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Wanderlust: Embarking on an Iceland Campervan Trip

21-05-2024

Iceland Campervan Trip

    Embarking on an Iceland campervan trip is probably the best and most economical way of exploring the island. But if you’ve never been to Iceland, and you’ve never taken on vanlife in Iceland before, it’s tough to know even where to start planning a trip like that.

    That’s why we created this article to serve as a helpful guide to getting you on your way to Iceland and hit the road for the road trip of a lifetime. Here’s everything you need to know about an Iceland RV Trip.

    The Pros and Cons of Exploring Iceland by Campervan

    First things first. You need to establish whether an Iceland van trip will suit you and your needs, otherwise, diving further down this vanlife rabbit hole will be all for naught. That’s why we created this handy overview of all the pros and cons of an Iceland van trip:

    Pros

    • It’s incredibly convenient. By renting a camper in Iceland, you’ll have both your transport and your accommodation sorted.
    • It’s a really affordable way of traveling around the country. This is because you’ll be able to book camping spots in Iceland instead of paying for expensive hotel stays. You’ll also be able to take advantage of further discounts if you get yourself the Camping Card.
    • You’ll be camping in warmth and comfort – this makes it possible to go camping in Iceland even during the colder months of the year.
    • It’s impossible to get any more immersed in the Icelandic landscape than exploring the island in a camper. Plus, you can have some of Iceland’s most famous natural wonders right on your doorstep at certain campsites.
    • You can have a flexible trip itinerary. Not being bound by booked accommodation means you can “wing it” a bit more during your road trip around the island. You are at the helm of your time and trip itinerary and can chop and change things as you like.
    • Back in the day, traveling with a camper meant that certain roads and places would be off-limits to you. These days, campers come in all shapes and sizes, whether 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive and with all sorts of added gadgets and gizmos so there are no limitations to where you can go.

    Cons

    • Van camping in Iceland isn’t a free-for-all. You can’t just park next to the road or wherever else you find an open spot. It is illegal to park where there is no dedicated and marked parking spot. This is for your own safety (ask Ed Sheeran what happened to his foot when he stepped off a marked trail here in Iceland), as well as to protect our delicate ecosystem, which includes a type of moss that can take up to 10 years to recover when damaged, if at all.
    • If you’ve ever felt like your house is not big enough for both you and your partner, constantly being in each other’s space, then you haven’t felt what campervan living is like. For bigger families, especially those with smaller kids, traveling with a campervan can really put interpersonal relationships to the test.
    • This is not a mini-cooper you can zip around bends and reverse park in one go with, so it’s inevitably going to take some time to get used to driving if this is your first campervan rodeo. Luckily, it’ll only feel strange for the first couple of days before you get the hang of it.

    Iceland Campervan Itinerary: Exploring the Island in 7 Days

    We understand that your time on the island may vary, but we don’t recommend staying less than a week. To get a taste of the various regions and terrains in Iceland, we also recommend that you do a Ring Road road trip. This route wraps around the entire island in a big circle route. If this sounds good, you can follow the 7-day itinerary below:

    Day 1: Reykjavik to Selfoss 

    Highlights of the Day:

    Where to Sleep:

    Geysir Geothermal Area

    Day 2: Selfoss to Vik 

    Highlights of the Day:

    • Seljalandsfoss Waterfall (also known as the waterfall you can walk behind)
    • Gljufrabui Waterfall
    • Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach 

    Where to Sleep:

    Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

    Day 3: Vik to Skaftafell 

    Highlights of the Day:

    • Fjadrargljufur Canyon
    • Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon (try to take one of the boat tours here for an incredible close encounter of the glacier kind)
    • Diamond Beach 

    Where to Sleep:

    Fjadrargljufur Canyon

    Day 4: Skaftafell to Hengifoss 

    Highlights of the Day:

    • Skaftafell Glacier Hiking Tour 

    Where to Sleep:

    Skaftafell Glacier

    Day 5: Hengifoss to Myvatn 

    Highlights of the Day:

    Where to Sleep:

    Day 6: Myvatn to Sæberg HI Hostel 

    Highlights of the Day:

    • Namaskard Geothermal Area
    • Godafoss Waterfall
    • Whale Watching Tour in Dolvik 

    Where to Sleep:

    Namaskard Geothermal Area

    Day 7: Sæberg HI Hostel to Vogar 

    Highlights of the Day:

    • Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall
    • Skardsvik Beach
    • Svörtuloft Lighthouse
    • Londrangar Viewpoint 

    Where to Sleep:

    Londrangar Viewpoint

    Day 8: Heading Back to Reykjavik 

    Highlights of the Day:

    Here, you will have a choice:

    1. You can either return to Reykjavik and spend the day exploring the capital city and then stop by the Blue Lagoon on your way to Keflavik International Airport the next day.
    2. Or you can choose to go straight to the Blue Lagoon from Vogar, spend the day there, and then sleep over in Reykjavik. You can then explore the city the next day before heading out to Keflavik to catch your flight.

    Where to Sleep:

    Reykjavik 

    *This itinerary leaves room for a few on-the-fly stops along the way on certain days, and you are also welcome to extend it if you plan on staying longer on the island.

    Back to Reykjavik

    A Few Helpful Tips When Exploring Iceland in a Campervan

    If this is your first time embarking on an Iceland campervan trip or just your first time in a campervan in general, the following tips and advice will be useful:

    • If you need to stay connected during your trip, whether for work or personal reasons, we highly recommend that you do not solely rely on the WiFi at campsites or cafes. Get yourself a portable router. There are various options to choose from in Iceland, such as Trawire and HippocketWiFi.
    • Download offline maps or have a few hard copies handy. Just like anywhere else in the world, technology and signals can let you down, and suddenly finding yourself with little to no signal in the more remote parts of Iceland is a very real possibility. Generally, this wouldn’t matter as much, but if you rely on tech and the internet to navigate your surroundings safely, it becomes a serious problem.
    • Choose your van and its amenities wisely. While everything boils down to comfort vs. budget, most wish they could go back in time and take the camper with the toilet if they have to start venturing out in the darkness every few hours during the night.
    • What nobody tells you when renting a campervan is how long the conversion between day and night, night and day, living quarters to sleeping quarters, and sleeping quarters to living quarters is. Something as simple as tidying the bed and cleaning the “kitchen” after breakfast becomes essential during vanlife with its limited space. We recommend allocating at least two hours for this type of “prepping”.
    • Plan out your pit stops where you’ll be fueling up and stocking up. This is because of a number of reasons. Firstly, places where you can stock up on basic supplies and fuel can be few and far between in the more remote regions of Iceland. Secondly, prices differ here on the island (yes, including gas). So, you’re going to be kicking yourself if the locals fuel up at Point A and you end up at Point B that charges you nearly double, just because you didn’t plan ahead.
    • When sleeping in a campervan during the summertime in Iceland with all its daylight hours (especially midsummer when the sun never really sets), some can really struggle with their sleeping patterns. We recommend bringing a sleeping mask in this case.
    • It is essential to keep the limited space in mind when packing for your trip. This is not the time to pack those “what-if” items. You might end up getting rid of things halfway into your trip due to it feeling too cramped.
    • Have an in-depth discussion with your rental agent about your planned routes so they can advise you on which type of campervan will best suit your needs as well as which camper rental insurance coverage you will need. For example, Ash and Sand Protection is essential when traveling down the windy south coast of Iceland.

    Embarking on an Iceland Campervan is Embarking on the Adventure of a Lifetime.

    Not only is renting a motorhome in Iceland a very convenient, practical, and budget-friendly solution to traveling around the island, but it is also an incredibly unique way of exploring Iceland, allowing you to have a front-row seat to some of Iceland’s most breathtaking nature scenes. It is truly the adventure of a lifetime that will leave you with lifelong memories.