ICELAND IN SUMMER – TRAVEL TIPS AND BEST THINGS TO DO

THINGS TO DO IN SUMMER IN ICELAND – BEST ACTIVITIES + TIPS

Heading to Iceland in summer? Then read on and find out about the best things to do in summer + travel tips for your summer trips.

 

I have visited Iceland in the summer and winter. For this post, I share my favorite summer activities in Iceland and have also asked my fellow travel bloggers for some of their favorite places to visit in summer.

PLAN YOUR SUMMER TRIP TO ICELAND

Iceland is one of the most beautiful places in the world, it’s got amazing landscapes and scenery.

The best time to visit is highly dependent upon what you want to see in Iceland. Each season has its charm – here are some travel tips for your trip to Iceland in summer.

How to Get Around in Iceland in Summer

While Iceland in winter isn’t the perfect time to drive, summer is perfect for a road trip.

So get a rental car because it is the best way to get around, driving is easy since there aren’t too many cars once you leave the Reykjavik and Golden Circle area.

If you want to make Reykjavik your base and do some day trips, you cannot rely on public transportation. In this case you will have to book guided tours. This is a great option if you stay near Reykjavik and do not plan to visit the North of Iceland for the East Coast.

Where to Stay in Iceland

If you road trip Iceland you will have to change locations accordingly. Check out this detailed guide on where to stay in Iceland.

Weather in Iceland

Iceland in the summer means looooong days. In July you have the longest days of the year where you do not have a sunset. Even the weeks before and after, the days are long and you will have late sunsets and early sunrises.

Temperatures can rise to 20-25 °C (68-77 °F), but most of the time they are about 10-15 °c (50-59 °F) with strong winds on the coast and a lot of rain (especially in Reykjavik). 

The best about visiting Iceland in summer is the looong summer days – you might have heard about the magical Midnight Sun in the nordic countries. 

The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon that occurs during the summer in places south and north of the Antarctic Circle – including Iceland. The Earth rotates at a tilted axis relative to the Sun, and near the 21st of June, the north pole is tilted toward the Sun, and the northern hemisphere experiences summer solstice. For several weeks, the Sun never sets above the Arctic Circle, and the Sun remains visible even at Midnight.

  • The peak of Iceland’s Midnight Sun is usually the 21st of June
  • You can experience the Midnight Sun in Iceland between mid-May until mid-August
  • Iceland’s daylight hours on the longest days of the year are 24 hours per day (May-July)

So, be prepared for that – however, this does not mean that it is warm or even hot. The weather in Iceland can be crazy. And I had some bad days in July with a lot of rain and strong wind. So, pack appropriately even in the summer months.

WHAT TO DO IN ICELAND IN SUMMER

Okay, summer in Iceland does not necessarily mean beach time and getting a tan. Summer in Iceland is different than summer in Southern Europe. However, it is unique, and here are some of the best summer activities in Iceland (many can be done throughout the year, but some can only be done in the summer months).

Relax at Blue Lagoon

Recommended by Alexis and Bertaud from World Travel Adventures

Visiting the Blue Lagoon is one of the best places to visit in Iceland. This milky-blue geothermal spa is one of the 25 wonders of the world and is the top bucket list travel experience for millennials.

Top Things to do in Iceland The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is one of the best places to visit in Iceland in winter
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You cannot visit Iceland without soaking in the Blue Lagoon!

It is the perfect place to visit in Iceland – there’s no better way to enjoy a break from the freezing cold temperatures in winter.

It is also very romantic, so grab your lover or find one there and blissfully soak the day away. Get a glass of prosecco from the swim-up bar and you’re in heaven! Lose the crowds by wandering to the outer edges of the Lagoon.

The Blue Lagoon is only about 30 minutes from the airport, so it makes sense to visit after you land or on your last day before heading to the airport. Give yourself plenty of time. We spent about 4 hours there but could have easily stayed all day. Some buses will take to from the airport to the lagoon, or you can rent a car and drive yourself.

Make sure that you book your Blue Lagoon tickets well in advance – the Blue Lagoon has become one of the main tourist attractions in Iceland and so  this does not surprise it is so busy. 

Tickets start at $50 which includes a silica mud mask for silky smooth skin. Bring your own towels, bathrobes, and flip flops if you want to buy the cheapest package.

Don’t forget to bring your camera to snap photos of the famous blue water that seems to glow thanks to its mineral content which reflects the sun.

Depending on how serious you are about your hair, bring something to pull it up or even a swim cap if you plan to get under the waterfall. The minerals dry out your hair, so slather it with tons of conditioner when you shower prior to entering the lagoon. Enjoy this epic experience in Iceland!

Visit Glaumbaer

Recommended by Shoba from Just Go Places

Glaumbaer is a traditional turf farmhouse which is now being operated as a museum – is one of the best places to visit in Iceland in summer.

Glaumbaer is one of the best things to do in Iceland in summer
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Located in the north of Iceland, the farmhouse that you see was built in the mid 18th century. Building turf houses with sod roofs and little windows was an Icelandic tradition that dates back to the time of the Vikings.

There has been a house in this location since the 11th century when the land was farmed by Snorri Porfinnsson. Porfinnson was probably the first European born in North America because his mother accompanied her husband on the expedition to Vinland with Leif Ericsson.

Porfinsson is also created with helping to spread Christianity in Iceland. There is a statute to Porfinnson and his mother in the church next door to Glumbaer.

Visiting Glaumbaer was like stepping back into time. You have newfound respect for the hardiness of the Icelandic people who created homes in this inhospitable climate. The turf houses look like hobbit houses from the outside but the inside is spacious if somewhat dark.

Everyone who worked on the farm would have lived in this house from the owner and his family to the servants and the farmhands.

Trip Around the Famous Ring Road

Recommended by Natascha and Cameron from The World Pursuit

A trip around the famous Ring Road is a another great activity in Iceland in summer. In winter, parts of the streets might be closed – or at least not easy to drive due to snow. But summer is perfect for driving here.

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There are so many magical stops right off it to venture to it will be hard to see everything without years of exploration. However, one of the best sights literally right off “Route 1” is Skógafoss waterfall.

Skógafoss is one of the biggest and most iconic waterfalls in Iceland at 15 meters wide and 60m high and if you are wondering what to do in Iceland this has to be on your Iceland itinerary.

It is located in the Southern part of Iceland near the town of Vik. It has even been featured in a number of movies like “The Secret Life of Water Mitty” and Thor”.

You really can’t miss the stop here as the waterfall can easily be seen from the road. Once at the waterfall just park your car and walk right up to see natures beauty – you cannot visit Iceland without seeing it – there is a reason why this is one of Iceland´ top attractions

You can either venture under it or climb up to the very top of the waterfall on a nearby staircase. If you want to stay overnight there is a campsite and restaurant at the site!

Do a Boat Tour on Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Recommended by Cindy from Travel Bliss Now

Jökulsárlón is one of the most otherworldly places in Iceland you have to see – so if you want to visit the best place in Iceland this might be it.

JÖKULSÁRLÓN GLACIER LAGOON one of the best things to do in summer
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The name means “glacial river lagoon” and that’s exactly what it is.  Due to climate change, icebergs are breaking off the glacier next to the lagoon and slowly floating out to sea.  It’s a new phenomenon – the lake didn’t exist 80 years ago.

If you want to see the icebergs and the glacier up close, the best thing to do is the one-hour zodiac tour that runs from May 1st to the end of September (longer if weather permits). They get as close to the ice as safely possible, and you may even see it calve off the glacier.  The boats are small, so be sure to make a reservation.

For a tamer approach, you can take a 30 to 40 minutes amphibious boat tour that starts on land and floats among the icebergs.  The tours run frequently during the May to September season, but if you don’t like waiting, it’s best to reserve ahead.

The Glacier Lagoon is easy to find on the ring road on the south coast of Iceland.  It’s about 400 kilometerss from Reykjavik. The drive is stunning so if you want to enjoy the scenery along the way, consider making a 2-day trip out of it.  One and two-day tours from Reykjavik are also offered and are one of the top things to see in Iceland.

Check out Best Rates for a Day Trip to the Glacier Lagoon from Reykjavik

Visit Diamond Beach

Don’t miss Diamond Beach across from the lagoon. It’s where polished chunks of ice wash up along the wild ocean shoreline. And while in winter, it is even more dramatic, summer is a great time to explore Diamond Beach and watch the sunset.

Iceland glacier beach in 5 days in Iceland with arzo travels
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Even in the summer months, it can be cold, so when you come for the sunset (which is quite late in the summer months if at all), then dress appropriately and bring a drink with you.

This beach in July was surely one of the highlights to see.

Summer in Iceland, Arzo Travels
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See the Gullfoss Waterfall

Recommended by Rene from Together We Roam

Iceland’s iconic Gullfoss Falls in the well-trodden Golden Triangle tourist route is hardly visible on approach, as you wind along the cliff edge; the largest waterfall in Iceland reveals itself, tumbling between two rugged rock faces, like the earth has opened up releasing a magnificent mass of water.

Gullfoss Waterfall which places to visit in Iceland in summer
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You hear Gullfoss before you see it, and even in the cold embrace of Iceland’s winter there’s a promising roar. There’s no real difference when the temps plummet past zero, the cool brings less crowds, a sense of calm and a distinctly beautiful landscape.

The unbridled force of the Olfusa river emptying into the canyon is replaced with a less urgent rush, yet still as magnificent. Add this place to your Iceland itinerary as it one of the most beautiful places in Iceland.

It’s as if the tumbling falls have been snap frozen, creating spider-like icicle tentacles that creep up the 32 meter falls and consumer the cliff faces, which can tower 70 meters high.

Below the surface the water fed by Langjokul, Iceland’s second largest glacier still stirs and at the very center of the falls, the falls are at its most fierce, evident with a plume of white mist rising to the surface, like a reverse snow storm.

Gullfoss Falls in the winter offers a spectacular wintery scene of snow and ice against the crisp blue sky and much more exciting than the familiar ‘Golden’ brown hued tumbling body of water and hoards of snap-happy tourists in the summer.

See Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

I highly recommend visiting Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon in summer. The canyon that is about 100 meters deep and about two kilometers long. 

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. Mountains and waterfall are free places to visit in 5 days in Iceland
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Due to its popularity and its sensitive flora, they close it once in a while, so it might not be open year round. 

It is near the main road and though it‘s mostly a gravel road, you can easily drive there with all kinds of cars (in summer only). 

From the parking area, it is a short and easy walk up a hill. And from there, you have some of the best views in all of Iceland. There are several vantage points, and if you like mountains, this is the place to visit.

Walking in the canyon is not allowed any longer, but the views from above are reason enough to visit.

Go Glacier Hiking in Iceland

Recommended by Ryazan from Everything Zany

If you are heading to Iceland in the summer, you might want to consider traveling down to the Southern coast of the island.

Glacier Iceland top things to do in Iceland
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Myrdalsjokull Glacier @shutterstock

A few hour drive from Reykjavik is the Solheim Glacier (Sólheimajökull).  The word “jökull” means glacier in Icelandic and it is one of the best tours to do in Iceland.

You can take a group tour bus to pick you up from your accommodation in Reykjavik or its an easy drive down via Route 1, you can also stop along the way to see the beautiful waterfalls, Seljandafoss and Skogafoss.

The glacier hike in Iceland was one of the most memorable experiences and best activities in Iceland.

Our guide was very experienced hiking in the icy conditions and shared very valuable stories and information about the Global warming and climate change and its harmful effects to our world.

The hike takes about a couple of hours. We started at the campsite at the edge of the glacier to do our safety briefing and instructions. Since the glacier preceded at such an alarming rate, the glacier’s entry was now around a 30minutes trek from the campsite, unlike before, only a stone throw away.

It was my first time to trek on a glacial ice and it feels so surreal. The beautiful landscape of Iceland was truly mesmerizing as if you are on another planet.

I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone during the glorious summer days in Iceland, just remember to wrap up warm (yes, even in summer).

Check out Prices for a Glacier Hike in Iceland

Visit Seljavallalaug

Recommended by Kay from Jet Farer

One of the most spectacular geothermal swimming pools in the world is tucked away between the mountains in Southern Iceland and if you are asking yourself where to go in Iceland then visiting this place is your answer.

Seljavallalaug one of the best things to do in Iceland in summer
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Seljavallalaug, this hot mountain spring, is surrounded almost entirely by mountains and is a beautiful place to go for a warm dip.

Dipping your feet in, and soaking in the surrounding mountain views – this is a perfect place to chill. Because it requires straying a bit from the main Ring Road and hiking for a few minutes, this hideaway is significantly less tourist-filled than the nearby waterfalls or the Blue Lagoon.

While there, you can relax in the warm geothermal waters, or just dip your feet in and explore around some of the nearby hiking trails. Either way, Seljavallalaug is worth a visit for the sheer beauty and seclusion of this unique swimming pool.

Located within a few hours from Reykjavik, it’s an easy day trip from the city, or a nice stop on your Ring Road itinerary in Iceland.

To get to Seljavallalaug from Reykjavik, drive east on the Ring Road past Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. Turn onto road 242 – Raufarfell.

Drive into that road for a few minutes until you see a gated pool area and a parking lot marked Seljavellir (this is not the pool). From the parking lot, hike on the dirt path towards the mountains about 20 minutes until you see the pool.

Swimming in Seljavallalaug is free of charge.

See Puffins

Puffins must be the cutest birds in the world. And Iceland is heaven for watching Puffins – however, you will not find them all around the year.

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If you visit between May and August, you might see some puffins on your trip. They will not come straight to you, so you have to keep looking (and it took me a while to actually see them so do not give up)!

They are spread out throughout the country but only at the coast and mostly at the cliffs. While they are super cute and interesting, please do not try to touch them as it will harm them.

Looking allowed, touching not permitted.

CONCULSION: PLACES TO VISIT IN ICELAND IN SUMMER

Iceland in summer is a perfect time to visit – though there might be crowds, it is great for road tripping the country. It is perfect for hikes, to chase waterfalls and spend time outdoors. Given the weather in summer, it is the so much fun to spend time in hot pools after a day of exploring and to enjoy the endless summer nights.

Stay safe and enjoy!

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