When I read about Iceland travel options, a lot of resources seem to broken down into two sections: Iceland in winter and Iceland in summer.
Iceland in the winter? The Northern Lights! Winter wonderland!
Iceland in the summer? Long days! Hiking weather!
Don’t get me wrong … In my opinion, there is no bad time to visit Iceland! Heck, the entire week I was there, it stormed for at least an hour per day, and it was still probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.
But there is a wonderful time of year that is often overlooked:
Iceland in autumn.
In America, my love for autumn is probably correlated with my being a basic white girl. Damn, I love buying pumpkin spice anything from Starbucks and oversize flannel shirts from the men’s section of Old Navy.
But autumn in Iceland is a whole other ball game.
The Husband and I spent a week in South Iceland in early October 2016. And let me tell you why it was the bomb.
1. Day Lengths
Although Iceland is stunning during the winter months, many people avoid this time of year due to the few hours of daylight. Heck, in December, there are only four or five hours of daylight. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for sightseeing!
Tourists love Iceland in July because the sun shines for 20 hours straight! Which is great for sightseeing, but not super ideal for sleeping. (Any other sleep fanatics out there? I know I’m not the only one.)
In autumn, daylight usually lasts for about 10 or 11 hours. Honestly, I don’t usually want to be going, going, going on vacation for more than 10 hours per day, anyway.
This amount of daylight is just long enough to make you feel relaxed rather than rushed. If you oversleep by an hour, you haven’t just blown a huge chunk of your day.
2. Northern Lights
Okay, no, The Husband and I didn’t see the Northern Lights on our honeymoon due to the rain. Yes, the most incredible Aurora Borealis in a decade appeared over Reykjavik just a few days before we arrived. I can’t talk about it, I become too irate!
The best time of year to see the Northern Lights, an insanely gorgeous natural phenomenon, is typically from September to April. Arrive in September, the very beginning of autumn, and your chances are pretty good!
3. Whale Watching
Whale watching is typically a winter activity in Iceland. But whale watching season starts in November, which is usually when you can start booking tours with professional companies.
Sadly, since we went in October, it wasn’t quite time to see the whales yet!
No, Iceland is never going to be excruciatingly warm. But the “warm season” ends in early September and the “cold season” (ahem, freakin’ freezing) starts in early November.
If you travel to Iceland in that two-month time frame, you’ll probably be able to enjoy weather in the low 50s or upper 40s, rather than shiver all day in the 20-degree Narnia!
Also, in autumn, there is little to no snow most years. So while you might enjoy the occasional snow flurry, you shouldn’t have to worry about driving on mountainous icy roads.
5. Ice Caves
Ice caves are stunning natural wonders unique to countries like Iceland. Unfortunately, you can’t usually enter any until early-mid November, because that’s when the water starts freezing back up.
6. Lower Prices
Like in many touristy areas, it’s much cheaper to travel in the off season. Autumn, especially starting in October, isn’t exactly peak tourism season. As a result, prices for certain amenities and tours are lower!
Also, the crowds at attractions usually aren’t as big. Huge plus!
Now, I have never talked with anyone who has visited Iceland in spring. Anyone with tips for visiting the country during the spring months, I would LOVE to hear your take!