We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Iceland is one of the best countries in the world for a road trip. Choosing exactly how you take that road trip depends very much on the type of vacation you want to have and with whom. You will need to way up the pros and cons and decide which option suits you and your group the best. In this article we look at the pros and cons of easy van rental in Iceland.
When we talk about easy van rental we are referring to campervan rental specifically. Not to be confused with motorhome rental. Both RV rental options have their place, but van rental is a much more simple and streamlined option.
A campervan is generally a van that has been converted to incorporate a bed and some basic storage and cooking equipment. This is different to a motorhome which is a much larger RV that has inbuilt areas for sleeping, cooking and bathing. A camper van is much more basic and compact.
Whether you opt for motorhome or campervan or simply car hire and tent camping you’re sure to have an amazing time. Read on for our guide to the pros and cons of van rental in Iceland.
Easy van rental: The Pros
Flexibility & Convenience
The flexibility and convenience of van rental in Iceland cannot be overstated. You can be as spontaneous as you like when exploring by camper van. Take the Golden Circle Iceland route for example. This is a super popular trio of incredible sights in South Iceland. All three are located within easy reach of Reykjavik and are often combined in day tours from the capital. This means that during the busy summer months tour buses set off in the morning arriving in each of the destinations at points throughout the day. If you have your own camper van then you can camp overnight nearby and be up bright and early to sightsee. You can easily work your day so that you are exploring these beautiful sights before (or after) the tour bus crowds. So you’ll have wide-open views for soaking up the atmosphere in peace and good photo opportunities minus the crowds.
This is just one example of the convenience of a camper van. There are a large network of campgrounds situated either within the National Parks of Iceland or very close by them. Some it is wise to book in advance, but there will usually be space for one more. If you are staying in hotels in Iceland, especially in the summer months, you will need to book well in advance. This means that you must stick to your itinerary and there is little room for spontaneity.
Camper van rental can save you time both before your trip and during it. In the holiday planning stages you won’t need to worry too much about where you are staying. If you plan a loose itinerary for your road trip then you can make it up a little as you go along. If you are planning a self guided tour of Iceland or even a self-drive car hire trip things will be different. You will need to plan your itinerary more thoroughly and book your accommodation well in advance.
It is also very convenient and time saving to have all of your things with you. Camera equipment and outdoor gear are all within easy reach in a camper. You can also spend the day out and about and then come back to your camper for a quick snack or a meal. No need to go hunting for a restaurant or café if you’re busy enjoying the outdoors.
If you hire an RV in Iceland you are very much more self-sufficient. You will be able to budget your Iceland trip more easily and travel at a much lower cost. Your camper will give you the means to cook and prepare your own meals and snacks. A huge saving in Iceland where eating and drinking can really add up if you are going out for every meal. Hotels don’t come cheap either so a camper van alleviates the cost there too.
Gas stations in Iceland are useful places to stock up on snacks and water. The general rule if you are driving in Iceland is that if you see a gas station you stop. It is always best to have a full tank of petrol as gas stations can be few and far between in certain areas.
Enjoy the views
Iceland is brimming with incredible views and a rental van allows you to park up where and when you like. Guided tours have specific stops and specific schedules to stick to. If it’s just you and your camper then you can stop where and when you like. You can also camp overnight at some truly amazing places. Wake up to hear the rush of a waterfall and enjoy your morning cuppa in the midst of a national park. Now that’s a pro if ever we heard one!
Some of Iceland’s roads can be a bit hairy, especially in the winter months. There are roads such as the f-roads in the highlands that you can only tackle in a 4x4. You would never take a regular car or a motorhome on these roads. But you can hire a 4x4 camper van. A converted diesel van 4x4 will take you almost anywhere in Iceland. During the winter months it is advisable not to travel long distances in a motorhome. But you could even travel the full Iceland ring road in winter if you have a 4x4 camper and plenty of time!
Easy Van Rental: The Cons
Camper vans are compact. There’s no getting away from it. This is part of their appeal but can also be a little bit of a downside. You will need to stay organised and keep things neatly packed. If it is raining outside you may feel a little cooped up in such a small space. But you can always decamp to a restaurant, Wi-Fi café or museum in these cases. You could also take a nap and wait for the rains to pass!
Weather and the elements
The weather in Iceland can be a challenge! Storms can come suddenly and at certain times of the year it can be quite wet. In winter there are far fewer campgrounds open. So if you are looking for a winter Iceland campground trip then you will need to plan a little more carefully. It can also get pretty cold, especially on a wintery night. Most camper vans are fitted with a webasto diesel heater. But you should take extra warm weather gear with you to stay snug. You can hire sleeping bags from camping rental Iceland companies like ours. But good bed socks and perhaps a hot water bottle wouldn’t go amiss!
Showers & Toilets
Camper vans don’t have toilet or shower facilities. On a stormy night making your way to the campsite service block you might not be so happy with your choice in that moment. However, all campsites have good conveniences and showers. A good tip if you are choosing easy van rental is to make use of Iceland’s hot springs and swimming pools. Every town in Iceland has a swimming pool and they always have great showers that are free to use after a dip.
Should I hire a camper van or not?
There you have it! The pros and cons of renting a van for your camping Iceland adventure. It won’t be for everyone and it may just suit some groups at certain times of the year. But exploring by camper van gives you so much freedom, spontaneity, flexibility and affordability. Your adventure in Iceland will be just that - a true adventure, rather than just another vacation.