• en

Camping in Iceland

Camping in Iceland can provide a great sense of freedom however, if you are ill prepared or encounter bad weather you can potentially spoil your trip.  

  • Camping in Iceland is heavily weather dependent 
  • Due to the cold climate this is not the place to try camping for the first time
  • Don’t skip out on any of the recommended equipment 
  • You may have to modify your current camping set up to accommodate for differences example: hammock camping is nearly impossible as there are relatively few trees in Iceland
  • Practice using all of your equipment before you arrive in Iceland, an unfamiliar tent can be difficult to set up in weather that you are not familiar with

SUMMER is the most accessible camping season but keep the following in mind:

  • With almost 24 hours of daylight in the summer you may wish to bring a sleeping mask to ensure a proper night’s rest
  • Summer does not necessarily ensure good weather, rain is very common in the summer
  • Very strong winds are commonplace all year round in Iceland
  • Campfires are not permitted in Iceland
  • See specialized packing lists to see which is best suited to your travel plan

As seen in this video, some terrain in Iceland (such as volcanic ash) can make it difficult to pitch a tent properly with all the necessary extra lines. That paired with incredibly strong winds can at best leave you with a horrible night’s rest and at worst ruin your tent and leave you vulnerable to the elements.

The following are some essentials for safe and comfortable WINTER camping in Iceland: 

  • Headlamp with extra batteries 
  • A tent that can withstand strong winds and snow (ideally 4 season) plus extra pegs and poles 
  • Sleeping bag with comfort temperature of -10°C (14°f) (Remember everyone is different, this is just a guideline!) 
  • Sleeping pad with R-Value of at least 5 to properly isolate from the cold ground 
  • White gasoline stove as they are much more efficient in cold temperatures than canister stoves 
  • Anything left outside the tent (boots, food, etc) will freeze
  • You must check to see which campsites are open during winter as many are only open during the summertime
  • Have a back up plan with contact info for guesthouses/hotels along your route in case weather becomes hazardous

The HIGHLANDS provide a more challenging camping environment:

  • Weather can be much more unpredictable and emergency services are much farther away
  • The rescue team’s highland patrol is only on duty during the summertime; in the winter you are completely on your own
  • Please be advised that when camping along the Laugavegur trail in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve you must camp only in designated campsites
  • During the wintertime all of the mountain huts (with the exception of Landmannalaugar and Húsadalur) are locked and unmanned

Where Can I Camp?

  • As of November 2017 it is ILLEGAL to camp in a tent, RV or camper van outside of a designated campsite on the south coast of Iceland
  • You can wild camp for one night outside of the south coast as long as there is no campsite nearby (if there is a landowner they must give permission first)
  • It is illegal for camper vans or tent trailers to spend the night outside of campgrounds or urban areas unless the owner of the land has granted permission
  • Be respectful of the land and others: leave no trace and don’t defecate near water sources or in urban areas
Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue Skógarhlíð 14, 105 Rvk. Iceland safetravel@safetravel.is +354 570-5929 Disclaimer