Iceland in July: Things to See & Do

April 15th, 2021

Written by:

Camila Contreras-Langlois

7 min read

Traveling to Iceland in July will be an unforgettable adventure. You can expect the warmest weather of the year, plenty of stunning natural sights, and a full catalogue of thrilling outdoor excursions to try.

Whether you’re thinking about visiting at this time or wondering what to do during your July vacation, we uncover it all for you. The following guide provides useful weather and packing guides as well as top things to see and do in Iceland in July. 

Is July a good month to visit Iceland?

July is a popular month to travel to Iceland and there are many reasons why. You can expect long, bright days, which will allow you plenty of time to explore the landscape of waterfalls, glaciers, and volcanic sites.

There is so much to be excited about for your Icelandic summer getaway. Here are our top reasons to visit in July:

  1. You can enjoy long days with the midnight sun
  2. There are perfect conditions for a road trip
  3. The weather is at its best
  4. Puffins are nesting along the coast
  5. It’s a good time to go hiking
  6. The highland roads open
  7. There’s a large and diverse number of whales around
  8. You can enjoy plenty of outdoor activities
  9. It’s ideal weather to go camping
  10. You have the chance to head off the beaten path
Landscape in the highlands of Iceland on the way to Landmannalaugar

Weather and daylight hours in July

During the summer months, Iceland enjoys the warmest and most stable weather of the year. In July, you can expect average temperatures between 9°C (48°F) and 15°C (59°F). But you may be lucky and visit during a heatwave when the temperatures rise into the low 20s (68°F).

It’s good to remember that Icelandic weather can be changeable. For that reason, it’s best to be ready for rain, wind, and sunshine.

Your July packing guide

In the Nordics, we have the saying: “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. Follow this philosophy to enjoy all the amazing adventures you have planned without worrying about the weather.

We recommend packing layers and all necessary clothing to adapt along the way.

Here is a list of packing essentials for your travels to Iceland in July:

  • Short-sleeved shirts and lightweight layers
  • At least one or two fleeces or lightweight wool sweaters
  • A waterproof and windproof jacket (or shell layers)
  • A pair of waterproof trousers
  • Gloves, scarf, and warm hat
  • Cap and sunglasses
  • Sturdy walking or hiking boots
  • Thermal underwear and socks
  • Binoculars for wildlife watchers
  • Swimwear, flip flops, and a towel to go for a dip
  • An eye mask to help you sleep in the midnight sun

Daylight hours

Speaking of the midnight sun, from the summer solstice in late June until mid-July, you can expect more than 20 hours of daylight.

This is thanks to the phenomenon of the midnight sun, whereby the sun barely sets over the horizon. Creating the longest days of the year, you’ll be able to admire the sun shining well into the night.

The bonus of the midnight sun is that it gives you even more daylight to explore Iceland’s stunning attractions and sights. Spend more time on the road or bask in the glow of a late sunset at your accommodation each night.

Even in late July, you’ll still benefit from 18+ hours of daylight.

Can I see the Northern Lights in Iceland in July?

In July, you’re unlikely to spot the Northern Lights in Iceland. You need proper darkness to see them in the sky and the midnight sun will make it very difficult.

From August, the nights are longer and you may be able to witness the Aurora Borealis. But for your best chances of sightings, visit Iceland in winter.

What to see in Iceland in July?

Where should you go and what locations should you add to your bucket list? In July, the possibilities are endless as all the regions are accessible.

Skogafoss waterfall with flowers in South Iceland

These are just a few of our favorite places to tour in Iceland in July:

  • Hike the colorful mountains of Landmannalaugar in the highlands
  • Explore the lively capital, Reykjavík, and its many museums and attractions
  • Drive or join a day tour to the Golden Circle to see Gullfoss, Geysir, and Þingvellir National Park
  • Discover the lunar landscapes of the Lake Mývatn Nature Reserve
  • Go for coastal walks in the remote Westfjords
  • See the top highlights of the Diamond Circle, from the Goðafoss waterfall to the lush Ásbyrgi canyon
  • Admire icebergs and spot seals at the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon
  • Visit the Snæfellsnes peninsula and roam around the Snæfellsjökull National Park
  • Walk between chunks of ice on the black sands of Diamond Beach
  • Experience the vast wilderness of the Skaftafell National Park on the south coast

10 best things to do in Iceland in July

What activities can you get up to at all these breathtaking locations?

As July is one of the top months to travel around Iceland, you’ll find there is plenty to do at this time. Here are the 10 best things to add to your to-do list while you’re exploring Iceland in July:

1. Head on a self-drive tour

In July, road trips are a great idea. Imagine driving on winding routes through dramatic fjords or along stark lava fields, following the coast or passing through mountains. Your favorite music is playing while you see glaciers and volcanoes on the horizon.

You could tour around the country following Route 1 aka the Ring Road. In July, you can dream bigger yet and add the Westfjords and the highland region to your itinerary.

2. Follow hiking trails for scenic adventures

Walking is an excellent way to take in the natural wonders of Iceland. You’ll find accessible trails, for beginners and experienced hikers, around the country.

Travel into the highlands for a unique summer trip. The roads into this central region only open for a few weeks, from late June until August, depending on the weather. Journey to these rugged peaks for the hiking vacation you’ve been dreaming of.

It doesn’t stop here. Take on the national parks and high cliffs along the coast for more stunning landscapes and thrilling walks. You could admire glaciers, black sand beaches, and waterfalls along the way as well as spot wildlife.

If you’re in Reykjavík for a city break, you could walk up Mount Esja. You’ll be rewarded with sweeping views over the capital and surrounding bay.

Group of hikers going up the path at Landmannalaugar, Laugavegur trek, Iceland

3. Explore the jaw-dropping glaciers

Glaciers are an important part of the Icelandic geography. Not only can you spot them from far away, looking like snow-covered mountains, but you can experience them from up close too.

Excursions like glacier walking and snowmobiling are available in summer and winter alike. Book these thrilling activities to climb atop Sólheimajökull or Vatnajökull. Go “Into the Glacier” on a tour that will take you deep inside Langjökull through a man-made tunnel.

To admire glaciers and icebergs, we recommend visiting Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and the nearby Diamond Beach. In July, you could even take a boat tour on the lagoon to see the icy giants from up close.

4. Take a whale-watching cruise

A wide variety of whales visit Icelandic waters during the summer months, making it an ideal time to go on boat tours. In fact, it’s one of the best places in Europe to see whales.

You might spot minke, humpback, and sperm whales, as well as dolphins, seals, and seabirds.

Tours can be booked from Reykjavík and other locations around the country. True wildlife enthusiasts will want to go on a cruise from Húsavík, the whale-watching capital of Iceland. Most of their summer tours have a 100% success rate of sightings.

5. See puffins along the coast

Ever wanted to meet these clumsy-yet-cute seabirds in real life? July is a good month to spot them in the wild in Iceland.

They arrive in late April to nest on the coast until August. It’s not just a handful of them either, but around 8 million puffins that call Iceland their home in summer.

The majority of the colonies can be found along North Iceland and the Westfjords. In this western peninsula, you’ll even find one of Europe’s biggest bird cliffs, Látrabjarg.

6. Photograph the many impressive waterfalls

You can’t come to Iceland and not visit at least one or two waterfalls. It’s the law! We’re kidding obviously, but you won’t want to miss these impressive, natural water features of Iceland.

They come in all heights, widths, and shapes. You could:

  • Admire the chutes of Gullfoss fall into the canyon below
  • Walk behind the water curtain at Seljalandsfoss
  • Witness the most powerful falls in Europe, Dettifoss
  • See the water streaming from lava fields at Hraunfossar
  • Be in awe at the basalt columns surroundings Svartifoss

…and much more as it’s estimated there are as many as 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland!

7. Relax in natural hot springs or spas

Thanks to Iceland’s geothermal energy, you could bathe in naturally heated waters during your July vacation.

Imagine you’re hiking in the countryside and simply stop for a dip in a hot spring amid the wilderness. It’s the best way to relax and warm up after a day of exploration outdoors. And it’s free!

You could visit towns’ local swimming pools that are heated and often open all year long.

Many spas around the Land of Fire and Ice also use geothermally heated water for all its health benefits. Spend a few hours at the Húsafell Canyon Baths or the Blue Lagoon for a truly Icelandic spa experience.

Husafell Giljabod sunrise, Iceland

8. Enjoy a city break in Reykjavík

Did you know that Reykjavík is the northernmost capital in the world? That alone is worth traveling here, don’t you think? Need more convincing?

You can visit interactive museums like the Perlan to witness the wonders of Iceland. Attend festivals, try Icelandic food at local restaurants, and learn about history at the Árbær Open Air Museum.

Or take a day trip to explore the nature trails of Viðey Island. To warm up (or cool down) stop by the geothermal beach Nauthólsvík where you could also dip your toes in the sea.

You could also book a variety of day tours from Reykjavík, including to the Golden Circle or to go whale watching.

9. Attend local events and festivals

Look out for the following events and festivities you could attend in July.

See the famous Icelandic ponies at the Landsmót Hestamanna horse competition. Athletes may also want to try the Laugavegur Ultra Marathon.

Iceland is renowned for its musical talent and you’ll find a host of music festivals to see local and international acts. There’s the Eistnaflug heavy metal festival and Bræðslan in East Iceland, Innipúkinn, and the Skálholt summer concerts.

Reykjavík is home to the Fringe Festival in July, and nearby in the Westman Islands, you could attend the annual outdoor festival Þjóðhátíð.

10. Kayak, snorkel, or participate in other thrilling excursions

Yes, we realize that maybe this one is encompassing quite a lot! That said, the activities you’ll add to your itinerary will depend on your interests. Iceland has a well-rounded set of outdoor excursions that you could book during your July vacation.

Snorkel between two worlds in the fissure between tectonic plates. Discover the inside of volcanoes through lava tunnels. Kayak between icebergs. And did you know you could even snowmobile during the summer in Iceland?

Ice cave in Vatnajokull glacier

Booking your July vacation to Iceland

Get planning and reserving your summer tour right now. First, you’ll want to start picking all the locations you want to visit and the activities you want to do to create your itinerary.

You could also browse our camping tours, city breaks, road trips, and privately guided packages to find your perfect fit. With Iceland Tours, you benefit from routes planned by locals who know the country inside-out. You’ll also have peace of mind with support throughout your time in Iceland. 

Be ready for a memorable summer break!

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Written by:

Camila Contreras-Langlois