Are you searching for the best hidden gems in Iceland? Here’s your ultimate guide to the most underrated places in Iceland. Prepare to explore Iceland off the beaten path.
Iceland might be famous for its geysers and glaciers, but there’s so much more to it. Tucked away from the usual tourist buzz are places that are pure magic. We’re talking about hidden fjords where the water is so clear it looks like glass, secret hot springs that feel like your own private spa, and tiny villages where every house tells a story.
These hidden gems of Iceland are not just about stunning views (though there are plenty of those). They’re about experiencing Iceland in a way that most travelers don’t. Imagine walking through a valley where the only sound is the wind, or finding a waterfall that isn’t surrounded by selfie sticks. That’s what these places offer – a chance to see Iceland in its true, unspoiled glory.
So, are you ready to step off the beaten path and explore Iceland’s hidden gems with me? Trust me, it’s these lesser-known spots that will give you the best stories to tell. Let’s get ready to explore the quieter, more authentic side of Iceland. Here we go!
Hidden Gems in Iceland
Eager to uncover the best hidden gems in Iceland? As mentioned earlier, this country is filled with destinations beyond the typical tourist routes, appealing to a diverse range of travelers. Venture further to discover some of the most underrated places in Iceland.
Are you looking for serene hot springs to relax? Or perhaps you’re drawn to glacier hiking adventures that invigorate the spirit? Whatever your preference, Iceland has something special to offer. Dive into this guide to discover the best hidden gems in Iceland.
1. Rauðasandur Beach
Have you ever stumbled upon a place so unique that it feels like your own little secret? That’s Rauðasandur Beach for you. Nestled away from Iceland’s usual icy imagery, this beach is a marvel with its red and golden sands. It’s like stepping into a different world, one that’s calm, vast, and incredibly inviting.
Getting to Rauðasandur is a bit of an adventure, but isn’t that the best part of traveling? The road there winds through some stunning landscapes. Once you arrive, the beach stretches out before you, vast and almost untouched. It’s not your typical Icelandic spot, and that’s what makes it special.
This beach is perfect for those who love a quiet moment. Here, it’s just you, the gentle waves, and maybe a few birds. It’s a great spot for a leisurely walk or just to sit and soak in the peaceful atmosphere. And photographers, you’re in for a treat – the colors here are something else, especially during the golden hours.
Remember, Rauðasandur is pretty isolated. There aren’t cafes or shops around, so pack some snacks and make a day of it. The best time to visit? Definitely summer, when the weather is kinder, and the days are long. It’s one of the hidden places in Iceland that you’ll want to return to, just to feel that sense of peace again.
Ever heard of Hvítserkur? It’s this incredible rock formation off Iceland’s coast that looks like a dragon drinking from the sea. Trust me, seeing it in person is a whole different experience. It’s not just a rock; it’s like a piece of art nature created.
Getting there is pretty straightforward. You’ll find Hvítserkur in the northwest, and the drive there is scenic. Once you’re there, the sight of this 15-meter high basalt stack is something else. It’s perfect for those Instagram shots, but even better for just standing and staring in awe.
What I love about Hvítserkur is its raw, natural beauty. It’s one of the underrated places in Iceland where you can truly appreciate the power of nature. The area around it is great for a stroll, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot some seals lounging around.
Remember to check the tides before you go. Low tide is the best time to see Hvítserkur up close. And, since it’s a bit off the beaten path, make sure your camera’s charged – you won’t want to miss this. For a unique experience, try visiting at sunrise. The way the light hits the rocks and the ocean is just breathtaking.
If you’re into hiking and haven’t been to Landmannalaugar yet, you’re missing out! Tucked away in Iceland’s highlands, it’s a place that looks like it’s from another planet. The drive there is an adventure itself, with rugged landscapes that set the stage for what’s to come.
Once you reach Landmannalaugar, the real fun begins. The area is famous for its colorful rhyolite mountains. Trust me, these hills are like nothing you’ve ever seen. Hiking here is a dream, with trails that cater to all levels. And the best part? You can relax in natural hot springs after a day of trekking.
What makes Landmannalaugar stand out is its raw, untouched beauty. It’s one of the most beautiful destinations in Iceland where you can truly connect with nature. The Laugavegur trail, starting here, is a must-do for serious hikers. But even a short walk around will leave you in awe.
Remember, Landmannalaugar is only accessible in the summer. The roads leading here can be tricky, so a 4×4 is recommended. And don’t forget to pack your swimwear for those hot springs!
4. Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss Waterfalls
Heading to Iceland and love waterfalls? You can’t miss Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss. These two are like the hidden superstars of Icelandic waterfalls. Tucked away in the East, they’re a bit of a drive, but absolutely worth it.
Hengifoss is one of Iceland’s tallest waterfalls, and it’s stunning. The hike up there is about 2.5 kilometers and takes you past Litlanesfoss, which is surrounded by these amazing basalt columns. It’s like nature’s own cathedral. The hike isn’t too tough, but it’s good to wear sturdy shoes.
What’s cool about Hengifoss is the striking red clay layers between the basalt. It makes for a fantastic backdrop for photos. And Litlanesfoss, with its columns, looks like something straight out of a fantasy movie.
These falls aren’t as crowded as some others in Iceland, so you often have them to yourself. It’s peaceful, just the sound of water and wind. Perfect for those who like a bit of solitude with their nature.
Remember, the weather in Iceland can change quickly, so pack a waterproof jacket. And the best time to visit is summer, when the paths are clear.
In short, Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss are must-sees for waterfall lovers. They’re a bit off the beaten path, but that’s part of the charm and why they are some of Iceland’s best hidden gems.
5. Borgarfjörður Eystri
If you’re looking for beautiful destinations in Iceland, don’t overlook Borgarfjörður Eystri. This small village in the Eastfjords is a gem that many miss. It’s a bit of a drive on winding roads, but the scenery is breathtaking every mile of the way.
Borgarfjörður Eystri is known for its stunning landscapes and, most notably, its puffin colonies. If you’re a birdwatcher, this place is like hitting the jackpot. The best time to see the puffins is from April to August. They’re so close you can almost touch them – but let’s not, they deserve their space.
The village itself is quaint and colorful, with a handful of cozy places to stay. It’s the kind of spot where you can unwind and feel like you’re part of a small community. The locals are friendly and always have stories to share about their beautiful corner of the world.
Hiking around Borgarfjörður Eystri is fantastic too. There are trails for all levels, offering views of the fjords that are just out of this world. And after a day of exploring, there’s nothing like some local Icelandic cuisine at a village café.
6. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is a secret spot in Iceland that is not to be missed. This spot is a bit off the usual tourist path, but it’s a treasure waiting to be discovered. The canyon, with its deep cuts and lush greenery, looks like something out of a fantasy movie.
The journey to Fjaðrárgljúfur is an adventure itself. Located near Kirkjubæjarklaustur, it’s accessible by a short drive from the Ring Road. The walk to the canyon is easy, making it great for all kinds of travelers. Once you’re there, the view is just breathtaking.
What I love about Fjaðrárgljúfur is its sheer beauty. The canyon is around 100 meters deep and stretches for about 2 kilometers. Walking along the edge, you’re treated to stunning views of the winding river below. It’s the perfect spot for those looking to add a bit of nature to their Iceland trip.
Remember, the best way to enjoy Fjaðrárgljúfur is to take your time. Late afternoon light brings out the vibrant colors of the canyon, making it ideal for photographers. The hike to the top is well worth it to capture one of the most Instagrammable places in Iceland. And, since it’s one of the most unique places to visit in Iceland and not frequented by tourists, you often have much of it to yourself.
If you’re planning a trip to Iceland and want to see something different, you’ve got to check out Seyðisfjörður. Situated in the East Fjords, this little town is a colorful surprise, with a vibe that’s as welcoming as it is unique.
The drive to Seyðisfjörður involves winding roads with some of the most stunning fjord views you’ll ever see. Once you’re there, the town’s charm is undeniable. It’s like stepping into a postcard with its brightly colored houses and artistic flair.
For those looking for secret spots in Iceland, Seyðisfjörður is a treasure. It’s not just the scenery; it’s the whole atmosphere. The town has a thriving arts scene, cute cafes, and some really unique shops. It’s a great place to just wander around and soak in the local culture.
One thing I love about Seyðisfjörður is its sense of community. You feel it in the local eateries, the small art galleries, and the friendly faces you meet. And if you’re into hiking, there are trails right from the town that offer breathtaking views of the fjords.
Seyðisfjörður is a must-visit for anyone who wants to experience a different side of Iceland. It’s quaint, it’s quirky, and it’s one of those places you’ll remember long after your trip is over.
8. Grjótagjá Cave
Ever dreamed of soaking in a hot spring inside a cave? Grjótagjá Cave in Iceland makes that dream a reality. This hidden gem is not as famous as the Blue Lagoon, but it’s just as magical.
Located near Lake Mývatn in North Iceland, Grjótagjá is easy to reach. The cave has a small entrance, but inside, it opens up to reveal a stunning hot spring. The water is crystal clear and just the right temperature for a quick dip.
What’s cool about Grjótagjá is its history. It was a popular bathing spot until the 1970s when volcanic activity heated the water too much. It’s cooler now, but it’s still important to test the water before getting in.
Grjótagjá is one of the coolest places to visit in Iceland that offers a different kind of adventure. The cave’s rocky interior and the steam rising from the water create an otherworldly atmosphere.
Remember, Grjótagjá is a delicate natural site. It’s important to respect the cave and leave no trace. And since it’s a bit off the beaten path, make sure to bring snacks and water.
9. Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Range
If you’re on the hunt for Iceland’s hidden gems, the Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Range should definitely be on your radar. This spot in the central highlands is a bit off the beaten path, offering a unique experience away from the usual tourist crowds. The drive to Kerlingarfjöll is an adventure, showcasing Iceland’s diverse landscapes.
At Kerlingarfjöll, you’re in for a treat with its striking geothermal colors and steam vents. The area is a haven for photographers and nature lovers alike. Hiking here, you’ll encounter everything from snow-capped peaks to warm geothermal streams. It’s a diverse landscape that changes with every turn.
One of the highlights of Kerlingarfjöll is the opportunity to witness geothermal activity up close. The contrast of snow and steam creates a surreal environment, perfect for those looking for something different. Plus, the area’s relative seclusion means you can enjoy these sights in peace.
It’s important to note that Kerlingarfjöll is best visited in the summer when the roads are more accessible. While a 4×4 is recommended, the area offers facilities like mountain huts for an overnight stay, making it a great spot for a multi-day hiking trip.
Looking to explore Iceland off the beaten path? Make sure to add Hvammstangi to your itinerary. This quaint village in the north is a delightful escape from the more crowded tourist spots, offering a glimpse into the tranquil side of Icelandic life.
Hvammstangi is small but full of character. It’s famous for its seal watching opportunities, which is a real treat for wildlife enthusiasts. You can hop on a boat tour or visit the Icelandic Seal Center to learn about these fascinating creatures.
For travelers seeking underrated destinations in Iceland, Hvammstangi is a perfect choice. It’s also an excellent base for exploring the Vatnsnes Peninsula, where the natural beauty of Iceland really shines. Driving around the peninsula, you’re likely to spot seals lounging on the shores.
The village itself might be small, but it’s got everything you need for a cozy Iceland stay. The local eateries serve up some delicious Icelandic dishes, perfect for refueling after a day of exploration.
Located about three hours from Reykjavik, Hvammstangi is an easy stop for those traveling the Ring Road. Accommodation options range from charming guesthouses to camping sites, catering to all types of travelers.
11. Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands)
Ever heard of Vestmannaeyjar, also known as the Westman Islands? This little archipelago off Iceland’s south coast is a treasure trove of natural beauty and fascinating history. It’s one of the beautiful destinations in Iceland that many travelers miss, but it’s absolutely worth the detour.
Getting to Vestmannaeyjar is also an adventure. You can take a ferry or a short flight from the mainland. Once there, the islands’ charm is undeniable. They’re home to incredible wildlife, including puffins and seals, making it a paradise for nature lovers.
What’s unique about Vestmannaeyjar is its volcanic landscape. The eruption in 1973 is a big part of the islands’ history. You can visit the Eldheimar Museum to learn all about it. It’s a fascinating and moving experience.
The islands are perfect for hiking, with trails that offer stunning views of the ocean and cliffs. And don’t forget to try some fresh seafood – it’s some of the best in Iceland.
Remember, Vestmannaeyjar is a bit off the beaten path, so it’s a great spot to escape the crowds. The locals are friendly and there’s a sense of community that’s really heartwarming.
12. Thakgil and Remundargil Canyons
When searching for the best hidden gems in Iceland, Thakgil and Remundargil Canyons should definitely be on your list. These hidden gems near Vik offer a unique glimpse into Iceland’s less-traveled natural beauty.
To reach Thakgil and Remundargil you’ll need a 4×4 to navigate the rugged roads, but the effort is well worth it. Once there, you’re greeted by stunning landscapes that feel worlds away from the typical tourist spots.
Thakgil is ideal for campers and hikers. With trails for all levels, it’s a great spot to connect with nature. The campsite in the canyon adds to the appeal, allowing for an immersive outdoor experience.
Remundargil offers a more secluded setting. Its dramatic rock formations and tranquil atmosphere make it a perfect spot for those seeking peace and solitude. Hiking here, you’ll feel like you’ve discovered a secret part of Iceland.
Visiting these canyons is one of the best things to do in Iceland, perfect for adventurers looking to explore beyond the well-known attractions. They offer a chance to experience Iceland’s raw beauty in a more intimate setting.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Hidden Gems in Iceland
Are you searching for more content about where to go in Iceland? Here are some common questions (and answers) I often receive about the most underrated places in Iceland.
What is the least visited part of Iceland?
The Westfjords region is often considered the least visited part of Iceland. Known for its dramatic landscapes and remote charm, it offers a serene escape from the more crowded tourist areas. The area’s isolation has helped preserve its natural beauty and authentic Icelandic culture.
Are there any hidden fees for visiting Iceland’s hidden gems?
Most natural attractions in Iceland, like Thakgil and Remundargil Canyons or Rauðasandur Beach, don’t have entrance fees. However, you might encounter parking fees, and certain facilities like campsites or museums may charge for their services.
How safe is it to explore off the beaten path in Iceland?
Exploring Iceland off the beaten path is generally safe, but it’s important to be prepared. Always check weather conditions before heading out, especially in remote areas like Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Range. Hiking trails can be challenging, so appropriate gear is essential.
What are the best underrated destinations in Iceland for families? Seyðisfjörður and Hvammstangi are great underrated destinations in Iceland for families. These locations offer a mix of nature, wildlife, and local culture, with activities suitable for all ages.
How long does it take to travel between these hidden gems in Iceland?
Travel times vary. For instance, Vestmannaeyjar is about a 30-minute ferry ride from the mainland, while Hvammstangi is about a three-hour drive from Reykjavik. Always plan for longer travel times due to Iceland’s winding roads and weather conditions.
Are there any unique natural sights in West Iceland?
Yes, West Iceland is home to unique natural sights like the Snæfellsjökull glacier and the Látrabjarg cliffs. These locations offer stunning views and are less crowded than more popular sites in the south.
What should I pack for a trip to Iceland’s hidden gems?
Essential items include weather-appropriate clothing (layers are key), sturdy hiking boots, a waterproof jacket, and a camera. For remote areas like Thakgil, bring enough food and water, as shops are scarce.
Final Thoughts on Iceland’s Hidden Gems
As we wrap up our journey through Iceland’s hidden gems, it’s clear that this stunning country has so much more to offer beyond its well-known attractions. From the serene beauty of Rauðasandur Beach to the dramatic landscapes of Thakgil and Remundargil Canyons, each destination we’ve explored offers a unique glimpse into Iceland’s diverse and captivating natural beauty. Whether you’re seeking adventure in the rugged Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Range, a peaceful retreat in the quaint village of Hvammstangi, or a cultural experience in the colorful town of Seyðisfjörður, Iceland’s lesser-known spots are sure to leave a lasting impression.
Remember, the key to enjoying these hidden treasures is to travel responsibly, respect the natural environment, and embrace the unexpected. Each location, with its own charm and character, invites you to explore, discover, and create unforgettable memories. So, pack your spirit of adventure, and get ready to uncover the hidden wonders of Iceland, a land where every turn reveals a new, awe-inspiring sight.