Summer in Iceland: Top 12 Things to Do - Hotel Rangá


Red and pink hot air balloon over the exterior of Hotel Rangá with purple lupine flowers in the foreground.

Summer in Iceland: Top 12 Things to Do

Want to know more about what to expect on your summer trip to Iceland? Keep reading to learn about the amazing adventures and day trips you can book during your stay at Hotel Rangá.
Hotel Rangá on a bright summer day
Photo by Ingibjörg Friðriksdóttir

Summer in Iceland is the favorite season of many Icelanders, and it is easy to understand why. Wildflowers begin to bloom, the temperature gets higher and the days grow longer. This is the season of Iceland’s famous midnight sun. In fact, on Iceland’s summer solstice, it is as if the sun barely sets.

At Hotel Rangá, we love to share the summer fun with all our guests. Our reception staff can help you book the most amazing tours to see some of Iceland’s hidden gems. From waterfalls to black sand beaches, glacier summits and more – an Icelandic summer is one that you will not forget.

Hotel Rangá under the midnight sun
Hotel Rangá under the midnight sun. Photo by Ingibjörg Friðriksdóttir.

Explore during the day and spend your nights at our luxury property. Our Rangá Restaurant offers a gourmet dining experience that highlights local Icelandic products. What’s more, our geothermal hot tubs are the perfect spot to relax under the midnight sun with a speciality cocktail.

Hotel Rangá under the midnight sun
Photo by Ingibjörg Friðriksdóttir

Explore Under the Midnight Sun

During the height of an Icelandic summer, the sun barely sets. Instead, we experience a lovely perpetual dusk. This natural phenomenon is actually due to the elliptical nature of Earth’s orbit around the sun. For the northern hemisphere, the Earth’s axis is tilted towards the sun during summertime. Iceland’s long summer days occur because our country is located so close to the Arctic Circle.

Summer nights in Iceland feel a bit like a daydream, offering visitors the ability to experience some of Iceland’s most well-known destinations without the crowds. What’s more, the late night summer light is amazing for photography. Take a late night summer drive down the south coast and visit the waterfall Kvernufoss or the black sand beach at Reynisfjara. Don’t forget to bring your camera and try snap a few shots in the magical summer light.

Landmannalaugar South Iceland
Photograph by Paige Deasley

Visit the Highlands

The Icelandic Highlands are a hidden treasure filled with incredible geological formations, glacial rivers and mighty waterfalls. This fascinating area is most accessible during the summertime; however, you’ll need a 4×4 vehicle to access many sites. If you would rather get a ride as well as some expert information, we highly recommend that you book a guided tour to visit the Icelandic highlands.

Take a super jeep tour to Landmannalaugar, a national park filled with geothermal activity, epic hiking trails and colorful rhyolite mountains. Don’t forget to soak in the rustic Landmannalaugar hot spring, where Icelanders have been gathering to relax for hundreds of years.

Or visit Háifoss waterfall, a truly majestic sight located on the edge of the Icelandic highlands. Cascading over 122 m (400 ft), Háifoss is actually the second highest waterfall in the entire country. The falls are fed by the river Fossá which plunges over high cliffs down to a pool far below.

The Krossá River winds between mountains in the Þórsmörk Valley.
The Krossá River winds between mountains in the Þórsmörk Valley.

Take a Super Jeep Tour to Þórsmörk

Summer is a wonderful season to visit Iceland’s highland interior on a super jeep tour. In fact, we highly recommend that all our guests visit the stunning Þórsmörk nature reserve. This geological wonder is a study in contrasts – mighty mountains surround a lovely valley cut through with glacial rivers. Super jeep tours are incredible adventures that allow visitors to get off the beaten path and explore. As you drive, your knowledgeable guide will give you expert information about Þórsmörk. What’s more, you will stop and do some short hikes to better experience nature up close.

Two hikers stand atop a bluff overlooking a river valley on the Fimmvörðuháls trail.
Hiking the Fimmvörðuháls trail is rigorous but highly rewarding.

Hike the Fimmvörðuháls Trail

The Fimmvörðuháls Trail is one of the most challenging yet most rewarding hikes in south Iceland. We strongly recommend that all visitors book a guide to accompany them on this magnificent trek. It is possible to finish the 25 km (15 miles) hike in one day; however, it is essential to have good weather. Your guide will lead the way and ensure that you have all the proper hiking gear. As you hike, you will experience all kinds of landscapes – from grassy tundra to volcanic meadows and over 25 different waterfalls. Contact the Hotel Rangá Reception today to book your guided Fimmvörðuháls hike.

Shaggy Icelandic horses stand side by side.
The Icelandic horse has been isolated for centuries. Photo by Jack Anstey

Ride a Horse Under the Midnight Sun

During the summer months, a horseback ride is a great way to see the Icelandic countryside. The Icelandic horse is actually one of the world’s oldest and purest breeds. These special horses have been isolated for centuries, making them particularly unique. What’s more, they are the perfect companion for both novices and children. Ride through lava meadows, explore volcanic terrain and enjoy expansive views of the mountains, coast and countryside.

Another thing that makes the Icelandic horse unique is its ability to perform the gait known as tölt. This gait is extremely smooth and comfortable for the rider. As a matter of fact, not every Icelandic horse is able to tölt – those horses that have this special gait are considered special. Our Hotel Rangá receptionists can help you to book a ride at a local farm so that you can experience tölt for yourself. Send us an email to make a booking today.

Take a boat tour around the Westman Islands. Photo by Ingibjörg Friðrikdóttir.

Visit the Westman Islands

Vestmannaeyjar is an archipelago of islands located just forty-five minutes from Iceland’s south coast. The ferry ride from the mainland to the islands is incredibly beautiful; in fact, it is an unforgettable experience to sail into the islands’ harbor and see tiny sheep grazing on tall cliffs.

A day trip to the Westman Islands also offers some amazing hiking options – from the easier loop around the Eldfell volcano to the more difficult (and very high!) hike up Heimaklettur. Visitors to the island can also enjoy delicious dining and even visit a museum about the 1973 eruption of Eldfell.

A puffin sits on a bluff beside the ocean.
Puffins can be found in Iceland during the summer months. Photo by Ingibjörg Friðriksdóttir.

Have you always wanted to see a puffin? If you are visiting Iceland in the summer, you are in luck. As a matter of fact, the Westman Islands are home to the world’s largest puffin breeding colony. There is even a puffin observatory on the main island, Heimaey!

The first official flight Iceland's first fully electric aircraft.
The first official flight in Iceland’s first fully electric aircraft. Photo by Ingibjörg Friðriksdottir.

Fly Over Mountains and Glaciers

There is no better way to see Iceland’s fantastic landscape than from above. A helicopter can pick you up outside Hotel Rangá’s front door and take you on the ride of a lifetime over mighty volcanoes, ancient glaciers and powerful rivers. What’s more, our guests can even book a ride on Iceland’s first electric aircraft.

Friðheimar tomato greenhouse filled with rows of tomato plants.
Friðheimar tomato greenhouse offers guests the chance to try delicious tomato soup. Photo by Brent Darby.

Drive the Golden Circle and Visit Friðheimar for Lunch

A visit to Iceland isn’t complete without a drive around the famous Golden Circle. First, stop by Þingvellir National Park – a beautiful rift valley filled with fascinating geological formations due to the slow drift of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plate. What’s more, Þingvellir was the historical meeting site of Iceland’s Alþingi general assembly – starting as early as the year 930.

Next, stop by the Strokkur geyser that spurts boiling water into the air every 6 to 10 minutes. This fascinating event is due to unique geological conditions including volcanic activity. Just a short drive from Geysir is the mighty Gullfoss waterfall. If you are lucky, you might even see a lovely rainbow stretching cutting through the mist from the falls.

No Golden Circle drive is complete without a trip to Friðheimar Tomato Greenhouse. Indulge in steaming bowls of tomato soup inside the greenhouse itself. Dining beside the vines is especially cheery on a rainy day.

Gluggafoss waterfall in the Fljótshlíð valley in south Iceland.
Gluggafoss has both an upper and lower falls. Photo by Ingibjörg Friðriksdóttir.

Go Chasing Waterfalls

Iceland’s south coast is home to many stunning waterfalls. Be sure to visit Seljalandsfoss, where you can get up close and walk behind the falls. Just a bit further is Skógafoss, a mighty waterfall that is often wreathed in rainbows. And of course, don’t forget to stop by Gluggafoss–a lovely waterfall with both an upper and lower falls.

A buggy filled with riders drives across black sand with a view of the glacier Eyjafjallajökull.
Travelers driving a buggy across black sands underneath Eyjafjallajökull. Photo by Paige Deasley.

Buggy Tour to the DC-3 Airplane

Buggy tours are a unique and exciting way to enjoy Iceland’s natural beauty. Traverse remote parts of the countryside and experience Iceland’s stunning landscape up close. Feel the wind in your hair as you drive across a black sand beach or beside hidden waterfalls.

The abandoned DC plane on Sólheimasandur black sand beach in south Iceland.
The abandoned DC plane on Sólheimasandur.

You can even take a buggy tour to see the DC-3 plane wreck. Drive across black sands with a guide until you reach the rusted wreckage. Check out our blog post to learn more about the history behind the wreck. Or watch Justin Bieber’s “I’ll Show You” video to see him get up close and personal with the famous wreck.

Woman rides a snowmobile on the Eyjafjallajökull glacier in south Iceland.
A snowmobiling adventure on the Eyjafjallajökull glacier. Photo by Ingibjörg Friðriksdóttir.

Go Snowmobiling

Snowmobiling is usually associated with the wintertime, but in Iceland, you can zoom across snow-covered glaciers all year long. Take a guided snowmobiling tour on top of Eyjafjallajökull–the volcano-glacier that erupted in 2010. The fun adrenaline rush is made even better with incredible views of Iceland’s south coast.

A group of women clink glasses in the famouns Landmannalaugar hot spring on the edge of the highlands.
Soaking in the hot springs at Landmannalaugar is something you will always remember. Photograph by Paige Deasley.

Soak in a Hot Spring

Don’t forget to bring a bathing suit on your trip to Hotel Rangá–south Iceland is home to amazing natural hot springs like Landmannalaugar and the Reykjadalur valley. Or grab a glass of wine and soak in one of our geothermal hot tubs that overlook the beautiful Rangá River.

We have one last bonus activity for our Hotel Rangá guests. Take a walk beside the Rangá River and try to spot some of the birds that only visit Iceland during the summertime. If you don’t see anything, just close your eyes and listen. There is a good chance you will hear a bird call in the distance.

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