More often than not I get asked about off the beaten path places to see in Iceland. I guess news of growing number of guests here have led to the perception of over tourism, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Don’t get me wrong, many attractions here gather quite a crowd. Especially during summer.
But what destination doesn’t?
I mean, you wouldn’t travel to Rome and expect to have the Colosseum all to yourself, would you? Well you get my point.
Iceland is a fairly big country if you think of sheer size and there are a LOT of places that still haven’t caught the eye of the masses (so to speak).
Here are some of my favorite off the beaten track places that I take my family to every time I get a chance to:
- Hrafnabjargafoss waterfall
This extremely beautiful waterfall is right next door to one of the more famous waterfalls in North Iceland, Aldeyjarfoss waterfall. Because of the rough gravel road that leads to the waterfall, not many people dare to visit it even though it is only a short 40-minute walk away from the Aldeyjarfoss parking lot.
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If you have a 4×4 car the driving distance is only about 7 minutes. Trust me if you are travelling in North Iceland, this waterfall should most definitely be on your list of things to see! This is the epitome of off the beaten path destinations.
2. Laugavalladalslaug geothermal shower/hot tub
This gem is hidden in the highlands off the East. It’s safe to say it’s not very easy to find or get to but offers an amazing experience! The tiny but warm mini waterfall is natures ultimate shower. Beneath there is a “hot-tub” that fits plenty of people so bring your friends and enjoy a spa-like experience under the Icelandic summer sky. Just be aware that the road leading to this slice of heaven is not suitable for your average car so you may need to hike a little bit to get to it.
3. Nauthúsagil canyon
This small canyon can be found on the way to Þórsmörk valley (one of my favorite places in Iceland!), just a short drive from Seljalandsfoss waterfall. You’ll need to skip stones, hang on chains, and follow narrow paths… and you’ll definitely get a little wet… but at the end you’ll see a small waterfall cascading into the gorge in a stellar fashion. It might not be the biggest or most impressive waterfalls Iceland has to offer, but the journey to it makes it all the more special.
Just make sure you have good waterproof shoes on (or another pair you can change into afterwards) and warm waterproof clothes with you and you’ll love it, I guarantee it!
Ok maybe not completely off the beaten path as it is the beginning point (or finishing point) of Iceland most famous hiking trail, the Laugavegur trail. But I still wanted to put it on this list because it holds a special place in my heart. I can’t quite explain it but there is something so uniquely special about the extraordinary nature there.
Whether it be the colorful mountains that surround this oasis or the warm river that runs through it…. There is just something about being in the highlands of Iceland let’s just put it that way! There are plenty of hiking trails in the area and I highly recommend stopping at the “mountain mall” to pick up a few necessities.
5. Þakgil canyon
Þakgil canyon is a well-known campsite among us locals and one I try to visit every summer. It’s nestled between mountains which generally means you can get rid of the sometimes pesky Icelandic wind!
It’s unique location also makes it one of the best places in Iceland to go hiking. There are at least three different trails (that I know of) that you can hike, each one of different level of difficulty. There is a beautiful waterfall in the area, majestic mountains, and of course the Katla volcano, one of the most dangerous volcanoes in Iceland!
Want to know more about off the beaten path places in Iceland? Nordic Green Travel can help! They can also assist you in getting the most out of your travels by creating a custom itinerary that includes iconic highlights as well as off the beaten path attractions. Peruse their various tour options and get in contact with them here.