Iceland’s popular destinations, such as the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle, are popular for a reason; you get to see some magnificent natural wonders and since so many people want to see them, affordable tours are also easily available. However, a lot of people want to spend their time in Iceland exploring the untamed nature and go off the beaten track! Travelling to less popular destinations sometimes takes a bit more effort and can be more expensive but you’ll be rewarded with sublime and serene landscapes and a closeness to nature that most people don’t get to experience.
If You Liked the Blue Lagoon……Try the Mývatn Nature Baths!
Mývatn Nature Baths
Everyone knows about the Blue Lagoon, famous for its natural hot water with skin-healing minerals, located in its incredible natural lava-field setting. But fewer people are aware of the Mývatn Nature baths, a similar spa area in the North of Iceland. Situated by the Námaskarð geothermal area, this natural hot spring has high levels of dissolved silica which has a very similar effect to the Blue Lagoon. They are located high up in the mountains in an incredibly natural location, with a view over the wilderness from the pool.
The Mývatn nature baths are in the north of Iceland, available by day tour from Akureyri or with a domestic flight from Reykjavik. Contact us for more information or read our article about hot springs that aren’t the Blue Lagoon.
If You Liked the Golden Circle……Try the Diamond Circle!
DettifossPhoto by Neil D’Cruze
The Golden Circle is popular because it consists of some amazing natural wonders in a convenient distance from one another. That’s not the only place in Iceland where that happens, so why not check out the Diamond circle? The attractions include Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe by water volume and Ásbyrgi, a beautiful, horseshoe shaped valley full of stunning vistas, said to have been formed when Odin’s horse stepped down and left a mark. Hverarönd geothermal area is an impressive collection of bubbling mud pools, colourful rock formations and hot springs!
There are many ways to book the Diamond Circle, for instance, with a domestic flight from Reykjavik or a day tour from Akureyri. Contact us for more options.
If You Liked Glacier Hiking In the South……Try Glacier Hiking In the East!
Glacier Hiking is an increasingly popular activity in Iceland and with good reason! It’s a fantastic way to experience the glacier up close and offers stunning views. While Sólheimajökull is a popular spot for glacier hikes due to its proximity to Reykjavík, many choose to head to Vatnajökull in the east instead.
Vatnajökull is the biggest ice cap in Europe. You can book a number of glacier hiking tours on it, including a beginner or more advanced tour from the meeting point in Skaftafell national park, or on a day tour from Reykjavík which also includes the glacier lagoon. It’s also featured in different two-day tours from Reykjavik, with (wintertime only) or without the ice caves of the east. For more alternatives just contact us.
If You Liked Diving/Snorkelling in Silfra…Try Diving/Snorkelling in Kleifarvatn!
Increasingly popular in recent years, snorkelling or diving in the Silfra fissure in Þingvellir national park is an amazing experience. The lava-rock filtered glacier water is some of the cleanest in the world providing amazing visibility! If you’re ready for something a little more hardcore, try snorkeling (or diving if you have the training) in Kleifarvatn!
Kleifarvatn lake is mostly could but there are a few underwater sources of geothermal heat. This tour takes you to the bottom of lake Kleifarvatn to snorkel amongst the underwater geothermal outlets. So you can snorkel in the cold water, and see the hot water bubbling out from the bottom of the lake.
If You Liked Whale Watching in Reykjavík……Try Whale Watching in Húsavík!
It’s very easy to go whale watching in Reykjavík as the boats leave right from the harbour in the city centre and you’ll have a high probability of seeing minke or humpback whales, and maybe even Orcas (killer whales)! If you travel to a little town in the north called Húsavík, however, you’ll have a chance of meeting a blue whale, the largest living creatures on this earth!
Húsavík proudly calls itself the whale watching capital of Iceland. They were one of the first places to offer this service in Iceland and because of their unique geographical location, they’re the best place in Iceland to go whale watching.
They have a surprising selection of tours available there. You can, for instance, go in an oak boat or a RIB boat, or even a sailboat! The great benefit of going from Húsavík is that you might get to see blue whales, the largest species currently living on planet earth. This tour can be arranged with a domestic flight from Reykjavík so please contact us if you’re interested in this.
If You Liked Landmannalaugar……Try Hveravellir!
Photo by hveravellir.is
Ok, I’m not going to lie – Landmannalaugar is already pretty off-the-beaten-path. It’s a valley in the southern highlands, famous for colourful rock formations and hot springs, and the roads are so rough that you can’t take rental cars there. Despite the difficult access, it is the north end of one of the most popular hiking trails in Iceland, Laugavegurinn during the summer and a popular tour destination during the winter. If you want to go EVEN FURTHER off the beaten path (or if you’ve already been to Landmannalaugar and want to try something new), you should check out Hveravellir.
Hveravellir is a geothermal highland area with hot springs (some you can bathe in, some that are just for looking at) and beautiful hiking trails. It’s within a stone’s throw of not one, but two glaciers. Hveravellir, on the Kjölur route between Thingvellir national park and Borgarfjörður, is pretty far off the beaten path, but there are still a few options for getting there. You can take a private jeep tour, rent a 4WD car and drive yourself, or do some extreme biking to get there! It’s easier to get there in the summer but there are still some tour operators that will take you in the winter.
If You Liked Hallgrímskirkja……Try Akureyrarkirkja!
Hallgrímskirkja is easily the most iconic symbol of Iceland – the tall tower on top of a hill which takes inspiration from the iconic hexagonal basalt columns of Icelandic nature. The building was drawn by one of the most prolific architects in Icelandic history, Guðjón Samúelsson, and took 60 years to construct. If you like this one, you can hop on a plane and check out the other church by Guðjón Samúelsson, Akureyrarkirkja.
Akureyrarkirkja, overlooking the northern town of Akureyri, is no less impressive than Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík. It’s at the top of the very steep main street Kaupvangsstræti so it can be seen from almost anywhere in the centre, much like Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík. Akureyrarkirkja was drawn by the same architect, who spent his life’s work searching for a uniquely “Icelandic” style of architecture, which was expressed in the “basalt column” look of Hallgrímskirkja, and in Akureyrarkirkja finds its form in a Viking ship suspended from the ceiling. It has two steeples and an opaque central window which once belonged to Coventry cathedral in England. Seeing Akureyrarkirkja also gives you the opportunity to explore Akureyri, the capital of the north!