Although it's a small and seemingly insignificant island in the North Atlantic, Iceland is an extraordinary campervan destination that should be at the top of your road trip bucket list.
Heading out of the capital of Reykjavik, every route promises to surprise and spoil you with sensational landscapes with epic spectacles of nature at every turn that exceeds your wildest road trip dreams.
But while the scenery is of high importance for any road trip, there are many, many more reasons to put Icelandic vanlife at the top of your travel priorities.
For a start, it has some of the most beautiful campsites found anywhere in the world and what's more, you could be lucky enough to find the Northern Lights dancing above you wherever you park up.
Drive some of the world's most scenic driving routes
There are few places in the world where you'll pass epic mountainscapes, giant glaciers, and powerful waterfalls as you drive along the road. In Iceland, however, this is the norm. In fact, all of these sights can be seen from the Ring Road alone, which is the main highway encircling the island. As you drive deeper into lesser-traveled and more remote parts of the country, the scenery only becomes more astonishing. As road trip vacations go, it doesn't get better than this.
Between the highways and country roads, Iceland offers several unbelievably scenic driving routes making it one of the world's top road trip destinations. You can discover nature's spectacles on the Golden Circle, weave your way into the dramatic Westfjords mountainscapes, and even circumnavigate the whole country on a complete Ring Road self-drive tour.
Benefit from quality campsites
Iceland is equipped with top-notch campsites that make campervan and motorhome road trips really accessible. These campsites can be found in almost every town and settlement around the Ring Road, at main points of interest, and in amongst nature. So wherever you go, there's always somewhere to stay nearby assuring you of a comfortable and sound night's sleep. What's more, Icelandic campsites are always very clean, orderly, and boast high-grade facilities that ensure campers never go without a good shower.
Perhaps the best thing about Icelandic campsites, however, is how they allow campers to stay connected with nature. While campsites typically pen you into a cramped plot, Icelandic campsites are often open and spacious, giving the camper the feeling that they are wild camping. Geysers, glaciers, and waterfalls are just some of the wonders of nature that you could find yourself camping beside on an Iceland road trip.
Driving is easy in Iceland
Did you know Iceland's roads are some of the easiest to drive on in Europe? This is in large because they are very well-built, maintained, and signposted. Therefore, when you pick up your car rental and drive for the first time in Iceland, you will adjust to the differences very quickly ? even if you're used to driving on the opposite side of the road!
It's also easy to drive in Iceland because Iceland's population is so small that you are never going to hit any traffic. In fact, you'll often find you have the roads outside of Reykjavik all to yourself!
Therefore, you can arrive in Iceland with the courage and confidence that your driving experience is going to be a relaxed and enjoyable experience, rather than a stressful one and spend more time enjoying the journey.
Get back to nature
By opting for self-drive tours and camping instead of bus tours and hotels, you'll get to feel closer to nature which, in a country as beautiful as Iceland, is quite a privilege. There's something about driving in your own vehicle along Iceland's scenic roads that makes it feel more personal like you're spending quality time with your surroundings.
Plus, there's no scheduled bus or check-in time to pull you away from Iceland's magnificent feats of nature. Instead, you can stay for as long as you like in the places you enjoy most to revel in the beauty of your surroundings long after the bus tour crowds have been hurried off.
Then, after a day of exploring you can park far from civilization and wake up to the sight of snowy mountains, waterfalls, and even glaciers beside your bedroom window.
Experience alternative living
As a top road trip destination, Iceland is the perfect place to get a taste of vanlife which is becoming an evermore popular way of alternative travel. When living and traveling in a campervan, you get an opportunity to experience life from a different perspective. One that allows you to take the wheel (figuratively and literally) and turn in whichever direction you would like to go whenever the moment takes you.
While some prefer to take it slow and settle into their surroundings, others like to travel as far and wide as possible. No matter what pace you decide to travel on the road, the point is that you're doing it at your own pace rather than following a schedule that other forms of travel require. Somewhere along the road, as you experience this alternative way of traveling, you realise how boundless you are.
Find a new sense of freedom
Iceland is such a wild, unspoiled, and nature-rich country that you get to enjoy an immense feeling of freedom as you drive around it. Especially because you can cover hundreds of kilometres without spotting any sign of civilization which, in today's world, is a rare and privileged experience to have. Without any eyes watching you, you are able to truly relax as you feel the weight of the world lifting from your shoulders. Instead, you can tune into yourself and concentrate on life's little joys again like the beauty of nature.
While campervans and motorhomes are restricted to parking in campsites at night, the country as a whole is one of the most open and welcoming in Europe for this kind of travel. This means you can be free to navigate the open road ahead of you exactly as you wish to discover the many places in Iceland where you can get lost and find yourself in nature.
Become more adventurous
One of the best parts about traveling in a campervan or motorhome rental is how adventurous it allows you to be. While you can stick to the tourist trails and see the sights highlighted in popular travel articles, you can also venture off it and see the lesser-travelled parts of Iceland. Since there are secret waterfalls, canyons, and craters sprinkled all across the island, you never know what you might find.
Adventure is also about spontaneity. Making those on-the-spot decisions to change your plans, or scrap them altogether. When you have a campervan or a motorhome rental to take you wherever you want to go whenever you feel like it, you have the freedom to make those spontaneous decisions to change directions, stay somewhere longer, or add a totally new destination to your itinerary.
Camp beneath the Northern Lights
Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights, a rare natural phenomenon that paints the night sky with neon-green strings of dancing light.
There are tours that take you to popular sighting spots but it's so much more fun and rewarding to spot them for yourself on an Iceland road trip. With your own vehicle and the Aurora forecast to hand, you have everything you need to go and hunt for the Northern Lights.
Once you find it dancing above you, you can park up somewhere dark and quiet to enjoy a private viewing. What's more, you have the freedom to go hunting for the Northern Lights to your heart's content with your own vehicle.
So, if you are unsuccessful in finding them one night, you can just try again the next! Even if get lucky on your first try, you'll find yourself so enamoured by the extraordinary sight that you'll surely want to sneak in another.
Choose your own road trip style
Whether you'd prefer a 4x4, a micro-camper, or a luxury motorhome rental, Iceland has the road trip experience for you. Northbound offers a full range of rental vehicles to suit all tastes and budgets to make your Icelandic road trip dreams a reality. Each vehicle type allows you to see Iceland from a completely unique perspective.
While a 4x4 will allow you to see a more gritty and remote side of Iceland on its restricted unpaved F-roads, a motorhome will give you the freedom to camp amongst Iceland's most beautiful landscapes without compromising on modern comforts. All in all, you can experience this bucket-list country in exactly the way you want to.