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A Summer in Iceland

If you find yourself in Iceland during the summer months, you will be spoilt for choice as there are plenty of activities available, helped by the extended daylight hours.

After the long, dark nights of the winter, Icelanders look forward to the summer and make the most of the opportunity to spend time with family and friends in the great outdoors. 

There are no shortage of festivities for you to take part in during this time of year. Independence Day, on 17th of June, is a nationwide celebration.

A 17th June party is also around the time when Icelanders might dust off their old barbecues, and serve up some of their famous hot dogs, SS Pylsur.

 Mid- to late-June is also the time of the summer solstice, which is when you might experience the midnight sun.

On a clear night, head out to a western part of the island and watch the sun approaching the horizon before beginning to rise again without fully setting. If you’re not used to sleeping when it’s still light outside, you might need an eye mask!

While school children enjoy long holidays, teenagers and adults will typically work for the majority of the summer.

However, on the first Monday of August is Verslunarmannahelgi, a long weekend initially intended for the country’s merchants. Today, it’s become part of the summer calendar for everyone.

This weekend is packed with events across the country. Many Icelanders try to get away for the weekend, to a sumarbústað [summer house] or on a camping trip.

There are also several large open-air festivals, such as Þjóðhátíð, a popular one for young people which takes place annually on Vestmannaeyjar (an island just south of mainland Iceland).

For those who want to stay in Reykjavík, there’s a weekend-long festival there too, called Innipúkinn, which might be translated to ‘homebody’.

Make sure you visit the open-air pools and thermal baths and then treat yourself to ice cream afterward.

The text was written in December 2019.

Short bio of the volunteer:

My name is Hrafnkatla, usually known as Katla. I’m originally from Iceland but have also lived in Scotland. From October until May I’ll be interning at the University of Madeira in their heritage programme. I’m looking forward to experiencing a winter that doesn’t drop below 0 degrees Celsius!



Erasmus+ is a program of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth, and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the program acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3 (KA3) which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.