Winter camping in Iceland – a fun experience in a campervan

Camping during wintertime in Iceland is a unique experience and we encourage everyone to try. Our campers are all equipped with winter tires and the best heating system available today, so you will be able to stay warm and toasty during the cold winter nights in Iceland.

A man sitting in a camper van in the evening

Specialized winter campers

Our campers are all equipped with winter tires and the best heating system available today, so you will be able to stay warm and toasty during the cold winter nights in Iceland. We have written a full article on it in our Winter Camping section if you wish to know more about your winter camper.

Make sure you dress warmly

There are a few things you need to keep in mind when you travel to Iceland, no matter the season. You, for example, need to dress warmly all year round. It is, of course, a lot warmer during the summer months, but it can get real nippy. We recommend people dress in layers and if you have Icelandic woolen socks or a Lopapeysa, that goes a long way too. The Icelandic sheep is a unique breed, having been isolated on the island for centuries. This means the wool from the sheep is different from all other wool in the world. The wool has a combination of inner and outer fibers which make it both water-resistant and insulating, providing excellent resistance to cold. We highly recommend you invest in either Lopapeysa or woolen socks or both.

People on the top of the mountain during the winter.

Stay safe

Additionally, we recommend you download the 112 safety app, let someone know when you plan on being back from your travels, and check the forecast regularly. If the Icelandic Met Office gives out a storm warning take notice, even though we do not get typical hurricanes, the gusts of winds can be strong enough to yank the car out of the road. Do not worry though; we do not get regular storms in Iceland. We benefit from the Gulf stream, so the weather here is milder than it would otherwise be.

You’re entering the Twilight Zone

Having gotten the warnings out of the way, sightseeing in the crisp winter air is an underrated activity. The light is something you probably have not seen before. During the darkest months of winter, December and January, the sun does not rise until about 11 and sets again between 3 and 4 in the afternoon. That does not mean there is complete darkness between 4 PM and 11 AM, though. Due to the sun residing so low in the sky, the twilight lasts for hours.

You will be able to do day tours during the winter months, like any other month in Iceland, with various day tour companies. We recommend trying out snowmobiling or ATV tours. For more on activities you can do on your own, check out a more detailed list in our Winter Activities section. The northern lights season lasts from late-August to mid-April, and by checking the northern lights forecast on the Icelandic Met Website, for example, will give you a good idea if and where you can see the lights.

Winter activities in Iceland

Hot spring during the winter with dancing northern lights above.

Winter activities do not have to cost a lot; you can simply take a large plastic bag to the next hill and slide down – sometimes the simple things are the best. Afterward, you can heat up hot cocoa by using the small kitchen area which is in all campers. Or you could go to one of Iceland’s many swimming pools – most all of them are open all year round. Or you could venture out and find yourself a hot spring in which to bathe. Be warned, though, the ones that flow like a river get a lot colder in winter. Feeling the warm water envelop your body in the middle of winter is a feeling like no other. It is even better if it starts snowing!

Map of all swimming pools in Iceland:

Camper parking in Iceland

Please check the map below where you can park during the winter months. Icelandic laws recently changed regarding where campers can park overnight. Now you must park at camping sites overnight.

It is always good to have a plan when camping in Iceland during the winter, but we do not recommend it being too rigid because, after all, Iceland is in the North-Atlantic Ocean, not far away from the Arctic Circle. As a result, you’ll have to be a bit flexible. Nonetheless, winter camping in Iceland is an experience like no other!

Map of all campsites on during winter: