The 10 Best Things to do During Bad Weather in Iceland

The 10 Best Things to do During Bad Weather in Iceland

James Taylor James Taylor
16. Mar 2022 ∼ 9 min. read

When unpredictable weather strikes in Iceland, there's no need to let it dampen your spirits. Discover a myriad of exciting activities with our guide to the best things to do during bad weather. One versatile solution to navigate through inclement conditions is opting for an Iceland camper rental. These mobile havens provide both shelter and flexibility, allowing you to chase the allure of the Northern Lights, explore captivating museums, or indulge in the warmth of geothermal pools—all while staying snug and dry. Our reliable camper rentals empower you to turn bad weather into an opportunity for unique and memorable experiences, ensuring your Icelandic adventure remains vibrant regardless of the elements. Dive into our guide and let an Iceland camper rental be your ticket to turning challenging weather into an unexpected adventure.

Campervan trips in Iceland don’t always go off without a hitch. Iceland is famous for its often-crazy weather, with strong winds and blizzards often shutting route 1 down.

If the weather turns sour during your camper trip in Iceland, you might be looking for something to do while you wait it out. Below, you’ll find the 10 best things to do during bad weather in Iceland.

How Bad Is the Weather in Iceland?

If you’re in the planning stages of your campervan trip in Iceland, you might be wondering how bad the weather is in Iceland.

As a country marooned in the North Atlantic just a short distance from the Arctic Circle, things can get hairy at times.

The most common type of bad weather is fierce winds that make it dangerous to drive. If there are storms in the forecast that might interrupt your campervan travel plans in Iceland, there will be a lot of alerts sent out by us, news outlets, and the Icelandic weather service.

However, if you’re travelling between April and October, this is when Iceland’s weather is at its mildest. There can still be snowstorms from time to time, and strong winds are a danger year-round, but generally, the weather is fantastic for an Icelandic camper road trip.

For those travelling in winter, things are very different. Head to our section dedicated to campervan travel in Iceland during winter to learn more.

The Different Types of Iceland Storms

As we previously mentioned, outside of winter the most dangerous type of weather is generally strong winds. It can be dangerous.

During the colder months, there can of course be blizzards that make driving very hazardous. Ice can make roads slick and coupled with strong winds, and it suddenly becomes very dangerous to drive.

Another type of storm in Iceland is a sandstorm. This is when the fierce winds whip up into a frenzy, carrying the volcanic ash and sand fast through the air. These kinds of storms can damage the campervans very easily and are most common along the south coast of Iceland.

If you encounter some bad weather that means you can’t continue your camper road trip in Iceland, here are our top picks of things to do.

1.    Embrace the Weather – If It’s Safe!

Iceland does get bad weather quite often – it’s a big part of life in the country. That’s why one of the best things to do during bad weather in Iceland is to embrace it! Rug yourself up and go stand outside the campervan to feel the full brunt of mother nature.

There’s often no sense in worrying about the weather – Iceland simply has a lot of different conditions, and it should be seen as a fun part of your trip. Of course, it pays to know just how strong or dangerous the weather is going to be. Stay up to date with all the goings on via the Safe Travel in Iceland website.

2.    Enjoy a Soak in Iceland’s Hot Springs

One of the best parts about campervan travel in Iceland is just how easy it is to enjoy a soak in the natural hot springs around the country. The geothermal energy in the country bubbles forth hot water from plenty of places in the countryside, often collected in manmade – or natural – pools where locals love to soak.

Jumping in one of the hot springs during bad weather in Iceland is one of the best experiences you can have during a storm. With wind, rain, and even snow whipping across your head, you’ll be safe and warm inside the hot water, immersed in the incredible show of force while staying safe. Just remember to wear a warm hat over your ears!

Read: The 10 Best Hot Springs in Iceland

3.    Find Shelter in one of Iceland’s Museums

Iceland is home to an astounding number of museums across the country, serving as interesting diversions if the weather is too terrible for you to continue exploring in your campervan. Almost every single town has a museum, whether it’s about the local life in that corner of the country or a different topic.

You’ll find museums dedicated to Icelandic witchcraft and sorcery, sea monsters, expansive stone collections, and more. Reykjavik and Akureyri are home to the big, must-see museums, covering things like history wildlife, and Iceland’s nature.

But sometimes, it’s the smallest museums in Iceland that leave the biggest mark. Like the weird collections found in the small villages, or one of the many museums dedicated to Icelandic folk lore.

4.    Play Cards or Games in the Camper

Sometimes, there’s nothing to do but wait out the bad Icelandic weather cozied up in your campervan. A great way to pass the time if you’re stuck inside is by breaking out the deck of cards and playing some of your favorite card games.

If you’ve forgotten a deck of playing cards, ask us when picking up your campervan at our office and we’ll track down some for you to play with.

5.    Go Swimming at a Local Pool

Not so different from the natural hot springs, visiting an Icelandic swimming pool is another favourite activity for locals in bad weather. Iceland has more pools than most countries, with every town, village, and small hamlet usually having access to a pool. Heated with the natural hot water found across the country, it’s another great retreat from the sharp Icelandic wind, sleet, and snow.

The swimming pools don’t just have a pool – most also have a collection of hot pots of varying temperatures to choose from. Then, there are the ice baths for the very brave, and saunas as well. Inside, the facilities are fantastic, including spacious changing rooms and hot showers to clean yourself before and after your swim (a necessary step before you swim in Icelandic pools).

Also falling into this category are the luxurious geothermal pools, such as the Blue Lagoon and Sky Lagoon.

6.    Hideout in an Icelandic Café

Drinking coffee in Iceland is big business, and there’s usually always some kind of café in the towns around the country. If you’re holed up while a blizzard blows over, why not visit one of the cosy cafés to enjoy an abundance of coffee and delicious Icelandic pastries?

On average, an Icelander consumes about 8.3 kilograms of coffee beans per year, making the country the fourth largest consumer of coffee per capita in the world. You’ll find cafés in every small town across the country. As a bonus, Icelandic pastries and baked goods are delicious.

7.    Change Your Plans and Chase the Good Weather

Sometimes plans go awry in Iceland, and you’ll have no choice but to rethink your plans. Bad weather can sweep in through parts of the country, making them inaccessible or dangerous to travel to. Changing your plans and heading somewhere else in the country might be the only viable option – but it’s not such a bad thing.

During the summer, Icelanders are well-known for chasing good weather. If the forecast in North Iceland is sunny and warm while Reykjavik suffers through another week of chilly temperatures and rain, you can be sure that there will be hundreds of locals chasing the good weather for some camping.

In much the same spirit, if things are looking stormy ahead for your trip, maybe turn around and head somewhere else that isn’t affected by the weather. You might have to retrace your steps a bit, but a good campervan adventure in Iceland will always hold a few surprises.

8.    Visit the Cinema

If you’re in Reykjavik, Akureyri, Ísafjörður, or a few other of the bigger towns in Iceland, a great way to pass the time during bad weather is to go to the cinema. Icelanders love going to watch the latest movies, which are often released much sooner than on mainland Europe.

All movies in Iceland are shown in English, with Icelandic subtitles.

9.    Chill Out at the Campsite Indoor Area

If you’re already at a campsite when the bad weather hits, then another option is to chill out inside the common area. Campsites across Iceland have been greatly improving their facilities in the past few years, making them enticing spots to wait out an Icelandic storm. You can meet other travelers, cook up a good meal using the facilities, and plan out your next move.

Here you can see a list of campsites in Iceland open all year. 

10.        Donate to the Icelandic Search and Rescue Team

Finally, one of the great things to do during bad weather in Iceland is to donate to the Icelandic Search and Rescue Team. These are the brave souls who go out into the dangerous conditions to rescue those who are stuck, whether it’s somewhere deep in the highlands or on the side of the road in the Golden Circle.

The ICE-SAR organization is entirely made up of volunteers and is completely non-profit. To continue their fantastic work training Icelanders in specialty rescue techniques on land and sea. To donate, Icelandic association for search, rescue & injury prevention.

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