Iceland: Renting a Motorhome vs. Tent Camping

Camping in Iceland: Motorhome vs Tent

If you are planning a vacation in Iceland and want the freedom to explore at your own pace, without doing a lot of pre-planning or joining a tour, then you’ll definitely want to rent a car and camp. Some people choose to rent a motorhome that has a comfortable bed and a kitchen, while others choose to rent a smaller car and camp outside in a tent.

After spending an amazing 2 weeks driving around Iceland in our motorhome, and talking to loads of tent campers who were resorting to sleeping uncomfortably in their small car, we would highly recommend the motorhome option.

Check out our top 7 reasons why we think you’ll be warmer, dryer, and overall happier in a motorhome rather than in a tent!

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7 Reasons to Rent a Motorhome Rather than Tent Camping in Iceland

1. The Weather Outside is Frightful

Iceland: Rent a Motorhome/Campervan vs. Tent Camping

No matter what time of year you visit Iceland, it’s going to be cold. The hottest month of the year is July and even then you’ll be lucky if the temperature exceeds 55°F (13°C). And if you’ve ever tried to put a tent together in the freezing cold, you know it’s miserable. Even the simplest of tents take at least 10 minutes to put together, and then you have to inflate your air mattresses and pillows and top everything off with a rain fly.

If you have to get up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night, you’ll have to exit your tent and brave the freezing cold weather again. And then in the morning, you have to pack everything up again.

But if you rent a motorhome or campervan, you won’t have to worry about any of that. Your bed will already be all made up in the back of the van so all you have to do is tuck yourself in when you’re ready for bed. And since you’ll conveniently have a campervan toilet, you won’t need to leave your vehicle in the middle of the night for a bathroom visit.

2. It Doesn’t Get Dark in the Summer

Iceland: Rent a Motorhome/Campervan vs. Tent Camping

Most people consider summer to be the best time to visit Iceland. But keep in mind that in the middle of summer, the sun only sets in Iceland for about four hours. And even during “nighttime” in the summer, it doesn’t actually get very dark. So if you can’t sleep unless it’s pitch black outside, you’ll have some trouble getting enough shut-eye in Iceland.

If you camp in a tent, it will be difficult to keep the light from filtering through your tent. You’ll need to pack an eye mask to block out the sun. But if you rent a motorhome, all of the windows are equipped with shades so you can block out all of the light and get a full night’s sleep.

And if the weather gets so cold that you decide to sleep in your car, as a few people we met along our trip did, you’ll have to get really creative about covering up the windows!

3. You’ll Pay the Same to Camp Regardless

Iceland: Rent a Motorhome/Campervan vs. Tent Camping

Wild camping in Iceland is only allowed if you actually hike to a campsite in the backcountry. So unless you’re planning on overnight backpacking trips, you’ll need to stay in a campground every night while you’re in Iceland. And, in general, you’ll be charged the same per person rate per night regardless of whether you camp in a motorhome or a tent.

So if you are hoping to save some money in Iceland by tent camping in some remote area on the island, think again. You’ll need to pay for a campground every single night so you’re better off choosing the more comfortable option of a motorhome.

4. You can Cook out of the Elements

Iceland: Rent a Motorhome/Campervan vs. Tent Camping

And perhaps the biggest benefit of renting a motorhome in Iceland over camping in a tent is having a cookstove, sink, and refrigerator! You can cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the comfort of your warm, dry motorhome. No need to huddle around a small propane tank, trying to keep the flame going in the wind while freezing your fingers off. And you can enjoy dinner at your table while the heater is blazing.

Another great thing about renting a motorhome is you’ll be able to carry plenty of water. Most motorhomes can carry between 35-55 gallons of water and in Iceland, all of the tap water is totally safe to drink! All of the campgrounds will let you fill up your water tank for free so you won’t have to pay for water the entire time you’re in Iceland.

You should still bring a travel water bottle so you can fill it in the sink of your campervan and take it with you when you’re hiking or headed to a hot spring. Never paying for bottled water is a great way to save some money in Iceland!

5. It’s no Fun Drying out a Tent

Iceland: Rent a Motorhome/Campervan vs. Tent Camping

Tent camping in the rain is no fun. Not only will you get wet if you don’t have the proper gear, but you’ll also need to figure out a way to dry everything out. If you don’t, your tent will remain wet and will eventually begin to smell like mildew. So unless you want to tie your tent to the back of your car while you drive around Iceland, you’ll probably need to stop for a while and find a sunny spot to dry everything out before moving on.

Plus, you’ll need to make sure that your rain fly is actually waterproof and that you have a tarp to lay under the tent. Otherwise, that water will sneak inside and get you soaked in the middle of the night.

Of course, if you rent a motorhome, you won’t need to worry about any of that. You’ll be warm and dry in the comfort of your car, with no risk of your bedding getting wet in the middle of the night.

6. You’ll Have Somewhere to Hang out in the Rain

Iceland: Rent a Motorhome/Campervan vs. Tent Camping

Speaking of rain, it’s also no fun to cook or hang out outdoors when it’s raining. So if you’re sleeping in a tent and it starts raining before you are ready to go to sleep, you’ll have to find somewhere to stay dry. Your campsite may offer a communal kitchen or lobby area, or you can sit in the front seat of your car and wait it out.

If you have a motorhome, you’ll have a comfortable seating area and a table, perfect for sipping coffee and playing cards on a rainy Iceland day! No need to seek shelter when you already have it!

7. You’ll Stay Organized

Iceland: Rent a Motorhome/Campervan vs. Tent Camping

Keep in mind that if you plan on tent camping during your trip to Iceland, you’ll need to fit all of your camping gear, your food, and your luggage into your rental car. You’ll need to access it daily to set up camp and then break camp down in the morning, and cook. It can be incredibly difficult to keep everything organized and conveniently located so you don’t have to tear the car apart every time you need something.

If you rent a motorhome, you can keep all of your belongings organized and easily accessible. The motorhome will have drawers and cabinets specifically for food and cooking utensils, as well as other various cubbies for your clothes, electronics, and toiletries. Plus, you’ll even have a little area at your bed for your nighttime essentials.

Are you going to camp or rent a motorhome during your trip to Iceland? Let us know in the comments!

Want more help planning your trip to Iceland? Check out our favorite travel guides!



  • Valerie Wheatley

    Val grew up in Portland, Oregon but moved to Oahu on a whim back in 2013. She sold her house and all of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket. Since then she’s taken two around-the-world trips and has visited 60-ish countries while living out of a duffel bag.

    Val started documenting the Wandering Wheatleys travels back in 2013 as a way to update friends and family about her whereabouts and to relay humorous daily interactions. The only readers were her mom and her mother-in-law but that didn’t stop her!

    These days you’ll find Val dreaming up future trips, creating new travel content, managing a team of amazing travel enthusiasts, and chasing around her two adorable but naughty kids.

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