Iceland is a country that begs for a road trip. In fact, driving the 1332-kilometre-long Ring Road and discovering many of Iceland’s most popular attractions along the way is one of the most popular things to do in Iceland. A motorhome trip around Iceland is the ideal way to see the land of fire and ice, with so much more to do outside of the capital and the Golden Circle.
True, Iceland can be an expensive place to visit, but many of its attractions are free. The most expensive aspects of planning a trip to Iceland will be car rental and lodging. Renting a Motorhome combines transportation and lodging costs into one, giving you more money to splurge on some of Iceland’s most unique experiences, such as glacier hiking on Sólheimajökull, which can only be seen or done on a guided tour.
Are you ready to travel around Iceland in a Motorhome? This comprehensive guide will assist you in planning your Motorhome trip to Iceland.
Choosing a Motorhome for Your Iceland Trip
Motorhomes are a popular way to travel around Iceland, and there are many different options available these days. So, where do you even begin to determine which option is best for you?
When selecting a Motorhome for your trip to Iceland, there are several factors to consider:
1. How many people are you travelling with?
Your Motorhome must be large enough to accommodate you, your travel companions, and your belongings. Motorhomes are ideal for groups of two to four people. Motorhomes can sleep four adults or a family of up to six people.
2. Do you intend to take F-roads or venture into the Highlands?
Route 1, or the Ring Road as it is colloquially known, is an excellent and almost entirely paved two-lane road in Iceland. With the exception of a small gravel section in the East Fjords, a motorhome is a perfect vehicle to circumnavigate Iceland during the summer.
F-roads are a type of road in Iceland, and they are the only way to get to the Highlands. To drive on F-roads, you must have a 4×4 vehicle. Even in the best of summer weather, you may encounter all kinds of conditions, and you may have to cross rivers or streams.
Some Motorhomes and 4×4 vehicles equipped with roof tents are suitable for F-roads and the Highlands. When rental car companies specify that a particular vehicle is not suitable for F-road conditions, they mean business and know what they’re talking about. And your insurance will not cover you if something goes wrong because you drove an inappropriate vehicle on an F-road.
Before selecting the best Motorhome for your trip, carefully plan your itinerary and look at the roads you’ll need to drive on.
3. Would you prefer to sleep inside the Motorhome?
If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes, according to an Icelandic proverb. Every type of weather can be expected on any given day. And high winds do occur in Iceland.
The weather, regardless of the time of year you decide to visit Iceland, should definitely be a factor in selecting the right motorhome for your comfort level. It’s possible that it’ll be too windy to use a roof tent for more than one night of your trip. The wind has been known to ravage and topple top-heavy motorhomes.
4. When are you planning to visit Iceland?
Most campsites are open from May to September, with a slightly shorter season from June to August in more remote areas of Iceland such as the Highlands and Westfjords. In Iceland, there are very few year-round campsites.
While winter motorhome trips are possible, and many motorhomes are equipped with powerful heaters, winter camping is not for the faint of heart. Whiteouts and extreme cold are very real possibilities – even probabilities – when visiting Iceland in the winter.
Where to Stay on Your Icelandic Motorhome Trip?
It’s important to note that sleeping in tents, camper vans, or motorhomes outside of designated campsites is illegal. So, no, you can’t just park your camper van or pitch a tent wherever you want. This is a more recent change in the law as Iceland struggles to deal with the influx of tourists.
The majority of Iceland’s campsites are located along the Ring Road, in the Westfjords, and on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. The Highlands, in the centre of Iceland, do not have many campsites, but you can wild camp.
Campingcard has been in business in Iceland for over a decade. You can buy the Campingcard, which is shipped to your home address ahead of time and gives you access to 40 campsites throughout Iceland without having to pay on the spot or make a reservation.
Each campsite in Iceland is one-of-a-kind. Examine each amenities, which may include bathrooms, swimming pools, hot tubs or natural hot tubs, kitchen facilities, wifi, and more.
If you book your campsites individually in advance, you will be charged a fee for the use of the campsite. Fees are typically based on the cost of two adults, a caravan, a car, power, and local taxes per night.
Whether you decide to buy the Campingcard or book individual campsites, make sure to check the opening dates for each one you intend to visit. Even in the summer, campsites may be closed or inaccessible during festivals.
We’re going to give you our top 3 places to stay in Iceland in your Motorhome now!
- ADDRESS | Island, Ólafsvík, Iceland
- PRICE | 1500 ISK / night (per person)
- FACILITIES | toilets, hot showers, kitchen, dining area, + hiking trails
- OPEN DATES | May 10th – September 30th
- WEBSITE | Ólafsvík Campsite
- STAY IF EXPLORING | Snaefellness Peninsula
If you’re planning a trip to the Snaefellness Peninsula, don’t miss out on this campsite, especially considering the drive. If you’re coming up from Reykjavik, take the scenic route on road 54 and thank me later. This location has a kitchen, a dining area, toilets, sinks, hot showers, and a beautiful view. It’s a little out of the way from the sights, but if you’re driving up to Snaefellness from the south, make sure you take road 54 all the way to Lafsvk because it’s one of the most beautiful drives on the entire peninsula. The campsite is small, but it has a really quaint, community vibe to it that I fell in love with the moment I arrived. Because it is located on the northern side of the peninsula, the campsite is also an excellent place to base yourself if you intend to travel up north to the West Fjords.
- ADDRESS | Skógarbraut 400 Ísafjörður, Iceland
- PRICE | 1800 ISK
- FACILITIES | toilets, hot showers, dining area, kitchen, + sinks
- OPEN DATES | May 15th – September 15th
- WEBSITE | Tunguskogur Campsite
- STAY IF EXPLORING| (North) West Fjords
I didn’t expect to fall in love with Safjörur, where this little campsite is located, as much as I did. I liked it so much, perhaps as much as akgil, that I changed my plans to spend the night here rather than a second night at the Flokdalundi Campsite (listed below). The campsite is located beneath the waterfall shown below, and it has trees and small nooks where you can find your own quiet space. If you’ve been roughing it for the last few days, you’ll appreciate the campsite’s hot showers, toilets, sinks, wifi, cooking and dining area, and cooking and dining area. In terms of rankings, this is probably the second favourite campsite that I’ve visited. Another thing to note is that Safjörur is an incredibly cute little port town that you should visit for lunch and a coffee while you’re there. There are colourful houses and artwork, and it’s interesting to see how people live here because it’s in one of Iceland’s most remote areas, right after the North Coast. You can also get gas and groceries here if necessary.
- ADDRESS | Kaupvangur 17, 700 Egilsstaðir
- PRICE | 2000 ISK
- FACILITIES | toilets, hot showers, laundry, bike rentals, a cooking area, a dining area, + wifi
- OPEN DATES | All Year
- WEBSITE | Camp Egilsstaðir
- STAY IF EXPLORING | East Iceland
If you’re travelling counterclockwise around Iceland’s ring road, you’ll definitely want to stop in Eglisstaðir before heading north. According to the campsite’s website, this small town is home to “possibly the happiest campsite in Iceland.” The village is in an ideal location for exploring the east fjords and nearby waterfalls, so plan on doing some exploring while you stock up on food, fuel, and laundry. If you’re visiting during the summer, there’s a great spot to see puffins that’s a little out of the way, but doable. Put ‘Borgarfjörur Eystri’ into Google Maps and you’ll be taken to some cliffs where hundreds of puffins are nesting, but you’ll have to go early in the morning or late in the evening because they’ll be out at sea during the day. Many people don’t think there’s much to this area, so they just pass through, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find some hidden treasures. The campsite has all of the amenities listed above, it also has wifi, which is very convenient if you need to update family or catch up on work.
How to stay safe in your Motorhome while travelling Iceland
The Institute for Economics and Peace and the Economist Intelligence Unit compile the Global Peace Index each year by ranking 163 countries based on a variety of criteria. Iceland is consistently ranked first in the world as the safest country.
Iceland is extremely safe, with no land predators. Because the Arctic Fox is Iceland’s only natural land mammal, there are few dangers to be aware of when visiting Iceland.
The weather is something to keep an eye on. Winning the lottery is possibly the only thing more unpredictable than Iceland’s weather.
Roads can be closed unexpectedly due to weather conditions that have rendered them impassable. Make a note of road conditions which is updated in real-time, and make a habit of checking on the predicted conditions on a regular basis.
Before your trip, you should also download the 112 Iceland app. The Icelandic Search and Rescue Team manages this app, which has two functions: a one-click emergency button and a check-in feature.
The check-in feature, which you should use, saves your last five check-ins and can help the Icelandic Search and Rescue Team find you if something goes wrong. Feel free to use the app to check inf requently.
The final safety concern is being aware of available services and being comfortable changing a tyre. Outside of Reykjavik, the capital, there are only three people per square kilometre. The fact that so much of Iceland is wild and uninhabited contributes significantly to its allure and magic. However, no one will be there to assist you if you run out of gas or get a flat tyre.
Don’t allow your vehicle’s fuel to run out. If you travel into the Highlands, gas stations can be scarce or non-existent.
How to be responsible while travelling Iceland
Being one of the world’s most popular travel destinations has its drawbacks, and Iceland is currently battling irresponsible tourists. Don’t be one of those tourists.
1. Do not simply pull over in the middle of the road.
We understand that there is something jaw-dropping around almost every turn of the road in Iceland. However, keep in mind that you are not the only vehicle on the road, and Iceland’s two-lane roads simply cannot accommodate you stopping whenever you want.
2. Do not leave any traces.
Every town and village in Iceland has a public swimming pool. Swimming is an important part of their culture, and these pools usually have showers. There’s little reason to bathe in Iceland’s lakes, streams, rivers, waterfalls, or hot pots when there are swimming pools and campsites nearby.
If you must take a natural bath, make sure to use organic soap.
Make sure to put all rubbish in the appropriate bins at campsites. If there isn’t a trash can nearby, take your trash with you until you can properly dispose of it.
3. Be considerate of private property.
Some attractions are located on private property, and landowners have been forced to close these attractions to the public in recent years. Don’t be the person who spoils it for everyone else by being disrespectful, trespassing, or leaving anything behind, such as trash and graffiti.
4. Do not go off-roading.
Off-roading is illegal in Iceland. The environment is extremely fragile, and off-roading can destroy it.
What to bring with you
Now that you’ve selected the right type of camper van for your trip, learned a few local laws, and taken some precautions, it’s time to pack for your epic adventure in Iceland.
Some basic necessities we recommend for your Iceland camper van trip:
- A quick-dry towel – a standard towel will not dry quickly and will stink up your motorhome. A quick-dry towel is also much easier to pack and can be stuffed into a daypack for use at a natural hot tub.
- A daypack – even though your 4×4 camper can take you almost anywhere, you’ll probably do some hiking. Bring a daypack in which you can store items such as a quick-dry towel, flip-flops, and water bottles while you’re out and about.
- Flip-flops – many other feet may have used the restroom and showers at campsites before you. Bring a pair of flip-flops to wear in the shower.
- Car chargers for your phone and other electronics – if you already have car chargers at home, bring them with you to save money on renting these.
- Sleeping bag – You can rent sleeping bags, but if you have one at home that is suitable for temperatures as low as -7°C, bring it with you to save money on the rental.
That concludes our blog on where to stay and how to tour on your Iceland motorhome trip.
If you’re looking for motorhome financing, check out our calculator or get in touch with our team to see how we can assist you.