In this travel guide, I’ll be detailing what you need to pack, where you need to visit and everything you should know about the culture and language when traveling to Iceland in the Fall.
I recently got back from my trip, and I had an absolute blast!
Reykjavik reminded me a bit of Alaska and Monterey, CA. It’s a charming small city with shops, cafes and fun bars, plus there are gorgeous landscapes just a short drive outside the downtown area.
This is an awesome trip to take with a group of friends or even solo. It’s an extremely safe place, and there’s plenty to do whether you’re just stopping over or making an entire trip of it.
What clothes you should bring
Iceland is a pretty chilly place, as you’d expect. The warmest it gets in the summer is about 68–77 °F (20–25 °C), so don’t expect nice mild weather in the fall. On average, it’ll be around 50–55 °F but it can get down to about 45 °F.
Considering this climate, you’ll want to pack lots of layers and warm clothing, but make sure they are all versatile and comfortable pieces for any sort of activity you’ll do. Down jackets and long sleeve shirts are ideal.
Personally, I wore hiking boots on my trip, which really weren’t necessary because we didn’t do a ton of outdoor exploring or hiking. They were nice and comfortable for all the walking and traveling, but if you have stylish boots that are warm and comfortable, I’d go with those.
One thing I loved about dressing for Iceland was that I had an excuse to wear leggings everyday, and it won’t make you look like too much of a tourist. While people do dress quite fashionably, they are also practical and oversized sweaters and leggings are pretty common.
People do get dressed up to go out at night, but there are only a few legitimate clubs, otherwise you’ll be pub hopping, so a more casual outfit is completely fine. I even got into a club in my hiking boots and down jacket, so it’s really no big deal!
Other packing essentials
Make sure you bring lots of layers and accessories to bundle up. Scarves, gloves and hats will be good to have, and it does rain often so make sure you either have waterproof clothing or pack an umbrella.
You’re probably also going to visit some hot springs so you should bring a bathing suit and a towel if you so choose.
If you are staying in a hostel, you’ll want to research the amenities, but most are well-equipped in Reykjavik. If not, make sure you have a lock, a towel and all your toiletry essentials.
Food to try
- Hot dog – There is a famous hot dog stand right downtown that makes yummy hot dogs with all the classic toppings. Their special sauce is pretty incredible. If you get obsessed with it, you can find it at grocery stores to bring home!
- Hákarl (fermented shark) – This really isn’t very appetizing but it’s one of those things you just have to try while you’re here. Eat this with a shot of brennivín (called black death for a reason).
- Beer – Reykjavik has a lot of local breweries that offer yummy selections of beer. If you’re into beer tasting, I’d check out Bryggjan Brugghús.
- Harðfiskur (dried fish) – Again, not too tasty, but something worth a try!
- Hot Spring Rye Bread – You can find this in grocery stores and it’s not anything special, but the story behind it is. The heat from hot springs warm the ground around the pools, so bread dough is put in containers and buried nearby. Dig it up 24 hours later and you have freshly baked bread!
There are definitely other Icelandic delicacies to try like sheep’s head and blood pudding, but these were the essentials and least grotesque foods to try while you’re there.
What to do/see
The Hot Dog Shake and Pylsa Stand on Austurstræti
- Hallgrímskirkja cathedral – Head to the top for gorgeous views of the city!
- Café Babalú – Stop here on your way to or from the cathedral, and make sure you try their chai tea latte!
- Lebowski Bar
- Golden Circle – I recommend renting a car and doing this drive yourself rather than with a tour group. You’ll save some money, hit all the sights you want to see and move at your own pace!
- Blue Lagoon – Make sure you book your tickets far in advance.
- Le Bistro – By far my favorite restaurant in Reykjavik. Super friendly service and tasty food. Great for brunch!
- 12 Tónar – If you’re into music, this cute record shop is the place for you. They have a wide range of music selections and a seating area to relax and listen to tunes.
- Harpa Concert Hall
- Kolaportið flea market – This is where I tried the hákarl and there’s lots to look at. Great for souvenir shopping!
Where to stay
Austurstræti is a main street in Reykjavik with popping nightlife at one end and quaint cafes all the way down in the opposite direction. This is a great street to stay on because you’ll be centrally located near all the hotspots, the waterfront and bus stops.
I loved my stay at Loft Hostel!
Everyone in Reykjavik speaks English, with some thick accents, so you’ll be able to get by just fine. That being said, it’s well-appreciated when you put in effort to speak Icelandic. Pronunciation is key to these words, so I’d recommend you listen to these words being spoken on YouTube or Google Translate.
Thank you: Þakka þér fyrir
Do you speak English?: Talar þú ensku?
Where is the bus stop?: Hvar er strætó hættir?
How do I get to _____?: Hvernig kem ég _____?
I need water.: Ég þarf vatn.
Happy birthday.: Til hamingju með afmælið.
Where are you from?: Hvaðan ertu?
Beer, wine: bjór, vín