When contemplating a trip to this small Nordic Island, many people want to know the best time to visit Iceland. When you should go depends on what you’re looking for. Summer is definitely not the best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. While the Midnight Sun has vanished by August, very long days make it difficult (but not impossible) to see the Aurora Borealis in all its splendor. That being said, the summertime and especially August can be the perfect time for your Iceland vacation. The month of August officially marks the end of the Icelandic summer and the locals do their best to enjoy the ever-present sunshine and the many events taking place around the island.
August in Iceland
August is normally still relatively hot, with temperatures around 12 ℃. However, temperatures can rise up to 18-20 ℃ on exceptionally beautiful days, and come down at less than 10 ℃ on cool days. The light is still very present with nights almost non-existent at the beginning of the month, but it changes after mid-August as the darkness comes back.
It is a fairly similar month to July but there are slightly fewer travelers traversing the roads. However, all seasonal sites are still open and the tourist season is still in full swing. The flora and fauna are exceptional and it is the last month to see the puffins that usually leave the island around mid-August.
Most of the roads and trails that lead into the Icelandic Highlands are still open, and wonderful sites like Landmannalaugar, Laki or Askja are within easy reach – if you have a suitable vehicle. Lovers of hiking and walks and those who prefer the quiet will enjoy traveling in August rather than in July. Some of the more remote parts of Iceland remain quiet and relatively deprived of travelers, whatever the season.
Nature and Options
August is the month for picking mushrooms and berries of all kinds that are found in Iceland. The hills of Iceland are filled with bilberries at the end of August. If you’re taking a road trip and driving around the country, you will more than likely see groups of people just off the road in search of these famous fruits.
At the end of August, the first hints of the Aurora Borealis begin to appear with the darkness that slowly descends on Iceland in the evening. The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon that fills the night sky with almost supernatural colors. You can join an excursion or go alone on the Aurora hunt.
Activities and events are everywhere in the four corners of the island in August and in particular in the Icelandic capital. They are gearing up for a winter that is never far away. Þjóðhátíð is the most anticipated event of the month, maybe even of the summer! The festival of merchants – Verslunarmannahelgi in Icelandic – brings together crowds from all over Iceland on the first weekend of the month. The biggest festival takes place on the Westman Islands. You can reach it by boat from Landeyjahöfn in the south of the main island. It’s located just a few hours drive from Reykjavík. Remember to book your accommodation well in advance on these dates!
The Dalvík Fish Festival in northern Iceland is held in early August and has gathered over 30,000 people in recent years. That’s ten times the usual population of this small town. In mid-August, you can also enjoy fireworks near the glacial lake of Jökulsárlon. It’s quite the show!
Iceland’s capital Reykjavik features a myriad of events. The Innipukinn Festival takes place on the first weekend of August, followed by gay pride, the dance festival, the jazz festival, the Lókal theater festival and the Reykjavík Marathon. Gay pride is a very popular event during which 100,000 locals and tourists take part in the festivities. It’s a family holiday full of good spirit where the Icelanders celebrate diversity and freedom. Gay pride attracts as many, or more, people as Culture Night, during which the city’s museums and cultural spots stay open all night.
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