Things to do in Iceland in August
August is a bittersweet month in Iceland. It is the last official month of summer. So there is a real sense of making the most of it before Iceland’s long winter begins. Icelandic people are all out and about enjoying the longer daylight hours and sunny days (hopefully!). There are all sorts of events and social occasions going on in August. In fact it is one of the busiest months of the year when it comes to the social calendar. Festivals and cultural events abound every weekend. Adding to the dynamism of August this summer month is the busiest time of year for visitors to Iceland too. The summer holidays across Europe generally fall in August so there are many more people travelling.
August is a great time to visit Iceland overall. As well as festivals and events there are a good amount of daylight hours. This means road trips and sightseeing can all be appreciated to the maximum. If you visit Iceland towards the end of August you may even get lucky and see the Northern Lights! In this article we look into the all-important subject of the weather in Iceland at this time of year. We will also explore the top August activities to enjoy and the different festivals that are celebrated. If you are thinking of planning a late summer trip to Iceland then you are in the right place!
Daylight Hours and Weather in Iceland
The weather in Iceland is notoriously changeable and potentially quite wild. August however is one of the calmest and mildest months of the year along with July. The average temperature in August ranges from 10-15 degrees Celsius. Note that this is an average and there are often far warmer days. If the sun is out it can reach around 20-24 degrees Celsius. However if the wind is blowing in from the Arctic north it can easily feel much chillier too. When it comes to the weather nothing in Iceland is guaranteed. It can change quickly throughout the day and there could even be a summer storm. Generally speaking though August is the most steady and settled month with much less rain.
Another factor to consider when you visit Iceland is the hours of daylight. August’s daylight hours change quite drastically as the month progresses. In the early part of the month the midnight sun still blazes and there are about 18 hours of daylight. By the end of the month there are about 15 hours of daylight and a good few hours of pitch dark. This does mean that August is a great month for dramatic sunsets and sunrises. If the sky is clear then the landscapes will be bathed in the beautiful changing hues of the sunlight. August also has a good track record for weather. So those few hours of darkness coupled with clear skies could mean a sighting of the Aurora if you are lucky.
August Activities in Iceland
August is a prime time for whale watching in Iceland. The water visibility is generally good and the seas are calm for boat trips. There are all sorts of whales feeding in the waters around Iceland at this time of year. You can spot them in the south but North Iceland is the prime place for a boat trip. Boats head out into the bay from the town of Húsavík. You will likely see Minke Whale, leaping dolphins and even the true giant of the ocean the Blue Whale.
Road Trips and Camping in Iceland
The summer in Iceland is the prime time for a camping road trip. With the Midnight Sun still shining in the sky there are plenty of daylight hours for driving, sightseeing and making camp. Enjoying being out in nature is all part of the fun. The milder temperatures and long daylight hours make it all the easier. Towards the end of August there are a good few dark night time hours too. So it is very possible to see the Northern Lights if you are camping in late August.
There are many different road trips in Iceland to enjoy depending on how long you have to explore. A shorter trip would be to drive the Golden Circle and camp overnight in Thingvellir National Park. For a slightly longer excursion you could head to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The peninsular lies about a two our drive northwest of Reykjavik. There are such a variety of sights there that it is often referred to as Iceland in Miniature. There is a national park there of the same name and several good campsites just outside of the park.
For the ultimate Iceland road trip you should hire a camper van and hit the Ring Road and loop right around the country. You will need at the very least ten days to make the most of this exciting itinerary. There are so many incredible sights to visit along the way that you really won’t want to rush it.
Soaking in Iceland’s Hot Springs
An integral part of any trip to Iceland is a visit or two to a hot springs or thermal pool. There are many different styles of hot springs to enjoy. The famous Blue Lagoon is really a must. But do make an effort to visit some of the other smaller pools too for an entirely different experience. The Secret Lagoon is a lovely outdoor thermal pool within easy reach of the Golden Circle. There are also thermal rivers and remote natural pools out in the wilds of the country.
Hiking in Iceland
August is a good month for a hiking holiday. The weather is more likely to be mild and dry making it perfect for walking. Although nothing is guaranteed in Iceland so make sure you have lightweight layers and waterproofs on your packing list. The long hours of daylight mean that you have plenty of time for covering lots of ground in one day. There are so many great trials through some incredible landscapes. Here are a few of our favourite hiking trails in Iceland.
Bird Watching in Iceland
Visiting Iceland’s puffins is a popular pursuit in August. These feathery friends are really fun to observe. They flock to Iceland’s cliffs in the summer months and burrow there to raise their young. Coastal walks and puffin watching go hand in hand in summer. There are also lots more birds to spot up in North Iceland around the wetlands of Lake Myvatn.
Icelandic Horse Riding
Riding Icelandic horses is a fantastic family activity. These gentle and hardy creatures are known for their good temperaments. So any nervous youngsters will be soothed by their new fluffy friends. Also reluctant walkers won’t have to tire their legs. You will all get a new perspective on the landscapes as you pass through on horseback. There are many half day and full day tours available.
Festivals in August
There are festivals and events going on every weekend in August. Some of the bigger festivals might be worth planning your trip around. But if you are simply driving around the country you are bound to come across a celebration to enjoy. One of the main events in August is the Thjodhatid Music Festival in the Westman Islands. The festival is held on Heimaey Island Just off of Iceland’s South Coast.
Later in August there is Culture Night in Reykjavik. This is a citywide celebration of art, music and culture in all its forms. There are loads of interesting events going on and lots of free stuff to do. If you are in Iceland in the latter half of August it is well worth heading to the capital. Also held in August in Reykjavik is a weeklong celebration of Gay Pride. This is another fabulous event with a fun and inclusive atmosphere.