April in Iceland: Part One, Velkomin!

by valerie

To share or not to share. I’m of two minds on this. The selfish part of me wants to keep this a secret for ever and ever. But who am I kidding? I don’t OWN Iceland. So before I change my mind, here goes….Iceland in April is A-MAZ-ING. Seriously. So the next time your friends want to go to a warm sandy beach for Spring Break, you can say, “See ya, fellas. I’m off to pay my respects to the Norse Gods.” Although, full disclosure — when we first landed in Iceland (during a snow storm) I did consider the possibility I was a bit off my rocker. After reconfirming with myself that, yes, of course I’m weird, we began our journey.

Iceland Air Akureyri airport
At this very moment is when I questioned my sanity and my parenting. Stopover in Akuyeri due to runway conditions at Keflavik Airport.

11 days. Ring Road. Camper Van. The Three Stooges. Thus, the adventure begins!

Why April?

How do I count the ways!

For starters, Spring is a short season. A time when you still have the grandeur of snow and ice, but Father Sun is starting to show his face more regularly. The days are longish – sunrise is around 6am, and it takes about 2-3 hours for the sun to set, giving you beautifully long sunsets book-ended by darkness around 9:30pm. This allows for longer days of driving and exploring outdoors.

Being the shoulder season, Spring in Iceland is also when you can start to see Mother Earth wake up from her winter sleep. Snow is melting, waterfalls are roaring, buds are forming, and flowers are showing their faces.

And an equally good reason for Iceland in April? Tourists are few and far between! Most places we visited were not overrun with travelers, and I could only imagine how crazy it gets in the summer season. Some places we visited we were practically the only tourists.

Transportation

For those traveling to Iceland for more than a stopover trip, there are two main transport options most commonly used. One is to rent a car and stay at hotels or guest houses along the way. The second option is to rent a camper van. Camper van rental companies and campgrounds have developed to meet this growing demand from adventurous travelers. If you enjoy a rugged vacation, I highly recommend this method of transport!

Not only does a camper van provide freedom and flexibility within your schedule (opportunities to stop and pet horses!), but it also makes traveling in Iceland a more affordable option. Click here to see a video tour of our van!

In years past, camper van adventurers could pull over and set up camp anywhere they wanted. However, more recently the Iceland tourism rules have required that all campers stay at designated campgrounds. In order to accommodate the steep increase in number of visitors, and not exacerbate the affect on Iceland’s pristine and fragile ecosystem, let’s respect these regulations. Take the Icelandic Pledge! And here you can find information on the specifics of open campgrounds in April (coming soon!).

Iceland Campervan Renault 3 Rent.is
Home on wheels ~ Freedom of the open road!

Itinerary

Our Ring Road itinerary was very carefully planned out, which is NOT typically how I roll. However, given that we were traveling in a season where the weather and road conditions could be extremely variable, I wanted to make sure I knew which campsites were open and distances between towns (for ensuring fuel tank fill ups).

As a parent, I also wanted to make sure there was enough room in our schedule to breathe. To slow down, speed up, adjust, or scrap it all together! You never know how everyone is going to feel during the course of your trip. And no one needs the added pressure of keeping to a schedule, especially when you’re on vacation! I see an itinerary as a supportive piece, useful for referencing, but certainly NOT the driver in a trip.

Our camper van offered us freedom ~ I wanted our itinerary to offer the same.

Affordability

There’s no way around it – traveling to Iceland is not a ‘budget vacation’. You may find good airfare deals getting you there, but upon arrival, be ready to shell out some heavy króna. Yet, if Iceland is a country you are pulled to explore, then here are some tips on how to make it more affordable (coming soon, stay tuned….). By saving and planning, an Icelandic vacation just may be within your grasp.

Eastern Iceland Horses
Icelandic Supermodels (the horses….not me)

Weather

Weather conditions can be unpredictable. In the first half of April, we experienced a wide range of weather including warm sun, snowfall, icy roads, rain, and strong freezing wind. Thankfully, we managed to successfully traverse the Ring Road with no road closures and pretty spectacular weather almost every day. If you mentally prepare yourself for extreme weather and potential road closures, and logistically prepare yourself with the right gear, you can roll with the punches.

Worried about the cold? Remember, lots of geothermal activity going on under that island. Heated swimming pools in every town and hot springs, got you covered!

What to take?

Because weather in Iceland is irregular no matter what season you travel, your packing list will look pretty similar no matter the month. Best rule of thumb is to bring lots of good layers. As a parent, my sole objective for this trip was for my kids to stay WARM and DRY. I knew that if they were wet and cold, the trip would be miserable for them and for me! Towards that end, I made sure we took just the right layers, fibers, and gear. Here was our Packing List!

Please continue to follow, as we share the story of our trip around Iceland’s Ring Road!

Read More on Iceland:

April in Iceland: Packing List and Camper Van

23 thoughts on “April in Iceland: Part One, Velkomin!

  1. Honestly a great tip! Iceland is one of those places I haven’t been to but everyone says I will love. The main barrier for me is that I am worried there will be too many tourists, so perhaps going in April could solve that a bit. I’ll be happy to follow along!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, swarms of tourists are a big turn off for me. And April in Iceland was a dream for avoiding this. As well as having my own wheels – so we could drive away when it got too busy. 🙂

      Thank you for following, and we’ll share tips on ways and places to go to avoid the crowds!

      Like

  2. ooh I am excited for part 2! I guess it makes sense that not all the campsites are open in winter but well done for being organised and sharing that! I am very happy that you had glorious weather for your trip and cannot wait to see more photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Petting Icelandic horses everyday sounds pretty amazing. I also like the idea of going to the Arctic Circle near equinox so the day length feels more.. Normal. Finally, I love our camper van. That looks like THE way to see Iceland.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I want to go to Iceland and have been planning a trip for a while. I was hoping to find an off peak time, and you informed me that April is the time to go to avoid too much snow, but still be quiet! I also love the pictures of the horses, they are so sweet. Did you find Iceland was expensive?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been wanting to visit Iceland for years, but it always turned out too expensive. I can imagine among the things you said, it is also a bit more affordable in the shoulder season? I actually love traveling off the main season because of the lack of other tourists, and 2-3 hours long sunsets sound just magical!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes! April is when we went and it was perfect! We got to see the Northern Lights twice and it was amazing. We did the ring road as well and it’s such an amazing experience 🙂 And those horses! Love them!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Iceland is a country I long wanted to visit. Thanks for the tip on which is the best time to go. Like many of us, I definitely want to avoid peak season, as much as possible. Those Icelandic horses have a unique “hairstyle” that I haven’t seen in normal horses. How interesting to just see them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s sage advice about building an itinerary with some space in it. That’s brilliant for flexibility to account for unforeseen circumstances and the irresistible desire to linger in some great places. A camper sounds perfect for Iceland too: both cost-effective, and great for getting that prized flexibility. It would be good to travel in the quieter months as you suggest, but without the intensity of the winter environment and the icy driving. I’m liking these ideas! (And may steal them…)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. How lucky to have Iceland so tourist free! Perfect! I would imagine it would be chocka full of tourists in peak season. Iceland sounds much better than an overcrowded beach anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jem. Yes, some locals were telling me that summers have become very busy for tourism. The main downside they’ve experienced is an increase in waste and tourists not doing the best job of cleaning up after themselves. 😦

      Like

  10. I’m so glad you didn’t keep this a secret. I always think the best people are off their rocker anyway 😂 It seems like you had a wonderful time in Iceland. I find myself wanting to travel during the shoulder season so there are not as many visitors. The Icelandic horses are just adorable 😊 Did you find Iceland expensive?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! 😉 And yes, Lodging, restaurants, and car rental are expensive in Iceland. But if you go via Campervan you save by way combining car rental and hotel, and if you don’t mind eating simple foods groceries are not noticeably higher than what I am used to in the US.

      Liked by 1 person

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