September is a stunning time to visit Iceland as the country shows off a fabulous array of colors in fall. It’s not only the fauna that changes its color, but the bright summer nights also become twilight autumn nights with dancing Northern Lights in all their blue, green and purple glory. September also means a return to routine for most people after the heady freedom of summer.
However, if you are pushing your summer vacation into fall and visiting Iceland in September there is still a lot to see. September is even known to squeeze out incredible sunny days and the color scheme that nature plays out is mind-blowing!
So, if a fall in Iceland is on your mind keep on reading to learn everything there is to know about Iceland in September.
Weather in September
September marks the profound seasonal change and beginning of fall in Iceland. This you can simply feel in the air and see in the flora around. It is the month Icelanders welcome colder temperatures and start closing the window before bedtime. After all, the average temperature is only about 8°C (46,4 Fahrenheit). Nonetheless, it is an incredibly cozy time often accompanied with a nice wool blanket and some hot chocolate. Icelanders see an increase in rain and wind but the weather can also be quite mild! Fall in Iceland is an idyllic time to take a walk in nature, do some last-minute hiking before the highlands close up or go berry picking in the hills right outside the capital.
Still, it is important to keep in mind that the Icelandic weather can be very unpredictable. This can result in packing being a bit of a challenge but we will help you with that bit further on in the blog.
But it goes without saying that all of this interesting weather is, of course, all a part of the authentic Iceland experience!
Daylight in September
September has an average of about 13 hours of daylight. The sunrise starts around six in the morning and the sun sets around ten in the evening. This is the month we say GOODBYE to the midnight sun and HI to the Northern Lights.
There is a great difference between the beginning of the month and the end. The later you visit the fewer hours of daylight. In the beginning, the hours of daylight are about 14,5 but by the end of the month, they are only reaching about 11,5. Furthermore, if you go closer to the arctic circle your daylight hours will be cut even shorter. Nevertheless, this is the absolute best time to visit to enjoy maximum lights but still have a chance to catch some Northern Lights action in the night skies!
Northern Lights in September
One of the most popular questions we are asked in relation to September is whether you will be able to see the Northern Lights. The answer is, YES! The Northern lights season officially starts in mid-September and lasts until mid-April when the midnight sun arises from its winter hibernation. In September the Northern Lights come out in full swing and put on quite the show. You will only be able to see the lights from 10 o’clock in the evening when the sun starts to set, and it starts to fully dark.
Iceland is famous for displaying a great variety in colors than other Northern Lights friendly countries. Something that the locals take great pride in. Due to this fact and their love for the lights, many solar activity experts work hard throughout the season to find the best night and locations to view them. Luckily many of these Aurora experts work as guides on our Northern Lights Tours! Providing you an excellent opportunity to just sit back and relax, skip the planning and simply be picked up only to then be dazzled by nature’s beauty.
Northern Lights on your own
If you are looking to venture off on your own to find the Northern Lights you need to make sure to check out the Aurora activity before you go. The Icelandic met office provides some great Northern Lights forecast and road.is help with which roads are open and which are closed.
Read our detailed blog on how to become an expert Northern Lights hunter.
Can you see puffins in September?
Iceland is one of the best places on earth to spot puffins. From April each year, the island is the biggest puffin colony in the world. A fact that the locals hold very dear. However, unfortunately, they leave our small island in late August. If you are traveling to Iceland early in September, there might still be hope but that is not a guarantee. We will leave it down to luck if there are any that delayed their travels. If spotting a puffin is on your Iceland bucket list, we recommend you visit Iceland from April until late August.
What pack for September
Like we mentioned before the weather in Iceland can be very unpredictable. One minute the sun is out but the next it’s pouring rain. We have this saying here in Iceland – “if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes”. And more often than not, this turns out to be quite useful.
In September you can expect wet weather. Sometimes Winter King even decides to show up out of the blue and blow the fall leaves away at a moment’s notice. However, you might also be lucky and get a taste of summer (read Icelandic summer, don’t pack your bikini). The key to packing for a September trip in Iceland is, like for any other month, to pack layers! We have made a packing list for you if you pack these things you will be prepared for any weather Iceland might throw at you in September.
Packing list for September in Iceland
- Waterproof rain and wind jacket
- Waterproof pants
- Your camera is a must to catch the Northern lights and the beautiful fall colors
- Hat, scarf and gloves
- Warm sweater (If you need one you can always buy the traditional Icelandic wool sweaters)
- Good waterproof footwear that is also good for hiking
- Bathing suit
- Warm socks
What to do in September
Visit a cozy café
September is the perfect month to experience the cozy café culture that Iceland has to offer. The leader in this cozy café culture is perhaps not surprisingly Reykjavik. But there is no shortage of great cafés in our capital city. A few of our favorite cafés, where you can enjoy a cup of Joe (and some serious people-watching) are Reykjavik Roasters, Kaffibrennslan, Perlan, Kaffihus Vesturbaejar and Aleppo.
Soak in a hot spring or a swimming pool
September is also one of the best months to enjoy the swimming pools and hot springs in Iceland. The weather is still relatively warm, but you get the unique experience of sitting in a warm pool while feeling the brisk breeze and/or cold rain on your face – it surely is refreshing! The swimming pools are also the best way to get in touch with local – don’t be shy to start a conversation with the stranger sitting next to you, it’s what we do!
Read our blog about top hot springs and swimming pools in Iceland
Driving around Iceland in September
When driving in Iceland in September it is important to expect the unexpected. As we mentioned, the typical weather in September is that there is no typical weather. Make it a rule to always check the weather forecast and the road conditions before you head for the road. Then we recommend you stay updated by checking safetravel.is.
You should be able to drive any type of car in Iceland in September no matter where you are planning to travel, just be aware that fall and winter arrive sooner in the North, Westfjords and in East Iceland. If you are planning to drive to those parts of the country, we recommend that you rent an AWD or 4×4 vehicle. Note that the wind can cause sandstorms, so it is important to make sure not to park the car in an open field as it can cause damage to the car. Finally, we recommend that you always have your sunglasses handy – the low rise autumn sun in Iceland can be tricky and cause blinding effects while driving.
You can of course always contact us if you have any questions, after all, we are the experts.
Must see places in September
September marks the beginning of the “off-season” in Iceland. Therefore popular tourist sites will be less crowded than in summer making it the perfect time to visit. These are our must-see places in Iceland for September.
The atmosphere in Reykjavik is different in the fall, people settle in their everyday life after summer vacation and students become students again. This means there are more Icelanders in Reykjavik – not only tourists! With plenty of museums, unique buildings, cute cafés, great restaurants and excellent shopping it is well worth a visit and we are sure everyone will find something to their taste!
Drive along the Snaefellsnes peninsula
An area rich in myth and legend, Snaefellsnes peninsula in fall should definitely be added to your Iceland itinerary. The peninsula holds some of the most breath-taking sites Iceland has to offer, misty fjords and a towering volcano under a glacier that dates back to the ice age. The best thing about it is that is only a few hours drive away from Reykjavik – the perfect day tour.
Explore the Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is Iceland’s most famous attraction. The main stops on this tour are the gems of Iceland – Gullfoss waterfall, the world-famous Geysir geyser area and Thingvellir National park. The great thing about exploring the Golden Circle during September are the array of fall colors that somehow manage to intensify the beauty that was before.
Visit the Remote Westfjords
The reason why we have put the Westfjords on the must-see places in September is that it might be your last chance to see it before it becomes near inaccessible during the winter. The Westfjords are a less traveled destination in Iceland but in our opinion one of the best. It is undoubtedly a hidden treasure. The region differs from the rest of the island both historically and geologically, with rock formations that are up to 14 million years old. Its where land meets the sea in the most dramatic term imaginable and deep fjords dotted with occasional small fishing villages snuggling against the slender seaboard.
Events and Festivals in September
One of our favorite things about September is the Rettir! The annual sheep round-up starts early in the month and continues into October. Icelandic sheep roam free during summer and therefore need to be rounded up before winter. Farmers, with the help of a few friends, family and maybe some helpful tourists, walk or ride their horses around the mountains and fjords to herd them all back to the “Rettir”.
And that’s where the fun part starts, as farmers try to sort through the woolly hoards to find their confused and/or outraged sheep. After a busy day of sorting the locals celebrate by having a drink (or two) and a dance at the Rettir ball.
Reykjavik International film festival or RIFF
The end of September sees the start of The Reykjavik International Film Festival, Iceland’s biggest film event of the year. With a huge line-up of both international and local films and notable guests, RIFF is a must for any self-respecting film fan.
Oktoberfest is held annually by the student council of the University of Iceland. Humorously, it is always held in September! The festival takes place right across from the university’s main building. It is a three-day festival and is modeled after the official funfair in Munich. Most of the famed Icelandic bands, singers and rappers in the Icelandic Music scene will perform.
It is a great yet budget-friendly way to join the music and night scene in Iceland.
Reykjavik Jazz festival
The Reykjavik Jazz Festival has been held annually since 1990, making it the longest-running festival in Iceland. It boasts a stellar line-up of jazz and blues artists from around the world playing a variety of styles at local clubs and venues in Reykjavik.
Reykjavik international literary festival
This annual festival brings international writers together for four days at various venues throughout Reykjavik. The purpose of the festival is to introduce the major trends in world literature to Icelandic readers and connect Icelandic and foreign authors and their readers. All events are free and in English.
Ljosanott or the Night of Lights is the annual family and cultural festival in the town of Reykjanesbaer (Keflavik) on the Reykjanes peninsula. Stretching over 5 days, the festival is filled with cultural events ranging from art, theater and music performances mostly performed by local artists. Several family-friendly activities are on offer as well as a carnival where the kids can entertain themselves in all kinds of rides.
Multiple pop-up shops appear on the main street as well as food trucks for the hungry. The highlight of the festival is an outdoor concert on Saturday night followed by a magnificent firework display over the harbor.
Ideal tours in September
Hunt for the Northern Lights!
Get to know Icelandic beer!
Why not see some of the filming locations for popular TV series Game of Thrones ahead of the final season?
Take in the gorgeous fall colors on a horseback riding tour
Catch that contrasting feel of summer and fall on our Hot Spring and Cool Glacier Superjeep tour
Go on a 5-day road trip of a lifetime through the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Last chance to go on our largest road trip we have ever created
Be among the first ones to travel to the mysterious Westfjords of Iceland!