Find out all you need to know about Iceland in September. If you’re wondering what the weather is like or what are the best sites to see during this month we’ve got you covered. The Icelandic autumn slowly and softly rolls in, gradually changing the colors of the Arctic foliage. The leaves transform from a luscious green into soft shades of red, orange, and yellow.
We’re also answering one of the most popular questions, “can you see the northern lights in Iceland in September?” Read on to discover everything you need to know about visiting Iceland in September!
The Iceland September weather sees the days grow colder, but winter has yet to settle in, so you'll only see snow capping the mountains.
The residual warmth of Iceland's summer seeps into September's days, which means that the roads outside of the city will still be open, making even the most remote regions easily reachable.
Most of the favorite summer attractions are still accessible in September. Some might close during the second or third week of the month, however, so you'll need to plan if you want to travel to the most secluded areas.
You also have the bonus of fewer crowds and autumn colors.
The best time to see the northern lights is between September and April, since you'll need darkness to see them, and it isn’t dark enough between April to September.
Seeing the auroras can be as simple as looking out the window of your accommodation in Iceland at just the right moment, but it's always best to drive away from the city's light pollution on a clear night and into the darkened countryside.
On these tours, a professional guide will lead you away from the light pollution into unspoiled nature, where you can fully appreciate the glory of the aurora borealis as they dance and flicker in the dark sky.
Iceland’s temperature in September is still warm enough to make chasing the northern lights not so cold.
Those traveling to Iceland in September can enjoy the best of both worlds: they’ll be able to chase the northern lights and take tours that are only operational in the summertime.
Photo by Johannes Martin
If you plan a visit in September, you might be able to save a buck since it's considered the offseason. You may find that the prices of flights are considerably lower than in the summer months.
The offseason also means that your favorite places are less crowded, giving you a great chance to immerse yourself in the wilds of Iceland.
Let’s get into the details of what September in Iceland has to offer you.
No matter the time of the year, there are several unmissable Icelandic sights and adventures, like the Golden Circle's sightseeing route, taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon, and seeing what Reykjavik has to offer.
Iceland's weather in September is still warm, so there are a few things those visiting in September should pin to their itinerary.
As the land of ice and fire, Iceland is home to over 300 volcanoes, some of which you can hike to or even visit inside. The September weather in Iceland is the last chance to visit Askja Crater lake’s warm waters and are just off the highway. Some take a volcano tour to the Westman Islands.
The glacier hike and ice climb in Iceland run year-round, and Iceland is covered by dozens of glaciers, the largest of which is the Vatnajokull glacier. You can take a glacier hike tour to the Vatnajokull glacier from Skaftafell Nature Reserve.
But September is still too early for ice cave visits.
Don’t miss the last chance to see the beauty of Iceland from the water. With winter approaching, September is the last chance for you to go kayaking.
You get to see the wildlife of Iceland up close, too, such as the curious seals, birds, and the Atlantic puffins. Take the chance to go on a kayaking tour to witness the wilderness and sceneries. One of the most popular places is the Jorkulsarlon Glacial Lagoon, surrounded by floating icebergs.
If you are more adventurous, sea kayak tours set off from the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, where you’ll stop by the Kirkjufell Mountain.
Although you can go on whale watching tours in any season, the September weather in Iceland marks the end of summer. It’s more comfortable to be on the boat than in the winter, and you get to see the migratory baleen whales who are only in the area between April and October.
It’s also the last month when the Atlantic Puffins are still in Iceland, and you can likely spot them when out on the sea, too.
Before the harsh winter in Iceland arrives, the September Iceland weather is the last hurray for hot spring hopping. Iceland’s geothermal energy means there are hot springs and geothermal pools all over the country, although some are in private land where you need permission from the landowner to enter.
The easiest way to enjoy the hot springs is to take a hot spring tour, so you don’t have to research, map, and drive yourself around. If you prefer somewhere with proper changing rooms and facilities, the swimming pools in Iceland are all heated, and some even have saunas!
Of course, the famous Ring Road is open all year round (unless there's a massive snowstorm) but as Iceland descends into winter, traveling the highway becomes more and more difficult.
If you want to make the most of this accessibility, here are the top places to visit in September:
One of Iceland's most popular sightseeing routes is the road along Iceland’s South Coast. Just off the highway are some of the most famous and unique attractions in the country, such as the Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, and Myrdalsjokull glacier, and the black sand beach Reynisfjara.
Those traveling the South Coast should pass by the stunning Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. September is the last month you can take a boat ride on the lagoon for a dramatic, up-close view of the enormous icebergs floating on the freezing water.
If you are driving yourself, you could head up to Landmannalaugar's rhyolite mountains, where you can take a dip in a natural hot spring. You can also take a Highland guided tour which often drives up in a super jeep to go off the beaten track to some of Iceland’s hidden gems.
It’s also the last chance to go hiking around the Highlands and see the autumn colors of the Highlands before the area closes off until next summer for good.
The roads to one of the most beautiful but least visited places in Iceland, the Westfjords, are accessible in the summer. But only the main roads are open during winter. You’re advised to drive a four-wheel-drive vehicle with good winter tires.
Are you wondering what's happening in Iceland in September? The Icelandic cultural calendar begins to fill up in the autumn with art, music, and film festivals. In September, you can find a fair few around the city and one just a short drive away on the Reykjanes Peninsula.
Three out of four of them are in Reykjavik, so if you’re wondering what the things to do in Reykjavik in September are, read on!
As the bright days of summer give way to the dark nights of autumn, the citizens of Reykjanesbaer hold a festival celebrating the darkness. Ljosanott or The Night of Lights Festival is an annual event offering guests a taste of the very best of the local culture.
Artists show their work around town, and galleries and private studios will be open to visitors. A variety of musicians perform at venues around the area. Guests can enjoy a tasty traditional Kjotsupa meat soup, check out a collection of classic cars, and ride around on carnival rides.
The main event is at dusk on Saturday evening when the people of Reykjanesbaer turn on the lights that illuminate Bergid, the cliffs overlooking the town, and end the night with an amazing firework display.
Held annually at the end of September, Reykjavik Film Festival (or RIFF) shows roughly a hundred films from over 40 countries in just 11 days.
The festival shows a wide range of drama and documentary films with special categories:
Screenings are primarily held in the arthouse cinema Bio Paradis, but special events are held all over Reykjavik. You could catch a film concert at Harpa Concert Hall or check out the swim-in cinema in the heated indoor swimming pool, Sundholl Reykjavikur.
The Reykjavik Jazz Festival is an annual event that takes place over a week at the end of August and September.
It started in 1990, and the jazz plays in the festival range from contemporary to gospel and big bands. Events happen across Reykjavik in hotels, record stores, with local and internal musicians playing.
Oktoberfest is a two-week festival held every year in Munich that celebrates beer. The festival attracts millions of people and has inspired numerous events worldwide that use the name ‘Oktoberfest.’
With the Reykjavik weather in September still holding up, the students would set up a tent on campus, drink beer and listen to Bavarian music. The student council took over when the group graduated, and the festival grew.
Around 20,000 beers are consumed at the new-and-improved Oktoberfest each year. The festival lasts from Thursday to Saturday and is visited by about 2,000 people, most of whom are students.
The traditional Bavarian music has been replaced by some of Iceland’s top bands and artists, such as Retro Stefson, AmabAdamA, and Paul Oscar. They perform in large tents to the roaring crowds of drunk students.
The weird and wonderful Icelandic landscape has shaped most of the country’s culture—and September brings some of the country’s oldest traditions: berjamo and rettir.
Photo by Jeremy Ricketts
One of Icelander's favorite pastimes in September is picking berries or going to berjamo. This time-honored tradition is where families or individuals head out of the city to pick the wild, pesticide-free berries that grow all around the country.
There's a certain stillness in the act, and it can be very relaxing. You sit out in the unspoiled nature, hearing nothing but the muffled sound of berries dropping into your container and perhaps a raven cawing in the distance.
Growing wild in the moss-covered lava are crowberries, the most common type of berries in Iceland. For centuries, these fresh but slightly bitter berries have been used in Icelandic desserts and juices.
Other berries found here are bilberries, juicy blue-colored berries commonly paired with Icelandic Skyr, and blueberries.
Icelanders make various jams, cakes, juices, and wine from the berries they pick. If you are only visiting for a short while and don’t have the means to make your own jam, you can add the fresh berries to vanilla skyr or just eat them as a snack.
In September, the puffins are gone for the year, but the Iceland gull returns mid-month from its breeding region in Canada and Greenland. Around the same time, many Icelanders head to the countryside to participate in one of the country’s oldest traditions, the annual round-up of sheep.
Icelandic sheep roam free around the countryside the whole summer, grazing on fresh grass and herbs in the wilderness. Every September, farmers invite their family, friends, and sometimes strangers to help herd the sheep from the plateaus.
Shepherds walk or ride on horseback to round up the sheep from the pastures, often with the help of the Icelandic sheepdog. They then herd them back to the sorting fold, where the sorting and the fun begin. Lambs are carefully marked in the spring so that their owner can reclaim them in September.
In Northern Iceland, there's a rich tradition of horse breeding and horse training, and Skagafjordur is the only county in Iceland where horses outnumber people.
The horse round-up begins at the end of September or the beginning of October. Horses roaming wild around the mountains are gathered into the farms.
The animal round-ups are a part of a very ancient custom. Before roads were built, families were scattered around the country with little or no way to communicate. Rettir was one of the few times of the year when farming families gathered in one place.
It was used to trade horses or sheep and settle disputes between farmers (sometimes with fists), and it's where young men could try to impress women by wrestling unruly horses. Nowadays, things are a little different, but it's still a time of celebration. Horses are still traded, and young men continue to try to impress young women.
Gatherings of friends and families in Iceland often lead to singing (and the passing of the flask), and rettir is no exception. After a long day of herding sheep or horses, a well-deserved party called Rettarball celebrates the end of the tradition.
So if you are driving around the countryside in September, keep an eye out for large herds of sheep and horses on the road. If you are lucky, perhaps you’ll be invited to the Rettarball.
In September, visitors can enjoy the same outdoor activities popular in summer, including glacier-hiking, horseback riding, snorkeling, and snowmobiling. And things like the weather won't get in the way.
Icelandic weather is famous for being unpredictable, so you should always expect rain, regardless of the season.
In September, low-pressure systems (aptly named haustlaegd or autumn depression in Icelandic) begin to pass through the country. These systems cause strong winds and can bring heavy rain along.
If you are only visiting the capitol, the weather in Reykjavik in September (and the rest of the year) tends to be slightly warmer than the rest of the country.
The average temperature in Iceland in September is 47.3 F (8.5 C) with an average high of 50 F (11 C), and the average low is 42 F (6 C), making snowfall unlikely.
The temperature doesn't go above 59 F (15 C). But this is Iceland, so you should always expect the unexpected. Be prepared for anything. Both freezing winds and a heatwave (although the former is more likely than the latter) are possible.
The night returns to Iceland in September. The days are still bright and long, so you’ll witness both fantastic sunsets and sunrises, but as each night brings more and more darkness, the chance to see the elusive northern lights increases.
On September 1, the sunrise is at 6:11 a.m., and the sunset is at 8:41 p.m. But the sunrise in Iceland in late September is past 7:30 a.m. and sunset at almost 7 p.m. This means the hour of sunlight goes from 13.5 hours down to 11.5 hours.
So you have a better chance of seeing Iceland’s northern lights in September towards the end of the month.
The Iceland temperatures in September are still considered mild, but you should prepare for both hotter and colder weather. The essential packing list for Iceland remains more or less the same:
You can always rent extra gear in Iceland, and there are plenty of outdoor shops and outlets.
Are you looking to visit Iceland in September and thinking of what to add to your itinerary? There are plenty of options. You can see glaciers, volcanoes, geysers, and waterfalls, and visit the Westfjords, the Highlands and see the northern lights.
You can explore the country on your own terms by getting a car and driving yourself. Iceland’s Route 1, the Ring Road, completely circles the island, making it the perfect way to see what Iceland is like in September.
Those who wish to visit some of the country's more remote areas could check out this 10-day off-the-beaten-path self-drive tour of the country with a visit to the Westfjords or this six-day 4x4 camping self-drive tour of the Highlands.
If you plan to stay a short time in Iceland, you could still get the essential Icelandic experience. This four-day northern lights tour will take you around the Golden Circle and Reynisfjara black sand beach in search of the dancing aurora borealis.
You’ll also get to take a dip in the famous Blue Lagoon Spa, and adventure seekers can add a snowmobile or a snorkeling tour to this excursion.
Would you consider visiting Iceland in September? Have we covered everything you want to know about the weather in September in Iceland? What would you like to do? Visit the Highlands, hunt for the Northern Lights, or just pick berries?