Winter Travel in Iceland
Winter Camping in Iceland Made Fun & Simple with CampEasy
Why Choose Campeasy for Winter Camping?
We are the champions of winter camping in Iceland. There are multiple reasons why we make that statement, but there is one that stands out by a mile. Proper heating. We put a lot of effort into making sure that our campers are warm, even during the coldest winter months. We use the world-leading Webasto heating system and remove the main bottleneck by fitting two large additional batteries in the rear cabin to guarantee 8 hours of powerful heating. On average the heating will last you far past that. We also insulate the campers properly to make sure none of that heat we‘ve worked so hard to produce, escapes the cabin via cold metals. Combine that with the extra mops, rags and floor mats for the wet, extensive safety and tracking equipment and brand new winter tyres, and you get the champion.
But there‘s more to it. Now you have the Winter Camper, next is the explorer training. We make sure that when you arrive here at Campeasy to pick up your winter camper, you get properly informed and fed with all the tips and tricks. The orientation takes up to an hour, and you are welcome to blast us with all the questions in the world. We also design our campers so that you can do everything from the inside of the warm cabin. Cooking, cleaning, washing up, dining etc. Even re-filling your water supply is done from the inside. Add to that the 24-hour breakdown service and the professional standards of our maintenance team and you are ready to roll around in the snow.
- An all-night heating system to keep you warm and cozy
- Dual batteries in the cabin for the heater and electronics
- Tracking, warning and impact system
- Client Area for easy weather and road condition monitoring
- An extensive orientation upon arrival
- Free extra duvets and blankets for your comfort
- Unlimited mileage and no hidden fees
- Designed to be operated fully from the inside
- Proper winter tyres
- Extra equipment to handle the winter
- Breakdown service
- 24/7 service center
Open campsites in the winter
CampEasy has been working to increase overnight locations for campers for some time now. We provide updated information about camping locations and we call everyone regularly and make sure our details on what campsites are open and what kind of facility access they provide in the winter months is correct.
We are Icelandic, we are experienced travelers around Iceland and know what you need for a road trip around our little island. Rent your winter camper with us. You won't regret it.
Check out the map below of confirmed open campsites.
Keep In Mind For Winter Camping
There are several factors you will need to keep in mind as you travel around Iceland in the winter. The weather is not very predictable, getting between places can take a lot longer than what Google will try and tell you and counting on weather forecasts any longer than 48 or even 36 hours ahead of time is not a good idea. You will need to check the roads, the weather and reports every morning to evaluate your next step. We will instruct you on this when you arrive, but we recommend you read through this as well.
The wind is the most dangerous factor when driving on Icelandic roads. Although we do not really get hurricanes as they are defined, we have experienced wind speeds double the criterion for hurricane-force winds. What we experience is more accurately dubbed a „polar low“ or „Arctic depression“. These high-wind weather patterns are generally very short-lived, on average lasting no more than a day and often only a couple of hours. The fact that it lasts for such a short time is a crucial factor and dampens the effect it will have on your trip, should you encounter it. But be warned, ignore the warnings or proceed without care, and gales can easily blow your camper clean off the road. The number one thing is regularly monitoring the reports and warnings and to slow down when the wind picks up.
Snow and Cold.
Surprising to many is the fact that Iceland isn‘t very cold in the winter. The Gulf Stream evens out the temperature throughout the year, combined with the coastal nature of the island. Summer temperatures rarely rise above 17°C/63°F and winter temperatures don‘t often dip below -5°C/ 21°F. The snowfall is very unpredictable and varies a lot between seasons. We can have winters almost completely without snow in some areas and then there are the winters where the snow engulfs the entire country for months.
Icelandic roads generally consist of two lanes, with limited infrastructure around them. There are few guard rails, and often the roads are steep and narrow with a small drop on either side to prevent snow build-up. There are many gravel sections, and often for even the shortest detour, you‘ll need to use those gravel roads. The speed limit on paved roads is 90kmh/56mph and 80 kmh/50mph on gravel. Using the tools provided to monitor the conditions of these roads is crucial when travelling, every single morning. Even when driving on the main highway, the ring-road. Then there are the F-Roads or ostensibly mountain roads. These roads will have next to no maintenance during the winter and can be in really bad condition. The only vehicle we have that can traverse the F-Roads is the Easy Clever, but in the winter time, many of the F-Roads will be inaccessible. It‘s not forbidden to use them during the winter, but the Clever is a 4x4 van with a raised chassis, larger wheels and a spare on the back, not a custom modified super jeep. It won‘t take you through heavy snow or rivers. Use extreme caution when using F-roads during the spring, fall or winter. It is forbidden to drive through rivers on any Campeasy camper.
Road signs and weather signs.
The road signs in Iceland can be very different from those you are familiar with. We have special signs warning of sheep and reindeer on the road and peculiar weather warning signs. For a more detailed overview of the road signs in Iceland, we recommend you check out the Driving in Iceland section.
14 Tips On Winter Travel In Iceland
1. Rent a four wheel drive vehicle (4x4).
It increases your control of the vehicle, should you begin to slide or need to manoeuvre quickly. It also increases the weight of the vehicle, which results in better traction and reduces the impact of the wind. You'll manage in a front wheel driven camper, but the 4x4 makes things easier.
2. App up. Download the Vegagerdin app, 112 Iceland app, Vedur app and purchase the WiFi access.
The Vegagerdin app is really good for monitoring the main roads in Iceland. It‘ll tell you in real time the condition of the roads along your path. Combine that with the www.vegagerdin.is website which you‘ll need for smaller roads and detours, and you should be able to monitor if the path ahead is clear.
The 112 app is used for two things. Checking in, which is a good thing to do regularly when in the wild. And then there is the Emergency button. It sends your GPS location via SMS to the emergency services, and they will respond. We have an amazing Search and Rescue network of volunteers in Iceland. These Locals that will drop everything and rush to your aid when the call comes in. Keep in mind that they are allergic to stupidity and rule-breaking, so if you get yourself in trouble for those reasons, they will bill you for the service.
The app for Android, iPhone, and Windows.
The Vedur app is ok, but not great. www.vedur.is for weather monitoring is probably better and will give you a lot more information.
3. Have a Paper Map for backup.
If all else fails, you will still have a map. We do not recommend using only your personal GPS navigation (Garmin or the like), as it will often guide you towards the shortest route, which can as often as not, be a mountain road.
4. Fill the tank when you see a gas station / Fill it when it reaches 50%.
Distances in Iceland aren‘t very great by any stretch, but getting from A to B can take a lot longer than expected, which will result in more fuel usage. The heating system is also connected directly to your fuel tank and will need a bit during the night; it can cause problems even if the tank has less than 1/4 fuel. It‘s best just to fill up when it reaches 50%. We also recommend you take more than one Credit Card with you and that you know the PIN number for each one. Everywhere accepts cards (almost), but almost all of them require a pin. You also receive a fuel discount card from us, which gives you a minimal discount on fuel and access to Wifi on N1 gas stations.
If you aren't able to get a chip and pin card from your bank, you can always purchase pre-paid cards at N1 stations in Reykjavík.
You should also keep in mind that if you choose the fill-up option on the pump, the machine will take a 25.000 ISK security deposit from your card and hold it for up to 48-72 hours, even though you just pump gas for 10.000 ISK. That can be a problem if you have a daily withdrawal limit or limited funds.
5. Maximize daylight hours.
The days aren‘t very long in the winter this far north. At 66°N, during the winter solstice (shortest days) the full day is around 2 hours and 45 minutes. In Reykjavík (further south, around 64°N) the day lasts around 4 hours when it‘s the shortest. During the darkest months (December, January) you will only get a few hours of sun each day. This is a recipe for some amazing photos, as the sunrise and sunsets last for a long time, but it also makes it trickier to navigate around the island.
6. Don‘t draw up lines and timetables but mark dots.
Put another way, be flexible or have multiple plans. This is actually something we always recommend, summer or winter. The island is absolutely riddled with interesting things to see and do. We recommend you read up on what you want but keep your plans relaxed and follow the good weather. Don‘t get hung up on one place and get in trouble forcing a journey you can‘t handle. There will always be several fun alternatives.
7. Don't return to Reykjavík only a few hours before your flight leaves.
During high winter we recommend you plan to spend your last night either in Reykjavík, or very close to it. As mentioned above, the weather comes in quick, and it departs just as quickly. If your path is blocked, it normally isn‘t for more than a day or two, as the roads will be cleared and the weather will settle. So be back in Reykjavík or no more than a 30-minute drive away from it. There are plenty of campsites to choose from and it's a good way to avoid potential stress. It will feel more comfortable and Reykjavík is worth a stay for at least a night! The downtown Reykjavík campsite is open all year round.
8. Know how to change a flat tire.
Even though distances aren‘t that great in Iceland, getting road assistance for a flat tyre between towns can be expensive. Check out Youtube videos and maybe practice once before you arrive. Our Easy Clever comes with a mounted rear spare tyre on the back, which makes the tyre change easier. Note that if you blow a tyre, you are required to have it fixed or replaced at your expense.
9. Drive slower than the speed limit.
Even if the speed limit is 90kph/56mph, you don‘t have to drive at 90kph/56mph. In fact, in some cases that could be very dangerous. Don‘t let the local drivers push you to go faster. If you have a car tailing you, you can put on your blink light (turn signal) to the right to indicate that you want him to pass. Make sure you don‘t give such an indication when there is traffic coming in the opposite direction or any danger on the road ahead. The turn signal to the right is also a message to the tailing driver that it‘s safe actually to pass.
10. Clear all snow from every window and mirror before driving as well as clearing the roof.
This is important. It may not seem like a big deal when it‘s bright out to have a rear window covered or rear side window, but full visibility just makes the driving more comfortable. Not to mention when it gets darker, then you want to be able to see all that you possibly can.
11. Beware of black ice.
Ice on roads in winter isn‘t always visible. It can look clear but be covered with a thin layer of ice.
12. Find safe places to stop your vehicle.
Stopping on the side of the road or the road itself, especially when there‘s ice or snow, is dangerous. You might not be spotted by passing vehicles until too late due to the lack of traction. Stopping can take a while on icy roads.
13. Always wear your seatbelt and turn on your headlights.
In Iceland, it is illegal not to use seatbelts, both for the driver and passengers. We also require all vehicles to have their headlights turned on, any time of day. Buckle up and turn your lights on!
14. Don‘t cram too much into your schedule or be in a hurry.
The days are short, and you won‘t be able to see it all anyway. Take your time and enjoy the adventure. In a safe way 😉