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There are so many things to do in Iceland in July, no wonder why this is the best time to visit. Summertime is when Iceland has the warmest weather, the longest days (more about that later on), and the coolest offer of activities that can be performed. Check out what to do in Iceland in summer.
Table of Contents
Visit Iceland’s awesome cities
The northernmost capital city in the world, Reykjavik is a city to be seen. Don’t use it just as your arrival and departure point, but take a day or two to get to know it. Ignore the possibilities of seeing whales and puffins here for the moment and focus on the city itself, as it has a lot to offer.
What, exactly? Well – nightlife, restaurants, museums, art exhibits, and concerts – to name only a few. The city is not very big, but it’s beautiful, and it fully deserves your time while you’re there. You can even buy a Reykjavik city card if it makes things easier for you. You can check out some tours I have added below and some places to stay while you’re there.
The “Capital of North Iceland” is not a big city, but this is what makes it special: it’s cute and you feel at home here. You can visit the Laufas Turf houses for an example of how Icelanders used to live, the Arctic botanical gardens (which is, in fact, free to visit) or you can go whale watching from here.
This town in East Iceland will probably be one of your station points if you’re driving the Ring Road (check out my full itinerary here), and for a good reason. It’s the starting point for plenty of cool activities, most related to the nearby glacier.
But the town itself deserves a short visit as well, even if it is just to eat some delicious lobster (they also have a festival dedicated to lobsters but it’s on the last weekend of June). Hofn is also a place where you can find some peculiar museums and galleries, some dedicated to rocks or even to “living close to a glacier”.
The “Whale capital of Iceland” is the oldest settlement in the country and the starting point for many whale watching tours. You can also enjoy a nice afternoon in this beautiful town and visit some cool museums like the (of course) Whale Museum, the Exploration museum, and an interesting collection of objects. Also, there are some very interesting sea baths you can visit, GeoSea being one of them.
This historic town in Iceland is a religious center and it also hosts a huge Music Festival that lasts for five weekends in July and August. Taking place in the Cathedral due to the great acoustic, this festival is a nice way to celebrate the midnight sun.
Enjoy Iceland’s National parks in the summertime
Thingvellir National Park
Probably the most known national park in Iceland due to the uhm, crack in the ground (or Mid-Atlantic Rift, how the smart people are calling it), Thingvellir is also a place for history and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. Hosting waterfalls, geysers, and a beautiful landscape, this national park has to be very high on your list of things to do in Iceland in July.
Vatnajokull National Park
Home to the Jokulsarlon Glacier and incorporating other smaller national parks as well, this protected area is home to beautiful wildlife. You can take various tours here or you can go glacier hiking, but please have a local guide with you at all times, as nature will not be merciful with you if you have not covered your bases.
Snæfellsjökull National park
Located in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, an area entirely special to Iceland, this national park encompasses a glacier and a volcano of its own. This volcano is special also for being the entry point in Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth” book. There are plenty of lava caves that you can only visit during summertime in Iceland and the geology here is fascinating.
Go off the beaten path in Iceland’s peninsulas
This area in Northern Iceland is known for some of the tallest mountains in the country (except for the Highlands) and is the perfect place to see the beautiful Icelandic horses. You can enjoy a nice relaxing time in the infinity pool from Hofsós or you can check out the Herring Era Museum.
Most known for the Blue Lagoon and the eruption in 2021, this peninsula is easily accessible from Reykjavik and can be a great place for some interesting activities. There are mud pools to visit, beautiful beaches to see and there’s even a Viking ship to be seen (it’s a replica though, so don’t be disappointed when you get there.
Home of some very well-known natural beauties like the Kirkjufell mountain (hint: you have seen it in Game of Thrones), visiting this peninsula is one of the best things you can do in Iceland in summer. You can either take a tour from Reykjavik or you can drive it yourself as a detour from your Ring Road itinerary.
Did you know that you can see a rhino in Iceland? Yeah, me neither. By heading to the Vatnsnes peninsula you have a chance of seeing a seal colony and a rock monolith in the shape of a rhino (or elephant, depending on your view and imagination). The views are also very beautiful and the wildlife is gorgeous.
Things to do in Iceland in July: enjoy thermal baths
The Blue Lagoon
The most famous thermal bath in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is the new Instagram thing to do. If you want your likes and a huge amount of envy from your followers, this is the place to go. It’s also very convenient as it’s very close to Reykjavik, and it’s part of most tours in the area.
Myvatn Nature Baths
The “Blue Lagoon” of the North is everything like the one in the South, except for the hype, the crown, and the price tag. The entire Myvatn area is worth a visit, as not all tourists even get here, but this particular thermal bath is my all-time favorite in Iceland. You can buy your tickets here.
Relax in a thermal bath
Or 10, no judgment. I have personally enjoyed the Krauma Geothermal Baths, the Secret Lagoon, and GeoSea Thermal Baths and my only regret is that I haven’t been to more of them. I have such deep regrets that I have made a blog post exactly about this, just to be able to dream. Head there to find out everything you need to know about hot springs in Iceland.
Visit a beer spa
This unusual spa is located in Árskógssandur, in Northern Iceland, and it’s an interesting way of relaxing after a hard day hiking. You just lay in a tub full of beer for some time and then you relax, and you can even enjoy a beer while relaxing. Who would have thought that Iceland is the place to try a beer spa?
Go on a road trip
Drive the Ring Road
It’s like Iceland has been made for road trips, I swear! The Ring Road is just the simplest way of touring the country and it’s fully open in July, but some areas are closed during wintertime. It takes you to all the great places in the country but you’ll never feel irritated by the number of tourists being near you. Check out my detailed guide about driving in Iceland.
Drive the Golden Ring
If you’re short on time, the Golden Ring is the road trip you have to do. Covering the most important highlights of Southern Iceland, this route is easy to drive and will get you to the most famous places, but you can also take a guided tour if it’s easier for you. Still, consider it just a teaser of what the country has to offer, and plan your next trip for longer, to be able to enjoy it fully.
If you plan to rent a car in Iceland, you are not alone! Most travelers do that, and we did as well. At that point, I didn’t know about Discover Cars. We were young, naive, and likes to spend hours searching for cars. Now I know better and use a great all-in-one solution for this. Plus, it includes local companies so you will absolutely choose the best option for you.
Drive the Diamond Circle
This fairly unknown route measures only 250 km (155 miles) and incorporates five of the most beautiful places to visit in Northern Iceland. It starts in Akureyri and has two gorgeous waterfalls (Godafoss and Dettifoss), Lake Myvatn, the Asbyrgi Canyon, and Husavik, the Whale Capital City. It can be easily done in one day and it’s worth it.
Want to have a helpful resource to make your planning efforts not only easier but also more enjoyable? Check out my Iceland Travel Guide!
Try some volcano and cave related activities
Hike volcano Grabrok
Or any other extinct volcano. The keyword here is “extinct”. No matter how tempting it might be, never hike an active volcano, as you’ll never know if you’re going to come back home or not. Just, enjoy the greatness of the Earth pressure valves by hiking some “out of use” ones.
Go inside a volcano
One of the very few volcanoes in which you can go, Thrihnukagigur is dormant without it being closed by cold, hardened lava. There are tours that you can take for this activity, and you only need 5-6 hours and some moderate fitness level, but I’m sure the experience will be unique.
Go into a lava cave
Unlike the “inside the volcano” activity, there are more lava caves that can be visited in Iceland. This activity is less intense and can probably be made by more people, but it’s still very rewarding as it shows you the true power of nature, even if the last eruption was thousands of years ago.
Go into an ice cave
There are only two places where you can safely get into an ice cave in July in Iceland: the Katla Volcano and the man-made ice cave at the Langjokull Glacier. Be prepared for rough weather conditions though, as you have to walk through the snow to get there (yes, even in July). And also, be prepared to be amazed by the beautiful colors your eyes will see.
No matter if you have a specific type of cave in mind or not, you should see some type of caves while there. This is, in the end, what Iceland is all about: being speechless when you meet nature’s strength. Some of them will be full of ice, some will have hot springs (not safe to bathe though), some are even man-made. Choose something that will make you happy!
See an active volcano
Please read this carefully: DO NOT do this on your own. Book a tour, get a guide, fork up the cash, and stay on the safe side. I cannot emphasize this enough. No matter if you choose to go to the Heimaey Island or the more convenient Fagradalsfjall Volcano, do this activity in the safest way possible so you can live to tell the tale. You can choose a tour from the list below, or you can find one yourself. Just, don’t do it on your own.
What to do in Iceland in summer: see some fjords
See the West Fjords
This off-the-beaten-track area of Iceland is extremely beautiful, especially as it’s rarely seen (and sadly, broken) by tourists. Consisting of spectacular waterfalls like Dynjandi, a beautiful rust-gold sand beach at Raudasandur, and providing opportunities to see the puffins at Latrabjarg, this area should be on your list of top things to do in Iceland.
And if those reasons are still not enough for you, what do you think about taking part in a beautiful, local festival at Raudisandur? It has started as a pretty intimate gathering that happens during the first weekend of July, but it has since grown to a full festival, keeping in mind that the preservation of this beautiful area is of high importance.
See the East Fjords
Where’s there’s a West, there’s the East as well, right? Well, when in Iceland, this also applies to Fjords. This area is not only full of beautiful landscapes, but it also shelters Europe’s largest glacier (Vatnajokull), but also the out-of-this-world waterfall of Hengifoss and the colorful town of Seydisfjordur.
See the puffins in Borgarfjords Eystri
The puffin capital of Iceland counts around 100 human inhabitants and God knows how many puffins. Hell, they even have a few elves, or at least this is what they say around here. Visit this small fishermen town and gently admire the puffins.
Beaches to see in Iceland in July
Now, I wouldn’t call it a warm water beach, as the sea temperatures are in the area of 15-19 C degrees (59-66 F), but this is warm for Iceland. This man-made beach is where you can go and enjoy swimming under the midnight sun. Equipped with everything you need, like hot tubs and showers, this beach is a thing to try while in Iceland.
Since the best time to see seals in Iceland is in the summer, try to go to this beach in Snæfellsness Peninsula so you have a big chance of spotting these beautiful creatures. Give them enough space though as they can be dangerous, no matter how cute they look.
This red sand beach in Westfjords is a different view compared to the black sand beaches you will encounter while in Iceland. It’s pretty difficult to get to so take this into account when planning your trip, as it may take you by surprise otherwise.
A highly popular tourist spot in Southern Iceland, this black sand beach has to be visited with great care, as it can be very dangerous. The waves have a special way of becoming huge without any prior notice, so be careful while visiting every photographer’s dream place.
Another popular one that is included in most tours, the diamond beach is both beautiful and easy to get to, which makes it the perfect addition to your Ring Road itinerary. Check out the beautiful icebergs you can find scattered around and enjoy the views this beautiful place has to offer.
Make a picnic on a black sand beach
Any beach is good for this purpose, to be honest, but I suggest the one close to Hofn, as it is wider, thus offering plenty of dry sand to rest your feet in. If you get lucky and get a sunny day, the sand will be warm, such a nice addition to the cold days you’ll encounter even in July in Iceland.
What to do in Iceland in summer – Glacier activities
Ride an amphibian at the glacier lagoon
Or Jökusarlon, if you want the fancy name. It was my first time riding an amphibian means of transportation and it was a very cool experience. The only sad part about it is that this lagoon is, wait for it, 20 years old. It used to be the glacier’s tongue, but climate change has affected it so badly that it became a lagoon in such a short time. Let that sink in…
Go on a snowmobile tour on a glacier
Vatnajokull is one of the easiest glaciers to go on a snowmobile tour on, as it’s conveniently located on the Ring Road. Even if you’re afraid, try to do this activity as it makes you realize how strong can nature be and how small we all are in front of nature’s greatness.
The closest glacier to Reykjavik, Solheimajokull is an easy place to try any glacier-related activity, like hiking or ice caving. It is, of course, affected by climate change and you can see this every year, as the glacier lagoon at its base is increasing rapidly.
The largest glacier in Europe, this national park was established in 2008 and it’s increasing every year. It is the home of the most powerful waterfall in Europe, the beautiful Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, and the place where some of Game of Thrones scenes were shot.
Myrdalsjokull Glacier Park
Located in the Icelandic highlands, this glacier is known for sitting on the highly active volcano of Katla. Look into its seismic activity before heading there as there’s a chance it might become active, and you would not want to be around when that happens.
Visit Iceland’s gorgeous canyons
This horseshoe-shaped canyon in the northeast of Iceland is home to a diverse array of plants and a huge amount of folklore stories to hear and tell. No matter if you come here to try and meet some elves, or just to (respectfully) admire some arctic foxes, try to preserve this delicate nature and carry the stories further.
One of the coolest things to do in Iceland in July is to admire this green, snake-shaped canyon that was highly unknown until a few years ago. Home to spectacular views, this canyon is a new up-and-coming destination for tourists, so check it out respectfully before it gets closed due to over-tourism.
This basalt canyon is not to be missed, as it’s a huge difference compared to the lush, green landscapes the other canyons will reveal. The views will make you think you are not on Earth anymore and you’ll have the place mostly to yourself as not everyone is brave enough to come here.
One of my all-time favorite places in Iceland, this small canyon is so pretty and quiet I find it hard to believe we managed to have only to ourselves, as it is so close to the Ring Road. The closest you’ll feel to a fairytale in your life will be when you visit this Canyon, that’s for sure.
Off the beaten path places to explore in Iceland
Explore the highlands
This interesting name covers everything that’s inside the Ring Road, being tucked away from the major roads and cities. Open mostly in July, this area covered with mountains and glaciers is very delicate so please visit it respectfully (as you should with the whole country and all the places you go to).
In the Southern Highlands, this beautiful area is one of the coolest places to go if you want to see the wild Icelandic nature. Full of plenty of natural hot springs and having stunning views, this area looks like it was photographed from a fairytale.
Must-see natural wonders to see in Iceland in July
See the geysers in Strokkur
If you’re not doing this while in Iceland, why are you even here? Pretty close to Reykjavik and part of the Golden Ring route, seeing the geysers is a must while in Iceland, as it’s the most straightforward way of seeing nature’s true force. Again, please respect the places, do not throw things in the water, and try not to get yourself injured.
See the blue water caldera in the north
Krafla’s caldera is a deep blue water “lake” located in the volcano’s crater that you expect to see in the Maldives, not in Iceland. Located in the north, close to Lake Myvatn, this is a pretty easy thing to see, and it makes for an interesting discussion point.
See a waterfall (or 20)
Oh, the waterfalls in Iceland! Any time you read more about “what to do in Iceland”, there are at least 5-10 recommendations for waterfalls. Do you know why? Because they’re gorgeous, that’s why. I plan to write a post only about waterfalls in Iceland, this is how much this subject needs. So yes, seeing a waterfall in Iceland is a must-do, no matter how you put it.
Go behind a waterfall
Hand in hand with the previous option, you must go to one of the waterfalls that allow you to go behind them. The obvious choice here is Seljalandsfoss, one of the best waterfalls in Europe you can go behind. It’s a view you cannot have in plenty of places in the world. And judging by how much Iceland is changing over time, you might not even have this option here anymore at one point.
This lake and surrounding areas are well known for the serenity it houses, as there are not that many tourists coming this far up North. There are plenty of activities to do here, and you should spend a few days in the area, just chilling.
Unique types of accommodations to try in Iceland
Stay in a guesthouse
While hotels are not very easy to find in Iceland, you’ll find yourself having to decide between pretty unusual accommodation options. Well, a guesthouse with included wellness center shouldn’t be the one you miss. And by wellness center, I mean natural swimming pools or hot pots. This is how you’ll feel the true Icelandic life!
Stay in a yurt
A what? Yes, you read that right. You can spend a night in a Mongolian Yurt in Iceland, close to Akureyri. You will spend the night hosted by a family with two kids being surrounded by nothing but pure nature. You can do plenty of things here, like hiking, mountain biking, or enjoying some geothermal swimming pools. Check out the rates on Booking!
Sleep in a bubble hotel
This 5 million start hotel is a must if heading to Iceland. Now, I know there’s about 0 chance of catching the Northern lights in July, so maybe you should stay there in the winter if this is your purpose, but I would do this in summer as well. I mean, sleeping in a bubble surrounded by nature? How cool is that?
If you’re interested in more quirky places to stay, check out these awesome glamping accommodations in Iceland my fellow blogger has curated.
Food experiences to try in summer in Iceland
Make and eat Icelandic rye bread
It might not seem interesting to “eat bread”, but what if I told you that this bread is baked in the ground, for 24h, using the heat produced by hot springs? It sounds better, doesn’t it? You can do this in Laugarvatn Fontana, and you can also enjoy the natural hot springs in the area as a bonus.
Dinner at Viking house
This restaurant is more than a simple themed place. The family-owned place will not only provide you with some delicious food, but they will also welcome you to a dining experience you cannot find anywhere else in the world.
Eat (and stay) at a Skyr factory
The Old Skyr factory restaurant and guesthouse is located close enough to the Golden Ring and Reykjavik, so there’s no reason not to at least eat here once while you’re there. As skyr is the most Icelandic food in the world, a meal that encompasses it as an ingredient is a must-have while traveling there.
Try fermented shark
Ok, ok, I confess: I would personally never do that! But, I am a picky eater, and you are better off not taking my lead when it comes to food. This dish is known to be an acquired taste, and it does taste as it seems, but if you want to go full Icelander, I guess you’ll have to do it.
Join a Reykjavik food tour
Not all food in Iceland has gone through weird changes, and most Nordic countries have hearty meals anyway (it’s something you develop in the long, cold winters). So try all of these foods on a food tour and be amazed at how different tastes can warm up your soul and caress your taste buds.
Unique things to do in Iceland in July
Go whale watching
Have you ever watched a documentary on National Geographic and said to yourself “one day I’m going to see the whales”? Yeah, me too. Well, in Iceland you can do this. There are options from Reykjavik, but the best tours for whale watching are starting from the North, mostly from Husavik. Check them out below! Or read more in this awesome guide about whale watching in Iceland written by a fellow blogger.
Discover an amazing lighthouse
As an island that is massively deprived of natural light for half a year, this country needed to have plenty of lighthouses to prevent tragic events at sea. You can still see some of them today, and the most interesting one I would say it’s Reykjanesviti, as it’s the oldest one in the country and it still has a keeper.
See Iceland from the air
If you’re willing to go fancy, try the paragliding or helicopter tours in Iceland. We all know those awesome videos we get to see online where the most spectacular places of the country are seen from a drone. Well, you can have the same view, and you don’t need to buy a drone for it (and learn how to use it). Check out the options below!
See the plane wreck from Solheimasandur
Now, I wouldn’t call this my favorite way to spend the time, especially as I’m a nervous flier, but the story has a happy end, so I don’t think there are ethical reasons not to do this (if they are, please let me know, I’m always eager to grow). Located on a black sand beach, this plane wreck can be reached after a 2-hour walk n an unmarked road, but people seem to find a way to it anyway.
Snorkel or dive between tectonic plates
This is it! This is like, the MOST unique thing you can do in Iceland in July. I’m not even exaggerating. This is the only place in the world where you can see the fissure that separates the two continents from a geological point of view. Read my Silfra snorkeling review post for more detailed information about this life-changing experience you need to try while in Iceland, or book your experience below.
Bathe in a hot river
Yes, this is possible. The land of ice and fire allows you to bathe in a hot river, and you can do this right after you snorkel or dive in almost freezing water. The Reykjadalur river is a natural hot spring where you can feel like you have your spa surrounded by nature.
Experience the midnight sun
Although the peak of the midnight sun is around the 21st of June, all days from May through July have a lack of sunsets and sunrises. You can use this time as you please, by maximizing your “visiting” hours, by enjoying any of the related festivals, or by regretting when you said you won’t need an eye mask on your trip.
Visit a Viking village
Proud of their Viking heritage, Iceland has a few Viking villages you can choose from. One of them is Hafnarfjordur which is close to Reykjavik, and another one can be found at Stong, in the Pjorsardalur Valley, this one is full of historic ruins excavated not long ago.
Go to the Elf School in Reykjavik
You thought you heard everything by now huh? Well, there’s always time and room for a little fun. So, meet the Elf school in Reykjavik, a place for both big and small elf friends and fans. I am sure this will be unlike any other school you might have ever gone to.
Head to the top of Hallgrimskirkja
If you’re a sucker for great views, this activity is for you. The highest building in Reykjavik is where you should start, or end your city tour, as it gives you a nice overview of the area. For a small fee, you can take the elevator almost to the top and enjoy the best views of this cool capital city.
The best things to do in Iceland in July are, let me guess, all of these things, am I right? I know, it’s truly hard to decide what to do in Iceland in summer, but you have to admit this will be the destination of a lifetime!