Iceland 2017

Iceland 2017


In summer 2017, my girlfriend and I traveled to Iceland for a camping / roadtrip / hiking / bathing / sightseeing vacation. Many friends were interested in our route and activities, so I am providing some details here. You can access my bookmarks and the approximate route (clockwise) from one of the following sources:

You can find some of our pictures here.

Weather. Iceland is for sure one of the most beautiful countries in this world. The weather is quite cold, wet, and windy and it can change very suddenly. However, please do not get frightened and just bring good equipment for every temperature and weather with you! The most important rule we learned in Iceland is to never postpone anything. If the floor is dry and it is not raining, put up your tent better sooner than later. If you have nice sunshine, do not stop with your planned trips - you might catch the best pictures of your trip very late in the evening. We made the experience that the weather might change every 10 minutes or every 5 kilometers. In a single hike to the airplane-wreck we were waiting for the rain to stop, started in bright sunshine, got into rain, got sunshine back. During returning it started hailing and raining with strong winds from the west so we got extactly 50 percent wet on one side only :-)

Car rental. We rented an Opel Astra from Sixt directly at the airport for 19 days for around 1160 € including "Vollkasko" (CDW) and unlimited kilometers. Anyhow, vulcanic ash damage (yes!), sand damage (during strong winds!), wind damage to doors, window damages, paint damages, underground damages, water damages, ... are not covered by this. If you want to be covered for this also, you need extra insurances which are very expensive (and you have to pay some part of the cost anyhow if something happens). It is very easy to get damages to your paint or to your windows as other vehicles often throw up stones which hit your car. The only defense is to slow down everytime you meet another car and avoid to leave the asphalted street (which is not always possible). To relieve the stress of driving during your vacation, I strongly recommend to book at least some additional insurance for the windshield. Make sure that you have enough money available for the deposit on exactly the creditcard you used for booking (may depend on the rental company)!

Road Conditions The roads on the Hringvegur ("Ringstraße") are very nicely prepared, much better than in Austria. But also on this road, there is one small part in the East where you have to go on unpaved roads. Side-trips are often unpaved, but the conditions of the unpaved roads are also very good. With "normal" cars, in Iceland you are not allowed to go on so-called "F"-roads which restricts your possibilities a little bit. There are also some additional routes which are banned for non-SUVs and even the SUVs need special labels to allow you to go on the "F" routes. Sometimes there are good reasons for these labels. We met some tourists who were going with a tourist-bus and their luggage was unvoluntarily washed when the bus went through a river. But, also without going on the "F"-Routes, there is more than enough to see in Iceland!

Alternatives (Biking / Hiking). We saw some people hitch-hiking or biking. The biggest issue is the weather, because you have no dry place to store your bags and you have to carry all equipment with you. Supermarkets are at large distances and you cannot always enjoy fresh food. Hitch-hiking is further difficult, because in some regions you meet cars very rarely. And if you are lucky and a car comes by, it is probably fully occupied with people and luggage. Biking is also not fun - the road is often dusty and not paved. Also, you will get very dirty in the rain. Cars don't slow down too much for you and might hit you with stones flying through the air. You need to protect against dust, stones, water, wind and cold. Sounds like an adventure? I warned you ;-)

Food. Despite Icelands very north location, you can buy almost everything in Iceland. However, you pay a lot for meat, vegetables or fruits. But that's nothing compared to the restaurants. Anyhow, I can recomment the "Islenski Barinn" in Reykjavik to try some traditional food! We payed 75€ for two main courses and one dessert and it was definetly worth it. However, we also saw a Pizza Margherita for 35 € ... Abroad, we prefered to cook our meals ourselves on our gas stove.

Costs. I get asked very often how much a vacation in Iceland costs. It's very expensive. It starts with the rental car, where you have to plan 60 - 300 € per day and continues with hotel prices starting with 100 € per night. Camping is a very cheap alternative - sometimes you find even a place to stay for a night for free. Gas prices are ok, you don't have too large distances, so it does not matter that much. But don't forget to include unlimited kilometers if you want to go around Iceland otherwise it becomes very expensive! You can spend much more on souveniers if you want to buy an original Icelandic pullover - they look nice but the wool is not really comfortable. As mentioned above, food is also very expensive. If you want to go out for dinner, be prepared. You can pay everywhere with your credit card - also on every camp-site in the middle of nowhere. Credit card is also accepted for very small amounts of money. We had some cash with us but we would have never needed it.

Approximate costs of a Iceland camping/road trip for 2 persons for 19 days (+1 day fly)
ItemApprox. Costs
Fly (VIE-KEF, Austrian)876 €
Train (Sparschiene)56 €
1x Airbnb (Reykjavik)70 €
Camping~300 €
Food~450 €
Gas (Diesel)~250 €
Opel Astra (19 Days)1160 €
Souveniers... €
Camping equipment... €
Entrance fees~500 €
Total~3700 € + ...

Hint: Camping Vehicles. If you can afford it, rent a small camping vehicle (e.g. from, GO Campers, Campervan Iceland, CampEasy ...). We saw a lot of them driving around and it is really nice because it makes you more independent from the weather compared to camping. You can still stay on camping sites spontaneously and don't have to arrange for fixed hotels upfront.

Travel Route & Highlights