Updated: Apr 23, 2019
There are several different ways to travel around Iceland’s Ring Road. When you decide on a car, camper, or motorhome rental, each mode of transport has its advantages and disadvantages. While it may not have originally occurred to you as the best way to see our small volcanic island, you’ve no doubt noticed that driving around Iceland by campervan is very common options with travelers here. So what’s the deal with these miniature homes on four wheels? Are they a good idea as far as staying at campsites and experiencing the island’s glaciers, waterfalls, and national parks? And what are the benefits and drawbacks of camper rental in Iceland? It may be your first time taking a road trip in a campervan (or thinking about it). So let’s dive in to see exactly what Iceland camper rental involves.
What Exactly is a Campervan?
If you’re thinking about traveling in Iceland by campervan, there are a few essential things to know. The first and most important thing is the difference between a campervan and motorhome. Many times people use the terms interchangeably, but they are actually two very different types of vehicles. While both are technically RVs (recreational vehicles), motorhomes are much larger than campers. They are the big hulks of the road that have not only cabs in the front for the driver and passengers, but there’s usually an area above the front driving area that serves as sleeping quarters or extra storage. Motorhomes also have a fully outfitted "home" in the back. They come with a fully equipped kitchen, a dining/recreation area, and a bathroom that includes a toilet, sink, and shower with hot, running water. It’s basically a hotel on four wheels and is the more luxurious option of the two.
Campervans, on the other hand, are like the less sizeable, scrappier little brother to the motorhome. They are small vans that have been retrofitted in the back with beds, minimal cooking facilities, and a nice Webasto heater to keep you warm and toasty at night. Essentially, with a campervan you drive during the day, and when you're ready to rest your head for the night, you pull into a campsite and find a spot to park. Open the windows and back doors to cook your dinner on the gas stove or hot plate. When you’re ready to sleep, simply convert the “kitchen” into your sleeping area by folding up the seating and pulling down the bed. You’ll have sleeping bags and when you wake up in the morning, just put the bed away, and you’ve got your kitchen again! You can cook either while on the road or before setting out.
What Are the Benefits of Camper Rental in Iceland?
One of the main advantages of Iceland camper rental is that you can go more places than with a traditional motorhome. Not only is it a smaller vehicle, but you also have the option of getting a 4x4 campervan rental like the VW California or the Mercedes Marco Polo. Both of these vehicles are models with 4WD, which means you can take them on Iceland’s F-roads (mountain roads) and explore the island’s backcountry and the breathtaking Highlands. Both also have an expandable roof tent, so you don’t have to worry about setting your shelter or driving tent stakes into the icy ground while camping in Iceland. The freedom and convenience of Iceland by campervan can’t be overstated.
Iceland campervan rentals are also cheaper than both motorhomes and staying at hotels with a rental car. Because you already have your transport and accommodation combined into one, you save money due to your daily cost for these two essential vacation expenses being greatly reduced. And you also won’t break the bank by constantly dining out. Having the ability to prepare your own meals with the food you bought at Bónus or another discount supermarket is a major advantage of camper rental in Iceland. Everything is cheaper outside of Reykjavik, but it’s still an expensive country and eating at restaurants for every meal adds up quickly.
What Are Some Drawbacks of Iceland Campervan Rentals?
The first and most obvious disadvantage of driving around Iceland by campervan is that it’s not as nice as staying in a hotel. Some people desire the creature comforts of a proper bed and a real shower. Remember that if you decide to travel in Iceland by campervan, you’ll be showering at campsites. And not all campsites in Iceland have hot water. You could always split up your journey and spring for a hotel room during some nights on your road trip.
Another small drawback of Iceland campervan rentals is that they are not as mobile as traditional SUVs. While 4x4 camper rental in Iceland is available, you still might have some trouble crossing deeper rivers if you’re traveling around Iceland’s Highlands. It’s simply much easier in a model like a Jeep or Land Rover. This is just something to keep in mind when deciding if an Iceland camper rental is right for you.
Is Iceland by Campervan the Best Choice for My Trip?
Ultimately it’s up to you to decide if Iceland by campervan makes the most sense for your trip. You’ll also want to plan your 5-day or 10-day Ring Road itinerary to make sure to see highlights of Iceland like Seljalandsfoss, the Golden Circle, and Vatnajökull National Park. By Icelandic law you need to park your camper van overnight at a campsite, so after deciding what things you want to see and do, find nearby campgrounds and check the facilities and amenities available. Iceland campervan rentals have steadily grown in popularity with the tourism boom, so why not hop on the bandwagon and get behind the wheel? Check out our awesome Iceland campervan rental selection.