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Iceland is one of the most beautiful countries on Earth. From grassy lowlands and fjords to stunning mountains, every turn is impressive. Laying in a tent or the trunk of your car, staring up at the Northern Lights, is a difficult experience to beat. Have you ever thought of camping in Iceland?
The Ring Road, or Route 1, is an 830-mile stretch of road that circles around the entire country and makes up one of the best week-long camping experiences you can find. In this guide, we’ll go over 5 of the important things you need to know before embarking on your Icelandic camping adventure!
5 Important Things To Know Before Camping in Iceland
Deciding when to go
Before making any preparations for any camping trip, you have to decide when to go! Iceland is in the far northern part of the Northern Hemisphere, which means two very important things.
- The winter months are cold – very cold.
- Days can have as much as 18 hours of sunlight in the summer and as few as 6 in the winter.
While some people are drawn to snow camping and chilly conditions, others might not be as well-prepared for a cold winter. Those who travel to Iceland hoping to see the Northern lights might not be prepared to stay up until 11:00 every night waiting for the sun to go down.
Many seasoned travelers say that fall is the best time to travel to Iceland. The days last an average length, and while the weather is a little cold, it’s not yet freezing. Additionally, you’ll miss the popular tourist season, avoiding crowds and cutting costs for services. If you don’t mind a little extra company, however, summer is a perfectly fine time to go, too.
What to Pack
4 Season Sleeping Bag for Adults & Kids – Lightweight Warm and WashableHandheld GPS Navigator w/ 3-axis Compass, Enhanced Memory & Resolution Men’s Waterproof Hooded Rain Jacket Windbreaker Lightweight Packable RaincoatCarhartt Men’s 6 Waterproof Boots
Packing is the most important part of any camping trip, and it’s especially important in more remote areas – which are abundant in Iceland.
Make sure to show up well-prepared, as stores and services are few and far between in much of the country. Here are some of the most essential items to pack for your trip:
- Sleeping bag. Whether you choose to stay in a tent or a car, a warm sleeping bag is a necessity. Check out these options for a high-quality down sleeping bag
- GPS/Navigation system. If you stick to the Ring Road, you can probably find your way around without too much help. However, if you venture elsewhere or take any excursions, a GPS or navigation system is essential to prevent getting lost.
- Waterproof clothing. Encountering rain is pretty much a given. You’re going to want several rainproof items of clothing, including a rain jacket, rain pants, and waterproof or treated boots.
- Warm clothing layers. As mentioned above, it can get cold in Iceland! Make sure to bring several warm layers to adapt to changing weather conditions.
Food and Drinks
The next thing to consider when camping in and traveling through Iceland is camping food and drinks.
As with any camping trip, it’s best to try to bring all of your meals along. Many parts of Iceland have few amenities, and even towns that do have stores may lack fresh or easy to cook foods.
Consider bringing a variety of foods – even a cooler with traditional Icelandic food to get a taste of the country while you explore it!
Next, plan your drinks. While water is not hard to come by in this seaside nation, alcoholic beverages often are. If you and your camping companions plan to imbibe on your trip, plan in advance, and bring your own.
Of course, all these tips are great – but they’re useless if you can’t get around. Traveling in Iceland is surprisingly easy, especially if you opt to camp on the Ring Road.
Several companies offer packages to rent 4-wheel-drive cars that include things like tents, tables and chairs, GPS systems, and phone chargers. Other options include camper vans and luxury vans, which usually come with access to dozens of campsites all around Iceland.
While these packages might be alluring, paving your own way can be just as much fun. Iceland has super relaxed camping laws, and it’s completely legal – if not welcomed – to set up a tent on any wild land for a night. If the land is developed, all you have to do is ask the owner!
Camping in Iceland is an incredible experience – but there are a few risks.
- First, gas can be hard to find in the countryside. Always make sure to gas up whenever there is an opportunity, and bring enough spare money for emergency fuel if needed.
- Second, the weather on this island can be unpredictable. High winds and precipitation can make tent camping miserable, if not impossible – so make sure you have warm clothes for impromptu overnighters in the car and a little extra change for a hostel or hotel stay if necessary.
No matter how you decide to travel in Iceland, you won’t be disappointed. This country has everything: from wildlife to beautiful scenery, wonderful people to friendly towns. When you plan your next camping trip, consider Iceland!
Author Bio: Rebecca lives in the USA but loves hiking all over the world. Her favorite is Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. It usually takes 16 days, but she likes to slow down, enjoy the mountains, the company of other adventurers, and take more pictures, so it took her 28 days last time. Another of her passion is the ocean, so all short and long hikes along the ocean shore bring a lot of joy. She also writes for HikingMastery.com.
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