The Ultimate Guide to Summer in Iceland

The Ultimate Guide to Summer in Iceland

James Taylor James Taylor
28. Feb 2023 ∼ 9 min. read

Summer in Iceland: The Perfect Time for a Campervan Trip

Summer in Iceland is truly an unforgettable experience. With its breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture, there is so much to discover and explore. Whether you're looking for a peaceful escape or an adrenaline-fueled adventure, Iceland has it all.

In this guide, we'll help you plan your dream summer trip to Iceland, providing valuable information on the best time to visit and what to pack, as well as highlighting some of the must-see sights and experiences that will make your trip truly unforgettable.

By the time you finish reading this guide, you'll be ready to embark on an epic Icelandic adventure!

Summer in Iceland – What to Expect?

Iceland is a country of incredible natural beauty, and in summer, it’s on full show. With the endless daylight from May to August, it’s the perfect time to hit the road and explore the country, discovering the incredible glaciers, waterfalls, hot springs, and awe-inspiring landscapes.

Summer in Iceland is also a time when the country comes alive. There are a range of tours and experiences on offer to make your camper trip unforgettable, such as witnessing the enchanting midnight sun cast a golden glow across a black sand beach, heading out onto the ocean to admire the whales who frolic just offshore, or enjoying a quiet kayaking tour on one of the country’s glacier lagoons. That’s not even mentioning the bubbling hot springs, rushing waterfalls, and epic glaciers on offer as well.

So, whether you’re seeking an adventure-filled vacation or an opportunity to immerse yourself in some of the world’s most captivating natural sights, Iceland is the place to be. It’s no wonder that this small island in the north has become one of the world’s most popular destinations to visit – especially when it comes to campervan travel.

Weather in Iceland During Summer

Iceland's summer weather is typically mild and pleasant. For the most part, the temperatures range from 10-15 degrees Celsius (50-60 degrees Fahrenheit), making it perfect for exploring the natural sights of the country. However, at night temperatures can drop to around 5-7 degrees Celsius (41-45 degrees Fahrenheit) or even colder; so, it's always a good idea to bring some warm clothing for your campervan trip in Iceland.

Rainfall is common in Iceland during the summer, particularly in the northern regions. While you might get lucky and enjoy a campervan adventure filled with dry weather, it's always wise to be prepared for unexpected rain showers by packing a waterproof jacket.

Campervan Travel in the Icelandic Summer

Iceland in the summer is an adventurer's paradise, and what better way to experience the great outdoors than by traveling in a camper? The mild weather and calmer winds make it the ideal season for exploring and sleeping in the back of a campervan without having to worry so much about whether you’re sheltered from the wind (hello campsites overlooking the fjords!).

For ultimate freedom and flexibility on your journey, hitting the road in an Icelandic campervan is the best choice. With countless campsites scattered across the island, you'll be spoilt for choice on where to park your temporary home. Imagine waking up to stunning views of glaciers, waterfalls, and mountains right outside your window. It's a one-of-a-kind experience that you won't soon forget.

The Advantages of Traveling in Iceland in Summer

The Icelandic Highlands are open.

Many of Iceland's natural landscapes are inaccessible during the winter months due to harsh weather conditions. From the beginning of October until the start of June, F-roads, which are the mountain roads that reach into the remote and stunning Highlands, are closed. Fortunately, in summer, these roads open, providing unlimited access (weather permitting and with a 4x4 campervan of course) to explore the beauty of Iceland’s interior.

Plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.

Summer is the perfect time for those interested in experiencing outdoor activities since more tours run during these months. Visitors can choose from boat trips, ziplining, horse riding, and much more. With the milder weather, there’s less chance of these tours being canceled.

The weather is warmer.

Iceland's summer weather is mild, with average temperatures ranging from 10 to 13°C. During the months of June, July, and August, the weather is pleasant and sunny, making it a comfortable season to hike through Iceland's national parks, swim in natural pools, or take a stroll around the country's charming villages.

Iceland’s wildlife comes out in force.

If you're interested in seeing Iceland's varied wildlife, summer is the ideal time to visit. Whales and puffins are among the country's most famous animals, and you're almost guaranteed to spot them during the summer months. Whale-watching trips are available all over the country, and the puffin-watching season runs from June to September.

You can see the midnight sun.

During Iceland's summer, between mid-May and mid-August, daylight lasts for 24 hours due to the country's proximity to the Arctic Circle. Although the sun sets for approximately three hours during the summer months, it never gets fully dark across the island, providing campers with an opportunity to witness the enchanting phenomenon of the midnight sun.

The Disadvantages of Traveling in Iceland in Summer

The country is crowded.

To make the most of Iceland's stunning summer sights and activities, you should be prepared to face the crowds, as this season is the busiest time of the year to visit. To ensure you don't miss your must-see sights, it's essential to plan and book your tours and activities in advance.

You won’t see the northern lights or Iceland’s ice caves.

While summer in Iceland offers an array of visual delights, the famous Northern Lights are not one of them. Due to the 24 hours of daylight, the Aurora Borealis is not visible in Iceland during the summer months. To see this magical natural phenomenon, you'll need to wait until winter, when the long nights ensure that the shimmering green lights are visible as they dance above Iceland.

You also won’t be able to visit Iceland’s ice caves in the summer. The only ones available are either the Katla ice cave or the man-made tunnel underneath Langjökull glacier in West Iceland.

What to Pack for a Trip to Iceland in Summer

Packing for a camper trip in Iceland during summer is a tricky thing - despite the mild weather, it's still best to prepare for all and any weather conditions. Here's what we recommend to pack for your trip that will ensure you're never caught unprepared:

  • Warm layers: The most essential packing tip for Iceland is to bring layers. If you plan on hiking or spending any time outside whatsoever, layering up and down makes it easy to stay warm or cool off.
  • Waterproof jacket: While summer in Iceland is dry, bring a waterproof jacket to stay dry in case of any rain.
  • Walking shoes: Explore Iceland's mountains and beaches in comfort with a pair of comfortable walking or hiking shoes.
  • Hat, gloves, and scarf: Even in summer, a hat, gloves, and scarf can come in handy in the windy highlands and barren plains.
  • Sunglasses: The long daylight hours and bright white glaciers can be harsh on your eyes, so sunglasses are a must.
  • Swimsuits and towels: To take a dip in Iceland's hot springs or geothermal pools, don't forget to bring along your swimsuit and a towel!
  • Camera: Don't forget to bring a camera to capture the breathtaking landscapes of Iceland.

The Top 5 Must-See Places in Iceland During Summer

Iceland is full of stunning landscapes and plenty of incredible natural sights. Come summer, there are just a few that stand above the rest. Here are the top 5 places you should visit during your summer camper trip to Iceland:

  1. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon – Jökulsárlón is the country’s famous glacier lagoon, located in the south-east corner of Iceland. Here, huge chunks of glacier float around the lagoon, slowly melting into the sea or washing back up onto the black sand beach.
  2. The Westfjords – Come summer, the entire region of the Westfjords is one of our favorite places to travel. This stunning region is Iceland’s least-visited corner of the country; more people visit the Highlands than visit here. Here, the rugged coastline takes in the country’s most spectacular fjords, with epic views and plenty of local wildlife.
  3. The Highlands – The interior of Iceland is the region known as the Highlands, an inhospitable place that’s only open in the warmest summer months. Filled with epic landscapes, rough terrain, and spectacular lava fields and mountains, it’s one of the best summer experiences in Iceland.
  4. The Golden Circle and the South Coast – Two of Iceland’s most popular areas, but with good reason. In these two regions lie some of the country’s most astonishing landscapes, including Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss, Skogafoss, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, not to mention the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull.
  5. Reykjavík – Reykjavík is Iceland's vibrant capital city. Here, you can explore the city's colorful streets and lively nightlife.

Top 5 Activities to Enjoy in Iceland During Summer

Summer in Iceland is full of adventure. Here are the top 5 activities you should try during your summer trip to Iceland:

  1. Hiking Under the Midnight Sun – Iceland is full of incredible trails, from easy day hikes to multi-day treks. Whether you're looking for an easy stroll or an epic adventure, there's something for everyone in Iceland.
  2. Whale Watching – Iceland is home to many species of whales, and summer is the perfect time to spot them. The best place to go whale watching is from Húsavík, where you can spot humpback whales, minke whales, and even orcas.
  3. Glacier Trekking – Glacier trekking is one of the best ways to explore the stunning glaciers of Iceland. From easy hikes to more technical climbs, there's something for everyone.
  4. Puffin Spotting – Summer is the perfect time to spot the elusive Icelandic puffins. The best place to spot them is in the Westman Islands or at Látrabjarg cliffs in the Westfjords, where you can get up close and personal with these amazing birds.
  5. Soak in Hot Springs – Iceland is filled with hot springs and geothermal pools where you can soak in hot water bubbling up from the earth. In summer, late at night when others have gone to bed, there’s a good chance you can have a hot spring all to yourself.

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