Travelling Iceland in a Campervan - you can do it!
Iceland has been on our travel bucket list longer than any other place. It is SUCH a long way from Australia (though of course that never deters Aussie travellers), however it is only a 5hr flight from Toronto so we knew we would make sure we got there while we lived here.
One thing that most people figure out quickly when planning a trip to Iceland is that Iceland is expensive - yep!
The best way to see this monumental country (we think) is to hire a campervan and do the ring road under your own steam. Not only is this a much cheaper way to do things but it is great as you can totally travel at your own pace and spend extra time in places you love.
Here are our tips for exploring Iceland in a campervan - hopefully this will encourage you to undertake this awesome adventure for yourself!
Campervan Travel in Iceland Tips
1. Driving Tips
* The speed limit in Iceland is 90km/hr on paved roads and 80km/hr on gravel roads - be safe and stick to it. There are occasional speed cameras on the roads
*You will often find livestock on the road - particularly in the east in Iceland - be on the lookout for the friendly but not road savvy Icelandic sheep when driving around
* Gravel roads are somewhat frequent in Iceland. Make sure you take them carefully, particularly if you aren't that experienced with gravel road driving
*Gas is EXPENSIVE in Iceland - ~2USD per litre. Gas stations are frequent around most of the ring road but more spread out in the north and west fjords. Our approach to ensure we were never stuck without fuel is to fill up whenever we dropped below half a tank. We drove 4800 km in our two weeks around Iceland and never came close to running out of gas with this approach. Remember to check whether your vehicle takes petrol or diesel as it's a disaster if you use the wrong one!!
*Check with your campervan company about their roadside support setup. We had no troubles at all whilst driving around Iceland - but it was reassuring to know who to contact if we had issues - make sure you know this info before you set off!
*All road signs are in Icelandic however don't despair - so long as you have some form of navigation you will be totally fine. We just downloaded the google map of Iceland so we could access it offline before we left and we had no problems the whole way around. Another option is a good ol' paper map!
Tips for Campervan Life
* Have a system
*Pick the right size van for you
Where to Stay
There are campsites scattered everywhere throughout Iceland - you will never have trouble finding a place.
It is illegal to camp anywhere in Iceland other than a designated camping site so make sure you don't do this to avoid a hefty fine!
We travelled in April - being a quiet shoulder season we did not have to prebook anywhere and each camping site we stopped at was very quiet and peaceful.
Over the winter months a lot of camping sites are closed however there are enough open around the country that you can easily find somewhere to stay. You can stay in closed campsites you just won't have access to any facilities like WC and showers.
We were able to get a hot shower in nearly all of the campsites we stayed except for a few nights where we camped in closed sites.
A couple of our favourite campsites were:
Food to cook in your camper!
I became a little bit of a pro at the whole one pot cooking thing in the two weeks we travelled Iceland. Though we did eat out around 6 times during our stay, all the other meals were cooked by us in our Happy Camper van! I think its a great idea when hiring a campervan to pick one that provides a small Waeco type fridge - it certainly makes your food options more varied.
Here are some tips on where to shop and what to cook
1. Where to shop
There are several chain store discount supermarkets in Iceland that you will find in all of the larger towns (e.g. Eglisstadir, Vik, Isafjordur, Borganes etc.)
Bonus - look for the cartoon pink pig!
2. What to cook
Think of things that will keep a little longer, can be cooked in one pot and are cheap
Things we loved included
* HOT DOGS - eat hot dogs in Iceland - SERIOUSLY! They are cheap and damn good and can be purchased anywhere. Grab some sweet mustard and ketchup and that is a meal sorted
*Hamburgers - cheap and vacuum packed so last longer. We even fried an egg up to add to our other toppings
*Tuna - obviously keeps forever and awesome with some cooked rice and canned vegies with some mayonnaise on top
*Chicken strips - we bought these are they are easy to cook quickly - we put them in flat bread to make wraps, with satay sauce on top of rice and with pesto and pasta
*Pasta, rice, baked beans, instant noodles - all the camping food goodness - quick, cheap and hearty - can't go wrong
*Snacks - Iceland has some cool snacks. Make sure you try Hraun (Icelandic for Lava) an awesome mini chocolate/wafer bar - we got seriously hooked!
3. Other tips
Alcohol is also ++ expensive - make sure you stock up on what you think you will need at the duty free when you arrive at Keflavik airport. If you are a gin fan - there are some great local gins you should try!