Updated: Jan 23
Summer slowly gives way to fall and the majority of summer tourists leave the island. But there is still plenty to do during September in Iceland. In this article, we discuss why September might just be the ideal time to travel to the Land of Fire and Ice.
The hottest months (July & August) might be a thing of the past, but September in Iceland still has a lot of leftover summers to give. And with overcrowding tourists dwindling and peak season prices decreasing, planning a trip to Iceland in September might end up being one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. Let’s dig into what makes September in Iceland so great.
The Weather in September
Iceland’s daylight hours in September have already shortened quite a bit. So, if you’ve got “experiencing the midnight sun” on your Icelandic bucket list, you’ll either need to revisit traveling to Iceland in September. Or maybe make some amendments to your bucket list. But even though you might not be able to enjoy 24 hours of sunlight at a time, you will still be able to enjoy about 13 hours of daylight during September in Iceland.
And this is great news, considering that the Iceland weather in September is still good enough that it allows for a wide variety of activities. Although definitely colder, the temperature still ranges between 6-11 degrees Celsius. The chances of snowfall are little to none. The infamous Icelandic winds that feel like they will “huff and puff and blow your house down” are still in the distant future.
Just keep in mind that the local saying regarding Iceland weather “you can experience all four seasons in a day in Iceland” exists for a reason. The clothes you pack for Iceland in September should make you ready for any/all occasions. To make life a little easier, we have compiled a nifty packing list for Iceland in September, so you don’t need to wonder (and worry) whether you left any essentials behind:
Waterproof hiking boots
Warm wool socks
Hats (one to keep the cold at bay and another to protect against the sun)
Casual Jacket (a puffer jacket or parka would be ideal)
Quick-dry towel (you don’t want to be lugging around wet stuff)
Flip-flops (mostly to use at the hot springs and public restrooms)
Backpack (suitable for hiking as well as day outings)
Electrical device essentials: adapter, chargers, cables, power banks
September in Iceland: Your Last Chance to be Outdoors
With weather this fine and most summer attractions and activities still open and available, you have got to make use of the opportunity to spend as much time as possible outdoors. That is why two of the popular things to do during September in Iceland are road tripping and camping.
Road Tripping in September
One of the best ways to explore the island is by making a road trip out of it. And if you want to take it to the next level in terms of convenience and affordability, you rent a campervan to do it.
Most routes and roads that are otherwise closed in winter will still be open. But please discuss your possible routes with the rental agency, as certain roads are only accessible via 4x4 vehicles. We have a personal theory that the F-roads might be called that because of the expletives dropped by inexperienced and ill-prepared drivers. Some of the most popular road trip routes are:
Camping in September
Camping is yet another fun way to explore the island and keep accommodation costs down. In fact, it might be one of the most affordable ways to discover the island if you are traveling with your family and get yourself a Camping Card.
This card will give a family of 2 adults and up to 4 children access to a number of campsites across Iceland for a stay of up to 28 nights. When one considers that the Camping Card costs a once-off total of €159 and that one generally pays about $10 per person per night at a campsite, a Camping Card is definitely the way to go.
Some of the most popular camping spots around the island are:
Amenities: Café, computer lab, visitor’s center, parking spots for campervans and motorhomes, showers, free Wi-Fi.
Latrabjarg in Westfjords
Amenities: Kitchens, showers, barbecue pits.
Amenities: Showers and near to markets.
Amenities: Showers, cooking facilities and utensils, fishing equipment, boat rentals, wooden playground, water activities.
Amenities: Swimming pools, showers, cooking facilities, trampolines.
What Else Does September in Iceland Have to Offer?
It’s definitely not just road tripping and camping that’s on the cards when traveling to Iceland in September. There are plenty of other attractions, events, and activities to partake in such as:
Go on a Reykjavík Food Walk Tour
Spot the Northern Lights
Visit black beaches
Take a dip in a natural hot spring
Go on a volcano tour
See some waterfalls
Go on a glacier tour
Go whale watching
See if you can spot any remaining Puffins (keep in mind that when you’re visiting Iceland in late September, they will practically all have left already)
Explore the island via kayak
Take a hike
Attend a festival
Go horseback riding
Pick wild berries
Should I Go to Iceland in September?
Are you still on the fence about whether traveling to Iceland in September is the right move for you? Then take a quick look at some of the biggest pros and cons of Iceland in September to help you make your decision:
Pros of September in Iceland
September weather is generally still pleasant
Most roads and routes are open and road conditions are good
It’s the best of both worlds; daylight hours are still long, but short enough that one can view the Aurora Borealis
There are much fewer tourists, so overcrowding is not such a big problem
Since the summer season is essentially over and most tourists have left, prices go down and anything from flights to accommodation and attractions becomes more affordable
Since Iceland in late September has officially crossed over into fall, the already majestic landscape turns into a display of changing colors
Cons of September in Iceland
Because daylight hours are shorter, you won’t be able to experience a midnight sun
Since the seasons are changing, the chill can start creeping in
It’s not the optimum time for wildlife viewing since the Puffins and migratory whales have already started leaving
A Few Helpful Tips When Spending September in Iceland
We have compiled a few helpful tips to make your September trip the best it can possibly be:
Always Layer, Irrelevant of the Weather
Remember how we said that Icelandic weather can be pretty fickle? What might’ve started out as a sun shining morning might turn into an overcast and wet day, and vice versa.
That’s why you always need to be dressed and ready for any/all changes in the weather. The best way to do that is to layer your clothes. T-shirts underneath long-sleeve shirts underneath jerseys underneath jackets… you get the picture.
Double Check Operating Hours When in Iceland in Late September
One of the perks of traveling to Iceland in September is that peak season is coming to an end, with way fewer tourists and still plenty of summer activities. But this starts being a drawback when you’re visiting Iceland in late September.
From mid-September, certain attractions and activities start changing their operating hours to that of the off-season, winter months. That means that you might end up at a closed-door if you’re not careful. Always remember to contact the office/tour/venue etc. to double-check their operating hours and avoid disappointment.
Stop Buying Water
Buying bottled water during your September stay in Iceland is a complete waste of money. Iceland is known for its high-quality water all over the island. This means that if you remember to pack that water bottle on our packing list, you can top up as you go at your nearest tap.
Supermarket Beer is not Real Beer
Most visitors are used to being able to walk into their nearest supermarket and buy a bottle of wine or a beer. That’s why it seems to be a no-brainer to grab that Icelandic bottle of beer off the rack. But what many don’t know is that Iceland has a pretty strange relationship with alcohol, and drinking was basically a no-go ‘till recently.
Although the sale and consumption of alcohol are now legal in Iceland, you will find alcoholic beverages for sale in government-run stores called Vinbudin. The so-called beers you see in the supermarket are some kind of hybrid. These were manufactured to give the taste of beer, but without any intoxicating effects.
Waterproof Clothes & Umbrellas are Multi-functional
We are often met with confused stares when we advise visitors to bring along an umbrella and waterproof clothing – from jackets and pants all the way to hiking boots. Most would respond with “oh, but we’re not going hiking”. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t, but you need to be prepared.
And, besides, you’ll be surprised how wet Iceland is. The moment you move outside the cities and into remote, rugged terrain, you are met with a very muddy situation. And don’t even get us started on going to see some of Iceland’s most infamous waterfalls. Those who don’t come prepared with an umbrella and waterproof clothes end up looking like cats caught in the rain as they try taking photos in the mass amount of spray and drizzle.
Leave the Cotton Behind
Ever heard the saying “cotton kills”? Well, in Iceland it’s never been as true. Whether getting drenched by rainfall or waterfall spray, imagine being tightly cocooned in a cold, damp cloth that has no ability to “wick” moisture away from your body and pulls body heat away from your skin. Packing cotton for your Iceland trip is like pre-booking hypothermia.
Don’t Bring a Lot of Cash
Iceland is pretty much cashless. There are only a few times you’ll be using cash, such as when you need to tip guides. For any other payments, you will be required to pay with a card. So leave your wads of cash behind – it’ll be almost useless once on the island.
Take Your Time When Road Tripping
The question “how long does it take to drive around the island?” is the wrong question to ask. Technically, you can drive around the island in less than one day if you take the Ring Road.
Now, you won’t get to see most of the attractions and natural wonders that the route has to offer. We highly recommend that you take your time when road tripping. Something like the Ring Road can easily be extended to a week or two to take in all the sights.
Ask Your Rental Agency About Discounts
As the peak season has passed, you will often find that September in Iceland can mean quite a few deals to take advantage of. Generally speaking, vehicle rental agencies in Iceland have certain local alliances and partnerships that enable them to offer certain discounts to their customers – from gas to accommodation and activities. In September, you might just hit the jackpot of specials, so be sure to inquire at your rental agency.
Traveling to Iceland in September
If you are planning a trip to Iceland in September, you can rest assured that many believe it’s one of the best (and most affordable!) months to go. With plenty to do and pretty decent weather, September in Iceland means that you can still get the best of summer whilst heading into fall. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning the adventure of a lifetime!