Things to Do in Iceland in June: Weather, Events and Festivals

Are you thinking of visiting Iceland in June? Here's my attempt to provide you with all information you need if you'll be spending some time in Iceland during the bright month of June.

June is the brightest month in Iceland and one of the mildest, in terms of weather. It’s no wonder that many tourists choose this time of year to travel to Iceland. Despite of that, I’d like to point out that since Iceland has a temperate climate, the summers are cool and the winters pretty mild. So don’t expect sweltering summer heat while you’re in Iceland.

June is the best month for experiencing the midnight-sun as the longest day of the year (summer solstice) is the 21st of June. If you’re spending some time in Iceland in late June, you will be able to enjoy almost 24 hours of daylight.

Apart from brightness and mild weather, there are usually a lot of events and festivals in the early summer and everyone should be able to find something exciting to do. In this article, I’ll try my best to cover everything you need if you’re visiting Iceland in June, from weather to local events.
 

The weather

I’m going to start this section with some real talk. I don’t know if you’re expecting it to be warm here in Iceland, but I’m just going to tell you that it never gets hot here. In Reykjavik, the average temperature for June is just 50°F (10°C). July is the hottest month in Reykjavik so if you’re looking for warm weather, late June is a safer bet than early June. The weather in the northern and eastern parts of Iceland tends to be slightly better than in Reykjavik during the summer while the temperatures in the highlands are significantly lower than in the lowlands and seldom go over 50°F. Keep that in mind if you’re thinking about visiting the highlands, whatever the season. 

People sometimes ask me whether we get a lot of sun during the summer here in Iceland. The answer is that usually we have to tolerate quite a lot of rain here during the warmest months. You can probably google “average rainfall in Iceland in June” if you want a precise number, but as a person that has lived in Iceland most of her life, I’m just going to tell you that there will be rain and you should keep that in mind when you’re packing. Having said all that, let’s move on to guidelines on packing for Iceland in June.
 

Packing and what to wear

Assuming that you didn’t skip reading the weather section, you probably know by now that Icelandic summers can be cold and wet. You will probably be spending a good amount of time outdoors during your trip so you have to be pack wisely. To make life easy for you, I’ll share two packing lists for June with you; one for outdoor activities and another one for urban exploring.

A woman with a black warm hat, looking at a waterfall in Iceland.
Bringing a warm hat is essential, even in June. Unsplash/Taylor Leopold. 
 

Hiking and outdoor adventures:

  • Thermal base layers (I prefer wool, but synthetic fabrics could also work)
  • Waterproof hiking pants
  • Waterproof/windproof jacket
  • A light down jacket (not a must, but if you have one you should definitely bring it)
  • Fleece/wool sweater
  • Buff/scarf
  • A warm hat
  • Gloves/mittens
  • Warm socks, preferably wool
  • Hiking boots
  • Trainers/sneakers
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • A backpack
  • A water bottle
  • Midge repellent is unnecessary unless you’re very sensitive to midge bites (midge is not a huge problem in Iceland and they generally do not bite)
     

Packing list for Reykjavik*:

  • Light footwear, such as sandals, ballerinas or loafers
  • A light summer coat/jacket
  • A light wool sweater
  • Jeans/pants
  • A t-shirt/tank top (in case you’ll get some sun)
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimwear
  • A water bottle (in Iceland, we drink water from the tap)

*I often meet travelers that regret not bringing better clothes for the “Reykjavik-part” of their trip to Iceland. Going to fancy bars or restaurants in a primaloft-jacket and hiking boots is something I would never do in Reykjavik, so if you want to blend in, I advise you to bring something a bit more appropriate for the city.
 

Annual events and festivals

Sjómannadagurinn – The Fishermen’s Day

A ship by the Old Harbour in Reykjavik, Iceland. By the Old harbour on Fishermen's Day. Travelade/Nína. 

The first Sunday of June is dedicated to one of Iceland’s most important professions; fishermen. As you probably know, seafood is Iceland’s biggest export, so our economy depends on the men and women working in the fishing industry.

Sjómannadagurinn is celebrated throughout the country, at least in towns and villages that are situated by the sea. If you’re in Reykjavik on the Fisherman’s Day, you should go to the Old Harbour and take part in the festivities.
 

The National Day – 17th of June

The icelandic flag. Flickr/Jennifer Boyer. 

The 17th of June is the National Day of Iceland. This date is an official bank holiday and there are celebrations pretty much everywhere. If you’re in Reykjavik, you should head to the city center or join the annual parade. There’s plenty of stuff to do for kids as well, especially at a public park called Hljómskálagarðurinn.
 

Concerts and cultural events

Listahátíð í Reykjavik – Reykjavik Arts Festival

June starts with one of the biggest festivals in the Icelandic culture and arts scene. The Reykjavik Arts Festival is a series of interesting events, celebrating various art forms (music, visual arts, dance, theater etc.). If you’re into culture and the arts, you should definitely not miss out on this superb festival.
 

Vaka Folk Festival

This is a four day music festival in early June, celebrating folk music (Icelandic and international). It takes place in Akureyri, the largest town of the northern region of Iceland. Check out more info here.
 

The Lobster Festival in Höfn

This is a typical local town festival that takes place in Höfn, which is a fishing village in southeast Iceland. Lobster is Höfn’s specialty and this 3-day festival is a celebrates this delicacy. Driving to Höfn from Reykjavik takes roughly six hours. More info about the festival can be found here.
 

Secret Solstice

A lively crowd at the Secret Solstice festival, which is held in Reykjavik, Iceland, every June. Photo: www.secretsolstice.com.

Secret Solstice is kind of the outdoor/summer-version of Iceland Airwaves. The focus is mainly on indie and electronic music, with some big headlines in between (Radiohead, Massive Attack, Bonnie Tyler and The Prodigy to name a few).

Secret Solstice Festival was an instant hit when it was first held in the summer of 2014. It has now become one of the largest music festivals in Reykjavik and it's both popular with locals and tourists.

The festival takes place around the summer solstice, when the sun hardly sets at all. An outdoor music festival during the bright nights of the arctic summer is simply an unforgettable experience – there's a strange sense of energy in the air. There are still tickets left for the 2018 event, you can buy a festival pass here.

The festival takes place in an outdoor area in Laugardalur, not too far away from Reykjavik's city center. A standard festival pass costs 198 Euros. You can also buy V.I.P. tickets with various add-ons, the most expensive one is 15.000 usd! 
 

Races and other sport events

The Color Run

Kids doused in colourful powder at the Color Run, which takes place in Reykjavik every June. Photo: thecolorrun.is.

The Color Run is a popular running event that takes place in Reykjavik in early June. I’ll explain this concept in a few words: people run a 5k route in downtown Reykjavik while being doused in colours. The mission is “to have fun”, not to be the first one to finish. This is a very popular and family-friendly event and the tickets often sell out. Check out this page for more info.
 

The Midnight Sun Run

Runners in a rural setting, taking place in the Midnight Run, Reykjavik Iceland.
Photo: marathon.is/midnight-run.

The Midnight Sun Run is an annual running event that takes place on the brightest day of the year—the 21st of June. This is an evening run, with the first races (21k and 10k) starting around 8pm. Of all the running events in Iceland, this is one of my favourite. You can check out the Midnight Sun Run’s website for more info. 
 

Tour of Reykjavik

Tour of Reykjavik is a cycling event that takes place in Reykjavik and stretches all the way to Thingvellir National Park. This race is designed to meet the needs of everyone, so it doesn’t matter whether you’re an advanced (or even a professional) cyclist or a beginner. Check out more here.
 

Hiking

Two hikers in colourful rhyolite landscapes at Landmannalaugar, Iceland. Hikers in Landmannalaugar. Unsplash/Davide Cantelli. 

June is one of the best months for hiking and other outdoor adventures. Finally it's the season to go on multi-day hikes in the Highlands, although there might still be more snow than later in the summer on some of the most popular routes. Here's a list of ideal hikes to do in June in Iceland: 

Tours

Whale watching

A humpback whale jumping from the sea.

June is a great month for whale watching. During the summers, the chances of spotting whales are generally higher, the weather is slightly better and bright evenings provide the opportunity to go on whale watching tours any time of the day. Here's a list of whale watching tours I recommend:

 

Sightseeing tours

Strokkur geyser erupting. Strokkur is located at the Golden Circle Route. The gorgeous Geyser erupting on a summer's day. Photo: Pexels. 

The unique landscapes in Iceland never look as good as in the summer. In my opinion, the early summer is the best time for a rural getaway here in Iceland. There are various day tours from Reykjavik you can select from, here are some of my favourite ones: 

Northern lights

Unfortunately, there is absolutely no chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis in Iceland in June. Since it's bright for almost 24 hours in this time of year, it does not get dark enough for the Northern lights to become visible. The Northern lights season is from late September to April.