Hiking, Camping and Road-Tripping Iceland During Fall/Autumn

As the winds start to pick up across the country come September, more travellers than ever are choosing to journey across Iceland. Read on to discover the secrets of this wonderful season.

Fast Facts

September: Temperature hovering between 40–50°F (5–10°C), but with the chance of some nice surprising sunny days. Sunrise at 6:30am and sunset around 8:30pm.
October: Temperatures hovering between 30–45°F (-1–4°C). Sunrise closer to 8:30am and sunset at around 6pm. Always a chance of snow.

Fall – A Potent Mix

Fall is a gorgeous time to visit Iceland. Come the end of August as the summer is winding down, the colours quickly change across the country, blazing soft hues of orange, yellow, brown and red. And as the days start to get shorter heading into winter, the perfect trade-off makes its spectacular return to the skies; the dancing northern lights.

The weather in the country during this short and sweet season before winter, lasting from September to the end of October, can best be described as moody. The wind whips back up across Iceland, bringing with it showers and storms that often blow away as quickly as they form to leave behind a crispness in the air and glistening landscapes. Low hanging clouds begin to threaten snow, and the mountains retreat behind wreaths of mist. But all these factors combine beautifully to create a magical atmosphere that is uniquely Icelandic, perfect for adventure.

The start of the shoulder season, the fall is a time when you can complete everything you could do in the summer time but with lower prices and less crowds.

An Icelandic horse in a fall landscapePhoto by James Taylor/Travelade.

Tranquil Hiking Conditions

This season is one of the best times to go hiking in Iceland, thanks to a few different factors. The huge number of visitors to the country during the summer have dropped off, meaning that you won’t be fighting the crowds along the trails, especially along the more popular destinations and routes such as Landmannalaugar and the Fimmvörðurháls pass (both of which are open in September). And even though the Icelandic summer rarely soars above 60°F (15°C), it’s always much nicer to hike through cooler weather that comes in with the fall. However, the frequent chance of showers mean that you’ll have to dress for the weather (think rain-proof jackets, pants, and good shoes), but persevere and you’ll be treated to some astounding light conditions, as the ever-changing weather brings sunlight to illuminate the rain clouds before they’re chased away by the wind.

Another bonus to hiking throughout the fall is that it’s a great time to go picking wild berries across the country. You can often spy ripe blueberries or crowberries in bushes along the hiking trails, making for the perfect snack along the way.

A hiker on top of Asbyrgi Canyon in the fall, Vatnajokull National ParkPhoto by James Taylor/Travelade.

Adventurous Camping

It might surprise many to find that during this tumultuous season there are still a lot of people out and about in the countryside camping in tents. The rain often turns a lot of campsites into messes of mud, and the cold nights will only serve to deter even more people. But camping in the fall is a wonderful adventure and being outside in the middle of things as the country changes so dramatically makes it even more special.

Due to the rain, it’s best to try and stay at the bigger campsites in towns. These usually come equipped with indoor common areas for cooking, and sometimes even their own drying cupboards to dry your clothes and towels in, a true luxury whilst camping. Aside from that, they generally have better areas to camp in if you’re going with the tent.

The other option of course is to rent a campervan. This popular way to explore Iceland has taken off in recent years, and it’s always nice to retreat inside a campervan as darkness falls, especially if it has a heater that can run overnight.

Photo from Pixabay.com

Here are a few great campsites that are open during the Fall/Autumn, with great facilities:

Kirkjubæjarklaustur
Svínafell
Egilsstaðir
Hvammstangi
Siglufjörður
Patreksfjörður

Road-Tripping

Watching the country fly by from the comfort of the front seat; is there really any other way to enjoy Iceland? With less cars on the road, the country wreathed in a magical and mysterious beauty, and winter on the way but not quite arrived, it’s a great time to complete your Icelandic road trip. The roads are all still open, except for the highland F-Roads (which close throughout September), and the conditions are good.

You can always stay on top of the weather conditions (en.vedur.is) and the road conditions (road.is) to make sure you’re not heading into any tricky situations, and leave your travel plans at safetravel.is.

Come November there is always a chance of icy conditions, but all cars are legally required from the 1st of November to be equipped with studded winter tires.

Photo by James Taylor/Travelade

The Fall presents the perfect opportunity for the Icelandic trip you’ve been dreaming of. Don’t be put off by the moody conditions; the country during these conditions is spectacularly beautiful, and somehow more naturally itself than during the summer.