October in Iceland is a magical time when the landscape transforms into a colourful tapestry of autumn hues, and the darkening skies provide the perfect canvas for the Northern Lights.
You can enjoy various activities, from exploring natural wonders to immersing yourself in cultural experiences. I loved visiting Iceland and with a bit of planning, you can visit with kids too!
Here are some of the top things to do in Iceland in October.
October Weather in Iceland
Iceland’s weather in October can be unpredictable, with temperature fluctuations and varying rainfall. This month begins the beautiful fall season, offering picturesque landscapes.
Average Temperatures in Iceland in October
The temperature in Iceland in October ranges from 2°C to 6°C. The average temperature during this time is around 4°C. Preparing for colder weather, occasional rain, and strong winds is essential.
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Iceland in October with Kids
Visiting Iceland in October with kids can be an exciting and educational experience for the whole family. While the weather starts to get colder and daylight hours decrease, plenty of activities remain to enjoy.
Iceland Holidays in October
October brings two key events to the Icelandic calendar:
Reykjavik International Film Festival
Early October Celebrating independent cinema worldwide, the festival showcases films, documentaries, and short films in various venues across Reykjavik.
September 28th – October 8th 2023
Imagine Peace Tower Lighting
October 9 Commemorating John Lennon’s birthday, the Imagine Peace Tower is illuminated from October 9 until December 8, symbolizing peace and unity.
The Northern Lights in Iceland in October
October marks the beginning of the Northern Lights season, as the night sky gets darker, providing optimal conditions for aurora sightings. Here are the best ways to see the northern lights on your trip to Iceland.
Be sure to choose a family-friendly tour or accommodation that caters to children’s needs and interests.
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provide a convenient and budget-friendly option to chase the Northern Lights. These tours often include experienced guides who share insights about the aurora and help tourists find the best viewing spots. Please note that it is not guaranteed you will see the Northern lights. We didn’t on the first night, but we were provided with a complimentary tour the following night, where we did see them.
Private tours offer a more personalized experience. These are better if you are travelling with kids and have the budget (although staying under the Northern Lights is an even better option).
Northern Lights Accommodation
Choosing accommodation designed explicitly for Northern Lights viewing can significantly enhance your experience. These lodgings are typically located in remote areas, far from city lights, ensuring minimal light pollution and better Aurora visibility.
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Things to do in Iceland in October
In addition to the Northern Lights, Iceland offers numerous activities and attractions during October.
Experience the Golden Circle Tour
The Golden Circle tour is a popular year-round excursion, offering a chance to witness some of Iceland’s most iconic sights.
In October, the changing foliage adds an extra layer of beauty to the Icelandic countryside.
The golden circle consists of the following:
Gullfoss waterfall – One of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls, Gullfoss is a mighty cascade that plunges into a dramatic canyon.
Geysir geothermal area – Known for its hot springs and geysers, this area is home to Strokkur, a geyser that erupts every few minutes.
You can hire a car to self-drive this tour or book a group bus tour or private tour. This depends on whether you are confident driving and how old your kids are.
Explore the capital city with family-friendly attractions like the Perlan Museum, the Whales of Iceland Exhibition, and the Reykjavik Zoo and Family Park.
View our full guide to visiting Reykjavik with kids here >>>
Explore the South Coast
The South Coast boasts picturesque waterfalls, the famous black sand beach Reynisfjara, and charming villages. You may encounter snow-capped mountains in October, adding to the region’s magical atmosphere.
Iceland’s South Coast offers a diverse range of attractions, making it an ideal destination for an October adventure. Some of the must-see sights along the South Coast include:
Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls – These picturesque waterfalls are an essential stop on any South Coast itinerary.
Reynisfjara black sand beach – This iconic beach is known for its black sand and dramatic basalt columns. In October, you may encounter snow-capped mountains in the background, adding to the area’s mystical atmosphere.
Vatnajökull National Park – Home to the largest glacier in Europe, this park offers various activities, including ice cave tours and glacier hikes.
Relax in Natural Hot Springs and Geothermal Pools
Natural hot springs and public swimming pools, such as the Blue Lagoon and the Secret Lagoon, provide a relaxing retreat in the chilly October weather.
Iceland is famous for its geothermal pools and natural hot springs. These warm retreats offer a welcome respite from the cold weather in October. Some of the most popular options include:
Blue Lagoon – A world-renowned geothermal spa known for its striking blue waters and silica mud masks. Children age 2+ are allowed in the blue lagoon.
Secret Lagoon is a lesser-known, more rustic hot spring near the Golden Circle.
Children under the age of 14 get free admission to the pool but must be accompanied by an adult.
Public swimming pools – Reykjavik and other towns have public swimming pools heated by geothermal energy. These pools often have hot tubs and steam rooms, offering an authentic Icelandic experience.
Go Whale Watching
October is a great time for whale watching, with humpback whales and other species frequently spotted around Iceland’s shores. Embark on a whale-watching tour from Reykjavik or other coastal towns to witness these magnificent creatures up close.
What to Wear in Iceland in October
October in Iceland can bring unpredictable weather conditions, making it essential to pack the appropriate clothing to stay warm and comfortable during your visit. Here are some suggestions on what to wear in Iceland in October:
Layering is essential when dressing for Iceland’s ever-changing weather. Be sure to pack the following items:
Thermal layers – Opt for moisture-wicking base layers, such as merino wool or synthetic materials, to keep your body warm and dry. Get your thermal layers here >>
Insulated jackets – Choose a lightweight, insulated jacket or a down-filled coat that provides warmth without bulk. >> (opens in a new tab)” rel=”noreferrer noopener sponsored” class=”ek-link”>Browse jackets here >>>
Fleece-lined leggings or trousers will keep your legs warm and comfortable during outdoor activities and sightseeing.
Waterproof and Windproof Gear
Iceland’s weather can be wet and windy, especially in October. To stay dry and protected, pack the following items:
Waterproof and windproof jacket – A breathable, waterproof jacket with a hood will shield you from wind and rain.
Waterproof pants are essential for staying dry during activities like hiking, glacier walking, or simply exploring in wet conditions.Get your waterproof pants here >>>
Proper footwear is critical for navigating Iceland’s diverse terrain safely and comfortably. Consider the following when selecting your shoes:
Waterproof and insulated boots – Choose boots with good traction and ankle support for hiking or walking on uneven surfaces.
Warm socks – Opt for moisture-wicking, thermal socks to keep your feet warm and dry.
Don’t forget to pack accessories that will help keep you warm during chilly evenings and outdoor activities:
Hats – A warm, insulated hat or beanie will help retain body heat.
Gloves – Insulated, waterproof gloves will keep your hands warm and dry during outdoor activities.
Scarves or neck warmers provide extra warmth and can be easily removed indoors.
Sunglasses – Even though daylight hours are shorter in October, the sun can still be intense. Sunglasses will protect your eyes from glare, especially when visiting snowy or icy areas.
Tips for Traveling in Iceland in October
To make the most of your visit to Iceland in October, keep the following tips in mind:
Dress Appropriately – Bring warm clothes, waterproof and windproof layers, and sturdy footwear to ensure comfort during Iceland’s unpredictable weather.
Be Prepared for Limited Daylight – As daylight hours decrease throughout the month, plan your activities accordingly and take advantage of the extended nights for Northern Lights viewing.
Rent a Car – Renting a car allows you to explore Iceland at your own pace. Choose a suitable vehicle for the weather conditions and drive cautiously on Iceland’s sometimes-challenging roads.
Book Accommodations in Advance – While October is not peak tourist season, booking accommodations and tours in advance is still a good idea to ensure availability and the best prices.
Iceland in October Isn’t for You If…
You might not enjoy visiting Iceland in October if you:
Iceland in October FAQs
Visiting Iceland in October offers the opportunity to experience the enchanting Northern Lights, unique landscapes, and exciting activities. While the weather can be unpredictable, proper planning and packing can ensure a memorable trip.
October begins the Northern Lights season in Iceland, offering an excellent chance to witness this natural phenomenon.
Temperatures in Iceland in October can range from 2°C to 8°C (36°F to 46°F). While it may not be too cold for some, it’s essential to pack warm clothes and dress in layers to ensure comfort during your visit.
In October, Iceland experiences around 8-11 hours of daylight, with daylight hours starting to decrease as the month progresses.
Some of Iceland’s main activities and attractions during October include the Northern Lights, hot springs, Golden Circle tour, South Coast exploration, Reykjavik International Film Festival, and whale-watching tours.
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Sylvie Simpson is the founder of European Cities with Kids. For the past 6 years, she has been travelling all over Europe whenever she has the chance, both solo, for work and with her daughter. Sylvie is on a mission to help people make the most of city breaks in Europe with kids and helps over 50,000 readers per month plan and make the most of their trips in Europe with kids.