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Guide to Iceland in September

Updated: Apr 5

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 Iceland in September 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.

September in Iceland

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 in Iceland in September

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.

September Winds and Rain

September is the end of summer, and it clearly shows all over Iceland. As the winds pick up, the rain comes down, and the little summer warmth that Iceland has begins to disappear. The weather in Iceland in September is characterized by the general idea of how Icelanders view their weather and climate. The ancient saying “You can experience all four seasons in a day” will make a whole lot of sense during this month.

The weather in September in Iceland can still be pleasant in the beginning, but that is often over before you have time to unbutton your jacket. The truth is that September is a transition month between the calm summer and volatile winter. And know that there is nothing “smooth” about the transition that Iceland has during the fall. Expect rain and the emergence of the infamous Icelandic winds that will make any umbrella redundant.

The Reykjavík weather in September will be extra windy since it’s a coastal city, so be weary if you rent a motorhome. The buildings will often shield you from the wind, but other times they might funnel the winds between the buildings and make them stronger.

September Temperature

There is a reason why Icelanders are well known for their knitted wool sweaters. September is one of the sweater weather months. Depending on where you’re from, if you look at the weather and climate of Iceland, every month might be sweater weather month.

The temperature in Iceland in September can vary between 5°C and roughly 12°C. This is, however, not accounting for how cold it can get with the arctic wind sweeping. Neither when the sun making a surprise appearance and pumping up the temperatures a few degrees for a few minutes. The Iceland temperature in September is therefore not to be trusted to keep any sort of stability.

Even though the average temperature in Iceland in September is impossible to determine, the capital might offer some relief. If you are staying in the capital, you might get the warmer part of the deal since you are often a little bit shielded from the elements. The temperature in Reykjavík in September can therefore be a degree or two higher than in many parts of the rest of the country.

Iceland in September packing list

Iceland in September: 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 motorhome rentals, showers, free Wi-Fi.

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.

Things to do in Iceland in September

1. Immerse Yourself in Iceland's History at the Saga Museum

The Saga Museum in Reykjavik is a must-visit for those interested in Icelandic history and culture. Through its interactive exhibits and lifelike wax figures, visitors can learn about Iceland's past and experience its rich history.

Here are some reasons why the Saga Museum should be on your list of things to do in Reykjavik in September:

  • Learn about Iceland's history: From the Viking Age to the settlement of Iceland, the museum provides insight into the country's fascinating past.

  • See lifelike wax figures: The museum's collection of historical figures brings Iceland's history to life and provides an immersive experience.

  • Interactive exhibits: In case of inclement weather, the museum also features interactive displays and audiovisual presentations to engage visitors further.

2. Explore the Golden Circle Route

Exploring the Golden Circle Route is one of the best things to do in Iceland in September. The route encompasses some of Iceland's most stunning natural attractions. From cascading waterfalls to explosive geysers, it's a must-see for any Iceland adventure.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Visit Þingvellir National Park: The site of Iceland's first parliament, Þingvellir is home to a stunning rift valley caused by the separation of tectonic plates.

  • Witness the Strokkur geyser: The Geysir Geothermal Area is home to the famous Strokkur geyser, which erupts every 4-8 minutes and shoots water up to 30 meters/98 feet into the air.

  • Marvel at Gullfoss Waterfall: The Hvítá River cascades over two drops at Gullfoss Waterfall, creating a powerful spectacle.

  • Enjoy the scenery: Drive the Golden Circle Route and enjoy the breathtaking Icelandic countryside.

3. Go Whale Watching in the North Atlantic

One of the best things to do in Reykjavik in September is to go on a whale-watching tour in the North Atlantic. The waters around Iceland are home to a wide variety of whale species, including humpback whales, orcas, and minke whales.

Here's why you should go whale watching in Reykjavik in September:

  • Observe whales up close: Get a close-up view of these majestic creatures in their natural environment.

  • Relax on the boat: Enjoy the views of the Reykjavik harbor and Icelandic coastline from a boat.

  • Get great photos: Capture incredible shots of whales in action as they swim, play and breach the water's surface.

  • Experience mild weather: September is a great time to go whale watching as there are usually calm seas and mild temperatures.

4. Hike in Þingvellir National Park

Hiking in Þingvellir National Park is one of the best things to do in Iceland in September. The park is home to a stunning rift valley formed by separating the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Explore the lava fields and trails: Wander through the park's lava fields, enjoy stunning views from vantage points, and hike its numerous trails.

  • Discover the Silfra fissure: Diving or snorkeling in the crystal-clear Silfra fissure is a great way to explore the park's remarkable geology.

  • Öxarárfoss waterfall: The stunning Öxarárfoss waterfall is located near the visitor center and is accessible via a short hike.

  • Almannagjá: This beautiful canyon with a walking path following the fault line between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates is a must-see.

  • Drekkingarhylur (Drowning Pool): This pool has a dark history, as it was once used to drown accused witches. The pool is located just a short walk from the Visitor's Center.

6. Go on a Glacier Hike

Exploring the glaciers of Iceland is one of the most thrilling things to do in Iceland in September. The vast ice caps of the country are home to some of the most beautiful landscapes and sights in the world.

Here are some of the best glacier hikes in Iceland:

  • Vatnajökull glacier: Hike through Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajökull, with its stunning blue and white ice formations.

  • Fjallsárlón glacier lagoon: Enjoy a unique experience on an ice cave tour at this stunning blue lagoon in Vatnajökull National Park.

  • Langjökull glacier: Climb Europe's second-largest glacier and explore its snow-covered terrain.

  • Svínafellsjökull glacier: Trek this glacier south of Vatnajökull National Park and explore its jaw-dropping ice formations.

7. See the Northern Lights

Seeing the Northern Lights is another must-do in Iceland in September. The Aurora Borealis can be seen from mid-August to late April, with the best viewing times from late September to March. The mesmerizing lights can be seen all over the country, with some of the best spots being: Thingvellir National Park, Reykjavík, Seltjarnarnes Peninsula, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and Akureyri.

To give yourself the best chance of seeing the lights, here are some tips:

  • Stay away from artificial light sources: Darker skies give you the best chance of seeing the lights, so go to a secluded spot away from city lights and light pollution.

  • Check the Aurora forecast: Keep an eye on the Aurora forecast to give you the best chance of seeing the lights.

  • Dress warmly: The nights in Iceland can be quite cold, so layer up with warm clothes and bring a hot chocolate or coffee thermos.

8. Visit the Westfjords

The Westfjords is a stunningly beautiful region in northwest Iceland, home to spectacular landscapes and unique wildlife. It is a popular spot for hiking, fishing, and birdwatching, with some of the best trails in Iceland.

Here are some of the top things to do in the Westfjords:

9. Go Horseback Riding in the Icelandic Countryside

If you’re looking for things to do in Iceland in September, then why not go explore Iceland's stunning countryside on horseback? Several riding schools offer guided tours around some of the most beautiful places in Iceland. You'll get to see anything from lava fields to geothermal areas and glaciers.

Here are some of the best riding tours to take:

  • Red Lava Horse Riding Tour: Explore the incredible volcanic landscapes of the south on horseback and admire stunning views of glaciers, lava fields, and geothermal areas.

  • Afternoon Viking Horseback Tour: Experience the versatility of the Icelandic horse on an afternoon Viking Horseback Tour! Explore the Reykjanes Preservation Area and admire stunning views of glaciers, lava fields, and geothermal areas.

10. Check Out the Black Sand Beaches of the South Coast

The South Coast of Iceland is home to some stunning black sand beaches and is a must-do in Iceland in September. The stunning Reynisfjara Beach near Vík is one of the most popular beaches in Iceland, featuring dramatic basalt columns, high waves, and powerful sea stacks.

Other top beaches to check out are:

  • Diamond Beach: Located near Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach is covered in chunks of glistening ice washed up on shore.

  • Lóndrangar: This dramatic basalt cliff on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

  • Sólheimasandur: An abandoned American plane crash site, this beach is one of the most surreal places in Iceland.

11. Go Kayaking in the Fjords

Kayaking in Iceland's fjords is a thrilling experience, and September is a great time to do it as the weather is usually calm and mild. It is also one of the most peaceful ways to explore Iceland's stunning coastline and get close to glaciers, icebergs, and marine life. There are plenty of kayaking tours, ranging from family-friendly excursions to multi-day expeditions.

Here is why kayaking is one of the most popular things to do in Iceland in September:

  • Experience stunning views of glacier-carved fjords: Paddle through the crystal clear waters of Iceland's fjords and admire spectacular views of the glaciers and mountains.

  • Spot wildlife: Kayaking in Iceland's fjords allows you to spot dolphins, whales, puffins, and other marine wildlife.

  • Explore hidden coves and caves: Cruise along the coastline and explore hidden coves and caves, some of which are only accessible by kayak.

12. Experience the Reykjavík Nightlife

Experiencing the nightlife in Reykjavík is one of the best things to do in Reykjavik in September as the city comes alive with music, dancing, and partying. There are many bars, clubs, and pubs to choose from, offering live music, DJs playing different genres of music, and craft beer. From classic pubs to trendy bars, Reykjavík has something for everyone.

Here are some of our favorite spots:

  • 12 Tónar: Experience the Reykjavík nightlife like a local at 12 Tónar! Established in 1998, this legendary record store and label is located in the heart of Reykjavík. They offer live music, DJs playing different genres of music, concerts, and more.

  • Vedur Bar and Café: At Vedur Bar and Café, you can experience the best seasonal cocktails, a fantastic selection of wines and beers, coffee, charcuterie, cheese, and olives! They also have a Happy Hour every day from 4-7:30 PM.

13. Take a Ferry to the Island of Flatey

The island of Flatey is a hidden gem located in Breiðafjörður Bay, off the coast of Iceland. With only a handful of permanent residents, Flatey is a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of modern life. One of the best ways to get to the island is by taking a ferry from Stykkishólmur, a charming town on the Snæfellsnes peninsula.

Here is why Flatey Island is a must-do in Iceland in September:

  • Scenic ferry ride: The ferry ride from Stykkishólmur to Flatey takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and sea.

  • Wildlife sightings: Watch for whales, dolphins, and seals during the ferry ride.

  • Explore the island: Flatey is a small island that can easily be explored on foot. Stroll through the quaint village and admire the colorful houses and churches.

  • Birdwatching: Flatey is a popular spot for birdwatching, especially during the spring and summer.

14. Stare Down A Volcano at Krafla Volcano

The Krafla volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Iceland. It offers the perfect opportunity to experience volcanic forces up close. This impressive volcano is located in northeastern Iceland with lava fields and geothermal areas. Hiking the surrounding trails leads to stunning views of the crater and lava fields.

Here are a few reasons why hiking Krafla is one of the best things to do in Iceland in September:

  • Experience Icelandic geothermal energy: The Krafla volcano is located on a geothermal power plant site, allowing visitors to experience Iceland's natural energy source.

  • Stunning views of the crater: Hiking Krafla offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and crater.

  • Adventure activities: Adventure seekers can explore the nearby lava fields and geothermal areas, offering a unique and thrilling experience.

15. Take a Super Jeep Tour to the Highlands

The highlands of Iceland are some of the country's most remote and untouched areas. The highlands are home to some of Iceland's most spectacular scenery, from ancient glaciers to majestic mountains. The best way to explore this rugged terrain is by taking a Super Jeep tour. A Super Jeep tour offers an off-road adventure, taking you to remote places inaccessible by regular vehicles.

Here are some reasons why taking a Super Jeep tour is a must-do in Iceland in September:

  • Experience breathtaking views: Take in stunning views of the Icelandic highlands, including glaciers, mountains, and lakes.

  • Adrenaline rush: Super Jeeps are specially designed to tackle rough terrain and offer an adrenaline rush.

  • See Iceland's wildlife: Keep your eyes peeled for wild reindeer, arctic foxes, and other animals that call the highlands home.

  • Explore hidden gems: Visit hidden gems like secret waterfalls, thermal baths, and stunning valleys.

September in Iceland, activities

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

What to Pack in Iceland in September

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 jacket

  • Waterproof pants

  • Waterproof hiking boots

  • Raincoat

  • Travel umbrella

  • Warm wool socks

  • Underwear

  • Hats (one to keep the cold at bay and another to protect against the sun)

  • Thermal leggings

  • Casual pants

  • Jersey

  • Casual Jacket (a puffer jacket or parka would be ideal)

  • Warm scarf

  • Warm gloves

  • T-shirts

  • Long-sleeve shirts

  • Bathing suit

  • Quick-dry towel (you don’t want to be lugging around wet stuff)

  • Sunglasses

  • Flip-flops (mostly to use at the hot springs and public restrooms)

  • Water bottle

  • Backpack (suitable for hiking as well as day outings)

  • Electrical device essentials: adapter, chargers, cables, power banks

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.

Iceland in September: clothing

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.

traveling to Iceland in September

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, Iceland in September 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!



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