Iceland in June is a time of celebration. Midsummer is when the nation embraces days that stretch long into the night, as the country is filled with festivals that showcase Icelandic culture, history and traditions.
Not to mention June’s rising temperatures might even have you shrugging off your fleece. It's a month of seemingly endless options for travelers and locals alike. So, what are the best things to do in Iceland in June?
Best activities in Iceland in June
Deciding the best things to do in Iceland in June can actually be a tricky task, simply because there’s so much to choose from.
The weather should be kind enough to make water-based activities a real possibility, though it’s always wise to have an indoor option ready as a back-up – this is Iceland, after all. Grab the keys to your campervan and try these ideas for starters.
1. Make the most of the Midnight Sun
The summer solstice, or the name given to the date with the longest day and shortest night, occurs in the Northern Hemisphere around the 21st of June. In Reykjavík, sunrise and sunset are less than three hours apart.
Northern Iceland in June is even more extreme: in Akureyri, located even closer to the Arctic Circle, the sun barely sets, and the night, if you can call it that, lasts for about 32 minutes.
Unsurprisingly, Icelanders say that watching the Midnight sun is a good excuse for a party. If the light prevents you from sleeping, logic says you may as well make it worth your while to stay awake. After all, there’s something quite extraordinary about watching the sun go down and come straight back up again.
2. Drive the Icelandic F-Roads
In winter, the mountainous middle part of the country is off-limits, but in summer you can go anywhere you like in Iceland. The weather in June is warmer, even up in the Highlands, meaning the snow melts and the most remote F-roads can open for the short summer season.
This usually happens at some point in June, though the exact date varies from year to year. Learn all about F-Roads in Iceland before heading there.
To drive north to south non-stop across the Highlands would take you about nine to ten hours, but that’s missing the point, as there’s so much to see along the way.
For example, a great option is taking a detour to Hveravellir Nature Reserve, 90 km further inland from Gullfoss on the F35 Kjölur route. Its landscape of steaming fumaroles and bubbling hot springs will undoubtedly give you something to talk about. So, when looking for the best things to do in Iceland in June, this is undoubtedly a must one!
3. Check out the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft in Hólmavík
In June, the roads in the Westfjords are likely to be clear of snow, so it’s an ideal time to check out the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft in the small town of Hólmavík. Located close to the water with a restaurant attached, it’s by far and away the best thing in town.
Inside, a curious collection of exhibits covers everything you need to know (and some stuff you probably don’t) about witchcraft in Iceland. You can learn about the gross antics of the tilberi, Iceland’s milk-sucking demons, or find out why someone might once have been tempted to pull on a pair of necropants.
We’ll be honest and say some of it’s pretty gruesome, but it’s on the permanent list of best things to do in Iceland for a reason. It's a fascinating place to visit if you have the stomach for it, so we just had to include it in our best things to do in Iceland in June list!
4. Enjoy the thrill of river rafting
There are three rivers in the country where it is possible to go river rafting. These include the River Hvítá – if that sounds familiar, it’s the one that Gullfoss crashes down on, Jökulsá Austari (East Glacial River) and the Vestari Jökulsá (West Glacial River). Glaciers feed all three.
Hvítá is the easiest of the three to tackle, a class 2 river which means there’s some rough water, rocks and drops – in short, you’ll need to paddle.
Vestari Jökulsá is a bit more challenging, with whitewater rapids and plenty of turbulence giving it a class 4 rating. Your tour operator will provide all the gear if you’re wondering what to wear. In Iceland in June, the great outdoors doesn’t get more fun than this.
Fun events to enjoy in June in Iceland
June boasts many special events that capitalize on the extra daylight and better weather. These are the pick of the bunch:
5. Celebrate Iceland’s national day
Iceland marked its independence from Denmark in 1944 with a public holiday on 17th June, known as Þjóðhátíðardagurinn or the day of the nation's celebration.
The date’s significant: it’s the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, who headed up Iceland’s independence movement in the 19th century. Ironically, he never demanded full autonomy and rather argued that self-rule would suit the country better.
Across the country, parades run rampant on Icelandic National Day, with a brass band playing marching tunes and the Scouts following on behind.
They wrap up the formal celebrations with a poem reading by the Mountain Woman. Afterward, the serious business of eating, drinking and having fun can begin. Don’t forget to bring an Icelandic flag to wave high in the sky as you celebrate amongst the cheerful crowds!
6. Join in with the Festival of the Sea
You probably knew fish were important in Icelandic cuisine but we bet you didn’t know there’s actually a Fishermen’s Day celebrated in the Land of Fire and Ice.
Held on the first Sunday in June, it’s been an official holiday for fishermen since 1987, but the occasion has been marked since 1938. Given that lots of people from other professions don’t work at the weekend, there are plenty of smiling faces around to celebrate with them.
The Festival of the Sea ties in with Fishermen’s Day. It kicks off on Saturday, dubbed Harbor Day, with events taking place across Iceland, including at Reykjavík’s Old Harbor.
If you’re by the coast, then expect to find some kind of maritime-themed entertainment. From singing sea shanties to sailing and swimming competitions, there is much to be explored.
7. Attend a Viking Festival in Hafnarfjörður
Hafnarfjörður has its own festival in June, and this festival is dedicated to the Vikings.
Usually a four-day event that happens around the second weekend of the month in Víðistaðatún park, one of the most popular parts of the festival is watching people in Viking costumes re-enact key Viking battles. They’re realistic, though deaths and injuries are fictional, of course.
The festival looks back on the Viking way of life. Listen to tales of battles and legends while you feast on roast lamb. Learn how to throw an axe, shoot a bow and arrow, or carve wood. There’s music and dancing to enjoy, or you can spend time shopping for leather goods, silver jewelry and other souvenirs.
8. Sing and dance at the Secret Solstice music festival in Reykjavík
Secret Solstice first launched in 2014, and quickly became one of the country’s top music festivals. It’s also one of our favorite things to do in Iceland in June, and it is held in Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland.
The line-up is enough to fill many stages and has included performances from well-known singer-songwriters, rock bands, live DJs and more. Previous headliners have included Rita Ora, Stormzy, Foo Fighters and Radiohead.
There’s also a uniquely Icelandic element to the festival, as each year’s program features special events. In 2016, there was a rave in an ice cave in partnership with Into the Glacier, while in 2019, lucky ticket holders were treated to an intimate concert in the Raufarhólshellir lava tunnel.
9. Steer clear of cows, seals and crossroads on Jónsmessa
Jónsmessa (St. John‘s Mass) falls on 24th June in Iceland. Though it gets its name from John the Baptist, it’s also the time of year when Icelanders believe there’s major supernatural activity at play.
So the legend goes, if you wait at a crossroads where all four roads lead to churches, elves will come and offer you everything you’ve ever dreamed of. But, if you accept it, you’ll be driven mad.
Elves bearing gifts aren’t the only creatures to watch out for on Jónsmessa day. Cows are rumoured to gain the ability to talk, and seals become shape-shifters who take on human form. Another tradition holds that if you wish to heal some kind of ailment, you should roll naked in the dew.
Is June a good time to visit Iceland?
If you were wondering what things to do in Iceland in June, then we hope we’ve given you plenty of food for thought. However, before we wrap this up, we’d like to offer word of caution.
While June in Iceland is a fantastic time to visit the country, it is the time when you need to be especially careful when driving. All that daylight can confuse your body clock into thinking it’s much earlier than it really is and you might not realize you’re as tired as you are.
So, if you’re planning any long drives, it’s a perfect idea to invest in an eye mask and some decent window blinds. The beneficial thing is that you can space out your sightseeing, meaning you won’t have to cut your program short because it’s too dark to see anything.
Now all you need to do is get in touch so we can fix you up with the campervan rental that best suits your needs. Then you’ll have the green light to begin your Icelandic adventure!