in the Westman Islands, Cape Dyrhólaey and along the Látrabjarg Cliff in the Westfjords.
Celebrate summer as Icelanders do
After a long winter season, Icelanders know they need to take advantage of the summer months. That’s why there’s not a week that goes by where there isn’t some sort of festival. Iceland in Summer is a time for celebrating and gathering for long weekends of dancing, singing, and drinking.
One of the largest festivals is Secret Solstice in Reykjavik. Based on the Norse religion and mythology of old, it’s held in mid-June (when the country experiences 24-hour midnight sun) and features a host of big-name musicians over the course of 4 days. If that doesn’t float your boat, there are a number of other local festivals that you can check out. Some of our favourites include National Day which is celebrated all around Iceland (17 June), Bræðslan music festival in East Iceland (July), The Great Fish Day in Dalvík (August), Bank Holiday weekend in Vestmannaeyjar (August), and Gay Pride and Culture Night in Reykjavík (August).
I could probably keep going but hopefully, you get the point. Summer in Iceland is amazing and should be on everyone’s bucket list!
❓ What’s your favourite thing about Iceland in summer? Comment below and let us know! 👇