August in Iceland is one of the warmest summer months and that’s why it’s the go-to for many travellers planning a trip to Iceland. If you’re wondering where to go, what to do, what the weather’s like, what to pack etc., this article is for you.
Those planning a trip to Iceland in August will undoubtedly have many questions, and we’re happy to report that we have the answers to most of them. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this complete guide to August in Iceland.
Why Go to Iceland in August?
There are plenty of reasons why visiting Iceland in August is a good idea, but as with most things in life, there are also a few cons. Whether you decide to come and visit will solely depend on your preferences and what you have on your Icelandic bucket list. Here’s a quick overview of the basic pros and cons of August in Iceland:
- Most roads and routes are open, including the mountain roads. You’ll also find driving conditions to be much easier than when facing complete winter white-outs.
- A LOT happening in August in Iceland and you’ll have your pick of activities, festivals and much, much more.
- The likelihood of blizzards or icy conditions is low, so this is the perfect time to go camping and not be too worried about being blown away by Icelandic winds or freezing inside your little tent.
- Wildlife will be all around you. You’ll definitely be able to spot some whales during August in Iceland and the Puffins will also still be there during their nesting season.
- Although you can still look forward to some long summer days, you’ve passed the summer solstice so you won’t be able to experience the infamous midnight sun during your visit in August.
- Summer in Iceland can get pretty crowdy. So if you’ve got a couple of tourist hot spots on your Iceland to-do list things might get a little cramped.
- Visiting Iceland in late August or visiting Iceland end of August essentially means that you’re catching the tail end of the Icelandic summer (but it’s still warm compared to the full-blown winter months).
- For obvious reasons, summer is not a time to go glacier hopping. So if that’s your prime motivation for visiting Iceland, you’ll have to opt for a winter getaway.
The Weather in Iceland in August
As we’ve already mentioned, August is one of the best summer months to travel through Iceland. As one of the hottest, there are loads of activities and places to cram into your itinerary. The temperature in Iceland in August ranges between a minimum of 8 degrees Celsius and a high of 13 degrees Celsius.
And you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the weather as the days still boast more than 14 hours of daylight. Just keep in mind that the Icelandic weather is notorious for its unpredictability. And as the Icelandic saying goes; you need to be ready for all 4 seasons in one day – even when visiting Iceland in August.
What to Pack
Relax! There’s no need to start Googling “packing list Iceland August”. We know the Icelandic weather can be quite fickle and most travellers wonder what things to bring to Iceland in August, so we compiled this nifty little checklist for you:
- Long-sleeved shirts
- Durable trousers
- Hiking boots
- Waterproof jacket
- Thermal underwear
- Thick socks
Camping in August in Iceland
Since the weather is so ideal, August might be one of the best months to take on camping in Iceland. Since the fjords are also usually open during the summer months, you’ll also be able to sleep underneath the northern lights if that’s something you have on your travelling bucket list. Camping in August in Iceland also means that you might miss the extreme Icelandic winds and won’t feel like they’re huffing and puffing and threatening to blow your tent away.
Please note that you cannot just pitch your tent wherever you want and need to camp in designated camping areas. When packing for your camping trip, remember the following essentials:
- Enough food and drink supplies (restaurants and shops are pretty scarce if you’re planning on camping in some of the more rural areas).
- Spare fuel (gas stations are just as scarce as restaurants and shops if you’re travelling in the less populated areas)
- A GPS
- A gas cooker
- Waterproof and windproof tent
- Clothes that you can wear in layers so you can change as/when needed. It’s also advisable to take along waterproof and windproof clothing to keep the wind and the wet at bay. But do take along swimwear if the urge is ever there to take a quick dip or you drive past one of the infamous hot springs. Also, make sure that you pack a lot of thermal wear (the Icelandic cold can really creep into your bones even in the summer months).
- A Quick-dry towel
- Toilet paper and disposable bags
- Insect repellent
Some of the camping sites that come highly recommended include:
Located in the beautiful Vatnajokull National Park, Skaftafell should definitely be on your list of campsites to visit. Whether sleeping next to an abandoned plane or a glacial lake – Skaftafell offers it all, including pretty luxury amenities for camping.
This campsite is situated in the Westfjords. The campsite is fairly basic in terms of its amenities, but it stays true to the Westfjords reputation regarding magnificent scenery.
This is an easily accessible campsite as it’s situated off the main route. Hofn is definitely paradise for the avid hikers amongst us with numerous trails leading to panoramic views. Other activities include fishing and horseback riding.
There are numerous other campsites around Iceland that are well worth the visit, each with its own unique characteristics. Do some research and pick the spots that suit your needs the best.
If you want to take your camping experience to the next level, opt for renting a campervan. Not only can you travel Iceland in style, but your home on wheels will be fully equipped with everything you’ll need on your camping trip.
Driving in August
When travelling to Iceland in August a road trip is an absolute must. With the majority of the Icelandic routes open during the summer months, it’s always a good idea to grab the opportunity when it’s there and expand on your Icelandic adventure.
All roads are well maintained and should be easy to navigate, but please do keep in mind that certain routes (especially the Westfjords) are only accessible with a 4x4 vehicle. You’ll also need to keep a close watch on weather conditions as these can drastically impact driving.
Reykjavik should be your starting point as this is where you’ll pick up your rental car or cheap campervan. And you’ll also find plenty of things to do in Reykjavik in August, but more on that a little later.
Some of the most popular and best road trip routes to take in August in Iceland include the following:
The Golden Circle Route
This loop around the island can be driven in just one day. But since the route has so many activities and attractions along the way, we highly recommend that you take your time and sleep over. You can look forward to things such as Thingvellir National Park and the Gulfoss waterfall.
The Arctic Coast Way
This route takes you through the coastline of seven peninsulas. Some of the things to look forward to are whale watching in Husavik and Akureyri (Iceland’s second city).
The Ring Road
This route is like the Golden Circle route on steroids. In fact, this route around the island actually includes the Golden Circle as well as the Arctic Coast Way. This trip will take you a minimum of 10 days and includes sights that you can’t experience on any of the other routes such as East Iceland, scenic fishing villages and certain fjords.
The Westfjords Way
The Dyrafjardargong Tunnel has made this loop road around the Westfjords possible. It can be completed as fast as 2-3 days. This rural route offers interesting sights such as the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft, but civilization is few and far between, so you really need to do proper prep before taking this one on.
The South Coast
This is the second most popular route in Iceland. You can look forward to things such as the black beach of Reynisfjara and the Jökulsárlón glacial lake.
Even More To-Do List Items!
If you’ve managed to read this far into the article, it’s clear that there is plenty to do in and around the island in August. But we have merely touched on the tip of the iceberg of all things August in Iceland has to offer visitors. Here are a few things that you might not have thought of that you can add to your to-do list:
- Sea Kayaking
- River Rafting
- Snorkelling Silfra (here you’re literally swimming between two continents!)
- Go on a whale-watching tour (there are plenty in and around Reykjavik)
- Go on a Puffin spotting tour (the best spots are at the Westfjords)
- Attend Thjódhátidh (Iceland’s biggest outdoor festival) at the beginning of August
- Attend the annual fireworks show at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
- Celebrate with the entire capital during Reykjavik Pride in mid-August
- Attend Culture Night at the end of August (also held in Reykjavik)
- Have your pick of what to do during the long weekend (the first weekend in August). This weekend is jam-packed with markets, concerts, tours and other exciting Icelandic offerings.
Tips & Tricks for Spending August in Iceland
Now that you know what’s waiting for you in August in Iceland and you want to start planning your trip, we have a few tips and tricks that’ll make life much easier for you:
You Snooze You Lose in August
Since August is still considered peak season in Iceland things can get busy. Whether it’s accommodation, vehicle rentals or activities, things get booked up pretty fast. That’s why we highly recommend that you book in advance to avoid any disappointment.
Leave any Amex and Diner’s Club Cards at Home
The only things more useless than these cards for paying for things around Iceland would be the rocks you pick up on your way there. A normal debit card or Visa & MasterCard is the way to go.
As we’ve already mentioned, the weather in Iceland is fickle and can cause havoc on the roads. You’ll often find that you’ve planned a road trip on one of the routes, but that it’s suddenly closed due to weather conditions. Iceland is not a place for assumptions – you might literally find yourself in a dead end. Always double-check what’s happening in terms of the weather and what’s happening on the roads.
Budget, Budget, Budget
If you think you’ve done your budgeting, add on a few more bucks just for good measure. Iceland is not a cheap country to visit – especially not accommodation, activities and restaurants. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you run out of money mid-way through your trip.
Save the Tip
It’s not customary to tip in Iceland. This is because the service has already been taken into consideration (hence the high cost of your meal). If you want to tip your guide (once again, not a must) you can take some cash, preferably USD or EUR.
Be Aware of F-roads
As mentioned earlier, there are some roads and routes in Iceland that require a 4x4 vehicle – that includes the F-roads. If you attempt to take these on in a normal vehicle you are bound to get yourself in trouble.
Save Some Money and Drink Tap Water
The tap water in Iceland is probably better quality than your bottled water back home. As long as you take a water bottle with you, you’ll be able to make continuous refills while on the go.
Make the Most of August in Iceland!
August in Iceland promises to be an adventure you won’t soon forget. From experiencing some of the best weather Iceland has to offer, the Northern Lights, camping out underneath the stars, partying next to a glacier, road tripping the road less travelled - you name it, Iceland’s got it. Just remember to plan and book ahead and we look forward to seeing you soon!