Although there are officially only two seasons in Iceland, namely winter and summer, technically the months of September, October and November are considered autumn in Iceland.
If one were ask the animals, the beginning of autumn would coincide with the bird migration patterns when they leave Iceland in search of a milder climate around the third week of August.
By the end of August, days begin to shorten and the night returns slowly but surely, while the bright green grass gave fades to more autumnal orange colors. The beginning of September marks a turning point in average temperatures, as they drop steadily until they stabilize with the Icelandic winter.
Preparing for a trip in autumn will require different a approach compared to other times of the year, so do not hesitate to consult our advice for preparing a trip to Iceland or our advice for choosing the right season to visit.
So is autumn a good time to visit Iceland? The answer is yes!
Iceland in September
The period that extends from September to October has its own particular charm, and also has advantages compared to the rest of the year:
Reykjavík in October
However, visiting Iceland during the months of September and October has some disadvantages:
The colors of Snaefellsnes in autumn
The autumnal months of September, October and November are statistically part of the 7 warmest months of the year, even though as early as mid-November is considered winter. This time of the year is one of extreme temperatures and unpredictable weather. Fortunately, thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland's weather is never truly arctic and the average temperatures hover between 5 ° and 10 °C in September and October and 0 ° to 5 °C in November.
However, there is a big difference between the beginning of September and November in terms of climate.
In terms of rainfall, these are quite rainy months with nearly 14 rainy days in October in particular.
Regarding daylight hours, again, there is a big difference between early September and mid-November. In fact, while days are 14 hours long in early September, they decrease by 5 minutes per day to reach 10 hours in mid-October, and eventually 6-hour days around November 20th.
The colors of Thingvellir in autumn
The month of September marks the end of summer in Iceland. Inland tourist sites are now less accessible, as the F trails you must take to get there close as early as mid-September. The birdlife leaves in August and with them goes the vast majority of tourists.
The landscape colors change from bright green to shades of red, orange, and yellow.
September is a quiet month with a fairly low tourist influx. The nights are getting longer and the first Northern Lights begin to appear in the sky. Days are still long enough for extended outings and long hikes in the first half of September. Many hiking trails become difficult to access or even impossible by the end of the month.
Hikes in October
October in Iceland is the most popular month of the fall for visitors. Inland sites are completely closed and long hikes are inaccessible, but October has its own charm that many can appreciate. This is the month to enjoy the best side of Icelandic winter without the major disadvantages.
Indeed, days remain quite long and temperatures are still bearable. Also, it is one of the months when the Northern Lights are the most visible!
Tourist numbers are relatively low and October holidays are a great time to discover Iceland with family.
Many winter-only tourist trips such as visits to ice caves or glacier hiking are best in October, making it a great month to visit.
Skaftafell in November
November in Iceland has some of the lowest tourist numbers. Rental prices are at their lowest at this time of year and booking in advance is not essential. Of course, tourist sites located inland are completely closed and the major hiking trails are inaccessible. November is often considered to be the first month of winter.
Days become very short since at the end of the month the length of the day is just over 5 hours. Like every winter month, November is ideal for observing the Northern Lights, visiting ice caves or and hiking to see glaciers up close.
Temperatures are much colder than in September and October and rarely exceed 5 °C, with cloud cover close to 70% on average.
November is also known for the Iceland Airwaves music festival from November 1st to 5th. The Iceland Airwaves event, launched in 1999, is an opportunity to discover the Icelandic music scene, but also a score o f international artists who come to perform for three days and three nights in local bars, art galleries, and concert halls, basically anywhere with a stage.