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