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How to Explore Iceland Like a Local During the Summer

15. April 2021, 15 min reading time

The Republic of Iceland is famous for its contrasting elements that simultaneously, hand in hand, represent the uniqueness it has to offer during the summer. A country where culture, nature, and history work as a team and its geothermal activity is strong.

Known as the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’, dotted with subtle fishing villages that are edged between fjords, greeted by voluminous waterfalls that roar from outlined glaciers, and overlapped by lava fields that surround erupting geysers and bubbling hotpots - Iceland in the summer has it all.

There is an abundance of things to do in Iceland in the summer and it is no secret why the Icelandic locals celebrate their diverse country landscapes and welcome tourists to enjoy their lands. 


Summer Weather and Sights of Iceland


Visit iconic mountains during the summertime

As one of the northernmost inhabited places on the planet, Iceland offers a broad contrast of seasons and temperatures. During the summer months of late May, June, July, and August - the lands are baked in a caramel cloak, bustling with adventurous activities and highlighted from the golden glow of the Midnight Sun

With temperatures averaging a high of 10–13 °C (50–55 °F) and crafted by bustling oceans, radiant wildlife and exciting activities - an Icelandic summer holiday, a weekend getaway, or day trip is an excellent way to discover this island's scenic beauty. Do you have your swimsuit ready?

The summer heat calls actions to its shores, providing the maritime wildlife with a feast of fish and an audience to which to perform. Puffins circle their summer territory and nest their young before colder temperatures arrive after the glaciers have set their newfound shapes.

Unlike the winter, Iceland’s summer is not overcast by the illuminating Northern Lights. However, it is greeted by the Summer Solstice arriving around June 21st and June 23rd, where there is almost exactly 24 hours of continuous sunlight. 


Plan your Iceland Vacation Ahead


Iceland's rich wildlife 

Booknordics.com recommends packing thoroughly for the unpredictable Icelandic weather. Just like its landscapes, the weather can change and offer dramatic scenery iced with recent raindrops reflected by the summer sun.

While your suitcase is full of summery clothes, depending on your itinerary and choice of activities, you may wish to venture with waterproof clothing for your kayak adventure, waterproof hiking boots for your mountain hike, a swimsuit and a towel for that relaxing moment in the geothermal pool, and most definitely your camera for all three. 

Check out our Top Itineraries to enjoy your Summer in Iceland in 2022 for more inspiring adventures to be hadBrowse Icelandic Holidays


Your Iceland Holiday Starts Right Here

1. Taste a Traditional Icelandic dish

Our first suggestion to you would be to try the deliciously homemade local Icelandic cuisine. It’s true what they say, it will be a dish you will not experience anywhere else in the world.

Locals love to eat what they catch, and their waters are filled with an extensive variety. In fact, did you know that there has been a record-breaking 340 different species found in the waters? Local fermented shark is a favourite among locals as well as their Kjötsupa – Traditional Lamb meat soup.

We suggest trying their yoghurt, rye bread and fish stews, all locally prepared and enjoyed by tourists who visit a traditional Icelandic restaurant during their summer vacation. If we are honest, the list does not end there.

Known for their rich culture and interesting ancient folklore of mythical creatures, elves and trolls - Icelandic people like to wine and dine with their tourists surrounded by a little history. Be prepared to learn all about the myths and legends that shaped the Icelandic lands whilst tasting the local cuisine.Browse Iceland's Culinary Adventures

2. Jump into a Geothermal Pool in Reykjavik


Find natural geothermal pools and Blue Lagoons in Iceland

Entering a geothermal pool, enriched with a richness in silica, algae, and mineral salt combined with heat at approximately 40°C, is a must-do when visiting Iceland in the summer. Believed to strengthen the youth of the body - the geothermal waters and their natural minerals soothe aching muscles and relax the mind, either as a special treat or after a glorious hike in the surrounding landscapes.

The Blue Lagoon is a perfect day trip from Iceland’s notorious capital - Reykjavik. The lagoon is on the top of travellers' bucket lists and deservedly so. The sought-after waters originate from volcanic aquifers 2000 meters within the earth and underground, the freshwater and ocean water mix with flaming heat and immense pressure to constitute the mineral-rich geothermal seawater. A wonder in the heart of a black lava field.

If you are visiting the Northern region of Iceland, Mývatn Nature Baths and Geosea Sea Baths in Húsavík offer a glorious experience to destress. Or, if you are adventuring around the Golden Circle Route, bypass the Secret Lagoon or Fontana Geothermal Baths to spend some time in the soothing waters.Browse Icelandic Lagoon Adventures

3. Soothe your Muscles in Natural Hot Springs

natural_hot_springs_icelandVast wilderness and extensive hot springs on the South Coast of Iceland

On the other hand, Iceland has many natural hot springs found in parts of the vast wilderness. These hidden gems are suited to those active couples after their hike in the highlands. 

Mainly unreachable unless otherwise guided, these heated hot springs can be found during an adventure in the wilderness or a multi-day trip across the coasts. With a lack of changing facilities and privacy, you are - as the locals like it - out in the open and free to explore in the diverse and powerfully addictive surrounding nature. We recommend bringing your swimsuit, it can get a little chilly.

Browse Iceland's Hot Spring Adventures

4. Explore the Iconic Landmarks and National Parks 


Iceland highlands and popular landmarks

Iceland has many famous iconic landmarks and national parks off the beaten track. Some are easily accessible, others only by specified vehicles, many only during the summer months and most, reachable with the help of a local guide.

Traditions, history and the Icelandic language are of utmost importance to the Icelandic locals. For many, the belief still remains for elves, trolls, and other figures in the mythical times of the Norse past. If you wish to experience more and learn about the past of this diverse land, a local guide will be delighted to help.

For the most part, you can discover Iceland's iconic landmarks on your summer vacation by following Route 1 around the outskirts of its land. Alternatively, you can venture inland or further afield to discover the hidden gems situated in the very middle or on the very edge of Iceland’s shape.


Witness Waterfalls in the National Parks

Here are our suggestions:

  • Visit the Golden Circle route with Pingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and the Great Geysir
  • Embrace the ever-changing Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in southern Vatnajökull National Park
  • Hike Kjarnaskógur Woodland, a scenic 12 km of gravel tracks in northern Akureyri
  • Glimpse the elusive and playful Arctic Fox in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the Westfjords
  • Climb Hólmatindur mountain and experience incredible wilderness views in the east 
  • Sail to Grímsey Island and capture the perfect photo of the charismatic puffins from up north
  • Witness the spectacular colours of The Rauðhólar - ‘Red Hills’ in the west
  • Stand at the tip of the Reykjanes peninsula in Garðskagi
  • Learn all about Icelandic history on an organised walk to an art museum in Reykjavik

5. Enjoy Summer Festivals under the Midnight Sun 


Enjoy beautiful colours in the home of the Midnight Sun

Covered from head to toe in constant sunshine, the Midnight Summer Sun in Iceland is celebrated by locals, tourists and even the wildlife. We encourage you to get familiar with the Nordic Midnight Sun and its gorgeous golden abundance in advance. 

Creating a delicate atmosphere that is filled with joy, adventures and excellent music, summer in Iceland is enhanced through a mixture of major and intimate celebrations. Not only that, Icelanders love to express themselves. If you travel in the summer, prepare for celebrations, music, visual arts, dance, literature and innovation.

One of the singular most important dates to remember during the summer is the 17th of June, Icelandic Independence Day. This day is cause for festivity throughout the whole of Iceland and brings many ancient traditions back to life. Locals flock to the streets to join a parade, dress up and reenact ancient myths, recite poems, eat candy, and dance to the live music while tourists enjoy their planned adventures under the sun.Browse Iceland's Midnight Sun Adventures

6. Sample an Iceland Weekend Trip and Beverages with Friends


Enjoy the local atmosphere of the country

Did you know that the Icelandic Reyka Vodka is handmade and produced from Iceland’s lava fields? It has 40% alcohol and 60% energizing water from volcanoes. Fascinating isn’t it?

Alternatively, you can experience a light-hearted formation that was created during the alcohol prohibition period. The adventurous Icelanders took the legal Pilsner beer and mixed it with Vodka to produce Bjórlíki. A drink they have kept going as a local tradition and of course, out of love.

Not an alcohol fan? Do not worry, the Icelanders love a good alternative. Created from high Icelandic dairy quality and tastes delicious, the chocolate milk - Kokomjolk.

But hands down the nation's favourite is the Icelandic water. Pure goodness from the earth and an incredible natural source, we advise you to opt-out of buying bottled water and simply take an empty bottle to fill up from the local fountains, rivers and glacial lakes.


Would you like to know more?

Our aim at Booknordics.com is to give you the best and most delightful insight into the local world of Iceland during the summer. 

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