5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Iceland in the Fall
Rugged landscapes, cooler temperatures, cheaper prices, vibrant fall foliage and the Northern Lights, need I say more?
Iceland is an adventurer's dream. Rugged landscapes, waterfalls that'll make you weak in the knees, bays with chunks of glacier floating in them, diverse wildlife, black sand beaches.... I mean, do I need to say more? But in all seriousness no matter when you visit Iceland you're sure to have a blast but I'm going to make a very specific recommendation beyond just visiting in the fall and say you should go in September. Here's why:
1. The Fall Foliage
When we arrived in Iceland we had no idea how much diverse flora and fauna there was covering the landscape, let alone that it would be changing to vivid shades of yellow, orange and red. But the colors didn't stop there, in addition to the traditional red-yellow pallet there were bright pinks, purples and magentas! Contrast those colors against the bright blue glacier water and you have yourself some pretty amazing scenery. We were there from September 19-30 and the fall foliage was at it's peak. But the best part was not everything was a golden shade of autumn, it was at that sweet spot where there was still a lot of green left so the landscapes were full of color. We basically had two extra weeks of fall foliage this past fall! If you love fall and all of the seasons changing colors then you will be in absolute heaven in Iceland during September. (Also our fly fishing guide told us fall is a really popular time for professional photographers to visit the island!)
2. It's Cheaper
I, like many other people, had my eye on traveling to Iceland for awhile. A big hesitation to why I didn't book my plane tickets sooner was because they were so darn expensive. In November the year before (around now) I found roundtrip tickets for $500 a person (including taxes, fees, etc.) so I pounced on them. I had been saving up so I had the money ready and compared to the usual $800-$1000 round tickets I had been seeing I knew I had to get them. In addition our accommodations were so much cheaper! We did AirBnb the entire time and the rates once you got out of the peak tourist months (June-August) were significantly cheaper. Even our car rental rate was cheaper than during the summer months!
3. Fewer People
So I do not mean to say there weren't a lot of people, because there were a TON of people, but there were much fewer than you see during the summertime (according to locals). Some tourist restaurants in the countryside even begin closing up shop at the end of September because of the decline in tourists. So while we definitely had our fair share of waiting at a particular waterfall to have some alone time, or waiting for a selfie stick to be out of our line of sight, at least we got some alone time once in awhile.
4. Normal Daylight Hours
This is a big one. I hear that the midnight sun is amazing but I really wanted to catch some epic sunrises and sunsets and be able to get a good (dark) night's sleep every night. Also the night life in Reykjavik actually felt like, well, night life once the sun went down. For other people this might not be a big factor but I loved having dark nights and brights days and really wanted night time because.....
4.5. You Can See the Northern Lights
Yes! We saw the Northern Lights FOUR different nights on our trip to Iceland. And of course, you can only see the Northern Lights when it's dark outside. This made the whole trip a million ties more worth it. We could have done nothing but seen the Northern Lights and I would've been content. Seeing the green, purple and white lights dance across the sky for the first time in my life was just, indescribable and worth every hard earned penny I spent to go there. If for no other reason, go to Iceland when you can see the Northern Lights!
5. It's Not Too Cold Yet
While hiking, camping, fly fishing and doing everything outdoors it's not terribly cold. For our whole trip the days were never colder than 7-12 C (45-54 F) but it always felt warmer with the sun, and we had sun our entire trip except two days. This is great because if you opt to camp instead of rent a hotel or AirBnb you won't be freezing at night either. Hiking during the day is awesome because it's just cold enough to keep you comfortable but not too cold that your ears and lungs are aching. While we were fly fishing, hiking, snorkeling or just sitting on the porch with a warm cup of coffee, we thought the temperature and weather was perfect to experience Iceland.
Well, there you have it: why September is an awesome month to go and visit Iceland. Of course if you want to experience very specific things like hiking in glacier caves or seeing the midnight sun you have to plan accordingly, but if you're not too specific, I recommend September. June through August are the big tourist months but the tourist season is stretching farther and farther throughout the year. Iceland isn't cheap but you can make it cheaper by researching a ton of options to make sure you're getting the best deal. Start planning now for next fall!
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.