Is October a good time to visit Iceland? The answer is yes! Here’s the deal…. While summer is an obvious time of year to visit, autumn in Iceland is also a beautiful time of year to be there. Not only will you be able to witness stunning fall foliage in Iceland, but there is a good chance you might be able to see the northern lights too.

October is also one of the least busiest months in Iceland which means not only will you be more likely to find cheap airfare, but you’ll likely get good deals on hotels too. Keep reading to learn more about visiting Iceland in October.

How Cold Is Iceland In October?

Iceland in October is considered a transition month therefore weather can be erratic but you can expect it to be mostly cold and windy. At a glance, lows will be around 36 degrees and highs around 45 degrees (F).

October is also one of the wettest months of the year in Iceland although it is more of a constant drizzle than pouring rain. Snow is very rare in October however it can happen occasionally.

What you should know is that Iceland is one of the windiest places in the world which makes temperatures seem much chillier than they are. It definitely pays to be prepared for the worst. See the table below for average temperatures of popular Iceland cities in October.

PlaceHigh (F)Low (F)High (C)Low (C)
Average October temperatures in Iceland

What Time Is Sunrise & Sunset In Iceland During October?

Iceland experiences extremely long daylight hours in summer and extremely short daylight hours in winter. Because October is smack bang in the middle of this transition period, you can expect there to be an average amount of daylight hours during this time of the year, however change in daylight hours is decreasing rapidly! This is quite typical for countries located in high latitudes.

If you take a look at the table provided below, you will see that on October 1st there is over 11 hours of daylight but by the end of the month on October 31st there is only 8 hours of daylight.

This means the later in October you plan your trip to Iceland, the less time you will have for outdoor activities. On the plus side, you won’t have to wake up as early to watch sunrise or stay out too late to see a magical Iceland sunset!

17:376:5511hrs 18mins
27:406:5211hrs 12mins
37:426:4811hrs 05mins
47:456:4510hrs 59mins
57:486:4110hrs 53mins
67:516:3810hrs 46mins
77:546:3410hrs 40mins
87:576:3110hrs 33mins
98:006:2710hrs 27mins
108:036:2410hrs 20mins
118:066:2010hrs 14mins
128:096:1710hrs 07mins
138:126:1310hrs 01mins
148:156:109hrs 54mins
158:186:079hrs 48mins
168:216:039hrs 42mins
178:246:009hrs 35mins
188:275:569hrs 29mins
198:305:539hrs 22mins
208:335:499hrs 16mins
218:365:469hrs 9mins
228:405:439hrs 3mins
238:435:398hrs 56mins
248:465:368hrs 50mins
258:495:338hrs 43mins
268:525:298hrs 37mins
278:555:268hrs 30 mins
288:585:238hrs 24 mins
299:025:198hrs 17 mins
309:055:168hrs 11 mins
319:085:138hrs 4 mins
Sunrise and sunset in Reykjavic, Iceland – October 2021

Some Reasons Why October Is A Good Time To Visit Iceland

Here are some great reasons why you should visit Iceland in October.

  • You won’t have to drag yourself out of bed early to catch a sunrise. The earliest the sun rises at the beginning of the month is 7:30am and only gets later from there. You can sleep in until 9:00am and still catch a sunrise!
  • The sun sets earlier which means you won’t have to stay out as late to watch the magic hour. This means you can get back to the warmth of your hotel room earlier.
  • There is an increasing chance of you seeing the northern lights and kick-off season for tour operators is September.
  • Flights to Iceland are cheaper in October because it is considered the off-season. Flights are especially cheap from the U.S. because it’s not considered a school holiday destination.
  • Hotel rooms are cheaper because it is the off-season.
  • October is a great time to see fall colors on full display in Iceland.
  • Even though it is cold, it is still possible to hike in some beautiful locations.

The Northern Lights In October

Iceland In October

The Aurora Borealis can only be seen in complete darkness which is why it is impossible to see the northern lights in Iceland between May and September because of the ‘midnight sun’.

However, October is a different story. As the days rapidly begin to decrease in length, your chances of witnessing the Aurora Borealis begins to increase. Which means you may be able to see the northern lights without having to endure the frighteningly cold winter temperatures Iceland is known for.

Your best chance of seeing the northern lights is by organizing a tour. This is because the guides are experts at finding places with clear skies and know the layout of the land like the back of their hands. Fortunately, many of the northern lights tour operators start running again for the winter season in October.

Bus tours tend to be more affordable however jeep tours can take you to less accessible places where there is less light pollution. This is the cheapest and most popular northern lights tour in Iceland. Of course you can chase the Northern Lights yourself in a rental car and seek out spots with little cloud cover on your own if you prefer.

Can You Drive Around Safely In October?

Iceland in October: Is It A Good Time To Visit

Driving around the Ring Road is on everyone’s bucket list when it comes to visiting Iceland so you may be wondering if it is safe to do so in October. You will be happy to know that the majority of roads are still accessible in October and it is still possible for you to rent a vehicle however know that roads can quickly become dangerous if hazardous weather occurs.

Due to cooler temperatures and increasing rain at this time of year, road conditions might be slippery and you may encounter unexpected snow conditions. Be sure to check the weather in advance before you set out on your road trip. If you do not have experience driving in winter conditions you may be better off joining an organized tour.

Here are some quick tips:

  1. Choose an all-wheel vehicle
  2. Check the weather forecast and road conditions in advance
  3. Get full car insurance
  4. Take extra warm clothing with you incase of a break down

Can You Still Go Whale Watching In October?

Iceland In October - Everything You Need To Know

Whale watching is a popular activity with tourists visiting Iceland so you may be wondering if you can organize a whale watching tour in October. The answer is yes, you can still go whale watching in October. Winter weather has not yet fully set in and the seas are still relatively calm.

Although peak whale watching season is during the summer months, some whale watching tours still operate until the end of October or November in North Iceland while in Reykjavic they operate year round.

Keep in mind though that whale species such as Humpbacks and Minke are less likely to be seen at this time of year however there are many other species of dolphins and orcas you may encounter.

The best whale watching destination in Iceland is Husavik where there is an incredible wealth of wildlife. To learn more about whale watching in Iceland see this article on Whale Watching In Iceland: Everything You Need To Know.

What To Pack For Iceland In October

The weather in Iceland during October most certainly could be described as cold. Therefore you should make sure you pack some warm thermal layers, a good jacket, a beanie, and a raincoat. Also remember that Iceland experiences extreme wind so an umbrella is not recommended and will be useless.

If you plan to visit any waterfalls you might want to bring a poncho too. Waterproof hiking boots are necessary for outdoor activities in October. Other items we recommend include a waterproof backpack to protect your valuable items like your phone and camera. Don’t forget to pack swimwear if you want to take advantage of Iceland’s famous hot springs.

Hiking Boots For Iceland

Women’s Waterproof Hiking Boots – The Talus Ultra Dry by Vasque is waterproof, grippy, and most importantly durable. It has a soft and supportive midsole, and the upper is backed with a waterproof membrane for a full waterproof seal that will keep your feet dry no matter how wet the ground gets. This hiking boot is perfect if you are looking to log a lot of miles and is a favorite among those who like to hike a lot due to its strong leather construction. >>check specs and prices for Vasque hiking boot here.

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