Friday, 15 June 2018

Your Unofficial Guide to Iceland in July

You know the feeling. Spring is in full force and you can see summer right around the corner. You’re getting restless and those itchy feet just can't stay still. The travel bug is starting to bite and you're wondering “Where should I go for my next vacation?”. If you're a fan of unforgettable road trips, otherworldly natural beauty, and some of the most unique experiences on the planet, then spending July in Iceland could be your next adventure. Summer holidays are the perfect time to explore this tiny island nation.

Mountains descending into deep blue Atlantic waters along Icleand's Ring Road in July

Iceland’s National Parks 

While in Iceland, you should definitely stop at one of the country’s three national parks. Vatnajökull is home to Iceland’s largest glacier and one of the biggest glaciers in Europe. This massive beast covers 8,100 square meters (just over 87,167 square feet). There are Jeep tours available to traverse the snowy ice caps and when you finish, you can explore the thrilling ice caves. To the west lies Snæfellsjökull National Park and in the southwestern part of the country is Pingvellir National Park. Here you can see continental drift in action throughout the park’s rift valley. The park sits on the juncture of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

Exlplorers in ghostly Iceland's blue ice caves

Iceland's Fjords

Iceland is a nature lover's haven. While Norway is famous for its fjords, Iceland also has a plethora of natural beauty to be found in the icy glaciers and plunging fjords of its magnificent landscapes. But what is a fjord exactly? During the Ice Age, these valleys were carved out by colossal glaciers and eventually filled with seawater to become inlets. The majority of Iceland’s fjords are found concentrated on the east and west coasts of the volcanic island with a few located in the north. There are over 100 fjords in Iceland and the best way to see them is a self-drive tour. You set your own itinerary and see as few or as many as you like. The fjords closest to Reykjavík are Borgarfjörður (“fortress fjord” in Icelandic) and Hvalfjörður (“whale fjord”). It is called this due to the large number of whales that frequent the area. Strandir near Hólmavik lies further north and is a part of the Westfjords. The Eastfjords are home to puffin colonies and Seyðisfjörður makes a wonderful home base from which to explore the east.

Icelandic puffin overlooking a fjord during July's nesting season

The Blue Lagoon

Located in the Grindavík lava fields, this geothermal spa is probably one of the coolest attractions in Iceland if not in the world. With an average temperature of 38 °C (100 °F), the Blue Lagoon is sure to keep you warm during even the chilliest of Icelandic days. The mineral-rich water gets its turquoise tint from the healing elements of silica and sulfur. While these are great for the skin, they tend to make your hair a bit stiff, so be sure to pack your bathing cap.

Summertime bathers in the Blue Lagoon's turquoise blue waters in July

Whale Watching in Iceland

The best time for whale watching is over the summer. Nestled between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans, Iceland has over 20 species of whales. Icelandic waters are home to blue whales, humpback whales, minke whales, sei whales, and fin whales to name a few. Many of the best places for whale watching are in the north. Húsavik is known as the whale capital of Iceland and Akureyri is a popular departure point as well. Reykjavik also has its fair share of cetaceans, with its harbor location making it ideal for taking a boat ride to spot marine mammals. You’ll find harbor porpoises and white-beaked dolphins swimming alongside their larger brethren.

Killer whale breaching in Atlantic waters in July

Summer Camping in Iceland

Camping and traveling by campervan are an extremely popular way to experience the country. You can take your time seeing everything, plot out your route, and just have more freedom to explore in general. There's nothing better than hitting the road in the summer with a house on four wheels. Be sure to check out this guide to camping in Iceland to make sure you don't forget anything.

View from green tent of Skogafoss waterfall during summer camping trip

Summer Festivals in Iceland

Summer in Iceland brings a wide variety of festivals to satisfy many different tastes. From Reykjavik’s early summer Secret Solstice Music Festival and Hafnarfjörður’s Viking Festival in June to the Dalvík Fish Festival at the beginning of August, there's something for everyone. And July is no exception. Seydisfjordur’s LungA Art Festival features concerts and exhibitions while celebrating all things related to culture and creativity. East Iceland’s Bræðslan Music Festival takes place in a factory from the 1960s and features indie, pop, and rock artists such as Icelandic group Of Monsters and Men. A comprehensive list of events in Iceland throughout the year can be found here.

People celebrating during midnight sun outdoors in July

Hopefully this will get you pumped about planning your unforgettable trip to Iceland in July. You won’t be disappointed and just might have the summer of a lifetime roadtripping, going to awesome music festivals and getting out into nature all beneath the midnight sun. So what are you waiting for?

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