Guest post: How to keep adventure optimal and costs minimal in Iceland – by Alex Vogels

In this week’s guest post we have a handy guide to hitch-hiking in Iceland sent by Alex Vogels from the Netherlands who hitch-hiked across this stunning but coarse island for 7 weeks. It’s commonly known that Iceland can be expensive, however, there are ways to keep the costs down. Read Alex’s useful article to find out how…

Tom Vogels stuck hitchhiking in Iceland

How to keep adventure optimal and costs minimal in Iceland

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.

Dettifoss, Iceland - by Tom Vogels

Hitch-hiking

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.

Camping

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.

Crossing the Drangajokull, Iceland - by Tom Vogels

Weather

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!

Food

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.

Thermal caves near Myvatn, Iceland - by Tom Vogels

written by: Alex Vogels

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2 comments

  • 2016 Update (5 years later)

    We hitchhiked this year with 2 persons during July-Aug. There are at least 3 to 5 times more tourists in Iceland now, so hitchhiking is A LOT easier. However, you will meet competitor hitchhikers (so you might have to wait for them to leave or stand behind them). We hitch-hiked across the island (M1) fast and the westfjords (Latrabjarg/Isafjordur/Patreksfjordur/some other cliffs) were no problem this year (5 years ago there were hardly any cars here). The inlands (Landmannalaugar, F35 and towards Hofsjokull) should also be no problem hitchhiking during July-Aug. Our maximum wait time was 2 hours (stuck at a bad spot), but generally we were picked up under 40 minutes, regardless of where we were.

    • Thanks for the update, mate! As we are planning to visit Iceland soon ourselves, it’s great to know hitchhiking has become easier. For the first time in my life I’m sort of happy a place has gained more tourists ;)