Things to Do in Iceland in September
Are you planning to go to Iceland in September? You must have a million questions! What to do? What to pack? What’s the weather like in September in Iceland? What’s driving like in September? Can you see the Northern Lights at this time of year?
Don’t worry, take a breath – we’re here to help you! This Ultimate Guide to September in Iceland will help you make the most out of your trip to our magical country during this enchanting month.
The Best Things to See in September in Iceland
Visiting Iceland in September invites you on adventures accompanied by stunning fall colors in lively Icelandic nature and whale-watching. It’s also the perfect time to catch the first glimpse of the Northern Lights.
This is pretty much the only autumn month in Iceland and there are plenty of ways to enjoy it.
Iceland might be the best place in the world for catching a glimpse of these incredible creatures, and September is the prime time to do it. The chances of spotting one of these gentle giants is very high and being in their presence is a profound, beautiful experience.
Whales are migratory, and they tend to congregate in our icy waters around this time. Visitors are spoiled by the volume and variety of species found in our waters; humpback whales, blue whales, fin whales, minke whales, sperm whales and orcas can be spotted.
Epic Fall Colors
Iceland goes through real seasonal landscape changes in September, more than some other countries in the world. If you want to see spectacular hues of yellow, green and brown, be sure to visit Þingvellir, Hraunfossar waterfalls, Heiðmörk or any other area covered with moss and birch.
Please don’t forget your camera – the photo opportunities are unreal!
Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
September is the first month when you can see the lights dance in the night sky. After a summer of almost constant sunlight, this is when the great Northern Lights tours start and September is one of the best times to visit if you want to see this amazing natural phenomenon.
The lights are often said to be stronger in the beginning and end of the season, so September is a terrific month catch nature’s greatest light show.
Other Things to Do in September in Iceland
September is the time when crowds die down a little, yet you still get to see most of the attractions and embark upon most of the adventures you would during the summer. Bars and restaurants are still buzzing, the weather is still very comfortable, and most tours are still in operation.
Try Some Seasonal Food & Drink
Dishes in Iceland are quite seasonal. For most Icelanders, fall time is when you should have lamb soup, drink warm beverages and treat yourself to a slice or two of a homemade rhubarb pie.
Réttir – Icelandic Sheep or Icelandic Horse Roundups
Réttir, or the Annual Sheep or Horse Roundups, are huge social gatherings in Iceland.
These events are hosted all over the country and the purpose is to collect the farm animals that have been settling in the highlands over the summertime. People assemble from all over the country to join in helping and observing these ceremonies. Don’t miss out!
Horse Roundups are mainly held in the North:
- Auðkúlurétt near Lake Svínavatn, East-Húnavatnsssýsla
- Árhólarétt in Unadalur Valley, Skagafjörður
- Deildardalsrétt in Deildardalur valley, Skagafjörður
- Flókadalsrétt, Fljótum, Skagafjörður
- Hlíðarrétt near Bólstaðarhlíð, East-Húnavatnsssýsla
- Laufskálarétt in Hjaltadalur Valley, Skagafjörður (a personal favorite)
- Melgerðismelarétt in Eyjafjarðarsveit
- Miðfjarðarrétt in Miðfjörður, West-Húnavatnssýsla
- Skrapatungurétt in East-Húnavatnsssýsla
- Staðarrétt in Skagafjörður
- Tungurétt in Svarfaðardalur Valley, Eyjafjörður
- Unadalsrétt in Unadalur near Hofsós
- Víðidalstungurétt in Víðidalur Valley, West-Húnavatnssýsla
Sheep Roundups, on the other hand, are all over the country:
- Oddstaðarétt in Borgarfjörður, West Iceland
- Rauðsgilsrétt in Borgarfjörður, West Iceland
- Þverárrétt in Borgarfjörður, West Iceland
- Hítardalsrétt in Borgarfjörður, West Iceland
- Kjósarétt in Kjós
- Hrafnkelsstaðarétt in Grundarfjörður, the town below Kirkjufell
- Kirkjufellsrétt in Haukadalur near the Golden Circle
- Fossárrétt in East-Húnavatnassýsla
- Undirfellsrétt in Vatnssdalur, East-Húnavatnssýsla
One of the great perks of living in Iceland is its safety. Not only is the crime rate one of the lowest on the planet, but we also don’t have any threat-posing wild animals; no poisonous spiders, no snakes, no lions, tigers or bears – oh my!
So, pick all the berries you want and wander safely in the hills while doing so. September is one of the best berry-picking months. Keep an eye out for blueberries and crowberries – they make for a delicious treat!
Visit a Natural Pool
September is a beautiful month to visit any pool, whether it’s natural or man-made.
This is especially the case for natural ones, which are best to visit from May to September as, after September, they tend to get a bit too cold! Hrunalaug, Krossneslaug, and Birkimelur are good examples of quality natural pools.
Events in Iceland in September
Despite being at the tail end of the holiday season, September is a busy month with all sorts of events in Iceland. Here are a few of our favorites.
Ljósanott – the Night of Lights Festival
Ljósanótt is held in the town of Keflavík on the Reykjanes peninsula. It’s a full day and night of concerts and art shows where the town is lit up by lights, hence the name.
This event attracts countless Icelanders and international visitors. Indeed, many travel from all over Iceland to join this night of celebration and we recommend you join them too. The night ends with a spectacular fireworks show.
Reykjavik International Film Festival – RsIFF
Reykjavík International Film Festival (or RIFF) is one of the biggest and most diverse cultural events in Iceland.
This is an inventive and exciting film festival, incorporating feature films, short films, documentaries, and special guest appearances.
Beer was banned in Iceland for a number of years, so we’re always keen to make up for the lost time and embrace our favorite beverage.
You might have noticed a paradox of having Oktoberfest in September. The reason we hold this beer festival a month early is that most of the activities take place outdoors and the Icelandic weather in October can be quite brutal.
This event takes place in University of Iceland, where two to three huge tents are placed (a short walking distance from downtown).
Things to Know
- The fall colors start to show in September, so bring a quality camera (or a phone with a great camera);
- Puffins mostly leave the island in late August. However, if you arrive early in September, there’s still a chance to see these adorable birds. By late September you are unlikely to see puffins;
- One of the best things about September is that the Gulf Stream brings in some warm ocean waves. This means that this is the best month in the year for Icelandic sea swimming, surfing, and other ocean activities;
- Roads are very accessible in September in Iceland, thanks to the mild weather and long evenings.
September’s Daylight Hours in Iceland
The official number of hours of sunlight in Iceland in September is a hot topic. In early September, daylight lasts for a little over 14 hours a day, giving you plenty of time to explore and enjoy the sights, but allowing you a good night’s sleep when the sun finally goes down.
Towards the end of the month, the sun doesn’t set for 11 hours and 35 minutes. So, Icelandic daylight in September is reasonably generous, and for many visitors, ideal.
Iceland Weather in September
Weather in Iceland in August and September can be very unpredictable.
In September, we welcome slightly cooler weather, with some elements of summer and still comfortable temperatures.
However, autumn brings an increase of rainfall, so pack accordingly.
The weather in Iceland is notoriously fickle, and you can never predict it. What we can say is that wind and rain are common while snow is unlikely. The sunshine and warm weather can also be present but don’t count on it.
Temperatures in September in Iceland are around 5°c – 10°c (41-50 Fahrenheit).
For more information, we’ve put together a separate, substantial post about Icelandic weather.
What to Pack for September in Iceland
As we mentioned before, September is the month to pack for wet weather.
Bring with you good thermal underwear to keep yourself cosy and warm. Your middle layer should be a sweater and pants, followed by a waterproof jacket and (if necessary) waterproof slacks. Rainproof hiking shoes or rainboots are your best bet when venturing out of the city. In Iceland, the saying “there is no bad weather just bad clothing” has proven itself over and over again and we suggest you prioritize comfort over style!
Your Packing List for September in Iceland:
- Hat, scarf, and gloves
- Waterproof pants and jacket
- Rainproof footwear – boots or hiking shoes
- Quality warm socks, more than you would usually bring
The Best Tours to take in September in Iceland
Blue Ice Glacier Hiking
September is the best month to explore glorious glaciers at their bluest! The wonderful striking blue gives a magical finish to an already memorable experience.
On our blue Ice glacier hiking and ice climbing tour, glacier hiking and ice climbing are combined to create a perfect bucket list experience.
Golden Circle and Sightseeing Tours
A visit to Thingvellir National Park in September is truly a magical trip as the fall colors there are the most vibrant. September is also a great time to beat the crowds if you’re looking for solitude.
Landmannalaugar Day Hike
September is the last time of the year to experience the geothermal wonderland in the highlands before the snow starts hiding its ravishing rhyolite color scheme.
On the Landmannalaugar Day Hike, you will take a bus through amazing terrain and make your way past Hekla Volcano and other unique, natural wonders. Arrive at the moss and lava-covered lowlands before hiking up to the colorful mountains and surrounding volcanoes.
You’ll then finish off your tour with a dip in the natural hot pool that rests in the foothills.
While you’re here, why not read more about Iceland’s best hikes?
Our three-day itinerary is perfect for those who are visiting Iceland in the summer, and who would like a good balance between hiking and sightseeing. It is great for those who want to go to both Landmannalaugar and visit the South Coast.