If the magic of the Northern Lights entices you to visit Iceland in winter then surely everlasting days, with the sun still shining at midnight, will convince you to embark on a summer break here too.
Activities abound during the Icelandic summer, with hiking, biking, super jeep driving, Ice Walks across melting glaciers, climbing and canyoning among the many, many adventures for you to enjoy.
Such tours take place within some of the most breathtaking landscapes on Earth. With thousands of years of history melting under your feet as you traverse the glaciers during an ice walk and ethereal landscapes, that make you feel as if you are on top of the world, surrounding you during hikes.
Summer in Iceland can provide the perfect break from the bustle of your busy lifestyle. It can be a great place to relax, unwind, explore and even push yourself, should you feel the need.
In this definitive guide to summer in Iceland, we explore everything you need to know to travel Iceland like a pro this summer!
That includes –
The ultimate four-day summer tour itinerary, alternative activities for the discerning traveller, what you can expect from the notorious Icelandic weather and what to bring to Iceland.
Looking to plan a winter adventure to Iceland? Check out The Ultimate Guide To Winter In Iceland!
Table of Contents
Use the links below to navigate to any section of your choice.
Chapter One – Five Reasons to Visit Iceland In Summer
Before we delve into what to do in Iceland, we thought we would give you some reasons why you should choose Iceland for your summer holiday first.
So here are five reasons to visit Iceland this summer!
- The Sunlight
OK, so we may have mentioned this a few times but the sun doesn’t really set during July. So you can stay up late and cram more into a shorter stay. Winter visits to Iceland are often interrupted by the temperamental weather.
- The Weather In Iceland During Winter Compared to Summer
The weather in Iceland is incredibly temperamental, you could feel like you’re experiencing four seasons in one day. In winter this volatility is more pronounced, ensuring some trips are delayed or cancelled (unless you travel in one of our super jeeps). In summer roads that are sometimes shut in winter reopen, ensuring Iceland becomes a hiker and biker paradise, not to mention opening up a whole host of activities!
- Swim/Surf In The Ocean
We’re not joking, during summer you can take a dip in the Ocean. Hot bays keep the waters a decent temperature and Iceland is now gaining notoriety as a surfing destination.
There are some activities that are only possible during the summer months. Among these are the hiking, biking and canyoning tours. Exploring Volcanoes is also possible during the summer months, as are midnight horse riding tours (made possible due to the light), snorkelling and diving.
So this isn’t different between the summer and winter months but you may feel as though Iceland is too far to travel to for a three day itinerary such as the one listed below. But flight time to Iceland from New York is just five and a half hours and just two hours and a half from England.
Chapter Two – The Iceland Factfile
Ten Facts You Need To Know About Iceland
It’s always nice to be prepared before you visit a new country and immerse yourself in a different culture. Fortunately for you, the Icelandic people are incredibly easy-going. Still, here’s a few things you might like to know before your trip.
The population of Iceland is just 331,000 people, making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe.
1/3 of the population lives in Reykjavik. So if you’re looking for the perfect, remote getaway it’s time to visit the Icelandic countryside!
Iceland measures 39,000 square miles. As way of comparison, England measures 50,342 square miles.
It would be amiss to think we could summarise the history of Iceland in a paragraph, there are plenty of books that barely do it justice.
One thing to know is that the history of Iceland is rich and intriguing, despite it being one of the last countries to be settled on Earth, which occurred around the 9th century.
Fast Fact: The “Althingi” or Icelandic parliament dates back to the 10th century and the Viking Era. The caves in which they met can be explored through our caving tours.
The only mammal native to Iceland is the Arctic Fox. Marine mammals populate the coastline, such as Humpback Whale, Minke Whale, Fin Whale and seals.
Reindeer were imported in the 18th century and can be found wild in East Iceland. The Icelandic horse was brought across by the island’s Viking settlers.
*There are no polar bears in Iceland.
You won’t see many trees in Iceland. Despite 12th century writings that referred to Iceland as covered from shore to shore in trees.
Trees were chopped down for firewood and timber over the centuries to come. While harsh winters and volcanic activity ensured trees could not take root.
Whilst Iceland only has one real forest, Hallormstadaskógur, the country now plants more trees per head of population than any other nation in the world.
Off-road driving is illegal in Iceland as it can damage delicate flora. It is a strictly enforced law and carries a hefty-fine as a punishment.
Be careful if you’re planning to rent a car and do your research before embarking on your journey. It’s safer to ride in a super jeep!
- Icelandic Names
Icelanders use a Nordic naming system, in which sons and daughters may derive different surnames. IcelandAir offers this helpful example:
“A man called Haraldur Magnusson and his wife Helga Jonsdottir might have a son called Petur whose final name would then be Haraldsson, and a daughter called Ingibjörg Haraldsdottir.”
- Icelandic Cuisine
The mainstays of the Icelandic diet include lamb and a variety of fish and seafood.
The Arctic waters surrounding the island offer bountiful amounts of fish with cod, lobster, haddock, salmon, monkfish, herring and skate, readily available in Icelandic restaurants.
More unique delicacies may include reindeer, puffin, whale and fermented shark.
American chef Anthony Bourdain once referred to the latter as the worst thing he’s ever tried… Maybe stick to the lamb
- Iceland Is The Youngest Country In The World
Iceland is formed from Volcanic eruptions that are still taking place today. Meaning that Iceland is quite literally evolving all the time.
The youngest part is an island called Surtsey which formed as a result of an underwater explosion in 1963.
Beer may have remained illegal in Iceland until 1989 but, don’t worry, there are plenty of breweries in Iceland now.
With the summer sunlight ensuring it’s bright enough to read a book at 2 am, you can sit and enjoy the sunlight in a hot tub till the early hours.
More avid party animals can venture to Reykjavik where there are plenty of excellent bars and nightclubs, whilst the world’s most eco-friendly festival, Secret Solstice, is held annually in Iceland and welcomed musical luminaries such as Deftones, Radiohead and Iceland’s own Of Monsters and Men this year.
Chapter Three – Iceland’s Ultimate Four Day Summer Tour
Midgard Adventure’s Four Day Adventure is the perfect way to experience all Iceland has to offer in a compact trip this summer.
Guests will experience the true beauty of Iceland in summer, including the extensive daylight hours which provide an intoxicating energy to the tour. From May to July, this extends to twenty four hours of daylight, allowing you to see Iceland in all its glory – but maybe bring an eye mask in case you want to grab a little bit of sleep!
You probably won’t want to spend a minute sleeping though, because this is the adventure of a lifetime. From exploring the surroundings of Eyjafjallajökull, the famous volcano which erupted in 2010, to exploring the rugged Valley of Nordic Thunder God Thor in a monstrous super jeep, this is a tour filled with excitement.
What’s more, you will discover a side of Iceland few tourists ever get to see as Midgard Adventure’s expert guides show you breathtaking south coast sites such as Skógafoss and the Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, Reynisfjara and its iconic black sand beach not to mention Dyrhólaey island, commonly known for its holed archway.
The ethereal landscapes and vibrant colours of the Icelandic highlands awaits, whilst you will also get the opportunity to ice-walk at the Sólheimajökull Glacier, which offers a stunning introduction to the glacial world!
The Hikers among you will revel in the opportunity to hike Reykjadalur, which is a geothermal area. After the trek, you will be rewarded with a bath in the hot river.
All tours and activities, accommodation, meals, transport and all transfers are included in the price. An expert local guide will make sure you get the best possible experience. We will take care of you from the very beginning with an airport pick-up until we drop you off on the last day. Discover more about the exceptional accommodation in the chapter on Midgard Base Camp
Day One – Welcome To Iceland
You will arrive at Keflavik International Airport before 11 am and your Midgard guide will be there to welcome you!
On the way to the south, you will get the opportunity to explore the Reykjavík peninsula. Some people think this looks like the moon!
You will also stop for a spot of lunch, giving you the chance to do some sightseeing and get a feel for the Icelandic landscape and the geothermal activity that powers the country.
Late afternoon/ evening
Arrive at Base Camp, we recommend settling in and getting comfortable before walking a few minutes down the road to discover the amazing lava centre.
Then it’s dinner time and a traditional Icelandic feast awaits you at Base Camp, where you can meet the other guests joining on the tour.
Depending on how you feel, we can then go on a short evening hike or relax in the rooftop hot tub and sauna. Before retiring to your room in Base Camp for a well earned night’s rest!
DAY 2 – South Coast and glacier adventure
Wake up refreshed and ready for a day of adventure! Delve into the delicious buffet breakfast at Midgard Base Camp. Today, you will explore the beauty of the south coast. Possible stops include the Skógafoss waterfall, Seljalandsfoss waterfall (you can walk behind it!), the black sand beach, Vík, Reynisfjara and Dyrhólaey.
In the afternoon, you will visit the Sólheimajökull outlet glacier to witness the ongoing changes that are currently occurring to the glaciers. To really give you a true introduction into the glacial world we can then fasten our crampons and take a short hike on the glacier itself.
If time allows we might head down to Iceland’s southernmost town of Vik but we must remain aware of the daylight and weather. Then, we recommend a trip to the local swimming pool, with its hot tubs and sauna, before returning back to base camp.
Enjoy dinner at the Midgard Base Camp Restaurant, then it’s up to you as to where the evening will take us. Usually, after the long day of activities people just want to relax at the bar and recount the tales of the day. However, if your batteries are still full we can go out for an evening bike ride!
Then, retire to your room for another night of well-earned sleep!
DAY 3 – Þórsmörk super jeep adventure/Hidden highlands
After breakfast at Base Camp, it’s time to get back to the adventure and we head out to the valley of the Thunder God Thor, otherwise known as Þórsmörk. Þórsmörk was crafted by eruptions underneath the glaciers, ensuring it is an unforgettable landscape to witness.
We’ll clamber over this terrain in a super jeep, which is an unforgettable experience in itself.
Whilst we are in the valley, we will explore the volcano Eyjafjallajökull. This is the volcano that infamously erupted in 2010. On the tour, we’ll actually stop by the outlet glacier Gígjökull where the eruption first presented itself.
We can also hike around the area, depending on how much energy you have and whether you would like to or not!
Then it’s back to Base Camp to enjoy a delicious meal at the restaurant. Then, we can either return to the swimming pool or lava centre (if you haven’t already been), this can be followed by an evening hike or a chill in the rooftop hot tub!
And finally, another night of well-earned rest at the Base Camp!
DAY 4 – Surprise day / Departure
After filling your boots at the buffet breakfast, get ready for your final adventure!
You have a few options to choose from on this day. One of the best is a hike to Reykjadalur, the geothermal area. Here you can experience the pleasures of a natural hot bath.
We are at the mercy of the weather, so if it’s not playing ball we can drive to the Golden Circle or the Þjórsárdalur valley.
Whatever happens, you are guaranteed another magical Icelandic day.
At the end of the day, we take you to Keflavík International Airport (KEF) or Reykjavík. If you are flying home on this day your flight should depart 7:00PM or later.
If you decide to extend your stay we are of course more than willing to help you book your accommodation in Reykjavík or help you extend your trip elsewhere.
We can also drop you off at the Blue Lagoon (entrance not included and pre-booking is required).
If you would rather a shorter trip, why not check out Midgard Adventure’s two-day Þórsmörk Exploration.
Chapter Four: More Amazing Activities To Try In Iceland During Summer
The beauty of Iceland is the freedom you will feel. The vast landscapes help you connect with nature and distance yourselves from the pressures of everyday life.
Within this endless terrain, there is an abundance of activities available. If the above didn’t suit you, why don’t you consider throwing in some of these activities instead?
Even better, extend your trip to include them!
There is no place on earth like Landmannalaugar.
A remote and rugged volcanic landscape, Landmannalaugar is colourful thanks to the orange and cream rhyolite and blue and green mountains, which set an ethereal scene.
There is also an abundance of natural hot springs to bathe in and this route first takes us around the base of Hekla – one of Europe’s most active volcanoes. The route then takes us through captivating, contorted lava flows that have emerged from a myriad of different craters and fissures.
After an easy Laugarhraun lava field hike, delicious hot spring bathing offers a uniquely pleasurable experience. Just remember to bring your swimwear!
Þórsmörk Super Jeep Tour
One of our most popular day tours, Þórsmörk is a truly unique area that sits among three sparkling ice caps – Mýrdalsjökull, Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull.
Known as the Valley of Nordic Thunder God Thor, it’s a fitting place for a deity and sights include Gígjökull where powerful glacial floods escaped during the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption. Midgard’s expert guides will tell you everything you need to know, including stories only the locals are privy to.
You will cross the rugged terrain in Midgard’s super jeeps, which provides a truly exhilarating experience. On occasion, we can disembark to take short hikes if you wish, where you can truly connect with the beauty of the landscape.
It’s this expertise that makes the tour so alluring and many of the guests who take it have been referred by previous clients.
If you would rather hike to see the beauty of Thor’s Valley, then this tour is for you. Explore a wilderness of outstanding panoramic views whilst inhaling the fresh mountain air.
We’ll also stop off at brilliant scenic locations on the way to and from the tour, including Gígjökull.
Starting at the Skógar River, where twenty waterfalls set a magical scene, the hike progresses into Eyjafjallajokull (of 2010 fame) and Myrdalsjokull.
Crossing the volcanic area, where the lava is still warm and two new craters have appeared, we descend into the beauty of Þórsmörk, Thor’s Valley.
Super jeeps return us from Þórsmörk, crossing rugged terrain and rivers.
Distance: 24 kms; elevation 1,050m; hike 9-12hrs; total trip 11-14hrs.
Midgard Adventure’s expert guides know Iceland like the back of their hand and based on the difficulty of predicting the weather and road conditions, many guests choose to leave it to our guides to determine a “mystery route”.
Popular routes go off the beaten track and deep into the absorbing Valley of Thunder Þórsmörk, where you will discover Iceland’s raw and untouched, truly at its beautiful best. Then, you might pass under the infamous roots of Eyjafjallajökull, crossing the rugged terrain of glacial rivers.
From the summit of Eyjafjallajökull, you will gain spectacular views into Iceland’s interior and the surrounding icecaps towards the Westman Islands.
Another possible destination is Landmannalaugar, where the landscapes vibrant colours make for a captivating display of orange and cream, with the blue and green of the mountains providing a scintillating backdrop. Whilst there, you will be able to experience a dip in the natural hot springs.
Get in touch to discover plenty of other possible routes that would suit you!
Whatever you choose, just remember your camera!
Chapter Five – What To Pack For Summer In Iceland
As you may have guessed from the variety of activities listed above what you need to pack will vary depending on your preferred itinerary. But based on the weather, you will need a variety of clothing anyway!
You’ve got to be prepared to go with the flow, but there are a few essentials we recommend packing to ensure you’re always one step ahead of the weather:
Warm & Sensible Clothing
It may still be light at 2am but that doesn’t mean it’s warm. Night time temperatures can drop below 0C and during the day it can easily swing down to 5C with highs of around 15C. So make sure you bring warm and sensible clothing such as:
-Thick Hiking Socks
-Hat, scarf, gloves
-Layers: t-shirt changes, fleeces and jumpers
-Sturdy hiking boots- you will need them!
By layering up you can remove and add clothes based on what the temperamental Icelandic weather is doing.
Don’t forget an adaptor! Iceland uses a two-pin plug, otherwise known as a Type F (pictured). It’s also worth bringing a camera along to capture those beautiful landscapes.
It’s also worth bringing along a swimsuit! There are plenty of water-based activities and even if swimming in the Ocean and venturing into wetter climes isn’t your thing, relaxing in a hot tub, sauna or they geyser heated Blue or Secret Lagoon probably is! So make sure you pack swimming gear.
Sleeping can also be problematic when it’s daylight outside at 2am… So it’s worth bringing an eye-mask to help you get some shut-eye!
Fast drying towels are another useful item in the Icelandic traveller’s repertoire.
Thanks For Reading!
Thanks for reading!
If you need help planning your trip to Iceland just get in touch with Midgard Base Camp’s friendly team and we can help with every aspect of your stay!