For the first time in our lives we travelled with a campervan. We slept under stars, surrounded by beautiful landscapes, with the rain singing to us. In total, we drove over 1000 km across Iceland in a campervan, where we slept for 3 nights. This experience took us pretty far out of our comfort zone, but it was travelling by campervan in Iceland, on top of all the other sights and adventures, that made our holiday truly special. Iceland is the perfect place to rent a campervan, especially for those who have never done it before. I really don’t see a more suitable place in the world. So, as you’ve already figured out, in this article I want to share with you guys my Iceland Campervan Rental Review.
Iceland Campervan Rental Review
The traveller in us is used to hotel rooms and apartments, and the thought of sleeping in campsites where we don’t have our own bathroom kind of scares us. We saw the whole thing as a challenge, as a step out of our comfort zone that we would be back in the next second if we didn’t feel ok. But in the end, sleeping in the car wasn’t bad at all.
We were totally out of our bubble, and on the first night, with our homework done, we headed to the campsite. We were clumsy, barely made our bed, it was pouring rain, and after a round of crying and a “I want the hotel” said through our teeth, we settled into bed, left the doors open, and looked at the view no hotel would give us.
Why renting a campervan in Iceland ?
One of the things you need to know before going to Iceland is that you need a car. There’s no way to talk about public transport in Iceland, it’s non-existent outside of Reykjavik, so the only options to visit all the wonderful places in Iceland are: renting a car or buying tours organised by local agencies. Clearly, if you want to visit Iceland at your own pace, renting a car is a must.
On the first two trips I planned, I had a small rental car. At the time, it didn’t occur to us to rent a campervan. However, on the third trip – planned in the middle of the season – we were hit with some overpriced, and when I say overpriced I mean 1800-2000 euro/5 days.
How much does it cost on average to rent a campervan in Iceland?
Usually, the price for a campervan is calculated according to the season, the size of the car and the facilities. In Iceland, this business is taken to a whole new level, and there are rental companies to choose from. Most of them are local companies with a range of models and offers to suit every budget.
In season, the price for a campervan ranges from €90 to €250/night, although the most expensive campervans generally sleep 4-5 people and are ideal for families.
In the off-season – winter – prices drop by half, but there’s a reason for this. Nobody, but nobody, rents a campervan to explore Iceland in January-February. 😀
In addition to the rental itself, you also need to consider the following costs:
Most companies offer a standard insurance, where the deductible is 1000-2500 EUR. But this kind of insurance does not cover damage caused by sand, ash or gravel on the body of the car, so I recommend you to add a full insurance or at least a Gravel Protection insurance to your package. We’ve heard hundreds of pebbles hitting the car while driving, so this gravel thing is as serious as it gets.
Usually the insurance is calculated per rental day and the Gravel Protection costs on average 10 euro/day.
Extras include everything you might need: internet, GPS, sleeping bags, blankets and pillows, camping table and chairs, barbecue, towel, child car seat, etc. Some rental companies offer a minimum of amenities (blankets, pillows, chairs and camping table), while others charge a fee per item/per day of rental.
If you plan to stay more than 4-5 days, it might be useful to have a barbecue, and if it’s colder outside, it might be good to have sleeping bags. We didn’t rush to get these things because the guys at Happy Campers assured us that the blankets and pillows we had included would keep us warm. Plus, if you choose a camper that has a heating system included, you definitely won’t be cold.
How and where can I rent a campervan in Iceland?
Happy Campers and Go Campers are just two of the rental companies from which you can rent a campervan. When we first started looking for a camper, Happy Campers had the best prices and most services included. Although price was what mattered, we also focused on two other aspects: heating and airport transfer. We didn’t know how cold it would be in Iceland, and the cheapest cars we found online didn’t have heating. On the other hand, other rental companies charge 50-60 euros for the airport transfer.
A list of rental companies:
How do I rent a campervan from Happy Campers
On Happy Campers you can find several categories of campers. Depending on what you want to do or your budget, you can opt for a Happy Camper EX1 for two people – the one we had, or you can rent a Happy 3 for five people. Next I’ll do a simulation for an EX1 model for the period 20-27 July 2022.
Choose the camper – you need to choose the model, timeframe and arrival time in Iceland.
Unlike other rental companies, Happy campers offers free transfer to and from Keflavik airport.
If you pre-book a campervan 90 days in advance you get a 5% Early Bird discount, and if you book a campervan for at least 7 nights you get a further 5% discount.
Choose an insurance
You can either opt for a single type of insurance (e.g. Gravel Protection) or take a bundle. We took the Happy Bundle.
If you’re going to visit Iceland in the summer months, in my opinion you don’t need any extra facilities. Each camper is equipped with an efficient heating system (we would turn it on 10 minutes before bedtime and maybe another 5 minutes during the night, twice a night). Heat – sorted!
Then again, you don’t really need WIFI either, especially if you want to do a bit of social media detox. And I really encourage you to do that! If you go to Iceland, my advice is to ditch Facebook and Instagram and connect with nature and the people around you.
Still, you’re going to need the internet for maps or a GPS, right? Not really, you can save money just by downloading your offline map of Iceland from Google Maps. That’s how we did it in Iceland and we did very well.
Traffic and campsite guidelines
Iceland has no motorways and the traffic rules are a little different from what we are used to. Speed limits are calculated according to the type of road and are as follows:
- gravel road – 80km/h
- asphalt road – 90 km/h
- in built-up areas (village, town) – 30-50 km/h
The roads in Iceland, even the well-known Ring Road*, are narrow and more like national roads. For this reason, roadside parking is illegal (lots of people stop in unauthorised places to take photos), except in designated places. Another thing to be aware of when driving through Iceland is that most bridges (and there are a lot of them) are one-way and you’ll need to be careful and give way where appropriate.
*Ring Road is the road that circles the entire island. It is 1322 km long, and is marked with the number 1 on the road map.
Campsites in Iceland
It’s good to know that it’s illegal in Iceland to camp in undeveloped sites. A few years ago this law came into force, and those who camp in public car parks or other places can be fined up to 3000 euros.
There are a number of campsites to choose from near the Ring Road around the island. Some sites can offer fantastic scenery – such as the campsite at Skogafoss waterfall, others have more special facilities: swimming pool, hot tub, dining room, etc. Most campsites provide visitors with some basic facilities: toilets, showers, electricity, internet (the latter two are usually for a fee).
How much does a night camping cost? – Depending on location and facilities, a night in a campsite can cost between 1200 and 2500 ISK/person (in most campsites, prices are per person), and in most places you can pay by card.
Vik Campingsite (in Vik) – 1750 isk/person (12 euro) – an extremely well organised campsite with very clean bathrooms.
Campsite Mosfellsbær (16 minutes from the capital) – 1200 isk/person (8euro) – a cheap campsite near Reykjavik, in the middle of nature. It doesn’t have many facilities (the bathroom was quite dirty), but it’s nice to spend time there, in nature.
Iceland Campervan Rental Review
We’ll always remember our first caravan trip. It was such a beautiful experience that it’s hard to describe in words. Although we told ourselves before we left home that we would get a hotel if we didn’t feel well, after the first night camping, we didn’t need anything else. We didn’t need plugs and internet, fancy hotel rooms or a TV. In fact, this holiday in Iceland was a real experience, and travelling by campervan was one of those things we had to try in this lifetime.
I definitely encourage you to put this experience on your bucket list too, because as you’ll see, Iceland is the perfect place to travel by motorhome, big or small.