Iceland Off The Beaten Path + FREE Map of Iceland Hidden Gems

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 path the best hidden gems to discover

Iceland has an abundance of wonderful sights. There are, of course, some of the must-see places in Iceland, that you shouldn’t miss when visiting the country. They are a bit more popular and touristy, but they have been a symbol of Iceland for some time and they are truly spectacular. For example, not visiting the natural hot springs would be a big mistake!

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 some of the Iceland hidden gems, as well as unusual places in Iceland.

DISCOVER ICELAND OFF THE BEATEN PATH

Places described here are located mainly in south Iceland and accessible by 2WD car or a hike. However, the hidden spots added at the end of the article are a bit harder to get to, located in different parts of the island and sometimes require 4WD. You can decide which ones you want to visit depending on how much time you have to spend in Iceland.

The map of Iceland hidden gems is located at the bottom of the article.

Hakarl fermented shark Iceland

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More information about Iceland

If you only have a short time in Iceland, you can check our route with maps for the ultimate Iceland road trip itinerary in 7 days. 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!

ICELAND HIDDEN GEMS

# Svínafellsjökull – meet the glacier face to face

Iceland off the beaten path with hidden gems map - Svínafellsjökull glacier and a mountain Iceland

You can start your trip to Iceland off the beaten path with this beautiful place. We discovered it by just randomly turning from the Ring Road when we noticed the sign for something interesting. 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 – a majestic mass of ice looked just amazing.

Iceland off the beaten path with hidden gems map - Picture of a road to Svínafellsjökull glacier Iceland

Iceland off the beaten path with hidden gems map - Girl looking at Svínafellsjökull glacier Iceland

Iceland off the beaten path with hidden gems map - 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 to Svínafellsjökull?

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.

# Fjallsárlón – a different version of the glacier lagoon

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

Do you know the 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.

The 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. A number of floating icebergs is smaller than in another glacier lagoon, but they still have a beautiful blue colour. Most importantly, there are fewer 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 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 to Fjallsárlón

Fjallsárlón is located around 10 km west from Jökulsárlón, just off the Ring Road. Even from the road, you should see the big glacier going 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 icebergs 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!


# 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 a 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.

Iceland off the beaten path with hidden gems map - Iceland hot river in the mountains

Iceland off the beaten path with hidden gems map - Girl in a hot river Iceland

Iceland off the beaten path with hidden gems map - Waterfall in hot river hiking trail in Hveragerði Iceland

Iceland off the beaten path with hidden gems map - 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 to Reykjadalur

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?

Iceland off the beaten path with hidden gems map - Hveragerði hot river trail map to parkingIceland off the beaten path with hidden gems map - Map 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


# Fjaðrárgljúfur – majestic canyon of the river Fjadra

Iceland off the beaten path with hidden gems map - Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon Iceland

Located in Katla geopark, it’s a magnificent 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

Iceland off the beaten path with hidden gems map - Bottom of Canyon Fjaðrárgljúfur Iceland

How to get to Fjaðrárgljúfur

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.

# Brúarárfoss – milky Blue Waterfall

Iceland off the beaten path with hidden gems map - View of Brúarárfoss milky Blue Waterfall Iceland

Milky blue water swirling in the middle of the river – Brúarárfoss is not big, but what distinguishes 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 a few photos and iPhone pictures:

Iceland off the beaten path with hidden gems map - Milky blue waterfall Iceland

How to get to Brúarárfoss

Blue Waterfall is located northeast of Reykjavik, but not very easy to find. 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.

# Kerið– volcanic crater and a lake

Iceland off the beaten path with hidden gems map - 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 of the area and also go down to the lake (and feel like you are almost inside the volcano). It’s a very peaceful place and we didn’t see many people there. However, you need to pay a small entrance fee– 400 Icelandic kronas.

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

How to get to Kerið

The 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


# Laufskálavarða– mysterious rock piles

Iceland off the beaten path with hidden gems map - 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 a 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

How to get to Laufskálavarða

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.

MORE OF THE UNIQUE PLACES AND HIDDEN GEMS IN ICELAND 

# Gljúfrabúi Waterfall

Everyone knows Seljalandsfoss, a famous waterfall in Iceland. But not everybody knows about its smaller brother, a hidden waterfall just next to it, called Gljúfrabúi Waterfall. Thanks to that, the waterfall is less visited and also beautiful, falling off inside the cave.

How to get to Gljúfrabúi Waterfall

To get to Gljúfrabúi Waterfall, you need to drive on the Golden Circle Route in direction to Seljalandsfoss. Once you get there, you need to follow the path on the left side from Seljalandsfoss. After 500 m you will see the sign for it and you need to go inside the cave.

Seljalandsfoss Iceland road trip itinerary

# Seljavallalaug hot springs –“Abandoned pool” 

The abandoned pool is still called one of the hidden gems in Iceland, although it’s getting more and more popular (as many of other places in this highly visited country). It is still worth a visit though! When we went there, we saw some people, but not many, so we could enjoy the peace of the area.  You can read more about it and other Icelandic hot pools here.

How to get to Seljavallalaug

Hidden in the mountains between the Eyjafjallajökull Erupts Visitor Centre and Skogafoss. To get to the pool, you need to walk for about 20 minutes walk from the car park until you reach the small building with the pool in front of it.

Iceland hot pools

# Hoffell hot tubs – the lesser-known hot springs

The Hoffell hot tubs are another less known hot springs in Iceland. They are made of five tubs filled with hot water coming from the natural hot springs. In the good weather, you can see a great view of the surrounding mountains. Around the hot tubs, there is a small car park.

How to get to Hoffell hot tubs?

Hoffell hot tubs are located close to Hofn and the Hoffellsjökull (Hoffells glacier), which is a part of Vatnajökull glacier.

Hoffel hot tubs - best free hot springs in Iceland

# Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar is located in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the Highlands of Iceland, at the edge of Laugahraun lava field. The lava field was formed in an eruption in 1477. The area has interesting colourful landscape thanks to many minerals present in the soil and geothermal activity. You can also find there the wild hot springs of Landmannalaugar. More about them in the post about Iceland hot springs.

How to get to Landmannalaugar

The Landmannalaugar has some rough roads and it is recommended to get 4WD approved for F-roads if driving there. Some of the roads require rivers to cross and others are very bumpy and rocky.  To get to Landmannalaugar,  you can drive through Þingvellir National Park or drive along the south coast of Iceland.

Landmannalaugar hot springs in Iceland

# The Arctic Henge in Iceland

The Icelandic Arctic Henge (Heimskautsgerðið) is a monument located in Raufarhöfn, a small village on a peninsula in the north of Iceland. The huge stone circle is 50m in diameter with gates that are up to 7m in height. However, the henge is not as old as it might look. The Arctic Henge is actually a modern construction that started in 1996 and is not finished yet. The idea is to create a place celebrating solstices, the midnight sun and explain the local beliefs, inspired by the poem of Völuspá. 

# Dimmuborgir – unusual lava fields

Dimmuborgir is a big area of lava fields consisting of unusually shaped rock formations and multiple caves. The place is located on the east side of Mývatn Lake in Iceland. The natural volcanic rocks of Dimmuborgir reminiscent the dramatic structures of man-made buildings.

Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir, Pixabay

# Westfjords – an area of the remote hidden gems in Iceland

Westfjords are less travelled destination than other places in Iceland, because of their remoteness. You can find there multiple off the beaten path places and beautiful landscapes. Some of the sites worth to visit is the Látrabjarg, one of the largest sea cliffs in Europe. In the summer, the cliff is covered with multiple species of birds, including cute puffins. Another place is Vigur, a small island located 30 minutes boat ride away from Ísafjörður with the smallest post office in Europe.

Westfjords, Pixabay

# Westman Islands – an archipelago off the beaten path in Iceland

The archipelago of 15 volcanic islands located off the south coast, the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar) is a home of Iceland’s largest puffin colony. The most inhabited island of the archipelago is Heimaey, that is also a home of the Eldfel Volcano.

Puffins, Pixabay

# 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 on the South coast of Iceland. Luckily, everyone survived.

However, now the abandoned remains of the plane are a 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 to plane crash site

The plane is located between the Skogafoss and Vik. You will see a 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.

Iceland off the beaten path – a Map of the Iceland Hidden Gems:

Click to see the description.

 

What to pack for Iceland off the beaten path trip

The weather in Iceland is hugely variable. During our visit in September, we had days with 5 degrees,  horizontal rain, and strong wind that moved our car. We also had some days with 20 degrees, sun, and blue sky. You need to be prepared for every eventuality when you pack for Iceland. Below are some of the must-have items, that you need to bring with you to Iceland.

Where to stay in Iceland – get the best deals!



Booking.com


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!


More Iceland read:

Ultimate South Iceland road trip itinerary

Best free and wild hot springs in Iceland

Iceland food – what to eat and what to avoid

Car rental in Iceland

Must-see places in South Iceland

Iceland on the budget


Published: March 2017, Updated: June 2019

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Iceland off the beaten path with the exact map of hidden gems in Iceland. List of must-see places in Iceland with no tourists. Iceland travel guide, off the beat things to do in Iceland, Iceland hidden gems, Iceland Ring Road, South Iceland, travel Iceland like a pro | #worlderingaround #iceland #icelandtravel #hiddengems #europe #islands #traveltips #offthebeatenpath #bluelagoon #ringroad
Iceland off the beaten path with map of the hidden gems to discover! | Worldering Around #Iceland #hiddengems #ringroad #Reykjavik #travel #offthebeatenpath

 

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42 thoughts on “Iceland Off The Beaten Path + FREE Map of Iceland Hidden Gems

  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 😉

  2. Such helpful advice, AND great timing that I found you. I’m super excited to get to iceland in 2 days. <3

    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

  3. 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).

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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! 🙂

  8. 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!

  9. Wow! I wasn’t expecting to see so many incredible places I’ve never even heard of!! You’ve found some spectacular spots! Really awesome guide. 🙂

  10. 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 🙂

  11. 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!

  12. Love this post. As someone who likes to visit the lesser known places, this is what I have been looking for! Thankyou!!

  13. Hopefully we will take a road trip in Iceland in November and I am pinning this post for some tips. Nice pics, btw :)..

  14. I have just returned from my trip to Iceland and I’m already planning the next one?, this is such an amazing island! Everyone should take a visit here, at least once in their lives. I have so much respect for nature and the Icelanders have reason to be proud of their country. I did the south part, just as far as Jökulsárlón, now I want to visit the east side, all the way up to the fjords and stealing some of your suggestions?, can’t wait!

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