Iceland in June is a time of celebration. Summer has officially arrived and Midsummer is when the nation embraces days that stretch long into the night. The country is filled with festivals that showcase Icelandic culture, history, and traditions. So, you’ll have your pick of things to do in June in Iceland.
June’s weather is also nothing to scoff at, and rising temperatures might even have you shrugging off your fleece. So with great weather and extended daylight hours, it's a month of seemingly endless options for travelers and locals alike. So, what are some of the best things to do in Iceland in June that you need to add to your trip itinerary?
Best Things to do in Iceland in June
Deciding what the best things to do in Iceland in June actually are can 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 backup – this is Iceland, after all. So, grab the keys to your campervan and try out some of our personal favorites below:
1. Make the Most of the Midnight Sun
The summer solstice (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, 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 (which is good considering how many things one can do in Iceland during the summer). 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 the F-Roads in Iceland before heading there.
To drive north to south non-stop across the Highlands would take you about 9-10 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!
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 a must-visit stop in the 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 is 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. It is 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. The great outdoors doesn’t get more fun than this if you’re someone who enjoys water and likes to get the heart pumping. This is why we include it on our list of top things to do in Iceland in June.
5. Attend a Local Festival or Event
As we already mentioned, the month of June with its extended daylight hours has plenty of festivals and events. Icelanders definitely do not need much of an excuse to throw a celebration. Here are a few festivals and events you can add to your to-do list in June:
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. Across the country, parades run rampant on Icelandic National Day. There's a brass band playing marching tunes and the Scouts following 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!
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 on the island. 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.
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.
6. The Secret Solstice Music Festival in Reykjavík
Secret Solstice first launched in 2014 and is definitely one of the top things to do in Iceland in June. It is held in Reykjavík, the capital city of Iceland, and draws crowds from all around the world each year. 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.
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 rumored 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. (not recommended in public, where you’ll probably get arrested for indecent exposure).
8. Become a Viking
You can’t visit Iceland and not immerse yourself in its rich warrior past. There are plenty of options to choose from here on the island, and it’s one of the best things to do in Iceland in June if you’re traveling as a family with kids. Visiting Mink Studios is one of the most fun things to do in Reykjavík in Iceland in June.
Here you turn yourself into a Viking with full gear and weaponry. Then, have your portrait taken by one of the photographers who worked on sets such as Game of Thrones. You can also go sailing on a Viking ship in the Westfjords. Or experience an authentic Viking Village at Fjörukrain in Hafnarfjördur.
If you visit Hafnarfjördur at the right time in June, you might also be able to catch the Viking Festival. It’s 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, but deaths and injuries are fictional, of course. You can also 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. Enjoy the music and dancing, or spend time shopping for leather goods, silver jewelry, and other souvenirs.
9. Spot Some Puffins
By this time, the Iceland Puffins should already be nesting in Iceland. Every year in May, these penguin-like birds with colorful beaks come to the island to breed until September. Since Iceland has been credited with “housing” 60% of the world’s Puffin population during this time, it’s quite a sight to see.
There are places where you can walk on pathways in the middle of these colonies, and other places where you can hike to some of their go-to places. And who knows? Maybe these birds will persuade you to stick around a little longer in order to see those cute little Pufflings hatch.
10. Take a Stroll on a Black Sand Beach
One of the outcomes of being the Land of Fire and Ice is having black sand beaches. This is due to hardened lava slowly (over thousands of years!) being broken down by the weather elements and the ocean waves to create tiny black grains of sand. If the way these beaches are formed doesn’t already impress you, you will be left speechless after seeing what they look like.
A few popular black sand beaches in Iceland are Reynisfjara. It stretches out for kilometers with impressive black basalt column cliffs. Diamond Beach has pieces of ice that wash up on shore and glistens like diamonds in the sunlight (hence the name). These beaches are some of the most impressive things to see in Iceland in June.
11. Pick Up the Pounds in Reykjavík
As the capital city of Iceland, it should come as no surprise that Reykjavík is a bustle with all sorts of activity. And if you consider yourself somewhat of a foodie or just a general fan of food, you have to make a few stops at the local restaurants, cafés, and bars. There are a few things that one must try here on the island. Some just to experience the Icelandic culture and others simply because the dishes are delicious.
Must-try items include craft beer, fermented shark, homemade ice cream, lamb dishes, and the legendary Icelandic hot dog. So, come with an empty stomach! You won’t be able to say no to our delicious local cuisine, and don’t be surprised if you return home with a little extra “luggage” – it’ll be well worth it!
12. Take a Hike! (Literally)
The amazing weather and increased daylight hours make hiking one of the best things to do in Iceland in June. You will find a wide variety of hiking trails all across the island. And luckily, you don’t need to be an avid hiker to grab the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Icelandic landscape. There are trails of different difficulty levels that range from day hikes to multi-day treks.
So, you’ll be able to find a suitable hike based on your skill and experience level, whatever that may be. Some of the popular hiking trails include Glymur Waterfall, Landmannalaugar, and the Laugavegur Trail. Just always remember to check on the Iceland weather before heading out.
13. Snowmobile Across a Glacier
This is one of the activities that many won’t associate with Iceland at this time of year. We know it seems kind of counterintuitive, but it’s definitely one of the best things to do in summer in Iceland. Why would the ice caves close during the warmer months of the year, but the glaciers be open to the public? Well, it all boils down to size. An ice cube is going to be in trouble in the summer sun, but an iceberg might just see a few trickles.
The gigantic glaciers of Iceland are something that you won’t easily forget. Snowmobiling across them simply adds to the excitement. Needless to say, this is not something you can take on yourself, and you’ll need to book a spot on a tour led by an experienced guide. From Langjökull and Myrdalsjökull to Vatnajökull (the largest glacier in Europe), you’ll find plenty of glaciers here in Iceland when it comes to snowmobiling.
14. Try to Beer Tölt on an Icelandic Horse
This is probably one of the most unique things to do in June in Iceland. If you don’t know yet, Iceland actually has its own breed of horse called the Icelandic Horse. (yes, not the proudest moment of one of the most creative nations in the world). These horses look more like ponies than full-grown horses and have thick, fluffy coats during the colder months.
They are also incredibly friendly and can perform an extra gait called the tölt. The tölt is believed to be such a smooth ride with one hoof always being on the ground, that it has inspired a local challenge called the beer tölt. This is when a rider needs to perform the gait with a pint of beer in hand and not spill a drop. If you fail at the beer tölt you can always settle for just a leisurely ride across the majestic Icelandic landscape.
15. Take a Snap from Behind a Waterfall
You will find plenty of impressive waterfalls in Iceland. Waterfalls such as Godafoss, where it is believed that a symbolic gesture took place cementing the country’s conversion to Christianity. Or Dettifoss which has earned the title of the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe. But a favorite on the island will always be Seljalandsfoss Waterfall.
This is one of the tallest waterfalls in Iceland, clocking in at 60 meters. But what makes visiting Seljalandsfoss one of the best things to do in Iceland in June is the fact that one can walk behind the falls. You can see the Icelandic landscape through the falls and take impressive photos from an eagle's eye view.
16. Come Within Arm’s Reach of an Iceberg
One of the things to see in Iceland in June is the Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. And whilst you can admire it from a distance, we highly recommend that you book a spot on one of the boat tours, especially the amphibian boat tour. This tour is small and will get you within arm’s reach of the floating icebergs in the lagoon and even the glacier itself.
You’ll probably also get to see some seals on your trip, either playing around in the water or lazying about on sheets of drifting ice. Visiting the Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is definitely a must on any Iceland trip itinerary.
17. Do Some Pondering Whilst Pampering Your Feet
It’s well-known that Iceland boasts hot springs all over the island due to the volcanic activity heating up the underground water supply. And whilst many go-to hot spring places are the Blue Lagoon, Reykjadalur, and Sky Lagoon, there is one hot spring that’s probably one of the most special things to do in Reykjavík in June. Kvika is within walking distance if you’re staying in the capital and is the ultimate reward for tired feet.
Kvika is a hot spring in the technical sense of the word. But in practice, it is known more as a quaint foot bath – one with a beautiful view over the mountains and the ocean. Here you can rest your feet in the warm waters and spend hours staring at the mesmerizing view and pondering all of life’s big questions.
Is June a Good Time to Visit Iceland?
If you were wondering whether June is a good time to visit Iceland and what things to do in June in Iceland, then we hope we’ve given you plenty of food for thought. However, before we wrap this up, we’d like to offer a word of caution. All these daylight hours can confuse your internal body clock and mess with your sleeping patterns.
This is not good if you’ve got a jam-packed itinerary. So, we recommend that you invest in a sleeping mask, and some earplugs (other people might still want to party). Ensure that your accommodation has adequate windows/blinds to block out the pestering sunlight. 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. Time to begin your Icelandic adventure!