The month of July is the height of summer in Iceland. Even though technically the days have started to get shorter again (even though we still get around 20 hours of daylight), July still has that feeling of endless days that makes the Icelandic summer so extraordinary. The average temperature in Reykjavik is 15°C but judging by the sun-thirsty Icelanders who will lay out in the gardens and sit in the outdoor cafés at the mere suggestion of sunlight, it feels much hotter. The hottest day ever recorded in Iceland was in was in Modrudalur in East Iceland in 1901, when the heat went up to a balmy 38°C!
July is festival time in Iceland. All over the country, towns and cities celebrate the summer in style and every corner of the country comes alive. The warm weather and the midnight sun ensure the festivities can continue into the wee hours. The second week of July the metal festival Eistnaflug takes place in Neskaupsstaður in the East Fjords. Renowned for its friendly, safe atmosphere this festival is a favourite among locals. For those with more sensitive eardrums the indie/folk festival Braedslan might be more tempting. Taking place at the end of the month Braedslan is held in the stunning Borgarfjordur Eystri fjord and attracts Icelandic and international artists alike. This year saw the debut of a new festival on the circuit, The Reykjavik Fringe Festival, where theatre-makers, stand up comedians and other stage artists showcased their skills for appreciative audiences in the city. Up north, the Akureyri Art Summer starts at the end of June and runs through August. It’s the perfect opportunity to get to know fresh young artists in the countryside. In addition to the bigger festivals, towns all over the country celebrate various festivals throughout July, like Irish Days in Akranes, Candy Days in Husavik and Home to Budardalur in Budardalur.
Roads over the remote highlands open for traffic in July, giving visitors the opportunity to visit the rugged heart of Iceland. Adventurers can finally experience the majestic Kjolur and Sprengisandur and hiking in Landmannalaugar and Thorsmörk is highly recommended. In fact July is the perfect time to get in touch with nature in an intimate way. When driving in July please be careful of the sheep. Icelandic sheep roam free in summer and in July the little lambs have grown into curious teenagers and have a tendency to ignore traffic rules.
If you’re travelling to Iceland in July, you can pretty safely leave your parkas and snow-boots at home. However, since it tends to get colder in the evenings bringing a light jacket with you is advisable. Don’t forget your sunglasses since it stays light out basically all day and night. As always shoes that are good for walking in are a must, and if you plan on any sort of hiking then bring your hiking boots. Glacier and caving tours are available a year round so if you plan on visiting the icy heights or delve into the damp underground, a hat and gloves are a pretty good idea.