Growing up, I knew only one thing about Iceland, and it was that Greenland has more ice than Iceland, while Iceland has more ‘green’ than Greenland. Now that I have been to both, I can say without a doubt that it is irrevocably true. Iceland may invoke thoughts of storms and freezing weather year-round, but it could not be further from the truth, especially in the summer, where Icelandic weather is surprisingly mild.
This is exactly what we will be talking about here; let me take you on a journey to tick off five awesome things to do in Iceland in the summer!
There is no better way to kick off a Nordic summer than with something that can only be done in the summertime! Many treks are only available mid-July onwards, at the height of the Icelandic summer, and Laugavegurinn is by far the most popular one. It is located in between the Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk valley, which opens only in the summer.
Whether or not you are experienced in hiking this should be near the top of your to-do list, as this is the best way to experience the Icelandic wilderness, with its unpredictable weather, stunning lakes, and outrageous mountain ranges. Most make the hike in five to six days, staying the night in cabins along the way, so many do plan this hike as the crux of the trip.
However, some quick tips for making this trek. Firstly, find out the bus timetables and the route of your trek, as you want to leave as little to chance as possible. Next, be sure to book your huts at the right dates to ensure you don’t arrive and find out there is no place for you to sleep!
Most importantly, pack for all possible weather conditions! Iceland’s weather can be quite unpredictable, with the possibility of experiencing all seasons in a day, especially at higher altitudes. Make sure you wear the appropriate footwear, and be sure to pack enough warm and waterproof gear; always better to be prepared.
The aptly named Langjökull, or ‘the long glacier’, is the second largest and most popular glacier in Iceland. Many glaciers lie around the Langjökull, but at 50km long, and standing at 1450m above sea level, it is tremendous and an experience at its peak in the summer. Icelandic winters are too harsh for even the monster truck that travels between the glacier and the nearby towns, so summertime is the best time.
Take the tour (but don’t bring any children under 8 with you) and experience Langjökull at its best. Along the way, there will be chances to experience the Hraunfossar, a tremendous group of waterfalls, the Hallmundarhraun lava field, and some hot springs! This is one of the best nature tours available anywhere in the world today, so do not miss out!
More than half of the population of Atlantic puffins meet in Iceland to breed, with the estimated population being anywhere between 8-10 million individual birds. These unique, adorable birds have one of the most recognizable faces in the world today so it would be a real shame to miss out on this phenomenal spectacle.
Make your way to the Látrabjarg Cliffs, in West Iceland, the Hornbjarg Cliffs or the Nature Reserve Park of Hornstrandir, both in North-west Iceland, for three of the largest bird cliffs in the country. Lundey, commonly known as Puffin Island, is also a good place to be to catch these birds in action.
Here is a quick rundown of these little creatures. They are monogamous and return to the same site every year to lay a single egg. The parents leave the chick at about 40 days old to return to their life at sea, and at about 49 days, the chick takes off on its own to begin its solitary life, only returning to land after three or four years to breed. Use one of the long summer days to see these little birds!
Being so far north has meant that many of the Nordic countries have been blessed with a unique view of the seasons – long, dark winters and extremely bright summers. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, and it features a day that never ends, meaning there is more time in the sun for you to explore all the nooks and crannies of this beautiful country!
The further north you go, the longer the days are that lead up to and come off of the solstice. Yes, it does mean you should take the time to travel a lot more, but since there are only a few places in the world that feature an endless day, you should take an hour out of your day to fully experience it. Watching the sun drop and kiss the water’s edge and rise again is such a highlight and the perfect photo-op !
If you’re into music festivals, this is just for you. The Secret Solstice festive has been held for the last three years, and it features three straight days of bands of many genres playing against the gorgeous Icelandic backdrop in celebration of almost 96 hours of continuous sunlight. Make sure you’re there to welcome the height of summer with the sound of music and the joy of the people.
No trip to Iceland is complete without a visit to the Blue Lagoon. For all its geothermal pools and natural hot springs, the Blue Lagoon is not a natural pool, but a result of water runoff from a nearby geothermal plant. This does not mean the water is unsafe or worse than any other natural pool, a fact that is not lost on tourists to the Blue Lagoon, accounting for almost 80% of all tourists.
Naturally-heated water is used to provide heat for the water system in the plant, and is then fed into the Blue Lagoon. You probably won’t even see the plant on your visit to the Lagoon and while it is not a natural pool, all its components are, and should not diminish your enjoyment of this magnificent attraction.
The silica and sulfur-rich waters of the Blue Lagoon average 38oC but have several hotspots if you prefer your water a little hotter. Just like many spas around the world, there is a need to shower before you enter, but unlike the others, they go to far greater lengths and you must shower naked before entering the pool to ensure real cleanliness.
And like most, if not all, the spa pools, do NOT soak your hair in the water! For all the good the minerals do to your skin, your hair will take a beating that will take copious amounts of conditioner to recover. Trust me, it’s just not worth it.
The ‘Land of Ice and Fire’ is genuinely full of wonderment and the perfect example of a people living within the confines of nature. Many see the name ‘Iceland’ and misconstrue it to be a description of the landscape, which is simply not true. By the way, I would like to show you the best places to visit in Iceland!
Hopefully, you enjoyed this piece! Do leave a comment and let me know what you thought, and if you think I missed a place that is worthy of being on this list, post it down below. If you thought this article was informative or useful, please share it and we can begin to share the beauty of Iceland around the world!
Hi! My name is James Wilson, adventurer and traveler. I was born in New York City, am 29 this year, and have been traveling since I was 19. New places fill me with an unexplainable joy, so let me share some of my experiences with you!