Last Updated: January 7, 2022

Hidden Gems In Iceland (Some Quieter Spots)

Iceland is a place worth visiting. It’s a wonderful country full of some of the most incredible landscapes and natural features you can hope to see in the world. From stunning waterfalls to geysers, lava fields, and hot springs, there isn’t much one can’t see when visiting Iceland. 

Some of the best-hidden gems in Iceland are off the beaten track and most visitors to Iceland miss out on them. Join me as we run through all of Iceland’s hidden gems that you shouldn’t miss when you discover Iceland. 

Reykjadalur Valley

Reykjadalur Valley

Image courtesy of Flickr

No trip to Iceland would be complete without seeing the hidden gem that is the Reykjadalur Valley. The Reykjadalur Valley is located within an hour’s drive of the capital Reyjavik and is a stunning place that you can easily visit on a day trip. 

Reykjadalur Valley, which literally means Steam Valley, is one of Iceland’s most beautiful hiking areas that is filled with hot springs as well as a hot river. Literally, the river is super warm and you can bathe in the hot water while you’re there. 

As well as a hot spring or two, you’ll find magnificent waterfalls along the hiking trails as well as multiple canyons and the surrounding landscape is also pretty magical. The hike lasts around an hour over 3 km with some steep parts of the trail and there are many spots that allow for lovely photo opportunities as you go. 

While in the Reykjadalur Valley, chances are you’ll be with quite a few other tourists and you can even opt to go on a horseback tour around the valley if you don’t want to hike. Just be sure to bring your bathing suit so you can relax in a hot spring and a hot river too. 

Stakkholtsgja Canyon

Stakkholtsgja Canyon

Image courtesy of Flickr

Another of the hidden gems in Iceland you shouldn’t miss is the Stakkholtsgja Canyon which is located in south Iceland around a two and half hour drive from Reykjavik. You can easily do a day trip to this beautiful canyon from the capital, just be sure to bring your sturdy hiking shoes as it’s a bit of a trek to get to. 

Getting to this hidden gem requires getting off the beaten path a bit and you’ll want to go with a guide who will show you the way on the hike, as google maps will not cut it. The hike lasts around 3 hours and it takes you through a 100-meter high canyon with stunning waterfalls on show as you go. 

You’ll want to wear waterproof clothing as some waterproof shoes if you can as you’ll have to cross a stream when the canyon splits in two and the spray from the waterfall will leave you a bit damp. 

Hvitserkur Rock

Hvitserkur Rock

One of the hidden gems in Iceland that is really off the beaten path and is one of those secret places that you have to go out of your way to see is Hvitserkur Rock. 

Hvitserkur Rock is located in northern Iceland and there are no tours that will take you there. You’ll need to rent a car and drive there yourself, but thankfully it’s easy to find and it is the perfect pit stop while exploring North Iceland. 

Just pull off the main ring road and follow your maps to Hvitserkur Rock and you’ll find it with ease. What awaits you are spectacular views with a stunning mixture of dark rocks that sit alone in the middle of a fjord in north Iceland and it’s an iconic view of the Icelandic landscape. 

It’s the perfect place to see the northern lights from in winter as if you get a good show, you’ll capture the rock and the reflections in your photos. 

Glaumbaer

Glaumbaer

While you explore Iceland, especially the northern end, the Glaumbaer museum, and farm is a hidden gem that you can easily add to your Iceland itinerary. It’s located close to the Hvitserkur Rock I mentioned above and it showcases how locals used to live and survive in Iceland in this remote town. 

Walking around the museum is a unique experience and you’ll learn about the Icelandic history of the people. You’ll get to spend some time inside an old turf-covered house, see how the farms back in the day functioned, and there is even a delicious tea room that serves up lovely Icelandic treats. 

It’s a great stopover on a road trip around the north and you’ll find incredible views across the fast-flowing stream into the valley with mountains on the other side. 

Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir

Another of the hidden gems in Iceland you have to see while you visit Iceland is Dimmuborgir. Dimmuborgir is one of the most unique and beautiful places in Iceland and a sight you have to see. 

It’s pretty much a lava field that was formed over 2000 years ago when a volcano erupted and when the lava flowed into Lake Myvatn it cooled incredibly quickly. This fast cooling created intense steam that formed stacks, caves, and caverns in the lava which has made Dimmuborgir look like a medieval castle with towers, and hidden places with it. 

Dimmuborgir is also a tourism hot spot as it was featured in Game of Thrones and you are likely to find a busy car park and many tourists around the site. Don’t let the other tourists put you off though, as this is one of the best-hidden gems to see even though it’s very much on the beaten path. 

Stykkishólmur

Stykkishólmur

One of the hidden gems in Iceland you have to include in your trip to Iceland is Stykkishólmur, a little village on the north coast of the island. 

At Stykkishólmur you’ll find a huge range of Iceland’s hidden gems from stunning scenery like sheer cliffs to a beautiful church, a golf course, fishing trips, delicious fresh fish, and more around the peninsula. 

It would be wise to spend a few days in Stykkishólmur so you can visit a few places around the area. The natural wonder of Mount Kirkjufell and the Snæfellsjökull Nature Reserve are some hidden gems you have to see. 

The nature reserve is home to a volcano and a glacier while Mount Kirkjufell is a single mountain that rises out of the sea like a pyramid and is best viewed from Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall. 

Thakgil Campground

One of the best Iceland hidden gems you can go to if you’re on a camping road trip around Iceland is the Thakgil Campground. You’ll find the Thakgil Campground just off the ring road and close to the village of Vik in South Iceland.

The reason the Thakgil Campground is one of the hidden gems in Iceland you have to see is because it’s such a protected campsite hidden in a valley and surrounded by mountains. It’s one of the most stunning places to stay in the country. You’ll even find caves with tables inside where you can cook your dinner under shelter. 

If you don’t have a tent with you there are some lovely but basic cabins at the Thakgil Campground which offer double bunk beds, a small kitchen, a dining area, and more. 

While this hidden gem is off the beaten path, there are a lot of hidden gems nearby worth seeing such as black sand beaches, one of which, the Reynisfjara black sand beach was used in Game Of Thrones and it has some amazing rock formations and is one of the places in Iceland you have to see. 

Hafnarfjörður

Hafnarfjörður

If you’re looking to take in some history and have some amazing experiences all in one spot then this is one of the hidden gems in Iceland you’ll want to spend some time in. 

The little village of Hafnarfjörður is just outside of Reykjavik on the south coast of Iceland and a great place to try some delicious Icelandic food and enjoy the magical views from the old harbor and out to sea. 

A trip to the Hafnarfjörður Museum is a must as you’ll learn about the rich history and the journey the town has gone through over the years. You’ll also find Hafnarfjörður Art Museum which showcases local art and the amazing view of the Hamarinn cliffs is impossible to beat. 

It doesn’t end there though as you should play a round of golf at the local course as you can see the Snæfellsjökull glacier from the course and be surrounded by old lava fields as you play. You’ll also find a series of thermal baths, the Hellisgerði Lava Garden, and even more great things to discover. 

Seljavallalaug Pool

Seljavallalaug Pool

The Seljavallalaug Pool is another of the hidden gems in Iceland that you have to see. It used to be off the beaten path and it has become more popular in recent years, but you will still need your own rental car to get there. 

You’ll find the Seljavallalaug Pool in South Iceland on the left-hand side of the ring road before the village of Vik. Once you have taken the left you’ll go past some cabins and up a gravel road to the parking. From the parking area, you’ll need to follow the hiking paths for a short walk into the mountains for around 1 mile to the pool, that’s how off the beaten path this hidden gem is. 

The Seljavallalaug Pool is one of the original outdoor pools in Iceland and it’s lovely to swim in during the summer months. You’ll literally be swimming in a valley between a glacier, volcano, and a mountain and it’s one of the more unusual things you can do in the country. 

Nearby are some great waterfalls including Seljalandsfoss and Skogafossm, the biggest waterfall in Iceland. This area of Iceland is truly a hiker’s paradise and it’s worth spending some extra time there if you love to hike. 

Holuhraun Lava

The Holuhraun Lava is one of the most off-the-beaten path hidden gems in Iceland and something you have to add to your Iceland trip if you want to see something truly unique. 

The Holuhraun Lava area is a sight most people in the world can’t imagine and seeing it is pretty spectacular. The ground is still warm from the cooling lava that came from the eruption of Holuhraun in East Iceland but getting there requires a travel style most of Iceland’s gems don’t. 

To get to this incredible place you will need to follow designated trails in a 4×4 around highland roads and once you’re there you will literally see nature in its original form, new ground. Plus, getting there is a pretty awesome off-road adventure. 

Fjarárgljfur Canyon

Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon is one of the hidden gems in Iceland that is about as beautiful as Iceland’s scenery gets. The fjaðrárgljúfur canyon can be found on the south of the island just off the main ring road and is a place worth exploring. 

This huge canyon is so pretty as it goes on and on with a pretty river flowing through it, awesome rock formations to the side, and different shades of moss covering all the rocks. It’s like being in a fairytale and if you want to experience Iceland at its best, you have to hike down it. 

The canyon is around 2 million years old and was formed by a glacier in the ice age. The photo opps in this canyon are out of this world and it’s known as the best looking canyon in Iceland. You can hike the canyon in summer or winter and for the best photos, wait for the sun to bring out all the colors in the mosses. 

Hraunfossar

Hraunfossar

Hraunfossar is a series of waterfalls that come pouring out of a lava field, making it one of the most magical hidden gems in Iceland and one you and all visitors kind of have to see. 

There is no river creating the waterfall, the water is literally coming from a melting glacier which then finds its way through all the holes in the lava fields and falls into the Hvítá river from porous holes in the rocks. 

You’ll find the Hraunfossar waterfall in west Iceland about a 3-hour drive from Reykjavik and there are more hidden gems to see in the area. 

The country’s longest cave, Víðgelmir, can be found nearby and it is an amazing 1,595 meters long (5,200 feet), up to 15.8 meters high (52 feet), and 16.5 meters wide (54 feet). You also find another but very different waterfall nearby called Barnafoss that falls down a narrow wall with intense power. 

Glymur Waterfall

Glymur Waterfall

If you have visited Iceland, chances are you have seen Glymur Waterfall, one of the most easily accessible of the hidden gems in Iceland as it’s a stone’s throw out of Reykjavik. 

The Glymur Waterfall is the second highest waterfall in Iceland and visitors will need to drive around Iceland’s stunning  Hvalfjordur fjord to get there. At the top of the fjord, you’ll need to park and then follow the trail through cliffs and up to the waterfall. 

 Glymur Waterfall means echo waterfall and for good reason since the sound of the falls into the gorge creates a serious echo. The hike takes about two hours, the trail is easy to follow and surrounded by stunning nature. Be sure to look for sea birds while on the trail. 

Kjolur Road

If you are in Iceland in the summer then you have to drive the Kjolur Road which connects the country from north to south. The road is only open in the summer and you can only make it across with a 4×4 but you’ll see some of the most remote bits of nature that Iceland has to offer. 

On the way, you can stop at Kerlingarfjoll (Hag’s Mountains), Hveravellir (Fields of Hot Springs), Gullfoss waterfall, Langjokull glacier, and Hofsjokull glacier, as well as hiking trail after trail into Iceland’s heartland. 

If you really want to see Iceland at its best and really get off the beaten track while having a seriously fun adventure, then driving the Kjolur Road is an absolute must. You see pretty much every hidden gem most people never manage to see in Iceland on a single trip. 

Aldeyjarfoss

Aldeyjarfoss

Aldeyjarfoss is another of the amazing waterfalls in Iceland that everyone should see while they are in this magnificent country. This waterfall is a little more out of the way than the others you’ll find in this country but you can see two for the price of one when going to see Aldeyjarfoss. 

Aldeyjarfoss sits in northern Iceland near to the site of Dimmuborgir and if you push on from this lava castle, you’ll find the mega waterfall of Godafoss and then if you keep going, you’ll find the Aldeyjarfoss waterfall.

You’ll need a 4×4 to get to the waterfall but it’s very much worth it as it falls down the sides of dark black basalt rocks which is quite unique. Also, since it’s so off the beaten track, you’ll have the waterfall to yourself without any others around.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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