The Best Things to Do in Iceland in August

Landscape of Iceland in August

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

It’s no accident so many visitors choose to come to Iceland in August. Traveling to this northerly nation in summer means you’re likely to dodge the country’s unpredictable weather and have your pick of the many activities available in Iceland’s breathtaking countryside.

If that sounds tempting, book a campervan or motorhome and set out on your Icelandic summer adventure.

The advantages of traveling to Iceland in August

If you’re intending on traveling to Iceland in August, you need to be aware that this period is peak season. Unless you prepared extra well and booked far in advance, you can expect accommodation prices to have risen and rooms to be in short supply.

This is a bigger deal, especially you’re hoping to visit places such as the Westfjords where there are fewer hotels. Of course, there are ways to keep your costs down, not least to rent a campervan so your accommodation will be taken care of.

There’s also likely to be high demand in August for rental vehicles. Popular categories such as compacts, 4x4s and some campervans are highly sought after.

In fact, it’s not uncommon for some categories to sell out completely. If there’s a particular category you’re set on, again, it’s recommended to get your vehicle locked in as early as possible.

So why do so many tourists choose to visit Iceland in August? Well, during this time roads are fuller and busier and prices are higher.

However, despite this, the advantages of a summer trip definitely outweigh any disadvantages. Of course, a big factor is the weather (more on that later) and the chance to squeeze in more sightseeing during those longer days.

Midnight sun Iceland in August

Another reason to come in August is convenience. Mostly everything is open during this time, besides winter-only activities such as skiing and visits to seasonal ice caves.

This means you can drive into the country’s highland interior before it closes for the season. If you feel a little concerned at the prospect of gravel roads slick with rain or ice, then dry stones might be less daunting.

If you plan to take a day off the driving, you can expect group tours to be running at frequent intervals, so they’re convenient for your schedule. That’s going to make planning an itinerary far less of a headache, though.

Don’t forget the most popular slots will sell out the day before, so if you’re not flexible with dates, reserve as soon as you know your plans.

What is the weather like in Iceland in August?

In August, you have a reasonable chance of dry, even sunny weather for at least part of your trip.

Though the weather in Iceland in August can still change, you might be lucky to see the temperatures rise to over 20°C. In fact, the highest temperature ever recorded in August was in Hallormsstaður, East Iceland in 2021- a sweltering 29.3°C!

August is often a month where you’ll encounter blue skies. Imagine how incredible Additionally, August is often a month where you’ll encounter blue skies. Imagine how incredible those mountains and icy glaciers will look as they glitter in the sunshine under a cloudless sky.

The wind speed is also likely to drop in summer which is good news if you’re hoping to take a whale watching trip or experience calmer seas without having to face feeling queasy.

If you can’t wait to get yourself into hot water, you’ll be able to do so without your head getting chilly, while the rest of your body will be deliciously warm, of course!

You could find yourself sitting in one of those lovely top cafés in Reykjavík, enjoying a cold beer while the sun warms your face, or cooling down with one of Iceland’s legendary ice creams. Though Icelanders, it should be said, are quite happy to indulge year-round.

What to do in Iceland in August

If you can’t decide what to do in Iceland in August, we have some suggestions for you. First, you might time your visit for one of these three events which take place annually in Reykjavík:

1. Let your hair down on Culture Night in Reykjavik

Reykjavík Culture Night is the date that marks the start of the cultural year. It takes place in diverse locations across the city, from museums to squares and even people’s private gardens.

This popular festival celebrates food, theater, music and the arts in general. Expect live music, art exhibitions and a massive firework display to round things off late at night. Best of all, events are free.

Reykjavik, Iceland in August

2. Cheer on the runners in the Reykjavík marathon

August in Iceland is the month of the Reykjavík marathon. And whether you register to run the event yourself or simply cheer on those who do with the other spectators, it’s an event not to miss.

Beside one of Iceland’s best salmon rivers and ancient lava formations, the varied route takes in the rural Elliðaárdalur valley as well as many city center landmarks.

Reykjavik Marathon

3. Show your support for Reykjavik Pride

If you’re wondering what to do in Iceland in August, how about celebrating Pride in Reykjavík? This important event, attended by thousands, has been a big deal since it started in 1999.

A colorful expression of solidarity with lots of fun activities taking place, this is a wonderful chance to show your support for Iceland’s LBGTQ community.

Some activities aren’t as time-sensitive, of course. For example, urban sightseeing can be planned without the need to dash from museum to museum to escape the weather. And there’s no bad time to hike to a gorgeous waterfall – even if it does rain, so long as you’re wearing waterproofs.

Other outdoor activities, from ziplining to quad biking, will be much more fun if you’re not bundled up in multiple layers. Check these top best hikes in Iceland for starters.

Reykjavik pride celebration

4. Join the puffling patrol in the Westman Islands

If you’re traveling to Iceland in August, make sure you pay a visit to the Westman Islands to help with the puffling patrol. It’s during this time that residents, young and old, have a very important job to do.

Puffin chicks, known as pufflings, confuse the lights of the town with the moon and become disorientated. As such, they need help finding their way to the sea. That’s where their human rescuers come in- picking them up and releasing them to fly off across the ocean, just as nature intended.

Puffins in Iceland in August

5. Admire Arctic Henge

In the far northeast of Iceland, just beyond Raufarhöfn lies a very special place called Arctic Henge. Just like Stonehenge in the UK, the structure acts as a giant sundial, though it’s nowhere near as old.

Inspired by the country’s Nordic roots, when complete, it will depict all 72 dwarves from the historic poem “Völuspá”. Even in its unfinished state, August is the perfect time to make the long drive out to this isolated spot to see it’s progress up close and personal.

Artic henge in Iceland's summer

6. Experience the Westfjords’ red sand beach

Visit Iceland in August and take a detour to the remote Westfjords region. One of its many highlights is the gorgeous beach at Rauðasandur, able to be reached by a short descent down a gravel road.

Unusually for Iceland, which is known for its not-to-miss volcanic black beaches, the sand here is a vivid terracotta color, hence its name. This place is absolutely stunning on a summer’s day.

Iceland's red sand beach

7. Go ziplining across a river canyon

If you have a good head for heights or are simply looking for an adrenaline rush, then you’ll be up for a zipline ride. Thrill-seekers will be delighted to know that there are a couple of standout places in Iceland to have a go. The most important one is the zipline experience in Akureyri.

Visit Vík í Mýrdal

Four amazing zipline rides also await you close to the village of Vik in South Iceland. Get your first birds-eye view of the area on Little Rush! it is not only the longest line (measuring an impressive 240 meters) but also the prettiest: Gentle Giant.

Hike through Grafargil, whose name translates as Grave Canyon, before a short but surprising activity called the Leap of Faith (how appropriate). Round things off with the final zipline, known as Big Rush. This one will have you soaring over Hundafoss waterfall with a massive grin on your face.

ziplining in Iceland in August

Head to Hveragerði

A low-key alternative to Vik is to join the guys at Hveragerði for a private zipline ride. It’s a simpler setup, with just one line over a river, but it’s still a great option for families or groups of friends.

The zip line is about 90 meters long and gives you the chance to see the Reykjafoss waterfall from an unusual vantage point. Take the day a step further and customize your experience by combining it with mountain biking or hiking.

8. Get out into the countryside on an ATV

Taking an ATV, or quad bike, on a spin through the countryside is one of the most fun activities you can do in Iceland in August.

There are a number of reputable ATV operators across the country and they’ll kit you out with the gear you need, including overalls, gloves and a helmet. Full training is provided, so with a little bit of expert tuition, even beginners can master quad biking in no time at all.

Quad biking opens up a fast (and often muddy!) way of seeing the sights. Follow marked trails through fields littered with lupins and travel along empty black sand beaches; tackle uphill gravel ascents and ford streams.

Stay secure in the knowledge that the roll bars and seatbelts will keep you safe while you enjoy this adventurous activity.

ATV in Iceland in August

9. Take a scenic flight over Iceland’s volcanic landscape

The superb weather in August is ideal for taking a sightseeing flight over Iceland’s volcanic landscape. From this extraordinary vantage point, you’ll have a different perspective on the lava fields, plate boundaries, glaciers, beaches, lakes and rivers that attract visitors in droves.

Depart Akureyri and see the Diamond Circle from the air. Marvel at the pseudo craters and sulfur pools of the Mývatn area. Feel the force of Dettifoss and Goðafoss as you fly over the spray that rises from these powerful waterfalls.

Follow the spectacular canyon Jökulsárgljúfur and gaze down at the Theystareykjar lava field. You might even catch sight of a shadowy whale in the water before you come in to land.

Helicopter ride in Iceland

Visit Iceland in August!

We think you’ll agree, a trip to Iceland in August is nothing short of amazing.

It’s advisable to book well in advance to secure the best deal on your campervan, but after that’s out of the way, you’ll be able to focus on the fun part: working out an itinerary and choosing what activities you’re going to sink your teeth into.

Let’s go on an adventure!

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