August is the last month of the peak season in Iceland, busy and vibrant, similar to July and late June. The prices are still hefty, and finding cheap accommodation is tricky. Although, if planned well in advance, you should see some good bargains. August is the month of flora and fauna with sunshine and still some warmth. The city of Reykjavik has a good summer vibe in August. Tourists and locals alike spend much time outdoors, and loads of fun events take place. Let’s take a look at the most exciting things to do in Iceland in August – and last but not least, let’s review the weather forecasts!
Weather in Iceland in August
The average daily temperature in Iceland in August is around 12°C, but on a sunny day, you can expect the temperature to rise to 15-20 degrees. The lowest temperature, however, is about 8°C. So if you live in a warm climate, you might want to consider bringing some extra layers of clothing (more on that below).
The days are rapidly getting shorter in August, after the summer solstice, but there is still plenty of daylight. At the beginning of the month, daylight extends for almost 18 hours but drops down to 14,5 hours at the end of the August. That gives you an excellent opportunity for sightseeing and exploring attractions in the evening and early in the morning.
The average August rainfall in Iceland is about 62 mm (2.4 inches), which is a bit on the high end. So, be prepared for mixed weather. Iceland is known for its somewhat capricious weather so again; you’d be wise to bring layers.
What to pack for an August visit in Iceland
Bring a jacket (windproof, water-repellent). Iceland can be chilly even at mid-summer. The coast and the highlands are often windy, and if you decide to go for whale watching or other activities at sea, a good jacket will come in handy.
Bring an extra pair of shoes, walking shoes if you plan to hike or sneakers or other similar. Delicate formal shoes have limited use and can be ruined in bad weather. Some attractions require walking (on rough ground).
A light sweater (wool, mini fleece) can be useful to wear on its own or under a jacket. Sunglasses are helpful too, there can be an intense sun, mainly when reflected from surfaces along the coast and on glaciers.
Make sure to bring light clothing for the warmest days (up to 15-20 C). T-shirts, shorts, etc.
Thin gloves and a scarf can be helpful at the end of August when early autumn appears.
Events in Iceland in August
In August specifically, Iceland plays hosts to many festivals and adventures waiting for you to come and experience.
The main festivals in Iceland in August are linked to the Verslunarmannahelgi weekend. It takes place on the first weekend of August, with festivities and events taking place around the country, ending with a bank holiday on the following Monday.
Thjodhatid at Verslunarmannahelgin Weekend in Westman Islands
The most famous festival at the Verslunarmannahelgi is Thjodhatid in the Westman Islands. Even though Þjóhátíð officially starts on a Friday and lasts until Monday morning, many of the festival guests try to get there a bit earlier to extend their dwelling on this magnificent island, which is considered one of the most beautiful places in Iceland. At Þjóðhátið, you can be assured to have a great time as the festival organizers provide a full-time schedule covered with all kind of events for all ages. This is the place where the generation gap fills and people get together in one purpose; to have fun and enjoy life over the weekend. Iceland’s leading musicians show up, fireworks, art, culture and everything in between is expected at Thjodhatid in the Westman Islands.
Ein með öllu family festival and summer games in Akureyri
During the “Verslunarmannahelgi,” the Merchants’ Weekend, the town of Akureyri hosts the event “Ein með Öllu” family festival: where live music, Tivoli and different performances fill up the streets of Akureyri together with sports events on the Iceland Summer Games.
The festivals offer many events, and everybody should find a suitable activity. To name a few there while being a fairground, entertainment for children, a request song concert in the Akureyri church and marketplace in the town center. Well known Icelandic artists will perform, bands, solo artists, and promising young artists. The festival will finally conclude with a great fireworks show.
Parallel to the festival there will be the Icelandic summer games in the town. There will be a footrace in the church stairs, a beach volleyball tournament in Kjarnaskógur, which is a forest to the south of Akureyri. Additionally, the Motorcycle Club Tían will hold conjunction of motorcycles driving in the town and triathlon in Hrafnagil, which is a small village about 12,5 km south of Akureyri.
This colorful event brings tens of thousands of people into the city center every year to show solidarity and to have fun with the LGBTQ community in Reykjavik. People of all genders, friends, relatives, and a fast-growing number of tourists, all come together to celebrate and support universal human rights. The festival promotes visibility and courage and provides people with a platform to manifest their pride. The celebrations do not only mark a successful stage in the LGBTQ struggle. Reykjavik Pride is also one of the most vibrant and popular events on Reykjavík’s cultural calendar. By participating in the event in such large numbers, the Icelandic people regularly show valuable support, recognition, and respect for the cause.
The great fish day
The Great Fish Day is an annual festival in Dalvíkurbyggð held the first or the second Saturday in August. Fish producers and other members of the society invite guests to a seafood buffet between 11:00 and 17:00 at the harbor in Dalvík. The reason for this generous offer is to get as many people as possible together to taste fish and enjoy a good day in Dalvík. The entertainment is diverse, for example a fish exhibition where multiple fish species are on show, cruise at the fjord, art shows, street theatre and music of all kinds is on the stage throughout the day. The festival ends with an outdoor concert and firework display.
Reykjavik Culture night
Reykjavik Culture Night is both created and enjoyed by city residents and takes place all across central Reykjavik, with celebrations in the streets and squares, in museums, businesses, and residential gardens! The event’s slogan ‘come on in!’ is a reference to good old-fashioned customs of Icelandic hospitality. Reykjavik Culture Night marks the start of the city’s cultural year when museums and theatres and other cultural institutions launch their annual program of events. The main objective of Reykjavik Culture Night is to deliver a diverse and vibrant offering of cultural events from 1-11pm, ending with a magnificent firework show by the harbor. All events are free of charge for everyone to enjoy.
Attractions to explore in August in Iceland
August is a great month to visit Iceland if you plan on exploring the countryside and visit the main attractions. You will still enjoy between 17-18 hours of daylight, by the beginning of the month, so that gives you more time to explore throughout the day. The ring road is easily accessible at this time of the year, and you don’t need to worry about icy roads or snow altering your plans. The incredible highlands are still accessible at this time of the year, and the secluded area of the West fjords is manageable as well by car. Here are a few recommendations for attractions to visit, out of many MANY other options:
Self-drive from Reykjavik to Vik
You might be one of the many travelers that decide to head east of Reykjavik to gaze upon the spectacular sights of south Iceland. The final destination for many is Vik in Myrdal, famous for its nearby attractions. Driving from Reykjavik to Vik is pretty straight forward, follow highway 1 (the ring road), the drive itself is around 180KM. On your way from Reykjavik to Vik, you will encounter few of the most popular attractions in Iceland, including Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Gljufrabui waterfall, Skogarfoss waterfall, Solheimasandur plane crash, Dyrholaey, Reynisfjara – Black Sand Beach and Solheimajokull glacier. Driving from Reykjavik to Vik and exploring the most famous attractions can be done within a day, making this an ideal day tour.
Skaftafell and the south-east corner
If you plan on going further east, you will be in for a treat. Skaftafell and the rest of the southeastern corner is nothing but mesmerizing, offering unforgettable landscapes and activities. A hike in Skaftafell, part of the Vatnajokull national park includes amazing scenery such as Svartifoss waterfall and nearby glaciers and hiking routes in wild nature. Nearby Skaftafell is another natural beauty; Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon and the Diamond beach south of the lagoon. And even before Skaftafell, you will be able to explore Fjadrargljufur canyon and Kirkjubaejarklaustur.
Akureyri and the Diamond Circle
Summer is arguably the best time to visit the northern parts of Iceland. The area around Akureyri and Myvatn, often referred to as The Diamond Circle, offers endless of sights and places to visit and explore. The north-east region has countless attractions and activities, such as Lake Myvatn, Godafoss waterfall, Asbyrgi Canyon, Dettifoss waterfall, Dimmuborgir, and many others. And Akureyri makes the best base as you can enjoy everything the town has to offer while exploring the nearby attractions.
The West fjords
When people ask what they should see and do in the Westfjords, the most straightforward answer is “the Westfjords.” Every turn brings something new. Every fjord is its little world. Every mountain competes for your attention. Even the least remarkable parts of the Westfjords glow with natural beauty and surreal landscapes. In summer, all the most exciting sights to explore in the Westfjords are reachable by car and can easily be discovered by foot. The most popular places to visit are Patreksfjordur, Latrabjarg, Isafjordur, Hornstrandir, Red Sand beach, and Dynjandi waterfall. However, while driving the Westfjords, you will run into many other magnificent places that will take your breathe away.
The Snaefellsnes peninsula
The Snaefellsnes peninsula has been gaining more popularity in recent years and is nowadays one of the most popular routes for travelers visiting Iceland. The peninsula is easily reachable from the capital region and can be explored in a day or two, depending on how much time you want to spend at each place. If you are about to travel to Iceland in August and want to head west, the Snaefellsnes peninsula awaits you with all its amazing attractions including Helgafell, Kirkjufell, Arnarstapi, Hellnar, Stykkisholmur and Budir, to name a few.
Driving in Iceland in August
When it comes to driving in Iceland in August, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First of all, you probably don’t have to worry about snow or slippery roads, which makes the driving a lot more bearable. Also, you probably do not have to worry about the road being closed due to weather, as the weather in August is in most cases nice and good. That being said, the weather in Iceland is often unpredictable, so please take everything into consideration and keep a close watch on the weather forecast before departing. All such information, for weather and road conditions, can be accessed at www.road.is.
A 4×4 is only necessary if you plan to visit the highlands of Iceland – or by driving any of the F-prefixed roads. While driving in Iceland you will notice that all roads (excluding roads in and near Reykjavik) in Iceland consists of one lane in each direction. The roads are also narrow and usually have no guardrail between the opposite lanes.
Last but not least: Driving off-road in Iceland is illegal due to the harm it can cause for the delicate ecosystem. If you get caught driving off-roads, you can expect huge fines and potential jail time.
Northern lights in August in Iceland
If the main reason for your visit to Iceland is to see the northern lights then August is not the right month for you to visit. Most northern lights tours begin around mid-September, and there is a good reason for that. The chances of you seeing the northern lights in August, even at the end of August, are much lower, compared to the winter months. We would, therefore, advise you to plan your visit somewhere between October and March.