Good things to know when traveling in a campervan around Iceland
If you are going to drive the Ring Road, it is good to know where petrol stations, toilets, and showers are located!
What surprises many when they come to Iceland is how large the island is. Icelanders themselves are only about 340.000, but the island is the size of Kentucky state in the United States or slightly smaller than England. So, if you are going to drive the Ring Road, it is good to know where petrol stations, toilets, and showers are located.
For the longest time, Icelanders did not get many tourists, so we did not think it that important to add toilets and petrol stations every few kilometers on the main highway since we all knew where the next stop would be. However, in recent years with growing tourism in Iceland, we have tried to get better. Newly built visitor centers near the biggest tourist attractions help matters, but it is always possible to get better.
Where are the petrol stations?
There are about 260 petrol stations in Iceland and just under 80 of them are in the capital area. The oil companies that sell petrol are Olís, ÓB Bensín, Orkan, N1, and Atlantsolía. Apart from that Costco also sells petrol for those with a membership.
There are about 100 cities, towns and villages in Iceland and most of them have a petrol station, plus you can find unmanned petrol stations here and there dotted around the country.
The highlands are pretty much the only place where you will have to look for a petrol station. You can find one in Kerlingarfjöll, in Hveravellir, Kárahnjúkar, Hrauneyjar, and Hrafnkelsdalur. Just be sure you are driving the 4x4 camper to drive into the highlands. You are not allowed to drive in a 2x4 in the highlands.
What about toilets?
There are definitely not as many showers dotted around the country as there are toilets, and we have had some problems. However, in recent years people have started tackling the problem, and there are toilets now at most places which are frequented by tourists. Sometimes you need to pay to use the toilet and sometimes not. Many petrol stations have toilets as well, and they are generally free.
Where can you shower?
Our campervans come equipped with all the essentials apart from a toilet and shower. So, you have found the petrol stations and toilets, but where can you shower?
Icelandic laws dictate that you must park your camper van on a camping ground overnight or get permission from a landowner if you want to part at a random place in nature. We recommend you choose a camping ground since they usually always have both toilets and showers which you can use when you have paid the camping fee. Please note that if you are traveling during winter, not all camping grounds are open. Check out our winter camping section for further information.
Icelanders also love their swimming pools, and we are sticklers for cleanliness around our pools. If you want to splash around in one of the fabulous geothermal swimming pools, you absolutely must wash – in the nude – before going in. So, there are always plenty of showers in swimming pools. You can use them without going into the pool though, but you need to pay the same price.
There are also quite a few natural pools you can bathe in as well as Seljavallalaug between Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls. That pool is free of charge, and since no one is there to take care of it, people are expected to leave nothing behind.