Iceland off the beaten path + hidden gems location map

Known for its unique atmosphere and untouched nature, Iceland has many secret places that will make your experience truly unforgettable. Discover Iceland off the beaten path and see where to find Icelandic hidden gems with the exact location map.

Iceland off the beaten parh the best hidden gems to discover

In the last post, I mentioned 8 must see places in Iceland. They are a bit more popular and touristy, but they have been a symbol of Iceland for some time and they are truly spectacular.

Apart from that, the country of ice has still many hidden treasures. In some of the places, you will be entirely alone, in others, you can see some people. Although the number of foreign visitors in Iceland is said to exceed 1 mln a year, with around 1.7 mln coming only last year, you can still discover Iceland off the beaten path, if you know where to go.

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All of the places described here are located in the south Iceland, as this is where we traveled. Check our exact route with maps for ultimate 7 day trip in south Iceland here. The map of Iceland hidden gems is located at the bottom of the article. For more information and planning your trip to Iceland, I recommend looking at my other Iceland travel articles here. For more maps that you can take with you (don’t count on the mobile signal in the middle of nowhere in Iceland!), and other travel itineraries you can have a look at Lonely Planet Iceland guide.

Let’s discover the hidden gems of Iceland!

#1 Svínafellsjökull – meet the glacier face to face

Svínafellsjökull glacier and a mountain Iceland

You can start your trip on Iceland off the beaten path with this beautiful place. We discovered it by just randomly turning from the Ring Road (Iceland off the beaten path, right?! ;)), when noticing the sign for something interesting and we were blown away by the views. I totally recommend to do that – you will discover great places! It was the closest glacier experience that we had so far – majestic mass of ice looked just amazing.

Picture of a road to Svínafellsjökull glacier Iceland

Girl looking at Svínafellsjökull glacier Iceland

Pieces of blue ice in Svínafellsjökull glacier Iceland

You can also go on an organized tour to walk on that glacier. Remember, that most of those adventurous activities, like glacial exploration or ice caves tours (my “must do” for the next time), can’t be done independently and you need to get a proper guide and a tour company. I recommend you to book online in advance to make sure that you have space, as they can get very popular. You can find some amazing guided tours in Iceland here – from exploring glaciers to chasing Icelandic Auroras, self-driven road trips or with tour buses. Check the prices and availability here.

How to get there?

The glacier is a part of great Vatnajokull Glacier, located in between the entrance to Skaftafell park and Hof.

You can find the exact location map at the bottom of the article.

#2 Fjallsárlón – different version of glacier lagoon

Iceland off the beaten path - Girl in front of Fjallsárlón glacier lagoon in Iceland

Do you know Jökulsárlón? The famous Icelandic glacier lagoon with ice floating on the water? It’s one of the top places to see in Iceland, and thanks to that can get very crowded. Luckily, if you want to spend some time enjoying the views by yourself you can head to the nearby, still quite an unknown place, called Fjallsárlón.

Fjallsárlón is a glacier lake, created, similarly to Jökulsárlón, by melting of a part of Vatnajökull glacier – Fjallsjökull.  The mass of ice is sliding down the hill to end up in blue waters, covered by icebergs floating on the surface.

Place is often overlooked and definitely less popular than the nearby Jökulsárlón, however it’s equally (or even more?) beautiful and provides a different experience. In Fjallsárlón the glacier is much closer to your view. You can walk up to the lake edge and admire dramatic views of the breaking ice. The amount of floating icebergs is smaller than in another glacier lagoon, but they still have beautiful blue colour. Most importantly, there are less people visiting, so you can be sure to enjoy your time there alone with nature.

I loved breathing in the amazing view of the massive glacier and staring into the void of the mountains behind.

Travel tip: if you want to see the far corner of the glacier and see how it breaks, bring small binoculars, like those ones, or even a cheaper monocular. They are also very useful for spotting the wildlife!


Iceland off the beaten path - Fjallsárlón glacier lagoon Iceland

Iceland off the beaten path - View on Fjallsárlón Iceland

Iceland off the beaten path - Fjallsárlón lagoon landscape in Iceland

How to get there?

Fjallsárlón is located around 10 km west from Jökulsárlón, just off the Ring Road. Even from the road, you should see the big glacier reaching down the mountain and notice the small car park in front of it.

From the car park, you need to walk another couple of minutes down the rocky hill to reach the lake’s shore or you can have a good stretched view from the top of the hill. If you go closer, however, you will be able to see more of the ice bergs and the glacier itself.

You can find the exact location map at the bottom of the article.


Check also:

Iceland on a budget – where to stay and eat with a great cost saving tip if you start from Reykjavik!


#3 Reykjadalur – hot river experience in Hveragerði

Iceland hidden gems - Hveragerði hot river - Iceland off the beaten path

You walk through the dramatic landscape, watching pillars of steam rising up out of the ground and the mountains towering above you. It’s late summer, which can be quite chilly in Iceland, but you still take your clothes off and dip yourself in the water. Luckily, it’s nice and warm – it’s a hot river!

Although some time ago it was still a bit unknown place, now it looks like it’s quite popular with people. Still worth visiting, though. I think, among other Icelandic natural hot pools, it’s one of my favourite places in Iceland.

Hot river in Hveragerði has geothermally heated water. It’s hidden in the mountains, so to get there you need to walk 3,5 km through the hilly landscape. The walk is easy enough, but you definitely need good shoes for it. I’m in love with my La Sportiva’s, but any other hiking shoes like those will do. On the way, you will pass beautiful views with many hot springs and bubbling mud pots. There’s nothing better than chilling in the river after refreshing walk, with a glass of wine or beer (if you bring it with you – we did!), surrounded by the stunning Icelandic nature. Pure happiness.

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Girl in a hot river Iceland

Watrerfall in hot river hiking trail in Hveragerði Iceland

Sheep in Reykjadalur – hot river hike Iceland

The area is part of the volcano Hengill, and spreads out across 5000 years old lava field, hence its geothermally active. It can also experience some minor earthquakes from time to time. The town is worth to visit itself, at least for it’s geothermally cooked food (yummy!) and greenhouses.

How to get there?

The town is located 45 km from Reykjavik, easily accessible by the road. To get to the hot river hike you need to drive to the end of town until you reach the car park. From there the path leads you through the hills and plums of steam to the main place in the hot river, where the water temperature is the best for bathing (don’t try to check the water anywhere else, especially in the other hot springs with the yellow signs – it’s burning hot and can be dangerous!). You will recognize the place by simple wooden platforms and walls acting as changing rooms.

How to get to the beginning of the hot river hike in Hveragerði?

Hveragerði hot river trail map to parkingMap to hot river trail in Hveragerði - Reykjadalur

You can find the exact location map at the bottom of the article.


Check also:

The best tips on how to rent a reliable and safe car in Iceland without breaking a bank


#4 Fjaðrárgljúfur – majestic canyon of the river Fjadra

Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon Iceland

Located in Katla geopark (Katla is a volcano that was about to erupt when we were in Iceland – we were hoping for a lot of smoke and ash so all the flights would stop and then we would be forced to stay in Iceland longer, but nothing happened), it’s a magnificient canyon with a river Fjarda flowing through the middle. It’s up to 100 m deep and around 2 km long. You can walk on the top of it, or go down and see it from below. The canyon looks like a narrow serpentine with almost vertical walls. The bedrock there is from the Ice Age and is thought to be about two millions years old.

Iceland off the beaten path - View from the top of Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon Fjadra river Iceland

Iceland off the beaten path - Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon of the river Fjadra Iceland view from the top

Bottom of Canyon Fjaðrárgljúfur Iceland

How to get there?

The canyon is not far from the Ring Road and the Kirkjubejarklaustur village.

You can find the exact location map at the bottom of the article.

#5 Brúarárfoss – milky Blue Waterfall

View of Brúarárfoss – milky Blue Waterfall Iceland

Milky blue water swirling in the middle of the river – Brúarárfoss is not big, but what distincts it from all the other waterfalls in Iceland, is its unusual blue colour. It worth a visit if you are nearby, as it’s a definitely a hidden gem!

Unfortunately my camera died when we were there, so I have only few photos and iPhone pictures:

Milky blue waterfall Iceland

How to get there?

Blue Waterfall is located north east from Reykjavik, but not very easy to find – truly an Iceland hidden gem ;). It lays deep in the forest and the roads around are private ones, belonging to the summer houses complex. We managed to park on one of them and then walked for around 10 minutes through muddy paths, crossing streams and bridges until we reached the waterfall.

You can find the exact location map at the bottom of the article.

#6 Kerið– volcanic crater and a lake

Girl in front of Kerið volcanic crater lake

Big volcanic caldera composed of red volcanic rocks, contrasting nicely with the surrounding greenery and the water in the lake below. It’s 55 m deep and 270 m in diameter.

You can walk around it, staying on the top, from where you can have great views on the area and also go down to the lake (and feel like you are almost inside the volcano). It’s very peaceful place and we didn’t see many people there. However, you need to pay small entrance fee– 400 Icelandic kronas.

Iceland off the beaten - Kerið – volcanic crater lake Iceland

Iceland off the beaten path - Kerið volcanic crater lake view from above

How to get there?

Volcano is located in the Grímsnes area in south Iceland, not far from the popular tourist route in Iceland – the Golden Circle.

You can find the exact location map at the bottom of the article.


Check also:

One week ultimate Iceland road trip itinerary HERE


#7 Laufskálavarða– mysterious rock piles

Laufskálavarða – rock piles in Iceland

We were not sure what it was when we saw it from the road for the first time. In the middle of the lava ridge, there’s a field covered with countless piles of stones. According to the legend, there was a large farm located in that place, but it was destroyed during the first Katla volcano eruption long time ago. After that, people who were passing by were supposed to leave some stones in order to have good luck in their journey. It’s a continued tradition until now – we also added some of our stones.

Laufskálavarða hill with rock piles Iceland

Piles of rocks Iceland

How to get there?

Located on the Ring Road, north of Álftaver, between the Hólmsá and Skálmá Rivers, on the Mýrdalssandur desert,  Laufskálavarða is easily noticeable – you will see a hill covered in small piles of stones. Worth to stop by on the way.

You can find the exact location map at the bottom of the article.

#8 DC-3 plane crash site on the black beach at Sólheimasandur

DC-3 plane crash site black beach Sólheimasandur Iceland

Just to let you know – that place is now widely known and visited by many people, so if you’re looking for an empty spot, you won’t find it there. From some older blogs it looks like it’s not known about and hard to find, so it’s worth to notice, that this has changed. It’s interesting for some people, so I thought I would add it here and then you can judge yourself if you want to visit it.

Back in 1973 a U.S. Navy DC plane ran out of fuel and crashed on the black beach in the South coast of Iceland. Luckily, everyone survived.

However, now the abandoned remains of the plane are an popular place to visit. It looks a bit surreal located in the middle of nowhere. It’s nice to see, but I probably wouldn’t come back there and you need to walk 4 km through the black empty desert to get there. The experience would be much better if the place was deserted and still not many people knew about it, but sadly, now it’s a new tourists attraction. Is it worth it? It depends if you have time to walk 4km one way to get there and then 4 km back ( I think you can also book a trip to go there by with a travel company if you don’t want to walk).

How to get there?

The plane is located between the Skogafoss and Vik. You will see small car park on the side of the road, which is usually full of cars and a gate with a notice sign that off road driving to the crash site is forbidden. The way to the plane is marked by yellow poles, so you can’t miss it.

You can find the exact location map at the bottom of the article.


Map of the Iceland hidden gems:

Click to see the description.

Which one of those places looks the most interesting for you? Do you know any other hidden gems in Iceland? Have you tried to search for places in Iceland off the beaten path? Let me know in the comments!

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32 thoughts on “Iceland off the beaten path + hidden gems location map

  1. prawie wszystko znałam, brawo ja! (przedostatni punkt to dla mnie nowość). gorzej, że po raz kolejny nie udało mi się dotrzeć do gorącej rzeki, niedługo to będzie dla mnie kwestia honoru 😉

    1. Oh, that’s so great! Have fun in Iceland, I’m sure you’re gonna love it! I have more posts with tips for traveling in Iceland, places that you need to see, food worth to try and how to travel there on the budget. All of it here: Iceland
      Let me know if you have any questions!
      Aga

  2. Amazing photos and very useful info. Thanks for the great post. Definitely will have all these tips in mind when planning my trip to Iceland (really hope it’s going to be soon, fingers crossed).

  3. Awesome list! I wish I had known about Fjallsárlón before I went to Iceland, I remember driving past a massive glacier while continuing the ring road but it’s way more impressive if you can get up close too!

  4. beautiful! this is great inspiration, I’m heading to Iceland in a month and I definitely need to add some of these places to our itinerary!

  5. Pinned! We are pushing Iceland towards the top of our list as my eight year old says it’s his number one destination to visit this year!! I love mixing the touristy with the popular so this is great info/ thanks for sharing!

  6. I NEEDED this! I’m doing a solo trip to Iceland late October. This is definitely one of the best blog posts I’ve read! 🙂

  7. So many great alternatives to the usual suspects on Iceland itineraries! I’ve only been to Hveragerdi out of these, but that was 7 years ago, before they built the wooden walkways and the little steps/waterfalls creating pools in the river! I found very few people traveled away from the south back then – maybe that has changed – but two of my favourite places were Hvalfjordur and Reykholtsdalur, both, north of Reykjavik!

    1. I think the reason for people not travelling away from the south is probably time 😉 We had only a week and wanted to explore places, not only drive through them, that’s why we only managed the south (our route here). But I really want to come back and visit other places. The ones, that you mentioned look great!

  8. Iceland is a stunning country. I have visited the more common sights in Iceland, so it’s great to see so many great alternatives to the usual suspects on Iceland itineraries ! Kerið, Brúarárfoss and Svínafellsjökull are on my bucket list now. It gives me an excuse for a return visit 🙂

  9. I’m hoping to plan a trip to Iceland soon and will definitely be referencing these off the beaten path places you mentioned! Thanks for the tips!

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