Aerial view of Reykajvik in June

Things To Do In Reykjavík In June

If you're visiting Iceland's capital city in June, then you've made a very good choice! There's no shortage of things to do in Reykjavík at this time of year, and visitors get to experience a striking phenomenon which results from Iceland sitting so high up on the globe: the midnight sun. 

At the solstice on June 21st, the sun dips just below the horizon at midnight and reappears only three hours later, with the sky in between forming a dusky twilight rather than proper nighttime. The stretched days that Iceland experiences throughout June — some 20 to 21 hours long — provide amazing opportunities to see more of the sights during your time with us.

Skyline of Reykjavik on a clear day

National Day of Iceland

Iceland is now an independent nation-state, but from the 13th century until the Second World War, ownership of the island passed back and forth between Denmark and Norway. Icelanders finally declared their freedom from Denmark on June 17th 1944, when the Danes were a little too busy dealing with their Nazi occupiers to protest much.

Ever since, Iceland has marked the day with Þjóðhátíðardaginn, or "The Day of National Celebration". In Reykjavík, you can watch marching bands lead parades through the streets and attend a big ceremony in front of Alþingi, Iceland's parliament. Each year, a woman is selected to be Fjallkonan (Lady of the Mountain), who appears in traditional Icelandic dress to address the crowd.

National Day 17 June in Reykjavik

To experience a moment of genuine Icelandic national culture, you should add Þjóðhátíðardaginn, June 17th, to your list of things to do in Reykjavík in June.

Reykjavík Arts Festival and The Fringe

The biennial Reykjavík Arts Festival will take place this year between June 1st and 16th. The event features every conceivable art form, from sculpture to dance, street theatre, and music, at various venues around the city.

Highlights this year include a new musical work from Jónsi, singer in the legendary Icelandic band Sigur Rós, and a concert by the genius English multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier.

Immediately following the Arts Festival is its more informal sister, The Reykjavík Fringe Festival, which runs from June 17th to 23rd. This festival offers an irreverent and more alternative take on the concept of an arts festival.

Festival of the Sea and The Underwater World

Fishing has long been an important activity for Icelanders, and since the 1930s, the first Sunday in June has been set aside to celebrate the brave and hardworking fisherfolk on whom this industry relies.

This year's Fisherman's Day (Sjómannadagurinn) falls on June 2nd, and you can join in the celebrations at Grandi, Reykjavík's old harbour. The Reykjavík Maritime Museum will be hosting a Festival of the Sea, which will include free admission to the museum and to the Óðinn coast guard vessel.

Festival of the Sea Reykjavík

You can also learn more about the close relationship Icelandic society has with the sea,  including the fish and mammals that live all around our coastline, in Perlan's Underwater World exhibit.

Fun on the Midnight Sun Run

If a city run under the midnight sun is your kind of thing, keep the evening of June 20th clear and sign up for a 5km, 10km or half-marathon event.

The Suzuki Midnight Sun Run takes place every year on or around the summer solstice, following a course through Reykjavík's Laugardalur valley. As the sun won't set until midnight, your evening run will be fully illuminated.

Viking Festival

Much is made of the first settlers of Iceland being marauding bloodthirsty Danes, and if that's your kind of thing then you'll love the Viking Festival which runs from the 13th to the 18th of June in Hafnarfjörður. (Technically that's the next town over from Reykjavík, but it's easy to get there on one of the city's Straeto public buses.)

Viking Festical in Reykjavík June

Viking mythology will be celebrated and lifestyles recreated by local historical enactment groups, with markets, food, storytelling and full-on battles in the town's Víðistaðatún Park.

Reykjavik in June FAQ

Is June a good time to go to Iceland?

The arrival of summer means that the weather is mild, and you're unlikely to see snow in low-lying areas of the island. That means that driving around Iceland is easy, you should be fine with a two-wheel drive hire car. Also at this time of year, the F-roads — unpaved gravel tracks in the Highlands — usually open for a few months, although you will need a four-wheel drive vehicle to tackle them.

The long days of summer mean that there's more opportunity to see the sights, and given that waterfalls, geysers and other natural attractions don't usually close overnight you can use the extra light to go early or late to avoid the crowds. Just be aware that your normal sleeping rhythms may be interrupted, making you unexpectedly tired. Make sure you bring an eye mask to help you get some proper sleep!

The coming of the best weather that Iceland has to offer means that all the island's seasonal outdoor activities are back on the tourist menu. Horse riding, trekking, kayaking and cycling are all possibilities, and year-round activities such as whale watching have become a lot more pleasant.,

Is Iceland cold in June?

Temperatures in Reyjkavík average around 9°C (48°F) in June, perhaps a little lower in more remote or coastal areas. However, in Iceland, the only predictable thing about the weather is its unpredictability, so temperatures can vary a good six or seven degrees Celsius in either direction!

One thing is for certain, however: the summer thaw is not good for Iceland's natural ice caves as it tends to cause them to collapse. As a result, it is not possible to visit most of these glacial beauties at this time of year.

However, fortunately, Perlan enables you to experience the wonders of an Icelandic ice cave through our ice cave and glacier exhibit, which is open all year round. Make a visit at the top of your list of things to do in Reykjavík in June, and marvel at the real 100-metre deep cave created using 350 tonnes of Icelandic mountain snow.

Man exploring Ice cave in Reykjavik

How should I dress for Iceland in June?

As always, when travelling in Iceland, take a flexible approach and expect the unexpected.

Layers are your friend in the land of fire and ice (and occasional sun), as you can add or take them off as the weather dictates. Bring warm base garments, such as athletic moisture-wicking t-shirts and long thermal underwear; even in summer, it can get cold when the wind whips up on a remote beach or hilltop.

On top of that, fleeces and lightweight water-resistant hiking pants will serve you well. Finish your outfit off with a decent rainproof jacket and hood; there's probably no need for a big down jacket in June, unless you want to feel extra snug. A good beanie and some gloves should see you comfortably through any particularly chilly moments.

Hiking boots or good walking shoes are a must; even if there is no snow, you will encounter tough terrain underfoot outside the city landscape of Reykjavík. 

Is Iceland very expensive?

Compared with wherever you come from, probably yes. 

In a country which naturally produces little more than sheep, fish and geothermal energy, most goods — including food — are imported, and that is reflected in prices.

Restaurants and bars tend to be more expensive than many international visitors might expect, but you can counter that by choosing self-catering accommodation.

What is the best time to see the northern lights in Iceland?

This happens all year round, day and night, but you do need dark night skies to see it. As June offers no real nighttime, only three hours of dusk, then you have no real chance of seeing the northern lights. You would be better off coming in December, when the situation is reversed and Iceland is plunged into darkness for up to 21 hours a day.

However, if you are in Iceland in June, then Perlan can offer you an amazing aurora experience through our northern lights show. Learn about the science and mythology of the aurora borealis in our high-definition planetarium, the only one of its kind in Iceland, by making a day out at Perlan one of your things to do in ReykjavÍk in June.

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