What does the law say about campers in Iceland?
If you try searching the internet to find out the law about campers in Iceland, you’ll most likely turn up every campervan hire website in the whole country before finding the answer. I wanted to know for certain before my trip so I decided to email Iceland’s environment agency. This is the response I received:
According to the Environment Agency link provided:
“It is now illegal to spend the night in tent trailers, tent campers, caravans, camper vans or similar outside organised campsites or urban areas unless the land owner or rightholder has given their permission”
Why have the environment agency taken this approach and is it the right one?
At first I was disappointed to hear this news. I love overlanding and the idea of driving off into Iceland’s highlands to explore the legendary F roads in a self-sufficient 4×4 camper appealed to my sense of adventure. But the more I think about it, the more certain I am that this was only sustainable option for Iceland to take.
Iceland is a small nation, with a population of around 300,000 people, but in 2015 alone it saw 1.2 million tourists visit its shores. The camper business is booming, which is great since it allows people to drive the ring road and see the beauty of the entire country, but the downside is the possible danger that this poses to that beautiful but fragile landscape.
Whilst most tourists are considerate, there will always be some that that are inconsiderate and won’t think twice about damaging or fouling the countryside.
So should tourists still rent campers?
Definitely yes! It’s still a great way to get around and see the island. Just make sure you spend the night in designated campsites.
Camping areas in Iceland are generally pretty cheap (around 1000-1500 ISK/£10 per person), and provide services such as bathrooms, showers and cooking facilities.
The Áning 2017 accommodation guide lists over 170 campsites, and swimming pools. It can be downloaded from the website or picked up free of charge in tourist information offices. Visit Iceland is another great resource for finding campsites, and is particularly useful for finding those that are open in the off-season.
It’s also possible to buy a camping card, which gives two adults (and four children up to the age of 16), access to 42 campsites around Iceland. The card costs €149 (£130) and lasts for 28 days.
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