15 Hidden Gems in Iceland to Discover for Yourself


Updated On: April 20, 2024 by   Miranne KhaledMiranne Khaled

Beautiful landscapes are everywhere to be seen when it comes the stupendous island of Iceland. Restfully sitting at the edge of the Arctic Circle, Iceland offers many natural wonders that attract visitors from everywhere. In the past few years, it has become one of the top-notch tourist attractions. 

This land from which the Vikings originated has a plenty of hidden gems awaiting you to discover them. Besides having a long and rich history, it is home to so many prodigious attractions to visit. Glaciers, hot springs, and ice caves are just brief introductions to a land rich in everything marvelous. 

There are always Icelandic sites that serve different types of people. Thus, nature lovers, adventure seekers, history buffs, and pretty much everyone will enjoy their stay. Keep reading to find out about the best spots to visit around the Icelandic cities and valleys. You’ll also learn about off-the-beaten gems of this country.

1. Dip in the Hot Springs in the Golden Circle

Iceland pretty much shares the spa culture with Norway. They both share the same abundance when it comes to thermal pools formed by natural causes. Haukadalur is one of the valleys that are major attractions in Southern Iceland.

The valley is home to the Golden Circle sightseeing; it is 300 kilometers away from Reykjavik. The Golden Circle is famous for its boiling pools of mud where people take dips for said health benefits. It’s also popular for the profuseness of hot springs and active volcanoes since Iceland is a geothermal active land.

2. Watch the Northern Lights Away from the Cities

Iceland is one of the few countries that fall in the arctic circle in the Northern Hemisphere. Thus, it is granted with the rare bless of the Northern Lights, rather known as Aurora Borealis. This natural wonder occurs in significantly cold countries due to energy releases that only happen at some parts of the world.

Its rarity makes it very special, and raises your enthusiasm to be lucky enough to see them. However, you shouldn’t make it your main objective since they never occur during special occasions. But rather, they take place when the sky is darker, and usually during the cold months. Thus, make sure you visit by that time.

Also, there isn’t really better spots or areas where you can observe the magnificent Northern Lights. You can get lucky and see them from any point all over the country. Your chances actually get higher the further away you get from Reykjavik, for artificial light sources significantly reduce their chances.

3. Hike through the Crystal Ice Cave

15 Hidden Gems in Iceland to Discover for Yourself

There must be a really convincing reason for this land to receive its name specifically. Well, with the ice covering almost everything, it’d be bizarre to visit Iceland and not tour through its frozen landscapes. 

The Crystal Ice Cave is one of the most popular destinations in Vatnajökull, and one of the largest glacier in Europe. You can’t visit any ice caves in Iceland without a tour guide, so there won’t be anything to worry about. 

Iceland is home to a countless number os ice caves, icebergs, and beautiful glaciers. They make for perfect spots for energetic visitors who love to hike while absorbing the beauty of vast landscapes. You will have real icy experience where you won’t find it elsewhere.

However, you can still enjoy the weather during the days of summer. But, if you plan your visit in winter, this land really lives up to its name. Make sure you prepare enough layers of clothing items to shield yourself from the shivering breeze.

4. Bathe in the Blue Lagoon

15 Hidden Gems in Iceland to Discover for Yourself

Needless to say, you visions of pale blue waters is a staple in a country as Iceland. Everything about this country is nearly blue and white. This is pretty much the factor that attracts many visitors to this beautiful spot on the planet.

One of the regions you shouldn’t miss is Grindavik; a fishing town on Iceland’s Southern Peninsula. Its top-tier attraction happens to be the Blue Lagoon, lying around 40-minute drive away from Reykjavik. 

Many visitors head to the blue lagoon to soak themselves in its warm waters. It’s said to have several health benefits that people love to reap for beauty purposes. On the edges of the lagoon, you can find mud tubs. You can do your skin a favor and make use of the mud’s healthy minerals.

5. Explore the Marine Life in Silfra Fissure

Iceland houses one of the largest diving sites in the world, Silfra Fissure. You will literally dive between two continents, being located in the heart of Thingvellir National Park in Þingvellir. This site is where the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia slightly drift apart every year.

Silfra Fissure is one of the many fissures that opened up during a major earthquake that hit the area back in time. Snorkeling is a popular activity at that site, being a spot of crystal clear water around the globe. 

Many visitors reported their amusement of the water’s clarity, enabling a 90-meter visibility. It is home to many fish species that will leave you in amazement and awe. Interestingly, there is also seaweed forests and moonlight lava rocks sitting at the bottom.

6. Visit the Gljúfrabúi Waterfall

There are many waterfalls in Iceland that most visitors are eager to see. One of the most popular ones is the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, situated in the Southern Region of the country. Interestingly, this area offers a prettier waterfall that most people tend to miss out on, the Gljúfrabúi Waterfall 

It’s weird that people miss this wonderful waterfall when it is only five minutes away from the most prominent one. To reach the Gljúfrabúi Waterfall, you will need to walk through a cave-like entrance. It will enable you to stand right under the waterfalls and have an unforgettable experience.

7. Enjoy the Scenery of the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Fjaðrárgljúfur lies close to the huge ring road of Iceland. The canyons of Fjaðrárgljúfur gained huge popularity after the huge hit show, Game of Thrones featured it. It was one of the most prominent tourist destinations, yet it received more tourists after making it to the big screen.

The Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon is one of the most delightful canyons across the whole country. You can hike it up while enjoying the scenic landscapes of nature it offers. The canyon also lies close to Kirkjubæjarklaustur, a historic town that you can also explore. 

8. Learn about History at the Skálholt Historical Site

The Golden Circle may be the most prominent tourist destination in Iceland with several landmarks to see. However, taking a little detour from the acclaimed Golden Circle will still get you somewhere. Skálholt is located in South Iceland; it remained one of Iceland’s most significant places for years.

The site serves as a perfect spot for history lovers. Moreover, Skálholt satisfies those who crave to hear tales from the past. It’s home to a charming Cathedral that houses a compelling museum, which makes it a prominent cultural and political center. The museum is a vault beneath the Church.

Besides the terrific Icelandic architecture, there is more to this building than just its magnificent exterior. Many tales live within the walls of Skálholt Cathedral, some of which had brutal actings that leave you shivering. 

One of the popular tales that this cathedral was famous for is the brutal execution of Jón Arason of of Hólar. Jón Arason was the last Catholic bishop of Iceland and was put to death by having his head chopped of

9. Check Out the Secret Lagoon in the Village of Flúðir

Flúðir is a small village that sits over hundred kilometers from the Capital city in South Iceland. It is usually included within the program of the Golden Circle trip. Nonetheless, it’s a great spot for those who want to chill, expel some negativity, and shake stress off their bodies. How tempting!

So what is the secret of this village that cheers people up? Well, the Secret Lagoon is the real catch. It is a man-made structure where natural hot springs surround it. Dating back to 1891, it is also the oldest pool Iceland has ever known.

Despite being man-made, natural, geothermal waters fill up the Secret Lagoon. These beneficial waters come straight out of the ground. The charm of this lagoon doesn’t just stop there; it even steals the spotlight from the famous Blue Lagoon. A natural geothermal valley embraces the Secret Lagoon unlike the Blue Lagoon which a lava field surrounds.

Well, they both sound interesting, but what difference does their situations make? Mesmerizing white steam that comes from the ground billows out the Secret Lagoon. You will even find tiny geyser coming out of it along with bubbling pools made of natural waters.

10. Stop at Kerið Crater Lake for a Fascinating Sightseeing

15 Hidden Gems in Iceland to Discover for Yourself

The Icelandic letters seem to have their unique twists, and we’ve already come across several hard to pronounce terms. Unfortunately, Kerið Crater Lake is no exception, but we promise you some unforgettable views if you are willing to ignore the pronunciation. You can find Kerið by reaching to Grimsnes area which is located in South Iceland.

The uniqueness of Kerið lies in the small lake that fills a hole that once was home to lavas. You can’t help but be hypnotized by the colorful shades this lake presents. The crater’s rocky walls radiate a bright red color that harmonize with the green plantations and turquoise waters.

Kerið is a volcanic crater that plentiful scientists argue have formed around 60 centuries ago. They also claim that the formation took place as a result of multiple volcanic eruptions. Scientists share this theory where what was once a volcanic cone depleted its magma reserve, turning into an empty hole. Later, underground water started to fill this hole, forming the enchanting lake we see today.

11. Take a Glimpse into the Viking Village Abandoned Film Set

Iceland is one of the original homes to the Vikings. Thus, it is pretty normal to see lots of monuments referring to their lives. Filmmakers were quite aware of this fact and made a great use of it, or almost did.

This secret location sits on a twisting road that lies between Höfn and Djúpivogur. The man-made village was a replica to a real old Viking village. It has been around only since 2010 and was originally built to film an Icelandic movie. However, the filming never happened, yet you’ve got to give praises to the fact of how real it was built.

The village remains in an unspoiled condition since it has been abandoned, but later turned into a tourist attraction. Seeing the picturesque nature that surrounds the site will stop you from wondering why they chose it in the first place. Beautiful mountain range can be seen in sight; they work as a fantastic backdrop.

Besides the make-believe village, you can actually head south to find another magnificent sight, the Stokksnes Beach. This nature wonder of a beach possesses a vast land of black sand. A quite rare scenery that will dazzle you.

12. Hjörleifshöfðix: A Hidden Gem Made it to the Big Screen

Just a few miles away from the Ring Road, you can find the Hjörleifshöfðix rock hiding in plain sight. It is a peninsula that lies in South Iceland and goes around 221 meters above the ground. Below this large standalone rock formation is a black glacial volcanic outwash.

The name’s credit goes to Hjörleifur Hróðmarsson, a settler whose brother was the first settler of the Vikings, Ingólfur Arnarson. You can find the burial mound of Hjörleifur located at the highest peak of the Hjörleifshöfðix.

One of the popular activities that you can participate in while at this vast greenery landscape is hiking. Well, hiking to the highest peak, where the burial mound sits, can be a little uncomfortable due to the steep cliffs. You may really find them unapproachable, but there are other locations that offers easy hiking paths on the west side.

Throughout your hiking, you will please your eyes with the splendid views that this secret site offers. You may also come across a small beautiful waterfall if you descended down Klif and the Slátturbrekka cliff. 

Well, we have repeatedly mentioned the secrecy of this site, yet it managed to make it to the big screen. This site is where the renowned Yoda Cave from Star Wars is located. It also served as the opening scenes of the 2016 Star Wars: Rogue movie.

13. Hit the Road Less Traveled of the West Fjords

Iceland is one of the European countries that is famous for its abundant fjords. While they make for great tourist destinations, the West Fjords receive a countable number of visitors each year. Well, there is no a worrying reason behind this fact other than being a little remote from the Ring Road. If anything, the uncrowded sites actually offer a mind-relaxing experience.

This site will present to you that special feeling of being on the edge of the world. You are free and full of life. Surrounding the West Fjord are archaic fishing villages that are rich in history. Also, you can’t miss Látrabjarg, where the vertical sea cliffs provide a dazzling view. It is located ay the westernmost end of the West Fjords.

The site overlooks the crystal blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. It is also home to a wide array of bird species which colors and shapes accentuate the beautiful sky. We assure you that you will encounter kinds of birds that you have never laid eyes on back home.

14. Head to the Þingvellir National Park

Also known as the Thingvellire National Park, this site has received the label of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. That is because of its cultural and geological significance to Iceland. Dating back to 1930, the Þingvellir is first and oldest national park in Iceland. The site itself traces back to 930, over thousands of years before the foundation of the park.

It also lies only 40 kilometers away from the Icelandic capital city of Reykjavik. Since it hold a very special place in history, the park is usually the first stop in the Golden Circle route. According to history, this site used to be the gathering point for settlers of the Viking Age. It is where they started laying their laws and built their oldest parliament. 

Tourists develop interest in observing the ruins that remain on the assembly ground of the national park. You will also find signs holding historical information of the events that used to take place on the grounds. The most significant events documented were the gruesome execution in the drowning pool, Drekkingarhylur, and the Christianization of Iceland.

15. Hike in the Most Fetching Canyon of Iceland, Mulagljufur Canyon

Hiking is a great activity to keep your circulation perfectly flowing while getting to discover the beauty of new countries. Thanks to the countless canyons, you get to hit two birds with a stone. Apparently, Iceland is one of the dazzling terrains that offer many sites suitable for hiking while witnessing scenic views.

Lace up your most comfortable hiking footwear and get ready for a nice trip through the Mulagljufur Canyon. It is located in the southwest of Fjallsarlon Glacier, offering dazzling mountain vistas and views of waterfalls pouring down. It sounds like there isn’t much to do at those splendid canyons, but we promise you zero moments of boredom.

Now that we’ve walked you through glamorous destinations to explore, it’s time to book your flight to Iceland!

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