Our Favorite Campgrounds in Iceland
Iceland has been a dream destination for me for a long time. I dreamt about and planned the trip multiple times before it finally came to fruition this summer. Our plan was to spend 10 days driving along the Ring Road exploring the various unique landscapes of Iceland. We considered renting a car and booking cabins to stay but we finally opted for renting a campervan and staying in campgrounds. This meant less planning and more flexibility, as you don't need to make any advance reservations for campgrounds in Iceland. Most campgrounds don't even take advanced bookings/reservations. You just drive in, park in an open space and pay for it the same night or the next morning. Also, there are no designated spots for camping. It is typically a large open area where you just park your campervan/tent at a comfortable distance from your neighbors. This gave us the freedom to savor the place at our own pace. Having done it now, we wouldn't do this any other way as the campgrounds in Iceland made the trip so much more memorable!
We stayed in 8 different campgrounds throughout Iceland. It's hard to pick an absolute favorite as each campground was unique and had its own charm but here are some of our favorites.
1) Skogar Campground:
Being able to enjoy the roar, the mist and the beauty of this waterfall in solitude was such a blessing. I would definitely recommend staying here for a day to get the best experience of the waterfall, but keep your expectations light on the facilities. How often (and where else in the world!) do you get a chance to camp right next to a resplendent waterfall!
There is also a restaurant on site which had good food and great views of the waterfall.
2) Siglufjörður Campsite II:
Despite feeling so remote, this campground offered flush toilets with hot water at this location and access to hot showers and paid laundry at its sister campground (Siglufjörður Campsite I), which is only 10 minutes down the road in downtown. The sister campground is more like a parking lot in downtown with some amenities.
The drive from Akureyri to Siglufjörður was fantastic and we were lucky to have witnessed a sunset that made my heart skip a beat! We were driving on this beautiful highway as the sun was kissing the mountains a goodbye and giving them a vibrant and a glorious hug. Enveloped by the bright orange hues of the evening sun, the snow-clad mountains beamed with a smile. As my heart skipped a beat witnessing this nature love, I knew I had to stop, to witness this spectacle. Luckily, I found a pullover at the right time to capture this lovely memory forever!
This is where the locals go to camp for their vacation! This is such a mystique campground that until a minute before actually reaching here, we weren't sure that we had the right directions. We drove for about an hour in a "Death Valley-esque" landscape with no one in sight, couldn't see any semblance of campground or life, wondering if we were on the right path or if we should turn back into civilization, when we finally found this secluded gem!
Situated in a peaceful valley amidst green hills, with a small waterfall nearby flowing into a stream, and a dinner setup in a cave, it is quite a haven for lost souls. It had flush toilets, clean hot showers and a place to wash your dishes.
4) Svinafell Campground:
This campground is located in a picturesque setting, close to the Vatnajokull National Park/glacier. It had several amenities such as flush toilets, hot showers and laundry. But the best part of this campground was the large communal kitchen and the dining area, which can accommodate 50+ people and had a festive atmosphere in the evenings. It was quite amusing to see people from across the world cooking, eating and washing dishes together, while talking in several different languages, under one chaotic roof :)
|Large communal kitchen is the leftmost one|
5) Olafsvik Campground:
Another campground in a beautiful setting that is conveniently located to visit the snæfellsjökull national park/glacier. It had several amenities such as flush toilets, hot showers and a small kitchen/dining area.
|That's our campervan!|
|Kitchen and hot showers|
We also stayed at Bjarg Campground (which was the most expensive one), Grindavik Campground (which has a strict cut-off time for using the kitchen/dining area) and another campground (last minute replacement) which had good amenities but far from downtown Reykjavik.
The one campground that was on our itinerary but did not stay there as we felt it was too crowded and not clean was Reykjavik Campground. Though it was conveniently located near downtown Reykjavik and our plan was to spend the day in downtown, we decided not to stay here and instead drove more than an hour out of town to find another campground.
If you are planning a trip along the Ring Road in Iceland, consider staying at our 5 favorite campgrounds mentioned above, if it fits your itinerary. Have fun road tripping and let me know how it goes!
P.S: We rented the campervan from Lava Car Rentals and were happy with their customer service. We wanted to rent a motorhome but could not find any motorhome rentals with automatic transmission, so we opted for a Renault Kangoo Campervan instead. It took us a couple of days to adjust to the smaller size of the campervan compared to our prior experience traveling in the RV in the US, especially with a lot of luggage (some related to our onward journey to India from Iceland). So we really appreciated the warm communal kitchen/dining areas in the Iceland campgrounds, especially on cold and rainy weather days.