In Iceland, we have extreme conditions in winter, which is why camping at this time of year requires special preparation. You’ll need to take extra safety measures while driving and also pack appropriate clothing. We want you to be safe when you come to Iceland! You need to know how to camp in winter in Iceland and which campsites are open year-round to plan your itinerary. We’ve gathered all the necessary information about current camping regulations and laws, what to pack for a winter trip, as well as a list of year-round open campsites by region.

tent in Iceland campsite open year-round

Camping in Winter in Iceland

Camping in Iceland is one of the preferred (not to mention cheaper) ways to visit this amazing island. Some tourists manage to save a lot of money by coming during the low season. You’ll find discounts on everything, whether it’s for renting a camper van or car, as well as in restaurants or accommodations. As a result, the number of people deciding to camp even in winter has significantly increased.

A large percentage of the 2.2 million tourists who visit Iceland each year choose this method and live the trip of their dreams aboard a camper van. Camper vans are especially popular for camping in Iceland because they eliminate all the difficulty of pitching a tent in the middle of a snowstorm, struggling to plant stakes in snowy or icy ground. Instead, you’ll have your bed and living space in one place with a cozy Webasto heating system that will keep you warm even while you snore!

Year-round Open Campsites – Complete List

In Iceland, we have over 240 campsites. Unfortunately, most of them close from October to May. Finding a campsite open in winter is not very common. If you plan to rent a camper van for your trip and camp in winter, you’ll need to overnight at one of the year-round open campsites. Here’s a complete list of 26 year-round open campsites:

Year-round Open Campsites in Reykjavik Area – Southwest Iceland

  • Garði Campsite near Grindavik Sports Complex (near Blue Lagoon)
  • Laugardalur – Reykjavík campsite (closest camping to Reykjavik)
  • Skjól Camping (near the Golden Circle route)
  • Uthlid, Biskupstungum (near the Golden Circle route)

Year-round Open Campsites in South Iceland

  • Hamragardar Hofn í Hornafirdi (Southeast Iceland)
  • Hveragerði
  • Reykjamork Selfoss
  • Guesthouse Skaftafell
  • Ulfljotsvatn Campsite

Year-round Open Campsites in East Iceland

  • Djúpivogur
  • Egilsstaðir
  • Fjalladyrd
  • Fljótsdalsgrund

car with equipment for camping in year-round open campsites in Iceland

Year-round Open Campsites in North Iceland

  • Ártún
  • Blönduós
  • Budardalur (Northwest Iceland)
  • Hamrar vid
  • Kjarnaskog
  • Hlid Campsite
  • Lake Myvatn (Northeast Iceland)
  • Lífsmótun
  • Laugum
  • Vopnafjordur (Northeast Iceland)

Year-round Open Campsites in West Iceland

  • Skarðsströnd
  • Bjarteyjarsandur
  • Stykkisholmur
  • Thorisstadir

For all those who are going to live the wonderful adventure of camping in Iceland, I recommend visiting the website which also has a list of year-round open campsites on the island. There’s a brief description of each one and links to the campsites’ websites if available. Click on “Meira” to see detailed information about facilities, prices, hours, location, and even photos.

Camping Regulations in Iceland

If you’ve already searched for information for your trip, you may have come across conflicting information about rules and legislation regarding camping in Iceland. The likely conflict due to the evolution of this legislation over the past few years. What was true and allowed in 2014 or 2015 may no longer be the case today. It’s important to know the latest regulations on this topic to comply with the law and be an exemplary traveler. Essentially, if you’re traveling by car, camper van, or caravan, you must overnight at one of the available campsites in Iceland, no exceptions. In emergencies, you can pitch up to three tents for a single night on uncultivated land unless a sign expressly prohibits camping.

Wild camping is not technically illegal in Iceland, but there are so many exceptions that you’ll need to check (always ask permission from the landowner, not be near inhabited areas, roads, or campsites, not be in motor vehicles, not camp in cultivated land, though most of the country’s land is cultivated land, etc.). For this reason, legally wild camping is practically impossible. Additionally, locals don’t like this type of camping and will always encourage you to overnight in one of the well-equipped campsites. So why not respect the wishes of the people of the country you’re visiting?

What to Pack for Camping in Iceland in Winter

When you go on a winter vacation in Iceland, it’s important to pack the right gear in your suitcase. When you’re not driving your comfortable camper van along the Ring Road, you’ll spend a lot of time outdoors with sub-zero temperatures, rain, or snow. Iceland is great for its wide variety of activities such as glacier hiking, ice caves, and glacier caves at Skaftafell, Vatnajökull, and Langjökull. But all these activities will make you sweat, so appropriate layering is essential. Dressing like an onion is the best way to maintain body heat. Let’s see exactly what you’ll need to pack for winter camping to stay warm, dry, and happy.

How to Dress for Camping in Iceland in Winter

I always recommend following the 4-layer rule for dressing in winter in Iceland. The first layer, or base layer, should be breathable, moisture-wicking, and made of a material that retains heat like merino wool. It serves two purposes: to wick sweat away from the surface of your skin (to keep you dry) and to retain the precious heat produced by your body. Nothing is worse than wearing damp or wet clothes in cold weather. Good quality wool socks and a good set of thermal underwear are crucial.

The second layer, or mid-layer, will have a very similar purpose to the base layer. I recommend another layer of merino wool or a fleece garment. Now that you’ve done everything possible to keep warm air close to your skin, it’s time to add the third or insulating layer. A parka, jacket, or similar garment will do the trick, as long as they keep you as warm as possible. Just be careful with feathers, as if they get wet, they can clump together and take several days to dry completely, which would be a failure for our goal.

camping in Iceland open year-round with various campers

Finally, you need a waterproof layer. Note that I said waterproof, not water-resistant. The weather in Iceland, usually damp, and falls like those of Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss make us think that the entire country is conspiring to splash and soak you to the bone, don’t take it personally. Just invest in a good jacket or coat and protect yourself from the elements. Cold and moisture will only be a problem for those who did not bother to read this blog and note the tips and advice on what to wear for camping in Iceland in winter. Fortunately, you are not one of them, so you will be comfortable and warm.

Year-round Open Campsites in Iceland

Camping in winter in Iceland is a great experience. You’ll see amazing landscapes that you never imagined. With your list of year-round open campsites, you’re ready to plan your getaway. Don’t forget to pack appropriate winter clothing, comply with camping laws and regulations in Iceland, stay safe, and take thousands of photos of breathtaking natural landscapes. Have a great trip!

Johanna, Islandia24 © All rights reserved