What you will find in this post are answers to questions about planning a camping trip in Iceland. You'll also find answers to questions you didn't know you had (what happens if you hit a sheep?). This isn't a post of itinerary like a lot of other blog posts. Why should I tell you what to do?
Learn about helpful apps, websites, things to see, foods to try, gear to bring, the ins and outs of renting a campervan, vehicle insurance that's unique to Iceland, driving tips and road signs, weather and then YOU can plan your OWN itinerary. After all, who's trip is it?
This post is long, and that's because it's packed with great information. Bookmark the page so you can come back to it (use Ctrl+D or Cmd ⌘ D (Mac) to bookmark this page).
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Some people just want to say thanks by buying me a coffee. I do love coffee. Like a lot. I have seven different ways to make coffee at home....okay maybe it's an obsession.
Go here for a quick overview about Iceland. You'll find quick facts about weather, food & drink, and more information.
Celebrate March 1st with Iceland with this cool swag!
It's even in Icelandic, making it a conversation starter so you can share your new found useless facts.
Quick Facts About Iceland
Icelandic is the official language of Iceland.
It is compulsory to learn English and Danish in school, so these languages are also spoken.
Iceland's currency is the Icelandic Krona (ISK)
Iceland drives on the right side of the road and is in metric (km/h).
The population of Iceland is approximately 332,529 which about ⅔ of the population lives around the capital of Reykjavik.
Iceland's landmass is 103,000 square kilometres (40,000 square miles). This is about the same size as Portugal.
13 of the Best Things to do in Iceland
Photo by v2osk
Here is a list of the best things to do in Iceland you may want to do when you are camping around. Some can be done on your own, others you can book tours for. All are well worth a visit.
Is there something you have done that is not on this list? Drop it in the comments!
- 1The Golden Circle - 230 km (140 mi) route
- 2The Ring Road - 1322 km (821 mi) national road around Iceland
- 3The Blue Lagoon - in Grindavik
- 4Strokkur Geyser - in Haukadalsvegur
- 5Hallgrimskirkja Church - in Reykjavik
- 6Arbaer Open Air Museum - in Reykjavik
- 7Krafla Lava Fields - near Lake Mývatn
- 8Whale Watching (Apr-Sep)
- 9Atlantic Puffin Watching (Apr-Sep)
- 10Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights (Sep - Apr)
- 11Snorkel at Silfra Lava Fissure in Thingvellir National Park
- 12Visit any of Iceland's volcanos, geysers and waterfalls
- 13Visit one of the three national parks - Thingvellir, Saefellssjokull, & Vatnajokull
Tours in Iceland - Supporting Locals
I love exploring countries by myself when I travel. I still mix in tours because I learn so much more.
Tour guides give you insights into local knowledge that you would never learn on your own. In Iceland, tour guides also keep you safe around volcanos and traversing glaciers. Watch the video later in this post about Ed Sheeran's experience (he didn't listen to his guides).
Another reason to take tours is it supports the local economy. Especially after this recent pandemic, this is more important than ever. Doing a guided tour or two helps the local businesses and people recover from these rough times.
Below are some examples of guided tours in Iceland you can book through the trusted site Get Your Guide. Click on any of the guided tours below to learn more.
Booking Flights to Iceland
If you are flying direct without any stopovers, you may want to go directly with one airline. If you have to connect your flight to a major hub before you get to Iceland, look at using an aggregator website.
Skyscanner or Kayak are two of my favourite aggregator sites because they search all the sites from the airlines, and sites like Expedia, Cheapoair, or whomever you like to use to find all the deals. They often find combinations you would never find on your own.
Both have really great filters, and once you learn how to use the filters, they can help you find cheap flights. To learn more about how to book cheap flights go here.
Stopover in Iceland
If you are travelling to Europe from North America or travelling from Europe to North America, you can take advantage of the stopover. Icelandair flies to 32 cities, and if you are flying from one of those cities, Icelandair allows you to stopover in Iceland for up to 7 nights for no extra costs.
I ran some tests on the stopover. It was always $15 more on the outgoing flight. I contacted the airline and asked why it was more when they claim it is the same price.
What happens is, you are essentially booking a flight to Iceland, then booking another flight 2-7 days later departing Iceland. That second flight could be a couple dollars more than a flight that continues on (flight prices do vary day to day).
Really, it is only $15 on average. Comparing to other flight options I researched, it was still cheaper than other airlines. I still recommend you price shop. Aggregators like Skyscanner or Kayak search all the flight booking sites so you can find deals quicker.
If you live in a place that is not connected to one of the 32 cities Icelandair connects to, make sure you fly into one of the hub cities.
Watch Your Dates!
When you use their stopover feature when booking your flight, there is one thing to pay attention to. If you add your stopover on the returning flight of a round trip flight, it adds the stopover days onto your final date.
For example, say you are planning a three-week trip to London, flying from New York on June 1st, and returning to New York on June 21st.
You want to add a stopover in Iceland on the return leg for four days. On Icelandair's site, it will add the four days after June 21st, getting you home on June 25th.
Here is Icelandair's website on the Iceland Stopover. Try it out, and pay attention to the dates.
Airport Transfers for Reykjavik
Where to Stay in Iceland Before and After Your Camping Trip
Whether you are renting a campervan in Iceland or just car camping in Iceland, you will need a place to stay on the bookend days of your trip.
Planning where to stay before your camping trip allows you to get things ready like renting camping gear locally, picking up your campervan, and also exploring Reykjavik for a day or two.
Hostels in Reykjavik
Don't overlook hostels. Hostels have private rooms available, making them a cheaper alternative to hotels. Especially if you are just getting some rest before your wild camping adventure in Iceland.
If you stay in the dorm rooms, hostels will be the cheapest choice by far. Reykjavik has some great ones. See the map here.
My favourite is the KEX Hostel in Reykjavik. You could find yourself lucky with some live music from local musicians. Iceland Airwaves is a music festival that takes place at KEX Hostel every year in the fall.
Hotels in Reykjavik
Hotels in Reykjavik will be on the pricier side, but that is to be expected in a place that relies on tourism. The city is small (population 131,000), meaning fewer options.
Make sure to read all the reviews about the hotels and the rooms you are booking. There are good reviews and bad. Sometimes people give bad reviews for weird reasons, and those bring down the overall rating.
I have seen people complain about a double bed having two single duvets and giving it two stars. Or no elevators in a hotel that is older than their home country. Umm...welcome to Europe. That is a thing in many European countries.
Double Check What You Are Booking
In a few of these hotels in Iceland, the reviews are good, but the people who left these bad reviews booked rooms without windows. If you didn't realize you booked that, I can imagine that would make you unhappy.
Just make sure you know what room you are booking. These windowless rooms are cheap, so maybe you don't care about a window for one night.
Time of year will also change the price. Just like flights, summer will be the most expensive.
Search hotels in Reykjavik below. If you are booking in the summer and find a good deal, book right away because it will probably be gone quick!
Planning Your Camping Trip to Iceland
When you start to plan your camping trip to Iceland, there are a few things to consider. One of the first things to decide is how many days to go for. Here is a quick list of the most common things people plan to see when camping in Iceland.
There are so many things to see on these trips. Take your time, and you can cover a lot of amazing experiences. Here are three popular ones and the average time it takes.
Looking for an unforgettable adventure in Iceland but not sure where to begin? Look no further than the 5-day Ultimate Iceland Travel Guide! This comprehensive guide covers all the must-see sights, including the iconic Blue Lagoon, the breathtaking Golden Circle, and the vibrant city of Reykjavik. But that's not all – you'll also discover hidden gems like the best places to sample authentic Icelandic beer and where to sink your teeth into the tastiest Icelandic hot dogs. With insider tips and expert recommendations, this guide will help you make the most of your time in Iceland and create memories to last a lifetime.
Ring Road - 7 days
The Ring Road, also known as Route 1, is the national road that goes around the whole island of Iceland.
The Ring Road is a two-lane paved road 1,328 kilometres long (825 miles) and hits most of the major towns/cities in Iceland.
Some of its best-known attractions are Seydisfjordur (pictured),
Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Vik, Diamond Beach, Myvatn Nature Baths, just to name a few.
On average, most people will take seven days to explore it.
Find the perfect car or camper for the Ring Road!
Golden Circle - 3 to 4 days
The Golden Circle in Iceland is a small circle that features some of Iceland's most well-known sites.
From Reykjavik, it is only a 255 km (158 miles) round trip drive. In total 3.5 hours to drive it. This means there are day trips available from Reykjavik.
If you are camping in Iceland, you will want to take 3 or 4 days. You will find sites like Thingvellir National Park, Strokkur Geyser, Gullfoss Waterfall, Kerid Crater Lake and much more.
Find guided tours of the Golden Circle!
Reykjavik - 1 to 2 days
Even if you are planning on camping in Iceland, it is always good to bookend your trip with a stay in Reykjavik.
Some tours take you to the world-famous Blue Lagoon if you don't visit it on your trip around the Golden Circle or Ring Road.
Find great tours of Reykjavik!
Guidebooks on Iceland
If you are looking for detailed information on things to do in Iceland, these trusted guidebooks are a great way to plan your camping trip to Iceland. You will learn about all the best things to see and do.
The links to get these books are through Better World Books. I chose Better World Books over Amazon because they care about sustainability by offering used books alongside their new books.
Better World Books has also donated almost 30,000,000 books for literacy programs and over $32,000,000 towards literacy and libraries. When you buy books here, a portion goes to these causes. Now that is a company we should all support.
Lonely Planet's Iceland
Lonely Planet has some great books about Iceland, like their Ring Road Road Trip Book or the general Iceland Guidebooks.
These books are a great way to start planning your trip to Iceland and take with you on your journey.
You can't go wrong with either book or get both!
Rick Steves' Iceland
Rick Steves has an all-encompassing book on Iceland.
Whether you have a stopover for a day in Reykjavik or planning a trip for two weeks, Rick's got you covered.
It even includes a self-guided walking tour of Reykjavik!
This link here is for the most current Second Edition.
Rough Guides Iceland
Rough Guides Guidebooks are full of great information on Iceland. They sold 30 million books worldwide, so they are a trusted resource.
Inside, you will find detailed maps, time-saving itineraries, and recommendations on food and drink.
You also get an eBook download to have with you while you travel!
Travel Insurance for Your Trip to Iceland
Getting insurance for your trip is always important. You will be glad you never use it, but glad you have it when you need it. Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world. But mother nature is unpredictable, and our ability as humans to hurt ourselves in dumb ways calls for insurance.
You are going to a place that has wet slippery surfaces, volcanos, and hot geysers. My friends almost had their vehicle taken away with the tide (their own stupidity).
Don't take my word for it. Ask Ed Sheeran. Watch Ed tell his Iceland oops story in the video below.
The moral of the story, when someone or a sign says, don't go there, DON'T GO THERE. And get insurance. He has millions, you might not.
Get an Insurance Quote Here!
Getting a travel insurance quote costs you nothing. Fill out your details below, and you'll get a quote in seconds. You'll be surprised how inexpensive it really is and how much you are covered for.
Why buy travel insurance from World Nomads.com?
Getting a SIM Card for Iceland
Nowadays we wouldn't dare leave our mobile phones at home. Most of the time it's because we are on social, FaceSnapTweetTiking away.
When we travel, our phone is our camera, GPS, translator, ticket holder, web surfer, and connection to home.
When you go camping in Iceland, having a SIM card for your phone is also about safety. If you get stuck as you travel or get a flat tire, you'll want to have a way to call for help. You should always check weather and road conditions before you head out for the day.
You should get a travel SIM card. Using your "Roam Like Home" plan can be very expensive. Before you get a data SIM card for your trip to Iceland, you have to make sure your phone is unlocked and a GSM phone. Learn more about that here.
eSIMs for Iceland
eSIMs are fast becoming the easiest way to get connected when you travel the world. Your phone must be eSIM compatible to work with the eSIM. Learn more about eSIMs here and see if your phone is compatible. eSIMs are great because they are easy to get going. They activate once you connect to the local tower, and you can get it instantly, even the minute you arrive. No more physical SIM cards!
For Iceland you can get a data only eSIM from Airalo for as low at $4.50 for 1GB data and 7 days credit validity, up to $13 for 5 GB data and 30 days credit validity. Get an eSIM for Iceland here.
Icelandic SIM card
Símmin is the largest mobile company in Iceland. They offer two SIM card options for 2,900 ISK ($23 USD). You can have the SIM card sent to your hotel/hostel so that it is there when you arrive.
Data SIM card for Iceland and the Rest of Europe
Sometimes the Símmin data SIM cards are sold out. What if you are travelling to Europe before or after your camping trip to Iceland?
There are some fantastic data SIM card options that you can use in Iceland and across Europe. They will get sent to you at home, and they can be ready to use as soon as you land.
Now you can use your phone to get to your hotel or hostel in Reykjavik if you are driving.
My favourite data SIM card for travelling in Europe is the Orange Holiday Europe data SIM card.
- 20GB of data
- 14 day credit validity
- Unlimited calls and texts within Europe
- 1000 texts to outside of Europe
- 2 hours of calls to outside of Europe
- Tethering is allowed (means you can connect more phones or devices)
All that, for only $49.90 USD. Compare that to Roam Like Home from your mobile provider. They charge you $12 a day, making the Orange Zen data SIM card is the obvious winner.
To see this SIM card, along with other SIM cards available for Iceland (and the rest of Europe), including full reviews, read my post on the 5 Best European Data SIM card Options.
Now let's look at some great apps and websites that will be valuable resources for your camping trip in Iceland.
Safety in Iceland - Apps and Websites
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
Previously I worked in the safety industry and firmly believe almost all incidents are preventable, and even if something happens, being prepared with planning will minimize risk.
Iceland's weather can be unpredictable. There are some great websites that you can use to see conditions before you go places.
The same can be said for road conditions. You can go through 4 seasons of weather in 20 minutes in Iceland. This can drastically change the road conditions. You always need to be on top of it.
Here is a list of some websites and apps that will help you prepare for your trip to Iceland and help guide you and keep you safe as you travel around the country.
Remember, 112 is the emergency number in Iceland.
Safety Websites for Iceland
Safetravel.is - They have weather and road conditions, safety tips and even a Travel Plan you can fill out to leave with someone. Subscribe with your phone to receive text updates on conditions.
Safe.is - This site is very driving-focused. Do you know the signs and rules you must follow for driving in Iceland? On this site, you can take a test to see what you know.
Road.is - This site is all about road conditions. It breaks the country into sections and provides reports on each region. They even have webcams of roads in all regions.
Vedur.is - This is a site all about weather in Iceland. They even have an app (listed below). Remember that if you don't have cell coverage, the app is useless, so check the weather before you go.
Apps for Travel and Safety for Iceland
Google Maps Offline
Google Maps is a great way to have a map if you download an Offline map first. It's best to download while you have Wi-Fi. You will need a Google account first. Create one if you don't have one.
Depending on the size of the area, you may need to create multiple offline maps.
- Log in to your account
- Open Google Maps app
- Search for Iceland
- Click on "bubble" on the upper right beside the search bar
- Select Offline Maps
- Select the area you want an Offline Map (two finger pinch to zoom in and out)
- Download it
- You can now access it under "Offline Maps"
It will show the expiry date of the map, which is when you will need to update it. Currently, the expiry date is set for a year.
Search and Navigate will work in the offline map!
Vedur - Iceland Weather App
Vedur is the go-to weather app in Iceland. All the information is provided by the Icelandic Meteorological Office. The app can follow you by GPS, giving you weather conditions for where you are, or you can choose any location in Iceland.
It's your real-time weather centre. You need to always know what's happening with the weather in Iceland. It's constantly changing. Not only does this app have weather, but volcanic activity is also available here.
what3words could save your life. A pretty bold statement, but when you see what it can do, you'll agree.
This free app breaks the world down (yup, the whole world) into 3 m (10ft) squares and assigns three words to each square. If you get lost or are in trouble, you can find the three words for your exact location. Now help can easily find you.
The police around the world have started using this to help locate people who get lost. Far easier to remember three words that recite some Lat and Long coordinates.
You can even use it to meet people at an exact location.
For example, if you wanted to meet someone at the bus stop in front of the National Museum of Iceland, its 3words are rattler.shoppers.flows
Now when they type rattler.shoppers.flows into the app, and it will navigate them to that particular 3m square.
Iceland Road Guide
This app will show you points of interest, accommodation, and other information that will be useful when driving in Iceland. Tap on an icon, and it will bring up the name of the point. If it is a place of business, it will have its address and telephone number.
See a point of interest? Click on it will open up more information, including a recording of how the name is pronounced.
I recommend Upgrading the app. It's free to do and will give you more points of interest. You can access the Iceland Road Guide website from the app. This will show you in-depth information about towns, cities and regions and everything there is to do.
Tap the global in the middle to change the language.
Wapp - Iceland Hiking App
Wapp is another free app. Turn your phone into a personal travel guide. You will have access to a collection of nearby trails and uses GPS to give you pop-up information as you are near. Information on the history, nature and folklore. That's pretty cool!
You download maps in advance and store trails on your phone for offline use. Just search for a hiking trail by difficulty, area, length of the hike, even elevation.
My Aurora Forecast
If you are going to Iceland to see the Northern Lights a.k.a Aurora Borealis, this free app will come in super handy.
It will tell you how likely you are and where to see the northern lights in Iceland (or anywhere in the world). It will give you a list of the best locations and times to view the Northern Lights.
You can get a forecast for the next hour, multiple hours or even weeks. It will even give you push notifications when the Icelandic Northern Lights are expected to be high.
Renting a Car in Iceland
Renting a car in Iceland will be one of the most important things to plan for, especially if you plan on tent camping in Iceland. Choosing the right type of vehicle can make a big difference.
What type of vehicle rent will depend on what kind of driving you plan on doing. If you are driving the Ring Road or Golden Circle, then a 4x4 isn't necessary. If it gives you peace of mind to have it, then go for it.
If you plan on driving Iceland's F-roads or are going wild camping, then a 4x4 will be necessary.
What is an F-Road in Iceland?
F-Roads are roads used to access the highland areas in Iceland. They often consist of loose gravel and rocks, mud and might include a river that may need to be crossed.
They are generally open around June (some as late a July) and close again in September/October.
A 4x4 is required for these areas. A raised 4x4 may be required for river crossings.
If you aren't a confident driver, it isn't recommended you venture off onto these roads. They are a beautiful scenic way to see Iceland, but the F-roads can be in rough condition and potentially dangerous. The unpredictable weather really affects the conditions the roads are in.
We'll cover more on F-Roads in the section Driving in Iceland.
What Type of Car Should You Rent in Iceland?
Like mentioned before, if you are sticking to the main roads and highways, then a 4x4 isn't a must, and any vehicle will do.
A good rule of thumb is to rent the smallest size vehicle that you could possibly use. That's not saying get the smallest vehicle possible, but the "smallest" vehicle that will suit your needs.
Often, the small vehicles get rented out first. This means you may end up getting offered an upgrade to a larger vehicle for a lower rate than you would have paid had you picked a larger vehicle at the time of booking.
Like mentioned before, pick something you'd be able to use on your trip. Don't rent a two-door hatchback, and hope to get a Toyota 4-Runner. You will be sadly disappointed.
There are also age restrictions for different companies. Some require drivers to be at least 23 years old. Others companies may rent a vehicle to someone who is 20 years old.
Generally, drivers under 25 years old will pay a higher price. If you are under 25, check the terms and conditions for each vehicle.
You potentially could get the upgrade for a small fee or even free, but only if you are nice. Rental agents are people too. Treat them nicely, and they will treat you nicely. Learn about things to know before renting a car here.
I like to use Auto Europe because you see a comparison from all the different companies, saving a ton of time. They also give great information on what's included, insurance types, and much more.
Auto Europe is fantastic because it is easy to find information on what is covered. Go to the Rate Details, and you will see what is covered and the rules.
Keep in mind the rules are different not only company to company and potential vehicle to vehicle. Under the Rate Details, click the Inclusive w/Deductible, and under General Rules, you'll see important information. It is important to read everything.
The vehicle is not permitted to any areas set as restricted by law, driving on ice, unbridged rivers and streams, foreshores and any other off-road terrain. Driving on the following roads is not recommended: 578, 622, F210, F323, F578, F910 and F980. Vehicles are permitted on local ferries going between the mainland and islands. However, you are not allowed to take your car on a ferry from Seydifjordur. Any damage to the vehicle caused by sea spray/seawater will not be covered.
Whereas a different vehicle and company states:
Travel on 'F Roads', Road #35 (Kjolur), Landmannalaugar and Road #550 Kaldidalur is only permitted with 4X4 vehicles.
The insurance you see listed is not from Auto Europe directly. Each rental company provides the insurance, and in Iceland, there is extra coverage that you have to be aware of. These extras insurances are important to have and not a money grab. We'll break them down below.
Insurance for Your Car or Campervan Rental (super important)
Yes. That's the answer. Get insurance. Read everything carefully before you agree to it. Most car rentals in Iceland don't include water damage or undercarriage damage which is a possibility when you take the F-Roads.
You may have insurance with your credit card. Double-check if all vehicle types are covered by this insurance. Some don't allow vans or trucks to be covered.
Also, if you book with your credit card that has the insurance but pay with a different card when you get there or pay in cash, you won't be covered by that insurance anymore. Make sure you know what the credit card car rental insurance covers and get additional coverage if you need it.
There is a variety of insurance available in Iceland for things you have never heard of. These aren't scams or money grabs. Let's break them all down so that you can make an informed decision.
Icelandic law requires all vehicles to have third-party insurance coverage.
What is third-party insurance? If your vehicle causes damage to a third party you would be responsible. A third party could be a passenger of the vehicle, another vehicle, pedestrian, or even sheep (that's right, sheep, there's a lot of them, and you could owe for the death of one).
As an example, you hit and dent another vehicle's door, third-party liability will cover the damage to their door. It doesn't cover the damage to your bumper. For that, there is CDW.
CDW - Collision Damage Waiver
When you rent a vehicle in Iceland, they all come with a standard Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) by law.
If you are using credit card insurance, you can talk to the rental company if the CDW can be waived. They may or may not be able to waive it, but it's worth asking. You have to make sure it's the equivalent coverage.
CDW is already built into the cost. This is just a basic level of insurance that reduces the deductible. The deductible is reduced to approximately 350,000 ISK ($2800 USD or €2300). See each company for details.
Is that still too much deductible for you? Then you'll want the SCDW.
SCDW - Super Collision Damage Waiver
It's got "Super" in the name so it's got to be good! What SCDW is, is a further reduced damage liability deductible.
For campervans and cars generally, it brings the deductible to 90,000 ISK ($720 USD - €600). For motorhomes, the deductible is approximately 150,000 ISK ($1200 USD - €990).
These numbers are approximate, so it is important to always check with the rental company for the specific vehicle as rules could be different for each style of vehicle.
Some rental companies will even offer a higher level of coverage beyond SCDW, which reduces the deductible down to zero. Sometimes this is referred to as Platinum, Premium or Gold Insurance.
Often this will be all-encompassing which includes SAAP, gravel, theft and tire protection. We'll get into all these next.
SAAP - Sand and Ash Protection
Do you have volcanos where you live? If no, then that's probably why you haven't heard of Sand and Ash Protection.
If you are travelling along the south coast of Iceland especially then SAAP could be well worth it.
There are active volcanos in Iceland, isn't this why you are going there? They have been known to spew ash that settles on the ground. Winds in Iceland can be intense, which now blows that ash and sand from beaches against your car or campervan. This can damage the vehicle. SAAP provides coverage for that.
Gravel Protection (GP) is coverage for dents, and light scratches. 50% of the roads in Iceland are gravel. Roads are also narrow. An oncoming vehicle could kick up gravel that damages your rental vehicle.
Theft protection is exactly what it says. That being said, theft of vehicles is not common in Iceland. Icelanders are more likely to lend you their campervan than steal yours. Of course, it's rare that this happens, but it has. It's for you to decide whether it's important for you.
Some companies may offer Tire Protection. This covers the repair of the tire from a blown tire or flat. This doesn't include damage to the rim or the cost of labour. Check with the company on what it covers.
River Crossing Insurance
Crossing rivers in Iceland can be a very dangerous affair even for the most experienced driver. Many of these can be from glacier runoff making the depth and flow of the water and ground stability unpredictable.
For this reason, many companies will not allow any of their vehicles to be used for river crossings. If they do, they may offer River Crossing Insurance. It's can be expensive at around 98,000 ISK (78 USD - €65) a day and the deductible would be around $5000 USD.
It's not as expensive as sinking a $50,000 vehicle and having to pay that.
Why is Rental Insurance So Important?
Most people don't realize that if something happens to the vehicle, someone is paying for damage or loss of the vehicle. Do you want to pay for a $50,000 vehicle you don't own?
I didn't think so, but that's what will happen if you don't have insurance. It's not a money grab, it's important. Do your homework on your coverage, especially when renting a car in Iceland.
Renting Campervans in Iceland
Renting a Campervan in Iceland is very popular. It's a nice way to see Iceland while camping, but also not having to bring a ton of gear.
Iceland has a lot of different camper van companies giving you lots of options. They all offer similar things, yet it can be hard to compare apples to apples when it comes to prices.
They all have a variety of vehicles designed or converted for camping. Everything from vans, motorhomes, SUVs, to trucks.
They all offer camping gear. Some will include it in the price, while others make it a la carte. All have some extras that you can rent to take with, one even has a guitar to rent.
Auto Europe also has Campers and Motorhomes available. There you can add camping extras as well like stoves and sleeping bags.
Things to Watch for When Renting a Campervan in Iceland
- Where is the Pick-up?
- How many people does it fit/sleep?
- What camping equipment is included?
- Heater or no heater?
- Unlimited kms (miles) or limited?
- Manual or Automatic?
- Diesel or Regular gas?
- Extra drivers included or extra?
- Insurance Included and Add-on Insurance
Iceland Campervan Rental Comparisons
Auto Europe also has camper vans, 4x4s and RVs available. I recommend checking out what they carry. You can add extras like camping gear also. If you plan on RV camping in Iceland, Auto Europe has some nice options for good prices. See them here.
There are a lot of camper van rental companies in Iceland. This chart is here to give you a quick idea of who the players are and a quick glance at what they offer. Hopefully, this helps give you a starting point.
The information here may change without notice, so do your due diligence and read thoroughly on their website about all they offer.
The information here may change without notice, so do your due diligence and read thoroughly on the campervan company's website about all they offer before you book.
The camping equipment listed is a list of things available in some of their vehicles, not necessarily all. Select a vehicle on their site (links highlighted) so see what vehicles they have and what they each have in them.
The extras listed here aren't all of them. I've listed the ones that everyone seems to have in common. Some have guitars, camping passes, toilets and more. Click on the highlighted links to go to their extras page.
Insurance for Your Campervan
Insurance is super important when you plan on renting a campervan in Iceland. All companies offer insurance for different things than you are probably aren't used to seeing.
Standardly most campervans come with CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) included. Then there are a bunch of additional insurances that you can add on after for an additional charge.
I'm not going to tell you which insurance to take. If you didn't read about the insurance coverage in Iceland above, or want a refresher, you can jump back here.
It will give you basic information on the different types of insurance needed for driving in Iceland. If you are unsure what to get, get a premium package that covers almost everything.
The prices here are approximate and a base price. There are many factors that affect the final prices like the extras and insurance packages.
Don't base your decision on price alone. Some have a higher base price and come with more things. Others start lower and have more extras they charge for.
Pick a few finalists and go through the booking process, so you can add all the extras you want. Only then can you truly compare the prices.
Table best viewed on desktop.
Camp Equipment Included (if available)
Unlimited km (miles)
Price range/day (USD) approx.
Sleeping bags/linens, cooler/fridge, kitchenware, stove and gas (some), running water (some), camping chairs & table, heater.
GPS, extra driver, Wi-Fi 4G, plus more.
CDW & theft included.
SCDW, gravel, SAAP are extra.
Starting at $103 - $387
Gas stove, cooking and eating tools, cooler/fridge, camping fuel, running water, linen, pillows, blankets, heater, and coffee press.
Camping chairs & table, GPS, sleeping bags, plus more.
SCDW, gravel, SAAP, tire, theft are extra.
Starting at $84 - $373
Gas burner, extra driver, some with heater, running water, cooking and eating tools.
Pillow, sleeping bags, cooler, GPS, Wi-Fi 4G, camping chairs & table, plus lots more.
CDW Included. SCDW, gravel, SAAP, Tire are extra.
Starting at $57-$225
Pillows, gas stove, water tank or running water, and heater.
Sleeping bags, camping table & chairs, kitchenware, GPS, Wi-Fi, extra driver, plus more.
CDW, SCDW, gravel, tire, theft included. SAAP is extra.
Starting at $70-$264
Duvet, fridge, cook and kitchenware, heater, GPS, tablet, built-in messaging (safety), running water, and stove and more.
"Toy" rentals, Wi-Fi, camping chairs & table, plus more. ('book' a camper to see all the extras)
SCDW, SAAP, theft included. Tire, gravel, river crossings extra.
Starting at $106-$407
Sleeping bags, gas stove, cooking & eating tools, pillows and blankets, water tank or running water, extra driver, and heater (some).
Camping chairs & table, Wi-Fi, GPS, cooler, bikes, plus more.
CDW included. SCDW, gravel, SAAP extra.
Starting at $60-$240
Sleeping bags/linens, cooking & eating tools, heater, camping chairs & tables, cooler/fridge (most), stove, running water (some campers), showers & toilets (motorhomes).
Extra driver, GPS, extra table and chairs, plus more.
CDW Included. SCDW, gravel, SAAP extra.
Starting at $78-$299
Most campervans include: sleeping bags/linens, heater, stove, cooking & eating tools. Some may have: running water, coolers. Motorhomes may include: running water, fridge, Wi-Fi, tablet (for GPS, road side assist, weather)
Extra driver, kitchen box, camping table & chairs, sleeping bags, GPS, Wi-Fi, cooler.
CDW & theft included. SCDW, gravel, tire and SAAP extra.
Starting at $50-$470
Driving in Iceland (must read)
Plan ahead, take it slow, watch for sheep.
Driving in Iceland can be a new experience for you. There could be many challenges for even the most experienced driver. In this section, we'll talk about some of those challenges and show you the road signs that may be new to you (unique to Iceland).
I may sound overly dramatic when it comes to driving in Iceland. I'm not trying to scare off people from driving around Iceland. You may think, "I'm a good driver!" and Iceland will say, "Hold my beer" and throw some weather and road conditions at you that you've never seen.
I don't know where all my readers come from. I live in a place that has snow for 6 months of the year. Yet the first snowfall of the year, people forget how to drive in snow all of a sudden.
If you've only driven in a city, then snow, mud and gravel might be a new challenge.
Do I Need an International Driver's License?
This is a common question for anyone travelling to Europe. To answer the question, you need to understand the purpose of the International Driver's Permit. It's not to prove you can drive or that you hold a valid driver's license from your home country.
An International Driver's Permit is to translate your valid driver's license information into 12 of the most common languages in the world. It's a supplementary document to your valid driver's license.
No, you aren't required to have one for Iceland. It would be recommended for any languages that aren't written in Latin script (i.e. English letters) to get an International Driver's permit.
Languages that use Cyrillic (Russia, Ukraine, etc.), Arabic (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc.), Hanzi (China), etc. are examples.
Plan Before You Drive
Before you start your Iceland road trip, check the weather and road conditions along the route. The weather can change so quickly in Iceland, affecting driving conditions.
If you missed the Safety Websites and Apps section above click here to read. You'll find some great apps that will be a great benefit on your trip.
Check these sites before you head out for your day:
Road.is - Road conditions in Iceland
Vedur.is - Weather in Iceland (app available)
Safetravel.is - Safety planning and information for Iceland
Basic Rules for Driving in Iceland
Average speeds are:
- Residential areas - 30km/h (19 mph)
- Urban areas - 50 km/h (30 mph)
- Gravel roads in rural areas - 80 km/h (50 mph)
- Rural asphalt roads - 90 km/h (55 mph)
Speeds won't always be posted, so keep the above in mind.
- Seatbelts are mandatory.
Evaluate What You are Driving on
Driving in Iceland demands your full attention. Pay attention to what surface you are driving on and how the conditions are affecting the road surface.
Driving on gravel roads or the more difficult F-roads can be challenging even for experienced drivers.
It is illegal to drive off-road. F-roads can seemingly disappear, so slow down and ensure you stay on the road.
In the summertime, this is especially important to avoid damaging the delicate plants. In the wintertime, you have to be cautious of what's underneath the snow.
Friends of mine were driving on an F-road in Iceland that was made of medium-sized rocks. Once they stopped for a picture, and they sunk into the rocks and were stuck. They were near the coast, and the tide was coming in.
Creative thinking got them out, but panic set in for a while because the tide was coming in.
As you can see by the map, the road looks to be in the ocean. When the tide comes in, it is.
This is why you should always plan ahead. Ask a local about the road if you are unsure.
Roads in Iceland
Most major roads in Iceland are paved, like the Ring Road (Route 1) and Golden Circle. Over 50% of roads in Iceland are not paved. This doesn't mean you need a 4x4.
The weather can change drastically in 20 minutes of driving. And no, this isn't some funny joke about Iceland. It's completely true. Weather conditions can shut down roads at a moment's notice.
F-roads (Mountain Roads)
F-roads are a fantastic way to see Iceland. F-Roads are roads in the mountain regions.
These roads are usually gravel and mud, which can be difficult even for experienced drivers. 4x4 vehicles are required to drive on these roads. F-roads are closed until June. Some open even later into July.
Some rental companies offer 4x4 campervans and other 4x4 vehicles.
Photo by Mauro-Fabio Cilurzo
If you plan on travelling on F-roads, talk to the rental company about the best ones to travel to. They should know which ones are the better roads to travel to, especially if it's your first time.
Some rental companies may not allow their vehicles to be driven on Iceland's F-roads. Before you plan on taking F-roads, check with the rental company first if they will let you take their vehicles on F-roads.
Before you travel Iceland's F-roads, it's a MUST to check the road.is website for all current Road and Weather conditions.
Map of F-roads in Iceland
Here is a map to show the locations of the F-roads in Iceland. As you can see, most of the F-roads are in the centre of the island, a large portion of them in the highlands surrounding the four major glaciers in Iceland.
You can also see some F-roads are beside coastal areas, which make for a really unique experience.
Road Conditions and Weather Phone Number for Iceland: 1777
Travelling on F-roads may involve dangerous river crossings for which you need special insurance. Check with the rental company.
River crossings can be exhilarating and fun but tricky. Make sure you pick a place to cross where it's not too deep. Use a walking stick and see if it's too deep.
If you wouldn't cross it on foot, you shouldn't cross it in a vehicle.
These rivers can be from glacial runoff, so the depth and flow of water can be unpredictable. Paths will often be there and are the best place to cross. Don't think you can find a better place.
Cross at a slight angle with the front of the vehicle facing downstream is possible. Water shouldn't be higher than your tires. Go slow and don't change gears in the middle of the crossing.
For some F-roads, it is highly recommended that you travel in groups of two or more if possible. This way if there is a problem, you can get help.
12 Driving Tips for Iceland
- 1Check the weather forecast and road conditions before you go
- 2Don't let the landscape distract you
Iceland is beautiful. It is hard not to be in awe as you drive. If you want to admire the beauty, find a side road to pull over on. Then admire away.
- 3Hold on to your car door!
Iceland is notorious for its winds. Many vehicles get damaged because the wind catches the opening door like a sail and opens so hard and fast damaging the hinges and denting the door. Hang onto the door when you open it!
- 4Speed cameras are common in Iceland
Watch your speed. Fine could be up to 100,000 ISK. Speeds aren't often posted unless there is a change. Remember: 30 km/h in residential areas; 50km/h in urban areas; 80 km/h on gravel rural areas; 90km/h on paved rural areas.
- 5In the summer, the sun stays up longer (up to 21 hours)
With the sun staying up longer in the summer, you need to be aware of the time. Tourists sometimes drive too long because of this. Plan your day and when you will stop. Don't push it because there is more daylight. Tired drivers make mistakes.
- 6Single-lane bridges are commonly found on the Ring Road (Route #1).
The rule is the vehicle closest to the bridge has the right of way.
Pause and assess what the other driver is doing before going. When in doubt, let them go first.
- 7Use caution when transitioning from paved roads to gravel roads
Accidents are common in Iceland during these transitions. To prevent an accident, slow down before getting on the gravel road. Then adjust your speed to the conditions. 80km/h is the maximum speed, not the required speed.
- 8Gravel roads
Gravel roads can be narrow. Reduce your speed and move right when you see oncoming traffic. Rocks can get kicked up from the oncoming vehicle damaging the car or windshield.
- 9Blind curves
Reduce your speed and stay as far right as safely possible in case there is oncoming traffic.
Some of these signs may be accompanied by a blue sign with white letters, which will have a recommended speed.
- 10Blind hills
Blind (blind) hills (hæðar) should be treated the same as blind curves. Reduce your speed and stay as far right as safely possible in case of oncoming traffic.
- 11Watch for animals (and elves)
Animals could be roaming on or near the roads. Not just wild animals. Also, domestic animals, like cows and most commonly sheep.
Sheep could have young on the other side of the road. Slow down as the mother or the lambs may run to the other when you approach.
If you hit and kill a sheep, you may be responsible and have to compensate the owner.
- 12How traffic circles or roundabouts work in Iceland
If you have never experienced a traffic circle or roundabout before, you may not know what to do.
The general rule is when you get to the roundabout, and there is a vehicle to your left, they have the right of way. On a two-lane roundabout, the inner vehicle has the right of way.
- 13Priority roads in Iceland
This is a common sign in countries throughout Europe, including Iceland.
This means that you have priority on this road, and other vehicles on side roads must yield to you.
Pay attention to when it ends. It will be the same sign with a thick black line through it.
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Road Signs in Iceland
Above, you got a taste of some of the road signs you will encounter in Iceland.
Understanding the road signs is very important if you plan on driving in Iceland. There will be roads signs you have never seen before because they are unique to Iceland
One way to help understand road signs in Iceland is to understand the colours and shapes.
Type of Sign
Understanding the sign shapes will help you tell the difference between "you have to do this" and "We suggest you do this".
For example, a triangle with an arrow pointing right means there is a sharp corner to the right coming up, and they suggest you slow down and use caution.
Whereas a blue circle with a white arrow to the right means you have to turn right.
Here is a graphic of the most important signs. Not every road sign is on here. For example, there are signs for cows, wildlife and sheep. I just added the sheep one. You get the idea.
Gear for Camping in Iceland
When you start planning your camping trip to Iceland, you may want to bring some gear from home. This is fine if you are just visiting Iceland and then heading home.
If your plan is to continue on to Europe for more adventures, you may want to consider renting some additional gear.
Camping Gear to Bring to Iceland
The most important things to bring to Iceland are things you will wear or use personally. There are things like a GPS you may want to take if you have it. The advantage of taking your own GPS is you can plug in your route beforehand. Just make sure you have a map of the region.
Many car rental companies and campervan rental do have a GPS as an option to rent. Look at the cost and see if it's worth renting or buying one. If you buy one, you have it for future trips.
You can use your phone for GPS, but you may want to download the map in advance, so you can use it offline. You may encounter areas where you don't have adequate cell coverage.
Here is a list of some of the essentials you should bring:
Believe it or not, you can even rent clothing there like rain gear and boots if you don't want to invest in it before your trip.
Are you in the market for some hiking boots? Here is a fantastic in-depth look at the Best Wide Toe Box Shoes For Hiking by my friends at VeraVise WOW Travel.
Likewise, if you can't bring all the gear. You aren't going to pack a cooler, but you will need one. No worries, you can rent a cooler for around €2 a day. You can even rent them at local grocery stores.
Pots, pans and a stove might be something you want to fly with. Check with the airline before you go. Many have restrictions about travelling with fuel canisters. Even if they are empty but have been used. This is where renting things when you get there can come in handy.
Camping Gear to Rent in Iceland
The great thing about camping in Iceland is that you can rent almost everything there if you want to. This is especially good if you have a stopover trip to or from Europe.
You wouldn't want to carry a bunch of camping around with you everywhere else.
If you need to rent anything for your camping trip in Iceland, one of my favourite sources for any gear is Iceland Camping Equipment Rental.
They literally have everything. It's definitely worth checking out.
If you are renting a campervan in Iceland, many of them come with the essentials you need to camp or are at least as an extra you can add. This way, you just bring your usual travel gear.
Here is some of the essential camping gear you can rent in Iceland.
Camping in Iceland for Free
Wild camping is camping outside the confines of a campground, in the wild. Unfortunately, the few ruined it for the many. People weren't respectful of the land and landowners and is frowned upon by the local population.
It's definitely not as easy as stopping and finding a nice spot and pitching a tent. There are rules in place that you have to follow. If you don't follow these rules, you could get fined.
Is Wild Camping Allowed in Iceland?
Wild camping in Iceland is allowed in certain areas, but there are strict rules.
I don't want to discourage people who are considering this adventurous way of camping. I do want people to properly research and plan it so they understand everything involved. The most important part is to be respectful of the land and locals.
Here are the rules for wild camping.
What makes camping for free in Iceland difficult is that it is hard to know what is public and which land is private. Many communities have decided to ban it camping on their land.
It's so difficult to know if you are within the rules. It will be near impossible to permission from a municipality or private landowner.
Firstly, because wild camping has gotten such a bad reputation. Secondly, how do you find the contact information for the landowner?
Wild camping has become really difficult now. The low cost and convenience of camping at campsites in Iceland is tough to beat.
There is one honourable mention in the camping for "free" Iceland category, Gata Free Camping.
Gata Free Camping in Iceland
The Gata Free Campsite is located in southern Iceland, about a 50-minute drive southeast of Iceland's capital of Reykjavik.
It's a little-known campsite that technically is free. There is a donation box, and the showers cost 500 ISK ($4 USD). They even have duck eggs for 200 ISK available from the farm located there.
It's usually not very busy as a lot of people don't know about it. Across the street is a Hotdog Booth, so you can try the famous Icelandic Pylsur Hotdog.
Photo by Sacha T'Sas
Down the road is the Strandarkirkja overlooking the ocean. Strandar meaning beaches, Kirkja meaning church. You get the picture. Make sure to go on the hunt for the foot-high red elf houses to the left of the church.
Camping in Iceland
Campsite prices vary throughout Iceland. They are per night, per adult. Sometimes children are free under 17 years old, and sometimes they are approximately half the price of an adult.
How much is camping in Iceland?
Generally, the cost per night to camp in Iceland is reasonable, averaging between 1,000 ISK and 2,500 ISK ($8-$20 USD) per person, per night.
There are campsites that are open year round. People often come to Iceland to see the Northern Lights, which are best viewed between September and May.
No Reservations Required
Campsites in Iceland don't require reservations. Just pull up, and a campground host will scan your Camping Card and subtract one night off the card.
Campsites in Iceland are rarely completely full. If there is extreme weather, then people may go to other campgrounds with better weather. In this rare case, you may want to call ahead.
Usually, there is an overnight tax of 333 ISK ($2.70 USD) per night added to camping fees. The overnight tax is being waved for 2021.
You may have to pay fees for electricity, showers, or washing machines if you want to use them.
Icelanders take their swimming pools very seriously. This is a great way to enjoy something that is a big part of Icelandic culture and get a nice hot shower at the same time. So bring your trunks and your travel towel.
All towns have swimming pools where you can have a shower and swim for cheap. There is some etiquette in regards to using the swimming pool facilities. This great video gives you a humorous look at pool etiquette.
Map of All Campsites in Iceland
Here is a great map that shows almost every campsite in Iceland. It breaks down campsites into four categories.
- Year-round campsites
- Summer campsites
- Hybrid campsites
- Highland campsites
When you click on a campsite, it will give you information about the site, including cost, location, facilities and contact information. They do their best to keep the map updated. It is by far the best resource out there for campsites in Iceland.
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Iceland Camping Card
The Iceland Camping Card allows two adults and up to four children to camp for 28 nights in any of the 33 different campgrounds on their list for €159 ($193.24 USD).
This is only for one camping unit. This means one tent, campervan, RV or mobile home.
If you used it for all 28 days, it would cost €5.68 per night for a party of up to 6 people.
That's a large amount of savings. Even if you only used it for 14 days, it would still be under €12 per night for your group.
The Camping Card is valid from 1 - 15 May until 15 September each year. So keep that in mind when you are planning your camping trip.
Campsites Included in the Iceland Camping Card
These are all the campgrounds that you can stay at with the camping card. You could plan your whole Iceland camping trip just at these campgrounds.
Grettislaug á Reykhólum
Möðrudalur – Fjalladýrð
Iceland Camping Card Map
For more information on the Iceland Camping Card see their website here.
National Parks In Iceland
There are three National Parks in Iceland:
- Snæfellsjökull National Park
- Thingvellir National Park
- Vatnajökull National Park
Admission into all national parks is free. Wild camping is not permitted in any of Iceland's National Parks.
Snæfellsjökull National Park
Snæfellsjökull National Park is located in the west of Iceland on the Snæfellsness peninsula.
It is a volcano, capped with a glacier going all the way down to the Atlantic Ocean. Here you will find beaches, lighthouse, caves, craters and glaciers.
Camping in Snæfellsjökull
There is no camping directly in the park. The closest campsites are Campsite Ólafsvík, Hellissandur Camping, & Arnarstapi Camping.
Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park is located in the Golden Circle only a 40 minute drive northeast from Reykjavik.
Here you will find the Silfra and Davíðsgjá submerged rifts on Lake Thingvallavatn (largest lake in Iceland) which are famous for their diving and snorkelling.
Camping in Thingvellir
There are two campsite areas in the park. Leirar campground is divided into four camping grounds: Fagrabrekka, Syðri- Leirar, Hvannabrekka and Nyrðri-Leirar.
Phone: +354 482 2660
Prices: 1,600 ISK/adult, 950 ISK/senior (67+), free age 0-17.
Vatnskot campground is near the lake on an abandoned farm site.
Phone: +354 482 2660
Price: 1300 ISK/adult
Vatnajökull National Park
Vatnajökull National Park is the largest national park in Iceland. It is mainly accessible from Route 1 (Ring Road South) and through the many F-roads surrounding it.
Europe's largest glacier is found here. The Vatnajökull glacier covers much of the park. Other great sites are Svartifoss waterfall, Skaftafellsjökull glacier and Iceland's tallest mountain Hvannadalshnjúkur.
Camping in Vatnajökull
Site fee 250 ISK/night
1,500 ISK/adult, 1,300 ISK/senior (67+), 900 ISK age 13-17.
Jökulsárgljúfur and others
Site fee 250 ISK/night
1,250 ISK/adult, 1,000 ISK/senior (67+), 700 ISK age 13-17.
Huts in Vatnajökull
4,500 ISK/adult, 3,500 ISK/senior (67+), 2,300 ISK age 13-17.
3,500 ISK/adult, 2,750 ISK/senior (67+), 1,500 ISK age 13-17.
Glamping in Iceland (6 great spots)
Not quite as adventurous yet for camping? Why not try Glamping? Glamping in Iceland is also pretty unique. Save on all the camping gear, and stay in a wooden pod, yurt or luxurious tent with skylights to watch the northern lights from!
If you are looking to go glamping in Iceland, here are six amazing glamping experiences.
Two are located near Akureyri, and four are within a reasonable drive from Reykjavik. One is even on an island!
6 Fantastic Glamping Spots in Iceland!
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