When planning a trip to Iceland, it is essential to remember that the country is home to stunning wilderness. As such, there are countless hidden gems to discover throughout the island.
One such destination is Raudasandur Beach, known for its unearthly red sand and remote location. It’s a perfect place to relax and enjoy nature in its full glory.
Thorsmork is a beautiful region of mountains, glaciers, rivers, and pristine nature. Known as the Valley of Thor, it’s a place out of Icelandic dreams. It epitomizes what a hiker would expect in the country’s highlands, featuring vibrant green peaks, long braided rivers, countless geothermal planes, and the iconic multicolored rhyolite mountains.
A definite highlight of the area is the Thorsmork Highlights Hike, a circular trail that showcases some of the best of the landscape and offers a variety of views. Starting from Volcano Huts in Husadalur, it takes you through the birch forests of the area and up to the foothills of the Tindfjoll Mountains. From there, it ascends to the Slyppugilshryggur ridge for fine views of the Slyppugil Canyon and then bends back down through the trees towards the Langidalur Campsite.
The best time to visit Thorsmork is during the summer months from May through September, when the weather is mild and ideal for hiking and camping. The landscape is bursting with wildflowers during this time, and the sun’s rays illuminate the valleys and fields of the area.
There are several ways to experience Thorsmork, including self-driving tours using a Super Jeep or booking a guided hike that starts from Landmannalaugar. A bus ride or a 4×4 camper van rental Iceland will also take you to the highlands, though booking in advance is recommended as space is limited on these vehicles.
With its candy-colored houses and glistening harbor, Siglufjordur is an easy choice for travelers looking to experience North Iceland’s unspoiled charms. Known as the herring capital of the country, the town is a lively hub of cozy cafes and restaurants.
Stroll around town, and you’ll find many local art galleries and shops in well-preserved older buildings. Several small breweries, including Seagull 67, offer beer tours and tastings.
From Siglufjordur, hikes to the eerily deserted Hedinsfjordur and longer walks through Skardsdalur offer fantastic walking opportunities. It’s also a great place for snowshoeing, a popular pastime in winter.
The town’s herring-era heritage is showcased at the Herring Era Museum. Split across five restored buildings, the museum vividly portrays the town’s transformation from a tiny shark fishing village to one of the country’s main herring fishing centers by the 1950s.
The town is famous for its food and has several top restaurants. You can go from the Siglunes, which serves high-class Moroccan dishes, to the Harbor House, serving seafood fare. And, of course, you can only leave with trying the local herring. Siglufjordur is the northernmost town on mainland Iceland, which means it experiences an incredible natural phenomenon called the midnight sun from June 10 to July 1. The sun never ultimately sets, meaning it is almost always daylight.
A 76-meter high headland framed by black sands and the Atlantic Ocean, Ingolfshofdi is where Iceland’s first settler, Ingolfur Arnarson, spent his first winter after moving to the country in 874-875 CE. Today, it’s home to thriving colonies of puffins and other nesting seabirds, drawing thousands of visitors each summer. You can explore the area on a two-and-a-half-hour guided hike along the cape’s tall cliffs, soaking in the views and learning about the birds that flock here.
Taking part in the Ingolfshofdi Puffin Watching Tour is a great way to enjoy nature and wildlife on your trip to Iceland. You’ll be taken by tractor-drawn hay cart to the cape, where your guide will provide an overview of the history and ecology of the area. Then you’ll walk around the cape, observing the seabirds and their comic antics as you go.
The cape isn’t a place you can reach by car, so booking your adventure with a local company that knows the territory is essential. The guides on this tour live on the farm Hofsnes, where you’ll be visiting, and they’re experts in navigating through waters, marshes, and sand on their way to the cape. They also understand the importance of not disturbing the birds, so you can expect to have time to explore this remote corner of the world.
Ellidaardalur is a length of green space right in Reykjavik’s heart. Unlike most of the landscapes in Iceland, this area is not dominated by towering mountains or rushing rivers and is a lot more flat and easy to navigate. As a result, it’s one of the best places to experience the nature of Iceland without having to go too far out of your way.
At Ellioaardalur, you can enjoy a relaxing stroll among the natural scenery, watching salmons swim in the river and creatures roaming the forest, before reaching the Arbaejarsafn, the historical museum of Reykjavik, as well as an open-air and regional museum. This complex features over 20 buildings that recreate a town to showcase what life was like in Iceland centuries ago. It might seem like such a place would be in the countryside, but it’s right within city limits!
With so many different things to do in Iceland, you’ll never run out of adventure. Whether you’re looking for a rugged mountain bike ride through the Fossvogur Valley or want to whale watch in Faxafloi Bay, Reykjavik is a gateway to all kinds of wild adventures. But for those who wish to just to relax and take it slow, the city offers plenty of other activities, including swimming at the Nautholsvik Thermal Beach or petting reindeer at the Reykjavik Domestic Animal Zoo.