A Full Guide to Iceland in the Fall
Updated: Apr 14
Fall in Iceland is a magical time that truly embodies a country going from busy and energetic to calm and serene. You can still indulge in most summer activities early in the fall but beware of the rapidly changing Icelandic weather. If not for the beautiful and colorful landscape, you should at least visit Iceland to take part in festivals and century-old traditions, or simply enjoy getting away from other tourists.
Visiting Iceland in the summer or winter is what most people prefer. However, the shoulder seasons shouldn’t be so easily discarded. Even though the weather isn’t the perfect winter wonderland or hot summer, you can still enjoy almost every tourist attraction. We compiled the important information below to make sure you visit fall in Iceland, armed with everything you need to know!
Fall in Iceland in Short
Iceland in autumn is a beautiful display of color and serenity. This is the season when the green forests and lush pastures slowly transition into vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red. On the days when the weather is calm and the sun is out, there is nothing better than wrapping yourself in a cozy scarf and walking through this magnificent display of color.
Autumn in Iceland is the season when life starts to settle down on this busy island, and people are getting ready to face a long and cold winter. The sheep and goat farmers are bringing home their herds and a huge number of tourists are leaving the island.
The fall in Iceland typically starts in August and goes on until the end of October. Most prices regarding travels and stays are dropping around this time of year before they pick back up again for the winter around November.
Weather in the Fall
Stretching over three months, the fall in Iceland goes from warm and calm summer with a nip in the air, to snow-mixed rain and winds that could blow to the glacier of a mountain. Still, for many, these are these best months to visit Iceland. Let's dive into the details.
August in Iceland still keeps a lot of the summer warmth lingering, and the weather is still very calm with the occasional wind and rain. With August temperatures holding around 10°C, you will feel a little bit of a nip in the air. However, if you’re sporting a jacket that can hold off the wind, and maybe a warm hat, then you won’t be bothered by the weather at all.
The real autumn in Iceland starts somewhere in September when the temperatures drop to around 7°C and the weather becomes more hectic. At this point, you’d want to have an extra layer of clothing on to keep the cold at bay, but you can still enjoy a lot of outdoor activities without getting too cold due to September's weather.
Bordering on a winter month, October in Iceland is when the weather takes a turn. You can expect the temperature to drop to 3-4°C and the weather in October mostly consists of hard wind and a lot of rain. At the end of October, you might also get the chance to experience the snow-mixed rains, which are basically rain, but heavier and much colder.
Driving in the Fall
First and foremost: the vast majority of roads will still be open for the beginning of the fall season. The F-roads usually close around the end of September, so it’s a good idea to keep off the highlands after that. However, you will still be able to safely have a trip around the island without any major issues.
As for the rest of the country, most roads are paved and in good condition, but you need to keep an eye on the weather forecast. Road conditions are heavily reliant on the weather, and in the autumn in Iceland, the weather can get pretty bad.
This means that some roads might be closed due to snowfall or light flooding (in the case of gravel roads). Remember, it’s never a nice addition to a vacation to backtrack several kilometers just because you didn’t keep an eye on the road info.
The wind plays a significant role in Iceland's fall weather, often reaching 10-15m/s and occasionally hitting 20m/s. It's crucial to monitor wind conditions, as driving in such strong gusts can be challenging, especially for those new to an RV rental in Iceland. However, if you happen to catch a tailwind, enjoy the fuel-efficient ride!
Remember to keep an eye on the road conditions in Iceland and check the weather forecast to plan your road trip.
Places to Visit in the Fall
You can visit almost any normal tourist attraction in Iceland in autumn. The only restricted parts of the country will be the mountain roads and some gravel roads around the country. See our list below for interesting places to visit in fall in Iceland:
Imagine Peace Tower in Viðey
Things to do in the Fall
Have you ever wanted to herd a huge number of sheep with hardened farmers in some of the most remote areas in the world? Well, look no more! Every year in fall in Iceland, the farmers gather family, friends, and willing tourists to go up to the mountains and gather their goats and sheep. This annual happening has been going on for hundreds of years.
When all sheep have been rounded up, they read their ear tags to see which sheep belongs to which farmer, and when all of that is done, they throw a huge party for everyone involved. This is probably one of the most Icelandic things you could ever take part in.
This is the time of year that we strongly recommend you take a hike. Literally, early autumn, when the highlands are still open for cars, and the weather is still reasonable, is the absolute best time of the year to hike. You’ll wander in a landscape that is packed with amazingly colorful shades of fall and still have the long daylight hours to enjoy the views.
Reykjavik International Film Festival
Each year at the end of September, Reykjavik hosts one of the largest and most diverse cultural events in the country. Since 2004, Reykjavik International Film Festival has shown more than 100 movies from over 40 countries, worldwide. A must for anyone with an ounce of cultural curiosity in them!
No Iceland vacation is complete without a proper visit to the hot springs. Be it in the wild or a spa, feeling the chill in the air while your body is submerged in the warm water is an unbeatable feeling. Add the colors of autumn and an amazing view to that, and any worries you have will disappear.
Northern Light Tours
In late fall in Iceland, the northern lights are starting their magnificent displays. Several tours are starting in late fall and you should really take the chance to go and chase the Aurora Borealis.
At the end of October or at the beginning of November in Iceland, this internationally renowned festival will take place. Icelandic Airwaves festival literally takes over Reykjavik and al
lows you to see both well-known artists and the new bands on the block.
Pick Mushrooms and Berries
In the middle of fall in Iceland, you can actually go and pick your own mushrooms and berries. Nordic people, in general, are very protective of their favorite berry and mushroom picking spots. Iceland is no different, but some will be generous and share their wisdom.
Reasons why you Should Visit Iceland in the Fall
The first and foremost reason why you should experience a colorful fall in Iceland is the better pricing. Iceland is notoriously expensive, so having a cheaper Iceland vacation that’s on par with a more expensive one is a no-brainer.
The second most important reason to visit Iceland in autumn is the lack of other tourists. Nothing says “good vacation” like having tourist attractions all to yourself. This also means that if you’re renting a campervan and going around Iceland, you won’t have to compete for space at the camping sites.
In the fall, you are also going to experience an equal balance between light and darkness since the midnight sun is disappearing and days and nights are becoming roughly the same length.
This means that you’ll be able to start spotting the northern lights, now with lower temperatures and dark nights. That is more likely to happen in the northern parts and closer to the winter, so going to Iceland in October is a good bet if you want a fall holiday and a chance of spotting the lights.