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Your Complete Guide to Iceland in October


Iceland in October

    When you visit Iceland in October, you will catch the tail end of the autumn season as the island heads into winter. As a shoulder month, October offers many perks to visitors.

    If you’re thinking of heading to Iceland or you’re currently planning a trip to the island, you might just need to consider making it an October trip. In this article, we tell you exactly why October might be a good time to come and how to prepare for your trip.

    Iceland october

    One final big plus about visiting Iceland in October is budget-based. Everyone knows that prices on this remote island can be somewhat expensive. But if you visit outside the high season you will find the pricing a little lower. Expenses like accommodation, camper and car rental and campsite charge all ring in a little lower than in summer. There won’t be the summer crowds around the busier places like Reykjavik and the Golden Circle either. All in all, October is a great month to visit Iceland.

    In this article, we will take you through some of the best things to do in Iceland in October. We will also look in more detail at the daylight hours, the weather and what to pack.

    Is October a Good Time to Go to Iceland?

    Ultimately, whether visiting Iceland in October is a good idea will depend on you and what you would like to do and see here on the island. We have created a short summary of all the pros and cons of visiting Iceland in October below so you can do a quick scan of whether it could be a good option for you and your needs:


    • You’ll be about a month early for the festive season crowds that descend on the island over Christmas time, so you’ll be dealing with a lot less foot traffic and feeling less cramped at local attractions and activities.
    • Since summertime (peak season) is a thing of the past, and you’ll miss the festive season, you’ll also miss our usual peak season price hike that occurs all over the island, making your holiday budget last longer.
    • As a shoulder month, October is a great way to get a taste of both seasons here on the island. You will still find some popular summer things to do and see, but you’ll also be able to start experiencing some of our winter sights and activities.
    • October is your last chance to do a proper road trip around the island without your route being impacted by our annual road closures during the colder months of the year.
    • When visiting Iceland in October, you can still strike a fairly good balance between darkness and daylight. You’ll have enough daylight hours to cater to a pretty full trip itinerary and enough darkness to spot the Northern Lights in October in Iceland.
    • Winter might be lurking just around the corner, but you are still spared some of our extreme and harsh mid-winter weather elements.
    • If you’re lucky, you might still see some of our migratory whale species that stick around in early October after the whale season has officially ended in September.


    • When you’re not visiting us during our peak season, you’re inevitably visiting during what we call our “down” season. That means that many of our attractions, activities, and even transport will have changed their operating hours (usually shorter open hours and fewer trips when it comes to things such as ferries).
    • Iceland has another natural phenomenon that’s quite popular: the Midnight Sun. However, if you visit Iceland in October, you won’t be able to experience it – you’ll have far too few daylight hours.
    • When it comes to the weather in Iceland in October, you might not hit those winter extremes yet, but you also won’t be experiencing our warm summer weather either, so keep your expectations realistic of the weather during this shoulder month.
    • While you may still catch a few migratory whales, the Puffins will be long gone when you visit in October. They only stick around until August or early September at the latest.

    Weather in Iceland in October

    As mentioned, you need to be realistic about the weather you’ll experience on an October trip to the island. So, here’s some specific on the October weather in Iceland:

    Temperatures in Iceland in October

    In October, the temperature ranges between 2 and 7 degrees Celsius, with an average of about 4 degrees. Although the southern part of the island is normally a few degrees warmer than the north, there is a myth, or rather, an illusion, doing the rounds in the capital city.

    If you feel like the capital is warmer than its outskirts when visiting Reykjavik in October, don’t be fooled. It’s just because the buildings create a shelter against certain weather elements that the city feels warmer when, in actual fact, there is no real difference in temperature.

    Windspeeds in Iceland in October

    Luckily, you won’t need to contend with our winter wind speeds of 35+ kilometers an hour, which have been known to rip car doors right off their hinges. In October wind speeds average about 27 kilometers an hour.

    Rainfall in Iceland in October

    October is one of our wettest months of the year, so you’ll definitely encounter some rainfall during your trip. But this should not be an issue if you come prepared with a raincoat, waterproof clothing, gear, and hiking boots.

    Snowfall in Iceland in October

    On an October trip, you might experience some sleet, but definitely not what would really count as proper snowfall, and most certainly not things such as blizzards.

    Daylight Hours in Iceland in October

    As mentioned, Iceland’s daylight hours in October are still more than enough to plan a jam-packed trip itinerary. Each day will give you roughly 12 hours of daylight.

    What to Pack and Wear When Visiting Iceland in October

    Knowing what to pack during a shoulder month like October can sometimes be confusing. Except for your usual holiday packing, you’ll need to keep the following in mind:


    • Pack thermal underwear. It might not be winter just yet, but they’ll already start coming in handy, especially at night or when outdoors.
    • Pack enough T-shirts and long-sleeve shirts so you can wear layers every day. Our local saying says that “you can expect all four seasons in a day in Iceland”, so by wearing layers, you’ll always be able to take something off or put something on if need be.
    • Pack your raincoat, waterproof clothing, gear, and hiking boots. This is not just to be prepared for rainfall but also to help keep you dry on wet and muddy hiking trails, hot spring paths, or when visiting Iceland’s waterfalls, where you can get drenched by the mist and the spray.
    • Remember to pack your swimwear. Even though you might not usually go for a swim in temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius, you will find plenty of hot springs to relax in.
    • Opt for a quick-drying towel. Those who bring normal towels will end up hiking and traveling around with a bunch of soggy, wet stuff.
    • If you bring a backpack, try to bring one that’ll be suitable for both hikes as well as day outings. This way, you’ll save on packing space.

    Things to do in Iceland in October

    Take a road trip

    October is a good time of year for a road trip as long as you can stay flexible. There is a decent amount of daylight hours for cruising around and enjoying the views. And also plenty of hours of darkness for sleeping well if you are camping. If you are hiring a campervan you might be more comfortable sticking to shorter drives though. If the weather turns stormy it can really hinder your progress. But if you drive shorter distances this shouldn’t cause you too much stress.

    Good options for a short road trip include driving the Golden Circle or heading west to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Alternatively, you might choose to explore the south coast with its lava fields, glaciers, and incredible waterfalls. If you would like to drive the full Ring Road route it is still possible. You will just need plenty of time and some luck with the weather. You’ll be much better off setting off in early October too. By late October there is often quite a bit of snow falling and most of the F roads shut for winter.

    Iceland in October, driving

    Go Icelandic horse riding

    This is a truly unique experience for many reasons. Firstly, you’ll be able to explore Iceland’s breathtaking and contrasting terrain almost as part of it, and secondly, you’ll be doing it on the back of Iceland’s own breed of horse (unimaginatively called the Icelandic Horse). These horses are famous for their extra gait, their pony-like stature, and friendly nature, and when you are there in October, they’ll start sporting their thick, furry winter coats.

    Checking out our waterfalls

    Iceland boasts over 10 000 waterfalls, each more beautiful and unique than the next. Make sure you don’t miss out on falls such as Dettifoss (the second-most powerful waterfall in Europe) or Seljalandsfoss (the waterfall where you can walk behind its veil of water).

    Taking a stroll on our Black Sand beaches

    Our black sand beaches tell the story of thousands and thousands of years of volcanic activity here on the island. The black sand is actually hardened lava that has been eroded into sand by time, the weather, and the ocean. Take a stroll on some of our most famous black sand beaches, such as Reynisfjara or Diamond Beach.

    Visiting some of our interesting museums

    Iceland has some of the most interesting museums you’ll ever see. Of course, you can visit places such as the Saga Museum, where you’ll learn all about our history entwined with myths and legends, or Perlan, where you can walk through a real ice cave. But then there are those weird and wonderful museums such as the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft or the Icelandic Phallological Museum.

    Take a whale watching tour

    Whales frequent the waters around Iceland year-round. But they are definitely much higher numbers from around April to early October. As winter kicks in though fewer whale watching boat trips will run. The seas are far too dangerous and the weather too wild. They do often still run in September and October though. If the weather allows of course!

    Trying to Take a Snapshot of an Erupting Geysir

    You’ll need to get your timing just right if you want to capture an erupting geysir here in Iceland. But if you do, you’ll end up with pretty impressive photos as boiling hot water shoots meters up into the air. Come and check out the OG Geysir, called, well, Geysir, or its little brother that erupts at least every few minutes called Stokkur.

    Hike in the national parks

    There are only three national parks in Iceland. This might not sound like a lot but combined they take up a great deal of land and ice cover. Entering the national parks is free and there are miles and miles of hiking trails to explore. October is a good month for hiking as long as you come prepared for all-weather hiking. The days are still sufficiently long for some decent day hikes. The multi-day hikes are not advised at this time of year though.

    Hit the hot springs

    Iceland’s hot springs really come into their own when the temperature starts to dip. There’s little more exhilarating than stripping off in the chilly air and hopping into a thermally heated hot spring. We’ve all heard of the Blue Lagoon but there are many more thermal pools and hot springs around Iceland. In fact, there are even thermal rivers running through the hills and valleys. In fact, taking a dip in a hot spring is ideal for soaking tired feet and muscles. So it partners very well with a hike.

    hot springs in Iceland in October

    Hunt for the Northern Lights

    With its decent hours of darkness, October is a good month for spotting the Northern Lights. You can join all manner of Aurora hunting tours in Iceland. From group bus trips and private jeep tours to Northern Lights tours on the ocean (weather permitting of course). If you are hiring your own motorhome or camper van and camping out you can easily look for them independently.

    The campsites in Iceland are usually a good distance from any significant light pollution. So you may be able to simply look out of the camper window and see them dancing across the sky. Download the Aurora Forecast App and for more tips visit our article on ‘Finding the Northern Lights in Iceland’.

    Exploring the Capital City

    There are many ways to explore the capital city, but one of our favorites is the Reykjavik Food Walk. On this tour, an experienced guide takes you around, telling you all about the capital. You also stop at various eateries along the way for some delicious local cuisine and craft beers. One of the most budget-friendly options is to go on the Reykjavik Walk. It’s pretty much the same thing, but without the food, and all you need to pay is a donation.

    Having a Taste of Viking Life

    If you’ve ever wondered what being a Viking would feel like, now’s your chance. You can get dressed like a Viking and have your portrait taken at Mink Studios, or you can go sailing on an authentic Viking ship. You can even visit and dine in a traditional Viking village here in Iceland!

    Checking Out Our Interesting Rock Formations

    These are more natural wonders created by geological shifts and changes, as well as the volcanic activity here on the island. We have all sorts of incredible rock formations, such as Elephant Rock, Dyrholaey, or Londrangar (the rocky castle believed to be the home of elves).

    Explore a glacier

    October sees the crossover from summer to more wintry temperatures. This means that visitors can usually glacier hike at this time of year. If you are traveling in southwest Iceland, you can also still enjoy boat trips across the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.

    Glacier exploration in Iceland

    Icelandic Festivals and Events in October

    The following local festivals and events can also be added to your social calendar while visiting the island:

    The Lighting of the Imagine Peace Tower

    The Imagine Peace Tower can be found in a bay near Reykjavik. It is a memorial for John Lennon and a reminder of his ideals conceived by his wife, Yoko Ono. The Peace Tower is an incredible beam of light that shoots into the air and is only lit a few times throughout the year, October being one of those times.

    Reykjavik Interrnational Film Festival

    The Reykjavik International Film Festival (or RIFF, as it’s better known here) is an incredible celebration of cinema. More than 200 movies from over 40 countries are shown, and there are discussions, meet-and-greets, workshops, and much, much more. This is the ultimate festival for any film fan. 

    October weather conditions in Iceland

    Here we get to one of the potential downsides of visiting in October… The weather in Iceland is notorious and, much like in the UK people spend a lot of time discussing it. This is mainly down to the fact that it is very changeable. It is not unusual to experience several seasons in one day. And it has to be said that October can be a little guilty of this. Records show that there is marginally more rainfall in this month than in most others.

    Temperatures are pretty unpredictable, too. The average temperature around Reykjavik in October is 4-5 degrees Celsius. It can drop below zero but equally, it can be as mild as 15 degrees Celsius. It really is hard to predict. So visit with an open mind and plenty of wet weather gear. It is usual for the snows to begin in earnest towards the end of the month. So visits earlier in the month are more likely to be milder.

    October in Iceland weather

    Driving in Iceland in October

    October is also the last chance you’ll get to do a proper road trip without being impacted by road closures and the weather, so grab the opportunity while you still can, especially if you’re planning on exploring the Westfjords and the Highlands where the F-roads are kept closed throughout the colder months of the year.

    Also, discuss your routes with your rental agent so they can advise you on the vehicle that’ll best suit your journey (you might need a 4x4). If you were planning on doing the motorhome thing, don’t worry; there are plenty of 4x4 motorhome options to choose from. If you’re planning on doing a road trip, you can consider one of the following popular routes:

    Hours of daylight in October in Iceland

    This is the month where things really do shift into winter conditions. And that is true of the daylight hours too. At the beginning of the month, the sun will rise at approximately 7.30 am and set by 7 pm. However, by the close of the month, things will feel very different.

    The sunrise won’t light up the sky until after 9 am and will set again by 5 pm. This means there are between eight and thirteen hours of sunlight a day in October. The upside of this ratio is that there are a good amount of daylight hours for sightseeing. And it also means that there is a really good chance of seeing the Northern Lights during those long hours of darkness.

    What to pack to Iceland

    Talking of the Northern Lights if you would like to get serious about photographing them you will need some kit. A decent camera and a tripod for long exposures will reward you with some great shots. Alongside your camera pack a portable or in-vehicle charger for your mobile phone. You will need this for road trips and hiking to stay safe out in the wilds.

    When it comes to clothes good sturdy boots are a must. Sightseeing will see you walking across lots of uneven terrains. Good and well worn-in hiking boots are very important if you are planning any day hikes too. Make sure to bring hiking socks as well as other warm socks, hats, and gloves. In addition layer up with microfiber tops and bring the head to toe waterproofs that are also windproof. As long as you are prepared you will have a whale of a time!

    Iceland in October: A Shoulder Month with Perks

    As you can see, visiting Iceland in October has many benefits, from fewer crowds and more affordable rates to perfect road conditions and nice and mild weather. Use this article as a guide to create your exciting trip itinerary, and prepare for your visit. So, you can just rent a motorhome in Iceland upon arrival and hit the open road to explore everything this incredible country has to offer.