Top 10 campsites in Iceland – Off the beaten path campsites

Imagine yourself that you are in a completely different part of the world and you can´t compare it to anything else you have seen before. Surrounded by natural thermal springs, high peaks or stunning views of an out-of-this-world landscape. This is Iceland!

The island is in the middle of the ocean and it is a small paradise for travelers of all kinds: adventurers, occasional travelers, amateur and professional photographers, sporty people… But one of the small problems everybody has to face is the high cost of spending a night in a Hotels/Hostel. The average price per night in high season varies between 100 € to 300€. For the majority of travelers, camping is not just one option but the only one.

There are campsites and places to camp that are spread out through the entire island. Almost all of them are very decent and beautiful, and it is very easy to find availability. For this reason, we wanted to list a series of alternative campgrounds that aren’t very popular neither crowd. In addition, some of them are very budget wise and some of them even free! Those campsites that we are listing could be considered off the beaten path. Their location, the context, and the situation make them the most scenic and most beautiful campsites in Iceland.

SOUTH REGION

1. Camping Brennisteinsalda (Landmannalaugar).

This place is magical, it is surrounded by mysterious mountains, hot springs, lava fields, and snow-capped peaks, all in one place!  I would definitely go back with n0 hesitations!

This is a well-known tourist destination for hikers who want to explore the Highlands area and its colorful mountains. It is also a good base camp for the many varied hikes offered. The natural geothermal pool is an ideal place to relax and recover after a whole day exercising.

It is a complete campsite as it is provided with toilet and shower services (that must be paid as an extra), there’s a small supermarket and there’s a kiosk where to acquire local maps and much more.  The picnic tables at the campsite is an easy place to meet people and plan excursions. They can also be used as a shelter when the unpredictable and heavy rain begins to fall.

How to get there: The Ring Road is only 2 hours away from this wonderful scene. You will have to drive on Highway 26 for 50 km around the Hekla volcano (it is beautiful but also very rugged and slow) to Dómadalsleið. Then, turn right and take the F225. From this crossroads, there is about 30 km to your destination.

It is mandatory to drive a 4WD on these roads, as they are very rough and also because a small river must be crossed once you reach Landmannalaugar. The closest service station to the campsite is 40 km (very little compared to most of the highlands places).

Very important: In this region, at Fjallabak Natural Reserve, you’re only able to camp at LandmannalaugarLandmannahellir, and Hrafntinnusker.  Here it is not possible to rent tents, so it is recommended you bring your own or rent them in Reykjavik at Utivist shop, for instance. These campsites also offer huts that you’ll need to book preferably in advance.

To get more information on the available huts, please check this website written in a rather Viking and lovely English.

Price to camp: 2000 ISK.

Camping at Landmannalaugar after a cold and snowy night
Landmannaleið (road F225)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


2. Off-trail camping at Fimmvörðuháls.

Wild camping at Fimmvörðuháls trail
Baldvinsskáli

Here it is acceptable to camp “in the wild” as there is no official campsite on the trail. The route from Skógar is beautiful, you’ll count as many as 24 waterfalls and each one is unique and even improved by the following one. As you walk you see how the green becomes black, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, known from its eruptions in 2010, is close and you can feel it in the landscape.

At Fimmvörðuháls, there are two huts: Fimmvörðuskáli hut which is a comfortable and modern hut owned by Útivist (one of the Icelandic hiking associations) and an emergency hut, named Baldvinsskáli. This is the first one you will find on the trail, at about 12km from the beginning. Luckily for us, it was there! This shelter saved us from putting up our tent in such a fierce snowy and windy evening. The distance from the first and second hut is 40 minutes in good weather conditions.  It is important you make reservations for the Fimmvörðuskáli, as it can be already full when you get there or even closed if it’s off-season (from September 1st until June 14th).

How to get there: Follow the Ring Road, until you reach Skogar, just after Seljalandsfoss if you’re coming from Reykjavik. To start the hike, you will need to follow the stairs you see on the right of the Skogarfoss waterfall. The trail is 22 km / 14 miles long and the huts are halfway, at about 12 km (7.5 miles) from the beginning.

 

Price for the huts: As it was off-season, you could donate what you thought was appropriate for having saved your life. In high season, the price is 6500 ISK.


3. Camping Basar.

Photo credit: Camping Basar

This camping is the base to many remarkable hiking trails. If you are planning to head onto the Fimmvörðuháls trail from Thórsmörk or you just came from Skógar and got here, this beautiful campsite at Godaland area is a good way to either start or finish the trail. It is a very complete campsite, as it offers sleeping bag accommodation, camping, access to a communal kitchen and has shower facilities. It is also provided with some huts if you want a bit more of comfort to regain some energy before or after your trekking.

How to get there: From the Ring Road, in Þórsmerkurvegur where you’ll see the romantic Seljalandsfoss, take the F249 road until you reach Þórsmörk, it is a 50-minute drive from the Ring Road.

How to get there by bus.

Prices: 1500 ISK + 500 ISK shower, 6000 ISK for a hut.

 


4. Svinafell campsite.

Photo credit: svinafell.com

If you want to explore the Vatnajökull national park without being surrounded by masses, this is a good alternative to the (in)famous Skaftafell campground. It is also surrounded by mountains and high peaks and all the facilities are clean and included in the camping price. Just 9km west from Svinafell is the national park of Skaftafell. Vatnajökull is the largest and most voluminous ice cap in Iceland, and one of the largest in Europe. It covers more than 8 percent of the country.

How to get there: Either if you’re coming from Vik or from Höfn, you just need to follow the Ring Road and turn left (if you’re coming from the west) or right (coming from the east) on Svínafellsvegur until you reach the campsite.

Prices: 1500 ISK

 


 

HIGHLANDS

5. Kerlingarfjoll.

Photo credit: lifeandall.org
Photo credit: lifeandall.org

This is a complete campsite in a stunning location. As it is mentioned on its website “a true pearl to all nature lovers and outdoor people” as you have many different-level hikes that start here. These mountains are also known as the “Bad Weather Mountains”, hence it is advisable to take a good tent, extra clothes and if you’re too cold you can always dip in its +40 ºC hot pool, as it is located at the Hveravellir geothermal area. They have many options and there are many extra fees, check their website for more detailed info.

How to get there: To reach this spot, you need to follow the Kjölur Route, F347 road ideally by a 4×4, but if the weather is nice, you’ll be able to reach it by a 2WD. There is also the Sterna bus F35 that stops there.

Prices: 2000 ISK for camping, 7500 for the hut.

 


6. Álftavötn campsite.

Photo credit: Utivist

This is a basic campsite in the middle of nowhere. Why would you want to come here? Well, you have a few amazing things next: Strútslaug hot spring, Svartahnúksfjöll mountains, Gjátindur mountain, the huge volcanic fissure Eldgjá and the stone bridge over Syðri-Ófæra river.

The Álftavötn hut is an old one used by farmers when gathering their sheep from the highlands. Members of Útivist rebuilt it some years ago, and now it is really cozy and comfortable. You will see there is no warden at the hut, but the warden at Strútur hut also takes care of Álftavötn hut.

How to get there: You need a 4WD to get there, definitely. It is just 1h20 from the Ring Road, once in Skaftártunga, take theF208 road. North of Hólaskjól, turn left to take the road F233. This is more convenient than switching to F210 and F233. You will need to cross the unbridged river Syðri-Ófæra. It is important to ask the warden at Hólaskjól where is best to cross it. A short while after, turn left again into a path leading almost to the hut. You need to park there and walk 200 meters.

Prices: 1500 ISK and 5000 ISK for a hut.

 


 7. Þakgil (Thakgil) campsite.

Photo credit: Tripadvisor

Þakgil is a remote and comfortable campsite at a unique location. þak means “roof “and gil means “canyon” and apparently the weather here is usually very good. A cave will welcome you when you get there, it is the dining room! A beautiful hidden spot, not very well-known. You can use the barbecues you’ll find outside, the picnic tables inside, and even a fireplace! This is a captivating campground for hikers.

How to get there:  Coming from Vik on the Ring Road, at about 5 km east from Vík, turn left on Kerlingardalsvegur. Follow that road for 16 km more until you get to the campsite on the left of the road. It is 40 min, 21 km away from Vik and there are signs indicating where the campsite is. Once you leave the Ring Road, you’ll see the landscape changes dramatically and it all looks more similar to Landmannalaugar, kinda Highlands’ landscape.

Prices: 1500 ISK for the camping, 25000 for a cabin.

 

 


 

 

NORTH

 8. Vesturdalur and Ásbyrgi campgrounds.

These campings are set at Jökulsárgljúfur (the northernmost part of Vatnajökull National Park).

Photo credit: Vatnajökull National Park
 – Vesturdalur campground. This one does not have electricity or showers, but space is beautiful, not touristy at all and it is also very reasonable money wise. It is a good place to see the northern lights for its isolation and lack of luminous pollution.

How to get there: If you’re coming from the east fjords, take Detifossvegur and then road 862, which is on the west side of Jökulsá river. The section between Ásbyrgi and Dettifoss is a gravel road, passable for all vehicles, open from late May or early June and closed in winter.

Prices: 1700 ISK

 

 

Photo credit: Vatnajökull National Park
Ásbyrgi campsite. This is the big popular camping in the area. You will also find a visitor center (Gljúfrastofa) here. This one offers hot showers and electricity to campers. This is a busier campsite but also a very interesting one. If you’re not short of time, here you can find a map of the hikes. More info about hikes and the campsite on this website.

How to get there: If you’re coming from the east fjords, take road 864 that connects road 85 and road 1 past Dettifoss on the east side. This is a gravel road, whose driving lies upon the weather conditions. It is closed in the winter too. The distance between Ásbyrgi and Dettifoss is 28 km, and from Dettifoss to road 1 32 km. If you’re coming from the north, e.g. Husavik, take Road 85. This is a paved road that connects Ásbyrgi and Húsavík, The distance between Húsavik and Ásbyrgi is 65 km.

Prices: 1700 ISK

 


 9. Camping at Grettislaug.

Grettislaug
Grettislaug

You feel you’re on the edge of the world in this place. A must go! There is also a very nice hut, Drangeyjarferðir Guesthouse, which is recommended to book beforehand as its capacity is not big and it catches the eye of some off-the-beaten travelers. The camping amenities are basic but convenient for that price – a covered kitchen with stove, scruffy tables, and chairs. Toilets but no showers. There are two hot pools, a small one which should be at 38 ºC and a bigger one really hot, at about +- 40 degrees. Very rewarding after a long hike or drive.

How to get there:  It is just 40 minutes from the Ring Road. You need to take the road 75 north at Varmahlíð. Follow it up until Sauðárkróksbraut and turn left onto Road 744, then right onto 748 via Reykjastrandarvegur until the end. At the end of the gravel road, past the farm on the right, you will find Grettislaug campsite. On that farm lives the owner of the campsite, who is likely to visit you while your stay.

Prices: 1000 ISK, 500 ISK for the natural hot spring.


 10. Hólar campsite.

This is a beautiful campsite with the very basic amenities. However, this location is so marvelous and peaceful, that it makes it up for any comfort you could get in the bigger campgrounds. Hólar is the nest to some important archaeological findings and home to some mystic and religious events and the university college carrying the town’s name.

View from Skagafjörður
Hólar horses
The town of Hólar
Hilly Hólar
University College in Hólar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to get there: From the crossroad on Siglufjarður, turn left onto road 767 Hólavegur. If you’re coming fromVarmahlíð, in the south on the Ring Road, you’ll need to get to the crossing with the 76 road, turn left up north for 27 km until you reach the road 767, where you’ll need to turn right until you reach the campsite.

Prices: 1300 first night, 1000 the following. As the campsites in Sauðárkrókur, Hofsós, Varmahlíð, and Hólar are operated together, if you want to stay several nights in different campsites, you could benefit from the longer-stay discount just by showing the receipt from the first campsite.

If you want to get further info in Icelandic or have a look at the pics of the campsite, click here. It seems the English version of the website is also in Icelandic.

 


 

EXTRA RECOMMENDATIONS

 

This awesome campsite set directly in front of the Strandarkirkja beach is strikingly for free. It is located southeast from Suðurnes, the Southern Peninsula. It offers you a peaceful environment where you can cook, sit on the picnic tables, have a shower for a modest price, use the toilets there, there are dishes, propane gas cylinders, etc.

This is a good option if you’re heading to or from the airport and you still don’t want to get into Reykjavik for bedtime.

How to get there: From Reykjavik, take the 41 and then, continue on 42 roads south. Turn left to take 427 road east via Suðurstrandarvegur. 20 km after the turn, you will need to turn right, and there you’ll find the campsite.

Prices: free

 

 

 

Photo credit: Reykjavik Campsite

This is an interesting one, it is located only at a 40-minute drive distance from the airport and it is just 10 minutes away from the city center. If your flight comes late and you want to spare yourself the stress to check in at a specific time, this is a good option. It has all the facilities you could ask for at a campsite. Another compelling reason is the price, quite a thrift in Iceland!

How to get there: (Information extracted from the camping website) The campsite sign is visible at several places on the ride from the airport. Drive road 41 to Reykjavík from the airport. When you enter the city, the name of the road changes to Hafnarfjarðarvegur and then to Kringlumýrarbraut. Keep driving on Kringlumýrarbraut almost to the end when you start seeing the sea at the end of the road. Then you turn right on Sundlaugavegur and drive 0.9 kilometers until you see the Campsite parking lot on your right-hand side. See direction map here.

Prices2200 ISK per night – at about 16.50 € or 18.50 $ per person

 

 

Photo credit: Stafafell Guesthouse

After our adventure in Lönsoraefi, trapped with our Suzuki Jimny in the mud, we found the historic old farmhouse at Stafafell. This was one of the best stays of our trip, also the people who accommodated us where very friendly. Very nice house and funny sheep all around! You can easily book here.

How to get there:  If you’re coming from Jökulsárlón ice lagoon, follow the Ring Road for one hour and a half until you reach Stafafell.

Prices: Approx. 7500 ISK, depending on which kind of room you choose.

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