Do you dream of falling asleep while the northern lights dance above you, then waking up in a cozy campervan or tent by the sound of Icelandic birds and greeted by the stunning views of a beautiful Icelandic fjord on a crisp fall morning? If that sounds good to you, staying at campsites might be something for you. And no, I didn’t just make that up. That was my experience one morning during my last road trip in the Westfjords at Tálknafjörður campsite.
There are approximately 200 campsites in Iceland, most of them located along the coast and ring road. These campsites range from a remote patch of grass with no facilities to major campsites with state-of-the-art facilities.
With the increased popularity of campervan travel in Iceland (started by Happy Campers in 2009), we’ve also seen a great increase in the number of campsites around the country. Not only are the locals spending the summers there now, but travelers from all over the world are enjoying these campsites and using them all year round. Not only is this our favorite way to explore Iceland, but it’s confirmed every year by the hundreds of customers who tell us about their experience and favorite campsites around the country.
But with new campsites every year, changing opening hours, improved and added facilities, etc., nobody has really been able to keep up with accurate information. For example, you’ll only get around 18 results when you search “campsites” in Google Maps, which is pretty bad. This has left travelers frustrated with not having all the campsite information in one place. Until now!
In this campsite Guide, we will be covering every topic related to campsites in Iceland. We’ll be listing every single campsite in Iceland, a map, answers to frequently asked questions, resources, our favorite campsites, campsite culture, and more. It’s a lot of info, so make sure to bookmark this page and use the Jump Section button to quickly navigate to different chapters. Let’s dive in!
“Winter! The weather was absolutely fine! Less tourists plus the landscape looks even more dramatic with dark skies” – Polly Bussel
“Anne and I have visited Iceland 3 times now, April 2016, June 2016 (when we got married in Akranes) and February 2017 during the second highest recorded level of snowfall! Summer was fantastic, the midnight sun, access to almost everywhere and the variety of beautiful colours! Winter was amazing also, deep white snow, the adventure of driving in difficult conditions and of course the northern lights! I wouldn’t say winter is better than summer or vice versa, it all depends on what you want out of your visit to the land of fire and ice!”
Overall, people said that they really liked traveling during winter, although many specified that they liked the fall (September, October) and Spring (April, May) best. During those months, you can enjoy some of the benefits of both winter and summer.
Staying at campsites in Iceland can be a great way to experience Iceland for several reasons, including:
Spending the night at campsites can be significantly cheaper than renting expensive hotels or using other types of accommodation. It’s even cheaper if you use their relatively cheap facilities and cook your own meals there instead of going to hotel restaurants.
As we’ll touch on later in this guide, in most cases, you can come and go as you please. Want to explore until 1 AM? No problem. Just pay in the morning. Did you plan on ending the day in a certain town but don’t really feel like driving that far when it comes down to it? No problem, just look up a campsite that is near your current location. This is the beauty of campervan travel and using campsites.
Many campsites are located in beautiful locations, giving you the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time in Icelandic nature. A large portion of campsites also have hiking paths, geothermal pools, and other opportunities to enjoy nature. Do some research and pick some campsites that pique your interest and are located in amazing landscapes.
Meet other travelers and locals at campsites and make new friends, if that’s your thing. This can not only be a fun way to meet new people, but you often get excellent travel advice and tips from these conversations.
Although we’ll answer all of these questions throughout our Campsite Guide, let’s jump right in and answer some of the most common questions we get from travelers preparing to explore Iceland via campsites:
No, we currently don’t know about any campsites in Iceland that only accept guests that have a booking. So as far as we know, you can always get a camping spot by simply showing up. Coming to a full campsite is very rare in Iceland, but it can happen. In some cases, you can book a campsite in advance, either on the campsite’s website or with an app. More about that later.
You might have heard that you can camp anywhere you want. This was essentially true before the law was changed a few years ago. Now it’s required by law to spend the night at a designated campsite.
The short answer is no. You might find a handful of free options, like Gata Free Camping, but that is definitely the exception to the rule and not available all over the country. You can read more about some budget campsite options in our post: Best Free and Cheap Campsites in Iceland.
Prices vary depending on the campsite but in our experience, you can expect to pay approx. $10-15/night, per person on average. Some campsites charge per person while others charge per family/tent/van.
Our most useful resource is our Happy Campers map, which includes all campsites in Iceland and is categorized into summer, winter, and hybrid campsites. Hybrid campsites are open all year round but have limited or no facilities. They can be a convenient place to park your van overnight, and some campsites don’t charge anything due to the lack of facilities.
These are the most useful websites when it comes to finding more information about campsites in Iceland (are we not good enough for you!?)
Bringing all of the camping quipment to Iceland can be expensive, and buying here in Iceland may not be the best option either. Well, renting might be a solution. If you need some camping gear, check out these resources:
Check out the official travel guides of each region if you are looking for more ideas what to see, what to do, where to eat and many more.
“Should I buy the camping card?” is a common question from travelers I talk to. In case you’re unfamiliar, the Camping Card, or “útilegukortið” is a product that offers access to a number of campsites around the country for a lower price than if you paid for those campsites individually.
You can buy the card directly from their website, at the 10-11 convenience stores, campsites, information centers, and other locations around Iceland.
You can also access their website in an app-format:
The Camping Card has become very popular here in Iceland as it’s the only product that gives you access to multiple campsites. It provides 2 main benefits that many travelers find appealing:
Saving money and time on these campsites sounds like a good idea, right? Yes it is, if you choose to stay at one of their 37 member campsites. Remember, there are almost 200 campsites around Iceland and sometimes it’s hard to decide ahead of time which campsites you want to use. Let’s look at some other cons:
So unless you plan ahead to make sure your route aligns with the locations of the member campsites, I usually don’t recommend the Camping Card. It’s a personal preference since I value having my options open and taking advantage of the spontaneity of campervan travel. But hey, we’re all different so you decide what works best for you.
You might have heard that you can camp anywhere you want in Iceland. If that’s the case, I have bad news for you. In November 2015, the new camping laws took effect, which banned spending a night outside organized campsites. We actually wrote about this topic in-depth in this blog post: Icelandic Camping Laws.
This new law applies specifically to the following camping equipment:
But what about tent camping? As a general rule, tent campers should follow this law as well. Not only does the law get complicated and confusing but it is also frowned upon by locals. However, if you are a tent camper and committed to finding exceptions to this law and interested in wild camping, read on.
Wild camping in a tent is not technically illegal, albeit frowned upon, and here is exactly what the law says:
If you are on a beaten track and in an inhabited area, you can camp for one night if the following conditions are met:
If you’re on a beaten track in an uninhabited area, you can set up camp for 1 night.
If you are off the beaten track in an uninhabited area, you can set up camp for 1 night unless there are special rules regarding the protection of the area, such as nature preserves.
In all cases, you will need to have the explicit permission of the landowner if:
Even if you satisfy the above requirements, you are not allowed to wild-camp if:
As you can see, it’s a lot to consider and think about before you can wild camp with a clear conscience. Is it illegal? No. But again, it is frowned upon by locals and I always recommend taking advantage of the nearly 200 campsites around Iceland.
As mentioned in the above FAQs, you can expect to spend an average of $10-15 per person, per night at campsites in Iceland. The prices range from free, although rare, to $25 per person, per night, and can vary greatly between campsites. Some campsites include the use of facilities in the price, while others charge extra for using showers, electricity, etc.
Check out our blog post “Best Free & Cheap Campsites in Iceland” for some good ideas about affordable campsite options.
Here are some campsite price examples:
You can also expect to spend some money on facilities, although it can depend heavily on whether you’re traveling during the summer or winter.
Finally, you can expect to pay the overnight tax, which is Kr. 333/night ($3), which often comes on top of your campsite fee. This tax has been cancelled for 2020.
In 99% of cases, the campsite will accept most credit cards. When you arrive at the campsite, look out for directions as to how and when to pay for the campsite. This will vary between each campsite. Some will ask you to pay at their office during a certain time, others will send staff to charge you after you have already set up, and some charge you at the entrance. It is your responsibility to figure out how to pay, so please keep that in mind. If they use the honor system, let’s be good people and honor it!
If you are using the Camping Card or the Parka app, discussed above, of course this will not be an issue for you. Simply take care of the payment ahead of time.
For facilities, however, don’t expect to always be able to use your cards for payment. In many places, you will need Icelandic coins to buy access to showers, washing machines, etc. This is why I always recommend bringing at least a couple of thousand kronas in cash, ideally already in the form of coins. If you want to take a shower outside office hours, you might not be able to exchange that 1.000 kr. note into 100 kr. coins to pay for that 300 kr. shower.
Ok, so now you have some solid information about campsites in Iceland. But now what? How do you actually go about choosing a campsite for your trip? Here are the things you need to consider before you choose the ideal campsite:
Do you prefer remote locations and privacy or convenience and proximity to the most popular roads and attractions? You will have the most options of campsites along the ring road. These campsites also tend to have better facilities and more customers in general. But as with everything else, there are pros and cons associated with these campsites compared to the more remote campsites:
Most common remote campsite areas include the Highlands, the Westfjords, and the Northeast.
Only you can decide what you prefer and therefore what locations you want to be focusing on. If you are driving the ring road, I always recommend mixing it up a bit. Pick some easy campsites, like at Hamragarðar near Seljalandsfoss but also plan on spending nights at some more remote campsites, like Dalbær Campsite in the Westfjords. If you start out with this strategy, you’ll quickly find out your preference and can adjust your plans accordingly.
The majority of campsites in Iceland are not open all-year around. Traveling in the summer months? Then you can ignore this point. But if you’re traveling outside the usual May 15th – September 15th opening period, this becomes very important to think about.
So if you’re traveling during the off-season, you need to ask yourself if the campsite you picked is even open and if you want to have access to facilities.
Do prices matter to you at all? If so, look up the prices ahead of time and check out the money-saving tips above. Prices are generally very reasonable but if you’ve bought the Camping Card, make sure this is a member campsite.
Campsites in Iceland can be much more basic than what you’re used to to abroad. Some only offer a patch of grass to camp and no facilities. So just because you’ve navigated to a campsite on the map, doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily be able to take that shower or connect to that WiFi. Does that campsite have the following?
Decide what kind of facilities you value the most and pick a campsite that offers it. As mentioned above, you’re much less likely to find these facilities at the more remote campsites around the country.
Last, but not least, see what other travelers are saying about the campsite. Google and Facebook reviews usually have the most relevant reviews and give a good insight into what it’s actually like to stay there.
A simple Google search might also reveal some more in-depth reviews, such as our blog post about our Top 5 Favorite Campsites in the Westfjords.
There are some essentials you need to bring for any camping trip in Iceland. Some of this gear will be included in your rental, especially if you book a campervan, but some of it you might need to bring with you or rent in Iceland. Let’s take a look at this essential gear before we discuss what you absolutely don’t need.
This is obviously the most important piece of gear during your trip. If you are tent camping, make sure that it performs well in high-wind situations and is completely waterproof. If you have been to Iceland before or have done some research on the weather here, you’ll understand why.
If you’re renting a campervan, pay attention to features such as high-quality heater, thick duvets, van insulation, etc.
If you are tent camping, make sure to research the temperatures for your travel dates and choose sleeping bags accordingly. You might even want to bring a sleeping bag as backup, even if you rent a campervan. Some campervan rental companies will only give you basic bedding, which is not enough outside the summer months. At Happy Campers, our travelers can bring as many extra blankets and sleeping bags with them as they like during the off-season.
Consider a high-quality, insulated sleeping pad when tent camping in Iceland. Bringing a sleeping pad doesn’t hurt even when you have a campervan, especially if you have back problems or don’t do well on harder surfaces. Campervan beds tend to not be as comfortable as your bed at home.
Consider bringing your favorite pillow, fleece blanket(s), and sheet(s). At Happy Campers, all of these items and more are included in the rental.
If you are planning on whipping up some camping meals during your trip, you’ll need these basics for your campsite adventure:
Traveling with all this gear can be a bit too much for many people and that’s one of the main benefits of renting a campervan or just the gear here in Iceland. Most of the items above come with a Happy Campers rental.
If you are a photographer or need to charge multiple devices during your trip, invest or rent a high quality charger with multiple USB charging outlets.
For that extra bit of comfort, consider bringing the following gear:
*Included in all Happy Campers rentals
** Available as a Happy Campers extra
***Included in winter rentals
You will get some strange looks from the local campers if they see you with this gear at the campground. For a more detailed post about what not to bring to Iceland, check out our blog post. But to summarize, you can leave the following at home:
Camping in Iceland will most likely be very different from what you’re used to, especially if you’ve camped in the United States or other countries with a long established tradition of camping.
For centuries, Icelanders have enjoyed driving outside of Reykjavik and spent a nice weekend with friends and family at campsites all around the country. This reaching a climax during the annual “Verslunarmannahelgi” (shopkeepers’ day), where people get together all over the country and celebrate together at numerous outdoor festivals and parties – the biggest one being Þjóðhátíð í Eyjum (National Festival in Westman Islands).
Perhaps due to this tradition, camping has become very popular among the young crowd as a way to party while enjoying the outdoors. I used to do this all the time with my friends in my teens and early twenties. People set up their group of tents, fire up the grill, drink beer, play guitar and sing songs into the bright night. This is the perfect way to change things up from the usual dark bars during dark winter nights.
The other kind of camping culture in Iceland is the more traditional family camping trips and family reunions. Iceland is a fairly socialist country with a high standard of living, so unlike countries like the U.S. and others, most Icelanders get a generous summer vacation, often 4-6 weeks in the summertime. This gives people the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with their families camping around Iceland. However, as soon as September rolls around, you’d be hard pressed to find many Icelandic travelers at campsites.
So if you’re traveling during the summer, take the opportunity to socialize with the locals. Get to know the people and culture from the source. However, in order to fit in, you’ll need to understand the following:
If you’re expecting the typical campfire scene, with people gathering around the fire telling stories or singing songs, you might be disappointed. Setting up campfires is not a part of Iceland’s culture and in most places, it is forbidden. Why this is the case is anybody’s guess, but it most likely stems from the fact that very few forests remain in Iceland and wood-burning in general has now become very uncommon.
If you want to join the locals in a campsite feast, I hope you’re not a vegan. Icelanders love their meat and dairy and it’s more obvious than ever when you spend some time at campsites. When people pack their weekend cooler for a camping trip, you’ll mostly find meat, beer / alcohol, and sauce. Finding vegan options and fresh vegetables might also be difficult when you check out the small, local grocery stores.
Of course we’re all for plant-based diets, but if you’re vegan, we strongly suggest planning ahead and bringing your own food.
If you’ve looked at photos of some Icelandic campsites, you’ve noticed that there are probably not very many trees around. Unlike campsites abroad that might be located in large national forests, Icelandic campsites are mostly located on a large, open field. Some campsites will plant trees and do what they can to make it more cozy but not nearly all. This makes a lot of campsites quite windy, but that’s true for the rest of the country as well.
The vast majority of campsites will not have designated spots for your tent or campervan. So it’s your responsibility to find an open spot in the field. Don’t be a weirdo and set up way too close to somebody else, but also know that Icelanders are used to being tight at campsites.
As hinted at above, don’t be surprised to find some people playing music and having a good time at campsites around Iceland, especially in the summertime. If things are unreasonably loud ad midnight still, it’s acceptable to politely ask people to keep it down. Before then, and you’ll mostly just be brushed off as the grumpy weirdo. Having said that, you need to do your part and keep your noise levels to a minimum when you can.
If you’re arriving super late, do your absolute best to keep it down and quickly get settled. If something can wait until the morning, do it then.
Icelanders treasure their country and nothing will bother them more than tourists not respecting nature. Make sure you do the following at campsites:
If you’re traveling in the off-season, you want to make sure you know which campsites are available for your trip because unfortunately, the majority of campsites will be closed. You might also want to read through our Winter Camping in Iceland guide for more information about winter travel in Iceland.
Below, you’ll find a map and a list of all campsites that are open during winter. Check out our full list with detailed descriptions in our blog post “Winter Campsites in Iceland”. Please keep in mind that things change quickly, especially during this strange year of COVID-19 travel restrictions, but we do our best to keep this list up-to-date.
These campsites are open all-year around with facilities.
Bjarteyjarsandur – Hvalfjarðarvegur
GPS: 64.397701, -21.508805
Búðardalur – Vesturbraut, 370 Búðardalur
GPS: 65.10747, -21.76475
Skjól – Kjoastadir, 801 Geysir
GPS: 64.309834, -20.234372
Snorrastaðir – Kolbeinsstaðarhreppur
GPS: 64.77313, -22.30052
Stykkishólmur – Aðalgata 29
GPS: 65.07101, -22.73155
The Freezer hostel – Hafnargata 16, Rif
GPS: 64.92223, -23.81944
Þingvellir – Thingvellir National Park
GPS: 64.27792, -21.09389
Úthlíð – Úthlíð, 801 Selfoss
GPS: 64.277751, -20.443831
Garðskagi – Skagabraut, Garður
Gata Free Camping – Gata, 816 Ölfus
GPS: 63.83072, -21.67711
Grindavík – Austurvegur 26, Grindavik
GPS: 63.84345, -22.42127
Laugardalur – Sundlaugavegur 32, 105 RVK
GPS: 64.146202, -21.876003
Heydalur – Heydalur, 401 Ísafjörður
GPS: 65.84395, -22.68004
Hólmavík – Borgarbraut 4, Hólmavík
GPS: 65.70341, -21.68357
Reykhólar – Reykhólar
GPS: 65.44645, -22.20342
Þingeyraroddi – Hrunastígur, Thingeyri
GPS: 65.88086, -23.49419
Hamragarðar – Gljúfrabúi base, road 249
GPS: 63.62073, -19.9893
Hellishólar -Hellishólar, 861 Hvolsvöllur
GPS: 63.724628, -20.038423
Höfn Campsite – Hafnarbraut 52, Höfn
GPS: 64.258284, -15.203018
Hotel Fljótshlíð – 861 Hvolsvelli, Hvolsvöllur
GPS: 63.72424, -20.01256
Hveragerði – Reykjamörk 18, 810 Hveragerði
GPS: 63.99897, -21.18239
Selfoss – Engjavegur 56, 800 Selfoss
GPS: 63.933135, -20.988633
Skaftafell – Skaftafellsvegur
GPS: 64.016325, -16.967152
Skógar Campsite – Skógarfoss Waterfall
GPS: 63.524627, -19.506648
Djúpivogur – Vogaland 4, 765 Djúpivogur
GPS: 64.656308, -14.280584
Egilsstaðir – Kaupvangur 17, Egilsstaðir
GPS: 65.258088, -14.407192
Mjóeyri – Strandgata 70, Eskifjörður
GPS: 65.05997, -13.99228
Möðrudalur /Fjalladýrð – Modrudalur, 660 Myvatn
GPS: 65.373755, -15.882915
Hamrar / Akureyri – Kjarnavegur, Akureyri
GPS: 65.648093, -18.080219
Ártún – Túngata 24, Grenivík
GPS: 65.90709, -18.07066
Mánarbakki 66.12 North – Mánarbakki, Húsavík
GPS: 66.20129, -17.10542
Dalvík – Guesthouse Skeið
GPS: 65.855648, -18.766306
Glaðheimar / Blönduós – Brautarhvammur, 540
GPS: 65.659002, -20.276401
820-1300 / 690-3130
Illugastaðir – Illugastaðavegur
GPS: 65.620467, -17.816787
451-2488 / 869-8099
Lífsmótun / Laugar – Hjallavegur, Laugar
GPS: 65.702211, -17.349509
Steinsstaðalaug – Lambeyri Steinstaðabyggð
GPS: 65.4682, -19.35516
Vogar / Mývatn – Vogar, 660 Myvatn
GPS: 65.623968, -16.919326
These campsites are either only open during a part of the winter or they offer a place to spend the night without any facilities during winter.
Akranes Campsite – Kalmansbraut, Akranes, Iceland
GPS: 64.32606, -22.0675
Only open from May 1st to December 31st
Drangsnes Campsite – Drangsnesvegur 7
GPS: 65.69119, -21.43889
Only open May 1st – November 1st
Laugaland Campsite – Landvegur
GPS: 63.91611, -20.41591
Only open from May 9th – October 15th
Hvolsvöllur Campsite – Hvolsvegur 1, Hvolsvöllur
GPS: 63.74992, -20.23871
Only open from May 15th to November 1st
Vík Campsite – Suðurvegur 5, 870 Vík
GPS: 63.41928, -18.99561
Only open from May 15th – October 31st
Kirkjubær II Campsite – Kirkjubæjarklaustur
GPS: 63.79215, -18.05119
Only open from February 15 – December 15
Berunes – Berunes, 766 Djúpivogur
GPS: 64.69514, -14.23845
Only open May 1st – October 15th
Végarður / Hengifoss Campsite – Fljótsdalsvegur, Iceland
GPS: 65.02555, -14.97319
Only open March 1st – November 30th
Reyðarfjörður Campsite – Stekkjargrund 2, Reyðarfjörður
GPS: 65.03437, -14.24107
Only open April 15th – October 15th
Borgarfjörður Eystri Campsite – Borgarfjörður Eystri
GPS: 65.52401, -13.80813
Only open May 15th – October 15th
Staðarholt Campsite – Norðausturvegur
GPS: 65.65513, -15.01446
Vopnafjörður Campsite – Lónabraut, Vopnafjörður
GPS: 65.75776, -14.82695
Ytra Lón Farm Lodge – Ytra Lón, 681 Þórshöfn
GPS: 66.24691, -15.15051
They keep their lot open for customers during winter but please call ahead. This is a new addition so please let us know if you stay there.
Systragil Campsite – Akureyri
GPS: 65.70636, -17.89834
Open from June 1st until it freezes – usually mid-October. You can call ahead to see if they’re open.
Ólafsfjörður Campsite – Aðalgata 21, Ólafsfjörður
GPS: 66.07118, -18.64893
Only open May 15th-October 15th
Siglufjörður Campsite – Siglufjörður
GPS: 66.14959, -18.9101
Hvammstangi Campsite – Kirkjuhvammsvegur
GPS: 65.40229, -20.92949
Open May 15th – November 1st (or longer if weather allows)
Important: opening times depend on weather & highland road conditions.
GPS: 64.46259, -20.24527
Open mid summer.
GPS: 64.61806 -19.75709
GPS: 64.72272, -19.59836
GPS: 64.81492, -19.70597
GPS: 64.86720, -19.55023
Open early June – end of September.
GPS: 64.68347, -19.29988
Open June 20th – August 30th.
ITA Mounatin Hut Hloduvellir
GPS: 64.39867, -20.55719
GPS: 64.10160, -19.57691
Open June 20th – August 30th
GPS: 64.05196, -19.22693
Open 15th June – 29th September.
GPS: 63.99170, -19.04739
Open from the beginning of My until the beginning of October. However, to protect the fragile vegetation, camping is not permitted until 20th May.
GPS: 63.85813, -19.22552
Open end of June – middle of September.
GPS: 63.93370, -19.16786
Open June 15th-September 15th
GPS: 63.76609, -19.37317
Þórsmörk Húsadalur (Volcano Huts)
GPS: 63.69084, -19.54138
Open all year.
Þórsmörk Langidalur (Skagfjörðsskáli)
GPS: 63.68658, -19.51039
Básar in Goðaland
GPS: 63.67724, -19.48036
Open May – September
GPS: 63.83909, -18.97397
Open July – August
GPS: 63.89899, -18.68623
Open mid June – 1st September, longer if weather allows
GPS: 63.90790, -18.60110
Open June – September
GPS: 63.98089, -18.52126
Open June 15th – 1st September, longer if weather allows.
GPS: 64.08629, -18.41605
GPS: 64.13421, -18.784443
Open June 20th – mid-September.
GPS: 64.73530, -18.07208
858-1194 (1st July – 31st August), 860-3334
GPS: 65.02831, -18.32890
Open 1st July – mid September, but the toilets and changing facilities are open all year round.