Camping in Iceland and self-drive tours in campervans sky-rocketed in popularity in the last years. Easy to understand why; there is no other way to get closer in touch to nature and really became part of the scene. What could be better than falling asleep to the sound of birds and feel like you are the only one in the whole world with nobody around you? Even though wild camping is per se not illegal in Iceland, setting up a tent anywhere is not permitted either.
Please note that within the city limits of Húsavík camping is only permitted on the official camping ground. This applies to tents, campervans, sleeping in cars in general, motor-homes or simply putting your sleeping bag on the ground outside or within buildings.
Outside of town you can camp on uncultivated land if you meet the following standards:
- far distance to road, populated areas like cities, towns and villages
- direct permission from the landowner for privately-owned land and approval from the community for community-owned land is required
- keep in mind that land is very likely to be privately owned even though it is not cultivated or fenced
- the county you are in lacks a defined campsite – there are currently more than 200 campsites in Iceland
- camping is forbidden on cultivated land, this includes farmland and forestry
- it is forbidden on places developed for other purposes, such as parking lots, picnic areas, roads, etc.
- local laws may apply and forbidd camping, e.g. within the city limits of Húsavík and in Vatnajökull National Park
For wild camping one has to:
- know the local laws and rightful owner of a piece of land
- know how to contact the landowner
- obtain written permission (so the police don’t hassle you).
- familiarize yourself with the borders of municipalities and the camping regulations in that municipality