Essential Iceland Self Drive
Thanks to the currents of the Gulf Stream, Iceland’s climate benefits from a temperate oceanic influence. From June to August, discover the magnificent landscapes that have emerged from beneath the winter snows as the Icelandic nature emerges from its hibernation. During the summer months, migrating birds and marine animals regain the island’s coasts to take advantage of its long sunny days. At the gates of the polar circle, from mid-June to mid-July, the midnight sun, that never really sets, illuminates the bright nights of summer. In Iceland, from the summer solstice (June 21st) onwards, dusk falls at around midnight, and the peculiar clear night only lasts until 3:00 in the morning. At this time, day breaks and offers myriad opportunities for early risers!
The summer is without question the most beautiful season to visit Iceland. The fresh temperatures, radiant skies, and vibrant colours of the season’s natural settings make for ideal hiking conditions. Starting in July, the roads and trails closed during the winter on account of the snow reopen. This allows you to cross the central highlands and discover the untamed regions of the northern fjords. Iceland’s climate is characterized by sudden changes in weather and temperature. The constant struggle between Greenland’s polar gusts from the north and the hot and humid winds pushed up from the tropics are responsible for its unpredictable nature. In fact, there is an Icelandic proverb that sums this up nicely; “if you don’t like the weather, just wait around five minutes”! For travelling, this means that you should pack wind-breakers, wool sweaters, normal winter attire and of course a bathing suit, to forget about the harshness of winter while soaking in one of Iceland’s innumerable hot springs! Le wind, culprit behind the quickly changing elements, blows hard and often prompts snow and sand storms in Iceland’s interior. Finally, know that while in the northern regions it is often colder, the climate is more humid and temperate in the south.
In June the contrasting landscapes are at their most striking, and the weather its most stable. The grass is a rich green and the water from melting snows streams all around you. Most native birds nest during the month of June with its optimal day length. In this month rain is rare, and the sunshine is almost constant. Average temperatures stay between 7°C and 12°C (44.6-53.6 degrees F).
In July, the weather fluctuates more and rainfall is more frequent. The average temperatures will for the most part drift between 9°C to 14°C (48.2-57.2 degrees F) with occasional peaks of 20°C (68 degrees F). All the roads and trails that cross the country are now open for travel. In the middle of summer, lakes and cliffs are covered with birds. The summer season has reached its climax and all mountain huts, hostels, hotels museums and guesthouses are open for business and welcoming tourists and travellers. Because of this, it is wise to book things in advance (accommodations, activities, etc.).
The August temperatures are the same as those of July, but the weather is more stable. This is a pleasant period as the days are still long but there are already less tourists. The winged traffic on the cliffs also dissipates as migrating birds take off for their long journeys south in search of warmer temperatures. At the end of the month, real nights return, lasting from 22:00 to 5:00. The northern lights season begins in September and lasts through March, but if you’re exceedingly lucky, you may spot some in the end of August.