As the most sparsely populated country in Europe, Iceland remains unspoilt and full of popular waterfalls, glaciers and most notably the Northern Lights. However in this short guide we will take you away from those most-common of sites and explore the top 5 ultimate ´off the beaten path must-sees and activities.
1. Vík í Mýrdal – The Black Sand Beach
Vík í Mýrdal is a definite must-wander for any ´off the path´ traveler. It is the furthermost Southern village in Iceland, so being about 180km from Reykjavik it is more than a little out of the way. Vík is located directly underneath a glacier-covered volcano, which if erupted, would melt the glacier and flash-flood the village. Despite this danger, Vík í Mýrdal was voted into the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world by Island Magazine. The beach’s most striking feature is its black sand, made from Basalt, which is typical of any beach near a volcano.
2. Quad Bike Tours in Reykjavik
This expedition is available at all times of the year and will set you back about €180 a head, but is a highly-recommended way to marvel in the beauties of Iceland. The minute you are comfortable on your quad bike you will drive your way to Selatanger beach in the Krisuvuk peninsula, leaving the Reykjanes peninsula in your dust as you go. The tour will then take you off to the Hagafell Mountains curving between lava fields and more black sand beaches, until you reach the summit of the expedition where you can look down at the more common of tourist entertainments such as the Blue Lagoon and Eldey Islands, both of which you will have fantastic views of.
3. Hraunfossar Waterfalls
Hraunfosser waterfall is situated close to the more famous Barnafoss waterfall and is a run of mysterious springs that diverge out of the Hallmundarhraun lava flow. The falls weave in and out of the grooves in the lava creating the glorious effect of intertwining lace, resulting in the self-made turquoise blue stream at the bottom that adds to the beauty and colour of the landscape. There is a solid viewing area at the falls that is a great spot for taking photographs and if you get there early enough you could be completely alone on this platform, the site is a must-see off the path event.
4. Hike at the Fjord Hvalfjordur
The fjord lays just North of Reykjavik; this is a beauty that is regularly missed by travelers since the main road tunnels underneath the fjord right at its opening. There are multiple things to do here; rivers, waterfalls, lakes, seashore, forests, fishing and hiking opportunities in a relatively un-spoilt landscape, and on top of this, the fjord has a cultural and historical significance due to the World War 2-era British army base that resided here. Another bonus is that about 1 hour’s hike away there is Iceland’s highest waterfall at 198 meters, so grab your map and hiking shoes and take the road to Hvaljordur!
5. Ride Rare Icelandic Horses
There are lots of unique experiences to be had in a place like Iceland, and riding some of their rare breed of horses is one of them. Not only can you go places that are impossible to reach with a rental car, but you get to ride a horse that is found only on Iceland. These horses are more like a pony than a horse, but they are still classified as one and can be ridden by adults. They have some very unique characteristics too like their color varieties and double coat, which was obviously something they ended up with as a result of the harsh Icelandic climate.
For getting to Iceland, one of the best options is to use the national airline Icelandic Air whilst holiday accommodation in Iceland can be found on sites such as holiday-velvet.com and expedia.co.uk.
Ben has travelled throughout Northern Europe and spends a lot of time in Iceland fishing and enjoy sauna. Ben works for Holiday-velvet.com