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Iceland in June | Everything You Need to Know & the Effect of COVID-19

Iceland in June | Everything You Need to Know & the Effect of COVID-19

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The warm glow of the midnight sun bather the iconic Reynisdrangar seastacks.

What is Iceland like in June? What is June weather like in Iceland? What temperature will it be in Reykjavík and elsewhere on the map? What is the best way to experience the summer solstice? Will COVID-19 affect my travel? Read on for your guide to Iceland in June, whatever the weather forecast. 

    The most common question we get at Guide to Iceland is 'when is the best time to travel to Iceland?'. June is a great month to visit Iceland: it is the first official summer month, although it may sometimes feel more like spring.

    There may be snow spots dotting the mountain tops, but the flowers are in bloom, and temperatures are comfortable (though not as warm as July and August). Camping is popular from this month onward. Whether it be in a tent or camper van, why not enjoy sleeping out in nature?

    Improved weather conditions mean that driving in Iceland in June is very safe and inviting. The month of June sees the rugged roads to the Highlands open, allowing you access to the country's vast and wild interior (just make sure you have a 4X4 vehicle).

    The rich and rolling hills of Landmannalaugar.

    Iceland's National Day of Independence is held each year on the 17th of June, and no matter where you are in the country, flags will be at full mast, and Icelanders will be out in droves to celebrate.

    June is also the perfect time to experience the midnight sun in all its glory because the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, falls between June 20-22. The sun technically does set in Iceland during the summer solstice, but the light lingers in a sort of twilight due to the island's northern latitude. Not only does this give you more time in the day to enjoy the sights, but it's genuinely a unique phenomenon to witness.

    Secret Solstice is a massive music festival held over the summer solstice period, featuring international and local hit musicians sharing their talents with fans who gather in their masses at Laugardalur park in Reykjavík.

    Longer days and friendlier temperatures mean that most Iceland activities during June are accessible, but there are a few things you can't do. Ice caving season is strictly from November to March, so it's impossible to see these hidden wonders in the summer. It's also not possible to spot the elusive aurora borealis as the sky never darkens.

    But before getting into all of the fascinating details of June activities and attractions, let’s get you caught up on the impact of COVID-19 on your travels.

    How COVID-19 Affects Travel to Iceland in June

    June 2021 marked a month of liberation for Icelanders; with a fast and sweeping vaccine rollout and excellent testing and tracing protocols, all national restrictions were lifted. The following month, international restrictions were relaxed, allowing all vaccinated and immune travelers to visit with no quarantine or testing, only having to pre-register online up to 72 hours before your arrival.

    There is also a constantly updated list of approved countries that have special associated rules.

    As such, a holiday to Iceland in June to come promises to be a fantastic return to normalcy. All tour operators, accommodation options, and other services that are still getting back on their feet will be no doubt running in full swing, meaning you can enjoy the holiday you deserve after such a tough period.

    To keep updated on all things COVID-19 and Icelandic travel, check out this information page.

    Nature in Contrast

    Vestrahorn in all of its majesty.

    Iceland is a country of contrasts, and there is no better time to see this than the summer as the snowy blanket of winter thaws and nature is in blossom beneath the still frost-laden peaks of faraway mountains.

    Iceland is enveloped in purple flowers called lupines. The lupine was initially introduced to assist with soil erosion; however, they've quickly spread to cover large parts of the countryside. In some places, they are considered an invasive species that threatenS to stifle indigenous plants such as revered and ancient moss species. 

    Therefore, the lupines are quite controversial, and many locals dislike the plant for the reasons mentioned above. But many consider the quilt of purple flowers extremely beautiful and don't mind their spread across the Icelandic countryside.

    The lupines are out in full force in June and can provide a perfect flourish to the images you'll capture on film. Idyllic, purely idyllic. 

    If you drive around Iceland, you'll get a taste of its contrasts even a short distance because the landscapes change so swiftly. Within the span of a few kilometers, you'll see purple lupine fields, mossy green lava fields, and lush pastures dotted with yellow buttercups and dandelions.

    Things to Do in Iceland in June

    Sometimes it looks like puffins can't fly but they are actually capable of beating their wings over 400 times a minute.

    As the first month of summer proper, June is an ideal month to visit Iceland because there are so many activities and places accessible for you to enjoy. Although we could never list all the possibilities, the following list is intended to guide you through some of the most popular summer enterprises you can look forward to.

    Camping in June in Iceland

    Camping is great fun in May in Iceland.Photo by Ryan Shultiz

    The month of June generally heralds camping season for natives and visitors alike. Camping is very popular in Iceland, and there are many beautiful campsites all over the countryside. Sites will have showers and toilets close by or will be close to the local swimming pool where you can make use of the facilities.

    It is highly recommended to find a legitimate campsite to ensure you have the best amenities available, especially toilet facilities. Tjalda and Camping Card are fantastic websites for locating the closest campsite and finding out its available facilities. Wild camping is still technically allowed in Iceland, but there are strict regulations to preserve Iceland’s pristine nature.

    Before you set up camp, be sure you are following these guidelines.

    The weather is still unpredictable, so layers are always recommended, as are consistent weather forecast checks. Remember that even when the sun sets, you'll be in twilight—so it won’t hurt to bring an eye mask!

    Hiking Trails in June in Iceland

    Fed up with the hustle and bustle? Escape in the Icelandic countryside.

    Hiking trails in the summer months are plentiful and offer a vast amount of variety. There is no better way to explore the untouched natural beauty of the Icelandic countryside than walking (gently) through it, breathing in the fresh air as you hear the ground crunch beneath your feet.

    There is a range of guided and unguided hiking tours at your fingertips available through Guide to Iceland

    Better weather conditions open up remote routes that are usually inaccessible, and the possibility of camping makes longer trails conceivable. The roads to the Highlands open in June, as does the Laugavegur trail, which connects the Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk nature reserve. 

    The Westfjords are the oldest region of Iceland, and they tell their many stories with dramatically deep fjords and tumbling waterfalls. Within the misty mountain tops, there are some impressive trails for hikers of all levels. In some cases, you can still follow ancient cairns down the well-beaten paths. 

    Fishing in June in Iceland

    Fishing is popular in Iceland's seas and lakes.Photo from Kayak Fishing Adventure by Mount Kirkjufell

    Iceland harbors a deep relationship with fishing, and much of Icelandic history has revolved around it. Fishing in lakes and rivers is a popular leisure activity. That being said, all river fishing is highly moderated in Iceland, and you must make yourself familiar with the regulations if you intend to go fishing.

    You will need a permit to fish in any river or lake in Iceland and permission from the landowner; this can be tricky, and the permits are expensive. The most straightforward approach for experienced anglers and beginners is to book a guided fishing tour.

    Sea-angling is a lot more straightforward and often offered in conjunction with whale-watching expeditions (like this tour). In some cases, the tours will help you to gut your fish (not your whales) for cooking.

    The easiest and cheapest route to catching a fish in Iceland is harbor fishing—some companies offer rod rental so you can cast your line, relax, and let your feet dangle over the pier.

    Hot Springs & Swimming Pools in June in Iceland

    Laugardalslaug, Reykjavík's largest pool is well worth a visit!Photo from Reykjavik City Card | 24 Hours

    Icelanders love to be in the water, and there is no populated place in Iceland without a pool nearby. You can often find hidden hot spring gems in the most surprising and remote places!

    The abundance of geothermal energy in Iceland is intertwined with the people's history and culture, and meeting in the water is a common pastime to catch up and discuss current affairs. 

    Although these spots are nearly always outside, they are frequented year-round. However, June is an excellent time of year for those who wish to discover Icelandic pool culture.

    Reykjadalur has a geothermal river.Photo from Hot Spring Hike of Reykjadalur Valley

    Natural hot springs are less likely to have changing rooms, let alone heated ones, so June opens up the possibility of enjoying a dip. Do beware that some hot springs may be on private property and should not be entered without the landowner's permission.

    The everlasting sunlight hours of June gives you all day and night to enjoy these natural wonders: there is nothing like experiencing the long shadows and colorful glow of sunset from a hot spring in the middle of nowhere.

    Most towns and villages will have a swimming pool, and Reykjavík has many. No matter the location, there's always one rule to follow: you must wash thoroughly without your swimsuit before entering the pool. It's one way that the pools are kept clean and lightly chlorinated.
    In Reykjavík, the swimming pools are large and often boast extra comforts such as saunas and steam rooms. Laugardalslaug, the largest in Reykjavík, even offers massages and spa-like treatments.

    Sundhöllin in downtown Reykjavík has recently reopened after renovations and is a favorite among locals and visitors for its central location and social atmosphere. 

    Horseriding in June in Iceland

    Bums to the wind!

    The Icelandic horse is one of the rarest and purest breeds of horse in the world, and it has been bred in isolation here in Iceland for over 1000-years. It is famous for its intelligent and calm nature. It has faithfully served as a transport and agricultural companion for a millennium, although nowadays, these horses are primarily for leisure and competitive riding.

    June offers excellent weather for horseback riding—a chance to experience the beauty of the countryside from horseback. Furthermore, the longer hours of sunlight afford you more flexibility on what time of day and for how long you can take your trip. 

    The Icelandic horse is famed for its short, stocky build, and they are closer in size to ponies than horses and friendly in temperament. These qualities make the horses ideal for both children and beginners—and so saddling up to explore Iceland is also a fantastic family activity.

    Icelandic horses are everywhere around the country, and you can explore the most popular areas and tours from the comfort of a saddle atop a trusty steed.

    Whale & Puffin Watching in June in Iceland

    Having a whale of a time!Photo from Whale Watching Tour off Reykjavik's Faxafloi Bay

    The shores off of Iceland’s coasts are rich in krill and fish, lure whales and birds to its dramatic coastline. Whale watching and puffin spotting tours both operate on boat trips, and both tours (sometimes combined) last up to three hours.

    The Atlantic puffin only nests on the Icelandic coastline between May and August, so June is a prime month to spot the adorable bird, which is often dubbed the clown of the sea. Regarded by many as the unofficial bird of Iceland, you won’t want to miss your chance to spot these colorfully beaked fellows.

    A charming puffin nesting in the grass

    Both whale and puffin spotting make for excellent family adventures. Whale watching tours are available all year round; however, setting sail in the summer months makes for a much more pleasant experience at sea, with lower winds and kinder temperatures. 

    Whales are not the only mammals you can hope to see, and although humpback and minke whales are common, you may also see harbor porpoises and short-beaked dolphins. Less common species are fin whales and orcas (killer whales). You can also look forward to spotting Iceland's birdlife: gulls, fulmars, gannets, and guillemots. 

    Once onboard, you'll be taken to the prime spotting locations where your expert guide will bring your attention to any wildlife in the area and provide informative and fun facts about all curious creatures.

    Lava Caving in June in Iceland

    Tunnel to the middle of the earthPhoto from Leidarendi Lava Cave Exploration

    June is a perfect month to discover the lava caves and tubes of Iceland. Many lava caves that were inaccessible in the winter due to ice have thawed and are ready to be explored. Get beneath the surface to experience firsthand the powerful volcanism that created and continues to shape Iceland.

    It is never advisable to enter a cave in Iceland without an expert, and there are many guided tours to take you into these mysterious recesses of the earth’s crust.

    The flexibility of the summer months means you can mix-and-match to get the most out of your time. Why not combine adventure activities—like visiting Leiðarendi lava cave and horseback riding past beautiful hillsides and peaceful lakes—through this wonderful tour?

    What's Going on in June in Iceland?

    Catch the epic Secret Solstice music festival in JunePhoto from Katrín Ásta Sigurjónsdóttir 

    Although Iceland's population is around just a small country with fewer than 350,000 residents, its annual calendar is characterized by several national holidays and music and arts festivals—and June is no exception. Here are the cultural events that you can take advantage of in June in Iceland.

    Fisherman's Day

    Fishing is a celebrated pastime in Iceland.Photo from Scenic 3 Hour Catch & Cook Fishing in the Westfjords with Transfer from Bildudalur

    A public holiday, Fisherman's Day occurs on the first Sunday of June, although it’s a weekend-long celebration, especially in the countryside. Iceland’s history, culture, and survival have long been intertwined with the fortunes it reaps at sea, and there is no figure more revered than the brave and hardy Icelandic fisherman.

    Fisherman’s Day was established in 1938 to celebrate all those who risked their lives at sea past and present. This remembrance includes those who have tragically perished. 

    If you’re in Reykjavík for this holiday, you can take a gander at the old fish-packing district, now the cosmopolitan Grandi, only a 15-minute walk from the downtown area. Some restaurants will offer free seafood soup, and there may be outdoor vendors tempting you with fishy treats and barbequed tidbits. You can even watch the fisherman put the fish (and alien-like creatures of the deep) on ice!

    Fisherman’s Day (or weekend) is enthusiastically celebrated in coastal towns, so if you find yourself in a little village by the sea, make sure you get down to the harbor to familiarise yourself with local festivities. There are always activities, especially for kids, which makes Fisherman's Day a perfect family outing.

    Iceland's National Day, 17th of June

    The Icelandic flag waving in defiance against Danish rule.Photo by Simon Schmitt

    The 17th of June marks Iceland's independence, and famous independence fighter Jón Sigurðsson's birthday. Flags fly at full mast, and everyone has the day off if they want it.

    In Reykjavík, there is a parade through the downtown area featuring people in traditional Icelandic dress, people on horseback, and flag-wielding scouts. People flock to the central area to watch the show and hear a speech from the annually appointed Fjallkonan, the ‘woman of the mountain,’ who represents the Icelandic nation's fierce character and spirit. 

    For the past two years, the title of Fjallkonan was awarded to a trans woman and a drag queen, illuminating the fiercely progressive nature of Icelandic attitudes.

    People celebrate in central Reykjavík no matter the weather, and there are fireworks in the evening. Similar celebrations happen all over the country, varying in scale, so wherever you are, be sure to join in.

    Secret Solstice Music Festival

    Secret Solstice is an annual musical festival held over 3-4 days in central Reykjavík over the summer solstice weekend. Since the first festival in 2014, the festival has seen an exciting mix of established artists and up-and-coming talent from all over the world.

    In the past, groups like Radiohead, Die Antwoord, Foo Fighters, Wu-Tan Clan Busta Rhymes, Deftones, Kelis, The Prodigy, Stormzy, and Chaka Khan, among others, have attended.

    People come from all over to attend the festival where the sun never sets, and hostels and hotels swell during this time (as well as car hires, so book ahead). There is also a camping site for those that want the authentic festival feel.

    Book for Secret Solstice well ahead of time—just don't forget sunglasses and a waterproof jacket!

    Lobster Festival in Höfn

    Enjoy the pride of Höfn's local cuisine, the tasty langoustine.Photo by Lois Hansel

    An annual lobster festival is held at the end of June to celebrate the town of Höfn’s birthday. Höfn is famous for its lobster and langoustine. The festival is a weekend celebration with live music concerts and, of course, lots and lots of lobster. 

    Weather in June in Iceland

    Beautiful fever flowers litter the rolling green hills of Landmannalaugar.

    June is a remarkable time to come to Iceland and is one of the most popular months of the year to visit. And it's not at all difficult to understand why—the prolonged hours of daylight bring warmer temperatures as well as increased flexibility to cram in everything you want to see.

    The midnight sun's amber glow creates perfect opportunities for photography enthusiasts since sunset and sunrise last far longer than just one golden hour.

    That is not to say that June is guaranteed sunshine. Weather in Iceland is consistently inconsistent and can change rapidly within the cycle of a day. Although you're extremely unlikely to experience ice or snow in the lowlands, you'll end up with a mish-mash of grey, rainy days, and clear blue skies.

    If you are planning outdoor activities, and especially if you're planning to camp, be sure to dress in layers because they will keep you warm in cold conditions and give you the option to shed layers when the sun comes out (fingers crossed!). Find out about the weather here.

    Whatever the weather, the number of activities and places to go in June are boundless, so visit Iceland in June and leave with unforgettable memories and stories to share. 

    What was your time in June in Iceland like? What kind of things did you enjoy doing? Would you visit again at this time of year? How was the weather in June for you? Feel free to leave your comments or questions below: