This morning while cooking breakfast, I was struck by a sudden chill of wind blowing in from the window. As I went to close it, I looked out across the street and noticed that the large tree I see daily from my flat had transformed into a bright shade of yellow. Though I had an amazing summer exploring all the different areas of Iceland and enjoying the midnight sun, part of me can’t help but be excited about the coming season. This is my third autumn spent in Iceland and each year I notice something new that makes me fall in love all over again.
1. Autumn Colors!
Most travelers share a common belief that there are no trees in Iceland. I have explored all the different areas of the country, and while you might not find as many trees as in New England or Norway, there are still forests with changing leaves to be discovered. (Let’s not forget the tree outside my flat in downtown Reykjavík) What I love most about the autumn landscape in Iceland is that the moss and grass begin to switch from their bright green to brilliant shades of red, orange and gold!
2. Summer Chaos is Over
Over the past few years, its no secret tourism in Iceland has grown a little out of control. The summer months ranging from June to August are by far the busiest, with the crowds starting to die down in September. Though the weather starts to get a little colder and rainier it’s a great time to visit Reykjavík where you can find plenty of cafés to cozy up in if the weather takes a turn. If you aren’t afraid of a little rain, it’s also a wonderful time to explore the countryside.
3. Icelandic Wool Sweaters Aka Lopapeysa
You’ve all seen pictures of the quintessential Icelandic sweater. They are usually designed in neutral colors with an intricate pattern around the neck. True Icelandic sweaters are made from 100% Icelandic sheep’s wool. Although they can often prove to be a bit itchy, there’s nothing warmer or better to protect you from Iceland’s harsh elements.
Take this a step further and go into a shop and purchase some wool and a pattern to begin knitting your own sweater. Knitting is a famous pastime for Icelanders and a wonderful way to stay cozy and entertained during the colder months.
4. Northern Lights
This year, the first northern lights of the season were spotted in August. The first ones I observed were from a beach on the south coast. It was magnificent to watch the brilliant greens swirl and dance wide across the sky above me. I was raised in Alaska and am accustomed to the northern lights, but I continue to be amazed by their magic and beauty.
5. Round up! Aka Réttir
The end of September and beginning of October is known as Round-Up season (Réttir in Icelandic) in Iceland. Farmers everywhere are riding throughout the country, gathering their sheep and horses after their summer wanderings. Once the sheep are collected, they are led into an area called a rétt, which is a large circular structure divided by fences that resembles a sliced pie. Each section belongs to a different farmer and the sheep are organized accordingly. All of the sheep are identified by a mark on their ear and are then placed into the correct section.
A réttir is difficult work and entirely on a volunteer basis. Family and friends travel from far to help the farmers in their task, but tourists are also able to join in with the sorting process. Usually the helpers are invited to a party at the end of the sorting season to celebrate all of the hard work.
6. Berry Picking
Berjamó is the Icelandic word for going out into nature to pick berries. In August to mid-September you will find an abundance of wild berries scattered around Iceland. Skaftafell National Park and Þingvellir are perfect places to take a crisp autumn hike and look for wild bilberries (the Icelandic blueberry) and crowberries along the way. Remember to bring a small container to collect them in or just eat them as you go (they grow wild and are pesticide free!).
With the long dark and cold winters in Iceland, the people have truly mastered the art of being cozy. Icelander’s have many activities to stay warm as well as entertained and social during the long winter months.
Stay tuned for the next blog post to learn more about cozy winter activities in Iceland!
Hello! Thanks for reading my articles! My name is Elizabeth and I am a student at the University of Iceland studying Icelandic language and culture. I’m an avid outdoor adventurer and have devoted the last few years to finding amazing places and activities in Iceland. I work creating personalized itineraries and help organize boutique trips around Iceland. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for help planning your future adventure to Iceland!
See also: Iceland in September