A Guide to Visiting Iceland in September

Daniel Cramer

(Updated: )
14 min read
A Guide to Visiting Iceland in September

1. Why Visit in September?

Ah, September in Iceland. It's that magical time when summer gives a gentle nod to autumn, allowing it to paint the landscapes with its golden hues. If you've ever daydreamed about visiting Iceland, let me tell you, September might just be the perfect month for that dream trip.

Firstly, the weather is still relatively mild. While the summer crowds have started to thin out, the warmth hasn't entirely left. You'll get to experience those cool mornings that gradually turn into pleasant days, making it ideal for exploring without bundling up too much.

And speaking of fewer crowds, that's another bonus! Most tourists target the peak summer months, so by September, you'll find popular spots less crowded. Imagine having a serene waterfall almost to yourself or walking on a black sand beach without bumping into groups of tourists every few steps.

Image of a road in Iceland during september
September driving.
But what truly sets September apart is the onset of the Northern Lights season. As the nights get longer, your chances of witnessing this natural spectacle increase. There's something utterly magical about watching those ethereal green, pink, and purple lights dance across the night sky. And trust me, it's an experience that stays with you long after your trip ends.

Lastly, for those who have a soft spot for cultural experiences, September hosts the Reykjavik International Film Festival. It's a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in Icelandic culture and cinema, and maybe even discover some hidden gems!

In a nutshell, September in Iceland offers a blend of pleasant weather, fewer tourists, and unique experiences. It's like the universe's way of rewarding those who choose to travel during this month. So, if you're considering it, I'd say take the plunge and let Iceland in September enchant you.

2. Must-Visit Places

Alright, let's dive into the heart of Iceland, shall we? If you're planning a trip in September, you're in for a treat. The landscapes are just...wow. Here's my personal take on some spots you shouldn't miss:


So, Reykjavik is this cool blend of the old and the new. Think hipster cafes meet Viking history. September in the city is buzzing with events. Ever heard of the Reykjavik International Film Festival? It's a cinephile's dream. And while you're wandering around, look up and spot the Hallgrímskirkja. It's this epic church that looks like it's straight out of a sci-fi movie. Oh, and don't even get me started on the Harpa Concert Hall. The way it catches the light? Pure magic.

Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is like Iceland's greatest hits album. First stop, Þingvellir National Park. It's not just about the jaw-dropping scenery; this place is steeped in history. Then there's the Geysir geothermal area. Imagine the ground bubbling beneath your feet and geysers shooting up into the sky. And Gullfoss waterfall? It's like nature's own theatre.

South Coast

Black sand beaches? Check. Dramatic waterfalls? Double-check. The South Coast is where Mother Nature shows off. Reynisfjara is a beach like no other, with its dark sands and towering basalt columns. And if you're chasing waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss have got you covered. Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is the cherry on top. Floating icebergs under a pastel sky? It's a dream.

The Westfjords

The Westfjords are like Iceland's best-kept secret. Látrabjarg cliffs are a bird-lover's paradise. And Rauðasandur? It's a beach, but not as you know it. Think red sands stretching as far as the eye can see. And the Dynjandi waterfall? It's like a staircase for giants.

Image of beautiful water in Iceland
Migration of water

Akureyri and North Iceland

Akureyri is like Reykjavik's cool cousin up north. It's artsy, it's fun, and it's surrounded by some of the most stunning landscapes. Mývatn is a geothermal wonderland, and Dettifoss? It's so powerful, you can feel the ground shake beneath your feet.

The Eastfjords

Driving through the Eastfjords feels like you've stepped into a postcard. Seyðisfjörður is this cute little town with rainbow streets (yes, really). And Petra's Stone Collection? It's like a treasure trove for rock enthusiasts.

Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Last but not least, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. It's got a bit of everything. Glaciers, volcanoes, beaches, and that mountain, Kirkjufell. Trust me; you'll want to snap a pic (or a hundred).

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3. September Activities

September is a month that's just brimming with possibilities in Iceland. The weather is still on your side, but the crowds are not, which means you get the best of both worlds. Here are some activities that you absolutely must consider adding to your itinerary.

Whale Watching: September is a fantastic time for whale watching. The waters around Iceland are teeming with these majestic creatures. Whether you're in Reykjavik or Akureyri, hop on a boat and get ready to be amazed. The experience is both humbling and awe-inspiring, and it's something you'll be talking about for years to come.

Hiking in Landmannalaugar: This is a hiker's paradise. The colorful rhyolite mountains, vast lava fields, and natural hot springs create a landscape that looks like it's straight out of a fantasy novel. The Fjallabak Nature Reserve opens up a world of hiking opportunities that are less crowded in September.

Exploring the Golden Circle: Yes, it's popular, but for a good reason. The Golden Circle has some of Iceland's most iconic sights, like the Geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park. In September, you can enjoy these spots with fewer tourists photobombing your perfect shots.

Puffin Spotting: While the puffin season is nearing its end, you can still catch these adorable birds in certain areas. The Westfjords or the islands off the South Coast are your best bet. Just imagine those cute little faces and colorful beaks; it's a sight to behold!

Northern Lights Hunting: As mentioned earlier, September marks the beginning of the Northern Lights season. Whether you choose to go on a guided tour or venture out on your own, witnessing this natural phenomenon is a must.

Image of the northern lights in iceland
Northern lights in Iceland

Hot Spring Soaking: The weather is starting to cool down, making it the perfect time to enjoy Iceland's numerous natural hot springs. From the Blue Lagoon to hidden gems in the countryside, there's a hot spring for everyone.

Ice Caving: While most ice caves are accessible only in winter, some operators offer tours in September. It's a unique experience to walk through these glittering caves, with their walls reflecting shades of blue and silver.

Horseback Riding: Icelandic horses are not just incredibly cute; they're also a unique breed with a special gait known as tölt. Riding one of these horses through Iceland's scenic landscapes is an experience you won't forget.

Image of an icelandic horse
Icelandic horse

Fishing: If you're into fishing, September is a great time to indulge in this activity. Whether it's sea angling or fly fishing in one of the many rivers, the experience is both peaceful and exhilarating.

Attending Cultural Festivals: September is rich in cultural events. From the Reykjavik International Film Festival to local food and music festivals, there's always something happening. It's a great way to immerse yourself in Icelandic culture.

So, there you have it. Ten activities that make September in Iceland an adventure you won't want to miss. Each offers its own unique experience, ensuring that your trip will be filled with unforgettable moments.

4. Packing Essentials for Your September Trip to Iceland

Ah, packing. It's the part of the trip that most people dread, but it's also the part that can make or break your experience. In Iceland, especially in September, the weather can be a bit unpredictable. One minute you're basking in the sun, and the next, you're caught in a sudden downpour. So, let's talk about what you should absolutely have in your suitcase to make your September trip to Iceland as comfortable as possible.

Clothing: Layer, Layer, Layer!

First things first, let's talk clothes. The key to staying comfortable in Iceland is layering. You'll want to start with a good base layer, something moisture-wicking to keep you dry. Then add a middle layer for insulation, like a fleece or a light down jacket. Finally, you'll need a waterproof and windproof outer layer. Don't forget a hat, gloves, and a scarf. Trust me, you'll thank yourself later.

Footwear: Keep Those Toes Warm

When it comes to footwear, think practical. You'll be doing a lot of walking, maybe even some light hiking, so you'll want something sturdy and waterproof. Insulated, waterproof hiking boots are your best bet. And don't forget thermal socks!

Tech Gear: Capture the Moments

You're going to want to capture all the stunning scenery, so make sure you have a good camera. Whether it's a DSLR, a compact camera, or just your smartphone, make sure you have enough memory and battery life. A portable charger can be a lifesaver.

Image of a person inside a 4x4 rental car in Iceland
Drive carefully

Food and Snacks: Fuel for the Road

While you'll find plenty of places to eat in Iceland, it's always a good idea to have some snacks on hand, especially if you're going on a long drive or hike. Think protein bars, nuts, and fruit. And always, always, have a reusable water bottle with you. The tap water in Iceland is some of the cleanest you'll ever taste.

Miscellaneous: The Little Things Count

Last but not least, let's talk about the little things that often get overlooked. A small first-aid kit, a multi-tool, a flashlight, and some basic toiletries can go a long way. Oh, and don't forget your swimsuit for those impromptu dips in Iceland's many geothermal pools!

So there you have it, a comprehensive packing list for your September trip to Iceland. It might seem like a lot, but remember, it's always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Happy packing!

5. Driving in Iceland in September: What You Need to Know

So, you've decided to take the wheel, rent a car and explore Iceland in September. Good on you!

Driving in Iceland offers unparalleled freedom to explore the country's breathtaking landscapes at yourown pace. But before you hit the road, there are some things you should know about driving in Iceland, especially in September. Let's dive in.

Weather: Expect the Unexpected

September in Iceland is a bit of a wild card when it comes to weather. You could experience anything from sunny skies to sudden rain showers or even snow in the higher elevations. So, it's crucial to be prepared for anything. Always check the weather forecast before heading out and adjust your plans accordingly. And remember, in Iceland, the weather can change in the blink of an eye, so always be prepared.

Road Conditions: A Mixed Bag

September is a transitional month, which means you'll likely encounter a variety of road conditions. While most of the main roads will be clear, some of the more remote routes may still be recovering from the summer tourist season. Potholes, loose gravel, and other minor road damage are not uncommon. Always drive cautiously and be prepared for sudden changes in road conditions.

Daylight: Make the Most of It

One of the best things about visiting Iceland in September is the ample daylight. You'll have long days to explore, but keep in mind that the days are getting shorter as winter approaches. Plan your driving routes to make the most of the daylight, and always have a plan B in case you get caught out after dark.

Image of winter road conditions in Iceland while driving
Use the daylight well
### Local Laws and Customs: Know Before You Go Driving in a foreign country always comes with its own set of rules and customs. In Iceland, you'll drive on the right side of the road, and seat belts are mandatory for all passengers. Speed limits are strictly enforced, and you should never, ever, go off-roading. It's not just dangerous; it's also illegal and can result in hefty fines. You may only drive on marked F-Roads

Emergency Preparedness: Better Safe Than Sorry

No one likes to think about emergencies, but it's always better to be prepared. Make sure you have a basic first-aid kit, a fully charged mobile phone with a local SIM card for emergency calls, and some basic tools like a tire repair kit. Most importantly, always let someone know your travel plans, especially if you're venturing off the beaten path.

Best prices for car rentals in Iceland

6. Travel Tips: Making the Most of Your September Adventure

Alright, you've got your itinerary, your packing list, and you're up to speed on driving in Iceland. Now, let's talk about some general travel tips that can make your September trip even more memorable. Trust me, a little extra planning goes a long way!

Currency and Payments: Go Digital

Iceland is pretty much a cashless society, so make sure you have a credit or debit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees. Most places accept cards, even in rural areas. However, it's always a good idea to have a small amount of cash just in case.

Image of a colorful night sky in Iceland
Colorful night sky in Iceland

Language: English is Widely Spoken

While Icelandic is the official language, you'll find that most Icelanders speak English quite well. However, learning a few basic phrases in Icelandic can go a long way and is always appreciated by the locals.

Food and Dining: Try Local Delicacies

Icelandic cuisine is unique and definitely worth trying. From fresh seafood to lamb dishes, there's something for every palate. And don't forget to try Skyr, a traditional Icelandic yogurt. Restaurants can be pricey, so consider grocery shopping and cooking some meals if you're on a budget.

Connectivity: Stay Connected

Wi-Fi is widely available, but if you're venturing into more remote areas, consider getting a local SIM card for data and emergency calls. It's always better to be safe and connected, especially when you're out exploring the great outdoors.

Image of a 4x4 in Iceland
Beautiful day in Iceland

Souvenirs: Shop Responsibly

Iceland is known for its unique crafts and designs, especially wool products. If you're looking to take home a piece of Iceland, consider buying sustainable and locally made products. Not only will you get a unique souvenir, but you'll also be supporting local businesses.

Respect Nature: Leave No Trace

Iceland's natural beauty is its greatest asset, and it's our responsibility to keep it that way. Always follow the "Leave No Trace" principles. Don't litter, stay on marked paths, and respect wildlife. Your actions have an impact, so let's make it a positive one.

And there you have it! Some final tips to make your September trip to Iceland as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Remember, the key to a great adventure is preparation and an open mind. So pack your bags, hit the road, and make some unforgettable memories in this stunning country. Safe travels!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some commonly asked questions that could help you prepare better for your September adventure in Iceland.

Q1: Do I Need a Visa to Visit Iceland?

If you're from a Schengen Area country, you won't need a visa for short stays. For others, it's best to check the visa requirements based on your nationality.

Q2: What Type of Clothing Should I Pack?

Layering is key. Even in September, the weather can be unpredictable. Pack thermal layers, waterproofs, and don't forget a good pair of hiking boots.

Q3: Is It Safe to Drink Tap Water?

Absolutely, Iceland has some of the cleanest, freshest tap water in the world. Bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated.

Q4: How Do I Handle Emergency Situations?

The emergency number in Iceland is 112. It's good to have a local SIM card so you can make calls in areas without Wi-Fi.

Q5: Can I Camp Anywhere?

While Iceland is a camper's paradise, you can't just camp anywhere. Always look for designated camping areas and adhere to local guidelines.

Q6: Is It Necessary to Book Tours and Accommodations in Advance?

September is a popular month, so it's advisable to book tours and accommodations in advance, especially if you have specific places or activities in mind.

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