Gray Line Iceland - Summer in Iceland

Posted by Admin on 10 Jun 2024

Summer is the perfect time to visit Iceland.

Whale watching in Reykjavik

You'll have endless hours of daylight to explore its gorgeous mossy green landscapes, soak in stunning spas and swimming pools, and enjoy close encounters with its rich wildlife.

By the end of May, there are already 20 hours of daylight, and in June, the Land of Fire and Ice becomes the magical realm of the Midnight Sun, when there's almost constant daylight.

The summer months are the brightest, warmest, and calmest in the calendar when you can make the most of your time in Iceland and discover more of its natural marvels.

Here's our guide to the best of Iceland's summer highlights!

1. Whale Watching

Iceland is one of the best places in the world to go whale watching, where more than twenty species can be spotted in the nutrient-rich waters around the island.

Take a tour from Reykjavík or Ólafsvík (Snæfellsnes), and you'll have a better than 99% chance of spotting humpbacks, minkes, Orcas, dolphins, porpoises, and seals.

Summer is the best time for whale watching in Iceland when countless cetaceans migrate here to feed in spectacular fjords and bays.

You'll be able to spot them easily in three-hour boat trips from various locations around the country. It's an experience you'll never forget!

2. Puffin Watching

Another popular summer visitor to Iceland is the Atlantic Puffin.

More than half of the world's population of these charismatic birds return to raise their pufflings from April to September every year.

It's estimated that four million pairs of puffins make their home in cliffside colonies around Iceland, flitting between their nests and the open sea to feed their young.

You can see them up close at Vestmannaeyjar and Dyrhólaey in South Iceland, Borgarfjörður eystri in the Eastfjords, or Látrabjarg in the Westfjords.

More than a hundred species of birds visit Iceland every summer, including the Barrow's Goldeneye, Harlequin ducks, gyrfalcons, gannets, guillemots, and ptarmigans.

Iceland is a bird watcher's paradise!

3. Horse Riding

Icelandic Horses

The Icelandic horse came to the country with the first Viking settlers, and they've been an integral part of the culture for over a thousand years.

Icelandic horses are famous for their friendly nature and unique physical characteristics.

In addition to walking, trotting, galloping, and cantering, they can move smoothly across rough Icelandic terrain using the gliding tölt gait.

You can experience it yourself with a summertime horseback adventure riding across black sand beaches and lava fields.

Icelandic stables and farms offer horse riding tours of varying lengths to suit your schedule.

4. Land of the Midnight Sun

Have you ever experienced daylight at midnight? If you visit Iceland in June, that's what it will feel like!

Close to the edge of the Arctic Circle, parts of Iceland see sunlight for as much as 23 hours in June, giving you almost endless days for exploring.

The "Golden Hour" for taking photos at sunrise and sunset lasts much longer, too, so you can enjoy unique moments in Iceland's incredible landscapes without rushing to capture them on film.

Remember to bring an eye mask!

5. Summer Festivals

The summer solstice in June is an important date for Icelanders, celebrated with bonfires, parties, and festivals.

After a long, dark winter, Icelanders make the most of the summer months with lots of outdoor celebrations.

These start with the "First Day of Summer" celebrations in April, the Reykjavík Arts Festival in May, and Seafarer's Day on the first Sunday in June.

Independence Day is celebrated as a national holiday on June 17th, while the four-day Viking Festival takes place around that week in Hafnafjörður, a town close to the capital.

The first Monday in August is Merchant's Day, another national holiday when Icelanders celebrate with festivals and events around the country.

Culture Night happens in mid-August and features music events, art installations, pop-up shows, and free museum entry around the capital.

Later in August, you can watch the Reykjavík Marathon and Pride celebrations running through the city.

6. Hiking

If you're a hiker, Iceland has some incredible trails for you to follow.

Close to the city, you can take in spectacular views of the capital with a climb on Mount Esja, or you can stretch your legs a little more with the famous 55-kilometer Laugavegur Trail in southern Iceland.

The Highlands are only accessible in the summer months, so this is your opportunity to explore the colorful rhyolite peaks of Landmannalaugar, the hot spring valley at Hveradalir, or the verdant valleys of Þórsmörk, surrounded by mountains and glaciers.

And if you have time to explore the Westfjords, you might spot Arctic foxes in the wilderness of the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, or you can try a glacier hike in the stunning Snæfellsjökull National Park.

7. River Rafting, Snorkeling and Kayaking

Iceland's glacial rivers and lakes offer fantastic water sports opportunities, including river rafting, snorkeling, and kayaking.

The Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park is a crystal clear creek where you can snorkel in the transparent waters between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.

Further inland, you can go whitewater river rafting, exploring the White River from just below Gullfoss in the Golden Circle.

And all around the country, you can kayak your way around rivers, fjords, and even icebergs at the famous Glacier Lagoon.

8. Hot springs, spas, swimming pools, and the sea

Iceland's famous geothermal hot springs, spas, and swimming pools are a treat for the traveler at any time of the year, and they are where you can relax and soothe your body after a day of exploring.

The 3-kilometer hike to the famous "hot river" at Reykjadalur in South Iceland is more leisurely in the summer months, and the warmer temperatures make changing in the open air more comfortable, too!

Taking a dip in one of Iceland's geothermal hot pots, like the Blue Lagoon, Sky Lagoon, or Laugarvatn Fontana, on a long summer night is the perfect way to relax.

You might even feel brave enough to swim in the ocean, knowing a warming hot tub is just steps away!

Nauthólsvík, a gorgeous geothermal beach in Reykjavík, offers both - why not give it a try?

9. Glacier Hikes, Ice Caves and Snowmobiling

There are 269 "named" glaciers in Iceland, and these immense rivers of ice cover more than a tenth of the country.

Several of these icy giants reach close to the Ring Road, so it's easy to explore them all year round, and the summer months are an ideal time to visit.

That's because the weather conditions are more stable, and you'll enjoy a guided tour of Iceland's glittering glaciers more when the temperatures are higher. The wind chill will be lower than in the winter, too!

You can explore the famous Katla ice cave or take a hike across Sólheimajökull in South Iceland, or head deep inside Langjökull,

Iceland's second largest glacier, on the "Into the Glacier" expedition on the Snæfellsnes peninsula.

If you like a faster pace, there are also snowmobile and Monster Truck tour options!

10. The Golden Circle

The most famous of Iceland's trails, the Golden Circle is the perfect introduction to the country's fascinating history and geological marvels.

Walk in Viking footsteps at Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir), a UNESCO World Heritage site where Iceland's first parliament was established in 930 AD.

Visiting this spectacular location in the summer months is ideal because you will have more time to explore the stunning rift valley where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart.

And you can enjoy a leisurely walk to a beautiful waterfall called Öxarárfoss and learn about what the Vikings did at the "Law Rock" and the "Drowning Pool" too!

You'll have longer to enjoy the exhilarating experience of endless eruptions of superheated water at Geysir, the home of the "original geyser," where Strokkur shoots high into the sky every few minutes.

And you'll be able to get as close as you like to Gullfoss (the Golden Falls), walking right up to the water's edge at this tremendous two-tier waterfall on paths that are often closed during the winter months.

On sunny days, you'll be treated to stunning rainbows arching over Gullfoss, too!

11. The South Coast

Iceland's stunning South Coast is a dream destination in the summer when the longer days offer you a chance to explore more of its treasures.

Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss are the superstar attractions in South Iceland's "Waterfall Alley."

These sixty-meter cascades tumble off the famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano, and there are walkways at both of these beautiful waterfalls that will take your breath away.

Visiting these spectacular sights in the summer allows you to see them from different perspectives - above, around, and from behind!

Iceland is famed for its volcanic black sand beaches, and Reynisfjara is the most dramatic of them all, framed by beautiful basalt columns and the towering Reynisdrangar sea stacks.

Summer visits to the South Coast will live long in your memory!

12. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

With the longer summer days, you can take a day trip to the glittering glacial lagoon at Jökulsárlón from the capital, which has sightseeing stops along the way at Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss.

Immense icebergs calve from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier and float serenely around the lagoon before drifting out to Diamond Beach, where the waves carve the bergs into tiny fragments scattered on a black sand beach.

The Glacier Lagoon is one of the most incredible sights in Iceland, and summer is the perfect time to visit.

13. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Close to the capital, some call Snæfellsnes "Iceland in Miniature" because you can see so many of Iceland's most extraordinary geological marvels in one unforgettable day trip.

And "Game of Thrones" fans will be thrilled to see Kirkjufell, an iconic filming location and one of Iceland's most famous mountains.

The Snæfellsnes National Park is home to a towering stratovolcano, and a tour of the peninsula includes charming coastal villages like Arnarstapi and Hellnar, seal colonies, and scenic hiking trails.

In addition to all these attractions, the warmer weather and longer days mean you can also try sea angling or paragliding and enjoy walking tours around the capital city.

While Iceland is an astonishing all-year destination, the summer months offer you endless opportunities to explore as much of it as you want.

With an unbeatable selection of natural marvels, unique cultural experiences, and outdoor adventures, there's something for everyone to enjoy in Iceland in the summer.

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