ICELAND SEPTEMBER ITINERARY
This Iceland September itinerary includes floating icebergs, cute seals, erupting geysers, bubbling mud, friendly Icelandic horses, thrashing waterfalls, black volcanic sandy beaches, and grass-roofed churches. All of which are set amid a wild and untamed landscape.
Iceland is where Mother Nature reigns supreme.
We travelled to Iceland in September and in this article we set out the things to do in Iceland in September and why this month is a great time to explore the country.
ICELAND IN SEPTEMBER 14-DAY ITINERARY OVERVIEW
This is a summary of all the amazing and most typical attractions we saw on our 14-day September Iceland Itinerary. If you want to read about these in detail then head over to our Iceland 2 Week Itinerary. The routes follow the main Iceland driving routes, including the Golden Circle, The South Coast Rote and Iceland’s Ring Road.
- Day 1
- Explore Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland
- Sun Voyager sculpture,
- Tómas Gudmundsson sculpture,
- Monument to the Unknown Bureaucrat and
- Chase the Northern Lights in the hills not far from Reykjavik
- Day 2
- Explore Skógar
- Kerid crater,
- Geysir and
- Gullfoss waterfall
- Day 3
- Selfoss waterfall,
- Seljalandsfoss waterfall,
- Reynisfjara black sand beach,
- Dyrhólaey Cape with its naturally formed bridge and
- Skogafoss waterfall
- Day 4
- Explore Höfn
- Sólheimasandur DC3 plane wreck,
- Rutshellir caves and
- Kvernifoss waterfall
- Day 5
- Explore Hofskirkja church,
- Jokulsarion Glacier Lagoon and
- Diamond Beach
- Day 6
- Explore Egilsstadir
- Egg sculptures,
- Hvalnes Nature Reserve and Lighthouse
- Day 7
- Explore Seydisfjordur with the
- Blue church and
- Rainbow path and
- Day 8
- Explore Akuyeryi,
- Detisofss waterfall,
- Selfoss waterfall,
- Asbyrgi Canon,
- Husavik Church,
- Hverir Lava fields and boiling mud holes,
- Grjótagjá Cave and
- Godafoss waterfall
- Day 9
- Explore Akureyri Church,
- Akureyri Botanical Gardens and
- Day 10
- Explore Hvítserkur,
- Vatnsdalsholar hillocks,
- Hamarsrétt Sheep Corral and
- Hvitserkur rock formation
- Day 11
- Explore Ólafsvik,
- Gerðuberg Cliffs,
- Ölkelduvatn Mineral Spring,
- Ytri Tunga seal watching,
- Búðakirkja and
- Búða Beach
- Day 12
- Explore Snæfellsjökull National Park,
- Gatkletter Rock Arch,
- Longrangar Basalt Cliffs,
- Malarrif Lighthouse and
- Skarðsvík Beach
- Day 13
- Explore Hallgrímskirkja,
- The traditional fisherman huts at the old harbour and a
- Final chase of the Northern Lights
- Day 14: Depart Iceland
READ MORE: For Full details of our Iceland 2 Week Itinerary
OPTIONAL ADDITIONS TO YOUR ICELAND SEPTEMBER ITINERARY
You might want to consider these additional tours, activities and attractions:
- Glacier hiking and Visiting an Ice Cave
- Icelandic Horse-riding in Lava Fields
- Whale watching
- Visiting the Blue Lagoon
- Northern Lights tour
- Zodiac boat tour of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
ICELAND IN SEPTEMBER ITINERARY MAP
Click on the map to have a better view of the listed attractions with their names. These locations are all indexed on the left side of the map above and also described below:
Orange: plane wreck
Green: overnight accommodation
Brown: alternate route avoiding toll on National Road 1
THINGS TO DO IN ICELAND IN SEPTEMBER
FESTIVALS IN ICELAND IN SEPTEMBER
- The Night of Lights, Reykjanes, is a festival held on the 1st Saturday in September over 4 days where visitors get to enjoy some local culture, theatre and music, culminating in a fabulous fireworks display. The venue is within a kilometre of Keflavik airport and is close to the water at these coordinates (N64° 0′ 21.853″ W22° 33′ 28.902″). You can find up-to-date information from the official site here.
- Reykjavik International Film Festival (RIFF) runs the viewing of hundreds of films over 11 days from more than 40 different countries in Iceland’s capital city
SEPTEMBER CULTURAL EVENTS IN ICELAND
- Berjamó is a tradition where families leave the cities and venture into the countryside to pick berries that grow all over Iceland. Some local varieties that you may not have heard of are crowberries and bilberries.
- Réttir (Sheep and Horse Round-Up) has family members herding the sheep and horses down off the plateaus, where they have been grazing freely since May, into a spoke-patterned pen where they are sorted to their rightful owners. This occurs throughout September with different areas having differing dates for the round-up. The farming magazine site bbl.is publishes the dates for each area but these may vary so it’s best to check.
ICELAND SEPTEMBER WILDLIFE VIEWING
The two seal species that live permanently on Iceland’s shores are the harbour seal and the grey seal. It’s also not uncommon to have visits from the ringed, hooded, bearded, and harp seals as well as the occasional walrus.
They can be spotted around all around the Iceland coast but the Westfjords, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Snæfellsnes Peninsula and Vatnsnes Peninsula will give you the best options for seal spotting.
We saw seals at all of these locations.
Arctic foxes are Iceland’s only native land mammal and are found all over Iceland. Their main habitat is in the remote northern Hornstrandir Reserve.
There are two types of Icelandic Arctic Fox, the blue Arctic fox and the white.
From April to September in Iceland is a great time to watch the migrating whales.
Husavik, a town on the northern coast, is the best place to be.
For Iceland, Whale Watching Tours click here.
What took us by surprise was the friendliness of the Icelandic horses. Not only are they inquisitive but they seem to enjoy human company. There are plenty of opportunities to stop by the side of the road and walk up to the fence to pat these friendly equines.
Icelandic horses are quite small in stature (around 1.4 metres tall), but are well-suited to the Icelandic conditions.
A strict policy is in place in Iceland to prevent the import of diseases — once an Icelandic horse is taken abroad, it can never return.
There are plenty of opportunities to go horse riding, and you could even consider joining the annual sheep and horse muster throughout September.
Now for something you might not like to hear. Eating horse meat has long been a tradition in Iceland and continues to this day. It’s not uncommon to find it on menus. We didn’t try horse meat but at least you know you can try it if you are interested.
The main concentration of reindeer is in eastern Iceland, with numbers topping 3,000. It’s common to find them around Snæfell. The herds’ numbers are carefully controlled so that over-grazing is avoided as well as ensuring that Iceland’s sheep population have enough grazing land.
This blackbird has mystical ties to Iceland’s old beliefs and can be found all over the country.
Along with ravens, other bird types are found in Iceland, such as Arctic terns, sea eagles, ducks, geese and swans.
If you visit Iceland in September you are extremely likely to come across these birds.
Fulmars, which look a little like seagulls, but have a tubular piece on their beak, will not only be seen on cliffs but also dead on the roadside. You may also see them helplessly flapping around on the ground.
This is because fulmars are renowned for eating too much as chicks. As a result, they then become too heavy to fly and either flap around on the ground or float on water until they lose weight and can fly …or perish.
Over the two weeks that we were in Iceland in September, we saw hundreds of either dead or floundering fulmars.
Interestingly, Fulmars are a source of food in the Faroe Islands, with annual harvesting of the helpless overweight birds in late August and September.
Whilst on a hike we came across this fulmar who we thought was injured as it couldn’t fly. We were going to take it to the local museum to see if they knew of somewhere we could take it for help. That was until we came across four more fulmars in a similar situation and realised that we couldn’t save them all!
We later found out that this is a common problem and the fulmar chicks are just overweight and too fat to fly.
WHAT YOU LIKELY WON’T SEE IN ICELAND IN SEPTEMBER
The island of Akurey, approximately 1.6km from Reykjavík’s Old Harbour, is where thousands of puffins temporarily call home over the summer breeding months. We visited a thriving puffin colony in Wales and also saw quite a few puffins on Handa Island off the west coast of Scotland, and these attractive and distinctive coloured birds are a joy to watch.
The puffins, however, arrive in Iceland in April/May and depart in late July and the beginning of August. Therefore, don’t expect to see puffins in Iceland in September.
Very occasionally polar bears arrive in Iceland from Greenland, but if found, the authorities will organise for the bear to be shot due to their aggressiveness towards humans.
WHY VISITING ICELAND IN SEPTEMBER IS A GOOD DECISION
There are always pros and cons of travelling in any season. However, there are many great reasons for choosing to visit Iceland in September.
Let’s take a look.
- View the Northern Lights In Iceland. Cloud cover will be an issue but like us, you just need to check the weather forecasts and keep watching the sky for breaks in the clouds. Being at the right location at night when the clouds do open up is also pretty important.
- Iceland’s September temperatures range between 5 and 10°C with an average of 50 to 150mm of rain on average across the country. The ground isn’t snow-covered, but the mountain tops may have a sprinkle.
- Hiking trails are accessible, and you won’t need to worry about driving on ice/snow-covered roads.
- With the changing season, the autumn colours will add a lovely warm touch to your Iceland photos.
- Visiting Iceland in September also means an off-season visit, which offers better options and pricing for accommodation and fewer tourists to rub shoulders with at the places you want to visit.
- You’ll still have plenty of daylight hours to wander about. Iceland in September has between 11.5 and 14.5 hours of daylight.
It’s worth mentioning that some businesses are closed outside of the June-August summer period so it’s worth checking ahead of time.
DRIVING ICELAND IN SEPTEMBER
Here are some important points to be aware of when driving in Iceland on your September itinerary :
- In September, the roads will be snow and ice-free so drivers won’t need any particular snow driving experience
- You need to drive on the right-hand side of the road
- It is not allowed to make a right turn at a red traffic light
- Vehicles must have headlights on at all times when being driven.
- The general speed limit is 50 km/h in urban areas, 80 km/h on gravel roads in rural areas and 90 km/h on hard-surfaced roads
- Some bridges are only one lane in width. Specific road signs warn of the upcoming one-lane bridge a few hundred metres beforehand. This road sign plus specific lane markings is the place to stop your vehicle and wait for all traffic on the bridge to pass. The general courtesy rule, although not a hard and fast rule, is that the first vehicle to arrive at the single-lane bridge sign, has the right of way.
- Check road conditions before you start your journey by calling 1777 or checking www.road.is.
- Drive slowly on gravel roads to avoid kicking up stones that may chip the rental car
- Off-roading is strictly forbidden in Iceland. Driving on an F-Road is not off-road driving.
- Strong gusts of wind can take a hold on car doors causing damage that may not be covered by your particular car insurance.
- Become familiar with the Icelandic road signs. Here are a few that you mightn’t have seen before:
ICELAND’S ROAD CATEGORIES + ‘F’ ROADS
There are five different road categories in Iceland:
- Primary highland,
- Local Access and Highland
- ‘F’ roads.
The map below shows both the paved (in black) and gravel (in yellow) roads which can help you plan where to drive when you have hired either a car or a 4×4.
If you hire a normal car (non-4×4 vehicle) then you’ll want to stick to the paved roads but don’t worry, you won’t miss out. We hired a normal non-4×4 car and saw everything we planned to see.
‘F’ roads can only be travelled with a 4×4 vehicle. The F’ roads in Iceland are often narrow, rough, gravel roads crossing mountains that require vehicles to drive through the unbridged rivers.
Most of the ‘F’ roads are located in the wild highlands or the central area of Iceland.
Looking at a map, the road will be annotated with an ‘F’ in front of the road number. Most of the roads that give access to the majority of the natural attractions are not ‘F’ roads, meaning that you can just hire a normal 2-wheel drive car.
That is what we did.‘
F’ roads are only open during the summer with the opening date of each road determined when the snow clears. Find the opening dates for the different roads here at road.is.
ICELAND TOLL ROADS
There are generally no toll roads in Iceland, however the 10.5 km Vadlaheidargong Tunnel, in the north of the country, costs a fee of ISK1000 or roughly €6.50.
You can avoid the toll on Road 1 and take the alternative route, Road 83/84, and also enjoy the 26 km scenic views over the mountains and above the Eyjafjörður fjord.
VEHICLE RENTAL IN ICELAND
BOOK YOUR RENTAL CAR OR MOTORHOME IN ICELAND
We hired a car through Rentalcars.com and selected a package that included:
- Personal Accident and Third Party insurance,
- Breakdown assistance,
- An airport shuttle to the nearby hire depot and
- A fuel discount card.
Our plan to drive the sealed primary roads, over the next 14 days while circling Iceland, would not include any of the Highland roads.
♦ You can choose to search for the best car rental deals through Discovercars.com.
♦ Look for a motorhome or campervan rental. We highly recommend Motorhome Republic as they search for the best deals. We know first hand as they facilitated the hire of our campervan when we Campervanned through Europe for a year.
CAR RENTAL AND SAFETY
Some points to keep in mind when renting your vehicle:
- If you are planning to drive any of the F- roads in Iceland then you must choose a 4×4 vehicle
- Rental agencies in Iceland don’t insure for damage to the undercarriage of the vehicle or for water damage caused by crossing rivers.
- According to Icelandic law, everyone must wear a seatbelt regardless of where seated in the car and children must use safety equipment appropriate to their weight.
- The blood alcohol limit is 0.02% but it’s widely agreed that if you have an alcoholic drink, just don’t drive.
TIP: ↓ Don’t drive on the volcanic sand beaches without a 4wd ↓
VIDEO – WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE ROAD WHEN DRIVING IN ICELAND
For the driver, it’s always nice to know what you can expect on the roads whether it’s road signs, one-way bridges, road conditions etc. We’ve included some short clips to help familiarise you with driving Iceland in September.
ICELAND SEPTEMBER ITINERARY: GOOD TO KNOW
ICELAND EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS
- The emergency number in Iceland is 112. You can call this number from the highlands of Iceland without a mobile connection. This is the one number that covers assistance for accidents, fire, crime, search and rescue and natural disasters on land/sea/air.
HANDY PHONE APPS FOR ICELAND
- ve∂ur: Weather app for both Apple and Android phones generated by the Icelandic Met Office which gives temperature, rain and wind with a 5-day look-ahead.
- maps.me: Off-line maps app for both Apple and Android phones that does not require an active network connection when in use and you can add places of interest.
HANDY WEBSITES FOR YOUR ICELAND TRIP
- Aurora Borealis daily forecast: check out the Icelandic Meteorological Office site: https://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/.
- Aurora Borealis 3-day forecast: The NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) offers a 3-day Aurora forecast
- Check the road conditions: www.road.is.
- Submit an online travel plan when in Iceland via https://safetravel.is/travel-plan which helps search and rescue services find you in case of an emergency. This service is manually activated and de-activated via text message.
SEPTEMBER ICELAND ITINERARY ACCOMMODATION
Accommodation prices in Iceland are much better in September compared with the peak summer months.
We used a combination of Booking.com and Airbnb to find the best bang for bucks with the cheapest deals that included breakfast. We then used the breakfast food to also make our lunch for the day which helped with the savings.
Our bookings for both the car and accommodation were all in place six months before our intended travel date, which gave us better pricing and also more choice.
WHAT TO WEAR IN ICELAND IN SEPTEMBER
Needless to say, the temperatures are not balmy during September, ranging from 5 to 10°C. It may be cold or wet. Layering is the best way to go. We packed waterproof trousers and jacket, thermals, down jacket and woollen gloves. I’d say for about 85% of the time, we were pretty well rugged up.
The only location in Iceland where we really felt the temperature drop, was around Diamond Beach and the decision to pack the cold weather gear paid off.
A must-have is either waterproof hiking shoes or boots. The standard non-waterproof sneakers or trainers, once wet, make for a miserable time when you’re wearing them the whole day.
The beanie is definitely the way to go and there are myriad options to suit.
Another option to consider is a waterproof backpack or a backpack that at least comes with a waterproof cover. This will keep your important items such as passports etc nice and dry.
ICELAND SEPTEMBER ITINERARY … THAT’S A WRAP
Touring Iceland in September is a great decision. There’s much to see and Iceland is an easy country to travel in. Icelandic people are super-friendly and the landscapes are phenomenal. Factor in that much of Iceland’s fabulous attractions are within easy reach and making Iceland perfect for a September visit.
We’d love to hear about your favourite places to visit in Iceland and remember to ask us anything that you think we may be able to help you with.
Let us and our readers know your favourite place in Iceland in the comments below …
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PLANNING YOUR TRAVELS?
These are some of the travel resources we use when planning our trip and can recommend:
- Travel Insurance: World Nomads
- Book Accommodation: We use Booking.com and Tripadvisor to find accommodation that suits our budget
- Travel Gear and Accessories: Check out our top picks here — Lifejourney4two page on Amazon
- Car Hire: We use Discovercars.com
- Motorhome/Campervan Rental: We highly recommend the Motorhome Republic
- Activity Tickets: Get Your Guide
- Free Accommodation: Get 25% off Trusted House Sitters
- Wall Art: Shop our ETSY store
For a more thorough list visit our Travel Resources page here.