Iceland in October and Why it is the best time to visit?
Iceland is a beautiful Nordic country that is stunning at any time of the year. It’s one of those countries that deserve a place on your bucket list and you should consider visiting it once in your lifetime. This tiny country has so much to offer, that you shouldn’t miss. But to leverage your stay and make the most of your trip, visit Iceland in October.
Continue reading to find out why it is the BEST time of year to visit Iceland. There are tons of activities, tours, and festivals to choose from. Questions about weather, packing, driving conditions, what’s special in Iceland in October, tours, and budget everything covered and answered in this post.
Visiting Iceland in October: Why it is the best time of year to go to Iceland?
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This picture was taken in Reykjavik – just a few days apart and you can see the contrasting weather.
We did our fair share of research before deciding to book our tickets for Iceland and we are so glad we traveled there in October. We were able to enjoy all the “seasons” in a day if this was a thing. But we did and we wouldn’t change our plans if given another chance.
The beauty of visiting Iceland in October is in experiencing variety in the weather conditions. We had experienced sun, rain, flurries, and rainbow on the same day in October.
October is considered a transition month – where days are still warm and long and winter has not set in yet. The summers are the busiest months in Iceland and they are – July- August. And winter months, with heavy snowfall, occur in November-February.
In October, you get to experience the best of both worlds – summer and winter.
Here is a little snapshot of what the weather looks like in Iceland in all months of the year and its pros and cons.
Snapshot: Iceland Seasons
Why October is the best time to travel to Iceland?
October is the best month to visit Iceland for many reasons. Let me list them for you!
- October is Offseason in Iceland
- Days off in October for your Iceland Trip
- Better deals on flights, hotels, and travel packages to Iceland
- Almost most of the tours in Iceland in October are still operating
- Festivals in Reykjavik and generally in Iceland.
Read: 5 days in Iceland itinerary
October is Off-Season in Iceland
As far as tourist traffic goes, October is the least busy month in Iceland. The summer rush of tourists is all gone. Things are on the quieter side before the winter season kicks in.
We were amazed to see how we could get our pictures taken, without being photo-bombed. Streets in Reykjavik are usually empty and an ideal time to get some great shots taken.
It is the same for the Icelandic landscape. Get that amazing shot under the Skogarfoss falls, without having to wait for people to step away from your frame.
Days off in October for your Iceland Trip
If you are looking for a quick trip to Iceland –like 3-5 days and do not have much paid time off left from work, then try clubbing your weekend with a statutory holiday. Like Thanksgiving in Canada and Columbus Day in the USA in October.
You can definitely find options to fly out in the evening to maximize your time in Iceland for your short trip using IcelandAir.
Better deals on flights, hotels, and travel packages to Iceland
As October is off-season in Iceland, rest assured to score some great deals for flights, hotels, and other vacation packages. When we were looking to book our flights in April of this year, we found that tickets were priced well for September and October.
IcelandAir comes out with flight deals every three months or so for its North American flyers (US & Canada). And we decided to book flights and hotels together for the two of us for October.
For hotels, we chose to stay in downtown Reykjavik. The hotel we booked our stay in is – Room With a View. Our room was charged for less than $90 USD or $105 CAD for one night for 2 people.
The hotel was located in the heart of the city – great access to bus tours, restaurants, and sightseeing spots like Hallgrímskirkja Church.
The hotel room was spacious and came with an attached kitchen, fridge, and a TV. You could probably secure a room for less, with a detached bathroom. Ours had an attached bathroom. Book your stay here – Room With a View
You can find great deals on accommodation in Iceland in October. Get your hotel/ accommodation deals right here.
If you prefer Airbnbs, here is a list of the best Airbnbs in Iceland
Iceland Tours in October
Most of the tours in Iceland are still in operation in October. Classic day tours like the Golden Circle and South Iceland tours were operating as normal when we were in Iceland.
We saw rainbows over the waterfalls, walked over black sand beaches, experienced some light flurries and snow on our way, and also enjoyed some sunshine at the glacier walk. Access to the Snæfellsnes peninsula in West Iceland via road is also possible in October from Reykjavik.
Multi-day tours to North Iceland are also possible in October. North Iceland’s most stunning sights, such as Lake Myvatn, the waterfalls Dettifoss and Godafoss, etc are open for visitors.
Northern lights tours are offered in winter in Iceland, including October. These tours depart from Reykjavik between 08:30 pm to 10:00 pm. Other winter tours like ice caves, snowmobile, super jeep tours, and glacier lagoon hike tours are also offered.
Food and photography tours are also operating as normal.
Take a look at all the exciting tours that Iceland has to offer
- Classic Golden Circle Tour – One of the most popular tours is the Golden Circle tour from Reykjavik. In the golden circle route, one can explore the Thingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and the stunning Gullfoss waterfalls. Click to view this tour
- South Coast Tour: Another popular excursion is the full day South Coast tour which overs picturesque waterfalls near Reykjavik such as Skogafoss, and Seljalandsfoss with a stop at the village of Vik and the black sand beach of Reynisfjara. Here is the South Coast of Iceland tour.
- Northern Lights Bus Tour from Reykjavik – Soak in Northern Lights in October on this night bus tour. Click to view the Northern Lights tour
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Full-Day Tour from Reykjavik – Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon is an easy day trip idea from the capital city. And October is the last call of nature to experience a boat tour. Book this tour here
- ATV & Whale Watching tours – Combine the best of 2 tours with an ATV ride in the rugged nature and go whale watching after. This is a full-day tour, with 3 hours set aside for whale watching. To ride the ATV, passengers don’t need a license, but the minimum age to experience this excursion is 8 years. To operate the ATV, you will need your license, so don’t forget to carry yours. Click to view this epic ATV & whale watching tour
- Ice Cave tour options – In October Iceland open up its doors for natural ice caving experience. You can choose from a variety of ice cave tours including a full day trip starting from Reykjavik – Langjökull Glacier Ice Cave Walking Tour. Or 3-4 hour expeditions to Vatnajökull Glacier or Jökulsárlón
- Full-Day Viking Horseback Riding Tour – Go horseback riding (managed by local businesses) near Reyjkavik. Click to view a horse riding tour
To explore Reykjavik, we actually decided to walk around the town. And the weather was manageable to enjoy the city on foot, with less crowd on the roads. It did rain occasionally, so a waterproof jacket and shoes are a must (no umbrellas, please and here’s why).
It is super windy in Reykjavik and Iceland in general. So water-proof and wind-proof jackets are a must, actually. When we went to the top of the Hallgrímskirkja Church tower, it was very windy. The church tower was operating during winter hours – from 09:30 am to 04:30 pm.
Blue Lagoon also operates with their winter schedule, with their first entry at 08:00 am and going up to 09:00 pm
Daytime tours start as early as 08:00 am and the northern lights tour pick up, starts as late as 10:00 pm at night. Full list of Iceland tours by budget and season here
Festivals in Iceland in October
Although a slow tourist season, Iceland has a great line–up of festivals in October. During our visit, we were able to participate in a few of them.
- Imagine Peace Tower – The Imagine peace tower is an impressive light tower that is lit every year from October 09 to December 09. This tower was built and dedicated to John Lennon by his widow Yoko Ona. The day the tower is lit is on John Lennon’s birthday, which is October 09th, and on the day he died – December 09 – the lights are turned off. This impressive beam of light shines through the night sky, with “imagine peace” written in 24 different languages at the base of the light tower.
- RIFF – Reykjavik International Film Festival or RIFF opened its doors on September 28 for movie lovers and the festival continued to the first week of October (8th October). RIFF was located in downtown Reykjavik. Films from over 40 countries were showcased at this year’s Film Festival.
- Music concerts show at Harpa Concert Hall – In October, you can gear up for some music fests and concerts all month long at the Harpa Concert Hall. One of the biggest music festivals in Iceland – Air Waves – is scheduled for early November every year and so you will definitely feel the buzz in the air in October.
What is special in Iceland in October? Things to do in Iceland in October
Iceland in October will leave you speechless with its many natural phenomena.
Northern Lights in Iceland
When we were planning our trip to Iceland, we wanted to experience the Northern Lights. So this was a huge item on our bucket list. Northern Lights are visible in Iceland from September to April.
We skipped September and decided to book in October (for further surety of chasing Northern Lights) without being frozen in the winter or having to cancel plans due to road conditions. And we are glad we did that.
We booked a tour to chase northern lights, just outside of Reykjavik. Our tour bus picked us up at 10:00 pm and in about 50 minutes, we were able to see the magical green lights in the sky. The show continued for 2-3 hours and during this time, we saw shooting stars as well. Aren’t we lucky?
As it was almost midnight, there was a chill in the air and it was definitely colder than the daytime hours, so dress well.
Our Northern Lights tour was canceled on our scheduled day as it was cloudy. But we were able to take it the next day for free.
BOOK NORTHERN LIGHTS TOUR FROM REYKJAVIK
To leverage your time here for Northern Lights, make sure you book the tour on your first day or so. It is weather dependent, so in case you don’t see it the first day, you can at least experience them the next scheduled day. Our tour guide also helped us photograph the northern lights.
Sheep on the roads
During summers, the Icelandic countryside is filled with sheep-like everywhere. It makes driving a pain – both for cars and tourist buses. You might also experience traffic delays due to it. In October, sheep traffic is not crazy. It is manageable without travel interruption.
Also, it is not very cold and so you can see and play with these friendly- fluffy sheep, which is a bonus.
Good daylight for photos in Iceland
As October is the cross-over month in Iceland, you will get decent daylight to travel and take pictures. Daylight hours start at 07:30 am (approx) and it is bright and nice until the sun sets at 06:50 pm. This allows you to get great pictures of Iceland’s natural gems.
As days are still long and bright, you can spend more time exploring Iceland, rather than wait, thus making the most of your time there.
Experience all seasons in a day in Iceland in October
In October, you can experience all seasons in Iceland, sometimes all of them in a day. One fine morning, we were greeted with warm sunshine and we walked the streets of Reykjavik with coffee in hand. Then embarked on our scheduled tour of the South Coast of Iceland.
Halfway through the journey, it snowed a little – so all the black (lava-filled) landscape was now covered in white. By the time, we reached Skogarfoss, the snow has stopped, and it did rain a bit while we were there. And before we left, we saw a beautiful rainbow in the sky!
You won’t see snow in summers for sure (although it will rain a bit), and during winters the days are short and not too bright. So yea, visit in October to experience all of it and the northern lights (don’t let that go).
Warm water, sprinkled with snow
One of life’s luxuries is to soak in warm water (full of minerals) while there is a slight drizzle or even white flurries outside. In no spa or any other place can you experience this, but you can in Iceland in October (sorry if it sounds corny, but it’s true)
One of Iceland’s tourist magnets is its outdoor pools near geothermal activity. Think of Blue Lagoon, Sky Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, or the Seljavallalaug.
They are built near geothermal bodies, so the water here is warm and filled with essential minerals that are good for your skin. Keeping you warm, whilst it is windy or rainy outside.
When we were in Iceland, we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon at the Secret Lagoon, soaking in warm water, while it was drizzling in light snow and rain. It was magical. Try it! BOOK THIS SECRET LAGOON, DINNER & NORTHERN LIGHTS TOUR
What season is Iceland in October – Experience Fall in Iceland (or Autumn in Iceland)
Fall in Iceland can be experienced in October as well. One of the stunning things about Iceland is its ever-changing landscape. When we explored the countryside, it was filled with fall foliage everywhere, making it a photographer’s paradise.
We enjoyed the Faxi waterfalls and the fields near the stunning towns and villages of Iceland.
Take this image from Vik, for example. It is gorgeous, especially with the red church from the hill lock. And it is not busy here, so feel free to pose
Thingvellir National Park is another spot where you will fall in love with Iceland’s autumn colors. This place is like out of a movie scene (think: Game of Thrones) – stunning!
There are shades of red, orange, and brown colors everywhere during autumn in Iceland. On your way to the tourist sites, you will also notice that the lava fields are covered in green mosses with a slight drizzle of snow here and there.
Things to know before your visit to Iceland in October
Before you book that trip, there a few quick tips for a smooth trip to Iceland in October
Weather in Iceland in October
October is a cross-over and a transition month in Iceland. As for the weather, you can expect the temperature in Iceland in October to be as low as 2 degrees Celsius (36 F) and a high temperature of around 7 degrees Celsius (45 F).
With each passing day, the daylight will be shorter and shorter. Sunrises at 07:36 am at the start of the month, which are the early weeks of October. As we go further along the way, sunrises after 08:00 from the 20th of October to up to 09:00 am towards the end of the month.
Iceland October Weather Snapshot
- Average Temperature (Low) – 2 degrees Celsius (36 F)
- Average Temperature (High) – 7 degrees Celsius (45 F)
- Rain in Iceland – October in Iceland is the wettest month, with 14 days of rain on the southern coast. However, the rains are more of a drizzle than a heavy monsoon sort of rain
- Iceland Weather October northern lights possibility – Northern Lights in Iceland are easy to sight in October, as it experiences an average of 15 hours of darkness.
We were in Iceland in the first few weeks of October and enjoyed an early morning sky, filled with a pinkish hue.
Similarly, the sun sets at 7:00 pm at the start of the month. And as we progress, the days are shorter and shorter with the sun setting at 05:16 pm towards the end of the month in October.
October is also the wettest month in Iceland. It is usually light drizzle leading to pouring rains, especially in the middle of the month and end. It is windy too at the same time, so waterproof-windproof clothing, as usual, is your uniform.
But as always, the rain amount depends on which part of Iceland you are visiting. Reykjavik was definitely rainier than the southern countryside. Read: How to spend one day in Reykjavik
Remember most of Europe experiences rain around this time of the year. We were in Paris, a week before Iceland and it rained there. Same thing in Budapest last year. If you are in Seattle or Vancouver, you know it!
Does it snow in Iceland in October?
October is considered a winter month in Iceland. But it is not really that cold, but definitely windy. And Iceland is the third windiest place on earth and the only habitable windy place on earth. So you know what I mean. It will be windy – at any time of the year.
Heavy snow in October (like a winter wonderland) would be an exception, but it could happen for a brief period of time and then clear up. (As weather is unpredictable in Iceland). But it is very rare. Historically, Iceland in October is more rain and windy weather, than cold winters.
Driving in Iceland in October – Can you drive around Iceland in October
It is a dream to drive on the Ring road in Iceland and be mesmerized by the amazing view from your car seat. Most of the tourist attractions in Iceland are accessible via road in October. If you plan on driving in Iceland in October, be cautious of the weather and road conditions.
Due to the drop in temperatures and the high probability of rain, the roads are slippery. Add the possibility of light snow and strong winds and a combination of these factors makes driving a challenge during October.
You are better off to forgo driving in Iceland in winter, if you are not used to the hazardous winter conditions like slippery roads, low visibility, etc. Keep in mind most roads in Iceland have to pass through gravel tracks leading to natural sightseeing places.
Car Rental in Iceland
If you are comfortable driving in Iceland with these weather and road conditions, then a car rental is definitely an option to consider. Here are some helpful tips
- Choose an all-wheel vehicle (4 wheel drive)
- Check the weather forecasts (temperature, visibility, sunset, etc.)
- Check road conditions from local news (roadblock due to avalanches in some areas)
- Get car insurance (CDW – collision damage waiver, gravel, and ash insurance)
- Wear seat belts and ensure there is enough gas and food in your vehicle.
Take Tours in Iceland in October
If you don’t want to drive in Iceland, no problem. Tours are a great way to explore Iceland when weather conditions are tricky. This also takes off the burden of preparing your vehicle, road maps, weather forecasts, and whatnot.
Leave to the tour operators, stay warm and toasty inside a tour bus or van (if taking a private tour), and enjoy what Iceland has to offer.
What to pack Iceland in October
Now that I got you all excited about visiting Iceland in October, here are a few tips for packing. Iceland at any time of the year is windy. So windproof clothes are a must.
If you are visiting waterfalls (which I am sure you will be) – waterproof clothes are equally important. You will be visiting Iceland at the wettest time of the year, so you can definitely carry a poncho or good waterproof shoes and clothing. Umbrellas are almost useless here, due to the wind.
Make sure your day –packs and your backpacks are waterproof as well. The same goes for your camera and other equipment and gear protection.
Read: Full guide on what to wear in Iceland in October
- 1 windproof- waterproof jacket – Here is my favorite – buy it here
- 1-2 light sweater/s
- 1-2 thermal wear (top & bottom) – Shop long john/thermals here
- 1-2 waterproof pant/s – Shop waterproof pants here
- Warm scarf for any time of day or in-flight
- Warm socks – Try these thermal socks available for both women and men
- Sturdy waterproof shoes or boots – Buy these UGG waterproof boots
- Beanie or hat
- Good Moisturizer
- Hair ties (for girls – it is windy)
- No umbrellas may be poncho if you like
We hope you found this post helpful in deciding when to travel to Iceland. We had an amazing time in October in Iceland and we wouldn’t change our plans. I hope you get to Iceland soon and enjoy your visit as much as we did.
Resources for Iceland Travel
- Iceland Itinerary – Iceland Itinerary Ideas for 3 days | 8 days in Iceland
- Iceland Tip Planning – Travel Tips for Iceland – an extensive guide
- Iceland Tours – Everything you need to know about Iceland Guided Tours
- Iceland Winter Tours – Read about the top Iceland Winter Tours
- Reyjkavik Budget Guide – Get the list of things that you can do in Reykjavik for free
Essential Europe Guides
- Europe Planning – Essential Europe travel checklist, and Schengen Visa tips
- Europe one week itinerary samples – 27 European Itinerary samples to craft your own
- Europe winter destinations – Top places to visit in Europe
- Winter sun destinations – Winter sun destinations for December to February
- Places to visit in February – Best places you must visit in Europe in February
- Best Winter Boots for Europe – Our top picks for winter boots
- Best Walking Shoes for Europe – Comfortable walking shoes in Europe
- Europe Packing List – Get the all seasons Europe packing list here
Awesome read! Can’t wait for the little one to grow when we can plan trips again. Northern Lights is definitely on our list. If not Iceland, I hope the husband takes me to Norway.
Thank you so much <3 Both Iceland and Norway are great options to chase Northern Lights. Hope you visit both soon
Hi ! Thanks for sharing. May I know exact date you traveled to Iceland in Oct. Im confusing between Oct and Nov. Thanks again!
We were there from October 05 -10 – first half of the month, not in November. Happy Planning!
Great information! I will have a long layover, arriving Sunday 8:30 am Sept 29, departing Tues early flight to JFK. Hard to decide itinerary for such a short visit. Blue or Secret Lagoon, afternoon in Reykjavik, northern lights tour, Monday day tour Golden Circle, music at night. Too much or good ideas? Thanks so much!
That’s awesome! I think you can squeeze in a few things. For Blue Lagoon, you will have to book a ticket online with a time slot. Its worth making a trip to the Blue Lagoon in the morning so start with that. If no time slots are available during your short visit, then you can skip that altogether and explore Reykjavik on Sunday and take a Northern Lights tour at night. If you MUST visit the Blue Lagoon, you can still visit to see the spa, just that you cant get into the thermal waters.
On Monday, book a Golden Circle Tour with Secret Lagoon and a concert at night is doable!
Here are tours that you can book: Iceland Guided tours
Grt information! Could u pls tell the name of the hotel u stayed in which was centrally located
Thank you for all your helpful info! My mom and I are going to Iceland in 3 weeks! Your photos are amazing! I’m so very excited! What boots are you wearing in your photos? I’m having a difficult time trying to hunt those down! LOL
Yay! That’s awesome. Thank you so much – I am sure you will LOVE Iceland.
My winter boots were bought at Mark’s (Canadian retailer), but they are similar to UGG (similar price range and warmth) that I have linked in the post. I have added a taller version of the boots as well.
This helped a lot. Thanks >)
I am glad! Have a great time in Iceland!
How much do you recommend travelling with a 11-month old baby during first week of October given the weather & driving ?
Hi Hariram, as long as you are used to winter driving it should be fine. I would recommend staying on the south coast though, and sticking to popular routes (like the Golden Circle) that are open all year round.
Is it too windy during first week of October ? (I understand Iceland is overall windy yearround). I am unable to guage how scary or non-drivable it would be in Southern part of ring road: Selfoss – Vik – Jokularson. Another question: Is it advisable to keep away from Akuleri and Myavatn during this part of time ?
The southern coast attractions like Vik and the Golden Circle route should be fine in the winter. These are popular tourist routes and open all year round. Because you are traveling with a little one, finding washrooms, restaurants, rest stops will be slightly easier along this route.
About the winds, yes it is windy. On the southern coast, while we were at Gullfoss I could barely open my eyes lol, but the rest of the attractions/sites were fine. Dress for the weather though (windproof, waterproof, ear muffs, gloves, and layers!).
Due to the winds, blowing snow is pretty common and visibility will be poor at times. We live in Canada and are used to the blowing snow, but some of the roads in Iceland are narrower (and single lane) than what we are used to in Canada – so we recommend a 4X4 SUV. And as always exercise caution on the road. Do download the app Veður to stay up to date on the weather when in Iceland!
Keep in mind, you can always book a small group tour if the driving conditions are poor. We booked guided tours and they were not intrusive, in our experience.
Thanks so much for your response. Well, now I am obsessed with a new (slightly picky) concern( excuse me). The lush green landscape beauty of Iceland is what I am hoping to experience around the falls & drives, but some October tourist videos during October showed too dull (something like past-peak fall color in the US) grass/shrubs around all tourist attractions (like Snaefelles Peninsula & South coast drives). What should I expect as far as landscape color to be in early October ? (I know this is a tough question, some guidance would be helpful). Will June-July-August be greener ?
So the greenery scenes from Iceland are only possible (for the most part) on the western part of the country (like you mentioned Snæfellsnes, and the Silver Circle route where you will find Snorri’s Pool and Icelandic highlands).
Rest of the country doesn’t have a lot of green or forest cover (only lava rocks and black sand).
In October, you may not see a lot of green spaces. Plan for late June – July (or early August) for that.
Note that July is a busy season and things get booked up very quickly.
But it is a great time to visit due to the midnight sun and the weather of course (will still have to pack layers).
I feel like one has to visit Iceland in different seasons to truly get a taste for it! October/ fall was still great as we had some bright days and the cold weather too – the best of both.
Snæfellsnes peninsula is possible to visit in one day from Reykjavik.
Thank you so much! I am visiting for 4 days in the 2nd week of October – complete chance choosing of the dates, so I am very relieved to hear about the weather and confirming what to pack.
Thank you, Siobhan – I am glad 🙂 Happy Travels!
Thank you so much for all the info and happy to know that October is still a good month to visit Iceland. We will be there next Monday!!
Yay! I am so glad this post was helpful! Enjoy your time in Iceland 🙂
Hi Mayuri. truly enjoyed reading this. Me and my husband are planning to go to Iceland in october of this year 2023 to see the northern lights to celebrate my 50th birthday. We have heard so many mix opinions about the possibility of seeing them so early in the season.
What year did you go to Iceland? would that make a difference….how many days should we stay there? we were planning 7 days but not sure it’s too many days? should we drive or not?
Glad you found the post useful! I went back to Iceland last year 🙂 For northern lights sighting October is still a good time!
I have a couple of itineraries on the blog which you can use for your upcoming trip – 5 days in Iceland, 8 days in Iceland