Top 5 Tips for Camping in Iceland

Two people looking at northern lights; camping in Iceland
Aurora Borealis: Image by Noel Bauza from Pixabay

With unreal landscapes and unlimited outdoor activities to take part in, it’s no wonder that Iceland is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts and those just keen to experience its natural beauty. Iceland’s ever-changing landscape of volcanic fields, waterfalls, and vast expanses make for some of the most memorable camping spots adventurers will ever encounter. However, there’s a lot to consider when traveling to a different country to camp. You’re sure to have questions about equipment, camping laws, and so much more. Here are 5 tips for camping in Iceland to help you plan your upcoming Icelandic adventure!

Do your research

Tents on Lake Myvatn; camping in Iceland
Camping at Lake Myvatn: Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay

No matter where you go camping, a fair amount of planning is usually involved. When you take into consideration the terrain and weather of Iceland, there’s even more to plan for and research. You’ll want to conduct thorough research on your route around Iceland, the campsites you’ll visit, and weather conditions during your visit. 

Depending on how much time you’ll be spending in Iceland, you can camp in one spot or travel around popular routes and visit a variety of campsites. The Golden Circle and the Ring Road are some of the most popular road trip routes in the country and provide many fantastic campsites along the way. 

You’ll also want to think about the time of year you’re visiting Iceland. Of course, summer is the warmest time to camp in Iceland, and it’s also the most popular. Camping between June and September in Iceland will provide mild weather, with highs between 10°C and 13°C, and lows between 5°C and 8°C. Camping between November and May will bring average high temperatures between 1°C and 9°C, and lows between -1°C and -5.5°C. The time of year you camp will dictate the type of equipment you’ll bring with you, such as heavier sleeping bags. 

It’s worth noting that most campsites in Iceland are open from June until September, so if you plan to camp during the winter, you may find the selection of campsites quite limited. 

Pack appropriately 

Camping in Iceland is typically a rustic experience. While campsites have toilets and showers that you can use (sometimes for a fee), you’ll want to carry the essentials with you. And on top of the typical equipment such as sleeping bags and cooking equipment, you’ll need to pay close attention to the type of clothing you pack. 

For summer camping in Iceland, the days are likely to be quite mild, but the nights are still chilly and the weather can change abruptly year-round. Be sure to include thermals, plenty of fleeces and waterproof jackets for layering. And don’t forget warm socks, sweaters, hats, scarves, gloves and sunglasses. 

Whether you decide to camp in winter or summer will dictate just how warm your clothing and sleeping bag will need to be. But, because Iceland’s weather can change so quickly, it’s always best to pack warm clothes no matter the time of year you’re visiting.

Choose an appropriate vehicle 

Camper lit up at night; camping in Iceland

When camping in Iceland, it’s vital that you choose a car that can handle the terrain of the Icelandic countryside. If you’re sticking close to the Ring Road or Golden Circle, you’ll be fine with any car that has enough space for all your camping gear. But if you plan to explore off the main routes or the highland F-Roads, you’ll definitely need a 4×4. 

Renting a camper is another option, as many rental companies provide them fully stocked with much of the equipment you will need. Additionally, some models are 4×4, so there won’t be any issues tackling rugged terrain. 

The number of people in your group will also play a big role in deciding what type of car or camper you rent. You’ll want to make sure you have enough space for everyone; you’ll also need to accommodate the extra luggage and supplies they bring. 

Always be respectful

The golden rule for anyone visiting Iceland is to be respectful, both to the environment and the locals. Iceland is a small country that has seen a massive tourism boom in recent years. This means the landscape can be very easily affected by inconsiderate visitors. When camping in Iceland, it’s important that you obey all camping and driving laws, and any posted signs with guidelines. 

It’s also worth noting that there have been changes to Iceland’s wild camping laws over the past few years. The law did state that campers could camp pretty much anywhere in Iceland. But due to campers not being respectful, the law has changed. Essentially, the only way to wild camp in Iceland now is to hike to permitted locations. If you are camping with a car, camper or recreational vehicle, you can only camp in designated campsites.

Stock up on supplies 

Cup of coffee and campfire

Finally, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of food, water, and fuel for your trip. Once you leave populated areas you’ll find gas stations, shops or restaurants are few and far between. It’s always a good idea to fill up your tank before leaving the city. Once you’ve begun your travels, you should stop when you see a gas station. There’s no guarantee as to when you’ll see another one. 

The same can be said for drinking water and food supplies. Buy plenty of provisions before you set out for your camping trip. And make sure to take advantage of shops when you see them, stocking up on any items you’re running low on. 


About Aindrea White

A writer with a love for travel

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