A Guide To Hidden Gems In Iceland’s Touristy Areas!
Is this your second (or third? or fourth?) time in Iceland? Or maybe it's your first time in Iceland, but you want to go where most tourists don't? Do you want to visit some hidden places and see some hidden gems in Iceland? I've got you covered!
Iceland is a beautiful country. In fact, it's so beautiful that it's hard to list all the places you must visit when you travel here!
That's why I have made this guide with the best hidden places to visit in touristy areas! I have picked the places in this list for their uniqueness and accessibility. As they are hidden among touristy places, it's very easy to get to them! All you need to do is take a small detour during your trip around the Golden Circle, the South Shore or Snæfellsnes peninsula!
Before we delve deep into our list of the best hidden gems in touristy areas in Iceland, here is a quick look at what you can find in this blog:
- where can i find hidden gems in Iceland?
- what hidden spots are there in Iceland?
- are there any easy to find hidden spots in Iceland?
- what are some non-touristy things to see in Iceland?
don't miss your chance!
Our tours are very popular and often booked weeks or even months in advance! Don't miss your chance! Book a spot in one of our tours now!
are there hidden gems in iceland?
Absolutely! Iceland is full of hidden spots that most tourists -and even some locals! -don't know about.
In the last few years, partly because of the tourist boom and partly because of social media, tourists have discovered a lot of hidden gems in Iceland. However, as I mentioned earlier, it's very hard to explore and discover all of them! There are just so many! Even I haven't gotten around to visiting every single one.
In this blog, I'll show you a few places that I believe are not as well-known as other hidden gems in Iceland. The places I will list are also hidden among popular tourist attractions, so you can easily take a short detour and visit them while you make your way around Iceland's highlight attractions.
While you might find some fellow travelers there -either some accidental explorers or other curious adventurers who have done their research -you won't find any tours.
the best hidden gems in popular areas!
So, what are the best hidden gems in the touristy areas of Iceland? And how can you get there? Keep reading to find out!
HIDDEN GEMS IN THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
A great area to find some hidden gems is the Golden Circle! Everyone knows about Thingvellir National Park, Geysir and Gullfoss, but there are some other amazing places that I think you should visit!
Friðheimar is well-known among locals. It is a greenhouse, a restaurant, and a horse breeding facility, so you know they'll keep you busy!
Friðheimar is a family affair. It is run and owned by a family, who focuses on sustainability and responsible tourism practices. On top of that, they have an amazing restaurant!
At the restaurant, you can taste their famous tomato soup, which is made by tomatoes that they grow right there at the farm. The soup is renowned for its rich flavor, and it's definitely a must-try! Other eye-catching dishes include a tomato ice cream, tomato beer, and even coffee with tomato syrup! Just make sure to make a reservation before you go, as sometimes it can get crowded. Take a look at their menu and find contact info here!
Once you're full with all their delicious dishes, you can take a tour of their greenhouses to learn more about horticulture, see a horse show or visit the horse stables! The Icelandic horse is bound to impress you with its five natural gaits (two more than most horse breeds!) Find out more information about their services here!
Another great farm! The farm includes a hotel, a cafe and a restaurant, but what you should really visit Efstidalur for is their ice cream!
A family owns and runs this farm, as well, and it has been in their family for decades. They have cows, horses and adorable dogs in their farm (that you are welcome to play with!), and the ice cream they make has fresh milk as its main ingredient. That's right, the ice cream you will get is by those very cows that will be roaming next to you! Doesn't get any fresher than that!
The farm boasts a variety of amazing flavors, with one of my personal favorites being the salted caramel! They also change their flavors according to what is in season, so it's never the same!
As it's very close to Geysir, it's the perfect stop to get some ice cream and rest before continuing your journey.
HIDDEN GEMS IN THE SOUTH SHORE
Yet another touristy place that has some great hidden places to offer is the South Shore! Again, everyone knows about the South Shore's famous attractions, like Seljalandsfoss and Reynisfjara beach. However, I'll give you some tips on the other places you have to visit!
Try pronouncing that one, am I right?! Fjaðrárgljúfur is a gorgeous, majestic canyon a little further after the coastal town of Vík, and it is definitely worth the drive!
The canyon is 2km (1.2 miles) long and up to 100m (330ft) deep. It was created during the last ice age, when a glacial river carved its way through the earth and the lava, and thus created the canyon. The tuff walls on both sides are believed to be two million years old!
You have two options to explore this magnificent canyon. You can either walk in the canyon, as the water level is always low. However, keep in mind that you might have to get a little wet on your shoes!
The other option is to take the path that goes over the canyon, that will lead you to an amazing view of a waterfall.
Just make sure to stay on the paths, and if the water level seems high, I would recommend taking the other path.
Officials closed Fjaðrárgljúfur due to the damage done to the vegetation in the area. The plan is to re-open it on the 1st of June, or earlier if the conditions allow. The damage was caused by foot traffic, so if you visit, please stay on the designated paths!
2. Litla kaffistofan
You might be thinking that I'm crazy for suggesting this, but hear me out. Litla Kaffistofan (or the Little Coffeehouse) is one of the most popular rest stops among Icelandic people, and they are also extremely fond of it.
Whether it is their charming, friendly staff, their Icelandic delicacies or the general quaint atmosphere, Litla Kaffistofan has been attracting locals ever since it opened in 1960. Its position on the mountain has also made it into a great shelter for travelers who get stuck in unfavorable road conditions, so if you ever have any issues, you know where to go!
Visit Litla Kaffistofan on your way to the South Shore, and maybe grab some breakfast! I highly recommend their Icelandic pancakes with sugar, but there are also homemade cakes and many other options!
If you decide to visit the coffee shop on your way back to Reykjavik, get a soup! It's perfect for Iceland's freezing weather!
HIDDEN GEMS IN THE SNÆFELLSNES PENINSULA
The Snæfellsnes peninsula is mainly famous for Kirkjufell, the mountain with the very characteristic shape. However, there are many other beautiful things you can see there! In fact, locals claim that it is the only place in Iceland where you can experience all of the country's amazing natural phenomena!
1. Glanni waterfall
Finally, a waterfall in this list! I'm sure you were waiting for it!
Glanni isn't one of the biggest or one of the most powerful waterfalls. In fact, compared to other waterfalls in Iceland, it is quite small. However, what it lacks in size, it makes up in beauty!
This magical place is said to be a home to elves and trolls. With its bright, crystal clear waters and picture-perfect surroundings, it's not hard to see why! I highly recommend taking the small detour to see this multi-tiered waterfall.
2. Ölkelda mineral spring
There are many places in Iceland where you can drink water straight from a river or a spring. The difference with this spring is that the water is carbonated!
Its name means "holy ale well" in Old Norse. You can find it in a farm with the same name, whose residents have been drinking it for centuries!
Feel free to fill up your water bottle at the spring. The water is perfectly drinkable, and locals even claim that it has healing properties and that it is healthier than normal water, because of the significantly higher amounts of minerals it contains.
The carbonation of the water is also completely natural. There is no artificial carbonation at all! It all happens due to the minerals, and I suppose it is the healthiest "soda" you can get!
bonus! take the scenic route
There are two ways to get to the Snæfellsnes peninsula. One is through an underwater tunnel (which is interesting in its own right!), and the other is by taking the amazing scenic route.
While the tunnel takes merely minutes to drive, driving the scenic route takes about an hour, so maybe take one route there and the other back. I do recommend taking the scenic route once, though, as there are gorgeous views!
Apart from enjoying the drive, you can also stop at a waterfall and at a very photogenic area full of ruins from an old military base. Furthermore, you can visit the War and Peace museum, with artifacts from the 1940s, and learn about Iceland's occupation from 1940 to 1945.
some final words
No matter how you chose to explore Iceland, whether it is by tours or on your own, I hope you will have a great time! There are so many otherworldly, incredibly beautiful locations and hidden gems in this country! As I travel and explore more, I will keep you updated, so keep an eye on our blogs!
Is there something I've missed? Did you particularly enjoy any of my recommendations? Let me know in the comments! And as always, don't forget to share with fellow travelers!
Is this your second (or third? or fourth?) time in Iceland? Or maybe it’s your first time in Iceland, but you want to go where most tourists don’t? Do you want to visit some hidden places and see some hidden gems in Iceland? I’ve got you covered!