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I am planning on a circumnavigation of Iceland this summer and the Ring Road might be the only road available for lenghthy stretches. I would like to know if camping along the Ring Road is permissable, especially once I get out into the more remote areas. I would also like to know if ground/river water is safe to drink without purifying.

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Wild camping is permissible as long as you maintain a respectful distance from homes etc, but in some places it might difficult to find good spots to put up a tent close to the road. Based on my experience, the best spots are found taking side roads a little bit off the main ring road. Near populated areas you can usually find official camping sites (check the link provided by MeNoTalk).

The water from small creeks/rivers is almost always safe to drink without purification as long as you avoid getting it downstream from habitations.

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Along the Ring Road it's acutally harder to NOT find camping areas than to find one. They are literally all over the place. Prices and facilities can vary greatly. On some grounds you get free internet and hot showers are included as well. On other grounds (the more crowded ones like Skaftafell, the main camping ground at Vatnajökull) you even have to pay to recharge your cell phone.

But, they all offer toilets, which is why I wouldn't bother with wild camping if you stay near the Ring Road anyway. As for wild camping, it is allowed to some extend, as is explained here:

If you wish to camp on cultivated land or near residential buildings, fenced off farmland, or such, you have to ask permission from a landowner or other beneficiary before you pitch up the camping tent. The same rule goes if you intend to stay longer than one night.

If there is a camping ground nearby, you have to use one of those. I don't know what exactly is considered to be "nearby" though. For the sake of preserving the beautiful and very fragile landscape I strongly advise against wild camping in the more crowded areas.

Also, the camping grounds all have running water which is perfectly save to drink (even though it may smell funny). To save you from unneccesary trouble, I suggest you just stay at a camping ground.

Usually the price for one tent is around 8 ISK per night, Camper trailers are more expensive, but I don't know the price for those.

  • you cannot camp on land that is owned by someone without permission, this contradicts this answer here, which sources the Visit Iceland website to state that, with some conditions, you do not need landowner permission for wild camping. – gerrit Aug 25 '17 at 11:24
  • @gerrit: Thanks for your comment, I have worded the paragraph in question more clearly. Wild camping IS allowed, but not on cultivated land, etc. Plus, since there are camping grounds literally everywhere (especially in south iceland), I would never bother with wild camping anyway. – waka Aug 25 '17 at 11:57
  • Right. Cultivated land is very rare though; most of the land that is "in use" is used for sheep grazing. The bit on fenced off land is more relevant. When driving in summer in the south you're always close enough to a campground, but when cycling off-season, in particular in the east, one might not be, so it's still useful to know about wild camping. – gerrit Aug 25 '17 at 12:15
  • @gerrit: Haven't thought about biking. Yes, it may be a problem to reach the next camping ground if you want to do something other than riding your bike during the day. You may want to have a look at camping.info, but I don't know if they really show ALL campingsites there. – waka Aug 25 '17 at 12:18
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    Had a brief look at camping.info, and the sole campground I've stayed on (at Stafafell) is not shown, so I can confirm the listing is incomplete. – gerrit Aug 25 '17 at 12:34

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