Pre-honeymoon in a camper in Iceland
…or a great test for a lasting relationship
After having done some holidays in hotels in tropical areas we decided it was high time for a real adventure trip in a completely different surrounding. Moreover, just three weeks before our wedding in July it was the perfect opportunity for a last proof for our relationship. There is no better place than Iceland, especially when travelling in a small camper van, as you are close together 24/7 and you must rely on each other.
We wanted to go all around Iceland and so we planned a tour of two weeks which turned out to be a reasonable time for that distance. Nevertheless, you can see many fascinating places also in one week or even less. Some of the best places aren’t far from Reykjavík or the airport.
When preparing our holiday, we found out quickly that a cosy and efficient way to get to all the great spots is in a little camper van. They are very handy, don’t take much fuel (ours took only 5 liters Diesel on 100 km), are easy to drive, also on small, curvy roads and still they offer everything you need. Moreover, we could decide spontaneously where to go and where to spend the night.
However, you should always take a campsite, which can be found everywhere along the way. For a campsite we paid about 1500 ISK per person, sometimes even including a hot bath. You can also check whether the CampCard is reasonable for you. It is recommendable to buy it in advance, but be careful, it is only accepted by a certain number of campsites. When you plan your tour, remember that with a normal car you can only go near the coast, for the inland roads you need 4×4 camper.
When we finally arrived in Iceland it was easy to find the Rent.is office and the friendly staff quickly showed us our well-equipped Nissan camper van. And off we went to enjoy the beautiful country of fire and ice…and wind. We drove all around the island clockwise, so here are some of the highlights of our tour:
Snæfellsnes peninsula in the west:
On the south coast of Snæfellsnes just east of Arnarstapi you can enter a narrow gorge (Rauðfeldsgjá ravine) and if your shoes are waterproof you can follow the gorge until you reach a waterfall at the end. There you can climb up inside the waterfall with the help of a rope that is fixed to the rock, in case you yourself are waterproof or at least a bit crazy and adventurous.
Just a little further west at Arnarstapi village there is a great walk along a well-prepared coast path where you can enjoy wonderful views on the cliffs including some hilarious rock formations and caves. The path starts right in the village at the carpark with the huge troll.
On the very south-western tip of the Westfjords at Látrabjarg, after a long drive on bumpy gravel roads, you are rewarded by spectacular cliffs and beautiful beaches. On top of that you can meet cute puffins. We even saw a polar fox there.
The Westfjords generally offer great landscapes with fjords, highlands and waterfalls, the biggest and highest is Dynjandi which is definitely worth visiting.
Laugarbakki near Hvammstangi not only offers a gas station and campsite but also a cute shop for handmade wool clothes and all kinds of authentic souvenirs and vintage accessories. I bought a warm hat there as the wind can be quite strong in Iceland.
In north Iceland there are many possibilities to leave the main road and take turns along the coast which is often much more interesting, as you get to see beautiful cliffs and rocks, for example the huge three-legged troll Hvítserkur at the east coast of the Vatnsnes peninsula near Ósar. The troll has turned to stone when he stayed out on the beach for too long and was hit by daylight. At low tide you can even walk around the “monster” and between the “legs”. But remember to leave on time before the tide comes up, or the darkness might wake up the troll again.
The east coast doesn’t offer great highlights but we decided to go on as it is shorter to go around the east to the southern highlights and we preferred seeing new landscape. In fact, the landscape in the east is nice.
In the south we enjoyed the glaciers that reach really close to the coast and to the main road.
Jökulsárlón is the most spectacular lake full of icebergs. It is right next to the road and you can see the light blue color of the ice clearly. Some icebergs have funny shapes, some are huge and they slowly melt and sink in the lake. Through the river some ice floats into the nearby sea and is then washed onto the black beach. There we picked up some ice and used it as ice cubes for drinks. That is pure ice from the glacier which is some thousands of years old before pollution began.
Further west we reached Skaftafell national park where there are several nice walks directly from the campsite. One is to the beautiful Svartifoss, a waterfall that goes over a wall of octangular basalt columns. It is not the highest or the biggest waterfall in Iceland but one of the most beautiful. The path leads up the hill and is easy to walk in about 30 minutes one way. It is also possible to walk to another glacier with a lake full of icebergs and great views on the glacier itself. It is amazing to see these huge glaciers lying in the valleys with some hundred meters if ice. Also, the retreat of the glaciers in the last decades is clearly visible.
Vík is a medium sized town on the south coast that is worth a stop. The cliffs there are really spectacular. Again, everything consists of octangular black basalt and from the beach west of Vík you can access little caves in the cliffs and enjoy the views on some pillars standing in the sea. The legend says they are two trolls who wanted to pull a three-masted shipwreck ashore and turned to stone including the ship when they were hit by daylight. When we were there the weather was very windy and cold which made it uncomfortable to walk along the beach but the huge waves made the scenery even more dramatic.
The Golden Circle:
The Golden Circle is a volcanic area not far east of Reykjavík in the south where most tourists go. The best place for us was the Geysir and the Strokkur near Múli. While the Geysir didn’t do anything artistic when we were there, only after earthquakes, the Strokkur blew up a huge fountain of water and steam every 5-8 minutes and that was fantastic to watch. All around that hill there are many more holes where steam or hot water comes out. We decided to go there in the evening as then there are fewer tourists. The place is open and free of charge, which is great for such an attraction.
Unfortunately, we had a little injury on our journey. Therefore, we found out that there is a little but well-equipped health station in every village. So even in the little populated south-eastern area there is one place like that about every 100 km, clearly signposted on the road. In these health stations there are nurses and a doctor on call. If necessary the nurse can contact a specialist doctor in Reykjavík and we got professional treatment by very friendly people. All the stations take credit cards and we didn’t have to wait long. A big “thank you” to the nurses and health stations we visited because then we could continue our trip as planned.
Of course, we visited many more attractions and places. The real value of Iceland is not reading nor writing about it but experiencing it. That is what we did very intensively and it was an unforgettable journey. Living in the camper van and sharing these wonderful moments together made us fall in love even more and when we got back home we married ?.
We definitely want to come back to Iceland, maybe at a different season.
Andrea & Frank
Read more: Meet in Iceland
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