Fall in Iceland is most definitely off season; actually any time other than June – August is off season. If you visit from September to mid-December, you’ll much better deals on flights to Iceland, lower prices on accommodations and car rentals, and far fewer people. And while the days keep getting shorter (and colder) as the days creep towards December, you’ll find that with the exception of a few activities, you can do almost anything in the fall that you can do during peak summer season. Here are some of the best things to do in Iceland during the fall season.
The Golden Circle
Iceland’s most famous attractions (other than the Blue Lagoon, which can also be visited year round), the Golden Circle includes Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir. The roads are mostly paved and well-maintained so if you won’t want to join a tour, it’s easy to drive yourself. As it gets closer to winter, just be aware of limited hours of daylight and dress warmly and in sturdy shoes – the sloping path to the Gullfoss viewpoint can be at times either very muddy, covered in snow, or slick with ice.
The adorable stout and friendly Icelandic horse was built for the country’s climate. They’re surefooted in all conditions and have a thick coat of fur to keep them warm, which means you can go riding any time of year. The farm you book with will also provide you with a warm suit that will keep you cozy in any conditions.
Diving in Silfra
When the temperatures are in the high 30’s to mid 40’s, the last thing you might be thinking about it diving or snorkeling. But you can do it all year round at Thingvellir, where the Mid-Atlantic rift runs through the park and under the crystal clear Silfra lake. If you’re dive certified you can descend into the crack between the two tectonic plates; if not, don a dry suit and you can float above, staying surprisingly warm and dry.
Diving, dogsledding, cave exploring and ATV driving are just a few of the other outdoor activities available all year round.
The natural wonders of Iceland are the main draw, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook Reykjavik. With plenty of museums, great dining, a lively nightlife, and excellent shopping, it’s a worthy attraction in its own right, so plan to spend at least a day in the city.
Take a day tour
If you visit Iceland later in the season and are worried about driving, or if you simply don’t want to rent a car, there are dozens of day tours to choose from. You can explore the regions nearby, get up close to glaciers and volcanoes, or participate in outdoor adventures like hiking or snowmobiling, all within an hour or two’s drive of Reykjavik. If you’d prefer to see another side of the country, you can even do an AirIceland day trip, flying to the Westman Islands, Isafjordur in the Westfjords, Akureyri in north Iceland, or even to Greenland and then back again in a single day.
Photo by: Axel Kristinsson