By October, Iceland is heading steadily towards winter. Temperatures drop, it rains more often (actually October sees the most precipitation of any month) and daylight hours become much shorter. Average temps range from 6.8°C to 2.2°C (roughly 44 – 36 °F), with the sun rising around 8am and setting by 6pm each day. The good news is that – with the exception of some of the more remote areas of Iceland – most of the country is still accessible to tourists, there’s plenty to do, and you’ll find fewer crowds and lower prices than you would in summer.
While prices on flights to Iceland during peak summer months can cost as much as $700-$1000 from the US, prices in October are much lower. You can often find deals from the US – deals that may even include hotels and some activities – for as low as $350-$400 round trip. Hotels, car rentals and tours often cost less in the off season as well.
Visitors who come in October will find that they are somewhat limited in what they can see and do, but not so much that a visit in October is no longer worthwhile. You can enjoy many of the same outdoor activities popular in summer, all year round. Go horseback riding, caving, snorkeling (yes, snorkeling!), and check out the many natural wonders of Iceland that are easily accessible from Reykjavik. You’ll still be able to visit places like the Golden Circle on your own. Harder to reach places like the interior and remote areas of the Westfjords may be either completely closed off or only accessible with a guide and a specially-outfitted vehicle. Visitors in October also have an excellent change of seeing the Northern Lights.
Warm winter clothes are a must for visiting Iceland in October. Don’t forget a warm, waterproof jacket, hat, gloves, and good boots. If you plan on doing special outdoor activities like horseback riding or dog sledding, the tour agency will generally provide you with gear.
>> more on what to wear in Iceland in fall
The Iceland Airwaves festival has been held in Reykjavik every October since 1999. It attracts thousands of music fans from around the world, so if you’re planning your visit during this time, book your accommodation early and be aware that prices might be slightly higher than normal off-season rates.
Photo by mokastet