The winters might steal most of the headlines, but summers in Iceland offer just as many unique experiences. From snorkelling in the rift between continents to galloping across remote landscapes under the light of a midnight sun, we’ve picked out our five favourite unforgettable Iceland in summer experiences.
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Ever looking for the next great adventure, Iceland decided the one thing more adventurous than clambering over volcanoes was to lower visitors inside one. Thankfully, the chance of being cooked is low as the volcano in question, Thrihnukagigur, hasn’t erupted in 4000 years. The inside the volcano experience brings you 700ft through an open crater into the heart of the volcano. Once inside you can clamber over lava rocks and explore the burnt reds, yellows and oranges of the magma chamber. You can only descend into the volcano during the summer season in Iceland as conditions make it too difficult to run the tour during winter.
The north east of Iceland touches the edge of the Arctic Circle, and during the summer months the sun never sets here– casting a unique golden glow over this remote landscape. It’s an area of the country that is utterly rural, with few residents and just a handful of small fishing villages, and your best bet for exploring is to hop on horseback. Join Ishestar on their seven-night Towards the Artic Circle tour which will take you across the fjords and glacial rivers of the Melrakkasletta peninsula. Or, if seven nights bouncing around by horse sound too much, they also offer one-hour late night riding tours from their stables near Reykjavik – where you’ll still see a bright twilight.
Thingvellir is one of the highlights of any trip to Iceland, whenever you travel. It’s a landscape that tells the tale of Iceland. This rift valley of sulphuric lakes and hardened lava fields is where the tectonic plates of Eurasia and North America are pulling apart – it’s the earth literally creating new land. The gap between the plates has widened over time and in summer, when the ice and snow have melted, you can snorkel in the Silfra fissure – an underwater adventure between the continental plates.
Scientifically proven to be about the cutest birds on earth, Iceland has the largest puffin colonies in the world and there are half a dozen secluded islands where you can see them waddling around and dive bombing under the waves. But you’ll need to come in summer, as the puffins pack their bags and head for the open water from late August onwards. The fastest route to a puffin experience is to join the Puffin Express trip from Reykjavik, which will get you up close to the birds and provide a guide to talk you through all the goings on in the colony.
What does Iceland look like in winter? White, white and more white. Come in summer and you’ll be able to see this spectacular landscape in all of its glory. Bus tours into the Icelandic interior abound, but take to the air in a helicopter to explore the country’s remoter regions where buses fear to tread. The pilots at Nordurflug Helicopter Tours spend most of their time helping the likes of the BBC and the Discovery Channel get a bird’s eye view of the landscape, but they also run about a dozen sightseeing tours. Try their Waterfall and Valley tour which lands at Hengill – only accessible in summer. This volcano hasn’t erupted for 2000 years but it still shapes this incredible landscape with streams of boiling water cutting through the mossy hills and pockets of steam and hot mud bursting through the rocks.