If you like camping, trekking, cooking on your own stove, solitude, friendly people who speak fluent English and hitch-hiking: then, Iceland is the country for you.
When to go
Most tourists visit Iceland in the summer between June and September. This has a few advantages: long days (up to 20 hours of sunlight!), it isn’t freezing cold, lots of roads are open and with more tourists this is good news for hitch-hikers. The disadvantages are: lot of couchsurf spots are taken, since Iceland is expensive. Also, because of the summer there will be a lot of melting water on certain treks, so river-crossing is a must sometimes.
I’ve trekked and hitch-hiked for 7 weeks alone, and 2 weeks with my girlfriend. Hitch-hiking alone is a little faster, but with 2 people we were able to easily hitchhike to remote areas in the North-West Fjords. Hitch-hiking around the M1 (the motorway around Iceland) is also very easy to navigate. With large roads and lot of cars, the waiting time will be very low if you pick clever spots. Signs are not necessary, since you go only go “that way” or “the other way”: no complicated network of roads in Iceland. Hitch-hiking inland on Snaefellsjokull and The North-west fjords, is also easy although waiting times can be a little longer. At one time a buddy and I made a bet: We started in Vik (south): one of hitchhiked east, the other hitchhiked west, and the one to be around the M1 and back in Vik first, won. Unfortunately my buddy won: it took him 26 hours, I got stuck during the night just a couple of miles before Vik. Had I been luckier, it could have been a draw.
Make sure you bring your own tent and you leave nature clean. Wild-camping is, most of the time, no problem, unless you camp right next to a paying campsite, then of course the owners won’t be very happy. There are plenty of little campsites along the M1, they charge a small fee and offer showers and hot water. Whenever you are sick of your tent, or experience a week of fog and rain, you can always find little hostels where they offer you only a bed, so bring your own sleeping bag, and costs will stay low. All water in Iceland (little rivers) is drinkable, and very healthy.
In the summer months temperatures drop to about 3 to 5 degrees during the night, and a northern wind can add a chill to that, which can make the temperature feel a lot lower. During the day – if sunny – it is around 15 to sometimes 20 degrees Celsius. Be sure to bring some suncream, especially when walking in the snow!
You buy supplies in the BONUS-supermarket; a low cost supermarket like Aldi or Lidl in Europe. Buy spaghetti, rice, pasta sauce, some dried fish, fruit, nuts and bring them if you decide to walk for several days. I walked from south to north in 7 days, and walked from north to south in remote areas for 11 days. Inland you will find very few hostels. So food is a necessity. When you are close to the M1, or when you are on the popular treks like Landmannalaugar food is never far away – but prices rise to 3x BONUS-level.
written by: Alex Vogels
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