Imagine standing at the very edge of a steep shore where you have a panoramic view of powerful waves pushing into a scenic bay, full of chirping birds and the sound of the sea. You are grateful for the view and enjoy the shallow winds coming at you from far off the coast. If you turn around, you realize your standing in the midst of congealed lava streams that date back to volcanic eruptions around 5000 to 10000 years ago. If you glance further into the horizon you recognize the magnificent volcano responsible for these endless lava streams. If you are good at timing, you will not miss an amazing sunset behind the very crater on top of the volcano.
Off the beaten tracks
Off the beaten tracks around Reykjavík and the Golden circle in the South West of the island, plenty of less touristy places should be visited as well. All around the country you will surely find hidden gems with friendly locals, impressive natural sights, and delicious Icelandic dishes. In this blog post, I will share my personal experiences in several areas of the country, which are not visited by the average tourist in Iceland.
If you are considering a round trip in Iceland (it takes approximately 7-10 days, depending on your available time) you will encounter several hidden gems and absolute natural highlights of Iceland.
On the very south of the island, you should consider a stop in Víc. Although I would not consider it to be a hidden gem, it truly is an amazing place in Iceland. Spectacular coastline with steep and sharp cliff line, carved with highly unique basalt stones. Combined with the endless black sand beach of Víc you can only agree that this place so special. That is what I truly love about Iceland – incredibly diverse natural wonders throughout the entire country. Víc is perfect for spending a sunny day at the beach and around (they also have a scenic lighthouse overlooking the vast ocean).
Fáskrúðsfjörður – in the fjords of Iceland
When traveling further to the southeast of Iceland make sure to stop for a breath or longer in Fáskrúðsfjörður. This is a typical Icelandic town (or what I would consider as typical Icelandic) – really relaxing, laid back and amazing scenery. The town lies at the foot of one of the many fjords in the south, right at the edge of the water. If there is no storm nor rain ongoing the fjord might as well serve as one of the most magnificent mirrors you ever saw. When standing on the very shore, consider turning off all electronics and enjoying the moment to the fullest.
The calmness of nature, a very shallow sound the water moving in the fjord and the mountain view scenery will leave you speechless. Actually, this was one of my favorite places in the entire country, but I cannot really pinpoint why I loved it so much. Maybe it was the cute restaurant, serving delicious food in a living-room style room (this is a restaurant located at the entrance to the town). Maybe it was the feeling of leaving the bed first thing in the morning, walking straight on to the balcony and letting my eyes wander off to the incredible view.
Up north – Husavík
Up north, you´ll find the best spots in Iceland to watch the sunset and to do whale-watching in an environmentally friendly way. On the day of arrival we had one of our longest drives during the trip, so we arrived pretty late. But this was a perfect opportunity to stop roadside to enjoy the moment. The sun slowly starts to disappear on the horizon, each second being less reflected in the vast ocean. When coming to Husavík you will get to know the spirit of a fishermen village when strolling alongside the harbor.
The scenario I described in the first few sentences of this blog post, actually happened to me in Hellnar when I went for a little evening walk in the congealed lava fields and ended up in a breath-taking spot. Simultaneously standing at the edge of a cliff overlooking a movie-like bay and when turning around seeing the deep orange sunset behind the top of the volcano. Definitely worth driving all the way to one of the most western points in Iceland.
In Hellnar we stayed at the only hotel, called Foss Hotel. It transmitted a boutique-hotel vibe and was located only a few meters away from the shore. In fact, when having dinner at this place (by the way the food was amazing – the best lamb I´ve ever had!) you were entitled to a panoramic view of the shore. When lucky, the waitress told us, visitors might spot passing whales.
Eventually, Iceland is a magnificent place – incredibly diverse natural sights everywhere you go. That´s why I can only recommend traveling through the country-side and enjoying each new experience.