Iceland is always near the top of my list when anybody asks me, “Which country should I try next?”. It is home to landscapes that look like they don’t belong to this planet as well as a stunning array of water features such as waterfalls, thermal spas and geysers. Not to mention Icelanders are some of the most welcoming and friendly people you will ever meet including (as I can personally attest) the President of Iceland!
I have already covered some of the more popular destinations on the island in this Iceland itinerary post, most of those attractions are available year round, but I want to delve into the attraction of visiting Iceland in the Summer months. Some of these places are hours away from Reykjavík and off the well-beaten tourist routes so you’ll need to hire a car. EasyTerra offers great rates for a week’s rental from Reykjavík.
Take advantage of endless days
Of course, being positioned so far North gives Iceland the envious advantage of having pretty much endless days in the Summer which means more time to cram your days full of adventure and discovery!
One of the best places to witness the “Midnight Sun” is the thermal pool at Krossneslaug located on the Northwest coast of the island. Imagine taking a dip in a steaming pool whilst watching the sun kiss the edge of the sea, only to begin rising again…incredible! It’s certainly on my to-do list. Obviously, the Blue Lagoon is still high up there too!
Go whale watching in Húsavík
Technically this is available all year round but Summer in Iceland is the best time to see whales, and Húsavík is the place to do it. Between the months of May and September it is claimed that there is a 98% chance of seeing a whale up close and personal. Species likely to be spotted include: harbour porpoise, white-beaked dolphin, minke whale, humpback whale and (if you are incredibly lucky) the largest animal to currently inhibit our planet, the blue whale. I have been whale watching in the past (albeit in a very different location in Hawaii) and to witness one of these magnificent beasts breach the water so close to you is something quite special I can assure you.
Go Puffin spotting
Iceland is home to one of the planet’s largest Puffin colonies. Every April these cute brightly-beaked birds return from the sea in their thousands to their breeding and nesting grounds in the cliffs of Iceland’s coast. One of the best places to spot them is the Westman Islands which is only accessible via a ferry or a plane journey from the mainland.
If you visit in early August, you might even be lucky enough to watch the locals rounding up any lost “Pufflings” (baby puffins, how cute!) who’ve waddled the wrong way into the town. They are later brought down to the shore and released safely back into their natural habitat. It’s like watching Planet Earth but in real life! The Puffins leave again in August so it’s another excuse to visit Iceland in the Summer months before they all disappear back to out to sea.
Explore the Highlands
Only accessible for a few short months (sometimes only a few short weeks), the Summer in Iceland unlocks the Highlands of the Interior which offer otherworldly beauty for hikers with huge craters, multi-coloured mountains, hot thermal springs and rivers and sweeping glacial valleys. Shelter is provided through little strategically placed huts across the Interior (book in advance as they can be fill up quickly), or if you are really feeling adventurous you can bring a tent and sleep out in the wilderness. Imagine falling asleep on the shore of a thermal spring in a caldera of an active volcano…not many destinations can boast such intertwined beauty and danger! Due to the rugged terrain you will need to hire a 4×4 vehicle to explore this area. (insert car company here again if you want)
Enjoy the festival season
Summer in Iceland is the season of festivals, and the locals love to celebrate the new found freedom of the longer days. Icelanders even celebrate the first day of Summer with the first Thursday after 18 April marking the point where summer begins (even if the country is covered in snow!) with a national holiday and many parades. This is followed by Iceland’s National Day on the 17th June which is an all-night party across the country. The Bræðslan music festival takes place in July in East Iceland, The Great Fish Day is held in the fishing village of Dalvík in August and finally, there is a Gay Pride and Culture Night in the capital Reykjavík also taking place in August. For you culture vultures, what better way than to experience Iceland than a party with the locals in the midnight sun?
So sold on Iceland? Get yourselves there summer or winter! It is one of my top five destinations!!
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