The Best 3-5 Days Campervan Itinerary for Iceland

The Best 3-5 Days Campervan Itinerary for Iceland

While a lot of travellers spend upwards of a week on an Iceland road trip, the reality for many is that they just don’t have enough time for that. A longer trip could break your budget, or you might just not have enough leave from work. But Iceland is still a great place to go for a shorter break as well. Flights from both Europe and America aren’t very long, and the country is so wildly different to anything found in either continent that it still can feel like a grand adventure.

So, the question becomes how can you get the most out of your Iceland camper trip with the limited time you have? This article will outline the absolute best itinerary for those with 3 days in Iceland. As a bonus, we’ll also provide some recommendations for those campers with 5 days in Iceland. It’s jampacked – you're here for a good time, not a long time.


Arrival Times

For this itinerary we’ll assume that you will be able to pick up your campervan sometime between 8:30am and 10:00am. Most flights from North America will land early in the morning, meaning that you can grab a coffee and a nap while you wait for your airport pickup (if you’ve requested one) to roll around.  

Flights from Europe land a little bit later in the morning and early afternoon. That means if you’re using this itinerary, remember that you might have to skip a few things on your first day to catch up.

Booked your flights already? The next step is to see what campervans are available for the dates you’re in Iceland. Click here to find out.


North or South?

With only 3 days for your Iceland camper rental, usually we recommend heading along the south coast. It’s crowded, but for good reason; this region boasts some of the most famous and gorgeous sights in the country, perfect for an Iceland self-drive tour. The landscapes are dominated by the largest of glaciers, hiding away active volcanoes. Waterfalls cascade down cliffs, and there are more than a few opportunities to experience Iceland’s famous hot springs. And don’t forget the coastline, dotted with sweeping black sand beaches and craggy, dramatic cliff faces. This is exactly what you came to Iceland for, so let’s get started.


Day 1: The Golden Circle

Highlights:

  • Thingvellir National Park
  • Geysir
  • Gullfoss
  • Friðheimar Geothermal Tomato Farm
  • Kerið Volcanic Crater
  • Hot Springs: The Secret Lagoon or Laugarvatn Fontana

Day 1 sees you leaving Reykjavik in what is hopefully a well-organised campervan, stocked with supplies for the days ahead. Despite what we just said above, the itinerary starts by heading north out of Reykjavik towards the Golden Circle. This is the most popular tourist route in the country thanks to its fantastic sights and proximity to the capital. Afterward, we’ll swing back down towards the south coast of Iceland.

Many of you will have already read about this route and the stops that make it up: Thingvellir National Park, the explosive Geysir, and finally the incredible Gullfoss waterfall at the top of the circle. There are a few other options open in this area as well. Kerið is a volcanic crater filled with milky blue water, the Secret Lagoon in Flúðir is a great place for a dip, as is the Laugarvatn Fontana Geothermal Baths in Laugarvatn.

For those who want to see Iceland’s geothermal power, you should think about visiting the Friðheimar Geothermal Tomato Farm. Located in Flúðir, this has also become one of the Golden Circle’s main attractions. Book a table for lunch and taste their famed tomato soup, fresh bruschetta, and other delicious options like fresh pasta and mussels in a beautiful tomato sauce.

For more information on Iceland’s Golden Circle, check out our detailed guide.

After the Golden Circle is done and dusted, it’s time to start heading towards the south coast. Most roads from the area lead south towards Route 1. Depending on how much time you have, you might even be able to get a head start on your day 2 itinerary and camp at one of the waterfalls.

Night 1 Possible Campsites: See Campsites in Iceland

  • Hella
  • Hvolsvöllur
  • Seljalandsfoss
  • Skógafoss

Day 2: The South Coast & Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Highlights:

  • Seljalandsfoss
  • Skogafoss
  • Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
  • Vík
  • Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach

There’s a lot to see on Iceland’s South Coast, so get an early start. We’ve chosen a few stops as you head east and left some others for the return journey to Reykjavik. Start off your second day in your Iceland campervan by stopping off at the two waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. Both can be seen from Route 1 and are almost impossible to resist. After these two continue south, turning off towards the coast when you see the sign Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. This is Iceland’s most famous black sand beach, frequently used as a shooting location for films and TV series, including Game of Thrones.

Are you a Game of Thrones geek? Check out this article to discover more shooting locations like Reynisfjara.

Afterwards, it’s well worth stopping in Vík and having a poke around. This beautiful hamlet is Iceland’s southernmost point – make sure to enjoy the view from above the church, which takes in the impressive sea stacks out in the ocean.

From Vík, it’s a 2.5-hour drive to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, one of the best sights in all of Iceland. Huge chunks of the glacier Vatnajökull float around in an expansive body of water before the currents carry them out into the ocean. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours on the shores of the lagoon, but don’t miss the coast either. This is known as Diamond Beach, where the tide pushes the icebergs back up onto the black sand beach. From Vík, you should be arriving at the Glacier Lagoon in the late afternoon or early evening. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy the long Icelandic summer night.

After you’ve had your fill of the lagoon, we recommend backtracking towards either the Svínafell or Skaftafell campsites. Many might be tempted to continue to Höfn for the night, but just know it will add another hour onto the drive back the next day. If you do decide to travel onwards to the town, make sure that you track down a good restaurant for dinner – this is Iceland’s capital of lobster.

Night 2 Possible Campsites:  See Campsites in Iceland

  • Skaftafell
  • Svínafell
  • Höfn

Day 3: Skaftafell and Back Towards Reykjavik

Highlights:

  • Skaftafell
  • Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
  • Dyrhólaey Peninsula
  • Abandoned Plane Wreck on Sólheimasandur Black Sand Beach
  • Seljavallalaug Geothermal Swimming Pool

The third day in this itinerary is taking you back along the south coast towards Reykjavik, but this time you’ll be stopping at a few of the places you missed along the way that are hiding a little bit off the ring road.

If you camped at Skaftafell, then it’s worth hiking the short distance up towards the waterfall Svartifoss. The river shoots out over the cliffs, made of hexagonal black basalt columns. It’s a very special sight and makes for a great photo. If you woke up especially early, then you might also have time to hike over to the Sjónarnípa viewpoint, which offers a fantastic view over the Skaftafellsjökull glacier spilling out from between the mountains.

For more information about hiking in Skaftafell, check out our handy guide with information on all the different hiking trails available.

After you’ve finished hiking, it’s time to jump in the camper and start back towards Vík. On your way, make sure to pull in at Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon just past the small town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. An ancient glacial flood carved out this snaking canyon, now wildly popular mostly thanks to the location featuring in Justin Bieber’s music video for I’ll Show You. This canyon has also been periodically closed over the past few years thanks to the environment being damaged, so make sure to stick to the paths if you’re allowed to visit.

Next up is Vík again, but this time drive straight through and turn south towards Dyrhólaey. From this cliff top, you’ll be afforded one of the best views along the south coast in both directions. It also gives a great perspective of the two glaciers, Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull.

After Dyrhólaey, drive on a little bit further until you reach a big parking lot beside the road (if you hit Skógafoss, you’ve gone too far). This is where you’ll be able to walk out towards the abandoned plane wreck that’s lying on the black sand beach. It takes around 50-60 minutes to reach the plane. Another popular detour is to visit Seljavallalaug, Iceland’s oldest swimming pool, found at the base of Eyjafjallajökull. Check out our article on hot springs for more information.

For the last evening in Iceland, many will opt to drive all the way back to Reykjavik. The Reykjavik Campsite is open year-round and is a 20-minute walk from downtown. If you can’t make it all the way into Reykjavik to camp, there are a few other options as well – Selfoss and Hveragerði are both big towns along route 1 back into the city, offering good options for food and camping.

Night 3 Possible Campsites:  See Campsites in Iceland

  • Reykjavik
  • Selfoss
  • Hveragerði

Ready to get going? We’ve got some of the best prices for an Iceland camper rental in the country. Check out which campers are available here.


Days 4 and 5: Snæfellsnes Peninsula

If you do have a couple of extra days on hand, we recommend taking it a bit easier than the pace of the above itinerary. On top of that, the extra time is perfect for exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and all that it has to offer.

Known as ‘Iceland in Miniature’, in the long arm of the Snæfellsnes you’ll find almost everything that you can see elsewhere in the country. From black sand beaches to a brooding volcano and glacier, it’s got it all.

Along the southern edge of the peninsula you’ll find windswept beaches, rocky coastline, and tiny fishing villages. The highlights of this area include stopping off at the isolated Búðir church, hiking along the coastline between Hellnar and Arnarstapi, and visiting the Rauðfeldsgjá gorge that cuts into the mountainside.

The impressive Snæfellsjökull National Park takes up the entire tip of the peninsula. There’s loads to see here, from ancient lava fields folding into the ocean to ancient craters, lava tubes, and volcanic caves.

An ideal option to stay overnight on the peninsula is with our good friends at the Freezer Hostel, which is a campsite, hostel, theatre, and cultural centre all rolled into one. There are also great campsites in Hellissandur, Ólafsvík, and Grundarfjörður along the north coast.

Wherever you wake up, your second day on the peninsula should be spent admiring Kirkjufell, the most photographed mountain in Iceland and Game of Thrones shooting location. Further to the east is Stykkishólmur, a picturesque fishing town that featured in Ben Stiller’s movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. From here, it’s a pleasant and scenic two and a half hours back to Reykjavik.

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