Camping in November in Iceland
Iceland or bust – Who Says You Can’t Camp in November?
Hi! I’m Ingrid and this is Adam and we just finished up an amazing week exploring Iceland and all its magnificent beauty in a Rent.is camper van. Now you should know that it has been a dream of mine to explore a country in a camper van for as far as I can remember and it was literally the very first thing I told Adam when I met him – and let me tell you, doing it in Iceland did not disappoint and exceeded all my expectations.
We are from the Pacific Northwest so the mountains, hiking and exploring are all deeply ingrained in us, and we knew that immediately upon arriving in Iceland that we wanted to get out and start adventuring. We landed around 6:30am at dark Keflavik Airport and went straight to pick up our GIANT van. Rent.is offers an array of different size camper vans to accommodate whatever your adventure style is. We decided to go with largest van because of a couple different reasons:
- We knew it would be colder so wanted something big enough to hang out in at night and not have to always put the beds up and down.
- It had a heater (very, very key when camping in later October/early November as it is a bit windy).
- It had a sink, not 100% necessary but it was nice for being able to rinse dishes. Also, bonus! all of the camper vans from Rent.is have free wireless internet, which was awesome for navigating.
Now that you have all the basics here is our 5 day camper van guide to Iceland. Also, if you want more visuals, check out our video below of our Iceland adventure.
Day 1 – Reykjadalur Valley & Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
We landed in Iceland, picked up our van, and we were off! We first stopped at the grocery store (15 minutes from the airport) and grabbed most of what we needed. Note: Iceland can get super remote in many areas, with nothing more than a small gas station, so highly recommend stocking up on both perishable and non-perishable foods (i.e. foods that need cooking and ones that don’t, wind = hard to cook 🙂 ). We stocked the van and headed south with the goal of going as far as Glacier Lagoon before going all the way back across to the west.
Our first stop was Reykjadalur Valley (only about 45 km away from Reykjavík). Here there is a hike at Mt. Hengill, where you end at a hot river. Similar to the hot springs, this is a great river to take a dip in and enjoy the hot pools. The hottest parts are the top of the river and they get cooler as you go down. After we spent some time in the river, we dried off and hiked out. We reached the van and decided to make some lunch. Adam had picked up all of the fixings for traditional Icelandic hot dogs, so we made those and then were on our way!
We continued south, visiting the amazing Seljalandsfoss waterfall, where you can go all the way behind it and around, getting sprayed by water. Then ended our day of travel at a small picnic area where we set up camp for the night and made an AMAZING dinner of salmon and couscous.
Day 2 – Glacier Lagoon & Skaftafell National Park
We woke up early (not really knowing exactly the scenery we were going to arise to) and it was like waking up on a different planet, completely surrounded by lava fields that led out to the ocean. We walked around a bit before making breakfast and continuing on our journey. Today – Glacier Lagoon!
We arrived a Glacier Lagoon around 11am and were happy to see it wasn’t too busy. Looking around we were surrounded by large, bright blue glaciers coming out of the water. Wanting to get a closer look we booked a zodiac tour (HIGHLY RECOMMEND), which took us out deep into the depths of the lagoon where we got up close and personal with the glaciers, got to go closer to the mountains that seemed to rise out of the water, and also meet a few new seal friends who were basking on the ice.
After our exhilarating tour, we drove across to the black sand beach where we explored a bit before making a quick lunch and hitting the road, heading back west. We decided that our destination would be close to Vík for the evening. On our way there we did one last stop at Skaftafell National Park, where we hiked to the beautiful Svartifoss waterfall that had these almost church like basalt columns around it. After that we hit the road again, arrived in Vík just in time for dinner and decided to treat ourselves to a meal out at Suður-Vík Restaurant where we enjoyed fish soup, fresh caught fish and Icelandic beer.
Day 3 – Secret Lagoon, Friðheimar & Geysir
We woke up to the sound of the waterfall in a small camping area outside of Vík. We got situated for the day, cooked some breakfast, did some dishes and reloaded our water tank and headed off with the goal to get all the way to the west, close to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. We motored past black sand beaches, stopped for some gas station coffee (only the best), and then reached our first stop of the day – The Secret Lagoon. The Secret Lagoon is the oldest hot spring in Iceland. It’s smaller, but really an idyllic setting, surrounded by greenery, hot pots, and tons of green houses. Also, the perfect spot as they have beer and showers – what more could you ask for!
The Secret Lagoon is just off the Ring Road, so we continued our drive around parts of that. We stopped for lunch at Friðheimar, a greenhouse where they grow tomatoes year round. You can walk through the green houses, sip on amazing Bloody Mary’s, and then end your visit having lunch in the middle of the greenhouse. Definitely worth it. After that we made a quick stop to see Geysir before dark.
As the sun set, we still had a bit of driving we wanted to get in to give us enough time on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, so we drove through the pouring rain for about 4 hours until we ended just about 30 minutes outside of Búðir, where we found a very nice guesthouse who let us park overnight.
Day 4 – Sönghellir Cave, Bárður Snæfellsás & Hotel Búðir
Since we did a lot of driving at night, it was always a bit of a surprise what we were going to wake up to the next day. Everyday was beautiful, but today we were on a cliff side overlooking the ocean! It was super stormy, but something about that is so beautiful when at the coast. Also, it was Halloween back in the States and given it’s one of Adam and I’s favorite holidays, we had big plans for celebrating on our own in the camper van. Picture below: we brought costumes to surprise each other with, I was a ninja (or really Elektra) and Adam was a skeleton.
We spent the day driving around the peninsula. It’s pretty compact so you can cover a lot in one day, but knowing that we had two days there we took our time. Our first stop was Sönghellir Cave, which is known for its echoes and also covered in carvings from as early as the 18th century. We also read that it is believed that the cave was a shelter for Bárður Snæfellsás (Adam’s favorite Icelandic saga) and is still protected by his spirit. This also is on the glacier where Journey to the Centre of the Earth is based off. After hiking to the cave we spent some time driving to try and see the glacier, but it was a bit too foggy and rainy so we turned back and headed back towards the water. Don’t worry, we got an amazing view of it the next day!
We spent the afternoon visiting Djúpalónssandur Beach, an amazing beach that has metal remnants scattered on it from an old shipwreck, and Svörtuloft bird cliffs that also are the location of two orange lighthouses. Once the sun started to set we headed back to Búðir, where we visited Hótel Búðir for cocktails and an amazing 3-course dinner. Hótel Búðir has been on my bucket list for quite some time and the entire experience didn’t disappoint, we even ended the evening by seeing an elusive Moonbow!
Day 5 – Kirkjufell, Stykkishólmur & Helgafell
We woke up to completely different day than the day before, greeted by the most beautiful sunrise. This was a good sign for a clear day, one filled with hikes and visiting little towns. With this being our last full day with the van before heading back to Reykjavík for a few days for Airwaves, we had a lot of ground we wanted to cover.
We started by heading further west on the peninsula going first to Kirkjufell. There wasn’t a great place to hike, so we decided to walk around a bit and then went to Stykkishólmur. This is the largest town on the peninsula and is an old fishing village. The harbor is absolutely adorable, scattered with tiny fishing boats and surrounded by colorful buildings. We walked around a bit and then enjoyed a phenomenal seafood lunch at Narfeyrarstofa. They also might have the best bread I’ve ever had.
After lunch we headed to Helgafell. Now this hike was super special. It’s very short, but there is a purpose at the top that many people journey there for. Legend has it that if you follow a few simple rules, that at the top you can be granted three wishes. You can read more about the specifics here, but remember you can only do this once and it has to be the first time you do the hike.
After that we bid adieu to the peninsula (well we stopped a few times for me to take some photos of the horses) and motored back towards Reykjavík. We thought we would camp somewhere along the way but actually decided to go all the way back to Reykjavik because we had to drop the van off super early before heading to Silfra for diving. We arrived in Reykjavík and stayed the night by the Grótta Lighthouse, spending most of the night awake hoping to see the Northern Lights. We didn’t see them, but we’ll be back and will definitely camper van around again in hopes of finding them.
Overall, our Rent.is camper van Iceland adventure was the most memorable vacation Adam and I have ever had. We’ve been fortunate to travel a ton together and even today we can’t stop talking about our van and are already planning our next trip back.
If you want more, watch our trip video here!
Read more: South Iceland Campervanning
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