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let's just say I'm on an extreme budget but still want to travel the entire Iceland by camping.

  • is it possible and is it allowed?
  • Has anyone done this before?
  • Can I still experience the culture, and meet people?
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    Remember that everything on Iceland is (relatively) expensive, even the food. And that the weather can be rather fierce, even in the summer.
    – Willeke
    Aug 14, 2022 at 17:05
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    Here's another A Complete Guide to Camping in Iceland. Camping in a tent is the best way to connect with nature. It is incredibly popular in Iceland in summer. The abundance of campsites and their breathtaking natural setting is amazingly tempting for locals and travelers alike. Many Icelandic campsites could easily top the list of the best campsites in the world, for sure. Aug 14, 2022 at 17:47
  • @WeatherVane That reads like an answer to me. Aug 14, 2022 at 18:18
  • @DJClayworth just the first few google hits, no research was needed. Aug 14, 2022 at 18:20

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travel the entire Iceland by camping.

Is it possible and is it allowed?

Yes, as long as you stay on campgrounds. Iceland does not have a generic "right to roam" permission allowing anyone to camp almost anywhere, unlike Norway, Sweden, or Finland. The right to camp in the wild for a night only applies if you can't reach the next campground, which applies if you are on foot or by bicycle, but not when you are by car.

I witnessed people being fined for wild-camping with a car in the interior Iceland, so I asked about the rules, as I had been wild-camping on my hike for more than a week. That's how I learned about how those rules work in practice. You don't want to pay that fine if you are on a tight budget, so if you are by car, please stick to campgrounds.

The cheapest holiday in Iceland is probably one where you bring your bike, and camp alternating on campgrounds or in the wild. That or hitch-hiking, but hitch-hiking has its own downsides, in particular on roads with very low traffic (see also: How many cars/day pass over route F35 Kjölur in September?). If you take the ferry, you might be able to take a fair amount of food too, saving more money (but the ferry is not cheap, certainly not if you bring a car).

Has anyone done this before?

Yes.

Can I still experience the culture, and meet people?

Yes. You could camp near a city and travel into the city to experience the nightlife before returning to the campground. Of course, cultural tourist attractions such as Þingvellir are reachable by bicycle as well.

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  • In theory... what if you set up camp, then park the car a couple kilometers away and walk back to camp?
    – JonathanReez
    Feb 2, 2023 at 22:07
  • @JonathanReez As I understand it, in theory you're not supposed to do that. If they see you while you are setting up camp, you might risk a fine. Otherwise, I'd expect you're very likely to get away with it, unless you're clearly car-camping (caravan, tent trailer, too much gear you couldn't possibly be carrying walking). But I'm just speculating and don't know how they would respond.
    – gerrit
    Feb 3, 2023 at 7:21
  • NB: the latter approach runs a limit even in Sweden. I remember an incident in the local news where Norwegian tourists had flown in with a helicopter and put up a huge amount of gear in the middle of the wilderness. They intended to stay two months, but after three weeks they were found out, fined, and told to leave within 24 hours or risk much higher fines.
    – gerrit
    Feb 3, 2023 at 7:27

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