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Vanlife in Iceland

Date 07 January 2023

Vanlife in Iceland

Vanlife in Iceland

Van vacations are gaining popularity, and Iceland is no exception. Each year, more vanlife enthusiasts seek freedom and open spaces in this captivating country.

When embarking on a van road trip, the choice of your van is paramount. It serves as both your transportation and your accommodation.

Is Iceland a good #vanlife destination?

Le van en Islande

Is Iceland a prime #vanlife destination? Absolutely. Iceland beckons to nature-loving vanlife enthusiasts with its vast landscapes, including waterfalls, icebergs, glaciers, volcanoes, hot springs, and geysers. Beyond the allure of nature and freedom, van vacations often make sense economically.

While renting a van in Iceland can be relatively expensive, this alternative allows you to save on hotel stays, and vans tend to be more fuel-efficient than campers.

While #vanlife is all about freedom and staying where you feel like, in Iceland you have to be mindful of the rules and regulations!

Camping and wild camping in Iceland

Le van en Islande

However, there's a catch: despite the desire for spontaneity, wild camping has been banned in Iceland since 2016. Instead, you must spend your nights at designated campsites. Many of these campsites close during the winter, but you can park for free in their lots during this season.

Here is the map of campsites as well as those open all year round.

The cost of a campsite stay in Iceland ranges from 15 to 20€ per person, depending on the campsite and the time of year. For longer stays, the "camping card" is a savvy choice at 179€ (as of 2023).

This card grants access to all campsites on the island for 28 days and includes accommodations for two adults and four children, making it a cost-effective option.

Our tips for renting a van in Iceland

Le van en Islande

Snaefellsnes vanlife - Amit Gaut@unsplash

The best time for a stay in a van

For an optimal van experience, the best time to visit Iceland is during the summer, from April to the end of September.

Winter travel, on the other hand, requires a well-equipped van with 4x4 capabilities and a Webasto heating system to tackle the harsh weather conditions.

Types of vans: how to choose your van?

Le van en Islande

When it comes to rental companies, you'll notice significant price variations among the available vans. This is due to a range of factors that affect pricing, making it crucial to make the right choice. Your van will be your constant companion throughout your journey, serving you day and night, and even providing a place to eat. So, making an informed decision is paramount.

  • Van Size

Vans come in various sizes, and this greatly impacts both pricing and comfort. You can opt for the compact "Kangoo" that accommodates two travelers or go for the spacious Renault Master type that can comfortably house five.

  • 4x4 or 2-Wheel Drive

The price discrepancy between these two types of vehicles is quite substantial, and your choice should align with your planned route. The rugged interior tracks, known as F-Roads, are accessible only with 4x4 vehicles. While a 4x4 offers more freedom and less hassle, it comes at a higher cost. Additionally, in winter, when conditions are more challenging, a 4x4 is almost a necessity.

  • Vehicle Age

The age of the van and its mileage also factor into the pricing. Vans with higher mileage tend to be more budget-friendly.

  • Travel Season

The most pleasant time for a van journey is during the summer, specifically the months of July and August. However, it's worth noting that demand is highest during this period, which results in higher prices compared to the shoulder seasons like May or November.

  • Fuel Efficiency

Different vans have varying fuel consumption rates, with some running on diesel and others on 95 octane (which is pricier in Iceland).

  • Optional Add-Ons

Vans equipped with additional amenities such as a kitchen, shower, and WC naturally come at a higher cost. You also have the option to include extras like insurance and WiFi in your package.

  • Excess Mileage

Some rental agencies offer vans with non-unlimited mileage and charge for excess usage.

Rates for one week 2023

Low season
2-seater Van  (Kangoo or Dacia Dokker)
1300 € - 1750 €
650 € - 850 €
3-seater (Renault Trafic)
2300 € - 2700 €
750 € - 1000 €
5-seater (Renault Master)
3100 € - 3500 €
900€ - 1200€

As you can see, the price range varies significantly depending on the season and the type of vehicle!

Coming to Iceland with your own van

Les routes en Islande

While not a common choice among travelers, it's worth knowing that bringing your own van to Iceland is possible. You can reach Iceland by boat, departing from Hirtshals in Denmark. The Smyrilline company offers a three-day voyage, but the costs depend on your van's size.

Which rental company to choose for a van?

Le van en Islande

Skogafoss view from a van - Tim Trad@unsplash

Not all car rental companies in Iceland provide vans. However, some specialized agencies cater to this specific need, such as:

Many travelers also use the local comparator GuideToIceland for van rental.

When choosing a rental company, you should consider the following factors:

  • The price, of course

There are significant price differences depending on the rental company.

  • The type and comfort of the van

Since you'll be spending a significant amount of time in your van, ensuring it offers comfort is crucial.

  • The planned route

Les routes d'Islande

Not all rental companies offer 4x4 vans. If you plan to explore off-the-beaten-path roads, having a 4x4 van is essential.

For instance, Lava Car Rental offers the Renault Kangoo 2WD camper van, which is ideal for those who want to explore Route 1. It's practical for two people, featuring four doors and ample storage space. It comes equipped with electrical outlets, heating in campsites, a kitchen kit, sleeping bags, a cooler, and camping tables and chairs.

For those seeking a 4WD van, Lava Car Rental offers the popular Volkswagen Transporter. With five doors, it accommodates three people and provides more storage space for your luggage. Similar to the Renault Kangoo, it includes standard features like a Webasto heating system, a kitchen kit, sleeping bags, a cooler, and camping tables and chairs.

In summary, Iceland's natural beauty and expansive landscapes make it an enticing destination for #vanlife enthusiasts. Proper planning, including selecting the right van, adhering to camping regulations, and choosing a reliable rental company, will ensure a memorable and comfortable adventure in the land of fire and ice.

Photo credit top article : Theodore Vasile@unsplash