Whales, puffins, endless days. These are just a glimpse of what defines Icelandic summertime. In summer, the country literally opens up, as the roads that are closed off in winter are opened up again in summer. This means that you can head into the beautiful highlands area, cross straight through Iceland to the northern part (if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle) or drive to more isolated parts of Iceland, like the Westfjords and Eastfjords. Summer is a great time to visit Iceland, so let us tell you the ins and outs of this special season!
The midnight sun shines all summer
You probably know that the days in Icelandic summer are long, but you might wonder how many hours of daylight Iceland gets exaclty. Around the summer solstice (21st of June), the sun sets in Reykjavík just after 00:00 and rises just before 03:00. This means that the day is 21 hours long. But even after sunset, it doesn’t get completely dark. In the north of Iceland, days are even longer, with the midnight sun shining all night! After the summer solstice, the days get a little bit shorter every day, but it will take until August for the nights to return.
July is the warmest month
Did you know that the highest temperature ever recorded in Iceland is a whopping 30.5 °C? This record was set a long time ago in the Eastfjords, in 1939!
July is the warmest month in Iceland, with temperatures ranging between 10 and 20 °C, and with an average of 14 °C. In July, there is a slightly higher chance of rain than in June, but weather usually stays mild until the end of August. At the end of September, the highlands roads are closed again, and the country starts preparing for the next winter season.
Even though the weather in summer is generally mild, it’s very important not to throw caution to the wind. Icelandic nature is wild and untamed, meaning that if you’re not careful, you can get hurt. Always make sure that someone knows where you’re going and when you plan on coming back, and check out ICE-SAR’s website for travel alerts. Proper gear is also important, and always keep in mind that Icelandic weather is very unreliable, even at the height of summer.
You can’t see the northern lights in summer
Because there is so much daylight in summer, you can’t see the northern lights. To see the northern lights, you need darkness, and already at the end of April, the days are too long to see them properly. The best months to spot the northern lights are between October and mid-April. But don’t worry, there are a lot of reasons to visit Iceland in summer! For one thing, it is the best time to go on a whale safari and to go birding – right as the northern light season ends, the first puffins come back to Iceland!
In summer, you can go on the best tours
Icelandic summer is the best season for heading out of the city and exploring the Icelandic countryside. Because the days are so long, you can go on longer day tours, for instance to glacial lake Jökulsárlón! Another fun summer activity is snorkeling in Silfra, one of the best diving locations in the world. Just imagine snorkeling between two tectonic plates under the midnight sun! Another great option in summer is venturing into the highlands. Landmannalaugar is an amazing geological area in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve. The multi-coloured mountains are breathtaking, and the geothermal river is the cherry on top!
But staying in Reykjavík is great as well!
In summer, the city is also putting its best foot forward. Not only are parks and flowerbeds all around the city bursting with colours and life, the social life is booming as well. Austurvöllur square, in front of the parliament building, fills up with people as soon as the sun comes out, the swimming pools are oases of lovely geothermal water, and the nightlife is one-of-a-kind in the bright Reykjavík summer nights.