Unforgettable Icelandic Summer: The Top 15 Must-Do Activities

With its stunning landscapes and unique natural phenomena, Iceland is a dream destination for travelers from all over the world. As the days grow longer and the midnight sun graces the sky, summer in Iceland reveals its magic.

From cascading waterfalls and pristine glaciers to rugged fjords and geothermal hot springs, an Icelandic summer is a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

This extraordinary country of “Fire and Ice” is going to leave you awe-struck! So, fasten your seatbelts, grab the keys, and get ready to explore the top 15 must-do activities that will make your summer visit to Iceland absolutely unforgettable!

1. Experience urban sophistication in Reykjavík

Get your city fix on and soak up the summer sun with a leisurely stroll through the vibrant streets of Reykjavík as you explore the famous colorful buildings, quirky street art, and unique shops.

If you’re keen to delve into Viking history, be sure to make a stop at the National Museum of Iceland to learn all about the ancient Norse people, their heritage and the fascinating history of the island.

Visible throughout the city, no visit would be complete without touring the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church. Completed in 1986, this architectural marvel is the most visited site in the capital and is famous for the panoramic views of the city from its towering spire. This vantage point is the perfect place to plot your next destination: the picturesque Old Harbor.

Head down to the harborside and marvel at the modernist Harpa Concert Hall before taking a peek inside. The waterfront is packed with lively bars and restaurants – the perfect place to sample copious amounts of fresh seafood. Are you daring enough to try Hákarl, Iceland’s famous fermented shark

Indulge in a classic Brennivín (Icelandic schnapps) as you say goodnight to the midnight sun before heading back to your accommodation to rest up for the next day’s adventures.

2. Explore the stunning Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Head out on a road trip along the western coast to discover one of the island’s most visited natural wonders. Only three hours from the capital, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula greets you with breathtaking landscapes and has a little bit of everything that makes Iceland so unique: fjords, towering cliffs, picturesque fishing villages, and black sand beaches.

Hike the rugged trails of the Snæfellsjökull National Park as you marvel at the “gateway to the center of the earth,” the majestic glacier-capped volcano in Jules Verne’s memorable novel.

Whether you hop on a boat to explore the coastline or continue exploring by foot, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is an unforgettable experience.

3. Go glacier hiking in Vatnajökull National Park

Vatnajokull Glacier National Park, Iceland

The awe-inspiring beauty of Vatnajökull National Park, home to the largest glacier in Europe, is the quintessential bucket list item. 

Join a guided glacier hiking tour and set out for a chilly thrill as you find yourself surrounded by dazzling crevasses and blue ice caves. 

Experienced guides are a must to ensure your safety and provide insights into the raw power of the glacier’s fascinating formation and ongoing changes.

*You should never attempt to hike the glacier without an authorized and reputable guide. 

4. Delight in spotting a puffin 

The Westman Islands, also known as Vestmannaeyjar, is a volcanic archipelago off the south coast of Iceland. These islands are a haven for seabirds, and, lucky for you, an excellent chance to see the world’s largest puffin colony up close. 

You can drive to the south coast and catch a ferry to Heimaey Island, or hop a boat tour and experience a delightful journey to marvel at the sight of the adorable “Lundis” (Icelandic for puffin).

*Early mornings or late afternoons are prime times for puffin spotting!

5. Sail in the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Bordering the Vatnajökull National Park in southeast Iceland, the enchanting Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a stunning natural wonder. Formed by the melting ice from Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier, the serene lagoon is filled with glittering and floating ice formations. 

Zodiac boat tours will whisk you out to sail between vast icebergs in a dream-like sequence.

As you cruise through the crystal clear blue lagoon, keep an eye out for arctic seabirds and seals who enjoy swimming in the lagoon.

6. Explore charming Akureyri

Make an escape to northern Iceland where you’ll find, nestled amongst the impressive coastal landscape, the vibrant town of Akureyri. Located a mere 100 kilometers from the Arctic Circle, Akureyri (whose name translates to “Field-Sand-Spit”) was settled by the Norse in the 9th and 10th centuries.

Known as the “Capital of the North,” Iceland’s fourth most populous town is lined with brightly painted houses, picturesque streets and an impressive array of boutique shops that simply beg to be explored.

Perched on a hilltop, be sure to make a visit to the striking Akureyrarkirkja (or Akureyri Church), where you can take in the amazing panoramic views of the surrounding fjord. 

7. Take a dip in the Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon Iceland

Experience ultimate relaxation with a soak in the world-famous Blue Lagoon. Located in a lava field in southwest Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula, this geothermal spa with steamy waters rising up through lava formations, is renowned for its milky blue color and rejuvenating properties. 

Sink into the warm, mineral-rich waters, cover yourself with the volcanic silica mud and… relax. 

Surrounded by rugged volcanic landscapes with water temperatures of 37–39℃ (98.6–102.2℉), you might be tempted to stay here all day. And that would be a very good idea!

8. Experience the thrill of white-water rafting

Get ready for an adrenaline-pumping activity like no other! For adventure enthusiasts, white-water rafting in Iceland is an exhilarating experience not to be missed. You’ll be surrounded by breathtaking canyons as you navigate through roaring glacial rivers and cascading waterfalls. 

Whether you’re near the capital, or in the north, there’s a glacial river nearby just waiting to be explored.

9. Extend your horizons on a helicopter tour 

Get a bird’s-eye view of Iceland’s captivating landscapes by taking an unforgettable helicopter tour. This is one of the best ways to truly appreciate the island as you witness the country’s untouched beauty from a whole new perspective. 

Whether it’s hovering above the volcanic craters of the Highlands or soaring near a secluded mountain peak, you’ll have the opportunity to explore remote areas that are inaccessible by any other means.

10. Discover hidden waterfalls

Breathtaking Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland during the sunny day

Journey along Iceland’s dramatic south coast to encounter two of the country’s most iconic waterfalls

Seljalandsfoss, with a 60 meter (200 feet) drop, offers a unique experience as you can walk behind the cascading curtain of water and admire the view from a different perspective. 

Nearby, Skógafoss, with a 60 meters (200 feet) height and spanning a width of 25 meters (82 feet), impresses with its raw power and the opportunity to climb the stairs for a panoramic vista. 

These majestic waterfalls, only two hours outside of Reykjavík, are a must-visit during your Icelandic summer adventure.

11. Explore the untamed Westfjords 

Escape the crowds and drive into the remote beauty of the untamed Westfjords, a rugged and unspoiled region famous for its dramatic fjords, towering cliffs, and pristine wilderness.

Take a winding hike along scenic trails through lush valleys to hidden waterfalls before visiting the charming fishing villages dotting the coastline, including Hólmavík and Bolungarvík.

For those seeking a culinary adventure, the locals will be thrilled to introduce you to their unique Icelandic seafood dishes.

Traditional Icelandic dish with salmon steak and baked potatoes and vegetables

*Traveling and exploring in the Westfjords is only really possible during the summer and not recommended between October to the end of May, due to unpredictable weather and road conditions.

12. Camping on Lake Mývatn

Are you ready to rough it? Near Godafoss Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in northern Iceland, is the volcanic lake of Mývatn. 

With geothermal vents, diverse birdlife, volcanic formations and pristine waters calling this area home, it’s the perfect environment to try your hand at wild summer camping.

Hiking on the designated nature trail is only permitted between May 15–July 20. 

*Recent changes to the laws around wild camping mean that while it is still possible in Iceland, you will need to make sure there’s no defined campsite nearby and check the most up-to-date rules to avoid falling foul of the law. 

13. Visit the remote village of Seyðisfjörður

Not far from Gufufoss, along winding roads with panoramic views of mountains and cascading waterfalls, is the hidden gem of Seyðisfjörður. Nestled within a narrow fjord on the east coast of Iceland, this once remote outpost still retains the charm of an authentic rural village despite being one of the most visited places in Iceland.

Before you leave, make sure to snap a shot of the most photographed street in town – the LGTBQI rainbow-painted tiled sidewalk leading up the Blue Church.

14. Witness the geysers of Haukadalur

Fantastic sunset Strokkur geyser eruption in Iceland. Fantastic colors

Check out the raw power of nature at Haukadalur, a geothermal zone that is home to Iceland’s famous “valley of the geysers.” Watch in awe (but don’t get too close!) as every 14 minutes the Strokkur geyser erupts, shooting boiling water up to 20 meters (65.6 feet) high. 

Explore the surreal landscape as you discover the other geothermal features in the area, including bubbling mud pots and steaming vents. 

15. Have a whale of an adventure!

Húsavík, a colorful, dreamy little town, is known as the whale-watching capital of Iceland. After learning more about the Icelandic history of whaling from past to present, with a visit to the Húsavík Whale Museum, get ready to set sail and encounter these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. 

Cruise through the waters of Skjálfandi Bay, where it’s possible to see up to eleven different species of cetaceans, including humpback whales, minke whales, orca and even the elusive blue whale.

The thrill of spotting a whale breaching or witnessing a pod of dolphins swimming alongside your boat is an experience that you’ll never forget!

You’ll never have a dull moment in Iceland! Check out our latest blogs for all the details you need to plan your perfect summer travels.