Iceland is an amazing country that I definitely recommend you to visit, either in summer or winter; but if you don’t like the polar climate or wearing winter clothes, one of the best times to travel to Iceland is during the months of June, July and August.
The average temperature is about 11 degrees Celsius, much warmer than in the winter days.
If you are traveling to Iceland at this time of year, here are the essentials and top things to do in Iceland in the summer so you don’t miss anything.
If you are a wildlife and animal lover, whale watching is one of the must things to do in Iceland in summer.
Near the coast you can watch different species of whales (Minke whales, humpbacks, orcas...) that come to Iceland for feeding. You can take a 3-hour whale watching tour from the Reykjavík harbor to enjoy these great animals.
In addition, in summer it’s the best time to see puffins, unique birds that can be seen in the Westman Islands, Cape Dyrhólaey and the Látrabjarg cliff.
During most of the year, Icelandic roads are frozen and some of them are filled with snow and blocked. However, in summer the roads are in better conditions, and you can get where you want to enjoy your trip to the fullest.
I recommend you to rent a 4x4 to access roads that are not paved and take the opportunity to explore the hidden gems of the north or the highlands that are inaccessible in winter.
Discover the thermal lakes of Mývatn, and reach the charming village of Akureyri. And don’t forget the must-see natural wonders of Iceland.
In summer, Iceland is full of colour. The valleys fill with green moss and you will see lava fields full of small pink and purple wildflowers. The contrast with the mountains, lakes and waterfalls is impressive.
Take advantage of the colours at this time of year, because in winter, the country is covered in whites, ochers and grays.
Also, in summer there is light for most of the day. At the end of June, the sun sets at around 11.30pm and rises around 2.00am.
At first it will be difficult to sleep with all this light, as if it were 11 in the morning, but then you will get used to this special charm that the summer months in Iceland have to offer.
It’s true that at this time of year you won’t be able to see the northern lights, but the sunsets are magical.
If you like active tourism and hiking, I recommend you to do the Laugavegur route, one of the best in the world according to National Geographic, of about 55 km long, or 77 if you add the extra section of Fimmvörðuháls to it.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
It’s a challenge that will take you between 4 and up to 8 days to complete, but it’s very worth it. If you don’t want to make the full route, you can do a shorter one and only make the 'short' route of Fimmvörðuháls, that's 22 kilometres from Þórsmörk to Skógafoss.
If you don’t have a car, there are buses that leave from Reykjavík to the start of the route in Landmannalaugar during the summer time.
After the hard winter months, when the warmer temperatures arrive, the Icelanders go out to celebrate the summer.
Reykjavík becomes a festive city, where musical and gastronomic events fill the streets. But other festivals are also held in other parts of the country.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
Wake up early
There are many things to do in Iceland in the summer, but it’s also the time when many Europeans have vacations, so you will find many tourists at each attraction, lakes, waterfalls or natural landscape.
Therefore, the best thing is to get rid of laziness and get up early. This way you will get to most places first thing in the morning and you will save yourself queuing and enjoy Iceland without the crowd.
As I mentioned in the previous point, in summer the country is crowded, especially now that Iceland has become a famous destination.
For that reason, in addition to getting up early, I recommend that you plan in advance the route that you are going to do, look for the less touristy places, recommendations on places to eat, and the best hours to make the visits.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
Do not forget your camera
Iceland is pure nature, and photos are essential if you want to immortalize so much beauty. Also, if you wake up early, you can take pictures without people, something that is appreciated.
Don’t forget the tripod and enjoy the amazing photography that Iceland offers you.
Rent a car
The best thing to do when visiting Iceland is to rent a car or motorhome and travel the country on your own path. It gives you a lot of freedom and allows you to make the stops you want to take photos or relax whenever you feel like it.
My recommendation is that you go on a summer self drive tour. You follow a custom-made itinerary that guides you through Iceland's landscapes and your vehicle, activities and accommodation are reserved for you. That easy!
Now that you know what to do in Iceland in summer, do you dare to visit this gorgeous country?