Renting a camper van for Iceland is a tough decision. There are tons of pros and cons to think about and at the end of the day, it is a personal decision you have to make on your own.
I will say that I am extremely happy that I rented a camper van during my trip to Iceland and think it was the best decision I made when planning my Iceland trip.
Camper Van in Iceland: Pros
The convenience of traveling Iceland in a campervan is the main reason I booked one over a simple car. If you book your camper van you are pretty much done with your planning until you get there. You have no hotels to book and no route to plan. You can go where you want to go when you want to go once you get there. Many nights I slept at the closest campsite available when I had enough for the day. Or I took a quick nap on the side of the road when I needed a break.
Here's the thing, hotels book up fast, especially during peak season! Plus, it can be a huge headache trying to decide your exact route before you get there. Iceland has so many wonderful sites along the way that will make you pull over and in turn, that will throw off your whole plan. If you have a van you can plan your route as you go and see how far you get each day.
**But if you do want to plan a more distinct route take a look at my full guide here. Included is what I did each day, the best spots to take Instagram pictures and how many miles I drove a day.
Renting a van will save you a lot of time not only before your trip but while you are in Iceland. All of your food, clothing, camera equipment and anything you might want or need is with you at all times. If you book tours for each day, usually you pack a huge bag of items to carry with you throughout the day. Your campervan is always with you, at every stop, and at the end of every hike. There were multiple times where I finished a big hike got back to the van and made myself lunch. This saved so much precious Iceland sightseeing time.
This was a huge one for me and encompasses why I loved my Go Camper van so much. Iceland weather is hard to predict. One moment it can be sunny and beautiful and then next moment it is raining and the wind is howling. Being able to be completely flexible with your plans is essential. There were mornings we woke up to cold and rain. Because Iceland summers have 22 hours of sunlight we simply decided to sleep in and start the day once the rain subsided. More about reverse scheduling here.
The flexibility also was great when it came to the route. If you book with tours you are at the best sites at a specific time for a limited amount of time. Also, you are there when EVERYONE is there. Some people don't mind crowded pictures but I hate them. Having a campervan allowed me to set my own schedule and sometimes that meant sleeping all day and seeing the sights at night like I did in South Iceland.
Iceland is gorgeous - there is no denying it. So imagine waking up to a gorgeous view or falling asleep next to an amazing waterfall. You just can't do that with hotel stays.
Many days we made all of our meals from our van in front of an amazing Iceland sight! Eating a boring bowl of porridge is so much better when you are sitting in front of the Glacier Lagoon or Skogafoss Waterfall.
I touched on this earlier but naps are key in Iceland. Living in a land that only gets 2 hours of darkness a day is strange and puts your sleep schedule completely out of whack. There were nights I stayed up till 3 am and then woke up a couple hours later to start the day. By 4 pm I needed a nap! Having the ability to pull over, hop in the back, and into my sleeping bag for a couple of hours was so great.
Of course, the pro that means the most to me. It is cheaper all around to rent a van. Everything is expensive in Iceland. Food at restaurants is ridiculously priced, especially in the smaller towns. It isn't unusual to see burgers for around $22-$25. In the van, you have the ability to make your own meals. That isn't to say you can't eat it out - you just don't have to do it for every meal. Hotels as well are expensive. Even a budget accommodation will run you around $100+ a night. In the van, your transport and accommodations are taken care of. If you need to see Iceland on a budget a van is going to be your cheapest option by far.
Camper Van in Iceland: Cons
I don't consider this a con because I found it easy to shower in Iceland but I know some people would find this annoying. Local town swimming pools have great shower facilities but I get it, it's not a private shower. You can read a full guide to how I showered in Iceland here.
Again, I didn't find this an issue but it is definitely a con. Gas stations, cafes, even some of the parks and waterfalls have toilets you can use.
Lack of space
You will be living in a small campervan. There is no getting around it. Our van had the kitchen above our feet so space was limited. Just know you will only be in the van to drive and sleep. The rest of the time you will be out exploring Iceland! The one time we found ourselves with a longer downtime we found a cafe with WiFi - simple solution.
I was very lucky. The whole 10 days I was traveling Iceland we only had about 3 days of what I would call bad weather. We mostly had sunny or overcast days and very little rain. The few days it was raining definitely made campervan living harder. Making dinner in the rain and then eating in the van was a bit of a downer. It didn't bother me too much but it was definitely a con.
Like I said in the beginning, I am definitely glad I rented a van for my trip to Iceland. The pros completely outweighed the cons. I rented with Go Campers and highly recommend them! You can read a full article with tons of info on what it is like renting a camper van in Iceland here.
P.S. I created a super in-depth FREE travel guide for Iceland. Inside the guide are budgeting tips, where to take the best Instagram photos, maps to hidden hot pots, and so much more. I wouldn't go to Iceland without it!