October marks the end of summer and the start of the winter conditions in Iceland. The average temperature in October is 4.8 degrees Celsius, with an average precipitation of about 77mm thus need for waterproof and quite warm garments. It gets colder towards the end of the month. The first days of the month are quite longer, sometimes having up to almost 12 hours of daylight while the days get shorter towards the end of the month, with the last day of the month having just about eight hours of light. Owing fact that this is a crossover between summer and winter, those that visit Iceland in October have in wide range of activities they can take part in. For starters, the days are long enough to allow for enough time for hiking and touring activities during the day while the nights are dark enough for sighting the Northern Lights which are usually visible in winter.
October is not as busy as most of the other months in Iceland. It’s in fact one of the least busy months in Iceland since most summer activities have just come to an end. The prices are therefore relatively fair at this time. Thus, whatever your reason for visiting Iceland in October proves to be very rewarding. Among the activities is hunting for the Northern Lights. The Aurora Borealis are always dancing in the sky, but are only visible in very dark nights with clear skies. October nights are longer than the days, and they keep getting longer towards the end of the month, providing opportunities to view the Northern Lights. The best place to view them is outside the capital. Any light pollution affects the visibility of the northern lights and therefore the best place to site them is at the countryside. It would be advisable to go for a Northern Lights tour instead of waiting for them at one place. With this lack of mobility, even a slight cloud gathering can hinder your viewing experience. Tour buses are available for this and jeeps can also be hired privately, having the advantage of accessing the most remote areas which tend to be darker. Hunting for Northern Lights in October can be done simultaneously with hiking activities; hiking during the day and seeing the Northern Lights at night.
Although most hiking activities come to an end in September, the days in October are still long enough to allow for a visit to most of the hiking destinations. These include a tour to the forested ‘Valley of Thor’, the Rhyolite Mountains and hot springs. Even the most famous multi-day summer trek, the Laugavegur trail is possible in October. You can also go mountain climbing at Mt. Snaefell or Mount Dyrfjoll, famous for the huge door-like gap that separates it at the middle. Another possible activity one can engage in, though mainly a summer activity, is a boat tour to Iceland’s spectacular glacier lagoons. One specific tour is at Jokulsarlon, Iceland’s deepest lake. Its clear water comes from breaking icebergs which add to the beauty of this place. Various sea animals such as seals can easily be spotted here.
Despite this being the end of summer and most migratory animals are just starting to leave the island, whale watching is possible in October. Puffins can also still be seen. More than twenty species of whales and dolphins can be sighted, including the Blue Whale and the Humpback. Whale watching tours begin at most parts of the country. These include the capital Reykjavik and most famous whale watching destination, Husavic.
A must- do activity for any person visiting Iceland at any time of the year is horse-riding. Having being separated from mainland horses for centuries, Icelandic horses have developed many unique traits over time. These include their many styles of walking as alleged by lovers of horse-related sports, but it is their unique intelligence and friendliness that intrigues the locals. You can go horse riding on the lava fields and get that experience of an ancient settler here in Iceland.
October also allows for a tour of the many glaciers in Iceland, which cover about 10 percent of the country. Glacier hiking is an incredible activity, allowing scenic views of the surrounding areas from atop the glaciers. The most commonly visited glaciers throughout the year can be ascended in October. Snorkeling and diving, year-round activities, can be so rewarding in October. The crystal clear Icelandic waters have a visibility of more than 100 meters. These activities are more comfortable in October than in the succeeding months.
Although just a few, October has a number of activities, including Halloween and Ash Wednesday. Halloween is not greatly celebrated here as compared to other countries such as North American countries but Ash Wednesday is filled with fun. The Reykjavik International Film Festival takes place in early October, although it actually begins late in September. Films from all over are exhibited at this festival, with a narrow focus on upcoming film-makers.
The Imagine Peace Tower, which propels a beam of light up to 4000 meters high, is usually lit on October 8th and 9th. Its purpose is to promote peace.