September Weather in Iceland: Average Temperatures, Daylight, and Rainfall

Written by Katarina Betterton
Published: August 13, 2023
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If you’ve never been to Iceland, it’s a destination that needs to make it onto your bucket list. The Nordic country offers stunningly-unique views and experiences. In fact, its topography is so otherworldly and boasts so many contrasting elements that film studios choose many regions of the country to film blockbuster TV shows and movies. 

With Iceland’s weather, the northern lights, and year-round activities, you may wonder which months offer the best trip to Iceland. If you’re planning a trip in September, you’re in luck: it’s a great time to visit.

Keep reading to discover what September weather is like in Iceland, including daily average temperatures, daylight hours, and the potential for rainfall.

Climate Overview

Tourist standing in an ice cave in Vatnajökull glacier Iceland

Iceland’s cold climate zones enable tourists to visit icebergs and glaciers year-round.

©jon lyall/Shutterstock.com

Officially, Iceland has two climates: a subpolar oceanic and a tundra climate depending on where you are in the country. Characteristically, these climates feature mild winters and cool summers. They also tend to be very wet places on Earth. September walks the line between summer and fall in Iceland, so visitors can expect a bit of a mixed bag. Earlier in the month, Iceland has cooling air and sunlight near midnight. As the month soldiers on, you’ll see wetter weather and overcast skies most days of the week, though warm weather lingers.

Average Temperatures

On average, the temperature during the day in Iceland in September hovers around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This drops to about 42 degrees at night, which isn’t too much colder. Fluctuations make daytime temperatures range throughout the month between 45 degrees to 60 degrees. 

Hottest Temperatures Recorded in September in Iceland

The hottest temperature ever recorded in September in Iceland was a warm 74.5 degrees Fahrenheit in Akureyri. While situated roughly 60 miles away from the Arctic Circle, Akureyri, Iceland often has summers and early falls warmer than the southern cities of Selfoss, Hveragerði, and Laugarvatn.

Coldest Temperatures Recorded in September in Iceland

The capital city of the country, Reykjavík, takes the cake for the coldest temperatures in September — and year-round. The climate of the city borders on a continental subarctic climate rather than an oceanic climate. The lowest temperature recorded in Iceland in September measured at 24.1 degrees Fahrenheit.  

September Rainfall Patterns

It rains often in Iceland, and September is no exception. While you won’t see winter storms during the month, you will see around three inches of rain accumulation. Iceland remains infamous for temperamental weather, meaning you may have days of sun and warmth followed by two days of gloomy rain. While some data sources claim that September is the wettest month of the year, the destination is hotly debated by locals and those who have visited before. 

September Daylight Hours in Iceland

Night sky lit up with aurora borealis, northern lights, Wapusk national park, Manitoba, Canada.

September is the first month when the sky darkens enough to see the northern lights at night.

©AndreAnita/Shutterstock.com

Iceland is uniquely positioned on the globe to have varying hours of daylight throughout the year. Early September brings summer daylight with it — the sun rises around 6:00 a.m. and sets close to 9:00 p.m. However, in later weeks, the country loses approximately two hours of sunlight with the sun rising after 7:30 a.m. and setting before 7:00 p.m.

Experience the Northern Lights

With the sun setting earlier, late September is an amazing time to visit Iceland specifically for the northern lights. The atmospheric phenomenon, caused by reactions between charged particles in the sky, is considered one of the most fascinating and awe-inspiring sights on Earth. 

While the darker the better for viewing, the sky does become dark enough in late September for the lights to pop against its navy and indigo depths. Finding a spot to watch the northern lights dance comes down to cloud cover and light pollution. Specifically, the Westfjords have longer hours of darkness when compared to most of the country, but other great options for viewing include the Jokulsarlon glacier and camping in the highlands.

Pros and Cons of Visiting Iceland in September

Car travelling Iceland strong old concrete bridge

September is a great month to rent a car and drive yourself around Iceland’s most iconic scenery.

©MyImages – Micha/Shutterstock.com

Unlike other countries, Iceland has a plethora of reasons to visit in September. In fact, it might be one of — if not the best — month to visit. Just a few of the pros of visiting Iceland in September include:

  • As far as Iceland’s weather goes, this is one of the best months. It’s pretty cold year-round with wind and rain to follow, but September has mild temperatures and decreased chances of heavy storms.
  • Without the snow and ice of Iceland’s winter, visitors can drive themselves around the country to marvel at its beauty at their own pace — no snow tires needed!
  • Darkening nights mean the northern lights. This is one of the first months that you can see aurora borealis, and the summer weather means you won’t freeze outside as you wait for the lights to dance.
  • Autumn begins in September, so the foliage of the country will delight you with vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges as you hike and camp in the Icelandic wilderness.
  • You’re able to see the highlands, which are inaccessible in later winter months.
  • You’ll experience Rettir — the return of sheep to their farms from the highlands and mountains.
  • The peak tourist season ends in August, so mid and late September have great prices on accommodations, flights, and attractions.

Iceland in September is so great, it’s hard to identify any disadvantages. However, depending on your plans, consider the following factors that may impact your adventuring.

  • It will rain, as it does every month in Iceland. This may limit the time you have outside for some activities.
  • While it gets dark enough in the second half of the month, early September may not be the best time to experience the northern lights.
  • Iceland is still cold. If you’re uncomfortable wearing layers or adventuring in temperatures around the mid-50s or 60s, you may want to steer clear of Iceland altogether.

What To Pack for September in Iceland

woman soaking in a hot spring in Iceland

Though you’ll predominately want layers, Iceland’s hot springs offer a relaxing soak.

©Gorodisskij/Shutterstock.com

When traveling to Iceland in September, make room in your suitcase to pack layers. Lots of them.

First, focus on a daily base layer. This may be thermal underwear, or a simple thin shirt and leggings made out of merino wool to keep heat close to your body. Then, have a sweater or fleece to wear over your base layer, and windproof or waterproof pants. Finally, a wind or waterproof jacket will keep the most biting winds at bay and preserve your body’s warmth. 

Usually, you don’t need a parka in September. You can choose to bring it if you have space in your luggage, or you can buy one there if it’s really cold one day.

Accessories to remember are hiking boots, sturdy sneakers, hats, gloves, and thick socks. While it may sound surprising, bring a swimsuit, too! Iceland has natural hot springs to relax and unwind in after a long day. Your hotel or Airbnb may have a heated swimming pool or jacuzzi too.

Alternative Activities in Case of Bad Weather

Depending on where you stay in Iceland, the larger cities have unique shops, experiences, and more to explore.

©iStock.com/EA

If the weather is too unruly one day and precludes you from a glacier hike, a snowmobiling adventure, or your appointment to horseback ride in the highlands, opt for indoor activities in the main cities in the country.

Reykjavík has dozens of shops, fine-dining restaurants, and museums that will delight visitors. It’s pretty easy to get around and communicate in the country’s biggest cities as most locals are bi- or multilingual. In addition to Norwegian, residents speak a combination of other languages like English, Danish, German, Spanish, and French. As such, foreigners will have a much easier time navigating to the best restaurants, finding unique boutiques, or understanding when the next public transportation will come.

The cities of Kopavogur and Hafnarfjoerdur also have indoor activities to enjoy. The Viking Village, several distilleries, and even a haunted church are a small smattering of the things you have the opportunity to experience in Iceland.

Is September a Good Time To Visit Iceland?

Yes, September is a fantastic time to visit Iceland. As far as Icelandic weather goes, it’s a mild and semi-warm month. Tourist crowds are lower, meaning more affordable hotels, flights, and experiences. Not to mention, the northern lights begin to illuminate the night sky in the second half of the month when darkness falls earlier. Overall, September may be one of the best months in the year to experience all that Iceland has to offer.

The Land of Ice and Fire in September 

From volcanos to glaciers, Iceland proffers a nature-filled experience like no other country. Traveling in September brings fair weather, dazzling festivals and recreational experiences, and once-in-a-lifetime views of the aurora borealis dancing overhead.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sara Winter/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Katarina is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on dogs, travel, and unique aspects about towns, cities, and countries in the world. Katarina has been writing professionally for eight years. She secured two Bachelors degrees — in PR and Advertising — in 2017 from Rowan University and is currently working toward a Master's degree in creative writing. Katarina also volunteers for her local animal shelter and plans vacations across the globe for her friend group. A resident of Ohio, Katarina enjoys writing fiction novels, gardening, and working to train her three dogs to speak using "talk" buttons.

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