Visiting Iceland in June is the perfect way to explore the country in a unique way. Whether you’re looking for breath-taking waterfalls, amazing wildlife or mild weather, you can find it all in Iceland at this time of year. Here are our top reasons you should be booking your next trip to Iceland in the summer!
2020 so far has been a bit of a letdown for travellers, to say the least. But let’s not think about the bad times – Iceland is now opening back up its borders to international visitors and NOW is the time to go!
There will likely still be restrictions, and you might find that some events or activities have been cancelled or closed. The best thing about Iceland though is that it is so easy to enjoy without a planned itinerary so it’s such a good choice as your first destination post-lockdown.
Read more here about the measures the government are putting in place to protect both locals and travellers, and then read the rest of this article to see why you should be planning a last-minute trip to Iceland in June!
It might sound an unlikely pairing, but June is actually a great time to visit Iceland. There is still plenty to see and do, and you’ll be surprised at what else Iceland has to offer during the summer months.
It’s still Iceland, so don’t expect to leave with a bronzed glow and stories of sea frolicking. But there is something magical in the air at this time of year – you definitely shouldn’t discount visiting in summer!
10 Reasons You Should Visit Iceland In June
Let’s face it, you’ll have a great time in Iceland whenever you visit. There are so many cool things to see and do (glacier tours, mountain hikes, tectonic plate diving, snowmobiling … I could go on!) so if you can only manage to go in winter then don’t worry.
Some people don’t know that there are so many cool things to do in Iceland in June so read on to find out what you’ll be able to do and see at this time of year!
Whether or not you’re visiting Iceland for 3 days or 3 weeks, you’re bound to fall in love with this insane country.
1. There Are More Daylight Hours In June
One of the absolute best reasons to visit Iceland in June is that the days go on FOREVER! The sun doesn’t really ever set so you won’t actually see darkness for your whole time here.
The reason for that is because of the tilt of the Earth during the summer. It’s pointing towards the sun so there’s pretty much always daylight in Iceland from June – August.
It’s obviously completely the opposite in the winter – you’ll only get around 4 – 5 hours of daylight so that’s a massive bonus to coming in summer!
It means that you’ll be able to be out and about for longer, and you’ll be able to see more of the country. During the winter, it’s not advisable to drive in the dark because of the dangerous road conditions, but in the summer you don’t have to worry about that.
You can get up when you want to, laze around for breakfast and start your day in the afternoon if you need to. It’s particularly good if you are suffering from jet lag as you won’t miss out on the day if you sleep after your flight!
You do have to remember that it might be light at 11pm but shops and restaurants will be closed because it’s the middle of the night! Make sure you’re fully stocked up on food and water before you venture out on a hike at 3am! Many gas stations are self-service so you might be able to fuel up but don’t expect the convenience stores to be open.
The summer solstice – the longest day of the year – is in the middle of June and there’s a cool festival to celebrate it in Iceland. Click here to jump down for more information![Update 2020: This year’s Secret Solstice festival has been postponed until 2021].
2. You Can Experience The Midnight Sun
The midnight sun is an amazing sight and you should definitely experience it at least once if you’re here in June. Open your thick, light blocking curtains and see the night time world from a different perspective!
A huge benefit to the midnight sun is that you can explore the natural wonders Iceland has to offer in the middle of the night when most people are asleep. If you want to get those beautiful shots with no other tourists around, or experience a solo waterfall visit, then come at night time and you’re more likely to succeed.
There are also some incredible tours that are specifically designed to enjoy whilst experience this weird phenomenon. Go on a whale watching tour, hiking or even quad biking! Click here to check out the different types of midnight sun tours you can take.
3. The Whales Return!
Seeing a whale in its natural environment is just amazing, and you have a high chance of being able to do that in Iceland in June! Humpback whales are the most common, but there are also often sightings of blue and minke whales. You might even be really lucky and spot an orca too!
The best places to see whales is in the north. A small fishing town, Húsavík is actually world-renowned for its whale-y pals so it’s worth making your way up here.
You could also visit the nearby town of Akureyri. There are still some great options to see the whales, and a little more to do when you’re back on land.
If you don’t have the time or patience to visit the north of Iceland, then Reykjavik has got you covered because the waters near the capital are also full of tasty treats for the whales.
You’re more likely to see minke whales here, but there have been sightings of humpbacks too, as well as dolphins and porpoises!
A whale watching tour can be booked in advance and you can either go in the morning or at night time. Some tour companies are pretty confident that you’ll see a whale, and offer you the chance to repeat the trip if you don’t.
4. The Puffins Are Also Nesting
A puffin is just one of the cutest animals ever and there are literally thousands to be seen in Iceland in early summer! They arrive at the end of May and leave in September, so there’s no chance that you’ll miss them if you visit in between.
Not only that, but there are over six million puffins who return to the place they were born in Iceland every year. If you come in summer and don’t see a puffin, you’re doing something wrong!
There are a few places to see puffins across the country, but some are better than others.
For the biggest puffin colony in the world, take a trip to Vestmannaeyjar (The Westman Islands).
If you want an easy drive to see puffins, go to Dyrhólaey which is on the south coast and not too far from the famous Route 1 ring road. It’s a good place to see the birds if you’re on a road trip and are driving past anyway.
The Látrabjarg cliffs in the Wetfjords are fantastic for bird watching and you’ll see millions of puffins going about their daily business here. However, the Westfjords are far from Reykjavik so make the trip worth it by including other activities whilst you’re there.
When you are puffin-spotting, there are a couple of rules that you need to stick by so that you don’t disturb the birds. It’s tempting to get too close for the best photos and sightings but you really need to keep a little distance! If you’d rather take a tour so that you can learn a little about the birds and do everything safely, click here for more information.
5. The Weather In Iceland In June Is Mild
The weather here at this time of year might surprise you. The northern hemisphere is known for its warm summer months – and Iceland isn’t as drastically different as you may think. The average temperatures for the month are around 9°C (48°F) which isn’t actually that much colder than some summer days in the UK!
Even more weird – the temperatures can actually reach up to 20°C (68°F) which is scorching for a country that is literally the land of ice. Don’t get too worried though – there is plenty of ice left and the chances are that you’ll still be wearing a jumper!
Do yourself a favour and invest in a true Icelandic souvenir for the days where it does get chilly – a Lopapeysa. It’s a sweater made out of local sheep wool and they’re what all the cool kids wear.
The best advice for visiting Iceland at any time of year is to pack layers. In the summer, you can pile on multiple tops in the morning and peel them off in the afternoon sun if it gets too warm. You don’t want to be stuck with only huge hiking jackets and thermals because overheating is never fun.
The warmer weather also means that when you take a dip in the local swimming pools or the Blue Lagoon, you won’t feel as frost-bitten getting in and out of the water.
If you’re from a warm country then you’ll probably still think it’s freakishly cold, but the local Icelanders will be revelling in their hot summery days!
6. There Are Fun Camping Opportunities
Camping in Iceland is a great thing to do but it can’t be a lot of fun during the winter when the rain comes and the temperatures drop below zero. In June however, there are plenty of great opportunities to camp and you’ll wake up to some incredible views!
Luckily, if you’re visiting in June the weather is less likely to be unkind to you, but always check the forecast before you go just in case.
You have the option of pitching up a tent or hiring a campervan and parking in a campsite. You could even hire a car with a rooftop tent!
For those hardcore campers, rent all of your tent gear and pick a spot for the evening. However, you can’t just camp overnight anywhere.
It is required by law that you spend the night in a designated campsite so that the wild nature isn’t hugely disturbed. Some have full facilities, but some are a lot more basic. Find a site before you arrive and book your pitch here.
It’s really important to not ignore the laws on camping in Iceland. Not only is it disrespectful to the country you’re visiting, but the laws are there to protect both you and the nature as well. You don’t want to be stuck in a remote place with no access to phone signal or cars driving by. If there was an emergency, you would want to be near other people so don’t risk it!
There are also some ‘glamping’ options – glamorous camping for those who can’t hack sleeping on the ground or in a car!
7. It’s Easier To Drive In Iceland During The Summer Months
Driving in Iceland is a great way to explore the country. Hiring a car and driving the ring road is probably one of the most popular things to do in Iceland and it’s so much easier in the summer.
Not only is there are lot more time to see and do everything because of the long daylight hours, but the roads are safer. Even if you’re taking a long drive all the way to the secluded East Fjords, you should be able to navigate your way there without too much trouble in summer.
There are still some risks of course – watch out for roaming sheep – but in general it’s easier to drive in summer than winter. You’re less likely to find slippery ice patches and the weather will be less dangerous to drive in.
There will however, be more people on the roads due to it being high season. Keep your wits about you and just drive sensibly.
The influx of people also means that you need to book your car in advance! Find a good deal on a rental car here.
Here are some rules for driving in Iceland that you might not be familiar with:
You have to keep your headlights on whilst driving in Iceland.
EVERYONE in the car must wear a seatbelt.
Drive on the right.
If you’re a little nervous about driving in another country, you can find lots of tips and video guides on this site.
8. There More Accessible Mountain Hikes
The thing about Iceland is that it’s covered in ice. Shocking, I know.
But even though snow-capped mountains and frozen rivers are beautiful, they pretty much ruin a good hiking trail. That’s why visiting Iceland in June is so awesome!
There are some insane hikes that you just can’t do in the winter because of the slippery ground, inaccessible trails and remote routes.
The roads to the Icelandic Highlands, for example, are only open from June to September because of the weather.
Iceland is just beginning to come alive with greenery, wildlife and flowers so it’s a beautiful time to hike. If you visit in the summer you’ll be able to access some of the most gorgeous and delicate parts of the country. Explore wilderness like you’ve never seen before at Laugavegur and discover hidden waterfalls at Svartifoss.
You don’t always need a guide to hike in Iceland, but do your research and make sure you’re properly prepared before you go if you decide to go alone.
If you’d prefer to go with a guided group for safety and knowledge, click here to see which hikes suit you best! You can choose from mountain trails, glacier climbs and even bus or jeep tours if you want to enjoy the scenery but don’t want to actually hike.
9. You Can Go Caving
There are lots of fantastic caves to explore in Iceland, but some of them are only accessible in the summer due to the risky road conditions leading up to them.
The caves are just lava tubes – created when volcanoes erupted and cooled down, leaving gigantic holes in the landscape! This all happened thousands of years ago so there’s plenty of fun history to learn about too. There have even been Viking artefacts found in some of these caves!
You can take lots of different tour to explore the caves, and often there will be other activities in the mix too so your day is full.
Be prepared to get dirty as you’ll more than likely have to crawl into the caves and the floors will be wet and cold. Wear the correct gear (you’ll be provided with safety equipment though) and you’ll be fine.
Don’t get confused with the ice caves! Many of these don’t even exist in the summer because the warmer weather melts the ice. You can visit some incredible ice caves in the winter but just make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for!
10. There Are Lots Of Fun Festivals![Update May 2020: This year, many festivals have had to be cancelled due to the health risks of having so many people in close contact. Kepe an eye out for next year though, or consider visiting later in the summer for other fun things to do!]
Summer means festival time! It might not have Coachella, Rio Carnival or Holi, but Iceland does have some awesome events that in June that you should definitely attend!
Not many people go to festivals whilst on holiday but I think it’s a great way to add something new to your trip and get to know a little more about the local culture.
The most popular festival in Iceland in June is the Secret Solstice (postponed until 2021), which takes place over the summer solstice. The longest day in the northern hemisphere occurs in the middle of June, so it stands to reason that there should be a party to celebrate it!
Its also an amazing way to experience the midnight sun – food, drink and music in the 24 hour daylight just sounds so much fun!
A few other popular festivals include:
- Independence Day – not really a festival actually but definitely a celebration! Iceland only gained independence from Denmark on the 17th June 1944, so it’s still a huge deal and there is always lots going on around this time.
- Rekyjavik Arts Festival – 2 weeks of exhibitions and performances you can enjoy (only happens every two years though)
- The Viking Festival – celebrating all things Viking! The festival is really authentic so you’ll definitely have a good time if you’re into the Middle Aged life! You can even stay at a Viking themed hotel!
- Festival Of The Sea – sailors in Iceland are given a holiday on the first weekend of June to recognise the hard work they have put in for the nation. The Festival of the Sea celebrates this as a family fun day with parades and entertainment by the harbour.
What To Pack For Iceland In June
The key thing to being comfortable in what you wear in Iceland in the summer months is to take layers of clothing. You can add or take away items when you need to if the weather decides to surprise you.
You might not need fleece lined thermals for June, but I’ve added them in the list just in case. Always check the weather forecast before you go so that you can be prepared. No one wants their trip of a lifetime ruined by bad clothing!
Iceland Summer Packing List
Can you see the Northern Lights in June?
Unfortunately, June is actually one of the worst times to see the Northern Lights in Iceland!
Although the Lights will still be dancing around up in the sky, that pesky midnight sun makes it impossible to see them. Don’t plan your trip around the Lights if you’re visiting any time from the middle of April until the beginning of September.
Is Iceland safe to travel solo?
Iceland is a very safe country to travel in, even if you’re on your own. Crime is very low (it’s not rare to see babies left outside whilst their parent runs into a shop!) and people are generally happy to help if you have any problems.
The biggest dangers in Iceland are probably related to nature. Don’t trespass anywhere you’re told not to, don’t drive recklessly and keep your general wits about you.
Is June a good time to visit Iceland?
June is an excellent time to visit Iceland. The long daylight hours, improved weather and abundance of wildlife make it one of the best times to explore.
The only downside to this time of year is that everyone else thinks its a good idea to come so it can get very busy in places. Plan your days well, use the extended daylight to your advantage and you should still be able to enjoy your trip without the crowds.
How cold does it get in Iceland in June?
The average temperatures for June are around 9°C (48°F) for the entire month.
It can get as cold as 5°C (41°F) but it can also reach 20°C (68°F) so you should definitely pack a variety of outfits and layers to help you with the changing temperatures! You can usually still go out in a jumper or light jacket in June.
Does it get dark in Iceland in June?
It actually never gets dark! The sun basically never sets and June has the longest day (summer solstice) and therefore the most daylight.
Pack a decent eye mask to make sure that you aren’t too disturbed when you’re trying to fall asleep! There are 24 hours of daylight in June – this decreases by 1 – 3 minutes each day after the solstice (June 21st).
Does it rain or snow a lot in Iceland in the summer?
Iceland isn’t renowned for its fantastic weather, and this doesn’t exactly change in the summer. You could see some rain in June but snow is unlikely unless you’re at a top of a mountain.
The glaciers will obviously still be there, so you can go snowmobiling! Overall though, you probably won’t encounter any snow in June.