A journey through Iceland's mystical landscapes can stir the spirit of any adventurer. There's a breathtaking panorama at every turn: from towering waterfalls cascading down rugged cliffs, through the unearthly glow of the Northern Lights dancing across the night sky, to the serene majesty of its sprawling glaciers. One of the most remarkable ways to fully immerse yourself in this enchanting Nordic world is by camping amidst its raw, wild beauty. And the Golden Circle, a tourist route that encapsulates some of Iceland's most iconic natural wonders, offers the perfect stage for such an awe-inspiring camping adventure.
Yet, with countless scenic spots to pitch your tent along this famous trail, it can be challenging to choose the most enriching and memorable locations. Whether you're a seasoned outdoor enthusiast seeking solitude under the vast, starlit skies, a family on the lookout for a unique vacation blending adventure with education, or a first-time camper eager to experience the allure of the wild, we've got you covered. To help you navigate this magical journey, we've curated a list of the top 10 best camping spots in and around the Golden Circle. From tranquil hideaways and geothermal hotspots to sites steeped in history and culture, this guide will equip you with everything you need to chart your own unforgettable Icelandic camping expedition. Buckle up and let's venture into the wild unknown together!
- Skjól Camping: In the Heart of the Golden Circle
Located virtually in the middle of the iconic Golden Circle route, Skjól Camping offers an unbeatable location for campers looking to explore Iceland's most famous landmarks. Situated in proximity to the majestic Gullfoss waterfall and the active Geysir, Skjól is more than just a campsite—it's a gateway to the incredible geothermal landscapes that make the Golden Circle a bucket-list destination for nature enthusiasts worldwide. Skjól's spacious grounds provide ample room for pitching your tent, and for those seeking more comfortable accommodations, cozy cabins are also available for rent.
Skjól Camping is equipped with excellent facilities including a well-maintained shower block, a kitchen area for self-catering, and even Wi-Fi for those wanting to stay connected. On-site, there's a lively restaurant and bar, perfect for enjoying a local meal or sharing stories with fellow campers under the midnight sun or the Northern Lights. As for attractions, the nearby Gullfoss waterfall, with its thunderous cascades, and the Geysir, with its regular eruptions of hot water and steam, are must-visits. Furthermore, the campsite also arranges horse-riding trips in the surrounding highlands, offering a unique way to explore the captivating Icelandic terrain.
- Þingvellir National Park Camping: A Blend of History and Nature
Uniquely located in the heart of one of the most popular tourist routes in Iceland, Geysir Camping Ground delivers a one-of-a-kind camping experience. Nestled next to the Geysir geothermal area, this camping site allows guests to immerse themselves in the awe-inspiring natural spectacle that is the Golden Circle. The backdrop of the active geysers, simmering mud pools, and thermal springs create an atmosphere like no other, offering a camping experience deeply intertwined with Iceland's captivating geothermal phenomena.
Exploring the Geysir area is a must for every camper. The star of the show, the Strokkur geyser, erupts every few minutes, sending a plume of hot water and steam up to 20 meters high. Marvel at the geothermal hot springs, enjoy the vibrant hues of the mineral-laden soil and feel the thrum of geothermal energy that permeates the land. The campsite's close proximity to these attractions provides an immersive experience, enabling you to soak in the geothermal wonders all day and under the enchanting Northern Lights after nightfall.
- Geysir Camping Ground: Nature's Spectacle at Your Doorstep
Awakening to the sight of a geyser erupting in a show of nature's power is an experience like no other, and it's precisely what the Geysir Camping Ground promises its guests. Nestled within the Golden Circle, close to the world-famous Geysir geothermal area, this camping spot offers a unique opportunity to dwell amidst one of nature's most fascinating spectacles. The landscape, characterized by spouting geysers, bubbling mud pools, and simmering geothermal springs, creates a distinct and immersive camping environment.
This isn't just a campsite; it's a front-row seat to the extraordinary geothermal activity that defines Iceland's landscape. The proximity of the campsite to the Geysir area allows guests to explore and appreciate the geothermal marvels at their own pace. Whether it's a daytime exploration witnessing the thrilling eruptions of geysers or a nocturnal adventure under the glow of the Northern Lights, the Geysir Camping Ground guarantees a camping experience that you will cherish for a lifetime.
- Faxi Waterfall Campsite: A Tranquil Hideaway
Tucked away in the serene beauty of the Golden Circle lies the Faxi Waterfall Campsite, a haven of tranquility for nature-loving explorers. Located close to the beautiful Faxi or Vatnsleysufoss waterfall, this campsite offers a peaceful escape from the bustling tourist hotspots. The melodious rhythm of the cascading waterfall, the lush surrounding landscapes, and the calming simplicity of this location combine to create an idyllic camping environment.
This campsite isn't just about quietude; it's a direct gateway to one of Iceland's less-touristy but equally stunning attractions - the Faxi waterfall. By day, you can enjoy the mesmerizing sight of the water cascading down in a wide, serene flow, take a leisurely picnic beside the river, or even try your hand at fishing in its bountiful waters. As dusk falls, retreat to your cozy tent to the soothing soundtrack of the flowing waterfall, and if you're lucky, witness the mesmerizing display of the Northern Lights painting the night sky. A stay at the Faxi Waterfall Campsite is truly a rejuvenating experience, a tranquil hideaway that offers a genuine connection with the serene beauty of Icelandic nature.
- Laugarvatn Campground: Lakeside Camping with a Geothermal Twist
Imagine waking up to the soft lapping of lake waters, the crisp mountain air, and a steaming geothermal bath waiting to rejuvenate you. That's the magic of Laugarvatn Campground. Set on the shores of Lake Laugarvatn in the Golden Circle, this campsite combines the tranquil beauty of lakeside camping with the unique allure of geothermal activity. With its stunning lake views, abundant birdlife, and natural hot springs, Laugarvatn Campground offers an exciting spin on traditional camping experiences.
Whether you choose to pitch your tent with a view of the shimmering lake or park your camper near the woods, a sense of peace pervades throughout Laugarvatn Campground. Take a dip in the warm, mineral-rich waters of the local geothermal baths, or explore the trails that crisscross the woodland and lakeside. Birdwatchers can look forward to spotting an array of bird species, while fishing enthusiasts can try their luck in the lake. As the day ends, gather around a campfire, share stories under the midnight sun or the dancing Northern Lights, and bask in the harmonious blend of relaxation and adventure that Laugarvatn Campground uniquely offers.
- Hamragarðar Camping Ground: Waterfall Wonders Await
Nestled in the scenic landscapes of the Golden Circle, the Hamragarðar Camping Ground offers an enticing blend of natural beauty, serenity, and outdoor adventure. With its proximity to the famous Seljalandsfoss waterfall, camping here allows guests to enjoy one of Iceland's most iconic natural spectacles in a close and personal way. The roar of the cascading water, the lush green surroundings, and the sense of tranquility that pervades the area make this camping ground a popular choice for nature enthusiasts and waterfall chasers.
Each day at Hamragarðar offers the thrill of exploration and the calm of nature. Follow the path that leads behind the majestic Seljalandsfoss waterfall for a unique view, or hike the nearby trails to discover smaller, hidden waterfalls in the vicinity. The region's rich birdlife and the opportunity to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights add further appeal to this picturesque camping ground. Whether you spend the day exploring or simply soaking in the beauty of your surroundings from your tent, a stay at Hamragarðar Camping Ground is a memorable part of any Golden Circle camping adventure.
- Uthlid Campground: Mountainous Retreat for Families and Horse Lovers
If a blend of family-friendly fun, horse riding, and breathtaking mountain views sounds like your ideal camping getaway, then Uthlid Campground is the place for you. Situated in the beautiful mountainous region of the Golden Circle, Uthlid provides a wonderful retreat for those who wish to experience the rugged charm of Iceland's landscape. With its scenic setting, numerous amenities, and focus on equestrian activities, Uthlid Campground has carved a niche for itself among family groups and horse lovers alike.
Staying at Uthlid is an adventure in itself. The campground offers a variety of recreational activities, including hiking, golf, and particularly horseback riding, which is a highlight given Iceland's unique breed of hardy, friendly horses. Families can enjoy the playground, the swimming pool, and the dedicated barbecue area, while those seeking tranquility can simply unwind and soak in the stunning views of the nearby mountains and valleys. The evenings come with the possibility of a spectacular Northern Lights show, making the Uthlid Campground experience truly unforgettable. Whether you're a family seeking a fun-filled camping trip or a horse enthusiast wanting to explore the Icelandic terrain on horseback, Uthlid Campground is an excellent choice.
- Haukadalur Forest: Wild Camping Amidst Iceland's Woodland
For those seeking an authentic wild camping experience within the Golden Circle, Haukadalur Forest presents the perfect opportunity. Unlike the vast open landscapes and lava fields that typically characterize Iceland, Haukadalur offers a unique woodland setting, providing a chance to camp among the native birch trees and lush vegetation. This remarkable green space makes for a refreshing change and offers a tranquil retreat for nature enthusiasts.
At Haukadalur Forest, you are truly at one with nature. Set up camp under the shelter of the trees and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the woodland. Venture out on the forest trails to enjoy the rich biodiversity, including various bird species that call this forest home. A nearby geothermal area adds a touch of Iceland's geothermal charm to your wild camping experience. As the day ends, gather around a campfire under the starlit sky and possibly catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights dancing above the treetops.
- Flúðir Camping Ground: Small Village Charm Meets Hot Springs
For those in search of a unique blend of rural charm and geothermal wonders, the Flúðir Camping Ground in the Golden Circle is an unbeatable choice. Flúðir is a small village known for its mushroom farms, gentle rolling hills, and above all, its hot springs. This campsite provides a rare chance to experience the simplicity of Icelandic village life while also having access to some of nature's most soothing geothermal baths.
The Flúðir Camping Ground is a cozy retreat where you can relax in your tent or camper van surrounded by the tranquility of the countryside. It's a perfect starting point to explore the village's fascinating mushroom farms or to hike the verdant landscape. But perhaps the most appealing feature of this camping ground is its proximity to the Secret Lagoon, one of Iceland's oldest geothermal pools. Here, you can unwind in the warm waters, revel in the therapeutic benefits, and if luck favors, witness the spectacle of the Northern Lights reflecting off the steamy surface of the pool. With its unique setting and the allure of the Secret Lagoon, Flúðir Camping Ground provides a truly immersive Icelandic village camping experience.
- Landmannalaugar: An Adventurer's Paradise
Landmannalaugar, often referred to as the Pearl of the Central Highlands, presents a camping experience that is as unique as it is captivating. Known for its dramatic rhyolite mountains, sprawling lava fields, and geothermal hot springs, Landmannalaugar takes the adventurous spirit of camping in the Golden Circle to an entirely new level. The vibrant colors of the mountains, contrasting with the stark black lava and the verdant moss that grows around, create a mesmerizing and otherworldly landscape.
Camping in Landmannalaugar is the epitome of an outdoor adventure. From your camping ground, you can embark on numerous hiking trails, including the renowned Laugavegur Trail, one of the most popular hiking routes in Iceland. At the end of a day filled with exploration and awe-inspiring sights, you can return to the warmth of natural hot springs located right in the campsite. A dip in these warm pools is the perfect way to relax and rejuvenate, ready for the next day's adventures.
Embarking on a camping adventure around the Golden Circle is an invitation to a multitude of memorable encounters. Each camping spot, with its unique allure, offers more than a place to sleep - it’s a gateway to experience the fascinating blend of natural wonders that Iceland has to offer. From geothermal hot springs and cascading waterfalls to serene woodlands and dramatic highlands, your camping journey weaves through the very best of this remarkable country.
So, pack your camping gear and get ready for the experience of a lifetime. As you traverse the routes of the Golden Circle and nestle in these incredible camping sites, you'll find the essence of Iceland captured in every moment. It's not just about the places you'll see, but the memories you'll make and the awe-inspiring nature you'll become part of. Your Golden Circle camping adventure is a story waiting to unfold. Let it begin!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the best time to go camping in the Golden Circle?
Ans: The best time to go camping in the Golden Circle is typically during the summer months, from June to August, when the weather is warmer, and all campgrounds are open. This is also a great time to experience Iceland's midnight sun phenomenon. However, for Northern Lights enthusiasts, early spring or late autumn can also be a good time.
Q: Are all campgrounds in the Golden Circle equipped with basic facilities?
Ans: Yes, most of the campgrounds in the Golden Circle are equipped with basic facilities such as toilets, showers, and areas for cooking or barbecue. However, facilities can vary between campsites, and it is advisable to check the specific amenities of each campground before you visit.
Q: Can I camp anywhere in the Golden Circle, or do I need to stay in designated campgrounds?
Ans: While Iceland is known for its openness towards camping, regulations have tightened in recent years due to environmental concerns. As such, camping is now only allowed in designated campgrounds within the Golden Circle and most parts of the country.
Q: Is it possible to see the Northern Lights while camping in the Golden Circle?
Ans: Yes, it is possible to see the Northern Lights while camping in the Golden Circle, although this is largely dependent on the time of year and weather conditions. The best time to see the Northern Lights is typically between late September and early April on clear, dark nights.
Q: Are the campgrounds in the Golden Circle open year-round?
Ans: Some campgrounds in the Golden Circle are open year-round, while others are only open during the summer months. It's best to check the opening dates of each campground before planning your visit.
Q: Do I need to book in advance to camp in the Golden Circle?
Ans: Some campgrounds in the Golden Circle allow for walk-ins, but during the peak summer months, it can get crowded. It's advisable to book your spot in advance, especially for larger groups or for those wanting to secure a spot in the more popular campgrounds.