Iceland is the perfect destination for a unique camping trip. With thousands of miles of hiking trails through some of the most otherworldly landscapes on earth and campsites overlooking them, it’s no wonder. Camping is also one of the most cost-efficient ways to explore Iceland, and it only brings you closer to the natural beauty of this small island nation. The summer months are ideal for camping thanks to the mild weather. However, many camping areas are closed during the Icelandic winters, with some areas completely inaccessible in the winter.
For the hardcore adventurers, it’s worth noting that wild camping is legal in certain areas of Iceland. As with the UK and US, campers are expected to respect the land and use proper camping etiquette, leaving no trace of their visit. According to The Environment Agency of Iceland, a group of three tents or fewer can spend one night in a spot on public land (not National Parks), unless the landowner has posted otherwise. For complete guidelines regarding wild camping, you should visit The Environment Agency’s website.
Anyone planning a trip to Iceland is spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing areas to camp. Every corner of Iceland offers a different landscape, from lush meadows to volcanic mountains and mammoth glaciers. Reykjavik Rent a Car is an Iceland based car hire company who encourages visitors to get out and explore the real Iceland. In this guest post, they share five of their favourite breathtaking places to camp in Iceland.
There is truly no place else in the world like Landmannalaugar. This region of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve is known for the many natural hot springs found in the area, and for the almost psychedelic array of colours that spread across the Rhyolite mountains. Campers and hikers can explore the stunning scenery and lava fields before relaxing in the warm and inviting waters of the many hot springs.
The area is particularly popular with hikers thanks to many trails, including the trailhead of the well-known Laugavegur Trek. There are a number of campsites in the area, all just a short walk from one of the many breathtaking landscapes the region has to offer.
Located in Vatnajökull National Park, Skaftafell is a conservation area and home to a variety of landscapes including glaciers, mountains, reflective lakes and tumbling waterfalls. Known for sunny summer days and mild weather, Skaftafell is an ideal Icelandic camping destination.
The area is also home to many species of plant life and hiking trails, including the Svartifoss waterfall hike. Known as the Black Fall, the waters of Svartifoss cascade down the face of towering volcanic rock columns. Information on camping in Skaftafell can be found here.
Located just 40 minutes from the city of Reykjavik you’ll find the beautiful Reykjadalur valley. This verdant valley, whose name translates to “Steam Valley”, is intersected by a warm geothermal river and dotted everywhere with steam emerging from pools. Visitors and hikers can enjoy the relaxing waters of the river and pools, though should take caution—some of them are far too hot to enter.
The area can be explored through pathways and gentle hikes with plenty of opportunities to stop and take photos of glimmering pools and green countryside. You can easily follow trails to explore further along the area, including the mud pools of Klambragil canyon. You will not be able to camp by the river in the valley but can do so nearby.
If the rest of Iceland isn’t wild enough for you (we’d be surprised if it isn’t), then you’ll want to head to the Westfjords. Sparsely populated and little travelled by tourists, the wilds of the Westfjords offer some of the most remote and beautiful sites to be seen in Iceland.
The isolated beaches and dramatic cliff faces of the Westfjords make for excellent puffin watching and provide opportunities to see other wildlife, including the elusive Arctic Fox. The fjords themselves drastically affect the landscape of this little-visited region, reflecting the beautiful mountains and skies above. Because the region is so vast, there are many areas and campsites to choose from.
This towering waterfall is Iceland’s second tallest, dropping from cliffs that made the former coastline. Visitors can stand at the base of the waterfall, watching as millions of gallons of glacial water plunge into the Skógá River and evaporate into mist. Rainbow photograph opportunities are plenty, so be sure to have a camera handy.
One of the most famous hikes in Iceland, Fimmvorduhals, finishes at Skogafoss, making it the perfect place to camp after the 25km trek. The Skógar campsite is located near the base of the waterfall and offers an unforgettable view to wake up to.
Guest article by Reykjavik Rent a Car