Text by: Agata Ryszkowska​

Let’s be real: Iceland is SO much more than Blue Lagoon, the Golden Circle and Black Sand Beach. Even though those places seem to be like the perfect ones to get the general idea of Iceland, it’s a pity not to explore more of this wonderful country. We’ve gathered quite a few locations that are probably well known to the locals but not so much to the tourists. But remember… the most authentic gems you find by yourself by going places that are not marked on google maps. So roll your sleeves and get ready for an adventure!

Borgarfjörður Eystri

It is a tiny village located in a remote area of East Fiords, 70km away from Egilsstaðir. With about 100 inhabitants, it offers wonderful natural beauty. It’s claimed to be the easiest and safest place to watch puffins in Iceland but besides those adorable birds you can also watch multiple other species. The village is also called as hikers’ paradise due to multiple hiking paths, which are called Víknaslóðir hiking trails. It’s more like an area with multiple routes, which combined can take up even a week. They’re visible on this digital map, yet it’s advised to get a paper one in Egilsstaðir as it’s in much higher resolution. One of the more accessible hikes is the one to Stórurð „The Giant Boulders”. It’s an incredibly scenic hike leading through valleys and meadows that lie below a small glacier. The main attraction of this hike are the glacial ponds with turquoise water.

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Mossy roof

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Viðey

Some people might be surprised that this little island is on this list but it absolutely doesn’t get the attention it needs. Located just in between the Esja ridge and Reykjavik shoreline, it has a lot to offer. It’s an oasis for birdlife just a short boat ride away from the capital. It offers multiple walking paths from which your can admire the raw nature that’s so close to the city life. It’s perfect for a day off or few hours to kill if you have nothing else planned. But it’s not only about the nature – on Viðey there’s located the famous Yoko Ono’s „Imagine Peace Tower”, which pay tribute to John Lennon.

Djúpivogur

A small town located in the East Fiords is an attraction in itself. A 1069 meters high pyramid-shaped mountain called Búlandstindur dominates the landscape. It’s a gorgeous village with history of trade going back to the XVI century, whereas the first house was supposed to be built in 1790. Now it serves as a cultural centre. In 2009 an outdoor sculpture was installed; it consists of 34 eggs that represent nesting birds of the area. Further attractions can be found here.

Hraunfossar

Hraunfossar translates directly to „Lava falls”. They consist of many sections and cascades in West Iceland located near another waterfall called Barnafoss. Another interesting fact is that they run down into the Hvítá River (White River) as they come down from under Hallmundarhraun lava field. There’s a car park and a perfect viewpoint from where you can admire the beauty of the area.

Nýifoss

Another waterfall that basically translates into „New waterfall” and it is actually quite new! (Icelanders are known for naming the things painfully directly;) It supposedly was formed in 1939, when due to glacial flood coming down from Langjökull glacier, the nearby Hagavatn’s lake eastern side collapsed which resulted in lowering the water level and showing the raw beauty of the new waterfall. It’s definitely not the most beautiful one but it’s undoubtedly interesting as it’s placed in a sandy gray landscape. It’s not easy to access this one, 4WD or a sturdier car is required.

Hjörleifshöfði

Located about 15km east of Vík í Mýrdal, there’s a 221m high inselberg mountain. An inselberg is an isolated some kind of rock rising abruptly from the ground. It used to be a part of the southern shoreline way before numerous Katla volcano eruptions that carried the sand down. It’s also named after Hjörleifr Hróðmarsson, a brother-in-law of the first official settler in Iceland. Hjörleifr was supposedly slain by his slaves and his it’s believed that he’s buried on the top of the mountain. It’s relatively easy to hike it and the map can be found here. There’s also so-called Yoda Cave which shape visible from the inside weirdly reminds of the Star Wars character.

Surtshellir

Surtshellir is a cave in West Iceland located about 1-hour drive from Borgarnes town. It’s claimed to be the most famous cave in Iceland but it feels like it doesn’t get the credit it deserves. It’s the longest cave (1970m) that forms a 3500m complex of corridors with another cave called Stefánshellir. The innermost part of Surtshellir cave is known for lots of ice formations, which are the most interesting part of this attraction. It’s highly advised to book a tour to visit it as it’s quite dangerous to enter caves without knowing their nature.

Rauðanes Cape (point)

This small peninsula is placed between Raufarhöfn village and Þórshöfn village in North-East Iceland. It’s a wonderful 7km (2-2.5h) walk by the shoreline from where you can admire the strangest rock formations, hidden caves and beaches. There’s a map of trails at the parking lot so don’t forget to get a picture! The place is often neglected by tourists as it’s in quite a remote destination but if you happen to be in this area, it’s so perfect to have a picnic along the way.

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#island #canoneos5dmarkiv #canonef70200mm#rauðanes

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Hrísey

It’s an island placed off the north coast of Iceland about 35 kilometres north of Akureyri, in Eyjafjörður which happens to be one of the longest fiords in Iceland. The island is known to be inhabited since the first days of settlement having now a population of 120 people. You can reach it by taking a 15-min boat ride from Árskógssandur. It’s absolutely worth a visit for a couple of reasons: it’s in the middle of nowhere, there’s very little people, a swimming pool, a campsite, restaurant and a shark museum. If you’re up to sightseeing the island by a tractor, it’s also totally an option!

Raufarhöfn

Another adorable little town in Iceland. This one is unique thanks to the fact that it’s the northernmost one. It has about 200 inhabitants but in time of large herring catches there was way more people. There’s a lot of empty industrial buildings from that time. One of the things that make this town stand out is the Arctic Henge sculpture located on a hill above the town. The idea of it is to harness the Midnight Sun and it derives from old folklore world of the Eddic poem Völuspá.

Húsey farm

A slightly different kind of place on this list. Húsey is a farm located in the North, 56km from Egilsstaðir. It’s the perfect spot to spend some time to really breathe in the slow Icelandic life deep in nature. The farm offers horse riding tours that are suitable for all kind of levels. It’s surrounded by pristine nature; mountains, glacial rivers or black sands. There’s a high possibility of watching seals and reindeers in their natural habitat. Combined with limited wifi connections it adds up to a perfect gateway from our busy world.

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🎠🎠🎠

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Petra’s Stone Collection

A place that is not so obvious yet so magical that it’s absolutely worth a visit. Petra María Sveinsdóttir was so interested in various kinds of stone that she started to collect them in 1946. Most of them were found in East Iceland. It’s basically an open home that’s been open since 1974 for the people that were eager to see the impressive collection. Now it’s combined with a little coffee shop where you can have a little rest from traveling around. It’s run by Petra’s family and it’s open from May 1 to October 15th.

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Grjóthaltukjafti

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Klifbrekkufossar

A series of waterfalls one above another that are about 90m high combined. Located in Mjóifjörður in the Eastern Iceland they’re best visible actually from the road but it’s possible to approach them by foot. It’s magical to see the cascades of water that never stop flowing. The water derives from an underground spring which means it’s not as contaminated as the glacial rivers can get.

Tvísöngur

A strangely looking concrete sculpture that somehow perfectly fits with the raw nature around. It looks like five connected mushrooms or igloos of different sizes. The VISIT SEYÐISFJÖRÐUR website describes it: „Tvisongur was opened to the public on September 5th 2012, and everyone can access it. It is embedded in the mountainside above the town, in a quiet area with a breathtaking view of the fjord. It offers an acoustic sensation that can be explored and experimented with by the visitor. The site’s solitude and tranquility offers a perfect setting for singing or music playing, alone, in harmony, for ones own pleasure or for an audience.”

Kálfshamarsvík

On Skagi Peninsula, that is most definitely off the beaten track, you can find Kálfshamarsvík. It’s a cove and the thing that makes in stand out are the outstanding basalt cliffs. Created about 2 million years ago (!), they are unlike any other basalt columns in Iceland. There are also ruins of abandoned houses in the area as well as awe-inspiring lighthouse.

Hornstrandir nature reserve

You might have heard about it but there’s not much people that actually make it to Hornstrandir. It’s Iceland’s Northernmost peninsula that’s the home of Arctic Fox. It’s an uninhabited nature reserve that’s probably the most remote area in Iceland. You can reach it from Ísafjörður or Norðurfjörður by boat; there’s no way by reaching it by car. It’s possible to spend there even half a day but it’s highly recommended to hike there for a couple of day to get the sense of the isolation. You can hike for days without meeting anyone. It’s a birds nesting paradise where cliffs rise up to 500m.

Route 622

So-called the most dangerous road in Iceland. Accessible only during summer, it can be reached only by a sturdy car with 4WD. It’s a very narrow road in the Westfjords that can be found underwater if the tide is high. It’s for people with steel nerves who are experienced drivers. The main attractions of it are that it’s hazardous (obviously) and that it’s insanely beautiful. It’s carved into cliffs with high mountains and ocean on both sides makes an unforgettable experience. Remember to check the tide and weather forecast!

Heydalur

For people that are more into soothing the nerves than rather making their adrenaline levels high, Heydalur is the perfect spot. It’s also located in the Westfjords and it’s a guesthouse with the most amazing, unique and stunning inside swimming pool. It’s surrounded by huge indoor plants and trees that make the space perfect for meditation and finding peace with yourself. Besides the wonderful pool the guesthouse offers multiple other activities, such as horse riding, wedding ceremonies, kayaking, bird watching or outside thermal springs.

Þakgil camping

Maybe it’s not the most remote location in Iceland but surely you’d like to wake up in its surroundings. It can be found in South Iceland 20km from Vik which makes it perfect for most visitors in Iceland. It’s located in the middle of a serene valley surrounded by moss and grass covered mountains. It’s peaceful and well equipped with brand new WC and shower facilities. The fact that it’s a valley it’s perfectly secure from severe winds that happen even during summertime.

Stakkholtsgjá canyon

It’s a mesmerizing canyon located in Þórsmörk National Park. It’s about 2km long and 100m deep; and at the end of it a gorgeous waterfall awaits you. It’s stunning with its shapes, river crossings and it gets narrower as you’re getting closer to the waterfall. It’s best to book a tour to get there as it requires a couple of river crossings by car. It should be never neglected as glacial rivers took lots of lives. Get prepared to wet your feet while hiking! But unforgettable memories are rarely created by not stepping out of your comfort zone 🙂

Free map of attractions