June marks the start of peak travel season in Iceland, when the days are at their longest and the weather is at its mildest. You’ll enjoy seasonal events like music festivals and “midnight sun” celebrations, but you may also battle heavy crowds and unpredictable temperatures. The following guide will prepare you for what to expect during this season and help you maximize the many advantages of June travel in Iceland.
Prepare for June Weather
While the summer temperatures feel downright balmy to natives just emerging from the brutal Icelandic winter, most days will still seem quite brisk to visitors. The average high temperature in Reykjavik in June is just 55 degrees Fahrenheit, with lows averaging in the mid-40s. Note that the record high temperature for the month is just 70 degrees F—hardly a heat wave for most American travelers.
June is also generally Iceland’s driest month of the year, averaging less than two total inches over the course of the month, although more than half of those days will see at least a small amount of precipitation.
When packing, be sure to include a range of clothing items, from shorts and t-shirts to sweaters and pants. Dressing in layers is always a safe bet, and try to keep a waterproof jacket or umbrella handy in case of pop-up showers. If you plan to explore the country’s ruggedly beautiful terrain, include a sturdy pair of hiking boots in your suitcase, and definitely pack a swimsuit for visits to the plentiful public pools and hot springs that are a hallmark of this Nordic nation.
Don’t Expect Darkness
The summer solstice falls in June, which means Iceland enjoys its longest days during this month. Due to its far-north location on the globe, these days last virtually 24 hours, so visitors will likely never see darkness during their stay. These extended days can be a major boon for sightseeing, but they also virtually guarantee that tourists won’t get to experience another quintessential Icelandic attraction: The Northern Lights.
If you have your heart set on seeing the aurora borealis, you’ll need to consider delaying your trip by about six months, when days are short, the skies are dark and aural activity is at its peak.
The perpetual daylight can interrupt circadian rhythms, so you may want to bring a sleep mask or look for lodging that offers blackout curtains to make falling asleep a little easier.
Celebrate Seasonal Events
Summer in Iceland is packed with festivals, holidays and other special events, making it an exciting time of year to visit. If your travel happens to overlap with any of the following festivities, be sure to incorporate them into your itinerary:
- Reykjavik Art Festival (June 1-16): The country’s premier cultural festival celebrates the best in local and international theatre, dance, music and visual arts.
- Icelandic National Day (June 17): Much like the Fourth of July in America, this day marks Iceland’s independence from Danish rule and the establishment of the Republic of Iceland in 1944. Thousands will gather in Reykjavik for a celebration that includes parades, live music, family activities and plenty of refreshments for sale.
- Suzuki Midnight Sun Run (June 20): Athletic travelers can test their mettle in this annual running event that offers half-marathon, 10-kilometer and 5-kilometer distances. The race starts between 9 and 10 p.m. and takes participants past breathtaking scenery that includes mountain peaks, lush green landscapes and shimmering lakes and streams.
- Secret Solstice Festival (June 21-23): This popular annual music festival is back in Reykjavik for its fifth year, boasting an all-star lineup of established acts like Rita Ora, Patti Smith, the Black-Eyed Peas and more, as well as up-and-coming Icelandic artists.
Watch for Whales
Iceland in June is the perfect time to take advantage of the abundant whale population off Iceland’s North Atlantic and Arctic coasts. Between April and September, more than 20 whale species—including orca, minke, humpback and blue whales—can be observed in their natural habitat.
Whale watching tours bring visitors up close to these gentle giants and are available in many locations around the country, including Reykjavík’s Old Harbor; the Snaefellsnes peninsula in western Iceland; Húsavík, a tiny fishing village in Northern Iceland; and the Skjálfandi and Eyjafjörður fjords along the northern coast.
Soak in the Hot Springs
Powerful volcanic activity just below the earth’s surface provides Iceland with an abundance of geothermal energy that not only provides the island with much of its electrical power, but also fuels natural hot springs scattered across the country.
The springs are popular destinations for both locals and visitors, offering a relaxing soak in the steaming water while surrounded by some of the world’s most picturesque scenery. Consider adding one of these well-known outdoor baths to your travel schedule.
Iceland’s most famous hot spring is known throughout the world for its crystal-blue waters and luxurious accommodations. It’s a bucket-list item for many visitors, meaning it’s almost always packed with people, but its massive size means you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding enough personal space to relax.
If you want to beat the crowds, try visiting first thing in the morning or late at night—and remember, you’ve got almost unlimited daylight at your disposal this time of year. Entry fees start at $57 per person and include access to changing rooms, steam rooms, showers and lockers, or you can upgrade to a luxury spa experience for a few hundred dollars more.
Also known as the “Secret Lagoon,” Gamla Laugin (which translates to “the old swimming pool”) is the oldest outdoor pool in Iceland. Situated about 90 minutes east of Reykjavik in the town of Flúdir, the pool is located near several active geysers. Admission is about $25 for adults and free for children under age 14, and swimsuit rental is available.
Fontana is located about an hour from Reykjavik along the highly-traveled Golden Circle, making it an easy addition to a day trip in the direction of Gulfoss, Geysir and Silfra. Visitors can indulge in:
- The geothermal steam baths, where steam rises directly from the ground through grids in the steam room floors
- Three outdoor mineral baths of varying temperatures
- A Finnish-style sauna
- The cool waters of Lake Laugarvatn
Fontana also features a unique geothermal bakery that offers bread baked for 24 hours right in the steaming black sands of Laugarvatn. For a small fee, guests can taste the fresh loaves straight from the earth daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Hit the Trails in Iceland in June
Mild, dry weather and lush vegetation make June the perfect time to explore Iceland’s plentiful hiking trails and see the nation’s natural wonders up close. Check out these day hikes for the chance to get off the beaten path and into the wild:
This roughly four-mile hike leads you to the highest waterfall in Iceland. Glymur is only accessible on foot, so you won’t encounter the crowds here that you would at other well-known falls like Seljalandsfoss or Skógafoss. The trail to the waterfall takes you through Pvottahellir cave, or “laundry cave,” signifying the place locals once hung their laundry to dry during rainstorms.
Landmannalaugar (Brennisteinsalda-Bláhnúkur loop)
This combination of two shorter loops takes hikers 10 kilometers up the two most scenic peaks in the area. Along the way, you’ll pass black obsidian lava fields, hot sulfur springs and steaming hot pots. Each peak involves a summit of around 3,000 feet, but your hard work will be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views that provide more than 60 miles of visibility on a clear day.
Thórsmörk (Fimmvorduhals volcano hike)
This challenging 10-mile trek leads you past Magni and Modi, two massive volcanic craters formed during the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption.
This mountain near Reykjavik offers multiple options for day hikes ranging from almost four miles to just under 10 miles.
Meet the Puffins
Iceland is home to the largest puffin population on the globe, and June is an ideal time of year to witness these “clowns of the sea” in their natural habitat. The birds are plentiful in multiple locations along the island’s coastline, but these sites are your best bet for puffin-spotting success:
- Westman Islands: This 15-island group off Iceland’s southern coast boasts the world’s largest colony of more than 1.1 million puffins, who arrive to the area in the summer to mate and lay their eggs.
- Lundey/Akurey: A short boat trip from the Reykjavik’s Old Harbor will take you to the nearby islands of Lundey (“Puffin Island”) or Akurey, where you’ll have the opportunity to observe puffins as well as eider ducks, arctic terns, guillemots and cormorant.
- Látrabjarg Cliffs: These cliffs in the Westfjords mark the westernmost point on the island, and in the summertime, they come alive with puffins, guillemots, auks and razorbills. Multiple trails will take you to the cliff’s edge, where you just might find yourself face-to-face with the colorful beak of a curious puffin.
Final Thoughts on Iceland in June
While there’s really no bad time of the year to visit Iceland, each season has its highlights and challenges. If your Icelandic vacation falls in June, you can look forward to pleasant temperatures and a never-ending supply of daylight for exploring the country’s dramatic and beautiful scenery, including craggy mountain peaks, steaming geothermal fields, rushing waterfalls and vast glaciers.
Just remember that you won’t be able to see the Northern Lights at this time of year—but that just gives you another reason to book a return trip in winter.