Iceland Family Road Trip in a Camper
Hi, I’m Heida. Me and my family went on a camper van road trip last summer and we wanted to tell you all about it in this blog post. Hopefully you will find it inspiring and helpful when planning your family trip to Iceland.
Our family rented a camper with Happy Campers for the middle of August this year. We decided to drive the full ring road and the Westfjords. We had an unforgettable time and were able to see and do so much on the way. There are a lot of things to think about when traveling with kids so we wanted to give you some tips for your itinerary and travel in Iceland with children.
Plan Your Iceland Family Trip
We had thought about making it a tradition to go on a camper van trip every summer with our kids. This trip was so good and we are definitely going to keep on with this tradition.
Since we are from Iceland, we have traveled around the country countless times. We live in Reykjavik and therefor we often go to the south and west coast of Iceland. Therefor we decided that we wanted to focus on the Westfjords, north and east Iceland. We skipped Snæfellsnes Peninsula this time but we can highly recommend going there. It’s one of our favorite part of Iceland.
Personalized Road Trip Plan
This was our first time traveling with two kids. Our older daughter was almost 2 years old and our younger daughter was 3 months old at the time of travel. We had a personalized road trip plan created by When in Iceland. Having a good plan for your trip to Iceland is something that we recommend. Specially when traveling with kids.
The personalized road trip plan is very detailed and gives you a plan for each day of your trip. You can read about the highlights of each day in the road trip plan so you can get to know more about Iceland as you travel around the country. You will also get maps for each day. We saved the maps to Google Maps on our phones so we were able to use the phones instead of a GPS. We had no problem finding any of the locations in our itinerary because of the detailed maps.
When booking a road trip plan with When in Iceland you can tell them what you would like to do and see on your trip. When in Iceland will create the best route so you can see as many places from your wish list as possible. They will also add some more locations along the way that you maybe didn’t even know of.
Iceland Family Itinerary
Day 1 – Route to the Westfjords
We started the day with picking up the camper van at the Happy Campers office. The office is located close to the airport so I would recommend booking the camper on the day of your arrival to Iceland. After we picked up our camper van, we went grocery shopping for the trip and then started our road trip. Our first day included a long drive to the WestFjords.
We started with a stop in Borgarnes for the famous Icelandic hot dog. You can find the Icelandic hot dog at gas stations all around Iceland. We stopped at the gas station in Borgarnes for the first hot dog of the trip. Borgarnes is a charming town with some good restaurants and a great swimming pool. If you have more time here, we can definitely recommend stopping at the swimming pool or going to Englendingavík bay where you can find a small play ground.
Hot Springs in the Westfjords
We made some more stops on the way to the Westfjords, including Guðrúnarlaug and Hellulaug hot springs, and ended the day at Rauðasandur. The drive on this day was pretty long but the weather was great and the views were perfect.
Hellulaug was one of our favorite stops of the day. Hellulaug is a small hot spring with breath taking views over the fjords and the mountains surrounding. We had the pool to ourselves but the girls did not go into the pool this time because it was getting a little bit cold outside. But we will definitely go back there when they are older so they can swim around the pool.
We arrived pretty late in the afternoon at Rauðisandur so we cooked dinner for us and the girls and went to sleep. It was dark outside when we arrived so we didn’t get to take in the beautiful views that Rauðisandur has to offer.
Day 2 – Westfjords
When we woke up in Rauðisandur the views very breathtaking. We loved this place so much that we decided to stay for a couple of hours. We walked along the red beach and played in the sand for some time. For lunch we baked pizza in our Roccbox pizza oven. Have you tried it? You can bake pizzas in the oven that are much better than you will get at any restaurant. The weather was beautiful. The sun was shining and we were completely alone on the beach. When visiting Rauðisandur you must walk the beach all the way to the ocean. That’s where you will get the views that everyone is talking about.
Since we are from Iceland, we are more used to black sand beaches and therefor it is very unique to us to see a red sand beach with views like this.
After relaxing at Rauðisandur for some time, we went on to explore some other parts of the WestFjords. The highlights of this day was definitely Dynjandi waterfall and Reykjafjarðarlaug natural pool. The pool is not very clean, but the views are amazing. We had the pool to ourselves and had so much fun.
Dynjandi waterfall is also one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. We arrived pretty late in the day, so there were almost no other travelers there. This is not very common during the summer time, since this is probably the most popular travel destination in the West Fjords. We hiked to the top to see Dynjandi waterfall up close. The hike takes around 10 minutes but you will see a couple of beautiful smaller waterfalls on the way.
We ended the day at the campsite in Ísafjörður which is really great.
Day 3 – Westfjords
The day started with a trip to the bakery in Ísafjörður. The Icelandic bakeries are great (at least that’s what the Icelanders think) and you should definitely go there and grab a “Snúður” with chocolate. The kids will love it.
On schedule for this day was driving the northern part of the Westfjords and heading all the way to Siglufjörður. Driving this route is very unique and this part of Iceland is different from the rest of the country. Beautiful fjords with stunning waterfalls and mountains all around you. We recommend a stop at Heydalur. You can find a good campsite and a swimming pool there. And don’t forget to go to the hot spring that is located just across the fjord, called Hörgshlíðarlaug.
We ended this day with a long drive all the way to Siglufjörður. The girls were fortunately able to sleep since we drove into the night and arrived very late at Siglufjörður.
Day 4 – North Iceland
North Iceland is a beauty that is often forgotten by travelers. After waking up in Siglufjörður we spent a good amount of time walking around this charming fishing town. The weather was really good and we enjoyed playing with the girls out in the sun. We also found a great playground close to the campsite where they could have spent hours playing.
After relaxing in Siglufjörður we went on to explore some of the other towns in north Iceland and did a quick stop at Bónus Supermarket in Akureyri to stock up on our groceries for the rest of the trip.
After visiting Akureyri we had our next stop, Goðafoss waterfall. Goðafoss is beautiful and very popular among travelers. There were so many people there when we arrived so we just hopped out of the car, walked to the waterfall and took some photos. Our next stop was Myvatn for the night.
Myvatn is a very beautiful place in north Iceland with a lot of great locations to explore nearby. The place is also very popular among travelers and there were so many people there. When we arrived at the campsite we had to fight for a spot for our camper van. There are several campsites at Myvatn so you should always be able to find a camping spot for the night but we wanted to stay at this campsite because of the beautiful views over the lake. The campsite that we stayed at is called Bjarg.
Day 5 – North Iceland
We spent this day exploring the area around Myvatn. Around Myvatn you can find a lot of great locations to explore. Our favorite were Hverir geothermal area and Dimmuborgir lava fields.
GeoSea Natural Baths
We decided to skip Myvatn Nature Baths and drive to Húsavík for the GeoSea natural baths. We had never been there before and really wanted to try it out. After arriving there, we were not disappointed with our decision. The GeoSea baths are great and the views over Skjálfandi Bay are out of this world.
The water in the GeoSea is a hot water from the sea. For centuries the geothermal heat north of Húsavík has been known to residents who have utilized it for bathing and washing. The water was too rich in minerals to be suitable for heating houses and instead of letting this hot water go to waste, an old cheese barrel was installed. The water in GeoSea comes from the drill hole located by the cheese barrel and is warm and comfortable and the mineral rich water is great for your skin. This was one of our favorite stops in the whole trip and it was 100% the girls favorite stop. Our older daughter laughed the whole time while she was playing in the pool.
Day 6 – The route to our favorite village in Iceland, Seyðisfjörður
We woke up in Ásbyrgi, one of our favorite places in Iceland. Ásbyrgi is a very unique place and different from all the other places that you will find in Iceland. It is a favorite place among many locals. Ásbyrgi is one of the Icelandic wonders of nature. It is a wide, horseshoe-shaped canyon with sheer cliffs up to 100 m high.
Inside Ásbyrgi you can find a lot of beautiful hiking trails, anything from 30 minute to 7 hours. It is also amazing just to walk across the canyon floor and enjoy the spectacular view. If you have time, we recommend that you hike to Eyjan to get views over the whole canyon. The hike takes around 1,5 to 2 hours and starts at the campground.
We did not have time to go to Eyjan this time but instead we drove from the campsite to the innermost car park in Ásbyrgi where we parked our car and took a little hike in the woods to Botnstjörn pond.
After exploring Ásbyrgi for some time we headed on to Dettifoss waterfall. Dettifoss is one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe and is one of the most popular travel destination in north Iceland. The road to Dettifoss is a gravel road and not very well maintained. The girls did not like this drive at all. When we arrived at Dettifoss it was packed with people but it is always amazing to see this extremely powerful waterfall. You can walk very close to the waterfall. We recommend that you do not go too close and specially not if you are traveling with children. You will feel the power of the waterfall well enough when standing at the view point.
We hopped on our Happy Camper and headed on to East Iceland for the night. We had dinner in Egilsstaðir and drove to Seyðisfjörður to spend the night. Seyðisfjörður is one of our favorite place in Iceland. It is such a charming and beautiful small town. The atmosphere there is great and you can walk to some restaurants and bars from the campsite. It is a 30 minutes detour when driving the ring road but we recommend that you go there if you are traveling in East Iceland. If you are staying for dinner, try the pizzas at Skaftfell.
Day 7 – East Iceland
Hengifoss & Litlanesfoss waterfalls
On day 7 we decided to explore East Iceland a little bit better. There were not so much driving on this day, but we went on a great hike to Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss waterfalls. When we arrived at the hiking trail it was very foggy. We started the hike anyway and were hopeful that we would still be able to see the waterfalls once we were on top of the mountain. The hike up to the waterfalls is great. It was foggy the whole time when we were hiking but when we arrived to Hengifoss waterfall at the top, everything cleared up and we were able to see this stunning waterfall. On the way back we were also able to see Litlanesfoss waterfall. Both waterfalls are extremely beautiful and are now on our list of favorite waterfalls in Iceland.
We spent the night at the campsite in Hallormsstaðaskógur forest. Hallormsstaðaskógur is the largest forest in Iceland. This was one of our favorite evening in the trip. The weather was great and we had more time to play with the girls on the campsite. They love to be outside in the nature so everything went very smoothly. After playing outside for a while everyone went happy to sleep in the cozy Happy Camper.
Day 8 – EastFjords & Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
After waking up in Hallormsstaðaskógur we went on with our road trip and drove to Höfn in south east Iceland. We stopped at some of the small towns in the east fjords on the way and at Folaldafoss waterfall. The drive through the fjords is very beautiful. On the plan was to go to Stokksnes black sand beach. When we arrived there the weather was not good at all. There is a fee to drive to the beach of ISK 900 per person so we decided to skip it this time.
We stopped at the swimming pool in Höfn and grabbed a lobster sandwich. Höfn is known for great lobster so if you are in the area, make sure to stop there for a lobster soup or sandwich.
The weather this day was not good, with heavy wind and rain. When traveling in Iceland you can expect all kind of weather. The weather in Iceland can be so unpredictable with sun one minute and 5 minutes later there will be rain and wind or even snow. We recommend that you will be prepared for any kind of weather when traveling in Iceland.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
We decided to keep on driving and spend the night in Skaftafell Nature Reserve. On the way from Höfn to Skaftafell you will find one of the most beautiful places in Iceland, Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Because of the bad weather, we had decided not to stop there – we had already been there a couple of times this summer. But when we drove past it and saw the glaciers floating in the lagoon, we couldn’t resist in stopping. This places is unlike any other place. The diamond beach is also one of our favorite stop, located only 1 minute from the glacier lagoon.
Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon is a very popular travel destination. This time, because of the bad weather, we had the lagoon to ourselves. This is very unique. Another favorite place when traveling in this area is Fjallsárlón lagoon. It is a glacier lagoon similar to Jokulsarlon lagoon, but a lot smaller with fewer travelers. We often go there when we feel like it is too crowded at Jokulsarlon.
Day 9 – South Coast
The South Coast of Iceland is the most popular location in Iceland among travelers. You will see why when you visit. It is filled with beautiful places. Here you can find everything from the most famous waterfalls to the black sand beaches to the glaciers. We were heading back home to Reykjavik on this day and stopped at all the best places on the south coast. This includes Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Skógafoss waterfall, the black sand beach, Gljúfrabúi waterfall, Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon and Vík village.
After driving through all these beautiful and popular places, we headed on home with great memories from the trip. We all loved the Happy Camper van and we still can not stop talking about it. Every time we see a yellow car, our older daughter screams out “Yellow car – When can we go on the yellow car again” (in Icelandic of course). She has even started to build a yellow car with her Lego Duplos – calling it the Happy Camper.
We can not wait to go on another Happy Camper adventure and maybe we will try a Winter Camper Trip in the nearest future to get a totally different experience of Iceland. If you want to rent a Camper during the winter time in Iceland, I can highly recommend that you choose the 4×4 camper.
Highlights of our Trip
Here you can find a list with the highlights of our Happy Camper trip.
- GeoSea Natural Baths
- Hengifoss & Litlanesfoss waterfalls and hike
- Ásbyrgi canyon
- Rauðasandur red beach
- Dynjandi waterfall
- Cozy time in the camper.
- Evenings at the campsites.
The Camper Van
We were extremely happy with our camper van from Happy Campers. When picking up the camper you will meet friendly staff that will help you with everything regarding your trip and go over some safety instruction when driving in Iceland.
We rented the Happy 3EX camper for our family of 4 and it was very spacious and comfortable. The camper has seats and sleeping place for 5 people and was easy to drive.
We also loved that at their office you can leave the food you have left after your trip, so the next traveler can pick it up for their trip.
We can not wait to go on another camper van adventure, and we will definitely be choosing Happy Campers again. Maybe we will try a Winter Camper Trip in the nearest future to get a totally different experience of Iceland. If you want to rent a Camper during the winter time in Iceland, I can highly recommend that you choose the 4×4 camper.
Why you should rent a camper van in Iceland
You might be wondering if renting a camper van for your trip to Iceland is the right thing to do or not. If you want to make the most of your time in Iceland and be able to see and do as much as possible with your time, I can highly recommend renting a camper. It is so easy to be able to drive the whole day and then park your camper at a campsite for the night.
When booking a camper with Happy Campers you will get a map with all campsites in Iceland. We knew there were a lot of campsites in Iceland but when we saw this map, we recognized that they are everywhere! You do not need to book the campsites in advance so if your itinerary for the day does not go according to plan, you can always find another campsites for the night. Even though we ended up sleeping at all the campsites that we had planned, this made the trip much more stress free.
Renting a camper van can also save you a lot of money when traveling in Iceland. Accommodation in Iceland can be expensive, so when you rent a camper van you are booking your car and accommodation in one package.
Another thing that we should not forget to mention is that it is extremely fun to travel around in a camper. Spending so much time together in your camper makes the family bond even stronger and you will make so many great memories. Some of our favorite memories are from evenings in the camper.
Tips for traveling with kids in a camper van in Iceland
- Plan your trip as much as you can – but be prepared that not everything will go according to your plan and be okay with it. Everything takes a longer time when traveling with kids and it is a totally different game to plan a trip for families or adults only. A lot of itineraries that you find online are made by people who are not traveling with kids and you can expect that you will not be able to do as much as them.
- If you have young kids you might have to take stops so they can take a nap during the day if they don’t feel comfortable sleeping while you are driving. This was one of our hardest challenge. Our older daughter did not like to sleep while we were driving so we decided that we would make stops so that she could take her naps in the car. Because we were traveling on a camper van this was no problem at all. We let her sleep in the back while one of us explored the area around while the other one took a nap with her or relaxed in the camper.
- Try to plan your trips so you will have some quality time at the campsites. We are from Iceland so we have been traveling around the country our whole life. We have great childhood memories from camping trips all over the country and some of the best memories are always from the campsites. You will often meet other people with kids so your kids can play around the campsites and meet other children.
When we are staying at campsites around Iceland we often see travelers spend their whole time inside the camper when they arrive at the campsites. Get out of the camper for some time and play in the nature with your kids.
- Buy some snacks in the grocery stores. We recommend that you stop at a grocery store in Reykjavik before starting the road trip. Buy some snacks for you and the kids. Everyone will be hungry when driving and exploring for the whole day. Sometimes it can be hard to find a shop close by where you can buy some food or snacks so it is always great to have some with you. There is a cooler in the camper van where you can keep your food.
- Bring playing cards. We had a lot of fun playing cards while the road girls were sleeping.
- Bring some toys for the kids or something they can do while you are driving.
- Buy groceries and cook your food in the Happy Campers van. It will save you a lot of money.
- Don’t pack to much stuff. We made this mistake. We filled the camper with clothes and other stuff for the girls. In the end they did not use half of what we packed. When traveling in Iceland, the kids are most of the time wearing the same outfits, some comfortable clothes underneath and then some warm outdoor clothing.
I really hope that you liked reading about our family trip in a Happy Campers van and hopefully you find it inspiring. Bring your kids to Iceland and go on a road trip that they will remember for the rest of their lives.