☀️ Guide to Iceland in August + Summer Packing List

Blog author looking at a waterfall flowing between basalt columns.

Known as the “Land of Fire and Ice,” Iceland has volcanos and hot springs, but is generally a cold-temperature destination dipping below 30°F in the winter and peaking at 70°F in the summer. August is one of the warmest months in Iceland and more activities become available then.

Having visited the country in August, I share practical tips on visiting Iceland in the summer. This post covers:

  • ✨ Best things to do in August
  • 👍 Upsides and downsides of summer
  • 💡 Practical tips for peak season
  • 🧦 What to pack for summer
  • ❄️ Iceland’s weather conditions

Planning a trip to Iceland? This Iceland guide covers things to know before getting there, including top places to visit, how to get around, budgeting and more.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Iceland’s Four Seasons

Before getting into whether the month of August is a good time to visit, here’s an overview of the different seasons in Iceland.

🌱 Spring in Iceland

  • 🗓️ Iceland’s spring months are March, April and May.
  • 🌡️ The average temperature ranges from 30°F to 50°F.
  • 🌧️ Each spring month will have 11 rainy days on average.
  • ☀️ In the spring, you’ll get 12 to 16 hours of daylight time.

☀️ Summer in Iceland

  • 🗓️ Iceland’s summer months are June, July and August.
  • 🌡️ The average temperature ranges from 45°F to 57°F.
  • 🌧️ Each summer month will have 10 rainy days on average.
  • ☀️ In the summer, you’ll get 15 to 22 hours of daylight time.

⛅️ Fall in Iceland

  • 🗓️ Iceland’s autumn months are September, October and November.
  • 🌡️ The average temperature ranges from 32°F to 51°F.
  • 🌧️ Each month in the fall will have 14 rainy days on average.
  • ☀️ In the fall, you’ll get 11 to 12 hours of daylight time.

❄️ Winter in Iceland

  • 🗓️ Iceland’s winter months are December, January and February.
  • 🌡️ The average temperature ranges from 30°F to 37°F.
  • 🌧️ Each winter month will have 14 snowy days on average.
  • ☀️ In the winter, you’ll get 4 to 7 hours of daylight time.

Iceland is known to have volatile weather conditions year-round, so it’s not uncommon to experience what feels like all four seasons in one day.

The view of a big waterfall from the side against a blue sky.
Seljalandsfoss, a popular Iceland waterfall, during the summer.
A large waterfall in the winter falling out of an icy mountain.
Seljalandsfoss, the same waterfall, during the winter. (Photo by my friend, Cindy Tian.)

Is August a Good Time to Travel to Iceland?

If you like warmer climates and want to experience Iceland’s breathtaking natural landscapes at their full capacity, the summer months are the best months to visit the country.

Having visited Iceland in August, I think it’s a great time to visit Iceland.

😃 The Upsides of Visiting Iceland in August

Visiting Iceland in August has three upsides:

1. You’ll have long days and enough nighttime to sleep.

Iceland experiences a phenomenon known as the midnight sun, where you can see light for 24 hours a day. The midnight sun happens in June and can be a cool thing to witness, but visitors also report having difficulty sleeping.

In August, you’ll have a more ideal ratio of daytime and nighttime hours. You’ll get long daylight hours averaging 16 to 17 hours a day to explore the country, but also get 7 to 8 hours of nighttime for sleeping.

Iceland’s sun schedule is as followed:

  • In early August, the sun will rise as early as 4:30 am and set as late as 10:30 pm.
  • In late August, the sun to will rise as late as 6 am and set as early as 8:45 pm.

2. You get to enjoy Iceland during one of its warmest months of the year.

July is the hottest month in Iceland, but August is not far behind. The average temperature in August in Iceland is 46°F to 57°F. The Icelandic weather at this time lends itself to more available outdoor activities.

I had to carry my light puff jacket around every day in August, but I also had moments where I was in shorts and a t-shirt. Read on for what to pack in the summer.

A blue, green lake inside a crater with a blue sky.
Visiting Kerid Crater on a warm day in August.

3. You’ll likely get less rain.

You can expect to get about 11 days of rain in August in Iceland, which is, on average, three days less than the fall and winter months.

During my Iceland trip, six out of the seven days were sunny and had no significant rain. I was extremely lucky in that regard.

Natural Icelandic view of a canyon with a river crossing through it and mountains in the background.
A beautiful day in Iceland in August.

😕 The Downside of Visiting Iceland in August

Traveling to Iceland in August has its disadvantages. The primary downside is that August is within Iceland’s peak season, so you can expect everything to be more crowded.

💡 Tips on Visiting Iceland in August

If you’re traveling to Iceland in August like I did, here are some essential tips to know:

  • Tip #1: Book accommodations two to four months in advance. I tried to book accommodations about a month ahead and was left with very few options. This is one of the reasons why I decided to travel Iceland in a campervan, which turned out to be a great experience.
  • Tip #2: Get Blue Lagoon tickets one to two months in advance. The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s top attractions and they have a timed-entry ticket system. If you don’t book tickets ahead during peak travel season, you’ll be left with more expensive and less ideal time slots. Here are other tips when visiting Iceland’s hot springs.
The blog author is milky-blue water under an open sky.
Book Blue Lagoon in advance in the summer.
  • Tip #3: Book campervans and rental cars ahead. Iceland campervans need to be booked about four months in advance during the peak travel season. There’s more flexibility with rental cars, but for the best deals and selections, book them one to two months ahead.
  • Tip #4: Prepare to not get any of the top attractions to yourself. Given that August is the last month of Iceland’s peak season, you’ll see crowds at all main attractions. To minimize the crowds, visit the top attractions in the early morning.

That said, having been to Iceland in August, Iceland’s peak crowds pale in comparison to many of Europe’s and the US’s top destinations.

A line of people entering a cave.
A long line for a hidden waterfall in Iceland in August.

7 Best Things To Do in August in Iceland

August’s warm weather and sunny days in Iceland mean that there are more activities available for visitors.

Here are seven of the top things to do in Iceland in August.

1. Go hiking or glacier hiking

🏔️ Why: With its breathtaking natural landscape, Iceland boasts amazing hikes all around the country and August’s 46°F to 57°F weather is an ideal hiking temperature.

🌟 Highlights: During my one-week trip in Iceland, I did five diverse hikes in August and they all stood out for different reasons:

  • Landmannalaugar. The Highlands is the area in the middle of Iceland that’s largely uninhabited and composed of volcanic deserts. Within it, the Landmannalaugar area is extraordinary and stunning with several trail options.

    🍀 My take: For a day trip, you can hike the Brennisteinsalda-Blahnukur loop, which remains one of my favorite hikes ever.
Woman standing on a rock and looking out at colorful mountains with some snow.
One of the many stunning views on Landmannalaugar.
  • Glymur Waterfall. Glymur Waterfall is an interesting, moderate four-mile hike involving a log crossing, a cave pass, some steep areas and different viewpoints of the tall Glymur waterfall. It’s located a one-hour drive from the capital city, Reykjavík.

    🍀 My take: Despite this being the only day in Iceland where I got poured on, I thought Glymur Waterfall was an incredibly fun hike.
The blog author wearing a poncho and a raincoat in front of a waterfall in between cliffs.
Hiking Glymur waterfall.
  • Svartifoss. For an easier hike, consider doing the 30 to 60-minute hike in Svartifoss. The hike leads you to a unique waterfall located between basalt columns formed by lava cooking and contracting.

    🍀 My take: Svartifoss is a great and short rewarding hike to a popular waterfall. Because the waterfall is not located right off the road like other popular ones, it’s not nearly as crowded.
Blog author looking at a waterfall flowing between basalt columns.
Looking up at Svartifoss after the quick hike.
  • Glacier Hike. Iceland is one of the few places in the world where it’s somewhat accessible to hike a glacier. Iceland has two main hiking glaciers: Sòlhemajökull and Vanatajökull, the biggest glacier in Europe.

    🍀 My take: Glacier hiking is a unique experience where you get to marvel at all the blue ice surrounding you. This glacier hike guide outlines what it’s like, safety tips and what to wear.
A woman hiking on a glacier; she's surrounded by glacier in all directions.
Hiking an Iceland glacier.

Iceland’s weather is volatile, even in the summer, so always carry some rain gear and layers when hiking. Weather on a glacier mountain is even more volatile. My glacier hike started sunny and then suddenly hailed.

2. Take a road trip on the Ring Road

🚙 Why: Iceland’s Ring Road, the main road that wraps around the country, is ideal for a road trip because of its well-maintained road conditions and connection to many of Iceland’s main attractions. You don’t need to worry about ice or as much rain on the roads in August.

Iceland has some unique road rules and driving norms. Make sure to be familiar with them before road-tripping there. This Iceland campervan guide outlines the most common driving rules visitors should know.

🍀 My take: I had an amazing time doing a campervan road trip in Iceland. I don’t particularly like driving, but driving on Iceland’s roads while surrounded by stunning natural landscapes is a memorable experience.

An open road with a glacier mountain the distance.
Driving by one of the breathtaking glacier mountains in Iceland.

3. See Iceland’s wildlife

🐋 Why: Iceland is a great place to whale watch, see puffins and catch a glimpse of an arctic fox. Seeing some of the wildlife is best in the summer and nearly impossible in the winter weather.

🌟 Highlights: Puffin and whale watching are Iceland’s two most beloved wildlife experiences.

  • Puffins. Puffins migrate to Iceland’s coastal cliffs from May to August to lay their eggs. They can be spotted throughout summer and the last month to catch them is in August.

    📍 Where to see them: Látrabjarg in the Westfjords and the Westman Islands are some of the best places to spot puffins.
The blog author pointing down at a cliff, with a big, flying puffin photoshopped in.
Pointing at puffins at Dyrhólaey Arch. I couldn’t take a good photo with my phone camera, so I borrowed my friend’s Iceland puffin photo (photo credit: Marshall Goff).
  • Whales. Iceland is the whale-watching capital of Europe. While you can do it year-round, summer is the best time, with the highest chance of seeing Blue whales, Fin, Sperm, Humpback or Minke whales.

    📍 Where to see them: The best places to whale watch are in the north, in Akureyri and Húsavík, but if you’re lucky, you might be able to see some in Faxaflói near Reykjavík. Since whales don’t appear on command, the best way to increase your chances of seeing one is by taking a whale-watching tour.

Iceland also has twice as many sheep as local residents. While you drive around in the summer, you’ll see sheep everywhere. Make sure to watch out for them and other wildlife while driving.

4. Attend cultural events that only happen in August.

🌈 Why: Being one of the warmest months in Iceland, August is the time of the year when locals get to be outside in the sun and enjoy some celebrations.

🌟 Highlights: Iceland’s best cultural events in August are:

  • Þjóðhátíð. Þjóðhátíð is an annual festival held in Vestmannaeyjar, an island towards the south of Iceland. It’s the biggest outdoor festival in the country and features bonfires, fireworks and outdoor concerts.
  • Reykjavík Marathon. The Reykjavík Marathon has taken place since 1984. Next year, the Reykjavík Marathon is happening on August 24th, 2024.
  • Reykjavík Culture Night. A night to celebrate a diverse set of cultural events for residents, this cultural festival is free and takes place on August 24th, 2024 of next year.
  • Reykjavík Pride (aka Hinsegin dagar). Reykjavík Pride is a national festival where the country celebrates the “freedom of being and living as you are.” The pride parade attracts more than 100,000 visitors, which is impressive for a country with only 400,000 locals. Reykjavík Pride starts on August 4th, 2024 of next year.

Reykjavík is home to Iceland’s only international airport, so timing a cultural event towards the end or start of your trip is a good idea.

5. Go camping or sleep in a campervan

⛺️ Why: Iceland not only has beautiful scenery, but it also has well-maintained campsites and a very low crime rate, making it ideal for camping in a tent or campervan. Given the country’s relatively cold temperature, the perfect time to be outdoors is in the summer.

Blog author standing in front of an open campervan parked at a campsite with a mountain view.
Traveling Iceland in a campervan.

📍 Where to camp: Iceland has campsites all around the country and many of them are accessible on the Ring Road. Happy Campers has built this useful map of all the campsites in Iceland. Searching for “Iceland campsites” on Google Maps will not list all of them.

When camping in Iceland, make sure to read the reviews on Google as that will give you a more accurate representation of the site (e.g., some campsites claim they have hot water when they don’t). This Iceland campervan guide lists other campsite tips.

6. Get in the water in August

💧 Why: Iceland offers a lot of water-related activities and the best time to go in the water is in the summer.

🌟 Highlights: Some of the best water activities you can enjoy in August in Iceland are:

  • Hot springs. Iceland boasts more than 40 natural hot springs and is always cold enough for visitors to enjoy them, but some hot springs are difficult to reach in the winter months. For example, the Hrunalaug hot spring requires a short hike from the parking lot and has no facilities, so it’s generally too cold to visit in the winter.
Blog author submerged in a hot spring surrounded by nature.
Enjoying the hot water at the Secret Lagoon.
  • Snorkel between two tectonic plates. One of Iceland’s most unique opportunities is to snorkel between two tectonic plates in Silfra. Silfra’s water is extremely clear as it originates from glacier meltwater.
A snorkeler in a wetsuit in very clear water.
Snorkeling in Silfra. (Photo by my friend, Shannon Tsai).
  • River rafting. River rafting is a thrilling joy ride in Iceland during the summer when getting wet isn’t as cold as other times. This highly-rated river rafting tour is within the popular Golden Circle area.

7. Ride an Icelandic horse

🐴 Why: The Icelandic horse is its own breed of unique horse that has a different and more comfortable gait. During the summer, Icelandic horses can roam around more freely and have more playful personalities.

Blog author riding an Icelandic horse on a black sand beach.
Riding an Icelandic horse near the town of Vík.

📍 Where to ride: Iceland offers several horse riding tours, such as this highly-rated one from Reykjavík. I did a horse-riding tour from the town of Vík on the South Coast because I wanted to do it on one of Iceland’s black sand beaches.

Things You Can’t Do in August in Iceland

There are a few things you can’t do or likely can’t do if you visit Iceland in August. Here are two of Iceland’s most popular things that you likely can’t do in the summer.

1. See the northern lights (unlikely, but possible)

🌙 Why: Iceland’s northern lights (aka aurora borealis) can typically be seen between October and April. Northern lights are only visible in the dark and in the summer, especially June and July, there’s too much daylight.

Visitors do catch the northern lights in August every year. Your chance of catching it increases every day in August, so the best time to see them is at the end of the month. However, I wouldn’t plan my trip around the northern lights if I was visiting in August.

📍 Where: You can catch the aurora borealis in all parts of Iceland, but north Iceland and the West Fjords are some of the best places to catch them. On the south coast, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a great place to see them.

Green lights in the sky over a city at night.
The northern lights over Reykjavìk in the winter. (Photo by my friend, Cindy Tian.)

2. Climb an ice cave

🧊 Why: Ice cave climbing, a popular activity for adventurous visitors, is only available in the winter months in Iceland. During the summer months, the temperature is too high and the glaciers are slowly melting.

If you want to do something adventurous on the ice in August, a great alternative is doing a glacier hike in Iceland, which is what I did.

A woman wearing crampons in between two glaciers taller than her.
On my glacier hike.

What is Iceland Like in August?

As mentioned above, August is one of the warmest months in Iceland, but the country is also known for unpredictable weather.

If you’re lucky, the summer Iceland weather will be pleasant with highs of 60°F and little rain. Realistically, you’ll likely experience aspects of all four seasons during your Iceland trip.

Here are my weather conditions when I visited Iceland in mid-August for a week:

  • Day 1: Cloudy and sunny all day with an average temperature of 55°F in the afternoon.
  • Days 2-4: Sunny all day with an average temperature of 57°F in the afternoon
  • Day 5: Sunny all day, except when it hailed and rained during my glacier hike for about an hour.
  • Day 6: Sunny all day with an average temperature of 54°F in the afternoon.
  • Day 7: Cloudy, windy and rainy all day.

I consider myself very lucky to have had so many sunny, non-rainy days during my Iceland trip.

A woman behind rails looking at a steep, green canyon with a river running through it.
Visiting Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon in August.

What to Pack for an Iceland Summer Trip

Here’s a detailed Iceland packing list for the summer. This list accounts for popular summer activities and the country’s unpredictable weather.

If you’re traveling Iceland in a campervan, here’s a detailed Iceland packing list for a campervan. I was able to fit my entire campervan packing list into a 25L backpack and a 55L duffel bag, with some room to spare.

A purple backpack and an orange duffel bag with "Patagonia" on it.
My backpack and duffel bag in my Iceland campervan.

🥾 Shoes To Pack for Iceland in the Summer

If you’re aiming to travel light, you only need two shoes in Iceland. Here are the best shoes to pack and wear in the summer:

  • Waterproof hiking shoes. Iceland’s weather is unpredictable, even in the summer. Wearing waterproof shoes is key, especially if you’re hiking or plan to be outdoors for a couple of hours (which most visitors do).

    I wore my waterproof hiking boots every day and was comfortable throughout the week, despite being initially worried about spending so much time in them.

If you plan to do a glacier hike in Iceland, you’ll need hard, ankle-protected boots, which my boots were not (you can rent boots if needed).

A hiking shoe next to more intense hiking boots with toe and ankle protection.
My Salomon boots vs. the glacier hiking boots I rented.
  • Flip flops or sandals. Despite the cold weather, you’ll want to pack sandals for showers, hot springs and the few times when you don’t want to wear your hiking shoes.
  • Sneakers (optional). If you have room, you can pack a pair of sneakers, but you likely won’t wear them much unless you plan to mainly visit Reykjavík and the tourist-friendly Golden Circle.

🧦 Clothes To Pack for Iceland in the Summer

When packing clothes for Iceland, bringing extra layers is key. Here’s a thorough Iceland summer clothing list to pack:

  • Bathing suit. You’ll want at least one pair of swimsuits for the Iceland hot springs (e.g., Blue Lagoon).
  • Warm thermal (inner layer). You’re guaranteed to have cold moments during Iceland’s summer months, so bring a base layer that will keep you warm. I brought my Smartwool tops and bottoms. Fleece-lined leggings will also work well.
  • Sun hoodies or t-shirts. For warmer days, you’ll want to be in a t-shirt or sun hoodie for extra sun and wind protection. Some visitors were able to wear tanks, but it was still too cold for me.
  • Sweater or hoodie (middle layer). Being able to layer is key in Iceland’s unpredictable weather, so bring a warm sweater as your middle layer. A fleece jacket or wool sweater are great options.
  • Packable down jacket (outer layer). Bring a down jacket that’s easy to pack away since you can be switching layers often. I didn’t need mine to be waterproof since I could layer my rain jacket on top of it.
A woman standing near the edge of a crater with blue water filled at the bottom.
Wearing my down jacket in August in Iceland.
  • Waterproof jacket and/or rain poncho (protective layer). Again, being waterproof in Iceland is key. I bought this rain jacket specifically for my Iceland trip, wore it every day and was happy with it. I also brought this rain poncho, which I wore on top of my rain jacket during my rainy hike to Glymur Waterfall.
A giant waterfall with two rainbows at its based. A selfie of a woman with her eyes closed from getting wet.
Getting soaked at Skógafoss.
  • Hiking pants. Iceland’s plethora of natural wonders means you’ll mostly want to be in athletic, comfortable clothes. I bought these quick-dry hiking pants specifically for this trip and they were amazing (very quick to dry) for the days that it didn’t rain.

My biggest Iceland packing regret was not investing in a pair of waterproof pants. Rain pants might feel like overkill, but I got soaked and very cold while hiking in the rain and visiting some very powerful waterfalls.

  • Warm hiking socks. Bring extra socks so that you can swap them out when you get wet from waterfalls, sudden rain or accidentally missing a step in a river crossing while hiking. Water-resistant socks are great in Iceland.
  • Airplane clothes. I missed this and wished I had brought a clean set of clothes for my flight home.

🧤 Accessories to Pack for Iceland in the Summer

Here are essential accessories to include in your Iceland summer packing list:

  • Headband and/or hat. You’ll need head protection in the summer. I brought both a hat and headband and was glad I did when my headband got soaked and I had to wait for it to dry.
The blog author with a happy expression with a giant rainbow and waterfall in the background.
Wearing my headband while visiting Gullfoss in August.
  • Waterproof gloves. You’ll especially want a pair of gloves if you do a glacier hike.
  • Sunglasses. The sun in Iceland is strong, making sunglasses helpful for driving and hiking. I brought my sunglasses everywhere.
  • Lip balm. Iceland has cold winds and very strong sun at times, so it’s a good idea to bring lip balm with SPF.
  • Scrunchies (for long hair). You may not want to dip your hair in the hot springs, especially in the Blue Lagoon where the high levels of silica will make your hair stiff and difficult to manage.
  • Sleep mask (optional). You’ll be getting 14 to 16 hours of daylight on average in August. If your accommodation doesn’t have black-out blinds, consider bringing a sleep mask, like the ones I brought.

🧴 Miscellaneous Items to Pack for Iceland in the Summer

Here are other items to add to your Iceland summer packing list:

Iceland is further up in the Arctic Circle and closer to the sun. People do get sunburnt in Iceland.

  • Quick dry travel towel. You’ll need towels for some hot springs. I brought my quick dry towel.

Some hot springs will offer towels (e.g., Blue Lagoon as part of your entry fee, Secret Lagoon for an additional fee), but not all will (e.g., Hrunalaug hot spring).

  • Reusable water bottle. There’s no need to buy bottled water in Iceland, so I brought my Hydro Flask everywhere. If you plan to go on longer hikes, a hydration pack is a good idea.

Iceland’s tap water is one of the cleanest in the world and more than 90% of the water comes from natural springs.

  • Day pack. When you go hiking or decide to spend a few hours outdoors, you’ll need a day pack to carry water and your extra layers. It’s also a good idea to bring a rain cover for your backpack (I forgot mine and had to use a rain poncho to cover my day pack).

The Iceland summer trip planning template below has a downloadable Iceland packing list in Notion.

Iceland Summer Trip Planner

To make your travel planning easier, download the trip planning template below and use it as a starting point. The template has country-specific travel information as well as an itinerary, packing list and map with recommended places pinned.

The template is built on Notion, which is what I use for all my travel planning (I’m not paid to say this; I just like the tool). If you don’t have Notion, creating an account is free.

Three Notion template screenshots are shown: travel information, itinerary, and map + packing list templates.
Preview of the Iceland trip planning template (built on Notion).
A Notion template screenshots is shown giving more details to the itinerary.
Preview of the Iceland trip planning template (built on Notion).

If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

🧋 This site is run entirely by me, Lukiih. I spend hours writing each article to ensure its accuracy and conciseness. If you find my site helpful, you can say thanks by buying me bubble tea!

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