Top 10 Things to Do in Iceland in July

Iceland in July: Things to do

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

    Iceland in July is anything but icy and there is no shortage of things to do. You can visit a world-renowned horse show, experience warm highland camping trips, visit the medieval festival, or choose between the numerous music festivals happening. July is one of the hottest months of the year in Iceland and is the ultimate month to experience breathtaking nature and take advantage of the long summer days.

    But before you start packing your bags just yet, here are the most important things to know about Iceland in July:

    Visiting Iceland in July

    Visiting Iceland in July might be the best holiday choice you’ve ever made if you’re looking for a summer vacation with a dash of adventure. It happens to be the one summer month without any public holidays, but that doesn’t keep these warm-hearted people from embracing the vacation spirit. And once we’re done with our top 10 list you’ll understand why.

    But What About the Weather?

    You actually experience the warmest and mildest weather Iceland has to offer when you visit in July. This makes it perfect for various excursions in nature and is one of the few times you can comfortably dive in the northern Atlantic. So if you’re wondering what to wear in Iceland in July, the answer is; the Icelandic version of summer clothing.

    Unfortunately, it’s due to this lovely weather, though, that you won’t be able to spot any northern lights. The northern lights are visible when it’s cold and dark. Iceland in July is the complete opposite of that.

    What to do in Iceland in July

    Due to the great weather and the locals being in good spirits, there is no shortage of things to do in Iceland in July. We have compiled a list of activities that suits July the best, as well as some festive activities that only come once a year!

    Iceland in July: Westfjords

    1. Explore the Westfjords

    When you have around 20 hours of daylight every day, visiting one of the most beautiful regions on the island is a must. In the summertime, all gravel roads are open for vehicles, which makes it an amazing opportunity to be the master of your own discovery. Cruising in and out of the myriad of fjords makes for amazing views, and the Dynjandi waterfall is the perfect stop for a lunch picnic.

    The Westfjords are well off the usual routes and worth a couple of your northern summer vacation days. When visiting Iceland in July, you arrive at the perfect time for one of the best close-to-nature experiences you could possibly have: horseback riding in the quietly untamed mountains. Sitting on horseback and slowly scaling a mountain is simply a feeling everyone needs to have at some point in their life.

    Westfjords also offers recreative activities such as:

    • Fishing
    • Bird watching (you can go puffin watching at the Latrabjarg cliffs in July)
    • Seal watching
    • Whale watching
    • Boat Riding/Kayaking
    • Golfing

    If that is not enough to convince you to visit the Westfjords, then there is one small furball left that might convince you. Ironically, this small creature is Iceland’s largest predator: the arctic fox. And it has made the northernmost part of the Westfjords its home. In the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, you have a high chance of spotting one of them.

    2. Visit the Highlands

    Most of the year, the roads that enter and cross the highlands are closed due to the weather, which is why Iceland in July is perfect for anyone who wants to see  otherworldly landscape like the Askja volcanic area or Landmannalaugar.

    With that said, you could visit the highlands in the winter too, but in the summer, you won’t have to worry about getting blown away by the strong winds or being overwhelmed by the snow. Especially if you’re planning on going camping in the highlands. Some helpful packing tips for when you go camping are:

    • Clothes that dry easily – Iceland is a wet island
    • Warm clothes that breathe – The temperatures might feel warm when the sun is high, but it can get really cold at night and early in the mornings
    • One or two proper towels and swimwear – There are plenty of warm baths and chilled glacier lakes to enjoy
    • Warm, waterproof, and sturdy hiking boots – Dry and warm feet are the best companions in the Icelandic highlands
    • Extra power banks – This is essential if you plan on taking pictures.

    Iceland Highlands in July

    3. Go Whale Watching

    Have you ever seen ‘Free Willy’? Did you know that Willy was actually from Iceland and is really named Keiko? In Iceland in July, you have a good to fair chance of actually seeing a wild killer whale.

    The name ‘killer whale’ is misleading, since they are really a type of dolphin and got the name from being one of the few predators in the seas that are known to hunt whales. Together with the white-sided dolphin and white-beaked dolphin, they populate the waters around Iceland and often give tourists and fishermen a good show.

    July is the month when the whales have migrated to the northern side of Iceland and if you’re extremely lucky, you could see up to eight different whale species while whale watching in these waters!

    The most common one is the humpback whale, the one that likes to show off with the high jumps and big splashes. If you’re looking for the classic whale, you should keep an eye out for the largest whale of them all – the blue whale. When these massive beasts splash their tails, you better hold on to the boat. The rest of the species are shy in the ‘showing off’-sense, but they are often seen frolicking in the nutrient-rich summer waters.

    Known whales to be seen in these waters are:

    • Humpback
    • Blue
    • Sperm
    • Minke
    • Sei
    • Harbor porpoise (the world’s smallest whale)
    • Bottlenose
    • Pilot

    Whale Watching in Iceland

    4. Go Snorkelling/diving

    Diving into the North Atlantic Ocean might not seem like the most relaxing thing to do but could definitely be worth it in the summer when the waters are warmer. Much like the weather, the waters in Iceland reach their peak temperatures in July and will treat any visitors with the warmest embrace it can give.

    When it comes to what to do in Iceland in July, or the best things to do in Iceland regardless of the month, diving is a great choice for those with a little bit of adventure in them. This is, however, an activity that is only suitable when the weather is calm, as the currents are strong.

    One of the most popular diving experiences you can have is to follow or Strýtan Dive Center down between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. This is the opportunity of a lifetime to swim around with the native trout and touch two continents without actually being on any one of them.

    Unfortunately, this exact experience is only available to those with the right scuba diving license. If you’re willing to settle with simply swimming between the continents and looking down on the narrow crevasse, snorkelling is an excellent option that won’t disappoint.

    Iceland in July: Diving

    5. Attend the Icelandic Horse Convention

    You can’t visit Iceland in July without seeing the amazing Icelandic horses. At the Icelandic Horse Convention, equestrians from all over the world come to see what these magnificent creatures are capable of.

    Did you know that the Icelandic horse has five different gaits? This means that it can walk and/or run in five different ways! The Icelandic horse can:

    • Walk
    • Trot
    • Gallop
    • Tölt
    • Skeið/flugskeið/flying pace

    This is very unique and is something the horses and their riders happily show tourists. If you find yourself at this event, you have to stay for one of the most spectacular events of the festival: Gæðingakeppni. Here, riders need to demonstrate all five gaits, and a properly performed flying pace is something of a marvel if you have an interest in horses.

    Horse Riding in Iceland

    6. Join in the Fun at the Siglufjördur Folk Festival

    Running for five days straight with more than a dozen concerts throughout the city, Siglufjördur Folk Festival is the perfect place to learn more about Icelandic lore and tradition. Starting on the 4th of July, this festival is all about tradition and history. Here tourists can learn traditional crafts, and dances, or simply enjoy a nice local beer to the sound of local musicians.

    7. Rock Out at Eistnaflug

    If you rather want to listen to something modern, Eistnaflug is a must when planning out things to do in Iceland in July. This rock festival boasts genres like rock, punk, indie, and metal. The age limit is 18 years, and it takes place in the eastern part of Iceland, inviting you to see some of the lesser-visited areas of the island.

    8. Be a VIP at Bræðslan

    This is a very exclusive festival, held in a town with no more than 110 inhabitants in another part of the east coast. The festival is held in an old fish factory and only sells 900 tickets each year!

    Bræðslan festival is the perfect venue for an intimate music experience, where you get closer to the musicians without the over-crowded feeling of most other festivals. This area is surrounded by beautiful mountains and, accompanied by the crashing waves of the North Atlantic, the perfect pairing to the party vibe.

    Festivals in Iceland in July

    9. Get Arty at LungA

    Did you know that one of Iceland’s most exported commodities is culture? At LungA festival, you’ll experience a phenomenon as a small town of roughly 700 people set up a weeklong arts festival. The aim of the festival is to strengthen awareness of art in different forms, and here people can enjoy everything from classic exhibitions to intricate workshops.

    The festival ends with a large celebration in true Icelandic style; with concerts, dance, and a strong sense of community.

    LungA Festival

    10. Go Back in Time during the Medieval Trading Weekend

    With roots going back almost a millennium, Iceland has a long-lasting tradition of trade. In the northernmost part of Iceland is a small town called Gásir that offers up the opportunity for visitors to get a taste of medieval life.

    The ‘villagers’ of this event are dressed in medieval clothing and will show you how crafts like blacksmithing, spinning wool, and woodworking were done in the medieval ages. Off course, visitors can partake in some of these activities and get themselves a souvenir or two, but beware; Vikings didn’t have cards, so there’s a ‘cash only’ policy on the grounds.

    Iceland Festivals in July

    Explore Iceland in July! 

    The plethora of summer activities in Iceland plus a more mild, stable weather, make July a great month to visit the island. So many places to be and so little time… so why waste time searching for and booking in and out of accommodation? Opt for a comfortable campervan to make the most of your time. Be sure to book yours at Campervan Iceland to avoid disappointment. See you in July!

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