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Camping is a great way to see Iceland and experience the power and wonder of this diverse land. It is nice to wake up in a hotel and have breakfast, but sleeping under the stars brings Iceland alive. It also increases your chances of seeing the Northern Lights and appreciating the magical wonder of the Midnight Sun. So with this in mind, let’s look at camping in Iceland and how to go about it.
Arguably the best way to see Iceland is to hire a campervan and set off on your adventure. Thankfully camper rental Iceland is popular with plenty of offerings where you pick up a decent vehicle. Many, however, go for Campervan Reykjavik as they have a great range of 4 x 4 vehicles. A 4 x4 brings the Highlands of Iceland in reach as they are built to handle the rough terrain that two wheel drive vehicles can’t cross.
To get a good idea of what is available, you should consider looking at rental agency reviews to make an informed choice.
Camping in Iceland
There are certain rules to follow when camping in Iceland. Broadly, they are:
- You can only camp in designated campsites. This shouldn’t be an issue as there are more than 40 sites across the country.
- If you want to camp on cultivated or farmland, then you need the permission of the farmer, and you need to get permission for each night you are planning to stay.
- You must never camp in prohibited sites such as UNESCO protected areas and sanctuaries.
- You need to get permission if you plan to pitch more than three tents.
- You need permission to pitch if you plan to use a campervan, caravan, tent campers or tent trailers outside organized campsites or urban areas.
It is a good idea to plan your Icelandic road trip around campsites locations. This way, you can book in advance and know you have a place to pitch up. You can also check out the facilities for each one and the proximity to local amenities to top up your supplies.
If you are an experienced camper, you should know what equipment you need. In addition, it is a good idea to bring spare provisions, flashlights, first aid kits and medications you need, together with extra blankets as being in the Arctic Circle it gets cold! Bringing a few extra gallons of gas is recommended.
Also, pay attention to weather forecasts as cold fronts can hit from out of nowhere and you don’t want to get stranded on a hike.
Great Places to Camp in Iceland
Depending on where you are planning to go, and the vehicle you have, here are a few suggestions to bring your Icelandic adventure alive:
Ring Road Tour
Iceland’s Ring Road runs around the edges of the country, and many of the more popular attractions are here. It is easily driveable in a two-wheel drive car as it is a paved road. You can combine this with a Golden Circle Tour as well.
Taking the Ring Road you can see:
- The Blue Lagoon – Submerge yourself in the milky blue nourishing geothermal spa. Feel refresh, alive and quite wonderful.
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach – This beach is about an hour from Reykjavik and is remarkable to walk along taking in the geology. This includes caves and basalt columns and sea stacks.
- Dettifoss Waterfall – One of the most spectacular and powerful waterfalls in Europe, you can feel the ground tremble as you get close to it. The power of it is incredible, and you can combine it with a trip to the northern city of Akureyri.
The Golden Circle
Iceland’s Golden Circle is the most visited location in the country. It is a southern ring road where two-wheel drive vehicles will do you proud. Here you can see:
- Thingvellir National Park – Discover the cradle of Icelandic civilization and visit the place where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet.
- Geysir Geothermal Area – Visit the geothermal area where water is blasted over a hundred feet in the air and learn about your planet.
- Gullfoss Waterfall – See the amazing waterfall from above and marvel at the split level cascading rivers.
With a 4 x 4 campervan, the country opens up as the Highlands become accessible at least in the summer. With this in mind, you should visit Landmannalaugar, part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve. This region has a host of wonders, and it is worth a few days hiking to see the highlights which include:
- The Rhyolite Mountains – These colorfull slopes are formed by rhyolite lava mingling with other minerals such as sulphur, iron, and moss. The result is rich shades of yellow, pink, red, and blue with a splash of brown.
Highlights include Brennisteinsalda and Bláhnúkur, where their colors play off one another thanks to their proximity.
- Lava Fields – The Laugahraun lava fields are a truly remarkable experience where you feel like you are walking in another world thanks to the remarkable rock formations.
Iceland is a fantastic country and one that is suited to camping.