The Icelandic summer is arctic but mild in its own way. Temperatures usually do not go below zero. In September, fall storms start coming over the island and nightly temperatures drop. In December till February, temperatures range from -20°C (-4°F), where it’s coldest, to 5°C (41°F) in Reykjavik. These conditions are extremely unpleasant for camping. Thus generally, camper rentals in Iceland are closed during the winter.
Late May – June are magical months in the north, especially at summer solstice around June 21st when the sun sets just after midnight and rises again before 3am. Icelanders love to stay up late during the quiet bright nights – a time ideal for photographers. June is considered low-season and so you’ll find prices considerably lower than just a couple of weeks later plus there are fewer tourists on the road. The only downside of visiting Iceland in June is that most of the highland roads, such as Kjölur, Sprengisandur and Landmannalaugar are likely to be closed until mid-June.
In July the fun begins! The peak of the year, there is plenty of light, the temperatures are as good as they get, the highlands are open and the whole country is bursting with energy! Every day there are some kind of festivities going on as every other town around the island has a festival of its own: it’s Irish days in Akranes, Icelandic Folk Music Festival in Siglufjörður, Medieval weekend at Gásir, Young Arts Fest in Seyðisfjörður, French Days at Fáskrúðsfjörður and Mærudagar in Húsavík among many others.
The Icelandic summer is like a refrigerator which is left open for six weeks. The light is on all the time and the freezer compartment starts thawing out, but it never gets really warm.
Hallgrímur Helgason, artist & writer
In June – July the northern lights are on summer vacation but towards the end of August you might be able to catch them. Last year the aurora borealis were already very well visible on August 26th. This is the last official month of summer, with the first weekend, that is the first Monday in August a public holiday. Expect more traffic than usually on the roads this weekend as there are several festivals going on and Icelanders like to enjoy the prolonged weekend in the countryside, camping or staying in summerhouses.
September marks the beginning of fall with its beautiful colours and berry picking. Wild crowberries, red currants and blueberries are much-loved for making jam or desserts, served fresh with whipped cream. Average temperatures in Iceland in September are between 5°C (41°F) and 15°C (59°F) and there is prone to be heavier wind followed up with horizontal(!) rain. Heavy rain can lead to swelling rivers, especially in the area between Landmannalaugar and Lónsöræfi, including Lakagígar, so it is vital to drive carefully and keep informed of warnings issued by the Met Office.
There’s always a good reason to visit Iceland, it is just a matter of preference; seeing the midnight sun vs. northern lights, keeping to the ring-road (route 1) or exploring the highlands of Iceland.
We hope to see you next summer!