Top things to do in the Icelandic autumn
The Icelandic autumn is the time of unpredictable weather. The key to surviving is flexibility. Do it like the Icelanders – don’t plan. Not too much anyway, the best thing is to have more than one possible activity on the agenda depending on the weather. Here are some great things to do in Iceland on an autumn day, all possible with little or no planning.
Go to the swimming pool
The good thing about Icelandic swimming pools is that they use geothermal water, which means they are always nice and warm even if it is freezing outside. You don’t have to look far – just about every small town in Iceland has one.
The swimming pool in Hofsós is not that sunny all year around, but the view is stunning no matter the season. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Sigurgeir
Take it a step further: Bathe in a natural thermal pool
At first glance this may not seem as a step further, but keep in mind that most of these pools don’t have changing rooms… or any facilities or service whatsoever. Which means changing in the car, or do it outside in the cold (like a true Viking… or something like that). If it’s snowing, even better. Then you take a break from your bathing every 10-15 minutes or so to roll around in the snow, and then jump back in to get warm.
This natural thermal pool by the sea is located in Strandir, in the West Fjords. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Árni Sæberg
Check out a round-up
Everywhere over Iceland in September and beginning of October, farmers are riding around mountains, rounding up their sheep and horses after a summer-long stay there. As there are a lot of animals belonging to a lot of farmers, they end up in a rétt, which is a fence built for sorting the animals. The sorting is impressive to watch and the atmosphere is very jovial, as this is also a gathering of neighbours and families. You can check out a list of round ups in Iceland here .
Most "réttir" are built of wood, Hraunsrétt however is built from lava. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Atli Vigfússon
Autumn is the time of produce, and this is the time to get the best Icelandic food. Summer in Iceland is short, so autumn is the ultimate time for harvesting anything that grows in Iceland (outside of a greenhouse). This is the time to be eating local kale, potatoes, broccoli, carrots, rutabaga and more. And let’s not forget the lamb, as autumn is the time of fresh lamb meet with the sheep having just been brought back from their summer stay in the mountains.
New Icelandic red potatoes are anticipated by many Icelanders every autumn. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Eggert Jóhannesson
Go for a drive
If it’s too cold for a long walk, go for a drive and admire the view from the warmth of the car, or take short walks and then drive on. The colours of autumn in vegetation are beautiful and the autumn sun colours the land in a very different way to the summer sun. It’s a lot lower in the sky, so the afternoon light is more like from a sun on the brink of sunset which makes the autumn scenery absolutely stunning, and the sunset lasts as it seems forever.
Many favour the midnight sun in Iceland, but the autumn sun offers much more colours. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Ómar Óskarsson
See the Northern Lights
This is something probably everyone has on their agenda when travelling to Iceland in autumn or winter. There are plenty of tours that will take you, but for a more intimate experience rent a car, check the Northern Light forecastand go hunting. Just remember to drive away from electrical lights, which block the view considerably – just a few kilometres from a town should be enough.