Are you stuck on how to plan your Icelandic trip? Does it involve camping along the journey? You have come to the right place. If you need some help about how to start planning a trip in such a country of contrasts, this is your article. Within the next lines, you will find some useful tips and directions that will make this crazy plan a beautiful ride. You have just found the perfect guide to camping in Iceland.
Plan your route
The first step consists of taking into consideration the number of days and the attractions you would like to visit. Once you have made up your mind about this, you can trace your route in a map.
Depending on the season, the length of your holidays and the type of vehicle you are going to hire, you may come up to different alternatives. We have made a short list with the most popular itineraries for camping in Iceland and their length
The Ring Road
The Ring Road is the most popular route in Iceland. It is perfect for those who have at least 7 days. In this journey, you will have the chance of watching the incredible contrasts that Iceland offers you. Depending on how much extra time you have, you could make some incursions to central areas or take diversions to the shore.
The South Coast
Perfect for beginners who have less than 7 days. This part has the most emblematic and touristic places, so it is quite appropriated for a short trip of 3-4 days. From Reykjavik to Hofn you will see lakes, glaciers and volcanoes! And if you come between June and September do not miss Landmannalaugar!
The Golden Circle
The most visited area of Iceland. If you are coming by cruise or doing a stopover in your route and you only have a little time, you will not regret of driving these few kilometers. Rent a car for one day and use those few hours to enjoy the wonderful views… You can rest later on!
If you have already visited the places we have mentioned above, it is time to go deeper and explore Snaefellsness. Also known as the “little Iceland”, Snaefellsness keep some secrets, just as the “entrance to the Center of the Earth”. This peninsula deserves a 2 day visit to enjoy all its hidden gems. Maybe the most unknown of the famous places of Iceland. A wide selection of Arctic and Atlantic flora & fauna live far from packed cities in this corner of the island. Be aware of the car requirements when visiting it during the winter. A 3-4 day trip will suffice for a spring or summer break.
For none of these options a 4×4 would be mandatory, except for road F570 (Snaefellsness) and road F66 (Westfjords). Pay special attention to road.is if you are planning a winter adventure, since some spots could be temporarily impassable.
Where to Stay Overnight
This is one of the most important points of planning your trip. These are the two different alternatives you will have for a self-guided trip:
Campervan, Motorhome or Tent
This is usually the cheapest alternative. Perfect for those travelers who want to take the trip as an adventure, and manage their own timings. Ideal for visiting the island in a relaxed way! Bear in mind that you would need to stay overnight at designated areas and campsites since wild camping is not allowed anymore. Get further information about the Icelandic legislation and camping in Iceland here.
Hostels or Hotels
The best alternative for those who want to experience the wild nature without missing the comfort a hotel offers. It is highly recommended for families with children. Just as mentioned before, check out the itinerary you would prefer and look for the accommodation that best suits you.
A tip: Holiday packages. The guided option is the best choice for those solo travelers who do not feel confident driving by themselves and/or for the elderly or mature people that are still in good shape but do not want to spend time arranging a whole trip or accommodation either.
Buying Food and Going to Restaurants
Despite the alternative you have chosen, there is one thing an adventurer has to do either way: buy groceries! You may have not noticed it yet, but Iceland supermarkets are not as cheap as in some other countries, so now that you have this list, you are ready to save as much as you can!
Supermarkets in Iceland
This is the flagship of Icelandic budget supermarkets. Once you land at the international airport (KEF), you will find a Bónus right outside. This supermarket is very recommendable and cheap. Do not look for any luxury products but for staples groceries. Make a last visit to take some edible souvenirs back to your country, such as dry fish or sliced lamb! Open every day.
Another budget supermarket similar to Bónus but it also offers a wide sort of health and beauty products. This supermarket is mainly located in big cities. Open every day.
This grocery chain belongs to Samkaup (just as Nettó). Quite convenient when you run out of something essential in a small town, but not recommendable for large re-stockings, as it may seem a bit pricy. Location and opening hours are available at their website.
You will also find several grocery stores next to gas stations. Do not miss your chance of replenishing your food supplies if you are sticking to secondary roads for a while!
Restaurants in Iceland
The wildness of camping in Iceland! Nature and buying food supplies will turn you into a survivalist, but after all these days, you may feel like dressing up! Go out and try one (or all!) of these singular restaurants we have chosen for you.
Apotek Restaurant (Reykjavik)
Back to the capital, you will have a bunch of restaurants you can decide among! The Apotek restaurant is one of those cool places where you will enjoy a great meal! Make a reservation at Apotek if you want to have a table for your dinner!
A feast for the senses! Tomatoes are the main course of this greenhouse-restaurant. You will enjoy the views while you are having a tasty tomato soup or any of their delicious meals. You will also find a small store right at the entrance of the restaurant, in case you want to buy an eatable souvenir. You should book your table in advance, as it is always packed!
If you are a seafood fan, this is your place. Hofn is a popular fisher village, and you could have a tasty bite when visiting Humarhöfnin restaurant, which is specialized in langoustines. If you ask for a langoustine meal, do not forget to take a picture with your lobster bib!
Trendy fusion cuisine restaurant. It is specialized in fish and seafood but it also offers meat and vegan alternatives. You may need to reserve a table if you want to have dinner on Saturday. The “extreme sushi festival” is highly recommendable for open-minded sushi lovers.
Complete your experience: Excursions
A 4×4 vehicle is usually the best choice as it would allow you visiting almost all the spots by yourself! Anyway, if you are not in the mood or doing a short visit, it might not be worth spending that money. A two-wheel drive camper can totally make it for camping in Iceland. Instead of that, you can book an excursion (or more) for those tours you do not want to miss.
The Most Recommended and Requested Tours
Landmannalaugar Tours by Bus or Super Jeep
Only accessible by 4×4 from June to September. One of the most famous places in Iceland: a valley the volcanic activity has shaped for years. Some monster jeeps make some tours during the winter as well. However, if you want to take advantage, go during the summer do some hiking and take a dip!
Whale & Puffin Watching
Available only from April to September due to the progressive lack of sunlight. Iceland is known for being one of the best places to witness whales and further sealife. The cute puffins can be spotted until August, when the breeding season is over. We could not forget about them in this Guide to Camping In Iceland!
One of the most impressive yet hard to access places in Iceland. Only accessible during summer months! This lunar landscape where astronauts were trained to go to the Moon will leave you speechless. By visiting the Askja and Bardarbúnga volcanoes, you will feel just as if you were in a different planet.
The Ultimate Guide to Camping In Iceland
It does not matter if you are coming between September and March, Iceland still have some more hidden gems! Even if you cannot visit any of the aforementioned places of this Guide to Camping In Iceland, you still have the chance of spotting the Northern Lights. Taking the tour with an experienced guide will enhance the possibilities of sight!