Setting out on a road trip or camping holiday in Iceland is a great idea at any time of the year.
Each season has its own unique qualities to enjoy and Iceland’s incredible sights look stunning in all types of weather and seasonal conditions, so going camping in Iceland is a must all year long. But today we are making the case for an Iceland camping trip in autumn.
We’ll be looking at all the best things about exploring Iceland in the fall, including things to look out for and tricks for making your trip run smoothly. From what to pack to where to go and how to travel, here are our top tips for Iceland camping in autumn.
What’s so great about camping in Iceland in autumn?
There are all sorts of benefits to a fall camping trip in Iceland.
First of all, September and October are referred to as a shoulder season in Iceland. The summer is undoubtedly the busiest time of year, with June, July and August being referred to as the high season. This is when most people choose to visit, so the campsites, lookout points, and roads fill up fast.
Escape the crowds
One of our main tips for Iceland camping in autumn is a simple one: come during September or October. By traveling at this time of year, you will find that you have Iceland much more to yourself.
There will be fewer people on the roads, less demand on the campsites and far fewer people in general. So, if you’d like to avoid the crowds, then camping in autumn is for you.
Low season prices
The other big benefit to traveling at this time of year is that prices will be lower.
Autumn is an excellent season to explore Iceland on a budget. If you’re planning on renting a campervan or motorhome, you’ll find bargain prices in the fall. Likewise, campsites and other services will be more reasonable priced since it’s the offseason.
Enjoy a dazzling display
The best thing for many about a fall trip to Iceland is the possibility of seeing the Northern lights.
The Aurora Borealis can only be seen on a dark, clear night, so you’ll need plenty of hours of darkness to have a chance of spotting them. The beginning of September will still be a little too light. But by late September and into October the conditions could be just right.
What’s the weather like in Autumn?
Next up: the hot topic of weather. The weather in Iceland is notoriously changeable at any time of the year. But the summer months are the most settled. An autumn trip to Iceland means that you will often enjoy summer-like conditions well into September, and sometimes even into October.
The days are also still quite long as you head into autumn, so you will have plenty of daylight hours to explore the country and hopefully enjoy pretty decent weather.
However, among our tips for Iceland camping in autumn, there’s a word of warning: October can often be a little wet. October is also the month that the first snow is starting to fall. This is usually late in the month, though.
All things considered, there is a sweet spot running from the end of September into the beginning of October.
It’s not guaranteed, but you’ll likely enjoy milder weather for camping and dark enough nights to see the Northern lights–should they choose to dance, that is! One thing’s for certain: prices will be lower and there will be fewer other visitors.
Best Autumn camping spots in Iceland
This season is surely a special time in Iceland. The autumn foliage quickly covers the country in a sea of orange, red, and yellow-hued leaves, creating a picturesque view wherever you go. Just to make things easier, let’s take a tour of the best autumn camping spots in Iceland!
Hallormsstaðaskógur forest, East Iceland
Wait, what? Trees in Iceland? Well, yes, Iceland has trees and even forests! You won’t be able to enjoy pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks (sorry!), but you can still take pleasure in the beautiful vivid red and yellow-colored leaves.
Hallormsstaðaskógur is Iceland’s largest national forest, located close to Egilsstaðir, the area is full of hiking trails and beautiful scenery that you will surely love.
One of these marked walking paths will lead you to Ljósárfoss waterfall, an 18 meters high cascade that falls right from a cliff. Just beware, the area is a holy place for elves, so you might have a magical encounter while hiking there!
Here you’ll have several campsites at your disposal, such as Camping Atlavik, with stunning views to the lake for a reasonable price. It is important to note that this campsite does not provide electricity, though.
Thingvellir National Park, Southern Iceland
Iceland is known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. At Thingvellir National Park, besides fishing and hiking, you can watch the tectonic plates that are actively splitting Iceland in two!
All of this combined with the seasonal changing of leave’s colors– our tips for Iceland camping in Autumn would not be complete without this option!
Camping at Thingvellir Park is permitted all year long, and children up to 17 years old can camp for free! It is not possible to make any reservations for this campsite, but the probability of no vacancy existing is quite low during this season.
Hraunfossar, West Iceland
This is our favorite natural attraction for autumn sightseeing in Iceland. Hraunfossar is a beautiful waterfall located 126 km from Reykjavík. During fall, the mix of ocher, yellow and reddish tones in contrast to the dark rock wall and the flowing water is indeed a sight to behold.
There are several campsites near Hraunfossar, but Húsafell camping and Hverinn Kleppjarnsreykjum are among the most popular ones. If you love nature and photography, remember to add this spot to your autumn itinerary.
What to pack for fall camping in Iceland
The best way to approach packing for your Iceland trip is to imagine you are going skiing. This is an essential tip for Iceland camping in autumn and for any season, really.
A ski trip packing list is all about layering. Waterproofs are a must, as are warm microfiber layers that you can add and take off as needed. Be sure to also bring a hat, gloves, scarf or snood and plenty of walking socks.
Comfortable waterproof walking shoes or boots should also be at the top of your checklist. Additionally, bring a pair of lighter footwear for a change of shoes and for city slicking. A daypack for hiking and sightseeing is always useful.
You’ll need water and snacks with you too, as well as somewhere to stash those layers. And it’s nice to have your hands free to take pictures and walk freely.
How to stay warm when camping in the fall
If you’re planning on camping in the fall then we suggest doing so in a camper van or a motorhome. Tent camping is likely a little too hard-core for many at this time of year. Although if you are visiting in September it is still very much possible.
Likewise, in October if you are up for the challenge. You will definitely need a high-quality winter sleeping bag and an isolator mat though.
If you are camping in a van or motorhome then bring along some snug pajamas. Full PJs plus bed socks and an extra fleece blanket would be ideal, along with some mini hot water bottles that will keep everyone warm and snug. Hot chocolates before bed are another cozy treat, perhaps laced with something stronger for the adults.
What to wear when camping in the fall
As mentioned, layering is the key to staying warm in Iceland. But you will also need to stay dry. Therefore, a good technical wind and waterproof jacket will stand you in good stead. We also recommend a pair of waterproof trousers or technical walking trousers. Jeans are a bad idea to mix with a rainy weather forecast as they take ages to dry.
Think about practicality, as first and foremost you want to be comfortable to enjoy the outdoors. Fleece hoodies might not be flash but they are going to keep you warm and comfortable.
Likewise, you want trousers that you can move freely in. With the weather being fickle, you might just as well need a sun hat as a woolly hat, so bring both just in case.
What to do when camping in the fall in Iceland
Fall is a great time of year to visit Iceland because there’s so much to do. All of the summer activities, such as horse riding and boat tours are still open to you. But also, some of the winter activities are starting to debut.
Most notably, there is the chance to see the Northern Lights. Make sure that you keep an eye on the Aurora forecasts and head to some dark sky areas (actually most of Iceland!). If you stay late into October when the snows come, then you might also get to go skiing or snowmobiling.
Iceland fall camping checklist
- Water and windproof jacket and trousers
- Decent walking boots and plenty of socks
- Microfiber layers for staying warm
- Sun hat and sunscreen
- Warm hat, gloves and scarf/snood
- Daypack for hiking and sightseeing
- Favorite snacks for keeping up the energy levels
- Refillable water bottle to make the most of the pure Iceland drinking water
- Hot water bottle for staying snug
- Full Pajamas, plus bed socks for cold toes and comfort
- Travel towel for ease of drying
- Swimwear for hitting the hot springs
- Device chargers to keep your apps and maps handy
- Portable speaker for road trip tunes
The magnificent autumn season
We hope these tips for autumn camping in Iceland help you make the most of the season. Autumn may be a wet and windy season in Iceland, but it is one of the country’s most beautiful times of the year.
You can enjoy the beautiful color hues, the Northern lights and even some freshly fallen snow, especially in the Northern part of the country.
So grab your rain jacket and begin planning your fall trip to Iceland; get a head start by browsing our range of campervans for hire!