Many people travel to Iceland to witness some of Earth´s greatest phenomenons. The northern lights, volcanoes, geysers, and glaciers are some examples of what you can expect to see in the land of fire and ice. Tourism hits a high during the summer months but winter in Iceland can be just as magical. We traveled Iceland in the Winter in a campervan and it was incredible. Here is our experience and some must-knows if you’re planning a similar trip!

Campervan rentals in Iceland

Finding the right rental

There are tons of campervan rental companies in Iceland to choose from, which is the good news!

No matter which van company you decide to go with, you need to make sure you have these essentials with your rental:

-A Heater that works overnight (you cannot bypass this one in the winter). It’s typically anywhere from 14-30 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter, & even colder with the wind chill!

-A Wifi router for snuggling up and watching movies on your laptop before bed. Note that if you do this you’ll also need to rent a power converter from the rental company for a small fee so that you can charge your laptop.

portable stove & utensils for making food when there aren’t any restaurants around for miles (not to mention it’s 10X cheaper).

-linens/comforters/blankets assuming you aren’t bringing your own.

Snow chains may want to be something you consider if the rental company offers them. We didn’t get, but looking back it would’ve been a good idea. The roads can be extremely difficult to manage after a snow storm.

Automatic drive is obviously only a necessity if you don’t know how to drive manual. Double check to make sure when reserving the rental, many of the vans are manual only.

GoCampers Campervan Iceland

We went with GoCampers campervan rental and paid about $858 for 6 nights. They seem to be the most well known company on the

island as well as the most affordable option. Our rental included a portable stove, all necessary cookware, 2 sets of comforters, pillows, blankets, towels, two thermoses, a wifi router, and a cooler. We also had a built-in heater system that charged while we drove the car and could last anywhere from 8-10 hours.

I highly recommend GoCampers. We had a great experience with them. They picked us up from the airport and shuttled us to our campervan for free and the van had everything we needed. All in all, very seamless experience!

In case you’re curious about other rental options out there, I’ve included a brief list below of some other affordable rental options.

  • Indie Campers – About $885 for 6 nights + $10 for the portable heater (says it includes interior shower and toilet which is a major plus. Our van did not include that.)
  • Affordable Campers– about $724 for 6 nights + $100 more or so if you want to add wifi and a power converter. This one also includes a built-in heater system.
  • Campervan Reykjavik– about $881 + a little more if you want wifi

Of course, these quotes are if you were to book 6 months – 1 year in advance. If you’re looking for something more last minute, the prices will most likely be higher.

Where to park the campervan

There is no shortage of camp sites to park at throughout Iceland. The GoCampers website provided us with a handy map with all of the campsites neatly marked out for us.

However, most of the time we just parked in a relatively empty lot for the night and never had any issues. Iceland allows freedom camping! So you should never have to pay a cent.

In the case of bad weather, many locals recommended we drive back to Reykjavik where it’s safer and the streets are well plowed. During one blizzard, we parked our van in a paid parking garage for the night and it worked out perfectly. We only paid $20 usd for the night, very affordable.

Iceland weather in Winter

The main thing you need you need to know about visiting Iceland in the winter is that the weather can change drastically without much warning, so make sure you frequently check the weather forecasts

before going out into the remote parts of the country. Here is the country’s official link to forecasts, save this one!

The last thing you want is to be stuck out in the boonies while a heavy blizzard blows in.

The main thing to watch for is wind and heavy snowfall forecasts. Really strong winds can damage your campervan and if paired with snowfall, can make driving conditions impossible.

The main roads of Iceland, especially in Reykjavik, are very well kept and are plowed almost immediately after snowfall. But the more remote roads that bifurcate off of the main ones can be dangerous to drive on after snow so just be cautious and you’ll be fine!

Our campervan was great at driving on the icy roads, we had no major issues with slipping. However, we did get over confident and drove into a pile of snow that was too much for our van to take on, and we ended up getting stuck at one point.

Thankfully a nice Icelandic man came out and coached us through digging our van out of the snow for an hour and we were eventually able to drive it out.

What to do in Iceland in the Winter

Visiting Iceland in Winter will differ quite a bit from summertime but nonetheless still a worthwhile experience, just a different vibe.

There are significantly less campers and people out in general during the winter so it’s a much more solitary experience which is pretty nice.

You’ll definitely have  no issues with crowding or finding places to park the van.

See the Northern Lights

This one is a must! The winter time is ideal for seeing the auroras since the nights are darker and longer. Click here for a forecast of the auroras. Hopefully you’ll get lucky and catch a night when they’re super active!

You have the option of buying a tour to go see them, but we found it unnecessary as we had more mobility and therefore chance of seeing the lights while just venturing out in our van. Not to mention those tours can get pricey. We definitely had no regrets 🙂

Don’t forget to bring your DSLR camera and a tripod and get some really cool shots of the lights!

Soak in the hot springs

Iceland is known for it’s hot springs which are warmed by the natural geothermal energy from volcanoes that pepper the land. There’s no time like the frigid winter to go visit them! Anytime we wanted a wash, we used it as an excuse to go visit a hot spring and then utilized their showers. They provided all the soap and towels.

The Blue Lagoon is the most well-known and recommended in Iceland and is about a 45 min drive from Reykjavik. The entry fee is around $85 per person for the most basic pass which includes a free face mask and drink at the lagoon bar.

Another option is Sky Lagoon which is located in the capital, Reykjavik. Entry fee is around $37 but does not include drinks or face masks and drinks were $20 each at the bar which was not ideal.

We visited both, and definitely enjoyed the Blue lagoon way more! We felt we got more band for our buck and the water was much more toasty and relaxing.

See Diamond Beach

Diamond beach is about a 5 hour drive from Reykjavik. It’s a beautiful black sand beach with huge ice glaciers washed up on shore. These oversized ice cubes sparkle against the contrast of the black sand which makes it appear diamond-like hence, the name. It’s a cool sight to see, we felt like we were in Antartica.

Visit the beautiful town of Vik

During our drive through the country, we stumbled across a beautiful town called Vik which is nestled between snowy mountains. At the time, we actually didn’t know it was one of the most popular towns in Iceland. But passing through, we couldn’t help but stop and take some pictures because it was so beautiful.

You’ll find stunning black sand beaches, striking mountains, and gorgeous little streams of water that permeate the land. It’s definitely worth the pit stop.

Eat Dinner like a Viking

Iceland is the land of the vikings! The vikings were the first to discover and settle on the land around 850 A.D. It’s fun to take in all the history, if you enjoy that stuff like I do.

On our last day we discovered an amazing viking dining experience that I just had to include on this list. Its called Ingolfsskali.

The food is incredible. I had the lobster soup with bread and mash potatoes on the side and my boyfriend had the lamb chops. We both were veryyy satisfied.

The restaurant is beautiful, two stories with a full bar and resembles something exactly like what I would assume the vikings lived in back in the day, super cool.

The restaurant is only a 45 min drive from Reykjavik, and totally worth the drive. It is a little pricy-er, expect to pay $20 or more for a main dish.

Visit the planetarium at the Iceland Museum

I highly recommend taking a stop at the Perlan Museum! It’s an interactive science museum that teaches all about the history of Iceland, the nature of the volcanic activity and glaciers, as well as climate change.

They have a planetarium inside where they have an incredible show that breaks down the science behind the aurora lights. It was a very neat and entertaining way to learn about them.

What’s also unique about this museum is that they have a 100 meter long ice cave that gives you the feel of being in a real one. Make sure to dress warm because the cave is a frigid -3 degrees F.

Entry fee to the museum is $35 and you can buy them in advance here.

The people of Iceland/Overall vibe

I’ve said it so many times and I’ll say it again, Icelandic people are some of the KINDEST people I’ve ever met. It’s almost unnatural how friendly and welcoming they are (at least to a New Yorker like me).

At one bar, a group of Icelanders randomly invited us over to their table because they could see that we were there alone and it must’ve been apparent we weren’t from around the area.

Another time, we approached a group playing a game of cards and they generously welcomed us into the game and explained all the rules patiently even though it took me about 20 minutes just to understand the game. They ended up inviting us out with them for the night afterwards and we had a grand ole time.

Overall, I absolutely loved Iceland and I’m counting the days until I can go back. Next time I’ll definitely visit in the summertime, then I can truly give an unbiased comparison of Iceland in summer vs winter. But until then, I still highly recommend going in the winter. The memories I’ll always keep with me will be snuggling in our cozy van in some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

I hope this helped your itinerary planning to the wonderful land of Iceland! Leave a comment below if you’ve been and what your experience was!

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