Written by Vignir Árnason. Edited by Alondra Silva Munoz.
Summer in Iceland is a magical time when Icelandic landscapes are exhibiting all the best that the country has to offer. The weather is nicer, sunnier, and less windy than during the other seasons. Icelanders and visitors alike enjoy the good weather and Icelandic nature to the fullest during this time but that′s also because the sunlight is there for longer time than in other places.
The Midnight Sun
This is because of the Midnight Sun in Iceland but due to its northern latitude the sun barely sets in Iceland during summer. For example, in Reykjavik it will not get dark at night from May 21 until July 30. In Northern Iceland and in the Westfjords the sun is visible for 24 hours straight. In Reykjavik, the sun does set below the horizon on summer solstice. June 21st, but only for two hours, so people travelling around Iceland can see well during the whole night. In Reykjavík and the South Coast, the sun is visible in the sky for more than 21 hours in the middle of summer. Therefore, many people use the opportunity to travel long into the night looking at Iceland’s nature. So, we recommend also getting some sleep once in a while.
One perfect activity to do when the sun is out is to visit the Golden Circle. You can take our tour where you will visit the classic three places of the waterfall Gullfoss, the famous Geysir and Thingvellir National Park. You will also get to go to the volcanic crater Kerid and try homemade ice cream from the local farm Efstidalur, free of charge. All of it will be made under perfect for the Icelandic sun. You can read more about this tour here.
Sheep… So Many Sheep… Everywhere!
When driving around Iceland it′s very likely you will pass by some sheep. In some places in Iceland, like the Westfjords and the countryside of the South Coast, the sheep will seem almost more than the people living there. They might also seem very used to drivers and might stay right next to the road, but when you drive past them, they might take off suddenly. We encourage visitors to be extremely careful when driving on our roads. This is especially true of ewes (female sheep) with their lambs. The ewe might be on one side of the road and the lambs on the other side, then it′s very likely the lambs will try to run towards their mom when a car is approaching.
It is extremely important to drive with caution on the roads to carefully admire the sheep and their cute little lambs. Don’t forget that the speed limit on Icelandic roads is 90km/h (around 56 mph).
Puffins and Wild Birdlife
Iceland is known for the Puffin, this cute and colorful seabird that resides close to the North Atlantic Ocean in summer. In Iceland they usually dwell in the Westman Islands and other islands and cliffs close to the ocean. The best chances to see a puffin is to go the Westman Islands but it is also possible to see in West of Iceland, in the Snaefellsnes peninsula and in the island Grimsey which also passes the Arctic Circle.
If you want to travel with the Trolls, we offer a great tour to the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Our tour takes you to all the cliffs and small fishing villages around the peninsula, without forgetting about the glacier Snaefellsjokull which gives it name to the peninsula. A popular stop there is also the Kirkjufell Mountain, known for its appearance in the Game of Thrones show and also known as the “Arrowhead Mountain”. This excursion is also good for seeing the birdlife in Iceland, especially in May and June when the birds are laying eggs in their nests. Read all about the tour here.
Chances to See Whales
Another unique feature of the Icelandic summer is the possibility to see whales all around Iceland. The main whale-watching capital is Husavik in the North of Iceland. Tours from there are available from May to November. There is also a whale museum in the center of the town. Another family friendly spot for whale watching is Akureyri, which is often called the Capital of the North, the ocean near Akureyri is calmer than in Husavik which makes it perfect for families that want to go whale-watching. Tours leaving from Akureyri are available the whole year around.
If you don′t have time to travel so far up north, there are many whale-watching companies also leaving Reykjavík all year around. The capital of Iceland is conveniently located close to the bay Faxafloi. For that reason, most tours will only take 3 hours leaving from Reykjavík. That offers the convenience that if a tour is cancelled due to weather or a tour has no whales showing themselves, you get to join another tour for free.
Then in the Snaefellsnes peninsula there are tours leaving from Olafsvik, but that fishing village is a stop on the Troll tour to Snaefellsnes. Olafsvik is the best spot to see orcas in Iceland so it′s highly recommendable if you are interested in that species. Tours leaving from Olafsvik are available from 15th of March to 15th of September, if you are driving yourself around the peninsula.
Perfect Conditions to Walk on the Glaciers
Summer in Iceland are the perfect conditions to go walking on glaciers in Iceland. The Trolls are glacier experts and operate in two glaciers in Iceland, Solheimajokull and Vatnajokull and its glacier outlets in Skaftafell. From Reykjavik you can join us on a tour that takes you to see highlights of the South Coast, such as the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss along with the Black Sand Beach. This tour also takes on to Solheimajokull, all in one day! Read more about it (here).
The natural phenomena of ice caves is to be found in many places in Iceland, but usually they are not accessible during summer. Luckily, we offer tours to Katla Ice Cave the whole year around, including the summer months. So, don′t miss out on this opportunity, it′s not often the view is this spectacular. Read more all about tour here.
For those who crave glacier adventures, there is no place better than Vatnajökull, the Trolls offer tours of different difficulty. The easiest tour is three hours and perfect for beginners. Read more about it (here).
Then there is a moderately difficult ice climbing tour that takes around 4 hours and a bit more challenging 5-hour glacier hiking tour. Both tours take place in Falljokull glacier, a glacial tongue of Vatnajokull. Read more about our Ice Climbing and Glacier Hike in Skaftafell here. Read more about out Glacier Hiking 5-hour from Skaftafell here… our most popular tour!
The Colorful Lupines
Then in late August, early September you might notice a change in the color of Icelandic nature. Especially in areas close to Reykjavik and where erosion of the soil is prominent, but that′s color purple which comes from the lupine plant that blooms in late summer. This plant was brought to Iceland to help fight erosion in areas where hardly any vegetation survived. This durable plant has since then spread in great numbers, so now some people think of it as an invasion plant taking over other native plants.
However, most people agree that it has helped greatly fighting erosion and therefore contributed to conserve the soil in its place, without the plant the soil would have blown away by the wind instead. The lupine spreads easily with seeds that pop from it after it has bloomed and is therefore observed in big spreads in the landscape in purple color. It certainly puts some color in Icelandic nature.
If you have further questions about the Icelandic summer or what to do in Iceland this summer, don′t hesitate to contact us at Troll Expeditions! We are always eager to help you.
Tours mentioned in the article:
- Golden Circle, Kerid Crater, and Farm visit | Small Group & Free Ice Cream. Click here to read more.
- Snaefellsnes, the Hidden Gem of the West | Small Group & Free Delicatessen. Click here to read more.
- Glacier Hiking and South Coast from Reykjavík. Click here to read more.
- Dragon Glass Katla Ice Cave | Super Jeep from Vik. Click here to read more.
- Skaftafell Glacier Hike | 3-Hour Expedition. Click here to read more.
- Ice Climbing & Glacier Hike from Skaftafell. 4-hour tour. Click here to read more.
- Skaftafell Blue Ice Winter Wonderland | 5-Hour Hike. Click here to read more.