Don’t just stick to the Golden Circle and South Coast. You may see some great sights, but you’ll spend a lot of time in lines and waiting for people to get out of your pictures. To see a side of Iceland fewer travelers see, spend some time in Snaefellsnes, the Westfjords, or the North of the country. You’ll appreciate more of Iceland’s beauty and culture than you can by sticking to the most-visited areas.
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Landmannalaugar is a geothermal wonderland in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, home to lava fields, hot pools, and steam puffs that rise from the earth. Hike among vibrantly hued mountains and explore highlands dotted with glaciers, black sand beaches, geysers, and waterfalls. Stunning and remote, this area is a perfect representation of all the Icelandic landscape has to offer.
Thorsmork is a mountain range nestled between major glaciers Tindfjallajökull, Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull. The ridge, named “Thor’s Valley” in Icelandic, is a dramatic landscape of towering peaks, glacier rivers, and black deserts. Craggy mountains and ice-topped peaks slope down to lush birch forests and mossy gulches. Luckily for visitors, it’s also home to some Iceland’s most beautiful hiking routes.
The Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is a remote wilderness in the northwest claw of Iceland’s West Fjords. A wild gem of green slopes, snow-capped glacier peninsulas, and slate-blue bays, Hornstrandir is largely uninhabited and accessible only in during summer by daily ferry. It’s precisely these features that make it one of the best-preserved parts of Iceland--nothing for miles except green valleys, tufts of dandelions and Angelica, and pebbled shores. If you’re lucky, you may just spot a flying goose or an Arctic fox.
In Iceland’s East Fjords, you’ll find many peaceful fjords, small fishing villages, and scenic trails tucked away in the hollow of towering mountains. Often overshadowed by more hyped, nearby attractions like the Glacier Lagoon and Myvatn Lake, make no mistake--the East Fjords are definitely worth a few days' trip. Day excursions will take you hiking past waterfalls, kayaking through the fjords, or exploring emerald ponds.
Northeast Iceland is more remote and wild than its southern counterpart. It’s known for abundant wildlife, from whales in Húsavik harbor to puffins on the Rauðanes Peninsula, as well as desolate cliffsides by the sea.
Iceland's most visited region attracts more than a million visitors a year with its dramatic landscape. Get inspired to plan your own trip with these itinerary-planning tips and top recommendations for South Coast lodging and dining.