Iceland in September | All You Need To Know

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Find out all you need to know about visiting Iceland in September. If you’re wondering what the weather is like or what things to do in September, we’ve got you covered. September is the month when the Icelandic autumn slowly rolls in with foliage of red, orange and yellow. It's that unique period of the year when the days can be bright and sunny, but the evening sky is dark enough for a beautiful aurora display.

You might be thinking, “wait, can you really see the northern lights in Iceland in September?”  Well, read on to discover everything you need to know about visiting Iceland in September!

 

Driving in Iceland in September

Autumn colours in Þingvellir National Park

During September in Iceland, the weather gets slightly colder day by day, but winter has yet to settle in, so the only snow you'll see is at the top of mountains in the distance.

The residual warmth of Iceland's summer seeps into the days of September, which means that the roads outside of the city will still be open, making even the most remote regions easily reachable.  

Most of the popular 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 accordingly if you want to travel to the most secluded areas.

Another bonus of traveling to Iceland during September is that the high tourism season is over, so you can benefit from smaller crowds. The multicolor leaves on the local foliage are also a beautiful sight, whether taking a walk in Reykjavik or hiking in the countryside.



Spotting the Northern Lights in Iceland in September

As the nights are dark in September, there is always a chance to see the Northern Lights

The best time to see the northern lights is between September and April since the sky must be dark to see them, and it's simply too bright between April and September.

Seeing the aurora 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 artificial lights in the city, which create light pollution on a clear night and into the countryside where the sky is dark. A good rule of thumb is; if you can see the stars in the skies clearly, you should see the northern lights clearly.

Once in a while, the northern lights appear in the sky above Reykjavik, but the easiest and most reliable way to catch a glimpse of this celestial light is on a guided northern lights tour



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. Though it's always smart to be prepared and pack some warm clothes before going out to see the aurora.

Mt. Kirkjufell under the green glow of the Aurora Borealis

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.

 

 

What About the Prices and Crowds in Iceland in Autumn?

Attractions are less crowded in SeptemberPhoto by Johannes Martin

If you plan a visit in September, you might be able to save some money since it's considered the off-season. You may find that the prices of flights to Iceland 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 nature of Iceland.



Let’s get into the details of what to do in September during your visit to Iceland.

Autumn colors in Thingvellir National Park in Iceland

The Best Things to do in Iceland in September

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 definitely pin to their itinerary. 


  • See here for the ultimate guide to Reykjavik

Volcano Tours in Iceland in September

The empty magma chamber of Þríhnúkagígur volcano Photo from Spectacular 6-Hour Volcano Tour Inside the Magma Chamber of Thrihnukagigur | Transfer from Reykjavik

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, which are just off the highway. Some might take a volcano tour to the Westman Islands or go see the internet-famous Elephant Rock.

Other volcano tours also stop running in Iceland from the end of September to mid-October. One of the unique excursions is descending into the empty magma chamber of the Thrihnukagigur volcano.

 

 



Glacier Tours in Iceland in September

Vatnajokull glacier covers 8% of Iceland's landmass

There's no better place in the world to go glacier hiking than Iceland. Glacier hiking tours run year-round, and Iceland has multiple glaciers you can go hiking on. The largest of which is the Vatnajokull glacier, the largest glacier in Europe. You can take a glacier hiking tour to the Vatnajokull glacier from the Skaftafell Nature Reserve and experience it in all its glory.

Another popular glacier is the Svinafellsjokull glacier which is closer to Reykjavik. Yet another way to experience the vast snowy surface of glaciers is to go snowmobiling on the Langjokull glacier for a fun and adventurous joy ride.

Unfortunately, September is still too early for exploring ice caves as the temperature is too high for the caves to remain stable.



Kayaking in Iceland in September

Kayaking in Iceland in August

Don’t miss the last chance to see the beauty of Iceland's lakes and fjords while gliding on the water. With winter approaching, September is your last chance to go kayaking in Iceland.

It's a great opportunity to see the wildlife of Iceland up close, seabirds like the cute puffin are sometimes spotted, and even a curious seal could pop out of the water to say "hi". A kayaking tour will give you the freedom to witness the beauty of Iceland's landscapes from a different view and experience the stillness in the water, and on top of that, steering a kayak is fun! One of the most popular places to go kayaking is the Jorkulsarlon glacier lagoon, surrounded by floating icebergs. We promise you won't get that experience anywhere else than in Iceland!

If you are feeling adventurous, sea kayak tours also set off from the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, where you’ll stop by the picturesque Kirkjufell Mountain.

Whale Watching in Iceland in September

Whale watching in Iceland in September

Although you can go on whale watching tours in any season, the September weather in Iceland marks the end of summer, making it a great opportunity to go whale watching before it gets really cold. You have a chance to see the migratory baleen whales, who are only in Iceland's waters between April and October.

It’s also the last month when the adorable puffins are still in Iceland before migrating south, and you can likely spot them when out on the sea while whale watching. 

There are many whale-watching tours departing from Reykjavik to Faxafloi Bay, but the best place to watch them is in the 'whale capital of Europe', Husavik in North Iceland.



Hot Springs in Iceland in September

Hot springs in Iceland in September

Before the harsh winter in Iceland arrives, September is the last hurrah to go hot spring hopping. Because Iceland is rich in geothermal energy, it means there are hot springs and geothermal pools all over the country, although some are on 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 geothermal swimming pools in Iceland are all heated, reasonably priced, and many of them have saunas!

Best Places to Visit in Iceland in September

A winding road in Iceland

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 travel in September, it should still be relatively easy to drive the Ring Road and visit the Golden Circle, Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Lake Myvatn, and the South Coast, even on a two-wheeled drive car.

If you want to make the most of this accessibility, here are the top places to visit in September:

South Coast and The Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Icebergs floating on Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

One of Iceland's most popular sightseeing routes is the road along Iceland’s South Coast. Some of the country's most famous and unique attractions are just off the highway, such as the Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, Myrdalsjokull glacier, and the black sand beach of Reynisfjara near the village of Vik

Those traveling the South Coast should definitely 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 icy-blue water.

Highlands

Unless the snow arrives early, the roads in Iceland should all be open until mid-to-late September. This access means that there's still a chance to visit many parts of the Highlands that are inaccessible during the winter.

If you are driving yourself, you could head up to Landmannalaugar's colorful rhyolite mountains, where you can take a dip in a natural hot spring. You can also take a guided tour to the Highlands in a customized super jeep and go off the beaten track to explore some of Iceland’s hidden gems.

It’s also the last chance to go hiking in the Highlands and see the autumn colors of the Highlands before the area closes off for good until next summer.



Visiting the Highlands is a possibility in September

Westfjords

The roads to the Westfjords are open in September, one of Iceland's most beautiful but often overlooked regions. Zig-zagging through the fjords is an experience in itself, without mentioning the untouched beauty of its dramatic landscapes. A lot of roads on the Westfjords are gravel roads that require a four-wheeled drive vehicle, so keep that in mind when booking your rental car.

In September, you will be able to reach the breathtaking Dynjandi waterfall and the Latrabjarg cliff, the largest seabird cliff in Iceland, where puffins are abundant, before the roads close for the winter.



Festivals in Iceland in September

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 around the country. In September, you can find a few festivals in the capital city and one just a short drive away on the Reykjanes Peninsula.

Three out of the four festivals featured here take place in Reykjavik, so if you’re wondering about things to do in Reykjavik during September, read on!

Ljosanott - the Night of Lights Festival

As the bright days of summer give way to the dark nights of autumn, the citizens of Reykjanesbaer hold a festival celebrating the light in the darkness. Ljosanott, or The Night of Lights Festival, is an annual event during the first weekend of September, offering guests a taste of the very best of the local culture of this town, famous for its music and art scene.

Artists show their work around town, and galleries and private studios will be open to visitors. A variety of Icelandic musicians perform at venues around town. Guests can enjoy a hearty traditional Icelandic Kjotsupa meat soup, check out a collection of classic cars, and ride around on various carnival rides. Brave children can go visit the giantess cave, where a large troll sleeps, just be careful not to wake her up!

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's harbor, and the night ends with a fantastic fireworks display.

Reykjavik International Film Festival - RIFF

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 films with special categories. "New Vision" focuses on up-and-coming filmmakers, "Icelandic Panorama" shows movies from the most talented directors in Iceland, while "Focus On" shines a spotlight on a single nation's cinematic history. 

Screenings are primarily held in the arthouse cinema Bio Paradis, but special events are held all over Reykjavik. You could catch a symphonic film concert at Harpa Concert Hall or check out the swim-in cinema in the heated indoor swimming pool of the historic Sundhollin.



Reykjavik Jazz Festival

The Reykjavik Jazz Festival is an annual event that takes place over a week, either at the end of August or the beginning of September, and is the second longest-running music festival in Iceland, established in 1990.

The jazz played at the festival ranges from melodic to bebop to experimental. Various events take place across Reykjavik in cafés, public parks, and record stores, with both local and international musicians entertaining the crowds. 

Oktoberfest SHI

The Icelandic Oktoberfest or Oktoberfest SHI originally started as a small gathering amongst students studying German at the University of Iceland, inspired by the famous Oktoberfest in München.

With the Reykjavik weather in September still retaining some of that summer warmth, 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 started to grow.



Now 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 Herra Hnetusmjör, AmabAdamA and Paul Oscar. They perform in large tents to the roaring crowds of young people enjoying an outdoor event to the fullest before winter takes over.



Cultural Activities in September

Icelandic horses at sunset

The wonderful Icelandic landscape has shaped most of the country’s culture—and September brings some of the country’s oldest traditions: berjamó and réttir.

Berjamo - Berry Picking

Blueberry picking is popular activity in August.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, which 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. These fresh but slightly bitter berries have been used in Icelandic desserts and juices for centuries.

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 healthy snack.



Rettir - Sheep and Horse Round-ups

The Icelandic sheep roam free in the countryside in the summer

In September, the puffins take flight and head south, 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 during the 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 with the help of the trusty Icelandic sheepdog. They then herd them back to the sorting fold, where the sorting and the fun begin. Lambs are carefully earmarked in the spring so that their owner can reclaim them in September.



 

In North Iceland, there's a rich tradition of horse breeding and training, and Skagafjordur is the only region in Iceland where horses outnumber people.

The horse round-up begins at the end of September or the beginning of October. Horses roaming the countryside are gathered and brought to their farms.

The round-up of animals is a part of a long-standing 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, settle disputes between farmers and matchmake young couples. Nowadays, things are a little different, but it's still a time of celebration.



Horses outnumber people in Skagafjörður county

Gatherings of friends and families in Iceland often lead to singing, 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 event.

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.

 

 



Weather in Iceland in September

Summer in Iceland can still have unpredictable weather.

In September, visitors can enjoy many of the same outdoor activities popular during the summer, including glacier hiking, horseback riding, snorkeling, and snowmobiling. September is the last chance of the year to go camping in Iceland before the weather gets too cold. Icelandic weather is infamous for being unpredictable, so you should always expect the possibility of 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 capital, the weather in Reykjavik in September tends to be slightly warmer than in the rest of the country.

The Temperature in Iceland in September

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.

If you're wondering how cold Iceland is in September, the temperature rarely goes above 59 F (15 C). But this is Iceland, so you should always expect the unexpected. Be prepared for anything. The weather in September can range from comfortable sweater weather to freezing winds.

Daylight in September

The days get darker in September

Dark nights return to Iceland in September. The days are still bright and long, so you’ll witness both fantastic sunsets with hues of pink and purple as well as bright and beautiful sunrises. With the nights getting longer and the sky getting darker, the chance to see the elusive northern lights in September increases.

In September, the daylight hours in Iceland last for an average of 12.5 hours. However, the days get shorter as the month goes on. On September 1, the sunrise is at 6:11 AM, and the sunset is at 8:41 PM. But in late September, the sunrise is past 7:30 AM, and the sunset at almost 7 PM. This means the number of daylight hours goes down from 13.5 hours to 11.5 hours.

That means you have a better chance of seeing Iceland’s northern lights in September towards the end of the month.

What to Pack for Iceland in September

The temperature in Iceland in the month of September is still considered mild, but you should prepare for both warmer and colder weather. The essential packing list for what to wear when visiting Iceland in September:

  • T-shirts and maybe a pair of shorts
  • Warm layers such as fleece and thermal underwear
  • Waterproof and windproof jacket
  • Sturdy hiking boots with heal support
  • Warm gloves and headwear
  • Wool socks (for glacier hikes)
  • Sunglasses (also for glacier hikes)

You can always rent extra gear in Iceland, and there are plenty of quality outdoor clothing shops on the main shopping street Laugavegur. If you're wondering why you need sunglasses for glacier hikes, it is because the sun reflects its light off the white and shiny surface of the snowy glaciers, making it many times brighter than usual. Most likely, you will not need sunglasses while walking in Reykjavik, but you never know!



Recommended Itineraries for Iceland in September 

The Ring Road leads to numerous attractions

Are you looking to visit Iceland in September and thinking of what to add to your itinerary? You are in luck because there is a lot to choose from. You can go snowmobiling on the largest glacier in Europeexplore the insides of a dormant volcano, have a boat ride on an ice lagoon, or go snorkeling between continents. The amount of things to do makes September a fantastic time to go to Iceland!

If you're looking for something more laid-back, take a dip in the world-famous Blue Lagoon Spa with its warm geothermal water or go on a whale-watching tour from Reykjavik's Old Harbor and experience the giants of the sea up close.

A great way to explore the country on your own terms is by renting a car and driving between destinations at your own convenience. That way, there's no rush, you can give yourself time to stop where you want along the way and discover Iceland at your own pace. Iceland’s Route 1, the Ring Road, completely circles the island, making it the perfect way to see what Iceland is like in September.

If you want to get the ultimate Iceland experience, you can go on a 10-day Self Drive Tour of the Complete Ring Road with pre-arranged accommodations along the way by Guide to Iceland. If you are a more experienced outdoors traveler, you can embark on this six-day 4x4 camping self-drive tour of the remote Highlands.

The remote Westfjords are still accessible in September

If you are only staying a short time in Iceland, you can still get the essential Icelandic experience. Sometimes four days is enough, like on this four-day northern lights tour that will take you around the Golden Circle and Reynisfjara black sand beach in search of the dancing aurora borealis in the sky.

Whatever you choose to do with your time while in the country, September is a good time to visit Iceland as it has a range of different things to do, whether it's sightseeing natural wonders or engaging in more adventurous activities, you'll be sure to have a memorable time in the Land of Ice and Fire.


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?