I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, especially if you are packing your bag to come to Iceland right now and all you have in there are shorts and flip flops (because summer is not over til you say it’s over), but summer in Iceland is officially over. We’ve had our first autumn storm, the leaves are turning and I saw someone wear a parka yesterday. My parka is still in the “winter clothing” section of my wardrobe, waiting patiently for the time to resume its duty. I personally think it’s still way too warm for a parka but obviously this someone disagrees.
At this point you may be thinking to yourself “I knew we should have done Bermuda this year, who goes to Iceland in autumn?” but I am here to tell you that you made an excellent choice. If you own a pair of rain pants, that is. I kid. Not really. But still.
I love the Icelandic autumn. I have to put a disclaimer on this though and let you know that I’m a bit of a seasons slut, I love them all in their own way, but I really love the autumn. I love the storms, they are cozy, and sideways rain makes me feel like I’m on some crazy expedition when I do my tours. Like I’m the leader of the 12 souls that follow me and it’s my job to get them to back to the safety of cozy cafés and swimming pools. I love when it gets a little bit darker and you can start lighting candles again that make your home look extra homey and warm and nice. I also love my parka, like seriously love it to an extent that if I was asked who I would have want to have with me on a deserted island I would seriously consider it over the boyfriend. I probably would end up choosing the boyfriend, I’m not a monster, all I’m saying is that I would have to think about it.
I also love the golden autumn light that makes everything extra magical, especially just after the rain. The moss literally glows and you just want to roll around in it and laugh hysterically because you don’t know what is appropriate in the presence of such beauty. I love seeing the kids all bundled up with their backpacks that are bigger than them, embarking on that eternal journey that will make them wiser and better individuals. All while they learn cope with the embarrassment of their parents gushing how grown up they look on their first day of school and all the things they find to humiliate them with in front of their school mates from that day forward. And I love the return of the northern lights.
So Iceland can be magical in the autumn and it’s not like it’s always raining. Just most of the time. You can chose to sulk about getting a little wet while you marvel at the wonders of Icelandic nature or you can chose to take it for what it is: a part of this amazing experience. I mean, you’re on vacation, damn it. Also, if you join one of my tours I can tell you about bars that have happy hours all day so you don’t have to deal with the weather. After a beer or three you don’t care anyway. Win-win if you ask me*.
With that in mind, here are a few things that are good to keep in mind for your autumn trip to Iceland
The weather in Iceland is unpredictable at any time of the year but even more so in the autumn and winter. If you are going to be driving around the country you should be prepared for anything and you should check saftetravel.is, vedur.is and road.is often. More importantly you should follow the instructions there and not be all “I’m the king of the world and look how good I look on Instagram“, throwing caution to the wind.
What to wear
You know, I sometimes feel like I’m starting to sound like a broken record but dress in layers. Lather rinse repeat. Although, as I mentioned, we often get a lot of rain in the autumn we also get a lot of beautiful calm sunny days that seem to go on forever but you still want to be prepared for the rain. Especially the infamous sideways rain. So my suggestion is that you leave the umbrella at home (you’ll understand why when you get here) and bring a rainproof jacket, rain pants if you intend to go out of the city and be outside for extensive periods of time and waterproof shoes if you have them. I discovered last year that although there is usually a correlation between Gore-Tex and unimaginably ugly, you can find cute shoes that are waterproof too.
I know there are a lot of ladies out there that have fancy Hunter boots that are great in the rain but in my experience, and this is just my experience, boots like that are not great when it comes to hiking in the rain. They’re kind of slippery and stuff. But if you just plan to be in the city and maybe do the Golden circle and such then by all means bring your cutest yellow raincoat and Hunter boots.
You also don’t need your Uggs or ski pants. It’s not that cold. Just wet.
The Northern Lights
You can often see the northern lights as early as the middle of August and this year we’ve seen some spectacular shows already.
I’ve written a lot of posts about the aurora and I can’t be bothered to repeat everything they say but all you have to know is that, yes, you can see them outside of the “aurora season” (Nov-March), you don’t have to leave Reykjavík to see them but the further out of the light pollution you can get the better and then finally the northern lights are a natural phenomenon and they cannot be turned on for your convenience. I know it can be frustrating not to see them but you have to try to not allow it to ruin your trip. Come here for the nature, the friendly people and the good beer and if you see the northern lights too – that’s just an extra special bonus.
*This post is not promoting misuse of alcohol in any way – please drink responsibly. And please responsibly drink one for me too.