A road trip around Iceland’s Ring Road in a camper van is the ultimate adventure. It’s great to disconnect for a while and get back to nature. You also have the chance to get up close and personal with those gorgeous landscapes Iceland is so well known for. But before booking your vehicle, you need to decide if 4×4 camper rental in Iceland is the right choice for you.
Should my camper van rental in Iceland be 4×4 or 2WD?
This is an excellent question and one that should be addressed before you get too far into planning your trip. It’s a lot of fun to dream about the mammoth glaciers, cascading waterfalls, and steaming hot springs you’ll encounter. But first of all, you’ll need to make some important decisions about your trip. Whether or not your camper van rental in Iceland is a 4×4 or two-wheel drive depends heavily upon your itinerary. The time of year you visit Iceland is also a factor.
4×4 camper van rental in Iceland is only 100% necessary if you’re visiting during the summer and you plan on heading towards the Highlands. This interior part of our small Nordic island is considered Iceland’s wild backcountry. With rough terrain and roads that are extremely difficult to drive on, a 4×4 camper is the only solution. Let’s take a look at why.
Camper rentals and F-roads
The Icelandic Highlands are a rugged, untamed part of our country that you cannot access from the Ring Road. This mountainous region can only be reached by a series of special trails known as F-roads (mountain roads). Due to melting snow and constantly changing road conditions, you can only access these roads in the summer, when they are deemed safe. Additionally, they’re unpaved gravel paths. By law, you are required to have a 4×4 camper or 4WD SUV to drive on them.
You need the traction of driving all four wheels with your Iceland camper rental to navigate these difficult paths. And be sure to pay attention for special road signs that warn you of upcoming challenges like unbridged rivers.
Winter road conditions in Iceland
Another scenario in which having a four-wheel-drive might be the best choice for your rental in Iceland is if you come during the wintertime. The cold season in Iceland runs from November through March and you’ll still find snow on the ground as late as April. During these winter months, it’s not mandatory to make your camper a 4×4 rental, but Iceland is covered in snow at this time. The landscapes and frozen waterfalls are beautiful and resemble a snow globe. But you might not be used to or comfortable with winter driving.
Slushy, snowy, or icy road conditions require driving with special care. Your rental company will already have provided you with snow tires, but all-wheel drive gives you that extra touch of safety. If you’re skidding on a patch of black ice, it’s much easier to get things back under control when you’ve got a handle on all four tires. The important thing is to feel comfortable and confident behind the wheel.
The Marco Polo Mercedes camper van rental, the VW California, and the VW Crafter are all excellent 4×4 camper model options.
Benefits of Iceland Camper Rental
While deciding upon the best transportation options to experience Iceland, many travelers weigh two different options. Looking at the advantages and disadvantages of car rentals versus campers, the obvious choice is clear. Camper rental wins hands down, which explains why it’s one of the most common ways to visit our beautiful island.
The benefits of renting a camper in Iceland are twofold. First, you will save a lot of money as it’s the most economical way to travel here. Second, you’ve got the freedom and flexibility that you just won’t get with a car. While it’s true that smaller automobiles are more fuel-efficient, it’s not the whole picture. You have to take a look at more than just fuel costs when planning for your Iceland trip.
The price of renting a campervan in Iceland is significantly lower then what you would pay if you booked transport and hotels separately. Even hostels in Iceland are expensive, so don’t think you’ll find any money-saving shortcuts there. Add in the fact that you can cook your own meals, and the savings from campervan rental really start to add up. One of the things that shock visitors most is the price of eating at diners and restaurants, so save a few bucks by preparing breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Being able to play things by ear when planning your schedule as you go is another bonus of getting a campervan in Iceland. Let’s say that on your first day exploring our beautiful country, you decide to visit the Golden Circle. There are plenty of stops beside the main three, and maybe spend a little more time than planned at each one. If you had a hotel or guesthouse reservation waiting for you in Vik, you might feel pressured to hit the road in order to arrive on time. With a camper, you drive as much or as little as you like and simply pull into the next closest camping site.
The same is also true if you discover that you’ve allotted too much time for a stop or sightseeing destination.
Iceland campsites are huge campgrounds that will have room 99% of the time, so they don’t accept bookings ahead of time. This is very different than staying at hotels in Iceland. There’s no need to worry about making hotel reservations months in advance or about accommodation booking up. This reason alone should be enough to convince you that RV rental in Iceland is the best choice.
Combined with the fact that a 4-wheel drive will take you anywhere you want to go in Iceland, 4×4 camper van rental offers the best of everything. You can even do a DIY Northern Lights tour in your camper.
Final tips for 4×4 camper rental in Iceland
The best 4×4 camper rental in Iceland is the one that offers comprehensive insurance coverage. In my experience, travelers underestimate road and weather conditions here because it’s not like anything they dealt with at home. As a result, they choose not to get insurance because they think they don’t need it and then regret their decision later. I say opt for the insurance, and remember to bring your credit card as a guarantee for your rental.
You should also consult pick up and drop off hours and locations for your specific campervan rental company in Iceland. Not every provider has an office at Keflavik Airport, and you may need to find transportation to downtown Reykjavik. There also won’t necessarily be pick-up or drop-off 24 hours a day, so plan accordingly.