October in Iceland: What You Need to Know - Hotel Rangá


Gullfoss waterfall seen from behind during the autumn.

October in Iceland: What You Need to Know

Where to go, what to do and how to dress for the Icelandic weather in October.

It’s October in Iceland! In the US that means it’s time for pumpkin spice lattes and Halloween decorations but Iceland has neither of those things. So if you are looking to escape it all, head on over. What we do have in Iceland in October: northern lights, fall vibes and starry skies.

Gullfoss waterfall seen from behind during the autumn.
A view of Gullfoss waterfall from behind. Photo by Herman Desmet.

Is October a good time to visit Iceland?

October is a great time to visit Iceland. As you explore our country, you will notice plenty of stunning fall colors. This is particularly true of south Iceland and the area surrounding Hotel Rangá. To truly experience the lovely autumn foliage, head up into the highlands on a guided super jeep tour. Þórsmörk Nature Reserve and Landmannalaugar are particularly beautiful in October.

October is also a wonderful time to experience all the unique activities that Iceland has to offer. Go horseback riding, take a snowmobiling tour or even try ice climbing. Keep reading to learn about all the things that make Iceland in October so special.

View of changing leaves during the fall in south Iceland.
Though there are not many trees in south Iceland, we do see some leaves changing colors. Photo by Paige Deasley.

What time is sunset and sunrise in Iceland in October?

In October, the days are rapidly getting shorter. On October 1st, sunrise is at 7:35 and sunset is at 18:57. By October 31st, sunrise is at 9:06 and sunset is at 17:14. Despite the shorter days, you will still have plenty of daylight for fun adventures.

Woman stands in the stream near Gljúfrabúi waterfall underneath Iceland's midnight sun.
A visit to Gljúfrabúi waterfall underneath the midnight sun. Photo by Olivia Synnervik.

What is the weather like in Iceland in October?

On average, the temperature in Iceland in October is between 2 degrees (36 f) and 7 degrees (45 f). The weather is often unpredictable, ranging from drizzling rain to strong winds and even a few snowflakes. If you are lucky, you might even get blue skies and sunshine.

Woman wearing multiple layers of clothing standing beside a waterfall in south Iceland.
Woman in winter clothing standing beside a waterfall. Photo by Paige Deasley.

What should I wear in Iceland in October?

While Icelanders think tourists look kind of silly in their winter parkas in the summer months, now is the time to start digging into your closet for your warmest clothes. If you are adventuring outside, a hat or a beanie plus mittens or gloves are a necessity. So is a good winter jacket and maybe even a warm sweater underneath. Of course, you also need good waterproof shoes and warm socks.

Remember that the weather in Iceland can change very quickly but this adventurous aspect of life on the island is something to enjoy rather than fear. Just make sure you are prepared.

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A paved country road in south Iceland with views of the glacier-volcano Eyjafjallajökull.
A paved country road in south Iceland with sweeping views of the glacier-volcano Eyjafjallajökull. Photo by Herman Desmet.

What are the road conditions in Iceland in October?

Road conditions can vary in Iceland in October. Ultimately, it all depends on the weather. There is always a chance of heavy rain and strong winds in October. However, many Icelanders still drive during stormy conditions. If the roads are deemed truly unsafe, they will be closed to all drivers. You can always check the weather at vedur.is and the road closures at road.is.

Should I rent a car in Iceland in October?

We usually recommend that our guests rent a car. Having a rental car gives you more freedom to explore our beautiful country. However, you must be aware of the weather and road conditions before starting your adventures. If there are strong winds or heavy rain, be sure to drive at a reduced speed. Furthermore, it is the law to have your headlights on at all times. If you feel uncomfortable about driving in Iceland in October, you can always book a taxi service from Keflavík International Airport.

A group of people snowmobiling at sunset on the Eyjafjallajökull glacier with two super jeeps in the background.
Snowmobiling at sunset in Iceland. Photo by Ingibjörg Friðriksdóttir.

What are the best outdoor adventures in Iceland in October?

October in Iceland is the perfect time for all kinds of outdoor adventures around Iceland. A road trip down Iceland’s south coast is always a top activity. Looking to learn more about the Icelandic horse? Take a guided horseback riding tour through the countryside and enjoy the fall colors from a different perspective.

Feeling like an icy adventure? Try a guided snowmobiling tour on the nearby Eyjafjallajökull glacier-volcano. Or why not experience the unique beauty of a mysterious ice cave. If you want to go off the beaten path, an ice climbing adventure is just the ticket. Suit up in special crampons and use your ice ax to grab hold of the slippery walls of ice. Contact the Hotel Rangá Reception today to book your October outdoor adventure.

The upstairs lounge and bar at Hotel Rangá filled with cozy armchairs and wood accents.
The cozy upstairs lounge and bar at Hotel Rangá.

What are the best indoor activities in Iceland in October?

We strongly recommend using the cold as an excuse for cuddles. Snuggle up with a good book and a hot drink on one of the couches in our upstairs bar area, and listen to the weather beating at the window. Or play a round of cards in Hotel Rangá’s cozy game room.

If you are interested in Iceland’s long history of volcanic activity, check out the Lava Center. This interactive museum offers a variety of exhibits designed to entertain and educate. Learn all about the volcanoes and earthquakes that are a common occurrence in our country.

Can I visit geothermal hot springs and swimming pools in Iceland in October?

October is the perfect month to visit geothermal hot springs and swimming pools in south Iceland. Try Hotel Rangá’s geothermal hot tubs that are located right outside our back door. Enjoy excellent views of the Rangá River while you soak in these relaxing tubs. You can even order a cocktail at the Rangá Bar to drink while you relax. For more ideas, check out our article about the Top 10 Hot Springs and Pools in South Iceland.

Can I go stargazing in Iceland in October?

Iceland in October is a great time of year to see the stars. Of course, we do need clear skies in order to get a view of the dazzling night sky. However, when the conditions are right, Hotel Rangá is an excellent place to go stargazing. In fact, we even have our very own Rangá Observatory – the only one of its kind in south Iceland.

The Rangá Observatory houses two high-tech telescopes underneath a roll-off roof. When the weather is fine, we open the roof so that guests can gaze through the telescopes at far-off stars and planets. On clear nights, we even invite local astronomers to lead our guests on a tour of the night sky. These experts will help you use our telescopes and tell you stories about the stars.

Two onlookers admire the pink and green northern lights shimmering above Skógafoss.
An epic shot of northern lights dancing above Skógafoss. Photograph by Stefan Liebermann.

Can I see the northern lights in Iceland in October?

If the weather conditions are right you can take a special someone on an evening walk. Lying down next to each other in the Icelandic tundra and looking up at the night sky is a beautiful experience the two of you will never forget. It’s October in Iceland, after all – you might even see some northern lights.

To see the northern lights we need dark nights, solar activity and clear skies. We often see the northern lights in Iceland in October, though we can’t predict exactly when. Hotel Rangá is known as one of the best hotels to see the northern lights in Iceland. We are located in the countryside, far from most light pollution. This ensures that you will have an excellent view of the northern lights should they appear.

Green and purple northern lights swirl above Hotel Rangá in south Iceland.
Swirling green and purple northern lights above Hotel Rangá. Photo by Sævar Helgi Bragason.

Hotel Rangá also offers an aurora wake-up call service. We will give you a call day or night whenever we spot the aurora dancing. Enjoy a gourmet dinner in the Rangá Restaurant, soak in one of our geothermal hot tubs or play a round of pool while you wait for the northern lights.

What foods do Icelanders eat in October?

While Icelanders pride themselves on unique food items such as fermented shark and smoked sheep’s head, very few people eat them on a day to day basis. For a truly Icelandic experience, try the typical packed lunch for children and adults alike: flatkökur and kókómjólk.

Flatkökur are Icelandic flatbread, most commonly served with butter and slices of smoked lamb. What’s more, they also taste delicious with cheese or even hummus. Flatkökur also goes perfectly with kókómjólk – Iceland’s version of chocolate milk. In fact, this combination is a great treat to bring along for some extra energy on your adventures on the south coast.

October in Iceland is also a traditional time to hunt and savor wild game. In mid-October, Hotel Rangá offers our yearly Villibráðarseðill or Wild Game Menu on the weekends. Enjoy sous-vide puffin with baked garlic mayo, cured cod with sea buckthorn and reindeer steak with arctic thyme fused pomme Anna, fried beet root and crowberry sauce. Dessert is an Icelandic pancake with blueberry cream, vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.

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