Summer in Iceland: what could possibly be better? When the sun’s shining, there are few places in the world that can compete with the beauty of the Land of Fire and Ice.
If you’re lucky enough to be blessed with great weather during your trip, then camping in Iceland in summer is the ideal way to make the most of it.
Instead of confining yourself within the walls of a room in a guesthouse or hotel, rent one of our campervans, and you could be enjoying a cup of coffee in front of an extraordinary view the moment you lift your head from the pillow.
We already made our guide our full guide to camping in Iceland, but summer deserves a special focus. Here’s how to get the best out of camping in Iceland during the summer season with our ten top tips:
Tips to master camping in Iceland in the summer
Here's what you need to know so that you can simply sit back and relax in the sunshine.
1. Think carefully about which campervan or motorhome best suits your needs
There’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to a campervan or motorhome rental. To make sure you get it right, take some time to study the specifications and work out what’s important to you before booking.
For example, motorhomes are larger than campers and have cooking facilities, but will work out to be more expensive. Campervans will be cheaper and, thanks to their smaller size, easier to park.
2. Make a camping packing list
Before you set out for the airport, you’ll need a camping packing list for a week in Iceland in the summer– and more items if you’re lucky enough to have planned a longer trip.
No matter whether you’ve opted for a campervan or a motorhome, interior space is essential, especially since you won’t want to fill up the vehichle with unnecessary clutter.
Check the details for the campervan or motorhome you plan to rent and you’ll see exactly what comes with it: whether there’s a sleeping bag or bed linen, for instance, and what kind of kitchen utensils you’ll be supplied with.
What you’ll find inside depends on the vehicle you rent, so if you’re in any doubt, get in touch to check before you pack unnecessary items.
3. Download some music for a road trip playlist
Music’s an important part of any road trip, so when you are thinking about what to bring on a camping trip in the summer, make sure you’ve prepared your playlists.
Tailor your choices to various moods: lively tunes to get you moving in the morning, singalongs for when you’re on the road and finally some chillout tracks to help you wind down at the end of the day.
If you’re not familiar with Iceland’s home-grown talent, check out tracks from the likes of Daði Freyr and Sigur Rós.
4. Plan your route so you can book pitches in advance
Summer’s peak season which means the pressure on pitches is at its greatest. In 2015, the rules governing wild camping in Iceland were tightened.
Broadly speaking, it’s no longer permitted to camp outside designated campsites, so you can’t just park up wherever you like for the night without explicit written permission from the landowner.
There are many great campsites in Iceland littered across the country, so you won’t have trouble finding a pitch. But because demand is so high, one of the most important things to consider if you’re going to be camping in Iceland in summer is to book ahead. Sometimes the demand is so high that the season extends well into September in Iceland when the weather is still somewhat mild.
Be organized and reserve ahead of the pack so you’ll have more options at your disposal.
5. Know where the gas stations are
If you’re heading out into remoter rural areas, it’s also a good idea to keep a close eye on the fuel gauge.
As long as you’re vigilant, there should be no reason why you’d run out of fuel, but it pays to know where the gas stations are located. Some are little more than a lonely pump on a roadside forecourt, while others boast more facilities such as toilets, shops and restaurants.
6. Pack clothes for all kinds of weather
If you’re lucky, the weather in Iceland in summer can be warm and sunny enough for a T-shirt and shorts. But since Iceland’s weather is famously unpredictable, you can just as easily find yourself wrapped up in a winter coat, hat, scarf and gloves.
In fact, you can even experience both in the same day! In short, it’s pretty much impossible to predict the Icelandic weather and therefore you should be prepared for anything.
What that means in practice is to make sure you know how to layer clothing for summer camping and pack items that can be added and removed as needed.
Start the day in fleece and a warm coat to beat the chill; they can be taken off as the temperature increases. As Iceland is often windy, it’s fairly pointless bringing an umbrella. Instead, to stay dry, make sure your top layer is waterproof.
If you still need help on that, here’s what to pack your for Iceland campervan trip.
If you’re specifically thinking about what to wear camping in the summer in Iceland, throw in some flip-flops to wear inside the van and in the shower block.
Remember that whatever the weather may hold, you’ll need swimming gear to take advantage of the many hot springs and thermal baths. And don’t leave out a decent pair of boots if you plan to do any hiking.
7. Think about the light
Iceland’s summer days are long and light, which is great if you’re out and about, but this can prove to be problematic come bedtime. Even the tiniest gap of light might wake a light sleeper, and you’re going to need quality shut-eye if you’re on the road the next day.
Therefore, invest in an eye mask like the ones they issue on long-haul flights and you’ll wake fully rested.
8. Check the rules before bringing in food
As food in Iceland is expensive, you may wish to bring a few supplies with you to keep costs down. While it’s permitted to bring in certain goods for personal use, strict limits on food import quantities to Iceland and their value must be adhered to.
Otherwise, you’ll risk your items being confiscated when you enter the country. The total weight of what you bring in duty-free can’t be more than 3 kg (6.6lbs) and must be worth less than the equivalent of ISK 18,500.
It’s also worth noting that meat and dairy products from third countries (that’s those outside the EU or EEA) can’t be imported, and there are only a few, very specific exceptions to importing food to Iceland.
For example, this means you’ll be able to bring in a packet of teabags for your morning cuppa but not the milk to pour into it.
9. Make a visit to the supermarket a fun part of your trip
Iceland’s strict food import laws are no big deal: budget supermarkets such as Bonus and Krónan can be found all over Iceland when you need to do a grocery shop.
You can also make supermarket visits a part of your Icelandic adventure as you investigate brands and types of food that you’ve never heard of before, let alone tried.
10. Meet your neighbors
You’re probably going to be outside a lot if you’re in Iceland camping in summer. August in Iceland, like June and July, is likely to see the best weather, which means that staying at a campsite is going to be a sociable experience.
Make a point of chatting with your neighbors. Perhaps bring some photos of your life back home as an ice breaker or stash a pack of cards in your bag to initiate spontaneous game nights. Be sure, though, to take the hint if they want some privacy.
The Perks of camping in Iceland in summer
The cold winter is now far behind us and a whole new horizon of activities and options have come alive. From hiking and festivals to the beautiful midnight sun, you will not be disappointed.
Bearing in mind these handy tips for camping in Iceland in summer, you can be confident you’ll have a wonderful trip. The time is now: book yourself a van and start planning the trip of a lifetime.