Adventures outside in the middle of the night
Even though you are not allowed to camp anywhere and have to sleep at a proper campsite there are many places you can stay late and lay down into the night and soak in the night experience in Iceland, no worries as you will find campsite all around and close to these places and they are all open 24/7 so you can arrive when it suits you. No matter when you are visiting the experience of staying up late in the nature is nice. You may be looking for a romantic spot with your significant other or just a spot for enjoying the nature with family or friends. In the summertime you may enjoy the endless daylight and in the winter you may enjhoy the stars, darkness and perhaps some ghost stories!
Here are some suggestions that will for sure leave you with fantastic memories of in the middle of the night adventure.
Dritvík on Snæfellsnes peninsula is a beach facing the Atlantic ocean with its force of the waves. For centuries ships and boats used to get into problems there and you may even find some old wreckage there. The ocean has always played a big part in the life of Icelanders as fishing was one of the important way of feeding the nation and often this was a dangerous endeavor in the midst of the waves that can be many meters high. On Dritvik you can feel the lost souls of the drowned fishermen during the dark fall and winter nights, make sure you have someone to hold on to! In the summer time the daylight nights gives you the opportunity to see the ocean get calmer and you can wander about see adventures and relaxing on the beach – even barbecue or have a small bonfire.
Rauðisandur on the Vestfjords is a long sandy beach between steep sea cliffs unpassable for anyone except the birds. One steep gravel road leads to this relatively large beach area and it unique experience to camp there and stay overnight. The area is that big that you can easily wander away from the camping area and stroll on the beach and in few minutes you feel like you are alone in the world. This beach is facing high west and the nearest shore is Greenland. In the wintertime this is very remote place and very few people around, can be difficult to get to due to winter conditions on the road so make sure to check this our before you head this way. In other seasons it is accessible but a slow driven road.
Herdísavík on the Reykjanes peninsula – just 40 minutes drive from down town Reykjavik and several good campsites close by. This place is right on the beach and is the last residence of the famous Icelandic poet and visionary Einar Benediktsson. There is a small house there that is now preserved by the University of Iceland but it is a nice place to stop and stay into the night. When dark it gets quite mystical with the mountains and lava fields on one hand and the screaming surf on the other. Here on the beach you are facing south and the next shoreline you will find if you sail straight south it the Antartica, thing about that ! You are here in the midst of the nature with mixture of the power of the ocean and the active volcanic area and you may even find some smaller earthquakes while staying here into the night, after all you are at the tectonic plates where one half of Iceland is slowly drifting towards Amercia and the other towards Europe at the same speed as your fingernails grow, mind blowing right ?
Landmannalaugar in the highlands is a busy campsite but you can hike away on many different routes from there to find yourself alone in the world. This colorful area gives you the opportunity to experience the night similar to the outlaws did in the earlier centuries. Amongst many different mountain terrain and complete silence, even the birds do sleep up there, give so strong impact that even some people can not handle it. The road to there is an F-road so it is only passible for 4×4 but you can also leave your car at Hrauneyjar and take the bus into Landmannalaugar. The area has warm natural hot pot where you can relax and also when hiking into the night some of the trails will take you into the muddy clay geothermal area, out of this world experience.
Eystra Horn on the south east corner of Iceland you will find a long black beach and a unique mountain that is like the cornerstone of this outpost of Iceland. It is a short drive from the town of Höfn. Here is a special bird life. In the spring the migrating birds come here from the winter fields in whatever country the have one and land here exhausted after the long flight over the Atlantic ocean. And then in the late summer early fall the reverse is true as the birds flock here to get ready for the right wind conditions to flay away to their winter lands. In between the area is mystical enough with the roaring ocean on three ways and this big one standing mountain on one direction. In the Northern light season ( October through March) this is one of the best places to see them and gives your night adventure a whole new dimention.
Askja in the highlands is another place in the middle of know where that gives you nights of awe. The area is a summer only area and quite difficult to get to and you need a 4×4 and some experience in crossing unbridged rivers by car. But when you are there you are truly in a different place, surrounded by the black sand dunes and then the Vatnajökull glacier, the larges glacier in Europe, intimidating you with its glacier power. Many different hiking routes are possible from the camping area to give you the middle of the night with bright lights and total stillness without sounds and people. A hike to see a real glacier open cave where the melting glacier water is coming from underneath this enormous mass of ice is worth the time and to be able to see how one of the largest rivers in Iceland is being formed by hundreds of such small river colliding into one big one that hundreds of kilometers to the north create the waterfall Dettifos, Europes most powerful waterfall, is quite amazing. This you can all experience in the middle of the bright summer nights at Askja area.
Ásbyrgi is by many considered the most romantic place in Iceland, especially during bright summer nights. This hoof shaped precious piece of nature is unique with the calm pond in the far end of this lava and cliff surrounding is like a mirage in the dessert. Walking this way from the camping grounds in the nice and quite of the early night takes you into this quiet place. Few ducks swimming around on the pond gives the night more elegant flair as you, perhaps, put your arms around the shoulder of your better half and enjoying the strange sounds the nature makes in there and the mystical experience of the bright summer nights. You can also decide to hike the trail on the edge of the cliffs giving you a overview of the picturesque are ,with the sun refusing to go down below the surface of the ocean to the north.
The beach just south of Hólmavík is another mystical place to spend the night. Surrounded by the mountains and the bay beach, a area with historical reference to the era when powerful women where considered witches and were burned to death on a fire – maybe on this very beach. The whole area of Strandir is filled with spots where one can spend the night and really be taken by the mystic, especially when the fog comes crawling in. I am pretty sure that this experience will not leave you untouched and will be a good foundation for many stories you will tell when back home.
These are only few of many interesting places to visit over the course of the night in Iceland. I urge you to stop at the information centers, located all over the country, and ask for other places as they may give more ideas in their vicinity.