Join us as we Explore Iceland via the famed Ring Road with a 4×4 Camper Van in Winter Conditions on a quest for Northern Lights.
Time of Year: Mid November
Aurora Borealis season in Iceland is roughly September through the end of April.
Camper Van Info
- Rented from: GO Iceland Rentals
- Make and Model: VW California 4×4 Automatic
- Trim Level: “Beach” (seats 5, sleeps 4)
- Engine: Diesel , 44.8 mpg
- Auxiliary Heater system for night time heat.
- Came with: Wifi hot spot, cookware, utensils, flatware, two types of camp stoves, potable water container, 4 sleeping bags, table.
Notable Locations Shown Day 1 (and night before)
- Arrival at Keflavik International Airport.
- Northern Lights sighting outside of Reykjavik.
- Our favorite Icelandic meal – gas station hot dogs.
- Goðafoss waterfall
- Grocery shopping at a small grocery store in northern Iceland.
- Mývatn lake and wetlands region.
- Mývatn Nature Baths (hot springs)
- Hverir Geothermal Area (bubbling mud and steam vents)
- Dettifoss waterfall in Vatnajökull National Park
- Northern Lights sighting near the town of Vik on Iceland’s eastern coast.
Notable Locations Shown Day 2
- Diamond Beach / Jökulsárlón Beach
- Random, unnamed (from what we could tell) waterfall that we spotted from the road.
- Hiking in the Skaftafell wilderness area, within Vatnajökull National Park.
- Svartifoss waterfall.
- Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon (or as Sara and Ashley call it, “Sweet-ass Mossy Canyon”)
- Lasagna at Primo Ristorante
- Downtown Reykjavik and Laugavegur street.
- Lebowski Bar for a beer and the notorius Coco-puff cocktail.
Notable Locations Shown Day 3
- Blue Lagoon Hot Spring
- Some final hot dogs at a cool little hot dog and ice cream stand called Skýlið on the way back to Keflavik airport. It kind reminded me of a Dairy Queen back in the states.
It should be pointed out that this is certainly not the ideal way to do a Iceland Ring Road trip, or to see Iceland in general. But life is unpredictable, and this is the experience we had. This video should not be seen as an endorsement of trying to see such a vast and unique place in such a short time-frame.
Beyond the obvious sightseeing reasons for avoiding such a tight schedule, there is the even more important factor of SAFETY. The wrong combination of unfortunate weather, the wrong vehicle choice, and a simple mistake could make for a very uncomfortable or unsafe situation. Weather in Iceland can change on a dime, and winter conditions can make those changes even more extreme. In our case we had the right combination of events occur to allow us to safely complete our Ring Road experience. However, things could have gone completely differently. We were willing to keep an open mind and had several contingency plans.
There is a very real chance on a schedule this tight that you could end up missing your return flight home. While that would be terrible, it is a far better alternative than taking unacceptable risks and getting yourself or others hurt. Please be safe and realistic when planning your own adventures!
Handy Links and Resources for those planning their own Iceland camper van adventure
- Official site for road conditions, closures, and live webcams of roads throughout the country.
- Weather – Official Icelandic Met Office website
- Grocery Store Locations – Great blog post on IHeartReykjavik.com about grocery stores in Iceland along with an awesome map of stores throughout the country.
- Google Map I created to give an overview of the total mileage and route along Route 1 for an Iceland Ring Road trip. (we did it clockwise)
- Aurora Service Website – Great general info and forecasting for the Aurora Borealis.
- Iceland Met Office Northern Lights Forecast – Specific to Iceland and takes current cloud cover conditions into account
- Cool blog post with a map of gas / petrol stations in Iceland along with recent prices.