Best time to visit Iceland

Réttir in Iceland

The Big Round-Up. An event that takes place in the countryside and, as unusual as it sounds, includes sheep and romance

Best time: early–mid-September


In the old days, Icelanders had the custom to let their sheep roam free during the summer days. Well, round-up is an old Icelandic tradition of riding horses up to the highlands in order to bring the sheep back. Long time ago, it was a way of living, and today it is a fun activity. It all starts with​ locals going uphill to return their sheep back home and it ends with dancing, eating and drinking. In the past, some couples used to get married during the round-up.

Visitors are welcome to join the event or just to take a look and learn something new. This event happens in early September, so join in, and bring a ring, just in case.

Bjarteyjarsandur farm is an excellent place for the réttir experience, and it's also not far from the capital. North-Iceland boasts some of the greatest round-ups, namely the areas around Akureyri. Skagafjörður area by the famous fjord has some impressive rettir tradition. The valley of Svartárdalur is another great spot to see the traditional sorting of livestock. There is also a big celebration around historical Eyjafjörður fjord.

Practical info

When is the best time to witness the Icelandic sheep round-up?

The round-up of Icelandic sheep, known as Réttir, is typically held in early to mid-September. Bjarteyjarsandur farm near Reykjavik, as well as the area around Akureyri and Skagafjörður by the beautiful fjord, are great locations to experience the tradition. In the past, the Réttir event served as a way of life for Icelanders during summertime, but now it is a fun event celebrated by locals and welcomed by visitors. Show more

Which areas in Iceland are best to witness the sheep round-up?

Bjarteyjarsandur farm near Reykjavik, the areas around Akureyri, and Skagafjörður by the beautiful fjord are some locations in Iceland to experience the sheep round-up known as Réttir. Another great spot to watch the traditional sorting of livestock is in the valley of Svartárdalur. This old Icelandic tradition is an important cultural event with deep roots in Iceland's history. Visitors are encouraged to participate or observe the event, keeping in mind to respect local customs. Show more

What is the history behind the Réttir event in Iceland?

The Réttir event is an old Icelandic tradition that involved driving horses up to the highlands to bring sheep back for the winter. In the past, Réttir was a way of life for Icelanders during summertime, but now it is a celebrated event with dancing, eating, and drinking. While some couples would get married during the event in the past, this tradition is not widely practiced now. Réttir is still an important cultural event in Iceland, reflecting deep roots in farming and agricultural traditions. Show more

Is participation in the Réttir event only exclusive to locals or can visitors take part as well?

Visitors are welcome to observe and participate in the Réttir event in Iceland. It is an excellent opportunity to witness an important cultural event and tradition while keeping in mind the guiding principles of respect for local customs and traditions. It is best to check with local authorities or event organizers before participating in the event to ensure guidelines are being followed properly. Show more

Do couples get married during the Réttir event in Iceland today?

While it is no longer a widely practiced tradition for couples to get married during the Réttir event in Iceland, the event remains an integral part of Iceland's cultural history and heritage. This old- Icelandic tradition takes place in early to mid-September, when sheep are rounded up and brought back to lower pastures and villages. Visitors are welcome to participate and experience the event, which is always celebrated with great enthusiasm by locals. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin