Travel Iceland on a budget
When we decided to plan our vacation to Iceland, we didn’t know whether to go with the camper van or to rent a car and get hotels for the night. Soon into researching, we noticed that to actual travel on a budget, we only had one option and that happened to be a camper van. We used the lonely planet Iceland book to plan our trip. They had sample one week trips that we looked at prior to making our own itinerary. Our one week Ring road trip ended up with a few detours that we customized so we could see everything we set out to see. We bought 3 bottles of twist off wine duty free airport store so we would have something to drink with dinner.
Now on to the trip. Getting the camper van was easy. There was a guy with a sign at the airport waiting for us and he took us straight to the car rental place. Only spent a few minutes there doing some paperwork before getting to the van. The person working there was very helpful telling us all of the features of the car and all the information we would need if our car broke down and if we needed any emergency road side assistance. We got the premium insurance just to be safe especially after we heard that some roads were gravel road. Being a 6 foot 1 guy, I was afraid that the back of this camper van would be very cramped and I wouldn’t get to extend my legs when I slept. I was very wrong. The back of the camper van was spacious and I was able to sleep with my legs fully extended which was a huge relief.
Soon afterwards, we were on the road. First stop, the grocery store. We decided to spend the first half of the day Reykjavik so we found a Bónus grocery store near Reykjavik and did our shopping there. We were surprised how much food fit in the fridge in the camper van. We had multiple packets of lunch meat, milk, yogurt, eggs, hot dogs, energy drinks, pasta sauce, chicken, and juice in there all at once. Afterwards, we walked around the city checking out the harbor and shopping. There was not much to do in Reykjavik. We walked through the downtown area, saw the harbor, had coffee and lunch at a local shop.
We skipped the Blue Lagoon as it was $100 per person to get in. We had a tight schedule to make sure we made it to everything we set out to see and we didn’t know how much time we had to spend there to make it worth it. Also the Blue Lagoon requires reservations ahead of time to get in and we weren’t ready to make a commitment. We did the Mývatn nature bath instead. It had similar warm geothermal pool as the Blue lagoon but it was surrounded by mountains/hills and almost half the price.
After Reykjavik, we decided to move on to see all the nature that Iceland has to offer. We did the whole Ring road trip with a few detours. First day we did the Glýmur hike. It was one of the highlights of the trip. The hike was gorgeous and tough. It starts out with a walk in a trail surrounded by purple flowers with mountains in the distance. Then it required walking across a log across a river and climbing up some fairly steep mountains. Took approximately 2 hours to get to the top but the view with the waterfall in the valley was worth it. The route was well marked which was nice.
After Glýmur, we traveled further up the Ring road (went clockwise) to camp site. Campsites in Iceland were hit or miss. All of the ones we went to cost approximately 15-30 US dollars per person per night. Showers were often included but some had an extra fee for shower. Some campsites were overfilled with no room in the kitchen area to actually cook or have a place to seat. However, we often just cooked in our little stove on the campground field in the campsite and set up chairs and table (came with the camper van) and ate right outside our car. Only used the kitchen to wash the dishes at the end. We had great weather the week we went. Also we went in July so there was approximately 20 hours of sunlight a day so even if we arrived to campsite at night, we were still in daylight. The views from pretty much every campsite were gorgeous so we often had wine with a view at the end of the night.
One of the most underrated parts of our trip was just driving around Iceland. There would be a waterfall every few minutes off large cliffs on the drive. There were black sand beaches right next to the road. You could literally stop the car every few minutes to take an “Instagram worthy photo.”
Other highlights of the trip were whale watching in Húsavik, seeing Dettifoss and Goðafoss, seeing puffins at Papey, and icebergs at Jökulsárlón. I can go on and on describing what we saw and what we did in Iceland and how much we loved it but I’ll include pictures instead.
Thanks for everything! We had a blast living out of our Camper van from Rent.is during our week in Iceland. We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves living in a camper van all week but the car was sturdy and so comfortable. Having come to Iceland with a budget, we were able to cook pretty much every meal on the trip with our handy stove that came with the car. The van’s fridge was surprisingly big and fit almost 3 days worth of food. The heater in the back kept us warm at night and the Bluetooth radio was awesome as we had our own music the whole ride. Thanks so much! It was a trip of a lifetime. I have attached a few pictures of our trip.
Greta & Nirav
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