Iceland in July is peak season, but you won't have to be there very long before you see why.
The country's gravel roads seem less daunting without a covering of ice and snow, and the mountainous interior is accessible now that the F-roads that crisscross the center of the country are open.
Unless you're really unlucky with the weather, nowhere is off-limits; there are plenty of things to do in Iceland in July!
What to do in Iceland in July
In summer, Iceland becomes a playground for adventure. This is undoubtedly the time to be outside and make the most of the country’s breathtaking landscape.
Join fellow campervanners as you make your way around the Ring Road, swapping stories over dinner and comparing notes as you park up overnight in Iceland's best cheap campsites. Along the way, there are plenty of adventures to be had. Here are our top ten things to do in Iceland in July.
1. Venture inside an Icelandic volcano
Imagine the reaction you'd get if you told your friends and family that you'd not just admired one of Iceland's volcanoes, but you'd actually gone inside it.
Rihnukagigur hasn't erupted for more than 4000 years, making this dormant volcano as safe a choice as any if you fancy taking a peek inside. It consists of three craters (that's what its name translates to, actually), and it's possible to descend into one of them if you join a volcano tour.
Rihnukagigur volcano’s magma chamber, unusually, is empty. That leaves a cavernous interior that is so deep you could shove the Empire State Building into it and no one would be any the wiser.
To embark on the adventure, you'll need to don a helmet and harness, and prepare yourself to be lowered down into the abyss. You know what they say: fortune favors the brave. Only one question remains- are you brave enough?
2. Learn to paddleboard
Stand-up paddleboarding has exploded in popularity in recent years. So, why not take advantage of the better weather in Iceland in July and give it a go while you're here?
One of the best places to try it is on Laugarvatn, on the Golden Circle route, as you can warm up in the thermal baths afterward. Drysuits, water shoes and gloves are provided; you just need something warm to wear underneath.
Another popular sup location is Iceland's longest fjord, Hvalfjorur. As you paddle what's sometimes known as the forgotten fjord in summer, puffins and other seabirds fly overhead. You might even be accompanied by inquisitive seals.
This is a great thing to do in Iceland in July. It’s also likely that it will be a calm environment, making this the ideal spot for your first attempt on open water.
3. Go on a hunt for colorful lupines
Lupins look so perfect in an Icelandic setting that it's hard to believe they are actually an invasive species.
These spectacular blue and purple flowers were introduced in the 1940s to help counter soil erosion, but have also had a lasting negative impact on more fragile vegetation such as mosses and lichens.
Instagrammers adorn Icelandic lowlands and are usually in flower from June to August. Among those in the most photogenic spots are the lupines at the base of Vik's famous church or near Skogafoss in south Iceland. They make a great spot for Instagram pictures, so make sure to check it out!
There’s also those which bloom in front of mount Vestrahorn in the southeast or amid the lava fields of the Westman Islands. Grab your camera and snap away until you get the shot that's good enough to hang on your wall back home.
4. Visit Hornstrandir to see arctic foxes
This unspoilt corner of the Westfjords is a wildlife lovers' paradise. Hornstrandir nature reserve is a protected area where you'll find the highest concentration of arctic foxes on the planet.
With no fear of hunters, they are remarkably tame and will sometimes approach if you find a quiet spot in a meadow or beside the water.
You'll need patience to see arctic foxes in Hornstrandir, however, as with any animal encounter, they don't always show up. Regardless, this beautiful place is magical. After a spell on the road touring in your campervan rental, it's nice to leave it in Isafjorur for a few days and enjoy the peace and isolation.
Make the most of those solitary hikes through lush meadows and along wild beaches before you return to civilization.
5. Enjoy the adrenaline rush of a rib
One of the most fun things to do in Iceland in July is to go out on a rib, or rigid inflatable boat. The ability of these high-powered vessels to accelerate rapidly makes for a thrilling ride. As the front of the boat lifts and the engine roars, you'll feel the wind in your face and will struggle not to scream with delight.
Many tour operators in Iceland offer whale watching and other nature tours on ribs because it's quick and easy to cut the power, leaving you bobbing on the ocean in silence. It's a lot of fun to loop the Westman islands, checking out the bird cliffs and isolated islets along the way.
In July, you'll have a good chance of spotting super-cute puffins, especially up in Husavik where a number of companies exist to take tourists out in a rib for whale watching in the Skjalfandi bay.
6. Hop in a helicopter to see Iceland from the air
If you're visiting Iceland in July, it's hard to resist the opportunity to hop in a helicopter and get an aerial view of the incredible landscape. It's not cheap, but if you have the funds to splurge just once, this is the time to do it.
Choppers take off from Reykjavík's city airport, making this a convenient excursion while you're in the capital.
Helicopter tours in Iceland include an overflight of Thingvellir national park, landing on Thorisjokull glacier.
It is the easiest way to see Glymur, one of Iceland's tallest waterfalls, as it's quite a trek to get here on foot. Another breathtaking option is to explore the Hengill geothermal area from the air, dropping in to see its hot springs and boiling mud pools.
7. Go on a summer seal watching tour
Husavik enjoys a reputation as north Iceland's whale watching capital, but if you're keen to see seals, then you're better off 3 hours further west in Hvammstangi’s Icelandic seal center.
Located close to the Ring Road, it's the ideal starting point for a seal adventure, with exhibits that cover pretty much everything there is to know about these adorable creatures in an engaging way.
Once you've finished up at the Icelandic seal center, point your campervan north and follow the road to nearby Illugastair, or one of the best places in the area to see seals up close from land.
Time your visit to arrive within two hours of low tide and you'll see them hauled out on rocks and sandbanks. Boat tours can also be arranged when available.
8. Hike in landmannalaugar
Though it’s possible to hike to Landmannalaugar from Thorsmork, it's a three to four-day investment. Most visitors content themselves with a day hike or two instead. Here is our guide on Thorsmork Hike for those interested.
There are plenty to choose from, and the most popular option is the trail that loops the Laugahraun lava field. Beside the path, basaltic lava is strewn with shiny obsidian. In the distance, you'll see the colorful Brennisteinsalda volcano.
Landmannalaugar is also known as the people's pool, with the temperature of this hot spring ranging from 36 to 40 degrees Celsius. To get up to Landmannalaugar under your own steam, you'll need a campervan that's able to cope with Iceland's challenging f-roads.
A bus service runs daily during July in Iceland, from Reykjavík via Hella and Hvolsvollur if you prefer to concentrate on the scenery.
9. Try out sea kayaking
If you plan to travel to Iceland in July, you could include sea kayaking on your itinerary, so long as it's not too windy. The Snaefellsnes peninsula is a popular choice for this fun activity, as it’s there where you can kayak beside the iconic mount Kirkjufell.
Another nearby alternative is to set out from Stykkisholmur and slip through the gorgeous Breiafjorur bay to take a closer look at the Orgeir shipwreck.
Down in south Iceland, it is possible to go kayaking in the relatively calm waters at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Slide through this breathtaking lake, weaving your way in and out of the bobbing icebergs in the shadow of breiamerkurjokull glacier.
If you're lucky, you'll be joined by seals. It's a magical place that can be explored in many different ways, but from a kayak you'll feel truly one with the surrounding landscape.
10. Head up on Eyjafjallajokull in a super jeep
If you're missing the ice and snow of the Icelandic winter, swap your campervan for a ride in a super jeep. Head up to one of the country's most famous glaciers with a guided tour.
Eyjafjallajokull enjoyed considerable notoriety in 2010 when the volcano beneath it sprang into life. It spewed ash across Iceland and beyond, resulting in a handful of canceled flights.
Today, Eyjafjallajokull volcano is quiet and its glacier can once again hog the limelight. A super jeep can handle this landscape better than any other kind of vehicle, so expect to ford rivers and ascend the snowy slopes of the dormant volcano to reach higher ground.
The views are jaw-dropping, and you'll be glad you jumped at the chance to get up here and walk on the icy glacier.
Make the most of the summer!
Iceland in July is a gem and though you won't have the country to yourself, it's the perfect time to turn that campervan road trip dream into a reality.
Of course, the things we've included here are just the tip of the iceberg. The real question isn't whether you should visit Iceland in July, but rather why you've put it off for so long.
July is an awesome time for almost anything in the Land of Fire and Ice! A hike to a magnificent waterfall such as Svartifoss, a horseback ride along a black sand beach, a glass of wine and a soak in the blue lagoon spa, or simply a coffee savored as you gaze out at a pretty fjord from a roadside layby.
Be warned, though, once you've experienced an Icelandic summer, you'll want to return every year.