There are many words that can be used to describe Iceland.
But cheap with a mild climate are not at all in Iceland’s vocabulary.
The prices can be just as shocking as the weather if not more but at least the magical landscapes that you will be surrounded with on the daily will make you forget about your dwindling bank account, at least for a moment.
After exploring the country for 12 days, I’ve gathered essentially everything you need right here to make sure you’re totally informed for planning a trip to Iceland with the best tips, costs to expect, and knowing what Iceland in September is like.
Iceland in September – The Best Time to Visit Iceland
OK, so I’m saying the best but the only person who can really the say the best is you. It depends on what you want.
If you need endless summer and are scared of ice, obviously summer would be your best bet. but you can say goodbye to any darkness (check, midnight sun) and there’s literally zero chance of seeing the auroras.
So I recommend a happy medium.
I’m not too into freezing cold places, blizzards, and snow up to my eyeballs so I think fall is a fab time to visit Iceland. I decided the end of September was the perfect time to enjoy Iceland and guess what? I was so right!
It would be a nearly impossible task to find another place on this planet that has weather as crazy as Iceland.
One minute the sun is shining, the next, an intense pouring rain is drenching you. Some days, we could literally time the storms as they came through like clockwork. It was about every 5 minutes!
We had exactly one day where it was pretty hot, for Iceland. I wore my leggings and a t-shirt and while on a walk to Solheimasandur (the famous plane crash) I was actually wishing I was wearing shorts or at least not fleece lined leggings.
The very next day? There was intense winds and our friends in a large RV were stuck around Glacier Lagoon because it was too dangerous to drive. We nearly went there the day before, luckily we didn’t.
So is Iceland in September the best time to go?
Well, I can’t say it’s the best for you, but it was the best for us!
Sure we had a few gloomy days, but uhm, hello, this is Iceland. It’s kind of a common thing!
Regardless, I think the weather was pretty decent overall! There was no snow which mean driving condition were safer and temperatures were at a steady, “Nina can still deal with this,” level. (My Florida blood thanked me for not coming in winter).
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Are There Any Other Benefits of Visiting Iceland in September?
Yes! When you read about the pricing below, you’ll see why.
Iceland is damn expensive, no matter when you visit. So the fact that fall is a time where prices start to drop, yeah, I think the best time to visit Iceland is in September.
The prices will be more like a knife wound rather than a hacksaw to your bank account.
Another wonderful reason why Iceland is great in fall is all the fall colors come out to play (yay!). No matter where you are in the world, this is essentially one of the most beautiful things to witness.
And now the best part as to why Iceland in September is a good idea…
Wait for it…
There aren’t 72502740579024 people there sharing the moment with you! Iceland is a hot spot, fall time is a universal cue for people who want only summer days and a perpetually sunny vacation (aka most tourists) to go home. Which is good news for the rest of us.
Goodbye, hoards of tourists! Hello, easily manageable amount of people to share my space with.
So what do you think? Is planning a trip to Iceland in September a good idea for you? Check out this 7-day itinerary with all the epic places you can experience!
Transportation in Iceland Tips
NEVER take taxis. Like… ever. They are ridiculously expensive and our 35km taxi ride cost $125 USD…
Not a typo. I was having a heart attack in the backseat.
Yeah… Anyway, Flybus is $30pp if they take you to your hotel and $25pp if they drop you at Reykjavik bus terminal.
The problem for us though was that we were going to neither and didn’t have TOO much of choice but to taxi or just add on fee for the camper van to pick us up which would have been better.
You could take the FlyBus if you want to walk to the campervan company I went through for about 15 minutes, with all your stuff…
Garrett checked an Iceland taxi calculator online and it was obviously flawed as it quoted much less.
After dealing with getting out of the airport…
The best way to get around, hands down, is by campervan.
I loved having the freedom to go anywhere anytime I wanted and when it was time to sleep, just find a campsite and post up! There’s no need to find hotels along the way and strap yourself down to a tight schedule or to rely on the scarce public transport.
KuKu Campers is the company we went with which was a great choice. We had a super rad van that had exactly what we needed. Oh, and it’s like the cheapest campervan in Iceland.
[box] Not renting a campervan? Here are 17 day trips you can make from Reykjavik[/box]
Food Shopping in Iceland Tips
The first tip is to not go crazy buying things until you’ve “shopped” at your camper rental place and your first campsite. There’s going to be tons of stuff for the taking like rice, pasta, sauces, and other condiments. When you’re done with your trip, you donate your leftovers to the last campsite you stay at to “give back.”
Be sure you do this “shopping” at a campsite around Reykjavik as there isn’t so much to choose from when you’re further out as it’s not anyone’s last night out on the road!
For example, there was nothing at the Vik campsite except one old bottle of oil.
The second tip is Bonus is known as the cheapest of the shopping centers to shop at.
While I didn’t see too much of a difference when we shopped at Netto, Bonus did have a few better deals on things.
A good tip to know is shopping outside of the city can result is overall cheaper prices as well. The Bonus in Selfoss (less than an hour from Reykjavik) was a bit cheaper.
With that said, there aren’t many of these large shopping centers so shop carefully! Stock up, and know when you’re going to stop next for another big shopping day.
Otherwise, you’ll be stuck at the small stores which charge more. Also, Iceland in September can mean some small shops will have shorter hours or could be closed.
What did we eat in Iceland?
Tuna sandwiches, pasta with the frozen veg, eggs and toast, oatmeal, healthy-ish snacks like apples, yogurt and muesli, peanut butter on crackers, and other assorted snacky things. Not exactly the most exciting or healthy diet, but it was the cheap way to go and yeah, we’re in Iceland!
Let me just point out, if you haven’t noticed yet, you need to cook your food.
This is not a request, this a demand.
For the sake of your bank account, you MUST cook your own meals. The prices for food at restaurants are what nightmares are made of. Cook your own food to survive!
Random things you might not think to get…
- Baby wipes AKA your shower when you don’t have one. Don’t judge. It’s fine. Also, it’s good for giving the car a bit of a wipe on the inside, this is your home after all!
- Extra plastic bags for trash or to “house” random items. Also to use when you drench something.
- Bring a water bottle or buy and reuse. Tap water anywhere is fine, don’t buy water!
- Soap for your body (when you actually get a shower, none will be provided at the campsites) and antibacterial when you don’t have a sink (which will be very often)
Alcohol in Iceland
Auroras in Iceland Tips & What You DON’T Need to See Them
We saw them a bit here and there on our trip but not a full-on show. It was regularly overcast, even if it wasn’t raining. A bit unfortunate but not the end of the world. There’s a next time!
BUT just know, you DON’T need a “chasing lights” tour.
You literally need a clear night, darkness, and that’s it! They are almost perpetually happening over the island but a dark clear sky is your ticket to see the lights dance above you, not a guided tour to places you can drive to yourself for free.
You can download an aurora map to see where and when they will be out and at their best.
Iceland in September is a fine time to see them, we just got unlucky. Your last opportunity to visit them before summer comes into full effect would be to visit Iceland in April.
Our friends saw them in Reykjavik the night we left! We were only about two hours away from them too! Disappointing.
Best Map App to Visiting Iceland
Google maps is good- if you have service. If you have T-Mobile you’ll get OK service (Americans T-Mobile is the BEST for traveling. Go get a SIM now.)
BUT the real winner is Maps.Me.
I always download these offline maps because you never know when you’ll lose service or when your data will decide to take ten years to load. Also, Maps.Me sometimes knows more than Google (like walking trails).
It was super clutch for finding our camp spots! I literally typed in “camping” and then “view on map” to see which campsites were around me.
This is also easier to see which are open since a phone number is usually listed as well.
Travel Gear for Iceland
I have an ENTIRE post on everything you need to pack for Iceland but the following is the most important.
Good shoes is not a choice, it’s survival. Don’t skip on shoes or a jacket…
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This versatile jacket was the best thing ever. It’s two in one with a fluffy inside that detached from an outer shell that is both a windbreaker and rainjacket.
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Fleece leggings. I lived in these things! I rotated the three I owned and if I was extra cold, I’d wear two of them.
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Accessories like a beanie and proper socks make ALL the difference…
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And obviously a scarf or two and some gloves are essentials.
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The secret is layering. So buy things that you can layer and take on and off easily. And if you live out of your suitcase like I do, finding things that can be both summer and winter is great, like my summer dresses paired with leggings, my boots, beanie, and jacket. I was good to go!
You’ll need a swimsuit and a sarong if you want to hop in the geothermic waters.
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Bring an external battery. You can really only charge when the car is on (unless you’re renting a baller vehicle.) This one is my favorite. It can solar charge (not really useful in Iceland but is in most other places) and it’s tough enough to not break when it drops.
I’d also suggest a GoPro because of Iceland and its psycho weather! You just never know. Plus, waterfalls and wind make the perfect mix to destroy your camera.
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[box]READ MORE: Your Compelte Guide on What to Wear in Iceland[/box]
Iceland Prices: There Goes My Arm and My Leg…
Of course, everyone spends differently but hopefully, my breakdown here can give you a better idea what prices can be like while traveling Iceland in September. it ain’t pretty and we tried our damnedest to keep costs down.
- Campervan for 12 nights – $1275 (One of the cheapest you can get, off-season price, and with a discount!)
- Stupid taxi mistake – $125
- Food for 2 for 12 days – $250 (including going out for a drink and a snack one night and one meal at a restaurant)
- Campsites – $100 (remember this will cost more if you don’t stay at the free one or get lucky a few nights)
- Gas – Around $300
- Other – $300+ (including gravel insurance add-on, cooler rental, sleep bag rental, power converter, duty-free wine, Blue Lagoon, random things etc…)
We spent about $1200 each for 12 days in Iceland.
Which averages about $100 per person per day.
*Cue the sobs from my bank account*
This is the most expensive place I’ve ever been in all of my travels. Hands down.
However, the good news is most of the attractions are totally free. Thank god. Becuase if they start charging, I’m not sure who will be able to afford to go.
Cash or Credit?
You’re all good with just a card! Now, this all depends on the bank you have.
If you’re getting charged out the butt with fees, I’d suggest taking out the cash you need for the trip so you can avoid getting charged often. Iceland is literally the safest country in the world, you’re fine with large amounts of cash.
We use Charles Schwab (American travelers, get this card.) so we don’t have to worry about charges.
We used it everywhere! I would recommend having just a small amount of cash just in case or if you stay at the nice free campsite I suggested so you can leave a small tip.
Phew! That’s a lot of info, hopefully, these Iceland tips proved to be helpful though.
So are you planning a trip to Iceland? Will you decide to visit Iceland in September?
Let me know your plans!
Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad and epically failing at the American Dream since 2011. Her sassy yet informative blog, Where in the World is Nina? is all about how to work abroad to live a more adventurous life. If you want to travel longer you have to work to wander.