When most people are deciding when to visit Iceland they decide between two seasons, winter or summer. While both of these seasons are great to visit Iceland for very different reasons there is one season that we think gets overlooked …
From September to October Iceland becomes an autumn wonderland with the vegetation changing from bright greens to rich shades of orange, yellow and reds. A season that doesn’t stick around for long in Iceland, but the short time we do experience it is quite glorious, the autumn months are a wonderful time of the year to visit Iceland.
If you are looking for the perfect travel destination for the autumn months we have 6 great reasons why Iceland should be at the top of your list!
1. Mild Weather
A key factor for many when it comes to figuring out the best time to visit Iceland, the weather. We get it, not everyone enjoyes the sometimes stormy Icelandic weather. You may want to come to Iceland to find weather conditions that are great for exploring the countryside.
While the summer months boast the best weather in Iceland, the autumn months of September and October still offer mild weather conditions. In September you will find an average temperature of 10-12°C (50-55°F) and in October the average temperature is around 7°C (44.6°F). We won’t lie, there will very likely be some stormy autumn day’s thrown into the mix with the fair share of rain and wind. But, there can also be some extremely beautiful sunny calm days that will keep you out exploring all day long.
On top of the mild temperatures, the autumn months have just the right mix of daylight hours and darkness. During this time period, there is an average of around 11-13 hours of daylight. This means you won’t have to face the challenge of fitting everything you want to see in the 5 short hours of daylight in the winter, and you won’t struggle to fall asleep at night with the bright Midnight Sun shining through your windows, a win-win. Enjoying the mild weather in a peaceful farm stay accommodation is just wonderful.
2. Beautiful Autumn Colors
Iceland might not be covered in trees, but there is plenty of other vegetation that really brings out the autumn colors. From bushes that turn from green to the most beautiful deep red, trees with leaves that pop in yellows and oranges; and have you ever seen moss in the autumn? That is another layer of beautiful autumn colors on its own.
Visiting popular locations around Iceland during the summer months is lovely with everything lush and green, but during the autumn months, the landscape is taken to a whole new level with the addition of the autumn colors adding something a bit extra. Just imagine a waterfall surrounded by autumn colors, that is a sight to be seen.
The only downside to the autumn colors, they don’t stick around very long, especially when those autumn storms bring strong winds. So don’t waste any time getting up to Iceland and exploring around the autumn colors, you won’t want to miss seeing the beautiful show nature puts on as it transitions from summer to winter. Our B&Bs are located in the Icelandic countryside, which boasts of the most stunning autumn colors.
3. Northern Lights
The crisp air and changing colors don’t just bring out wool sweaters in Iceland. This change in the season marks the return of the magical Northern Lights! Starting in early September the Northern Lights can be seen dancing across the sky, this natural wonder alone is enough to bring you to Iceland.
Those that have “see the Northern Lights” on their bucket list tend to think that this will only be possible if you visit Iceland in the midst of deep winter. While it is definitely a great time to visit Iceland if the Northern Lights are high on your list, the autumn months can be an amazing time to view them as well. The mild weather the autumn months bring means there is an increase in chances that the night sky will be clear from cloud coverage, something that is very important when it comes to your chances of seeing the Northern Lights. Of course, you can never trust the Icelandic weather to fully cooperate, but chances of a clear night can be quite high during the autumn months.
An added bonus of Northern Light chasing during the autumn, with the mild temperatures you won’t find yourself with numb fingers and toes as you wait for the lights to make their appearance. This just means you can stay outside even longer enjoying the show the dancing lights will put on. So why not take a trip in the autumn time and hopefully skip all those winter storms and enjoy multiple nights of the Northern Lights? To maximise your likelihood of spotting the magical Aurora, staying in a Northern Lights friendly accommodation is key. They put in a little extra effort to help you spot the lights and take good care of you when they appear.
4. More space for yourself
The summer months might have the best weather for exploring around Iceland, but this means everyone has the same idea to visit during this time making many popular locations quite crowded. The waterfalls in Iceland are a magical sight to see no matter what, but sharing it with the three tour busloads of people at the same time can kind of put a damper on the moment. Instead, opt for a visit to Iceland during the offseason autumn months and get to enjoy that same waterfall with few others around!
Nothing is more magical than getting to enjoy nature how it should be, in peace with few others around!
While the autumn months are considered the offseason when it comes to tourism in Iceland, this doesn't mean that things are completely dead quiet around here. While you won’t have to deal with the same crowds the summer months bring there will still be life abuzz around the country, especially in the capital city of Reykjavik. Icelanders haven’t quite settled in for winter hibernation and the mild temperatures keep visitors out and about exploring.
If you enjoy having some action around you, but don’t want to deal with too big of crowds, the autumn time is a great time to get a perfect balance while visiting Iceland. And if you want an accommodation where you are your own boss, we have some self-catering options for you.
5. Autumn is Festival Season!
If you enjoy checking out local festivals and events while traveling you will enjoy the fun festivals that happen in Iceland during the autumn months. From sheep roundups to music festivals, here are a few of the main events happening during the autumn months that you will want to be sure to add to your calendar!
If you are looking to experience a unique festival while in Iceland Réttir is where you want to be! One of Iceland’s oldest cultural traditions, Réttir is the annual sheep round-up held in September. All over the country, you will find different Réttir occurring, usually over the weekend, where farmers, family and friends gather together to bring back the sheep to the farms from the mountains. Don’t worry it isn’t all work, to celebrate the day’s hard work there is dancing and signing in the evening known as Réttaball. Celebrating the rounding up of the sheep from the mountains with Icelandic farmers and locals, this is guaranteed to be one unique experience you won’t forget.
Photo: Helgi Rúnar Olgeirsson
Even Iceland gets in on the Oktoberfest fun! For one weekend in September, there are several large tents set up outside of the University of Iceland where for three days Iceland celebrates its own Oktoberfest. Each evening the festival has some of the biggest musicians in Iceland performing, it is a fun way to party with the locals while enjoying some good music, and of course a few beers.
One of Iceland’s internationally known festivals, Iceland Airwaves is a weeklong music festival held in early November that includes established and emerging Icelandic bands as well as international performers. Concert venues are set up all over the city, from inside local cafes to the large concert hall Harpa. Not wanting to get a pass for the festival but still interested in listening to some music? Be sure to check out some of the off-venue performances, there are plenty of performances to check out free of charge at locations all around Reykjavik. If you want to be located in Reykjavík, but still experience the tranquillity of the countryside, we have accommodations for you in the Reykjavík area too.
For more information on different events happening in Iceland during the autumn months you can find a full calendar of events here.
6. Lower Costs on Travel Expenses
It is no secret that Iceland is not exactly a cheap country to visit. Add in traveling to Iceland during the peak tourism time period and these prices get higher with flights and accommodation in high demand. If the travel expenses have kept you from visiting this beautiful country we have an insider tip for you, traveling during the autumn months will bring more value on things such as flights and accommodation. Time to make that Iceland trip happen!
Since the autumn time is an off-peak period for tourism many airlines will have special offers for flight packages to Iceland. And with the decrease in numbers visiting it makes it easier, and more affordable, to find accommodation in the budget you are hoping to keep as many places are lowering prices to rent out the rooms they still have available. Be sure to check out our wide variety of accommodation options at Hey Iceland to help you find the perfect option for your budget. Lastly, keep a lookout for tour package deals as again tour companies are looking to fill spots and offer special offers during this time, so you might be able to cross off those bucket list items and stick to your budget! If you need help making the most of your budget, let us know and we will find the perfect accommodation for you.
Vibrant autumn colors, fewer crowds and the weather is still great for exploring, the autumn is an amazing time to be in Iceland!
If you are visiting Iceland this autumn make sure to tag us at #heyiceland so we can see all the beautiful images you capture of your trip.