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Iceland Road Trip: 10 Insider Tips for a Northern European Nature Adventure

Iceland Road Trip: 10 Insider Tips for a Northern European Nature Adventure

Road Trip Adventure Iceland Gay Couple Insider Tips. The first big challenge, before our 21-days Road Trip to Iceland actually began, was the planning. Asking travel guides, books, blogs, and official websites was not really satisfactory concerning the length of our trip, choice of our rental car, the planning of our gay-friendly accommodations, and assembling our camping equipment. Traveling to Iceland in general, but especially in late summer and early autumn, makes good preparations necessary. Enjoy our Iceland Road Trip Tipps for your Adventure around the Icelandic World through a couple of men‘s eyes.

Karl and Daan Road Trip Iceland Golden Circle on our way to Vík ©
Karl and Daan Road Trip Iceland Golden Circle on our way to Vík – South Iceland ©

The Land of Wind – or Ice and Volcanos?

As gay couple travel bloggers, we have gathered tips from our experiences to start a camping road trip around Iceland. Known as the country of fire and ice, and for us, the country of wind, Iceland offers diverse and rough nature. Understanding the differences between West Iceland and East Iceland and South Iceland and North Iceland is essential. We emphasize respecting nature, animals, and the impact of tourists on the island’s balance. Our premise as silent explorers is to leave nothing behind but memories and a positive influence as world explorers. Hence, our Iceland Insider Tips.

#1 When to go? How long to stay? What to see in Iceland?

Iceland was our third major trip and our first gay travel experience together, documented on our couple travel blog. As nature enthusiasts who prefer off-the-beaten-path adventures, Iceland was the perfect destination for us, being the northernmost country in Europe. It offers spaciousness and is not yet overcrowded, particularly in the eastern and northern parts. A road trip around Iceland provides a balanced mix of city life in Reykjavík, vast untouched nature, and thrilling adventures throughout the year. It’s highly recommended to visit Iceland during different seasons to witness the magic of late autumn, winter, and early spring, with opportunities to see the Northern Lights, explore ice caves, and immerse in wintry landscapes.

North Iceland: Karl & Daan waching Northern Lights | Road Trip Adventure Iceland Gay Couple Insider Tips ©
North Iceland: Karl & Daan watching Northern Lights | Iceland Insider Tips ©

Late Spring and Summer offer ideal times for outdoor adventures in Iceland, including camping, Icelandic horseback riding, and glacier water rafting. The duration of your stay depends on your desired sights. Stopovers are common for exploring the western part of Iceland, including Reykjavík, Sæfelsness, and the Golden Circle, while driving around the island in about a week along the Iceland Ring Road A1 is possible. However, to truly experience Iceland’s beauty, plan for more time. Even after 21 days on the road, we, as adventurous gay travelers, found it insufficient. The power of sitting amidst Iceland’s vastness, listening to the wind, is unmatched.

#2 Do you need a 4×4 All-wheel Jeep to drive in Iceland?

We rented a car through, making booking easy and providing premium protection. Car insurance in Iceland can be costly, especially for ash/dust/sand coverage. The need for a 4×4 Jeep depends on your trip plans and time of year. The A1 Ring Road to Höfn has excellent road conditions in Spring, Summer, and Autumn, with few dusty or sandy parts. Gravel roads and mountain paths require a 4×4 and extra insurance. For off-road exploration, a 4×4 Jeep is recommended. Most gravel sections along the A1 in Eastern and Northern Iceland are manageable. However, for freedom to venture into official off-road areas, a 4×4 is best. Check out our article “Top 13 Highlights of our Iceland Road Trip” for inspiration.

The right car to sleep in and for gravel roads | Road Tripping Iceland: Our Top Gay Couple Insider Tips & Tricks ©
The right car to sleep in and drive safely on gravel roads in Iceland ©

We loved our 4×4 Land Cruiser from Toyota for our 21-day road trip in Iceland. It was perfect for our adventures and provided shelter during bad weather. Most rental car companies in Reykjavík offer free pick-up services from your hotel. If not mentioned, simply ask when making your reservation. Familiarize yourself with your car and its features before embarking on your Iceland road trip. Pay special attention to sheep, as they are everywhere, particularly from April to the end of August/beginning of September. Look out for groups of three, consisting of a mother and two lambs who stick together, even when crossing busy roads, so drive with caution!

#3 Camping in Iceland and how to get Camping Equipment!

Your first question might be: isn’t it too cold for camping in Iceland, especially in September? And you are right to ask this question. Prepare for cold weather, even in late Summer or Autumn, and decide on a sleeping bag isolated for less than 0° Celsius and warm underwear. The nights can get freezing, windy, and wet, depending on where you plan to stay. Now you might want to know if you have to bring your sleeping bag, tent, chairs, and kitchen utensils. No worries, you can bring it. Alternatively, you have various options here in Iceland to rent your complete

Campsite Kirkjubær & Public Pool | Gay Couple exploring South Iceland Vík ©
Campsite Kirkjubær with a nearby public pool in southern Iceland ©

camping equipment. Although we brought our tent and some kitchen stuff, we rented the most important extras in Reykjavík before starting our road trip at Iceland Camping Equipment Rental in the city center of the Icelandic capital. We were more than happy with the rented gas cooker including attachment, an electricity transformer (to charge computers, electric kettle etc.) and an emergency pack. You are welcome to rent everything you need for your adventure. The staff was super friendly and the camping equipment in good shape for a reasonable price.

#4 Where to buy affordable food and groceries in Iceland?

Isn’t it all about Bonus? 😉  Well, not everything, but in Iceland, one of the most expensive countries in Europe, it sometimes is. If you are searching for a place where you can buy affordable and good-quality food and groceries, keep watching for a pink piggy bank. Why? You will recognize the most favorable supermarket chain, “Bonus” and its mascot, all over the country. Of course, there are more shops, stores, and malls in Iceland than just this one brand. But we always found everything we required for a nice and delicious camping dinner on our gas cooker in the Icelandic Discounter Bonus. And please leave nothing behind after eating in nature. Do the world and Icelandic nature a favor: Plastic and other trash has to be stored in your car and disposed of in designated areas only.

Breakfast with an Icelandic view | Road Trip Adventure Iceland Gay Couple Insider Tips ©
Breakfast with an Icelandic view at the black beach in Iceland ©

#5 How to fill your car at the Gas Station in Iceland?

It might sound easy, but it is a tricky one. Not all gas stations are open 24 hours a day or accept debit or maestro cards. But since not all Europeans have a Credit Card with a Pin Code, the payment of your fuel is going to be complicated. Especially because gas stations have an automatized payment system at the pump even during daily opening hours. On one hand, side, that means you can fill your car all around the clock 24/7 with a valid Credit Card plus Pin Code. On the other hand, if you don’t have a pin, you are basically in trouble.

The alternative: a tank card. One important thing if you get the offer to buy a tank card which you can refill and use as a Credit Card alternative: these cards are only for one Chain. This means you have to keep an eye on the cars’ fill level if you want to avoid having to stop in the No-Man’s-Land somewhere between all the sheep. In general: Iceland is a country where you do payments by card mostly. Credit or Maestro are both valid and conventional payment methods. Cash is of course also excepted, but not necessarily needed.

#6 Stay Connected (if you want to) with Wi-Fi by Síminn

Plenty of websites offering you SIM cards for your phone in good condition. But the most essential requirement is the reach all over the countryside. Of course, only if you have to, for example for blogging, but also for real-time maps for driving, if you want to save money for a navigation system. We decided on a SIM Card from the Icelandic Phone Company Síminn for our old phone, with an option to create our Wi-Fi Hot Spot for several devices. Handy for work, pleasure, and of course, social media!

Daan working at the Icelandic Coast | Road Trip Adventure Iceland Gay Couple Insider Tips ©
Daan checking emails and doing some work for our blog with a view of the Icelandic Coast ©

#7 What to do in a Hot Tub & Public Bath in Iceland?

First: it is all about hygiene before feeling comfortable. Since the majority of the facilities are chlorine-free, the Icelandic people have strict rules about how to behave before, during and after enjoying the hot water heated up innately. When you enter the bath, put off your shoes first in the hallway. You can leave them on the shoe rack without any problems, trust the Icelanders. Then enter the changing areas separated by gender, undress, and put your stuff in your locker. Take your bath clothes and your towel and take a shower before entering the pool area. While in the pre-shower, you should be naked (!) and wash every part of your body, especially your feet, hands, armpits, genitals, and hair. You will find everywhere detailed visual and written manuals.

Road Trip Adventure Iceland Gay Couple Insider Tips ©
Road Trip Adventure Iceland Gay Couple Insider Tips ©

It is obligated to wear swimwear in the steam room, hot tub, and pools. After the relaxing part, take a shower again and, this part is the most fun part, dry your bath clothes in the spin dryer for about 5 seconds at least! Good to know: All year long the Icelanders are joining their luxury of nature heated swimming pools. It was quite an overcoming to run almost naked only dressed in our swimwear from the changing rooms to the outdoor pools and hot tubs. It was sooooo cold, but no resident was shaking like we did 😀  Once you are sitting in the hot steaming pools it is simply a pleasure to talk to everyone and enjoy the relaxing time. Public pools are areas to meet locals and even discuss business. Simply a must-do when in Iceland.

Road Trip Adventure Iceland Gay Couple Insider Tips ©
Road Trip Adventure Iceland Gay Couple Insider Tips ©

#8 Camping & Sleeping: Everywhere in Iceland?

Good and important question. First, please keep in mind that you are in Iceland, a country trying to bring tourism and nature to a reasonable balance. Although we struggled with the overnight guidelines sometimes a bit, you are actually allowed to a maximum of one night to camp wherever you are as long as it is no private property, or you asked the owner before doing wild camping. Finding a spot for your camp on non-private properties along the coast is difficult because most of the land is fenced. When you are doubting if you are allowed to park your car or build up your tent at your current location, just drive to the next village or town to camp on an official campsite before destroying nature or harming private property.

Camping with a view over Vík in South Iceland | Road Trip Adventure Iceland Gay Couple Insider Tips ©
Camping with a view over Vík in South Iceland on an official campground ©

Almost all villages offer a well-maintained campsite with showers, toilets, and kitchen facilities for around €10-15 per person per night. But still, once in a while, a night wild in nature in your personal nature hot spot is simply a good decision, for example, to enjoy the best Icelandic sunset. Enjoy it. Don’t forget: book the right size for your body dimensions if you are planning to sleep in the car. 😉

#9 Be prepared for the changing Icelandic Weather!

Iceland is a rough nature country. Be prepared for beautiful clear air, and intense colors, but rapidly changing weather conditions. During our trip, we had days with 22 °C in the morning with the sunshine and 5 °C with hard nonstop rain and stiff wind around noon and a storm in the evening while building up our tent. The weather could sometimes change within minutes, sometimes during half a day. Stay on the safe side by dressing windproof like an onion, and you will enjoy the most intense natural environment you have ever seen.

Humpback Whale Watching Dalvík North Iceland ©
Humpback Whale Watching in Dalvík, North Iceland ©

#10 Most important Iceland Articles:

Schwuler Reiseführer Island Gay Couple Travel Guide Iceland ©

Gay Iceland Travel Guide

This country will challenge you hard enough with its beauty not to cry while you are driving along abounded roads listening to pure Icelandic music. But believe us, you will cry. Tears are a part of Iceland. Tears of joy and happiness to be in uncountable one-time moments that will belong only to you.

Click here for all Iceland Travel Articles >

#EXTRATIP from Karl: Free Coffee!

You know by now that Karl loves Coffee. And of course, after a rough night in a car, even more. If you feel the same, he has a tip: Do order a normal filter coffee in an Icelandic restaurant of Café and get free refills for a great wake-up in the morning! 🙂 Enjoy Iceland!

Good morning East Iceland | Road Trip Adventure Iceland Gay Couple Insider Tips ©
Good morning, East Iceland | Road Trip Adventure Iceland Gay Couple Insider Tips ©

Road Trip Adventure Iceland Gay Couple Insider Tips

If you are looking for white beaches, warm and stable weather with sunshine, shopping malls, and restaurants during your holiday, we must disappoint you. If you are into untouched nature, stunning views, incredibly friendly people, the cleanest and clearest air, and sunsets so beautiful and clear you couldn’t even imagine they are exciting, then Iceland is a perfect choice. We are confident we can support your holiday planning with our top Gay Couple Insider Tips for a Road Trip Adventure in Iceland. If you have any more questions about the highlights of Iceland, feel free to drop a line here on our blog or on our social media channel. Enjoy Iceland, the country of fire, ice, and wind!

Do you want to know more? Stay tuned… on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. See you again in Iceland and around the world!

Karl & Daan.