Small but beautifully formed, a campervan hire experience in Iceland is a joy. Its population may be just over 300,000, but three is still so much to see and do. Iceland tourism is thriving, with the world waking up to this destination of natural wonders, from volcanoes to lakes, mountains and a thriving entertainment scene. Just compare all the campervan, RV and motorhome rental brands with Motorhome Republic, so you can land the perfect, cost-effective deal for your northern Europe adventure.
Fall in lava with IcelandPerhaps one of the most famous aspects to Iceland is the volcanoes. Most notorious in recent times is Eyjafjallajokull which erupted in 2010, causing massive air travel disruption. There are 30 active volcanic systems in Iceland, but don’t worry – you can still get up close and personal with some of them. There are numerous volcano tours on offer, with breathtaking underground structures and formations. Completely unique to Iceland, seeing the volcanoes has to be on your ‘must-do’ list.
Tourism thriving as campervans & RV's hit the roadStuck between the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean, Iceland is certainly isolated in northern Europe, but tourism is growing year on year. Known for its geothermal energy, hot springs and geysers, the land of fire and ice is also blessed with the capital Reykjavik. While you can go diving or visit the empires of glacial ice, the diversity of restaurants and bars is very surprising. But be aware that eating out can be very expensive. Due to the country’s isolation, many goods are imported and that’s not cheap!
Mt Kirkjufell Aurora Borealis Iceland
A welcome for your motorhome hire in IcelandThere are many reasons why Iceland is an award-winning country in terms of holiday destinations: friendly people, a fantastic atmosphere and its attitude to campervan travel are just a few. Wild camping is easy, with sites located in the mountains and hills of the smaller towns – just be careful you’re not on private land. If you are, check with the local farmer, you’ll probably get lucky for the night. Here are some recommended road trips for your Iceland camper holiday:
- Golden Circle: Around 300km, you travel from Reykjavik in the south-west into central Iceland. Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and various geysers will keep you entertained.
- Glacial Lagoon: Jokulsarlon lake is at the head of a glacier, in the south-east of the country. A major tourist attraction, the views of the ice cap are a sight to behold.
- Whale watching in Husavik: This is the place to go for whales in Iceland. Located north, you can journey there in your motorhome rental via the west coast from Keflavik International Airport. If you head east, it’s a slightly longer route!
Chill factorAs most people are aware, it’s a pretty cold climate in Iceland. However the weather can be very pleasant in summer, with warm days topping 20 degrees. But at any other time during the year, wrap up accordingly.
The best deal for Iceland camper rentalCompare all of the top RV & campervan hire brands with Motorhome Republic, so whether you’re looking for a cheap motorhome hire or there’s a certain type of campervan you’re after, our network covers the globe. We can even filter your selection so you know you are picking up from Keflavik Airport. Motorhome rental insurance is also dealt with by our expert customer service team. The quicker you book, the quicker you can experience all that Iceland has to offer. Happy camping!
Visiting Iceland - Your Guide to the Scandinavian Isle
Best times of year to visit Iceland
Experience Iceland Highway's like this in your campervan hire
How much time do you need to explore Iceland?
Iceland driving tips
Public holidays in Iceland
- New Year’s Day - January 1
- Maundy Thursday - varies (first Thursday before Easter Sunday)
- Good Friday - varies
- Easter Monday - varies
- First Day of Summer - First Thursday after April 18
- May Day - May 1
- Ascension Day - varies (40 days after Easter)
- Whit Monday - varies (seventh Monday after Easter)
- Independence Day - June 17
- Commerce Day - First Monday in August
- Christmas Eve - Afternoon of December 24
- Christmas Day - December 25
- St Stephen’s Day - December 26
Godafoss Waterfall - Iceland
Camping in Iceland
- Any road marked as an ‘F- road’ is only suitable for 4x4 vehicles
- Never stop on the road to take photos (many areas are very narrow)
- Plan for sudden weather changes by stocking up on food and amenities
- Hire a 4WD if you are unsure as many roads are unsealed
Plan Your Trip - Everything you'll need for your Iceland Campervan Hire Roadtrip
- Reykjavík International Film Festival. One sure way to get a good grasp on the culture of a country is to attend one of their film festivals. The Reykjavík International Film Festival is held every September for eleven days and screens films from more than 40 different countries. If you’re visiting Iceland at the start of autumn, make sure you stick around Reykjavík long enough to catch a local film or two before gallivanting off into the wilderness in your RV rental.
- Iceland Airwaves Music Festival. If you’re one of those brave souls willing to visit Iceland when the days shorten and the cold of winter is waiting grip the country, the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival the perfect way to shake off the chill. Taking place in early November, Airwaves is primarily a celebration of new music, and has hosted bands like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Of Monsters and Men, Thievery Corporation and Sigur Rós in years past.
- Bræðslan Music Festival. Most visitors come to Iceland in the summer and grab a campervan rental, when the country is at its most verdant and the waterfalls are at their most magnificent, which means that you may well arrive in Iceland in time for the Bræðslan Music Festival. In contrast to the slick city setting of Airwaves, Bræðslan has a distinctly small town vibe. Set in Borgarfjörður eystri on Iceland’s east coast, a village with a tiny population of less than 200 souls, and held in a venue that is used as a fish factory for most of the year, the festival focuses on crafting an enjoyable experience for locals and guests alike.
- LungA Art Festival. Summer visitors with a creative bent have the chance to feed their artistic side at LungA Art Festival, which has grown from a tiny gathering of 20 people to an event which sells out every year. With creative workshops, exhibitions, a concert and more, this is great way to get face to face with the local arts scene.
- Menningarnótt (Culture Night). Held every year in Reykjavík during August, this massively popular event attracts almost a third of the country’s population and offers a richly diverse array of cultural events, presented by theatres, museums and other institutions - traditionally rounded off by a spectacular fireworks display.
- Reykjavík Marathon. Obviously if you’re heading to Iceland for a holiday, you’re unlikely to be running a marathon while you’re over there. But the Reykjavík Marathon is scheduled in conjunction with Culture Night, so you might like to stand on the sidelines and admire the display of true grit before indulging in the cultural offerings that the evening brings.
- Strength sports. Despite the fact that Iceland is a very small nation and one which is perfectly suited to a campervan hire roadtrip, it has distinguished itself when it comes to feats of strength. ‘Glima’, an art developed by the Vikings, is still alive and well today with several variations on the discipline ranging from strictly regimented sport to combat martial art. Another impressive display of northern strength is Iceland’s Strongest Man contest. Many of the top contestants from this competition have gone on to win the World Strongman Challenge among many other international titles, which quickly established Iceland’s Strongest Man as a world renowned benchmark for feats of strength. If you’re in the country while one of these events is on, it’s a chance to see some truly mind boggling examples of pushing the human body to its outer limits.
- Football. The international profile of Icelandic football received a huge boost when the national team knocked England out of Euro 2016, but football was a big deal in Iceland long before the world took notice. This is the most popular sport in the nation, and between May and September you may be able to catch a Úrvalsdeild karla match to see some of the country’s best footballers in action.
Food & Wine
- Food & Fun Iceland. Although February and March aren’t peak visitor months for Iceland, those who are willing to brave a little bit of chill in a campervan rental will be rewarded with an experience that foodies everywhere will envy. Every year, chefs from Europe and the US come to Iceland and team up with local restaurants to create delicious gourmet dishes at affordable prices. All ingredients are fresh and locally sourced, and the event now attracts international attention - not to mention many local and foreign diners keen to sample the mouth-watering creations on offer.
- Thingvellir National Park. Not only was Þingvellir (commonly anglicised as Thingvellir) the site of Iceland’s parliamentary assembly for almost a thousand years, Thingvellir National Park offers visitors plenty of opportunities to get out and about in nature while travelling around the island in your campervan hire. Hikers can discover numerous trails throughout the park and some trails even allow horseback riding. Perhaps more surprisingly, diving is also popular in Thingvellir National Park. There are two rifts main rifts which attract divers, but one in particular has attracted international attention. Silfra is a rift between two major tectonic plates, filled by underwater wells. The quality of the water is so pure that it affords the some of the clearest diving conditions to be found anywhere in the world. There are even parts of the rift where you can place one hand on the North American Plate and the other on the Eurasian Plate - certainly not an experience you’ll encounter every day.
- Black Sand Beach. Those taking their Iceland RV rental all the Ring Road will eventually come to Vik, the nation’s southernmost village. Vik’s beach, known as Black Sand Beach or Reynisfjara, has been lauded as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, in spite of its distinctly non-tropical location. Not only does the stark black of the sands give the entire shoreline an otherworldly feel, the towering basalt columns (which according to mythology are two trolls who were caught by the rising sun) add to the majesty and mystery of this place. Just remember to be careful around the shore, as rogue waves have been known to surge up and sweep people out to sea.
- Gullfoss. Just an hour and a half east of Reykjavík in a campervan hire, Gullfoss is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country. The sheer power of the glacial water thundering over the falls is breathtaking, and when the sun comes out it becomes obvious why Gullfoss is called the Golden Falls, as sun turns the sediment heavy water a rich gold colour.
- Seljalandsfoss. While Seljalandsfoss is not one of the country’s largest falls, it is undoubtedly one of the most photogenic. Recognised as one of Iceland’s natural wonders, the waterfall drops 60 metres into a moss ringed pool, and visitors can follow a path into a small cave behind Seljalandsfoss to look out from behind the waterfall - on a sunny day, you may even spot a shimmering rainbow.
- Skógafoss is one of Iceland’s largest waterfalls - like Seljalandsfoss, it drops 60 metres, but it’s also 25 metres wide. Pouring over edge of what were once coastal cliffs before the sea receded, Skógafoss offers more than just sightseeing. Stairs next to the waterfall lead all the way to the top - you’ll need a decent level of fitness but those who make it up the 400 or so steps will be rewarded with an epically expansive view.
- Goðafoss. Reminiscent of Africa’s Victoria Falls, this is arguably Iceland’s most visually spectacular waterfall. Although Goðafoss is impressive at any time of year, late spring is a particularly good time of year to visit, when icicles fringe its sides. Set only five minutes from the Ring Road, these falls are very easy to get to and should be a strong contender for inclusion on almost any Iceland motorhome roadtrip itinerary.
- Eyjafjallajökull glacier. This particular glacier is more well known for what lies beneath than the ice itself. Serving as an ice cap for the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which came to the attention of the world in 2010 when it stopped flights across Europe with an enormous cloud of ash. The volcano is still very much active but it is being closely monitored by the Icelandic Meteorological Office.
- Vatnajökull glacier. This is Iceland’s largest glacier, and along with its surroundings has been declared a national park. Hiking in the park is a popular pastime in the summertime and tours onto the glacier itself are available for those who want to get up close and personal with one of Iceland’s most striking natural features while travelling in a campervan hire.
- Langjökull glacier. Located in the highlands of Iceland, Langjökull is immense, second only in size to Vatnajökull, and can be seen from Haukadalur, the valley which is home to many of Iceland’s most famous geysers. Even if you can’t get to Langjökull itself, you should definitely keep an eye out for it while in your campervan rental when you visit the geothermal waterspouts of Haukadalur.
- Snæfellsjökull glacier. This glacier, which lies across the top of an active volcano, is one of the major draws for visitors to Snæfellsjökull National Park. It’s not the only reason to head to the park though. Many people explore the coastline, while others come here for the abundant birdlife. The raw and jagged features of this volcanic region will also be of interest to those with an eye for geology.
- Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Located almost directly north of the coastal village of Vik, Mýrdalsjökull offers visitors the chance to mix sightseeing with a bit of adrenaline. Jump on a snowmobile and blast across the glacier - you can opt for a one hour trip that’s ideal for families or enquire about longer tours that are a little more on the adventurous side.
- Hallgrímskirkja. Those with an eye for architecture won’t want to leave Reykjavík behind in a campervan rental before catching a glimpse of Hallgrímskirkja. This striking structure soars above the surrounding structures with a height of 73 metres and is the second tallest building in the country. Constructed in the mid-20th century, the Lutheran church is one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks.
- Volcano House. Iceland truly is a land of fire and ice, one of the most volcanically active places on the planet. Reykjavík’s Volcano House gives you an interactive insight into the powers that lie beneath the surface of this island. Kids and adults alike will appreciate the displays and exhibitions on offer, and it’s a great place to go at the start of your journey as it will give you a deeper appreciation for the wonders you’ll see along the way.
- Icelandic Phallological Museum. This attraction isn’t for the dainty or faint of heart. The Icelandic Phallological Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of penises. With 280 specimens from 93 different species, this collection is nothing if not comprehensive. Blue whales, hamsters, horses, rats and reindeer are all represented - and yes, there’s even a human specimen.
- National Museum of Iceland. If it’s a slightly more traditional museum experience you’re after, the National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavík is the perfect choice. The museum’s permanent exhibition gives a fascinating and richly illustrated insight into Iceland’s history, from the earliest Viking settlements to Icelandic culture today - there’s also a variety of high quality temporary exhibitions on display at any one time. Thre is plenty of parking on the streets of Reykjavík to leave your campervan rental while exploring the local museums.
- Skiing. One of the benefits of Iceland’s northern location is the fact that ski resorts can stay open for half the year. The very best ski conditions can be found between mid-February and the end of June, in the north of Iceland. The days may be short earlier in the year, but the resorts are flood-lit so lack of light won’t be a problem. There are even prepared trails for those who want to try out the Nordic art of cross-country skiing.
- Hiking. A whole article could be written on hiking opportunities in Iceland, but there are a handful of trails which are particularly popular. Thingvellir National Park and Vatnajökull National Park both offer excellent hiking opportunities, while the Fimmvörðuháls hiking trail has become increasingly popular due to the volcanic activity of Eyjafjallajökull. Those who are seeking a multi-day hike should seriously consider Laugavegurinn - a four day hiking trail which will treat you to a colourful variety of wild landscapes. Be aware that this is suitable for more experienced hikers, as weather conditions can quickly increase the challenge. No matter where or when you’re hiking in Iceland while travelling in your motorhome rental, make sure you have enough food, drink and warm layers, and let someone know of your plans.
- Diving. The Silfra rift in Thingvellir National Park, mentioned above, is by far the most popular place for divers, due to its unparalleled visibility and position between two major tectonic plates, but it’s not the only amazing diving opportunity in Iceland. The Reykjanes Peninsula offers some of the best ocean diving to be found anywhere in the country. A stunning array of marine life can be found, from wolf fish and scorpion fish, to crustaceans, nudibranchs and starfish. Diving around hydrothermal vents is also popular: Kleifarvatn Lake and Strýtan in Eyjafjörður are two of the most popular underwater thermal diving locations, offering a unique warm water option for adventurers.
- Boat tours. Even if you’re not so keen to get into the water during your time in this northern nation, spending some time on the waves is still a great opportunity to see Iceland from a point of view that a motorhome rental can’t provide. A number of whale watching boat tours leave from Reykjavík, ideal for those keen to catch a glimpse of these rarely seen gentle giants. There are even cruises for Northern Lights viewing.
Helpful Iceland Links
- Exotic motorhome adventure destinations. Iceland is right up there with the most fantastical travel spots on Earth.
- Seasonal tips for motorhome travellers. Iceland can change dramatically from season to season - make sure you’re prepared.
- Once in a lifetime motorhome trips. Get a taste of what a Ring Road trip could offer.
- Motorhome destinations for history buffs. Got a keen eye for history? Iceland won’t disappoint.
- Secrets to motorhome reversing and parallel parking. Make sure you’re confident in handling your campervan no matter where you go.
- Instagram worthy travel destinations. Make your friends jealous with your spectacular Iceland travel snaps.
- A Game of Thrones road trip planner. If you’re a GoT fan, make sure you slot these Iceland locations into your itinerary.