Why You Must Rent a Campervan in Iceland
When planning a trip to Iceland, renting a campervan might not be the first thing that comes to mind. You may think that you are just not the camping type. Or that you don't want to spend more money than you would spend renting a regular car. Or maybe you simply never traveled in a campervan before and haven't considered it as an option for your Iceland trip. We hope that in this article we can show you that there is no better way to explore this beautiful country than traveling all around it in a campervan.
May to September is the most popular time to travel to Iceland. Temperatures are milder, which makes it much more enjoyable to explore the land of fire and ice. The days are also significantly longer in the summer - with as much as 21 hours of daylight in June! This means that you can literally drive around and explore all day and all night long (although it might not be a bad idea to make some time for sleep as well).
But like with everything in life, it's not all pluses when it comes to travelling to Iceland in the summer. One of the main downsides of going to Iceland during the high season is that it's a lot busier and rental prices are significantly higher. If you plan on staying in hotels, you better book your rooms months in advance, as they tend to sell out fast. Same goes for car rentals. And, of course, be prepared to share the sights with dozens (and in some places, even hundreds) of other tourists, especially in the southern part of the country.
Now that we've briefly touched upon both the advantages and downsides of travelling to Iceland in the high season, we will tell you why renting a campervan is the ultimate way to experience this magical country during this time.
Why ARE we so passionate about the idea of travelling around Iceland in a campervan?
We rented campervans for both of our trips to Iceland (a 10-day Ring Road trip in September and a 3-day trip around west Iceland in March). We did some extensive research on campervan rental companies before we went, and our Lava Auto campervan - booked through Motorhome Iceland, not directly through Lava website (we'll tell you why not to book directly through their website in our next post), was the cheapest option we could find that still met all our criteria for what we were looking for in a campervan.
These campervan road trips have changed the way we prefer to travel now and we can not stress enough that you absolutely have to give campervan travel a thought even if you've forever believed camping was not your thing. Especially if you're planning a trip to Iceland. Read on to find out why there simply isn't a better way to experience this country!
Why You Must Rent a Campervan in Iceland
1. You'll Have the Ultimate Freedom to Explore
One of the main advantages of campervan travel is the freedom that comes along with it. Not being tied to your hotel reservations is a huge advantage when traveling around Iceland. Your daily schedule will be jam-packed with places you want to see and hikes you want to do. The last thing you want to worry about is planning your itinerary around the hotels you're staying in. You will also be making a lot of unplanned stops along the way. Sometimes the landscape is so breathtaking that you can't just drive through it without pulling over and spending some time taking it all in. This may force you to adjust your itinerary as you go, which is way more easier to do if you don't have to make it to a certain hotel on a certain day or at a certain time.
While wild camping is illegal in Iceland (meaning you can't just park anywhere you want for the night), there are around 170 registered campsites (that's a lot for a small country!). Most campsites are open from June to end of August/mid-September but there are a few that operate year-round. You don't need to reserve a campsite ahead of time, which means you can keep on driving and exploring for as long as want during the day and stay at a campsite nearest to you for the night. There are many campsite maps available that you can use to plan your itinerary, or you can do what we did and Google nearby campsites when you think you're done adventuring for the day (you can check out the campsites we stayed at on our 10-day trip on our itinerary map).
2. You'll Save Money
At first glance, renting a campervan may seem expensive but you need to keep in mind that when you rent a campervan you are paying both for your car and your accommodations. While campsites are not free, they are a lot cheaper than hotels (usually about $12-16 per person and many have showers included in the price).
You will also save a lot of money by being able to cook your own meals. Eating out is very expensive in Iceland. In fact, on our 10-day trip around Iceland we only ate at a restaurant once - in Reykjavik - because we absolutely had to try the famous Icelandic fish soup. We cooked the rest of our meals in the communal campsite kitchens or on our propane camping stove that came included in our rental (another reason why we chose to book with Motorhome Iceland - our campervan came with everything we could possibly need for our trip: cooking utensils, sleeping bags, pillows, extra propane tank, cooler, table and chairs to set up outside if we wanted to). We bought all our groceries at Bonus supermarkets where the prices are comparable to those in Canada.
3. You'll be More Comfortable Than Camping in a Tent
So you are already into camping and you actually love sleeping in a tent - great! You can definitely do that in Iceland since pretty much all campsites have designated areas for tents. A lot of people travel around Iceland this way and make their trip even more budget-friendly. There are a few things, however, that make campervan travel more comfortable than tent camping in Iceland.
First, you have to keep in mind that weather in Iceland can be unpredictable. A lot of areas are very windy. We've witnessed people struggle setting up their tents for the night. It rains often and nights can be pretty chilly, which definitely makes sleeping in a dry campervan with a heater in the back way more cozy.
Second, if your itinerary is just as packed as ours was, then you would want to get back on the road as quickly as possible in the morning. Not having to deal with packing up your tent can save you some valuable time that you can spend exploring instead.
And, finally, being able to cook your meals and eat them inside your campervan, out of the cold and the rain, is another advantage of campervan travel (we ended up having to do this on several occasions because it was way too windy/cold/rainy outside to cook).
4. You'll Meet Like-Minded Travellers
If you like to meet and make friends with people from around the world then traveling in a campervan and staying at campsites overnight will give you lots of opportunities to do just that. Every campsite we've stayed at had a communal kitchen with a dining room where campers hang out in the evenings cooking instant noodles (although we did witness some real fancy dinners being made that made us drool), having drinks, processing their photos and videos, and socializing. You can feel the wanderlust spirit in the room. Even though it was just the two of us traveling around Iceland for 10 days, we felt like we were a part of some larger community - everyone at these campsites shared the same goal as us - to see as much of Iceland as possible while not breaking the bank. Everyone had the same spark in their eyes and was ready to get excited about anything that this magical country were to throw at them.
There are many advantages to travelling around Iceland in a campervan. You'll have the ultimate freedom to explore at your own pace while meeting like-minded travellers. You will also end up saving money without compromising your comfort.
We really hope that our article got you inspired to rent a campervan for your Iceland trip. As soon as we got back, we made a list of other countries that are would be great to explore in a campervan. We are hoping to squeeze a trip to one of them this year. The feeling of adventure and the ultimate freedom that comes with campervan travel is unlike anything we've experienced on our previous travels. Give it a try, just don't blame us when you get hooked.
Disclaimer: We receive a small commission for Motorhome Iceland bookings made through our site. However, it doesn't cost you anything extra and we would never recommend anything that we didn't absolutely love ourselves.