Traveling through Iceland in a comfortable and affordable way? Renting a camper van is the answer. We traveled 8 days through Iceland with a camper van of Happy Campers, slept on beautiful campsites, and drove the entire Ring Road. It was our first time experiencing Iceland like this, but we couldn’t have made a better choice. It was such a wonderful way to experience all the beautiful wonders in Iceland at our own pace and can’t recommend it enough to anyone! So if you are planning a trip to Iceland and you have questions about renting a campervan? Here are all our tips and everything you need to know to help you make the most out of it.
When is it the best time to go camping in Iceland?
Camping in Iceland is possible all year round. Camping during the winter months has increased chances to view the Northern Lights, but it can be quite challenging. Most ideal months to go camping and driving the Ring Road are from June to September, when the days are longer and the weather is quite stable. This is also the period when you enjoy the sceneries and landscapes from early in the morning until late in the evening.
Winter: December to February
During this period, temperatures are extremely cold and roads could be dangerous or even closed. The days are short but you’ll have spectacular sunrises and more chances to see to Northern Lights.
Summer: June to September
Green landscapes & pleasant temperatures to visit all the highlights during your road trip in Iceland, The days are long and in June they have a day called Midnight Sun, which practically means that it will not be dark for almost 24 hours.
How are the roads in Iceland?
Iceland is the perfect destination for a road trip because it has one big main road: Route 1 or also known as the Ring Road. It’s a paved road with a total length of 1,332 kilometers and goes all around the island. Almost all the sights you want to see are found by the Ring Road. The road is two lanes wide, with one lane going in each direction. While there is not much traffic, find always first a safe spot to park your car if you would like to stop. (other cars can come flying by at any time) Next, to the paved Ring Road, Iceland has also gravel roads or F-roads (mountain roads). If you are planning on driving on any F-roads then you will need a 4WD!
Before you go, always check the weather conditions. Weather can change so quickly, so driving conditions too. Especially during winter it’s not always guaranteed that the roads will be open and/or safe to travel.
Can you camp anywhere with a camper van in Iceland?
Well, basically, yes. But regulations have been changed since November 2015. Wild camping in Iceland with a camper van is now illegal, unless, you have the permission of the landowner to camp on their land. But to be honest, there are so many campsites in Iceland available and they are usually very cheap, around $11-16 per person, so wild camping is even not necessary.
Read also: Best places to stay in Iceland
Do you need to book campsites in advance?
“First come, first served” that’s how it goes. You can’t book campsites in advance, but no worries because they rarely get completely full. Check out this great map we used for all campsites in Iceland, both summer and all-year-round.
But it’s also perfect to stay at a guesthouse or hotel during your road trip to have a decent shower or just to relax at the spa facilities.
Read also: Best places to stay in Iceland
What are the highlights you really need to see?
If you have one week or 8 days like we had (and which is about the minimum time you should take to drive the entire Ring Road) you can see and experience almost all famous highlights in Iceland. One of our ultimate favorites was Kvernufoss waterfall, Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, Seljavallalaug which is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland, the Myvatn Nature Baths and photographers paradise Stokksnes beach. And of course, The Golden Circle, where you get to see the highly active Geysir, Thingvellir National Park, and Gullfoss Waterfall.
Read also: 10 most beautiful places in Iceland
What is the best camper van rental in Iceland?
There several rental companies in Iceland where you can choose from. But if you ask us, we say Happy Campers! This extremely friendly family run business attracted us from the very first moment. Not only their excellent reviews and free airport pick up, but also their lovely colored vans looked so pretty. And when you’re on the road crossing another Happy Camper, people start waving. You really feel like you’re part of the family!
The camper vans are fully equipped with everything you need from pillows and blankets to cooking supplies, a sink with running water, and most important: a heater! And on top of everything… they go green by using a solar panel on each camper. This was our first ‘van life’ experience and it was way more comfortable than expected.
Some extra tips to make your trip more comfortable
# Buy your alcoholic beverages at the airport
If there is something more expensive next to the fuel prices, then it will be alcohol. So if you like to have some beers or a glass of wine after a full day of exploring, plan to buy your alcoholic beverages at the airport as soon as you arrive. Or take some bottles from home and carry them in a wine protector bag.
# Pack light
If there is one tip we had it most difficult with, it’s this one. Choosing clothes on the spot depending on how the weather will be like would be awesome, but when you go camping you really need to pack light. So preparing some outfits at home is no unnecessary luxury. If you don’t think you will it wear it more than once, just don’t bring it with you.
# Size matters
Yes, it does! Consider the size of your campervan before you book. A small camper van is cute and cozy, but having some extra comfort is not an unnecessary luxury. We booked Happy 2 and we were really happy with our choice! We didn’t need to collapse our bed every day and had enough space for all our gear we’d brought with us.
# Mark all the spots you want to see on a map
The fun part! Go Pinteresting and mark all the places you’d love to see. On maps.me you can easily mark your favorite spots on the map to have an idea where you will spend more time than on other places and to know how your route will look like.
# Add the inverter and WiFi to your rental package
If you’re traveling with camera gear the inverter is a must-add. The inverter will transform the 12V socket (cigarette lighter) into a standard European outlet that you can use to charge all your devices while driving. And regarding WIFI, Happy Campers offers unlimited data for a single fee of $44. Uploading your favorite pictures on Instagram has never been so easy!