Iceland in August: Things to See & Do

June 21st, 2021

Written by:

Camila Contreras-Langlois

7 min read

Journey to Iceland in August to have a memorable summer trip to the Land of Fire and Ice.

At this time of year, you could enjoy some of the warmest days of the year and long daylight hours to explore further. The natural landscape will be as magnificent as ever and there will be plenty of thrilling excursions to try and sights to visit.

Prepare for your August vacation with this local experts’ guide. You’ll find lists of activities to try and places to see, useful weather and packing guides, and more.

Flyover Husavik from Hill with Lupine Flowers

Should you visit Iceland in August?

Yes! You won’t be disappointed to be visiting Iceland in August.

In fact, you may find it is one of the best months of the year for an Icelandic adventure. There is a variety of festivals happening around the country that you could join. Whale watching and snowmobiling are just some of the activities you could get up to in August.

Just at the cusp of the shoulder season, August is one of these months that’s the best of both worlds. The change toward autumn means you may have a chance to spot the Northern Lights while also benefiting from long days of exploration.

And expect the natural scenery to be as stunning as ever. Admire the cascading waterfalls, explore national parks with glaciers and volcanic peaks, and sail along the rugged coastline.

Want to know the top reasons to visit Iceland in August? Look no further!

  1. Good weather to go camping, walking or sailing
  2. A full calendar of cultural events
  3. Long hours of daylight with the potential to glimpse at the Northern Lights
  4. Ideal conditions for road trips
  5. A range of outdoor activities are available

What to expect of Iceland in August?

June, July, and August are the warmest months of the year in Iceland. For that reason, you’ll enjoy stable weather and average temperatures between 8°C (46°F) and 15°C (59°F).

Expect some wind and not too much rain if you’re lucky. You may even look forward to a mild heatwave with temperatures rising into the low 20s (68°F).

Daylight hours

On average, you can expect around 16 hours of daylight in August in Iceland. Having passed the summer solstice in late June, August slowly loses daylight.

Earlier in the month, the sun rises around 4.30 a.m. and sets by 10.20 p.m. By the end of the month, there is daylight between 6 a.m. and 8.45 p.m.

If you’d like to experience the famous midnight sun, whereby the sun barely sets over the horizon, visit in June or July.

Colorful summer sunset with Kirkjufell mountain in Grundarfjordur in West Iceland

Can I see the Northern Lights in Iceland in August?

The change in daylight hours at this time of year is what may allow you to catch sight of the famous Aurora Borealis. Solar activity happens all year long, but you need proper darkness to be able to spot it in the sky.

From August, the nights are longer and you may be able to witness the Northern Lights. If this is the main reason for your trip to Iceland, we recommend you visit Iceland in winter for the best chances of sightings.

Your August packing guide

Have you ever heard “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”? It’s a famous saying in the Nordic countries. Pack with this philosophy in mind and you’ll be ready for anything. Enjoy all the amazing adventures you have planned without worrying about the weather.

Here is a list of packing essentials for your trip to Iceland in August:

  • Short-sleeved shirts and lightweight layers
  • Long pants and shorts
  • Fleeces or lightweight wool sweaters
  • A waterproof and windproof jacket (or shell layers)
  • A pair of waterproof trousers
  • Gloves, scarf, and warm hat
  • Cap, sunglasses, and sunscreen
  • Sturdy walking or hiking boots
  • Thermal underwear and socks
  • Binoculars for wildlife watchers
  • Swimwear, flip flops, and a towel to go for a dip

We especially recommend layers at this time of year to allow you to adapt to the day’s weather as it can change in an instant.

Vok baths, Egilsstadir Iceland

Top things to do in Iceland in August

August is a great time to travel to Iceland because so many remote corners are accessible, and activities are available.

Here are the best things you could get up to in August:

  • Take a thrilling road trip
  • Hike in the national parks
  • Warm up in hot springs
  • Delve inside a volcano
  • Snowmobile atop glaciers
  • Look out for whales and puffins
  • Admire glittering icebergs
  • Marvel at shiny waterfalls
  • Kayak or sail on a glacier lagoon
  • Attend a vibrant festival
  • Try Icelandic cuisine

Events and festivals in Iceland in August

Visiting Iceland in August and want to celebrate with the locals? It is one of the hottest months of the year in terms of cultural events and festivals.

The first weekend of August is a bank holiday, Verslunarmannahelgi. You’ll probably find enticing events to join during these 3 days.

Þjóðhátíð is one of the largest festivals in Iceland and is hosted on the Westman Islands. It’s a glorious weekend filled with Icelandic music, seaside views, fireworks, bonfires, and festivities.

Because of the importance of fishing, we also have to mention “Great Fish Day” or Fiskidagurinn mikli. This celebration of fisherfolk with seafood feasts is hosted in Dalvík, near Akureyri in North Iceland.

Later in the month, Reykjavík is the center of much action. It hosts the Reykjavík Marathon, Culture Night, Pride, Jazz Festival, and more.

Best things to see in Iceland in August

You know the best things to do and events to attend. Now, how about the best locations to tour and places to visit in Iceland in August? Add the following to your summer bucket list for a memorable August vacation.

Þjórsárdalur Valley, Gjáin, Iceland, seen during the summer

1. Reykjavík

Reykjavík, the vibrant capital of Iceland, is ideal for a northern city break.

We recommend visiting attractions like the interactive Perlan and the Árbær Open Air Museum. You could also attend festivals we’ve previously mentioned and taste Icelandic cuisine at local restaurants.

For majestic views, go hike the nearby Mount Esja. Immerse yourself in peaceful nature on Viðey Island. Go whale watching on a cruise from the city’s harbor. Or visit one of the many geothermally heated swimming pools to warm up.

There is plenty to do in the city itself, but top Icelandic attractions are also on your doorstep, including the famous Golden Circle.

2. Golden Circle

Speaking of the Golden Circle, it is a must-see during your Icelandic travels. Whether you’re spending a few days in Reykjavík or touring the Ring Road, it’s easily done in a day. You could drive it or join a guided tour to benefit from the knowledge of a local.

The main attractions of this scenic route are Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir and Strokkur geysers, and the breathtaking Þingvellir National Park. But there’s much more to this circuit, including high mountain passes, volcanic craters, and cute villages.

Landscape in the Thingvellir Park

3. Vatnajökull National Park

There are 3 national parks in Iceland and if you’re circling the Ring Road, you should spend some time in Vatnajökull. Here you’ll find some stunning hiking trails, even more waterfalls, and a vast array of activities to enjoy.

The landscape here is dominated by the Vatnajökull glacier, with snowy peaks, ice caves, and glacial lagoons. In fact, you won’t want to miss the mythical Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon on the south coast. You could witness bobbing icebergs and even spot some seals. 

Across the road, admire the contrasting landscape of Diamond Beach where chunks of shining ice lay on the black sand dunes.

4. The highlands

In August, you could take an adventure into the rugged landscape of the central highlands. This region of Iceland is only accessible in summer and August is a great time to explore it.

You’ll want to make sure you have a 4-wheel drive to take on the rough stretches of road that lead into the mountains. Once you reach the picturesque huts, you’ll be rewarded with colorful mountains and plenty of hiking possibilities.

The F-roads into the highlands are open depending on the weather. For that reason, you’ll want to keep an eye out for road conditions.

Highland landscape of Landmannalaugar, Iceland

5. North Iceland

On a road trip around the Ring Road, circling the island, you’ll pass through North Iceland. This region is worth the visit and you could stop for a few days to take full advantage of it.

Here are a few places you could see during your visit:

  • Akureyri, the “Capital of the North” and largest town of the region
  • Húsavík, along the Skjálfandi bay, for the best place to whale watch
  • Lake Mývatn Nature Reserve, for otherworldly landscapes
  • Goðafoss and Dettifoss, the most famous waterfalls of North Iceland
  • Ásbyrgi, to experience the lush, sheltered forest and waterfalls of this canyon 

A circuit that you could follow to hit many of the above sites is the Diamond Circle. August is an ideal time to explore these attractions due to the long days of summer. You’ll find plenty of wildlife to spot, sea cliff walks to take, and geothermal or hot springs to visit.

6. Westfjords

August is a great time to head off the beaten path. We’ve mentioned the highlands and now it’s time for the wondrous Westfjords.

What can you expect here? Hiking trails along the coast, sweeping sea views, an array of wildlife, tranquil fishing villages, and iconic Icelandic natural wonders.

Among other things, you could visit a red sand beach at Rauðisandur, traipse through the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, see puffins at the Látrabjarg cliffs, and admire the Dynjandi waterfall.

For a peaceful vacation immersed in nature, you’ll want to add this north-west peninsula to your bucket list for your next summer vacation.

Scenic waterfall Dynjandifoss in Westfjords, Iceland

7. Snæfellsnes peninsula

The beauty of the Snæfellsnes peninsula is that it has the feel of being remote while also being near enough Reykjavík. You’ll reach this western peninsula within 2 hours’ drive from the capital.

Then you can look forward to gems that are reminiscent of the wider island. In fact, Snæfellsnes is often called “Iceland in miniature” so it’s the perfect place to get a taster of Iceland. Especially if you’re not driving the whole Ring Road on this trip.

You’ll still be able to enjoy the lava fields covered in moss, rugged sea cliffs, steep mountains, and misty waterfalls of Iceland.

When you’re visiting the peninsula, drive to the far end and explore the Snæfellsjökull National Park. Here you’ll find the most famous sight of the area, Kirkjufell mountain, as well as gems such as Djúpalónssandur beach and the Arnarstapi cliffs.

8. Reykjanes peninsula

Reykjanes is the south-east peninsula jutting into the ocean below Reykjavík. This is where you’re likely to arrive in Iceland. Instead of bypassing it to head to the capital and beyond, we recommend adding it to your itinerary.

Although understated, there are many top highlights located here. Its location atop the Mid-Atlantic Ridge tectonic plate boundary, gives Reykjanes its stark look of volcanoes, peaks, and dark lava fields.

Here you could cross the famous Bridge Between Continents to experience this ridge or even visit Iceland’s newest volcano, Fagradalsfjall. You’ll find it in the Geldingadalur valley near the fishing town of Grindavík. The town is lovely for a wander and the volcano for a memorable and scenic hike.

Last but not least, we can’t forget to mention the Blue Lagoon. This geothermal spa is amongst the most popular attractions in Iceland. It is located near the airport and so is very accessible, especially at the beginning or end of your vacation.

the tower of Fagradalsfjall volcano with smoke

Planning your trip to Iceland in August

Whatever you dream of visiting and doing in Iceland, August is a fantastic month for your vacation. You’ll find a range of ways to travel in Iceland too, including camping trips, multi-day breaks, self-drive tours, and privately guided packages.

For a personalized experience created by locals who know Iceland inside out, book with Iceland Tours. Our travel experts are based in Reykjavík and can help make your dream vacation a reality.

Find your favorite itinerary amongst our Iceland travel packages and customize it with activities depending on your budget. By booking with a local company, you’ll have peace of mind as we support you before, during, and even after your tour.

Your summer vacation to Iceland awaits!

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Written by:

Camila Contreras-Langlois