I find campervans charming. Being totally free to wander a place without worrying about hotel reservations makes the campervan an ideal way to explore Iceland. The Hubs and I rented a double-decker in New Zealand, enjoying the same freedom.
All the romance of having your bed on wheels doesn’t mean there’s no work. I went to Iceland for photography and while I was filming away, the Hubs was busy maintaining the vehicle, which is more demanding than your average van. Kuku Campers was kind enough to sponsor our forthcoming travel film with a grand set of wheels. Read on for our tips to have a stress-free campervan roadtrip through Iceland.
Winter Season Weather
We went to Iceland at the end of April/beginning of May for what I hoped would be the best of both worlds — the Northern Lights and above-zero climes. We got one out of two, as we were two weeks late of Northern Lights sightings and one week late of hurricane-force winds. The weather preceding our visit was so bad that, as the folks at Kuku Campers told us, a campervan had exploded and doors flew off of at least one car. You see, there is no land mass between parts of southern Iceland and Antarctica, which makes certain oceanside towns quite dangerous to traverse in winter weather. Kuku Campers prepared us very well for our multi-stop journey from Reykjavik to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. The Big Boss there even directed us to a hidden geothermal pool in the mountains. We were warned, however, to check the weather at each stop before proceeding to the next, paying special attention to wind speed, which is also indicated on road signs along the Ring Road.
You need water to drink, but your van needs water for the indoor plumbing that elevates you from camping to glamping. Finding water in winter season was quite difficult. While we were told that all towns have a public swimming pool with showers and water, we only found one (in Grundarfjördur) and it was closed. The clerk at the N1 petrol station in Vik was very helpful and filled our tank as often as we needed.
The great thing about winter travel in Iceland is that there are few tourists clogging up the sites, and thus you can have majestic waterfalls to yourself for an entire night. You can basically park anywhere public, as long as you aren’t obstructing the road. We parked for the night at Skógafoss, Kirkjufellsfoss, and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, to name a few. There is no better way to wake up than to slide open the window from your bed, inhale crisp, clean mountain air, and watch sea gulls encircling waterfalls. That is living!
Make sure all the systems of your van function properly before you head out — plumbing, especially. Leaks and clogged drains seem to be a common problem in campers.
The unfun part of campervanning is emptying your waste container. If you don’t, it will smell like you’re wearing a dirty diaper. You can empty the waste container at camping grounds. You cannot, under any circumstances, just dump the stuff anywhere you like.
Eating on the Go
Cooking in the van is great. Our Fiat van was pretty huge, slept 6, and had a decent kitchenette with three burners, a sink, and cooking utensils. After our trek to Seljavallalaug, the geothermal pool, we cranked up the heat in the van, took hot showers, and cooked Indian food. It was bliss. The Hubs made pancakes at Skogafoss and we watched sleepy campers emerge from their pup tents as the midnight sun got just a little brighter.
Icelandic grocery stores are small by U.S. standards (I didn’t see any Wal-Marts, but if you came to Iceland to shop at Wal-Mart, I don’t want to know about it), but have lots of cool things to try like lox cream cheese spread. We stocked up on crudites, snacks, soups, and even Macgyver’d a coffee filter on the stovetop.
Variety of Vans
Kuku Campers has a ton of vans to choose from, in all shapes, sizes, and colors. In fact, you’ll know a Kuku Camper by its colorful artwork. We opted for the largest one with toilet and shower, kitchenette, and upper bunk for sleeping and were very comfortable. It was crazy comfortable for two people with lots of filmmaking gear.
Kuku Campers sponsored this post, but all opinions my own.
July 1, 2015 at 6:27 am
This sounds AMAZING. (And I chuckled at the use of “glamping” haha). I’d love to go on a van trip. All the movies about it seem so fun too haha. I loved reading about this!
July 1, 2015 at 8:36 am
Thanks, Pia. Can be a blast… with the right people, of course!
July 4, 2015 at 2:53 am
Hi i am doing the ring road in a similar motorhome. How did you fill up water? Used a container or something to fill up? Was it easy to dispose of waste? and lastly was there any part of the ring road you should have avoided as it was dangerous?
Thanks alot :))
July 4, 2015 at 11:39 am
Hi Chris. The water tank was under one of the seats in our van, so we used a hose to fill it up through the window. The waste container can be emptied at any campgrounds. We were fine on the Ring Road even in windy (not Hurricane-force) weather, but some of the the interior roads were closed while we were there so we didn’t get to go to Landmannalaugar. We didn’t get as far as the east or north parts of the Ring Road. Otherwise, I recommend Iceland in the winter!
June 25, 2016 at 7:22 am
Amazing guide! I am really happy that i’ve found It. Looks like Iceland is nearly perfect for having a campervan roadtrip with family.
October 26, 2016 at 6:27 am
I love campervans. We did a three week trip around British Columbia and The Rocky Mountains in Alberta. It was fantastic. I’d love to do a trip in one around Iceland.
February 7, 2017 at 8:05 pm
hi, did you have trouble finding campsites that are open in early May? I’m heading to iceland in the same period and i read that majority dont open till June so I’m a little worried!
nice informative blog btw!
February 23, 2017 at 10:28 pm
I’m not exactly sure when you went, but I believe they don’t prefer parking in roads now – isn’t it true that official campsites must be used? I’m wondering if you think that a campervan would STILL be the way to feel that majesty over a hotel/b&b even if you can’t just park wherever? Thank you!!