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Full guide to Iceland in October: Weather and things to do

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

You've been dreaming of an epic adventure to Iceland, and October seems like the perfect time to go. With the weather getting cooler and the days getting shorter, you're ready to experience all the amazing things to do in Iceland in October.


From exploring stunning glaciers to soaking in geothermal pools. And what about witnessing the elusive Northern Lights? Iceland is full of exciting experiences that will leave you in awe. Whether you're an adventurous traveler or a culture seeker, there's something for everyone to enjoy in Iceland during October.


So, let's dive in and discover all the incredible things to do in Iceland in October that will make your trip unforgettable!


The Pros and Cons of Spending October in Iceland


To help you make your decision, we’ve compiled an overview of all the pros and cons visiting Iceland in October has:


Pros


  • The peak season summer crowds have gone, so you can rest assured that you won’t feel like you’re drowning in an ocean of tourists at attractions or venues.

  • Another perk of peak season having ended is that prices will be considerably lower.

  • You can still get all the summer benefits, with most summer attractions and activities still being open and available. This also includes roads and routes that are closed during winter. All the downsides of the summer months (overcrowding and overpricing) have come to an end.

  • There’s still more than enough daylight hours to have a jam-packed itinerary, but also enough darkness to finally see the Northern Lights again.

  • Temperatures still have not hit those all-time lows.

Cons


  • You’ll need to double-check operating hours. Now that the peak season crowds have left, many attractions, activities, and venues slowly transition to off-peak season operating hours. If you’re not careful, you might make a trip only to be met by a closed door.

  • Since daylight hours have become shorter, you won’t get to experience a midnight sun. If that’s on your Iceland bucket list, you’ll need to plan your trip for the summer months.

  • Temperatures might not have hit those all-time lows, but the weather has definitely turned. So. you can expect (at least) strong winds and rain on your trip.


Weather in Iceland in October


In terms of temperature in Iceland in October, you are looking at averages ranging between 2-7 degrees Celsius. That is not as cold as the winter months yet, but it may feel colder due to the wet conditions. Reykjavík in October may feel slightly warmer, but don’t be fooled. It’s only because the buildings offer a certain amount of shelter against the elements.


As we have already mentioned, October is a transition month and unlike September, it’s pretty apparent. Not only is the temperature dropping, but the legendary Icelandic winds and rainfall are really making themselves known. October is actually one of the wettest months in Iceland.


But it’s not all gloom and doom when it comes to the October weather in Iceland. Iceland’s daylight hours in October have dwindled to about 12 hours a day. That gives you more than enough time to still lock in many sights and activities. Instead, the increased hours of darkness almost guarantee you a sighting of the Northern Lights in Iceland in October.


The weather during October is actually the reason why there are certain activities available during fall in Iceland. Things such as exploring ice caves and hiking glaciers need these lower temperatures to ensure your safety during these excursions.


The Best Things to Do in Iceland in October


October is a fantastic time to visit Iceland, with fewer crowds and stunning fall colors. Iceland has everything, whether you're chasing the Northern Lights, exploring majestic glaciers, soaking in geothermal hot springs, or participating in cultural experiences. Here is a list of the best things to do in Iceland in October:


1. Experience the Northern Lights


One of the best things to see in Iceland in October is the iconic Northern Lights. Iceland is one of the world's best places to see the aurora borealis, and October is a prime time to witness this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon.


As the days get shorter and darker, the chance of seeing the Northern Lights increases. To increase your chances, head out to the countryside, away from the city's light pollution. Joining a guided tour is also a great way to learn about the Northern Lights and improve your chances of seeing them.


Don't forget to check the Aurora forecast regularly and dress warmly, as the nights can be chilly. Witnessing the Northern Lights is truly an unforgettable experience, and it's no wonder it's one of the best things to do in Iceland in October.


Northern Lights, Iceland

2. Visit the Famous Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa


If you're looking for things to do in Reykjavik in October, visiting the famous Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa should be on your list. This geothermal spa is one of Iceland's most popular attractions, known for its warm, milky-blue waters.


Surrounded by a stunning volcanic landscape, the Blue Lagoon is the perfect place to relax and unwind, especially during Iceland's cooler months. The spa's warm waters are rich in minerals that have healing properties, making it an excellent choice for those looking to rejuvenate their bodies and minds. Additionally, the Blue Lagoon is located just 40 minutes from Reykjavik, making it easily accessible for those staying in the city.


Whether you're looking to soak in the mineral-rich waters, get a spa treatment, or take in the breathtaking scenery, visiting the Blue Lagoon is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Reykjavik in October.


Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa

3. Take a Whale-Watching Tour From Reykjavik


One of the best things to do in Reykjavik in October is to take a whale-watching tour from the city's harbor. October is an excellent time to go whale watching in Iceland, as it's the peak season for spotting these magnificent creatures. Several whale species can be seen off the coast of Reykjavik, including:


  • Humpback whales

  • Minke whales

  • White-beaked dolphins


During the tour, you'll have the opportunity to see these creatures up close and take in Iceland's beautiful coastline. Many tour operators offer warm overalls, making the chilly Icelandic weather more bearable.


Whale-Watching Tour

Additionally, many of these tours have a sighting guarantee. You can go on another tour for free if you don't see a whale. Overall, taking a whale-watching tour is an excellent way to experience Iceland's stunning natural beauty and is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Reykjavik in October.


4. Go on a Glacier Hike in Skaftafell National Park


One of the most adventurous things to do in Iceland in October is to go on a glacier hike in Skaftafell National Park. October is a great time to explore this stunning park, with its crisp air and vibrant fall colors.


Skaftafell is home to several glaciers, including the Svínafellsjökull Glacier, one of the most popular spots for glacier hiking. During the hike, you'll see some of Iceland's most breathtaking natural scenery, including:


  • Ice caves

  • Crevasses

  • frozen waterfalls


It's important to note that glacier hiking is a physically demanding activity, and you should be prepared for the challenging terrain and unpredictable weather conditions. Therefore, a guided tour is recommended, including all necessary equipment, safety briefings, and experienced guides who will show you the best spots to explore.


Skaftafell National Park

5. Explore the Vatnajökull Ice Caves


Exploring the Vatnajökull ice caves is one of the best things to do in Iceland in October. These ice caves are only accessible during winter when the ice is stable enough for visitors to explore safely. October is the perfect time to visit these caves, as the ice is starting to form, and the caves are at their most beautiful.


The Vatnajökull ice caves are located in the largest glacier in Europe. They are known for their stunning blue and white ice formations. The caves can only be accessed by guided tours, which offer visitors a unique and unforgettable experience.


During the tour, you'll learn about the history and formation of the ice caves, and you'll have the opportunity to take amazing photos of the stunning surroundings. Exploring the Vatnajökull ice caves is one of the best things to do in Iceland in October, and it's an experience you'll never forget.


Best things to do in Iceland in October

6. Go on a Guided Super Jeep Tour Through Rugged Terrain


Going on a guided super jeep tour through rugged terrain is one of the most exciting things to do in Iceland in October. This tour allows visitors to explore Iceland's incredible natural beauty while riding in a specially designed 4x4 vehicle.


The tour takes you through some of Iceland's most remote and scenic locations, including the Highlands and the South Coast. Your experienced guide will take you off the beaten path to explore hidden valleys, glacier-fed rivers, and lava fields. You'll also get to see iconic Icelandic landmarks such as:


  • Þórsmörk

  • Landmannalaugar

  • Fimmvörðuháls


You'll learn about the country's fascinating geology, history, and culture during the tour. This experience is perfect for adventure-seekers who want to get up close and personal with Iceland's rugged terrain.



7. Visit the Gullfoss Waterfall and the Geysir Geothermal Area


When exploring Iceland, visiting the Gullfoss Waterfall and Geysir Geothermal Area is a must-do. In October, the fall colors add a vibrant touch to the already beautiful scenery. Gullfoss is known for its impressive size and power as it thunders down a two-tiered waterfall.


The Geysir area is home to bubbling mud pools and erupting geysers, including the famous Strokkur, which erupts every few minutes. This makes for a truly unforgettable experience. There are also plenty of hiking trails to explore in the area, allowing you to get up close and personal with the natural wonders of Iceland.


Visiting Gullfoss Waterfall and the Geysir Geothermal Area in October is a great way to beat the crowds of peak tourist season while still experiencing the best of Iceland. It's no wonder why these destinations are among the best places to visit in Iceland in October.



Geysir Geothermal Area

8. Go Dog Sledding in the Icelandic Highlands


If you're looking for one of the best things to do in Iceland in October, you should consider dog sledding in the Icelandic Highlands. This unique and exciting experience allows visitors to explore the rugged terrain of Iceland while being pulled by a team of Greenlandic Dogs.


You'll be guided by an experienced musher through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Iceland, including glaciers and mountains. The unforgettable experience gives you a unique perspective of the Icelandic Highlands.


Dog sledding in Iceland is a great way to connect with nature and experience the raw beauty of this stunning country. This is one of the best activities in Iceland in October, as the snow is just beginning to fall, and the land is still accessible by car.


Dog Sledding in Iceland

9. Drive the Golden Circle and Witness the Beautiful Landscapes


Driving the Golden Circle is one of the most popular things to see in Iceland in October, and for a good reason. This scenic route takes you through Iceland's most beautiful landscapes, including:


  • The stunning Gullfoss waterfall

  • The geothermal Geysir area

  • Þingvellir National Park


Along the way, you'll see glaciers, volcanic craters, and hot springs, surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Driving the Golden Circle is a great way to explore Iceland's natural beauty at your own pace. There are plenty of opportunities to stop and take photos or go for short hikes.


You can expect cooler temperatures and fewer crowds in October, making it an ideal time to visit. Just dress warmly and be prepared for the possibility of rain or snow. Driving the Golden Circle with your 4x4 Iceland camper rental is one of the best things to see in Iceland in October, and it's a must-do for anyone visiting this incredible country.


Gullfoss waterfall

10. Take a Helicopter Tour Over the Glaciers and Volcanoes


If you're looking for adventurous things to do in Iceland in October, taking a helicopter tour over the glaciers and volcanoes is a must-do activity. The breathtaking aerial views will give you an unforgettable experience of Iceland's rugged beauty.


You'll soar over glaciers, volcanoes, geysers, waterfalls, and lava fields. This thrilling adventure will give you a unique perspective on Iceland's landscapes you won't get from the ground. Helicopter tours typically last around an hour and can be customized to your preferences, whether you want to focus on glaciers or volcanoes.


This is also a great way to see Iceland's northern lights if you're visiting around October. The skies are darker this time of year, making it prime viewing season for the aurora borealis. Taking a helicopter tour is one of the best things to do in Iceland in October for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.



Helicopter Tour Over the Glaciers

11. Discover the Charming Streets of Reykjavik on a Walking Tour


If you're looking for things to do in Reykjavik in October, taking a walking tour is an excellent way to explore the city's charming streets. Reykjavik's compact size makes it perfect for walking. A guided tour will give you insights into the city's history and culture. Some of Reykjavik's famous landmarks include:


  • Hallgrímskirkja Church

  • Harpa Concert Hall

  • The Sun Voyager sculpture


You'll also learn about the city's culinary scene and have the opportunity to sample some local delicacies. In October, the fall colors add to the city's charm, and the crisp air makes walking even more enjoyable.


Reykjavik also has many cozy cafés and restaurants where you can warm up with a hot drink or a hearty meal. Don't miss out on this chance to explore one of Europe's most charming cities on foot.


Things to do in reykjavik in october

12. Learn About Iceland's Viking History at the Viking World Museum


If you're looking for intriguing cultural things to do in Reykjavik in October, consider visiting the Viking World Museum. Here you'll find a wealth of information about Iceland's Viking past and see a replica of the Viking ship that sailed to America in the year 1000.


The museum also features exhibits on the daily lives and customs of the Vikings, as well as their explorations and conquests. The knowledgeable staff and interactive displays make this museum an engaging experience for visitors of all ages. In addition to the museum's permanent collection, it often hosts temporary exhibits and events related to Icelandic history and culture.


Don't miss the opportunity to delve into the fascinating world of the Vikings during your stay in Reykjavik this October. A trip to the Viking World Museum is a must-see on any itinerary of things to do in Reykjavik.


 Iceland's Viking History


13. Visit the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Take a Boat Tour


If you plan a trip to Iceland in October, including a visit to the stunning Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon on your itinerary. This natural wonder is one of the best places to visit in Iceland in October, with the crystal-clear waters of the lagoon against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains and glaciers.


Take a boat tour to get up close and personal with the lagoon's massive icebergs and watch as they slowly drift through the water. The lagoon is also home to various wildlife, including seals, and is a popular spot for photography. In October, the crowds are smaller, making it a great time to experience the serene beauty of this natural wonder.


Visitors can also stroll along the nearby Diamond Beach, where pieces of ice that have broken off from the glaciers wash up on the black sand beach. A trip to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach is an unforgettable experience. It should not be missed on your trip to Iceland.


Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

14. Go Snowmobiling on the Langjökull Glacier


If you're looking for the best things to do in Iceland in October, consider snowmobiling on the Langjökull Glacier. This unique experience allows you to explore the vast frozen landscape of Iceland's second-largest glacier.


You can ride a snowmobile across the glacier, enjoying the stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The tour is led by experienced guides who will ensure your safety while providing interesting information about the glacier and its history.


The Langjökull Glacier is located in the western part of Iceland. Many tour companies offer snowmobiling tours that depart from Reykjavik or nearby towns. With its snowy expanses and breathtaking scenery, snowmobiling on the Langjökull Glacier is an unforgettable way to experience Iceland in October.



Snowmobiling on  Langjökull

15. Attend The Reykjavík International Film Festival


Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is a hub of culture and entertainment. One of the most exciting events in the city every October is the Reykjavik International Film Festival (RIFF). The festival brings together filmmakers and cinema enthusiasts worldwide to enjoy and celebrate the art of cinema.


RIFF screens a diverse range of films, including feature-length movies, documentaries, and short films. The festival also offers workshops, seminars, and Q&A sessions with filmmakers, providing an opportunity to learn from the best in the industry. One of the festival's unique features is its focus on showcasing Icelandic cinema and supporting local filmmakers.


Attending RIFF is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Reykjavik in October. It is a chance to experience the city's vibrant film culture and immerse yourself in an international community of cinema lovers. Whether you're a film buff or simply looking for an exciting and unique cultural experience, RIFF is an event not to be missed.


Things to see in iceland in october

Packing List When Traveling to Iceland in October


October is a transition month. This can be fairly confusing to someone visiting the island for the first time. We’ve then compiled this handy packing list that you can use as a guide:

  • Long waterproof winter coat

  • Waterproof jacket

  • Woolen sweater (pack one or two and then purchase authentic Iceland sweaters once you’ve arrived – super comfy and very warm!)

  • Waterproof pants

  • Waterproof hiking boots (it’s got nothing to do with whether you’re planning on going hiking or not and has everything to do with wet conditions)

  • Underwear

  • Thermal vests

  • Thermal leggings

  • Warm woolen socks

  • T-shirts & long-sleeved shirts

  • Casual pants (for the days you’re out and about in the city)

  • Warm hat (beanies work really well)

  • Warm gloves

  • Warm scarf

  • Bathing suit (for visits to the hot springs)

  • Quick drying towel (because you don’t want to be schlepping around cold, wet things)

  • Flip-flops (to use at the hot springs and any public ablution facilities)

  • Sunglasses

  • Water bottle (the island’s water is of such high quality that you only need to top up along your travels)

  • Toiletries & medications

  • Electronics: adaptor, power bank, chargers, cables, etc.


Top Things to Do in Iceland During October: Your Ultimate Bucketlist


Iceland in October is an unforgettable destination that offers endless opportunities for adventure, exploration, and relaxation. From witnessing the northern lights to exploring glaciers, waterfalls, and geothermal spas, Iceland has something for everyone.


We highly recommend renting a campervan in Iceland to make the most of your trip. A campervan will allow you to:


  • Have the freedom to explore at your own pace

  • Stay in remote locations

  • Wake up to some of the most stunning scenery in the world


Don't miss out on the chance to experience Iceland's natural beauty by renting a campervan for your October adventure.


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