photo from behind a waterfall of water falling into a pool in front of a sunset

Discover the Best Iceland Summer Activities

Iceland is renowned for its breathtaking natural wonders, and summer is the perfect time to explore them. From exploring natural attractions like Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach to thrilling whale watching adventures, Iceland has it all. In this article, we’ll take you through the best summer activities that Iceland has to offer, ensuring that your visit to this stunning country is nothing short of unforgettable.

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Relaxing at the Blue Lagoon in summer

No trip to Iceland is complete without a visit to the world-famous Blue Lagoon. Located in a lava field in the heart of the Reykjanes Peninsula, this geothermal spa is the perfect place to unwind and rejuvenate. Immerse yourself in the mineral-rich, milky-blue waters, surrounded by stunning volcanic landscapes.

The warm waters, rich in silica and other minerals, are not only incredibly relaxing but also beneficial for your skin. Take the time to indulge in a luxurious spa treatment or simply float in the tranquil waters, enjoying the serenity of this unique natural wonder.

You can find all the important information you need in our article Planning a Day Trip to the Iceland Blue Lagoon from Reykjavík. Other popular hot springs include Reykjadalur, Hvammsvík and the Sky Lagoon.

Discovering Iceland’s stunning beaches

Iceland may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of beaches, but the country is home to some truly spectacular coastal landscapes.

Reynisfjara Beach, a black sand beach in Vík, is a sight to behold, with its dramatic cliffs and crashing waves. Another must-visit beach is Diamond Beach, located near the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Here, you can witness the mesmerising sight of icebergs washed up on the black sand, sparkling like diamonds in the sunlight. Both can be reached either independently or as part of guided tours from Reykjavík.

Be aware that that you cannot swim at beaches like Reynisfjara and Diamond Beach, as it’s too dangerous. Strong undercurrents coupled with dangerous tides and temperatures mean that even during summer, swimming isn’t allowed. However, you can still enjoy the beaches in the sun and get some great photos!

For a more relaxing beach experience, head to Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach in Reykjavík. It offers a more traditional beach experience, as you can actually swim (in geothermal-heated seawater) and soak up the sun on the golden sand. The beach has great facilities, including changing areas, steam baths and hot tubs. You can swim in the cold sea, or in the naturally heated hot spring.

Snorkelling in Silfra

For the adrenaline junkies out there, snorkelling in Silfra is an experience like no other. The Silfra fissure is located in Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. It provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore the otherworldly rock formations and vibrant colours of a hidden underwater world.

The crystal-clear waters of Silfra offer unparalleled visibility, allowing you to explore the underwater world with breathtaking clarity. Guided tours provide wetsuits and all the necessary equipment, beginning with safety briefings before introducing you to the water. You’ll have time to get used to the temperature of the glacial meltwater before expert guides take you to the snorkelling site.

Swim, dive or float through the Big Crack, the narrowest point between the tectonic plates, and enjoy the thrill of being suspended between two continents. Look out for local plant and marine species as you journey through Silfra Hall and Silfra Cathedral into the Silfra Lagoon, and then pose for photos if your chosen tour includes them. Many tours also provide hot drinks at snacks at the end to look forward to as well!

Hiking to majestic waterfalls

Iceland is famous for its majestic waterfalls, and summer is the perfect time to embark on a hiking adventure to witness their beauty up close. Amongst the most popular are Gullfoss, Skógafoss, and Seljalandsfoss.

Gullfoss, the ‘Golden Falls,’ is one of the most accessible waterfalls in Iceland. Here, you can witness the raw power of the cascading water as it plunges into a deep canyon. It’s located on the iconic Golden Circle route, so there’s a huge variety of tours that also stop at the Strokkur Geyser, Þingvellir National Park and Lake Kerið.

Next, Skógafoss, one of Iceland’s largest waterfalls where you can climb to the top for a panoramic view of the surrounding landscapes. It’s located on the South Coast of Iceland, just over two hours from Reykjavík.

Finally, Seljalandsfoss is a picturesque waterfall that you can actually walk behind. This feature allows you to experience the incredible force of the water from a unique perspective, making it one of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls. It’s also located on the South Coast, within two hours of Reykjavík.

Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss can often be seen on the same day tour from Reykjavík. South Coast tours include visits to both waterfalls, as well as other attractions such as the Katla volcano, Sólheimajökull glacier and Reynisfjara Beach.

Experiencing the local wildlife

Iceland is home to a diverse range of wildlife, and summer is the best time to witness some of these incredible creatures in their natural habitat.

Whale watching tours from Reykjavík set sail into Faxaflói Bay, where you can spot majestic whales breaching the water’s surface. Keep your eyes peeled for blue whales, humpbacks, minke whales, and even the elusive orca. Certain tours from Reykjavík also include admission to the Whales of Iceland exhibition.

Whale watching tours from Reykjavík are convenient if you’re based in the capital and visiting for a short period of time. However, many tours also depart from the Northern Icelandic cities of Akureyri and Húsavík (known as the Whale Capital of Iceland). Modern, high speed RIB boats take you through the Eyjafjord (if departing from Akureyri) out to Skjálfandi Bay, where you’ll have the best chance of seeing multiple whale species.

Another unique wildlife experience is a puffin tour, where you can visit puffin colonies on nearby islands. These adorable birds are a joy to watch as they dive into the sea in search of fish. Nesting season is between late April and mid August, which is why summer is the best time to see them.

Multiple tours combine whale watching and trips to ‘Puffin Island’. Be aware that there’s more than one so-called puffin Island off the coast of Iceland. Therefore, you’ll get to visit one of them whether you take a tour from Reykjavík or Northern Iceland.

Horse riding tours are also popular, and are suitable for beginners. There are tens of thousands of Icelandic horses in Iceland, and the animal is a celebrated part of Icelandic culture. Experienced guides take riders on tours through hills, valleys, forests and volcanic landscapes, and provide all the necessary safety equipment.

Embarking on Reykjavík walking tours

While most of the Iceland summer activities have focused on nature, you shouldn’t dismiss the vibrant capital city of Reykjavík. Summer is a great time to immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of the city by embarking on a walking tour, as you won’t have to worry about adverse weather conditions and freezing temperatures forcing you to take shelter!

As well as exploring the colourful streets of the city centre, lined with unique boutiques, art galleries, and cosy cafés, you can visit iconic landmarks such as Hallgrímskirkja, a towering church that offers panoramic views of the city from its observation deck, in addition to City Hall and the famous Sun Voyager sculpture.

Themed tours are also popular; available options include food tours, Viking tours, folklore tours, architecture tours and LGBT tours. Along the way, you might also choose to delve into the history of Iceland at the National Museum or learn about the country’s literary heritage at the Reykjavík City Library.

Final thoughts on Iceland summer activities

In conclusion, Iceland is a summer playground like no other. All of the activities mentioned can be embarked on individually or as part of guided tours and excursions. To explore independently, compare prices for car rentals on Discover Cars and Qeeq in order to get the best deal.

Platforms like ViatorGet Your Guide and Tiqets offer booking options for activities; again, compare prices, and see what extra benefits each tour offers, such as snacks, hot drinks and transport from your hotel.

Whether you’re relaxing at the Blue Lagoon, exploring the country’s pristine natural landscapes, or soaking up the culture of the capital, Iceland offers unforgettable experiences.

CTA: Start planning which Iceland summer activities you’d like to try today and head to for flights and hotels!

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