Craigs Camper Van trip in Iceland
Iceland Camper Van Journey 2016
Hello! I would like to share my camper van trip in Iceland from July 8th to 12th 2016. Hopefully it will be helpful to those who are looking at traveling Iceland via camper van.
My Iceland camper van journey started when I landed in Keflavik about 9:00AM. I made my way through customs and headed across the parking lot to pick up my camper van from RENT.IS. Since this was a solo journey I reserved one of the small camper vans and I got the Renault Kangoo Camper. John at rent.is gave me a tour of the van and all the equipment that comes with it, which was great.
Read more: What’s included in your Camper rental
After that I got in the van and started heading towards Vik, my final destination for the day. On the way I stopped at a Bonus grocery store in Reykjavik to pick up some supplies for the coming days including Skyr. Friends, who had previously visited Iceland, recommended I try Skyr and I was glad they did because I ended up eating it for breakfast every day!
My first view of a major waterfall was Seljalandsfoss. You can see it from the road so it’s pretty hard to miss. I had seen photos of this waterfall before but its size was still surprising.
I still wanted to get to Vik by the end of the day so I needed to move on but I kept stopping at different viewpoints and wasn’t making a whole lot of progress. Eventually I did get there and found the campground right in town. It had nice amenities, a good view, and was right across from the N1 gas station.
By this point of the first day I was tired so I cooked some food and decided to go to bed early. I had read that getting to sites early could really minimize the crowds, so I decided to use my jet lag to my advantage and go to sleep early, and get up early. The next morning, at about 4:30 AM I got up and took off for the day. Since I was getting up so early I just got out of bed and drove away so I wouldn’t disturb the other campers.
My first stop was the church in Vik, which is picturesque, and gives a nice view of the town and ocean. Since I got there early I had it all to myself.
I left the church and headed back west a bit to see the Black Sand beach Kirkjufjara and the Dyrhólaey lighthouse.
After spending time at the light house I went to the other end of the beach at Reynisfjara to see the basalt columns and get right down by the ocean. Another beautiful spot all to myself.
I spent the morning from about 5:00 AM to 9:30 AM taking photographs of the sites and just sitting on the beach enjoying the view. It was rejuvenating and peaceful watching the waves and enjoying the beach to myself.
I made the quick trip back to Vik and stopped at the N1 station to get a cup of coffee and fuel for the van. On a side note, since my credit card does not have a PIN (I’m from the US) I purchased a 5000 ISK gas card. These worked out great for the trip since it meant I could purchase gas at any time of day. If your card has a PIN (seems to be common in Europe), then a gas card is probably not necessary. For those of us from the US, the gas card makes it simple. I would recommend these.
Leaving Vik and heading towards Skaftafell, I stopped off multiple times at various pull outs. These lava fields were particularly cool.
My next stop was Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon which was one of my favorite spots of the whole trip. This is a place I would definitely recommend to anyone traveling through this part of the country. I spent quite a bit of time here taking photos despite the rain.
That night I camped at Skaftafell National Park. I was tired from the day so I just made a quick meal at the campsite and went to sleep early again. I figured getting up early had worked well so I thought I’d keep that going for the rest of the trip.
My next stop down the road was Jökulsárlón. Arriving early, about 5:15 AM, meant I had both the lagoon and black sand beach across the road all to myself.
After taking a ton of photos and really enjoying my time at Jökulsárlón, I started heading back west. There were always great views along the road.
The next major stop was at Skogafoss, and despite the rain and crowds, it was definitely worth the stop.
I have to admit, at this point I had been going pretty hard and I was getting pretty tired.
So I took advantage of the camper van and pulled over at a nice place, hopped in the back and took an hour nap.
It’s pretty nice to have the freedom the camper van affords you. Traveling when you want and, in my case, taking a nap when I wanted was absolutely terrific.
After the nap, I stopped at a lot places along the way and ended up camping in the town Hella. I made some dinner and went to sleep.
Waking up at 4:30 AM, I started driving towards the area known as the Golden Circle with my first destination being Gullfoss. I was told that this site is usually full of tourists but my early rising worked, and I was at the falls alone for over an hour before seeing another person. It made for great photos.
My next stop, which was just down the road, was Geysir to see the hot springs.
I watched the Geysir go off a number of times, walked around and looked at all the Hot Springs. It was time to get a bite to eat so I stopped into the N1 across the way from the Hot Springs and got a sandwich and coffee. The gas stations in Iceland offer practically everything you’d want while camping. You can get groceries, food, camping supplies and, of course, the much talked about Iceland hot dog. Give one a try, they’re worth it. I wasn’t entirely sure where I was heading next so I looked at my map (I used an app on my iPad called maps.me that I recommend) and saw a waterfall called Faxafoss. This turned out to be one of those finds that I was really happy to stumble across since I hadn’t heard of it before my trip. It’s a beautiful waterfall.
This trip was focused on taking photographs so I had been carrying a bunch of gear, hiking a lot, driving a lot and was getting sore and tired from the long days. It was time to hit a hot spring, relax and take care of some of those sore muscles. I back tracked a bit and visited the Secret Lagoon. Yep, it was totally worth it! Another spot I recommend.
After my time at the Secret Lagoon, I was hungry so I drove for a bit and found a nice place with a view and a few Icelandic horses. It was a great place for a late lunch.
Feeling rejuvenated, I decided it was time to head towards Þingvellir National Park where I camped for the night. This camp site had the nicest views of any place I camped throughout the trip. Very glad to have camped here.
I finished off a great day by lounging on my bed in the camper van and enjoying the view.
The next morning, I got up and went to explore the park and, of course, take more photos.
This was my last full day and I needed to start heading back towards Keflavik. I finished up at the park and started driving west with lots of stops along the way.
Gríndavík – Keflavík
Eventually, I made my way to the town of Grindavik where I stopped at the harbor and had a bowl of great soup and bread at a cafe called Bryygjan . If you find yourself in the area, it’s worth visiting.
The last stop for the trip was my hotel in Keflavik. This was a fantastic trip that I truly enjoyed. Choosing the camper van was a great decision as it gave me the freedom to move around on my own schedule. When I got to places I really liked, I stayed longer because I wasn’t on anybody’s clock but my own. I absolutely recommend traveling this way around Iceland. My only regret is that I didn’t have longer than 5 days!
For those that decide to travel around Iceland via camper van, I recommend RENT.IS as they provided a great experience for me.
If you’re interested, here is a short Dash Cam Video of some of the roads I took while driving around Iceland.
Helpful tips about camping in Iceland
As a final note, here are a few tips that I hope will be helpful on your journey:
Weather: Almost every day I experienced sun, wind, light rain, heavy rain and spray from waterfalls. Having good rain gear, both jacket and pants, was absolutely worth packing. The temperature varied from about 4 – 12 degrees Celcius (39 – 54 degrees Fahrenheit), but the wind and rain usually made it feel a bit chillier. Dressing in layers was key to staying warm and comfortable.
Navigating: I mentioned an app called Maps.Me that I used on my iPad (and also on my Android phone). Before the trip started, I added pins to the map with all the sites I wanted to visit, including many different camp sites. The best part about this app is that it works offline so I was able to navigate and find new places while I was there. This app worked great for me.
Money: I used a credit card everywhere I went, even for small purchases. I never actually used any cash. The only exception to this was gas where I used the N1 gas cards. I used three 5000 ISK cards while I was there FWIW.
Groceries: I stopped at a Bonus grocery store in Reykjavik and picked up supplies. However, there are a number of different grocery stores that would work. Also, the gas stations have all kinds of supplies but expect to spend a bit more money on items at the gas stations.
Cell Phone: I can only speak to my own phone service which is T-Mobile from the US. As soon as I landed and turned on my phone it switched over to Nova.is. T-Mobile offered unlimited text and data. With that said, the speed is quite slow so I only used it to text with family back home to let them know where I was. I had coverage most everywhere I went which worked quite well.
Thanks so much for reading my post!
The roads I covered in my 5 day trip.
Happy camping! #CamperStories
Read more: Séverines honeymoon in Iceland
Iceland Travel Guides
If you like what you see, please subscribe to our YouTube channel!