With the onset of the dark winter months in Iceland, the country undergoes a remarkable transformation. The weather worsens as the days get shorter, and many think that a lot of the country is inaccessible. But with the proper precautions it‘s still entirely possible to enjoy Iceland during this time, which turns into a mysterious, wild and adventurous place under the cover of snow and darkness.
All of our campers are equipped with winter tires that are checked regularly, and almost all of our camper classes (except for the Go Smart Camper 2-pax) come with an automatic heating system to keep you nice and warm at night. With these two main concerns out of the way, read on to make the most of your Go Campers winter road trip in Iceland.
Camping in a campervan
During the winter months, there are quite a few campsites that have closed down. For a map of which are open during the winter, head over to all year campsites. There is also the Tjalda camping site which details when different campsites are closing. With some careful planning, you shouldn‘t run into any trouble when it comes to finding a place to rest overnight.
Staying outside of designated campsites with a camper is illegal at all times of the year. If you do intend to stay on private land, you must seek permission from the land owner, who usually lives inside the nearest farm house.
Route 1 can get seriously icy during the winter, and snow storms can close down parts of the main route leaving you stranded. Serious planning needs to be undertaken beforehand, and it‘s a good idea to have a backup plan in case of any road closures. It is always a good idea to keep watch of the road conditions on www.road.is, which let you know in real time of any road closures and where there is ice on the road. Be warned though, ´slippery conditions´ in Iceland could mean something entirely different to what is considered slippery in your home country.
The highway itself is challenging even in the summer, as it is very narrow and involves quite a few one way bridges, blind curves and hills as well as roads that cling to cliffs without any safety barriers. Only pull over in designated spots, and be careful of other camera-toting tourists who have dangerously pulled over on the highway to snap a quick photo.
Over in the east of the country, route 1 does turn into a dirt road for a while which isn‘t in the best condition. Watch out for reindeer as well, as they come down from the mountains to be closer to the coast during this time, and can often be seen dashing across the roads.
During the winter, it is true that Iceland experiences some very wild weather. It is especially important to keep tabs on what the weather is doing, and https://en.vedur.is is your best bet. Watch out for wind speeds that hit over 16m/s, which are getting too dangerous to be driving in. If you do get caught in a storm, your best bet is to make your way to the closest town to ride it out.
Always have a backup plan, incase the weather during your stay has closed down the roads of places you wanted to visit. It also pays to keep your camper well stocked with food and water in case you get stuck somewhere without a supermarket nearby.
On the other hand, there are actually quite a number of sunny days as well, and you might get lucky on your trip and have wonderful weather throughout. However, it is important to note that the days are short, and the sun hangs quite low in the sky which usually means that it is shining right through the windshielf into your eyes, so don‘t forget your sunglasses. And while it may sound cliche to say that the weather changes every 5 minutes in Iceland, it is completely true. That sunshine youre enjoying one minute could turn to snow the next, so always be prepared for everything.
You‘re going to want to do a few things to ensure that if you do run into any problems during your campervan trip, someone will always know where you are. Log your travel plans at safetravel.is, and also download the 112 Iceland app (also the National Emergency Line). Fill in your details in the app and it tracks your signal so that the rescue teams already know your coordinates. Check in every now and then to update the coordinates, so they can see how you‘re tracking and warn you if you‘re heading into any dangerous weather.
Opt to rent a mobile wifi router from Go Campers to also ensure that you‘re connected throughout the trip. This is especially important at this time of year so that you can actually keep tabs on the weather patterns and road conditions. Things do change quite rapidly.
But even with the wifi, it always pays to have a backup plan – in this case a hard copy map of Iceland. Make sure to grab one before you leave the office, as the wifi signal can drop out while crossing mountains and in the remote edges of the country.
What to Pack
Winter is no joke in Iceland. And while the country doesn‘t get as cold as one might think for a country called Iceland, the wind whipping across the landscapes does it‘s best to make you miserable and freezing. Don‘t let it by bringing with you the following essentials.
Pack thin layers of clothing, as well as a base layer of thermal gear. A big weatherproof jacket is a must, as well as some waterproof pants. A warm woollen jumper goes a long way, as do a few pairs of thick woollen socks (you can pick up some Icelandic woollen socks at many stores in Reykjavik and around the country if you don‘t have any). Waterproof boots are essential for comfortably trekking across the snowy landscapes, and don‘t leave home without a beanie or some heavy gloves.
Even with a hight quality Webasto heater in the campervan, sleeping bags are a must. If you don‘t have any room in your luggage, you can rent them from us while you‘re booking or when you arrive.