August offers some of the best weather next to July, temperatures average 50-59 degrees Fahrenheit and with the disappearance of the midnight sun, daylight hours resume a more normal range from 18 at the start of the month to 15 by the end (though you can expect longer days in the north and Westfjords). And on rare occasions for short periods, temperatures reach above 68 degrees along the coast and up to 82 degrees Fahrenheit inland. Temperatures further north are a little cooler and the days are a touch longer.
Keep in mind Iceland is known for its perpetually unstable climate: winds from the North Pole sweep across the island while the Gulf Stream and surrounding ocean temper the effects creating changeable weather. You can expect rain, cool winds, sun, and plenty of clouds as a result. You’ll want to bring a raincoat and umbrella with your sweaters and a scarf.
Crowds & Costs
August remains ever crowded as the weather is little changed from the month before and the number of festivals and events that take place draw out local and foreign crowds alike. Sites and attractions will have extended hours, but you can expect more crowds and higher prices.
Travelers should be aware that accommodations throughout the country book up months ahead of time—advance planning is recommended. If looking to avoid the crowds, this is the ideal time to head inland, north toward the Arctic Circle, or towards smaller towns away from the southern coast and Reykjavík.
Where to Go
August offers an all-access pass to Iceland’s famous sites and there’s no better way to see it all then driving along the Ring Road.
Start in Reykjavík—a great jumping off point to major attractions in the Reykjanes Peninsula, like the Golden Circle and South Shore—and continue east stopping to check out the slew of attractions along the way. Some highlights to consider are the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, the Vestrahorn mountains in eastern Iceland, the Diamond Circle in the north. It’s well worth your time to make the detour to the Westfjords, Snæfellsnes peninsula, and Reykholt.
If you’re short on time and the crowds don’t deter you, stick close to the capital and load up your days with sites along the Golden Circle and South Shore routes. Though if you’re interested in avoiding the crowds, and seeing equally stunning areas of the country, head to the Snӕfellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland, just an hour outside of Reykjavík. Commonly referred to as “little Iceland”, the volcanic peninsula has a little bit of everything.
Read Best Local Experiences in Iceland for more on where to go without the throng of tourists.
Keep in mind it pays to carefully plan your trip. Even small tweaks to your plan, like planning your Golden Circle tour during early morning or late night (both perfect during August’s longer daylight hours) will let you beat the crowds and see these natural wonders in a more peaceful setting.
What to Do
August continues to be about taking advantage of the long daylight hours and warm weather, and Icelanders do just that with their multi-day festivals put on across the country.
Without preemptive planning, you’ll likely be amid some sort of music, folk, or sporting event. Soccer fans will enjoy the very muddy and super fun Mýrarboltinn (Swamp Soccer) in the charming Bolungarvík near Ísafjörður in Westfjords and runners may opt to participate in Reykjavík’s annual marathon. Foodies will appreciate the Reykjavík Beikon (Bacon) Festival and culture vultures will enjoy Menningarnótt (Culture Night) for free admission to many events put on by galleries, museums, and libraries. See below for further event options.
Summer outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, kayaking, and river rafting should not be missed. August is peak hiking season, as such consider the many hiking options in Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk in Iceland's southwest or the Borgarfjörður to Seyðisfjörður trek in eastern Iceland. Shorter day hikes abound as well, Mount Esja and the Glymur waterfall hike just outside of Reykjavík, or the stunning Fimmvörðuháls route are such examples (read this article for all the details).
Adrenaline junkies not afraid of getting wet will want to join an exciting river rafting tour in Jökulsá Austari (East Glacial River gorge) or kayak amid the glacial blue icebergs of the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Return to land and climb in a Super Jeep for a bumpy, but thrilling, tour over the rugged lava fields of Landmannalaguar.
Events in August
Frídagur Verslunarmanna (Commerce Day or Shop Workers’ Day Off). On the first Monday of the month, you can expect closures, however, many festivities are held over the whole weekend throughout the country. Despite its long name, the main theme of this event is simple: to party.
Þjóðhátíð (National Festival). The largest festival held during Commerce Day welcomes 12,000 Icelanders and foreigners to the Westman Islands to camp out all weekend, listen to live concerts, drink lots of alcohol, and dance around a campfire.
Innipúkinn. For those not willing to venture outside of the capital, Reykjavík hosts its own three-day festival over the Commerce Day weekend. Expect wild and crazy nightlife in the heart of the city.
Reykjavík Pride. Now an international event with over 100,000 visitors, you can expect concerts, talks, photography exhibits, games, movies, sports, and readings, all to celebrate and support the LGBTQ community.
Fireworks at Jökulsárlón. An annual event every second weekend in August sees the icebergs of the Vatnajökull glacier lagoon lit up with candles and an impressive fireworks display.
Fiskidagurinn Mikli (the Great Fish Day). Dalvík puts on a massive (and free) fish related event. Nearly the whole of Iceland shows up for a free seafood buffet and free whale watching tours.
Traveling to Iceland in August? Check out these great itineraries.
Iceland Ultimate Ring Road Adventure - 9 Days. For road trip enthusiasts, it doesn't get much better than encircling Iceland along its infamous Route 1 (Ring Road). This quick-paced, self-drive itinerary will take you to the best spots along the 828-mile (1,332 km) route with plenty of detours to work the leg muscles and camera batteries. With a bit more than a week, you'll experience a variety of landscapes, like geysers, hot springs, black sand beaches, volcanoes, lava fields, small fishing towns, and massive glaciers in protected national parks.
Trekking Off the Beaten Path in the Icelandic Highlands - 7 Days. The Icelandic Highlands are home to some of the most spectacular scenery and breathtaking landscapes on the planet. Trek the famous Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trails, camp in the Valley of Thor, and walk through volcanic valleys and canyons on this epic week-long adventure.