5 Iceland Spots Off The Beaten Track
Iceland is an amazing country! It has such beautiful scenery in all directions, with everything from massive waterfalls, to geysers erupting out of the ground, to lava fields that are still smoking.
With so many varied sights, it’s hard to choose what to see. A lot of visitors base themselves in Reykjavik and visit The Blue Lagoon and The Golden Circle.
Enjoying the blue lagoon.
I enjoyed the Blue Lagoon, and was lucky to only pay £30 to go when it was quiet during COVID. However, normally it is twice the price and rammed with tourists!
The Golden Circle consists of:
· Geysir- So famous all geysers are named after it! It no longer goes off, but the massive Strokkur goes off every 10-15mins.
· Gullfoss- A 32m waterfall with an astonishing amount of water.
· Thingvellir National Park- The spot where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, and the old site of Icelandic Parliament.
The geysir Strokkur surrounded by tourists.
These sights are amazing (who doesn’t love seeing a massive torrent of water shooting out of the ground!), but in peak season you spend so much time queuing up to see them and battling with other tourists it can spoil the experience.
If you are looking for beautiful spots that most tourists haven’t been to, here are 5 amazing things to see in Iceland that are a bit different! They are all based around the Icelandic Route 1, the ring road around the outside of the country, with a detour into the Westfjords (my favourite part of Iceland so far). And best of all they are all free!
1. Gljúfrafoss Waterfall
A waterfall hidden inside a cave, next door to the more famous waterfall Seljalandsfoss, you could miss it if you didn’t know it was there! The way inside involves balancing on rocks and walking up a stream, before you arrive into a massive cave filled with rushing water. In the winter, the spray freezes into tiny stalactites
Park for free outside the campsite, before walking to the cliff face in the corner directly behind the camping area. There’s a small sign to show you you’re in the right spot.
2. Seydisfjordur Sound Sculpture
Located a 15 minute walk up a hill just outside of Seydisfjordur, this statue consists of 5 mushroom-like domes created by a German artist. You can go inside the domes to sing and listen for the differences in each one. Each dome resonates differently and is based on traditional Icelandic five-tone harmony. It is a lovely walk up, passing small waterfalls and opening up to a stunning view of the town below and the fjord. There is a small, well-signed car park at the bottom of the walking trail.
Seydisfjordur itself is also well worth a visit but is quite a popular tourist spot famous especially for its rainbow street.
3. Gardar BA 64 Beached Ship
Located in the Westfjords, this ship was run aground in 1981 after use as a whaling boat and a herring-fishing boat. It is the oldest steel ship in Iceland, and it a very unique addition to the landscape.
You can’t climb on the boat or go inside as it is too old and dangerous, but it’s a unique site in a beautiful spot. The Westfjords are one of the most unspoiled and least touristic areas of Iceland, as well as one of the most geothermally-active (meaning loads of free, unspoilt hot pools!).
4. Skutafoss Waterfall
This small group of waterfalls is found near the town of Hofn. It can be a bit difficult to find, so here are the co-ordinates 65.2359943, -14.0760228. Park in the small gravel pull-in by a larger waterfall with pump station, and continue walking towards the waterfalls seen higher up the valley.
This spot is very peaceful, and we didn’t see another person there! One of my favourite parts of these waterfalls is the cave found the right-hand side of them, which you are able to go inside. You can also climb up the rockface to get directly behind the waterfall.
5. Hverir Geothermal Area
Rather than fight the crowds at the Haukadalur geothermal area as part of The Golden Circle, consider visiting Hverir instead. There may not be a Geysir here, but the area is stunning and otherworldly.
Steaming natural chimney stacks from the earth’s crust, bubbling pools of mud and colourful hot streams can all be found here, with the constant smell of sulphur in the background.
This area is right by Lake Myvatn, an area rich in bird life with plenty of other sights including volcanoes and Grjotagja, a cave filled with steaming blue water.
Regardless of where you go in Iceland, you’ll be in awe of the natural beauty, but a quiet moment spent alone marvelling at the Icelandic landscape is one you won’t forget. Enjoy.