Travel Tips for Iceland

Cooking in Iceland During a Campervan Road Trip

Ultimate Guide to Cooking in Iceland During a Campervan Road Trip


Any avid camper will tell you that one of the best parts of going on a camping trip is the cooking. There’s just something so enjoyable about cooking a minimalist meal over a small camp stove, while you’re on the go, and then cosying up in your camp chairs to eat as you enjoy the scenery. This is exactly the kind of experience you can expect when you opt for a campervan rental in Iceland, and decide to camp your way around the country, going at your own pace and seeing the sights without relying on hotel stays or restaurant reservations.

If you’re new to camping, though, you may need a few tips as to how to go about cooking during a road trip in Iceland. Challenges can arise. You’ll need to remember to pack the right gear for cooking in your campervan rental, know where to buy food for your road trip and have a few recipes in your back pocket, when it comes time to set up camp and dine on your delicious camp food. If you can pull it all off successfully, you’ll be treated to healthier meals, more convenient meals, more affordable meals and more overall enjoyable meals, as compared to dining out for every meal during your road trip.

Intrigued? Keep reading for tips for easy, healthy cooking with a campervan in Iceland, as well as a few recipes.


Preparing for Your Trip: Pick the Right Campervan Rental in Iceland

When preparing for your road trip, if you know that you’ll be doing a lot of your own cooking in Iceland, start by carefully considering your campervan rental.

For easier, more convenient cooking, look for a campervan equipped with a kitchenette or a space for portable cooking equipment. Ideally, you’d also choose a campervan rental in Iceland that comes outfitted with some cooking equipment. 

At Lava Car Rental, all campervan rentals are outfitted with must-have equipment such as a portable stove, pots, pans, utensils, a cooling box, dishwashing equipment and even two foldable chairs and a table. This means you really only need to buy your food ahead of your campervan road trip; everything else is provided for you, saving you money and space in your suitcase.

All camper rentals at Lava Car Rental come with camping accessories

When it is time for you to stock up on ingredients for cooking during your Iceland road trip, pick non-perishable items and fresh produce. Items that store well are ideal. If you rent a Lava Car Rental campervan, you’ll have space in a cooler and plenty of storage space to hold all of your food for your entire road trip.

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Understand the Challenges of Cooking During an Iceland Road Trip

After you’ve chosen the right campervan that’s outfitted with everything you need for cooking in Iceland, it’s also wise to just brush up on some of the main challenges that might pop up, if you decide that you’ll do the bulk of all your cooking in Iceland yourself — just so you’re prepared.

  • Weather conditions

The first potential hurdle is weather conditions. If you plan on cooking outdoors — which you’ll need to do if you’re using a portable cookstove, rather than a campervan outfitted with a built-in stove — do note that Iceland’s weather can change very quickly and that you may prefer Iceland’s summer weather over the wind, rain and cold of fall, winter and spring, at least when it comes to cooking outside.

Overall, whether you’re cooking or doing anything else, if you’re taking a campervan rental around Iceland, you’ll have the most enjoyable experience during the summer, when the weather is mild.

  • Limited grocery stores

Secondly, some areas of Iceland have more grocery stores than others; this is the case with gas stations as well, which is why it’s vital for your safety that you know where to find gas stations in Iceland. It’s important to stock up on groceries when you’re in an area with more grocery stores, so that you always have enough food, as well as a wider choice of foods.

That leads us to…


Where to Shop for Food for a Campervan Trip Around Iceland

There are several main grocery stores that you can find throughout Iceland.



Bonus grocery store in Iceland

There are 30 Bonus grocery stores in Iceland, making it Iceland’s most popular grocery store. Prices are really good here, so if you’re hoping to buy your food for your Iceland road trip on a budget, this is where you need to go. Bonus stores are open every day, and you’ll find that they’re usually open until about 18:30, unless you’re in a city, like Reykjavik or Akureyri, where the stores stay open until 20:00.



Kronan grocery store in Iceland

Kronan has about 20 stores throughout Iceland, and offers a larger variety of items and a lot of organic foods. Kronan’s prices are slightly higher than what you’ll pay at Bonus, but some shoppers find that’s a fair trade-off for the greater selection and healthy foods. Kronan stores are typically open until 20:00 or 21:00, daily.



Netto grocery store in Iceland

Netto sells a little bit of it all, as it’s both a grocery store and a department store. You can find random items that you might need for your campervan road trip, in addition to the food you’ll need for cooking in Iceland.

Some Netto stores are open 24 hours per day, making them very convenient if you need some supplies at a late hour.



Krambudin grocery stores in Iceland

Krambudin has more than 20 stores throughout Iceland, and it offers a lot of convenient options, many of which are open late, until 23:30, if you’re in the city. If you’re in a more rural area, the stores might close at 19:00. The stores offer a nice selection and many fresh or ready-made items, for more convenient meals. However, do note that Krambudin is one of Iceland’s more expensive grocery stores.



Hagkaup grocery stores in Iceland

Lastly, another slightly pricier grocery store in Iceland is Hagkaup. These stores aren’t just grocery stores, though. These are what we would call a “hypermarket,” offering a huge array of items, from beyond food to even clothes. The stores are often open until 24:00, but there are only locations in Reykjavik and Akureyri.


How to Save Money on Cooking in Iceland, Wherever You Shop

Whichever of the above grocery stores you decide to shop at, in order to stock up your campervan rental in Iceland, there are a few things you can do to save a little money on your grocery bill.

  •  Take advantage of local products and produce

When you can, shop for locally sourced products and produce, which are usually available at more affordable prices, as compared to items that have to be imported into the country. For example, Iceland offers lots of local seafood and even grows some local produce, like tomatoes. Buy your favourite fish in grocery stores or at a specialty fish store. If you travel around the Golden Circle, even consider stopping by Fridheimar, a greenhouse and restaurant located just off the Golden Circle and where you can buy locally raised vegetables.


  • Buy in bulk

If you plan on driving around Iceland for a few weeks or if you know that you’ll likely eat a large amount of the same ingredient, consider buying items in bulk. There’s one Costco store in Iceland, where you can use your Costco membership from another country to buy bulk groceries, as well as fill up on gas at a great deal. Iceland’s lone Costco can be found when you’re driving between the Keflavik airport and Reykjavik, and it’s located at Kauptún 3, 210 Garðabær.


  • Buy alcohol at the duty-free shop

If you plan to drink some adult beverages during your camping excursion, buy your alcohol at the duty-free shop at the airport. This is the most affordable place to buy alcohol in the country.

  • Take advantage of free amenities

You can save additional money in your travel budget by taking advantage of free amenities, such as the free, fresh and delicious tap water available throughout Iceland, as well as the free coffee vouchers, redeemable at Iceland gas stations, that you’ll get when you rent through Lava Car Rental. 


What to Cook in Iceland: Easy Recipes for Your Iceland Road Trip

When it’s actually time to begin cooking during your Iceland road trip, what should you make? We have a few suggestions. 

In general, though, we recommend that you focus your cooking energy on dinners, once you’re parked and ready to settle in for the evening. If you really want to cook for breakfast, get up early and do so, allowing you as much time to sightsee as possible. For lunch, reconsider stopping and cooking a full meal and, instead, consider on-the-go, packable lunches that require little work. As you plan your meals, consider adding some Icelandic specialties into the mix, such as lamb, fish and skyr!


Cooking in Iceland: Breakfast

If you’re intent on making breakfast before you begin your day of exploring, consider a simple breakfast of eggs, beans and bread. Cook your eggs how you like them using your campervan’s provided cookware, and heat up the baked beans either before or after you’ve cooked your eggs. Butter your bread and place it on your plate first, then pile the beans and eggs on top. Paired with a little coffee or tea, it’s the perfect breakfast to send you on your way!

Cooking eggs in a campsite in Iceland

If this is still a little too much cooking for you, so early in the morning, consider something even easier: instant oatmeal. All you’ll need to do is boil water.

If you’re eager to get on the road, though, you can still eat a delicious breakfast. Some options that only require you to maybe wash a single spoon or even less include breakfasts of skyr and granola, cereal or buttered bread. Lava Car Rental also provides renters with vouchers for free coffee at Iceland gas stations, so you can grab your coffee once you’ve headed out for the day! 


Cooking in Iceland: On-the-Go Lunches

For lunch, look to simple options like salads and sandwiches.


Cooking in Iceland: Fast Dinners

When it’s time to set up camp for the evening, pull out your cookstove and get ready to cook up something scrumptious — but don’t feel as if you have to spend hours labouring away. These options are fast.


  • Pasta with vegetables

Pasta comes together quickly and is filled with carbs to fuel you up after a day of exploring. All you’ll need to do is boil some pasta using your campervan’s provided pot and cookstove. Then, drain the pasta and add in your favourite pasta sauce of choice, either tinned or jarred, such as tomato sauce or pesto. Then, add fresh, seasonal vegetables. If you’d prefer your vegetables cooked, cook them in the water at the same time you cook your pasta, or saute them after you’ve cooked your pasta. Possible options include tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms or peppers.


  • Grilled fish and potatoes

This very Icelandic dish is equally quick. Pick up some fresh, local fish, like salmon, and season it before frying it in your campervan’s provided pan. Boil some potatoes to go with the fish and, if you prefer a little more texture to your potatoes, fry them a bit, after boiling them, and after the fish is cooked as well. If you need a bit more, consider adding a simple salad to your dinner, with just some light lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers.


  • Icelandic BBQ

While it might take a little more time, a camping trip in Iceland is best with a little barbecue. You can buy single-use barbecues at the grocery store, which are easy to use. Buy some meats to grill as well, along with a few vegetables or ready-made salads, which are also available at many grocery stores. Don’t forget a side of Piknik, which is an Icelandic brand of crispy potato straws.


  • Hot dogs

For less of a time commitment, grill some hot dogs. If you don’t want to buy a single-use barbecue, you can also boil your hot dogs. Icelanders love their hot dogs, so eat them like the locals do, by topping them with crispy onions and your choice of sauce. Options include ketchup, remoulade or pylsusinnep, which is a type of mustard.

Hot dog in Iceland is a must-try

  • Stir fry

Stir fry is one of the easiest meals you can make, whether you’re cooking at your campervan or at home. Just cook your noodles or rice first and set that aside, then fry your protein of choice, before adding your vegetables to the pan. Think beef, chicken, broccoli, peppers and/or onions. Then, once the protein and vegetables are both cooked, stir your noodles and rice back into the pan, along with your sauce of choice, such as a soy sauce or sweet chili sauce.


  • Fajitas, tacos or burritos

If you have a protein, some veggies, some tortillas and some spices, you can make fajitas, tacos or burritos in a snap. Just cook your protein along with your spices — all you really need is some cumin, salt and chili powder — and then add your vegetables of choice, like onions and peppers. Then, add your cooked vegetables and protein to your tortilla.

Eat them as is for fajitas. For tacos, top them with more fillings, like lettuce, cheese and tomatoes. For a burrito, add your preferred mixture of these ingredients and then roll them all up into burrito formation, in the tortilla. You can even wrap some burritos in aluminium foil and store them in your cooler, for reheating for a quick lunch the next day.


  • Freeze-dried meals

If you just can’t be bothered with any of the above, though, opt for freeze-dried meals, which are often sold in camping stores. Most often just require you to add boiling water and then wait about 10 to 15 minutes for your food to be done, and many come in scrumptious options like chicken alfredo or lasagna.

If you want something a bit more affordable, but you still only want to put in the work of boiling some water, consider buying some ramen noodles or packaged pasta, soups or rice. All of these can be cheap, as well as tasty, options that are oh-so-convenient after a long day of hiking or exploring.


Cooking in Iceland: Final, Quick Tips and Tricks

Excited to get out in your Iceland campervan rental and see all the sights, cooking all your healthy, affordable meals as you go? Here are a final few tips.


  • Meal plan

Regardless of how long you’re going to be in Iceland, have a good idea of what it is you’re going to cook and/or eat, during your trip. This will enable you to go to the grocery store, before you head out on your road trip, and only buy what you need, so you waste neither money nor storage space. 

Meal planning can also come in handy when you’re in the middle of your road trip; you’ll instantly know what you’re having for dinner that night, because you already made a plan!


  • Stay efficient and organised

When you’re on a road trip, try to keep things as streamlined, efficient, organised and uncomplicated as possible. Keep your campervan kitchen tidy and opt for recipes that allow you to use just one pan; only using a single pan also saves time when you’re ready to clean up. Look for simple recipes that require a smaller number of ingredients and ideally, find multiple recipes that allow you to use the same ingredients, so you have less to buy.


  • Stock up

As mentioned above, some areas of Iceland have more grocery stores than others. So, if you plan on travelling to more remote areas, you’ll want to stock up on snacks and food ahead of time. Think skyr, granola bars, nuts, fresh fruit and similar healthful snacks.


Ready to Camp Your Way Around Iceland?

Cooking and eating outside while travelling with a camper in Iceland

Cooking during your Iceland campervan road trip can be a fun part of your road trip experience. Just be sure to properly prepare and plan for doing so, for the most convenience and cost savings. With a little forethought, you’ll enjoy healthful, affordable meals that are delicious and even use local, Icelandic ingredients.

You’ll need more than just your ingredients to get on the road, though. You’ll need to book your campervan directly with Lava Car Rental, for a campervan outfitted with all the kitchen and cooking accessories needed for a seamless experience.

Don’t know if you want to do all your own cooking during your road trip? Maybe you’re more of a car and hotel kind of traveller? Browse Lava Car Rental’s extensive selection of vehicles, and find your perfect car rental in Iceland.  

   Book your Camper in Iceland 

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