Camper Van Camping in Iceland
If there is one thing we learned from our fellow tourists the first time we were in Iceland it was that camping was the way to go!
Iceland hasn’t been able to keep up with tourism in terms of hotels. Tourism has boomed in recent years but the investment in hotels and other accommodations has struggled to keep up. That means hotels are hard to find and expensive. During our first trip we Airbnb’d our way across the country, but this time we decided to camp!
As soon as you leave Reykjavik you’ll notice that camper vans at every turn. This is because hotels are few and far between but also because it is much more economical. Plus camping sites in Iceland are absolutely breathtaking!
Iceland Camper Vans
We rented our VW Caddy from Rent.is, a camper van rental company in Iceland with offices by Keflavik international airport and in Reykjavik. Our experience with them couldn’t have been any better!
The Caddy was outfitted with a bed, shades for all the windows, storage in the back windows, two camp chairs, a table, table top stove, pots, dining plates and utensils, two sleeping bags, two pillows, a storage tank of drinking water and some other creature comforts. Most importantly, it comes with a wifi hotspot! Basically everything you need!
Unlike some of the camper vans from other companies that we ran into, the Caddy from Rent.is runs on its own battery so when you run the heat and charge your phones at night you’re not diminishing the actual car battery that starts the engine. This is am important thing to look into before renting because many of our fellow campers were drawing power off the vehicle’s internal battery instead of an external one, which just adds some anxiety to the equation.
Camping Spots on the Southern Coast of Iceland
After our elopement ceremony, we broke away from our families and headed down the Southern Coast in our Caddy. We only had a few days but we wanted to try and cover as much ground as possible without over doing it! We ended up spending three nights out on the road, although we wish it was much more.
Known as Kirkjubær II, the camp sites are situated in the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. In addition to amazing views, the facility offers a washing machine and dryer plus indoor cooking facilities and showers. There is space for both camper vans and RVs as well as those backpacking and camping in tents. Plus there are a few cabins located on the property.
This was our first stop after driving from where we met our photographer in Vík. We pulled in late in the day and found ourselves a nice corner of the campground that gave us a good view out the windows. It was getting dark when we got there but it was sure a beautiful view come morning! Our space even backed up to a field with sheep to we had a true Icelandic wake up call thanks to our wooly neighbors.
After leaving Kirkjubæjarklaustur in the morning, we continued to head east to the glacier lagoon and diamond beach where we stopped and hiked along the way before heading back west. By dinner we found ourselves back in Vík where we set up camp for the night in what was probably the most lovely spot.
Nestled at the foothills, the Vík campsite is located only 1km from Vík village center with a quick walk to the black sand beach and to the local grocery store and restaurants. We backed into a spot that left us with the most amazing views of the hills behind Vík as well as it’s iconic church. Vík is a favorite of ours so it was nice to be able to experience a different side of it.
We ended up parking next to a couple from Vancouver and spent the evening and well into night talking with them and waiting for the Northern Lights while cooking dinner. It was a clear night but we didn’t have any luck! From the campsites you can hear the waves at the beach and you can watch the fog roll in at dawn and dusk. Truly amazing!
The campsite can accommodate tents, cars, vans and RVs and also has some cabins onsite. On the campsite offers electricity, restrooms, warm and cold running water, showers, WiFi and dining facilities.
Known as Hamragarðar, this campground is located a quick walk from where you will go to see Seljalandsfoss. It is a very small campground that fills up quickly.
The campsite in Hamragaðar is very popular due to its proximity to the Gljúfrabúi and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls. When we arrived early in the evening, it was half full and the other half of the spaces were too muddy and soggy to pull the van into.
The facilities at Hamragarðar are excellent though. In the service house by the lower area there are restrooms, washing machines and cooking facilities. And the house at the higher area has toilets and showers.
Eating While Camping in Iceland
When we told people we camped in Iceland we weirdly were almost always asked, “What did you eat?” The nice part about having a camper van is that you can drive and move around like normal without being stuck to a fixed location. This means that we were able to venture off to one of Iceland’s wonderful restaurants or we could find a place to settle and cook ourselves a meal. Since eating out can get expensive in Iceland, we tried to limit ourselves and treat ourselves to only one meal at a restaurant per day. This meant that the other meals we cooked for ourselves.
Breakfast is the easiest one to prepare from your campsite. Since the camper comes with a camp stove and we brought a Jet Boil with us, we prepared coffee and oatmeal every morning. It was quick, easy and got us out and on the road quickly.
Typically, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch for convenience. We were typically driving and would just find something along the way. However there were a few instances were we needed to eat while hiking. For these occasions, we made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! It’s funny but the one thing that ALWAYS makes it in our luggage is our favorite peanut butter and jelly from home. You can never go wrong with bringing it! Just find some bread when you land at your destination and you’re set!
By the time we made it to our campsites, we were tried from a day of hiking and driving but we still needed to set up camp for the night and eat dinner. Thankfully we had brought along some camping meals with us that we picked up from REI before we left the States. These really came in handy! For the most part all we needed to do was boil some water in the Jet Boil and mix up the prepackaged food. This was perfect because while one of us cooked the other could put the windows shades on, unfold the bed, and move around our luggage so we could snuggle in for the night.
Overall, camping in Iceland was the best decision we made this trip. Well second best decision… remember, we got married!
We wish we had more time to camp and explore. We are definitely planning our next (third!) trip back to Iceland and it will definitely include camping.