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October marks the transition period in Iceland when the warm summer temperatures gradually make way for colder winter conditions. This is the time when mountain trails in some parts of the country start closing off, but opportunities still abound for several fun and exciting activities. Go kayaking in Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, chase the Northern Lights, or take a road trip along Route 1 or the Ring Road. A trip to Iceland in October offers both summer and winter attractions.

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Iceland Weather in October

Sole traveler taking picture at dusk at Godafoss waterfall, Iceland
As the transition month from autumn to winter, October is a tricky month to set out on a multi-day hiking trip. However, short day hikes to nearby waterfalls are still a safe option!

October weather in Iceland is a cross between autumn and winter. The average daytime temperature in Iceland in October is around 6°C (43°F), which drops to an average of 2°C (36°F) during nighttime. While this temperature pattern is prominent in South Iceland, expect colder conditions as you move up to the northern region. There is little to no snowfall unless you travel to the Icelandic highlands.

October is also the wettest month of the year in Iceland, so remember to pack waterproof layers. The country enjoys about eight hours of daylight in October as the winter darkness encroaches. This allows visitors ample time for daytime sightseeing while also offering the perfect conditions for spotting the Northern Lights.

For a more in-depth seasonal overview, check out our travel guide on the best time to visit Iceland.

Weather in Iceland in October - Rainfall and Temperatures

SepOctNov
Avg Daily (°C)963
Avg Nightly (°C)520
Avg Daily (°F)494338
Avg Nightly (°F)413632
Avg Rainfall (mm)403029

Why Visit Iceland in October

Beautiful view of icebergs glacier lagoon with a guy paddle boarding.
Make a visit to the many famous glacial rivers in Iceland, which are yet to be frozen post-October.
Vestrahorn in Iceland with Northernlight on top
Enjoy the breathtaking view of the Nothern Lights, which begin to have stronger visibility by October.

October is one of the best months to visit Iceland as it combines the best of both summer and winter. Here is why you should consider visiting Iceland in October.

  • Shoulder-season perks: The peak tourist season is over before October, so expect low tourist numbers. You can visit top attractions such as the famous Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon without feeling rushed. Starting in October, you’ll also get the best deals on accommodation and airfare. 
  • Witness Northern Lights: October is one of the peak months for Northern Lights tours. Unlike in the summer, you do not have to venture into remote regions to catch a glimpse of the aurora. The celestial phenomena can be visible even from Reykjavik, thanks to longer nights. For the best Northern Lights viewing opportunity, head to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.
  • Self-drive the Ring Road: Embarking on a self-driving outdoor adventure along Iceland's Ring Road is an unparalleled experience. This scenic journey encompasses the entire country, leading you to major attractions such as the mesmerizing Skogafoss waterfall in South Iceland and the enchanting Lake Myvatn in the North. October offers the perfect condition for this road trip, with minimal traffic and a low chance of snowfall.
  • Art and culture festivals: October is the month that hosts the most number of art and culture festivals in Reykjavik. The Reykjavik International Film Festival, spanning from late September to mid-October, invites cinephiles to revel in diverse films and engage with industry professionals. Held from October 11 to 17, the Sequences Art Festival showcases avant-garde works from both Icelandic and international artists, providing a thought-provoking visual arts experience. Also, catch Cycle Music and Art Festival during the month, showcasing the dynamic fusion of music and visual arts.

Where to go and what to do

Girl taking a dip in a hot spring.
The chilly weather in October makes it the perfect time to take a dip in the warm waters of Icelandic hot springs.

Set out on a leisurely walking tour of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, which by October is largely free of tourist crowds. While still there, take a dip in the Blue Lagoon to fight the chilly weather or embrace the city’s nightlife, chugging craft beers in late-night pubs.

Marvel at the striking contrast of nature’s wonders amidst the vibrant hues of autumn foliage in the Golden Circle. Witness iconic sites like Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall, which come alive with the rich colors of fall, creating a captivating and unforgettable experience.

While the popular hiking trails through F-roads start getting closed for winter, October invites you to explore the Reykjadalur Hot Spring in South Iceland, where the hiking trail won’t yet be affected by weather adversities, unlike the ones in South, West, and East Iceland. And if you feel like a brisk hike isn’t challenging enough, go glacier hiking in the breathtaking landscapes of Vatnajökull National Park.

Don't miss the cultural delight of the Hvammstangi Puppetry Festival in October, where artistic puppetry takes center stage, adding a whimsical and imaginative touch to your Icelandic experience.

Experience Icelandic horseback riding in Vik during the early days of October, seizing the opportunity before winter's snowfall halts this popular tourist activity. If you are lucky enough, you can also spot the migrating puffins in the Westman Islands and humpback whales in the Westman Islands during the starting weeks of October.

NEED HELP PLANNING YOUR OCTOBER TRIP TO ICELAND?

Temperatures begin to drop in Iceland in October, but it is not winter yet. The cool crisp fall air is still around, and many top destinations are still accessible. Tourist crowds are also low, which means better deals on tours and accommodations. It is the start of the Northern Lights season in the country and one of the best times to take a road trip along the famed Ring Road.

For ideas and inspiration, go through our Iceland guide.

You can also fill out our customized Iceland trip form and let our local travel experts assist you in creating your ideal itinerary.

Our related travel guide articles:

Iceland in September

Iceland in November

Published by Lucas Toft, updated on November 27, 2023

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