Iceland Mag

10 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


New stricter rules on camping and camper vans now in effect in South Iceland

By Staff

  • Crazy, but still legal The new ordinance restricts camping in "inhabited areas" to designated campsites. You are still allowed to camp anywhere in the wilderness. This includes mountain peaks. Photo/Tómas Guðbjartsson Facebook

Campers and travellers in camper vans take note: It is now illegal to spend the night in a tent, a camper van or RV outside designated campsites in South Iceland. According to a new police ordinance for South Iceland took effect yesterday all camping outside designated campsites is illegal and subject to a fine.

You can still pitch your tent in the wilderness
The ordinance only applies to "inhabited areas", which means hikers can still pitch their tents in the wilderness far away from human settlements. Inhabited areas is defined as any area not classified as wilderness.

The chief of police in South Iceland told the local newspaper Morgunblaðið that the goal of the new ordinance was to regulate the growing numbers of camper vans which are popular among many foreign travellers. Current regulations and police ordinances are largely quiet on camper vans, leaving town authorities and police powerless to respond to complaints from locals who have been frustrated by disrespectful camper van travellers.

The lack of explicit bans on camping outside campsites has resulted in bizarre situations where travellers have pitched tens in public parks and other public land. 

Read more: Locals in Borgarnes, W. Iceland fed up with travellers camping in parks, on preschool grounds

A key criticism has been that camper vans bring with them unhygienic waste, as they are not equipped with toilets. Most spots where travellers have been stopping their vans along roads lack public toilets. By banning camper vans from spending the night at spots other than designated campsites the authorities hope to eliminate toilet paper and human waste from rest stops and the road.

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