South along the Ringroad
A 5 day stopover
When my partner and I booked flights from Boston to visit Paris in October, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to stop in Iceland on our way home. However, we were worried about the cost. We’d heard that Iceland was terribly expensive, and after a week in Paris, didn’t know if this extension of our trip would really be in the budget. However, our worries ended when we learned about Iceland’s many camper vans. We immediately knew that this was the route for us to take. Between the freedom to move anywhere around the country, the luxury of spending all of our time in the beautiful Icelandic outdoors, and the cost effectiveness of having our accommodation and our vehicle rolled into one, it was a no-brainer! After researching many camper rental companies, we chose Rent.is because of the company’s great reviews and competitive price. The Renault Kangoo Camper was exactly what we needed – space for 2 passengers and 2 sleepers. We chose to head south on the Ring Road; having only 5 days in Iceland, we knew that we couldn’t see everything, and getting to Vatnajökull National Park was at the top of our list.
We landed at Keflavik International Airport at about 4pm and easily caught the shuttle to Rent.is (Go Iceland). As soon as we saw our camper van, we knew that we had made a great choice! The camper van was small enough to easily drive on the road with no worries, but big enough to easily hold all of our gear, bags, and food. The staff was friendly and helpful when showing us all of the great features of the van, including how to use the refrigerator and turn on the heater at night. Having a water tank and a refrigerator was such a luxury because we did not ever have to worry about running low on water or stopping to pick up ice for a cooler. The included GPS and WiFi made for a perfect combination as we mapped out our stops, and we were soon on our way!
Read more: Included in the camper rental
After leaving Keflavik, our first stop was at Krónan grocery store to stock up on the basics – coffee, soup, beans, rice, and other food that would be easy to cook on the camp stove. The camper van included 2 plastic totes of kitchen gear, including everything you’d need to make a great meal – cutting board, knives, pots, pans, utensils, glasses – making meal prep easy and fun. By the time we were done at Krónan, the rain and the wind of a late night storm were unbelievable, so we drove about an hour south before stopping at Gesthús Selfoss for the night.
Although we hadn’t planned to stay at campgrounds (camping on unfarmed land is legal in Iceland!), we were excited at the thought of having an indoor kitchen for the night while we weathered the storm. At 1400 ISK per night, it was a great deal. It was also nice to find the stash of items that other campers had left behind – extra food, toiletries, tea bags – and we were able to pick up some items that we’d forgotten for free! We made a hot meal and quickly fell asleep in the cozy sleeping bags in the back of the Renault.
The next morning, all weather had cleared, and we continued south. Our first stop of the day was at Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi, two incredible waterfalls just a short walk from one another. After getting misted from spray and enjoying a quick walk, we continued on the Ring Road towards Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted in 2010, disrupting much of Europe with its ash in the process. We then made our way to Seljavallalaug pool, one of the oldest pools in Iceland, which is heated by geothermal springs. We enjoyed the warm water and the amazing scenery here and were even able to play in the stream a bit! We captured some of the hot spring water before it hit the cool glacial stream by building a sand retaining wall, making our own personal pool in the midst of the icelandic beauty. After drying off and changing out of our swim suits, we continued onto Skógafoss waterfall, which has an amazing staircase that allows visitors to view the top of the waterfall.
Read more: Waterfalls in Iceland
As the sun began to sink, we had our eyes peeled to find the perfect location to spend the second night away from campgrounds, on our own in the camper. We were thrilled to find a flat, secluded pull-off area near the base of Mýrdalsjöjull glacier, and we happily set up camp here for the night. Cooking on a camp stove while watching our first Icelandic sunset reflecting off of a glacier was simply incredible. We enjoyed some whiskey and wine (purchased from the duty free store at the airport, of course!) under the stars before calling it a night.
The following morning, we cooked breakfast and quickly made our way to the base of the glacier. We spent at least two hours exploring this area, marveling at the glacial pools, and clambering around on the ice, before hopping back in the car and drove toward Reynisfjara, with its world-renowned black sand beaches and basalt columns. The scenery along this route was simply incredible, and the roads were dotted with sheep the entire way! We ate lunch at a beautiful little waterfall off the road and continued east through Vik, through the Eldhraun lava field, and stopped for the night off the road in the shadows of Vatnajökull.
Read more: How to drive in Iceland
For our final full day in Iceland, we finally reached the national park, and it was truly more beautiful than we expected. We took every opportunity to stop, walk on, and marvel at the glacier from every angle. Our eastward journey ended at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, where ice melt meets the ocean.
We spent our final night back where we started, in Selfoss. It felt great to take a shower, rearrange our bags, and relax after a long drive. The following morning, we hopped in the camper and headed towards Keflavik. Returning the camper was a breeze, and we were on our way home before we knew it.
We will definitely be back, and when we return, we will again rent through Rent.is! For travelers on a budget, the camper van is a great way to take in all that Iceland has to offer. The van allowed us to have the freedom and flexibility to spend all our time where we really wanted to be – outdoors.
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