Hidden Gems of Iceland Off the Beaten Path
There are many things you must do in Iceland, and many tourists are coming to Iceland and we are really happy about that. Tourists must make sure they visit the natural hot springs like the Blue Lagoon, the Gljúfrabúi waterfall, the lava fields and see the northern lights. Icelanders love to show their country and breathtaking nature to visitors and tell them about all the old saga´s and stories from years ago . In some places here you´ll always find a lot of traffic. But there are still some almost secret and usually lonely places off the beaten path in Iceland. . We will tell you about some of them, and you can include them into your rental car trip. And if you´re lucky you will discover them off the beaten track just by yourself…
Iceland is slowly splitting apart…
Two continental shelves – the American and the Euro-Asian, which Iceland is located on, are drifting apart by about 2,5 cm per year. The most movement is happening deep on the bottom of the ocean, because of a ridge that is caused by the shift and runs across the island. On Reykjanes peninsula southwest of Iceland the „bridge between the continents” or “Miðlína” crosses the ridge. You will find a display with all information about the continuous shift of the plates right beside the bridge. This stop off the beaten track is truly unique. From Reykjavík you go via Road 41, 44 and 425 (or GPS search Miðlína).
The hot river in Reykjadalur
Iceland is well-known for its natural hot springs and it’s really a very special moment to take a bath in one of Iceland’s hot springs. Everybody who also likes to hike, has to go to the “smoking Valley” (Reykjadalur on Icelandic).
Smoking holes in the ground are already visible from far away. The little village Hveragerði is only about 45 min drive from Reyjkavík and is located in the middle of the largest geothermal field in Iceland.
The Trail starts north of Hveragerði right behind a little parking lot. You walk up a gravel path, passing by some waterfalls and gushing springs and enjoy an amazing view all over the valley behind. The mud holes have up to 100° Celsius and emit a vapor that smells of Sulphur (a few displays with the Icelandic word “Hætta!“ or “Danger!” are beside the trail). After about an hour you will reach the hot river up in the mountains. There is seating and possibilities to change clothes. However, it should be noted that there are no sanitary facilities. Further up the river the water is hotter, but in the lower area you can relax in a temperature of 38-40°. The trail gives hikers a beautiful view of Iceland off the beaten path.
Tomatoes, bred with sustainable energy
The organic tomato farm Friðheimar is located in Reykholt, near Fluðir and the Golden Circle. It is a perfect stop for everybody who is travelling in a rental car on a road trip. All produced food is used in the restaurant of the family runned business, for example tomatoes which cannot be sold in the shop anymore but are perfect for tomato soup. The soup is served with home-baked bread and everybody can add chicken, vegetables or cheese into it. Other meals are for example tortilla wrap with tomatoes, pasta, mussels with tomato-seafood sauce, tomato ice cream, tomato-apple pie and many more…
The greenhouses can be visited by group with an advance notification and delicacies such as tomato jam or tomato drinks can be purchased in the shop. This stop is truly one of the best hidden gems off the beaten path in Iceland, so make sure you visit this farm.
(+354) 486 8894
The troll who threw stones at a monastery
Hvítserkur is an independently standing basalt rock on the east coast of the Vatnsnes peninsula. The name means translated „white coat“, because of the white spots that come from birds’ excrements. The rock is around 15 m high, hollowed out in two places and serves as a nesting place for different bird species. According to an Icelandic legend the rock was previously a troll that was petrified by the sun when he threw stones at a monastery. Hvítserkur can be visited via road no. 711 and can be connected with a trip around the peninsula where on the westside can also be spotted seals at 3 places. In the end you leave the peninsula on road 72 at Hvammstangi or just in the opposite direction. This hidden Iceland gem that is off the beaten track is a great picture opportunity.
Red Sand Beach
Black sand beaches are not very uncommon in Iceland. However, there are also some white, or orange or yellow, red – depending on how the sunlight is shining on it.
A red sand beach, Rauðisandur, around 12 km long you can find in Iceland’s Westfjords. There is probably nothing there but sand, a seal colony and a small campsite. A little further along Road No. 612 is Látrabjarg. There you can spot thousands of puffins living and breeding in the rocky cliffs in summer. If you don’t want to cross all over the Westfjord roads, you can take the ferry from Stykkishólmur to Brjánslækur and go further to the Red Sand Beach. These beaches are one of Iceland’s most beautiful features. Make sure you visit these beaches of Iceland off the beaten path that seem to extend forever.
Since we´re just talking about Stykkishólmur…
The American Artist Roni Horn founded the water museum or “Vatnsafn” as the Icelanders say, in Stykkishólmur. Visitors can walk between pillars filled with water from Icelandic Glaciers (one pillar is for one of the 24 glaciers of Iceland). The theme about the melting of the glaciers is shown in an original way. The museum is located on a small hill above the village and offers – in addition to the beautiful exhibition, also a great view. If you are looking for a great museum off the beaten path, make sure to check out this one.
The Canyon made by Odin´s horse
The canyon of Ásbyrgi is in Vatnajökull National Park in northeast Iceland. In the middle of this 3.5 km canyon is a rock with 25 m high that looks from above viewed like a huge horseshoe. According to the legend, Odin’s eight-legged horse, Sleipnir, stepped into the glacier gorge. Many hiking trails run around the area which is also home for many hidden animals and elves and is an important part of the Icelandic folklore. Inside the canyon you come across a small lake that transforms singing in the gorge with an enchanting sound. This canyon is a must see stop off the beaten path in Iceland to understand the folklore. Try it, maybe an elf will join you ☺
From Ring road No. 1 turn into road 864 towards Dettifoss and then approx. 85 km to no. 85, then follow the signs to Ásbyrgi.
to be continued…