The country sitting at the top of Europe is better known as “Iceland – the ultimate back-of-the-beyond place”. However, not many people know of exactly where they can go and enjoy the beauty of Iceland farthest from other tourists as they move around this extraordinary place. Also, knowing where some of Iceland’s gems that are slightly off the beaten track are is utterly essential. So where do you find the answer to these queries? Here is where you want to be. As of now, there are numerous amazing destinations in Iceland that are yet to be discovered or simple out-of-the-way. We have put together a list of 20 such unseen Icelandic charms.

1. Tjöruhúsið restaurant.

Tjöruhúsið restaurant is a simple yet elegant, countryside restaurant located in Ísafjörður in the Westfjords. The restaurant is only operational during Summer Season and Easter – that means you only have so much time to go and indulge in some of Iceland’s finest seafood cuisine! The restaurant’s interior is gorgeous. They have got wooden benches so that you get to know exactly who you are seated next to. You can enjoy an “a la carte” lunch and/or a dinner buffet. The best thing about this place is that you will always, and I mean ALWAYS fish that is freshly caught. I think I should mention here that we do not have any sort of link with the team that runs this place; the comments on their Facebook pages and online reviews proof their greatness and quality.

2. Holuhraun lava.

The most recent addition to the spectacular Icelandic landscape is the freshly formed lava-flow mountain at Holuhraun, where a huge volcanic eruption took place from August 2014 to February 2015. The area is very much in the middle of nowhere and you will need a good 4WD to get to it – but cheer up! You will be able to feel the tranquil warm ground and see nature like you’ve never seen it before! Before you go there though make sure to check the forecast and read this article here on driving in Iceland!

3. Víknaslóðir hiking trails

The far East of Iceland, the region around Borgarfjörður Eystri (where the much awaited music festival – Bræðslan – is held each July) holds one of Iceland’s greatest hiking areas: Víknaslóðir. Víknaslóðir translates to ‘Trails of the inlets’ and a 5-10 day hike around the area is something that should be on your list. The hike from Borgarfjörður Eystri down to Seyðisfjörður is usually done in 4 days and is 55 km long (similar to Iceland’s most famous hike, the Laugavegurinn). As you hike, you will be delighted to see gorgeous mountain views, valleys and fjords. Possibly the most outstanding attraction in the area is Stórurð, a beautiful blue lake covered with huge rock boulders. Don´t go hiking there alone though, it is best to participate in a guided tour with an experienced guide!

If you are to visit any of these locations, you are advised to have a good 4WD because you are going to be driving on unpaved gravel roads or even roads on mountains, and better safe than sorry! It is also recommended you get full insurances before you set out for your adventure. And remember to always wear your seat belts! And never forget that it off road driving is strictly prohibited!!

4. Hofsós pool.

This little town on the Tröllaskagi peninsula in the Northern area of Iceland (the peninsula that’s just besides Akureyri) has Iceland’s most beautiful and scenic infinity pool in its hillside. This pool is definitely worth the detour if you are on a self-drive tour.

5. Glymur waterfall.

When the tunnel through Hvalfjörður opened back in the year 1998, the distance from Reykjavík to Borgarnes was significantly reduced by roughly one hour, as people don’t have to drive Hvalfjörður fjord (Whale fjord) any more. Which lead to little, if not zero people driving this gorgeous fjord. Also, at the very bottom of the fjord, you will find a trail leading to Iceland’s highest waterfall (198m): Glymur (Echo).

The hike up there is alluring and rather easy, walking you through luscious, green mossy cliffs towards the waterfall and it only takes around 2-3 hours to get up there. Be careful though, don´t leave a trail in the moss and please respect the nature.

6. Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Possibly the most unreachable part of Iceland is Hornstrandir, the Northernmost tip of the Westfjords. You will find that there are literally no roads leading there, and so, you have the option to either hike with a guide for a week from the end of the road, near Krossnes, or take a boat from Ísafjörður. Either way, this is going to be one long journey. Additionally, you will not find any stores or villages, so it is suggested you stay prepared at all times with enough food and camping gear (in case you plan on staying there for a while) to help you last. Hornstrandir NATURE RESERVE is where Iceland’s largest arctic fox colony subsists, so do not miss out on an opportunity to spot some beautiful foxes!

7. Grótta

Located in the western region of Reykjavík (in Seltjarnarnes) is an area called Grótta. This place is actually a nature reserve owing to the abundance of bird life. If you are looking for someplace to watch the sunset as it shines over Faxaflói bay, Grótta is the place to be. To add an even more enchanting effect to your experience, amongst the rocks is also a small, man-made, yet as beautiful as it gets hot pool for you to dip your feet in and relax as you appreciate the beauty of the nature. (This one might just be another one of the “hidden gems”, it is close to one of the little huts by the seaside). Furthermore, there is a beautiful lighthouse which, however, is only accessible at the times tide is low. For the duration of low tide, you will be having around 6 hours to go back and forth, or else you are very likely to getting jammed by the lighthouse. Also, you must know that there is little or no access to the lighthouse from the 1st of May to the 30th of June because the nesting season lasts during this time. At other times, the lighthouse is all yours to enjoy! Last but not least, if you need a place close to the center during winter with little light pollution to hunt for the aurora, Grótta is a good place to visit.

8. Siglufjörður village

Siglufjörður village is delightful little town, that once was the world’s biggest herring fishing capital. This town is located at the northernmost tip of Tröllaskagi peninsula. (Not too far from Hofsós pool). The town snuggles in a small creek and is enclosed within mountains on three sides. You must also go to the Herring Era Museum that reconstructs the life of the town through some well-construct buildings on the main street of the town. The location is, to some extent difficult to get to, giving you that feeling of being at the end of the world, even though it’s only an hour long drive from Akureyri In the area you will also find many lovely small towns and villages, you can visit islands in the fjords and enjoy the stunning and beautiful scenery.

9. Kjölur highland road

During summer, once the highland roads have been opened, driving the road named Kjölur (only for 4WD!) will be one trip you’ll remember. On your way you can do one of two things: either make a stop at Kerlingarfjöll (Hag’s Mountains) or Hveravellir (Hot Spring Fields) – or even both, if you like. The road is number 35, the exact same road that Gullfoss waterfall is located on. This road connects the North and the South of the country and lies amid Langjökull glaceier and Hofsjökull glacier. The highlands in between are sandy yet filled with hot springs, yes you can even bathe in some of them, and these also offer some tremendous hiking trails. Once again we can´t emphasize enough how important it is that you don´t do any off road driving and ruin the beautiful nature!!

10. Stakkholtsgjá canyon

Not far off Þórsmörk is this magnificent canyon called the Stakkholtsgjá canyon. What’s great about this one is that if you hike it for around 2 hours, you will get to a waterfall deep inside it. It is a fairly easy hike and is one that is suitable for the whole family, adults and children alike. At the point where there are around 100 meters left to the bottom of the canyon, it splits into two parts and you will need to push your way through a river to reach the waterfall at the end.

11. Vesturdalur valley

A lot of people go to see the Lake Mývatn, Dettifoss waterfall and even Ásbyrgi – however, if you are in this area, you ought to visit Rauðhólar and Hljóðaklettar in Vesturdalur. Not far from Ásbyrgi canyon, this is only a 15 minute drive from it on road number 85 towards Húsavík village. Hljóðaklettar (Sound Rocks) are basalt columns in just about every shape and size, twisting and turning to each and every direction possible. Rauðhólar (Red Hills) are beautiful, colorful hills of mainly the colors black and yellow, but mainly fiery red. There aren’t many places in Iceland where you can find colors as rich in the landscape as you will here.

Whether you choose to see this wonderful area by booking a tour or driving on your own vehicle please, you won´t be disappointed with the views. Just remember – no off road driving!!

12. Seljavallalaug pool

In the South of Iceland is this not-so-remote-anymore unseen treasure, namely, the Seljavallalaug pool. Even though driving the South coast is common amongst most sightseers, yet no bus tours will take you to this destination. Seljavallalaug pool stands as the oldest among the pools that are still around in Iceland, and surprisingly is one of the few that remain in good shape. This one even has a changing room so you needn’t worry about that; there are still no showers though. All you need to bring along is just your swimsuit, towel – and of course your manners. The place allows you to enjoy the quietness of nature without charging you for it; so respect that and try not to spoil this picturesque piece of nature. The Seljavallalaug pool is found between the well-known waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. As a consequence, pretty much the only way to get there is by your own car and then hiking for around 15 to 20 minutes. If you are driving from Reykjavík, take a left towards Seljavellir right before reaching Skógafoss. It’s then just a simple 15 minute walk and you’re there!

13. Friðheimar tomato farm

If you are driving across the Golden Circle on your own vehicle, be sure to stop and check out this organic tomato farm in Reykholt called Friðheimar. This family run tomato and cucumber farm is not just a farm, it is a restaurant! Since they are willing to use up all of their yield, these guys use their scratched tomatoes which have all the same flavor yet apparently aren’t suitable for supermarkets, to make tomato soup to be served for lunch. If you are a tomato lover, this is your place to be! At Friðheimar, you can devour the Schnapps served in a tomato, tomato ice-cream (it will have you licking your fingers!) and tomato chutney and obviously a Bloody or a Virgin Mary. You can also find homemade bread here, the cinnamon flavored is especially a must try, and also the cucumber salsa that comes with the soup, YUM! Soup and bread (free refills, hurrah!), together with fresh basil, cucumber salsa, sour cream and butter! This restaurant has a very friendly, stress-free, airy and warm atmosphere. Warm specifically because tomatoes must be kept in a warm climate and should be exposed to a lot of light. If you want to take a good look around the place, a tour of the tomato farm is within your reach.

You can drop by at opening hours. However, at times these guys get huge groups, and so, it is recommended you call ahead and get more info on the timings.

14. Gljúfrabúi waterfall

This one is not to be missed. Located right next to Seljalandsfoss waterfall in the south of Iceland, Gljúfrabúi waterfall is only a 5 minute walk away from Seljalandsfoss, near a farm.
If you are willing to see the waterfall, you might need to walk through a little cave entrance formed from a couple of rocks, and then you will find yourself capable of standing right beneath the waterfall…so don’t forget your raincoat! Things will get messy. You can definitely go there on a regular south coast tour, although no south coast tours mark it as a stop for the tourists, but since Seljalandsfoss is always a major stop, it is still possible for you to get there. Nevertheless, you must keep a check on time when you take a detour.

15. Hvítserkur rock formation

The eye-catching rock formation that is known as Hvítserkur stands on its own just outside the coastline in Húnafjörður fjord situated in the North-West of Iceland. It is really just a little indirect route from the main ring road of Iceland, in between Reykir and Blönduós. In order to get there, you will have to drive road 711 from the ring road. (Take a left turn when you’re coming from Reykjavík, and a right turn if you’re coming from Akureyri). Unfortunately, there aren’t many tours going to this place, so you’ll either have to drive your own car or rent one.

16. Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon

Close to the ring road is the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. The pronunciation is a real hard nut to crack; I remember this one time I heard a tourist refer to it as Sweet Ass Mossy Canyon, which I must say is an almost precise description of the place. The exact translation, however, is ‘Feather River Canyon’ and this one stands as one of the most striking canyons of Iceland. Even though you will have to build up the energy and courage to hike up it, but the stunning scenery is going to be worth it! It’s also breathtaking during the winters:
In order to reach it, you will have to drive towards Kirkjubæjarklaustur, a lovely village on the south-east coast. If you are on the route from Reykjavík, the canyon should be on your left hand side just before you reach Kirkjubæjarklaustur (Church Town Convent).

17. Þjórsárdalur valley and the waterfalls

One breathtaking view. Þjórsárdalur valley is alive with amazing waterfalls that are overlooked by the flocks of tourists. The waterfall inside Gjáin canyon is one of these (the canyon is wonderful too by itself). Háifoss waterfall (Iceland’s second highest waterfall, 122 meters tall) and Granni waterfall that’s a stone throw away are also veiled treasures of Iceland. Next is the waterfall Hjálp that’s a little further down the valley. Last of all is Þjófafoss (Thief waterfall) that is situated on the other side of the mountain Búrfell.

What’s good is that all of these waterfalls are in the same area, and so can be reached easily. Roads 32 and 26, a 2-3 hour drive from Reykjavík will take you there.

18. Rauðisandur beach

As you might already know, Iceland is very popular for its black sandy beaches – but there are also a lot of white beaches in the country – plus this red one in the Westfjords. The color can even play a trick on your eyes! It may seem white, orange, yellow or very red, depending on the nature and intensity of the daylight.

To be frank, there is not much there to see besides the sand – so if you want to go to a totally peaceful and serene beach, one where there are no vendors or shops to disturb you, then you can go alone, for a walk here. If 10 km of just sand isn’t doing quite the work for you, you can even travel a little more and go to Látrabjarg cliff, and walk amongst thousands of puffins during the summer. The most convenient way to get to Rauðisandur is either by driving all of the Westfjords, or by taking the ferry Baldur from Stykkishólmur to Brjánslækur and drive from there. There is a chance that the area may not be accessible during wintertime. Also, it is a 4WD will be a wise choice.

19. Flatey island

A visit to Flatey island (Flat island) is somewhat going to take you back in time, it will take you back to the place Iceland was in the 1900’s. This little island in Breiðafjörður bay has occasional occupancy. During the summertime, it gets buzzing, particularly with shutterbugs – while in wintertime, perhaps only 5 people dwell there. When I say ‘A little busy’, I mean a few dozen people – or maybe a 100, but that’s it. It may come off as a shocker but many concerts are held in the island from time to time, these are some things that take place almost every week of the summer. There is one road on the island, but no vehicles are permitted (it is only 2km long and a few hundred meters wide) and up until now, there was no cell phone reception in the island. Walk around the island, have a peek into the congregation perhaps and the small library, relax as you watch the sea and the birds flying in the vast horizon over you, clear your head, unwind, greet the friendly elves and don’t pass up on the fish of the day at Hótel Flatey. In order to get there, you must take the ferry Baldur from Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, or from Brjánslækur in the Westfjords. In the event that you are driving around Iceland, you can leave your car at the ferry and they will deliver your car at the other end of the bay (in either Stykkishólmur or Brjánslækur) where you can pick it up later in the day or even after a few days provided that you decide to spend a little more time on the island. From Stykkishólmur it’s 1,5 hours on the ferry, from Brjánslækur it’s 1 hour on the ferry.

20. Þakgil camping ground

Þakgil, Roof Canyon, is an astounding camping ground located in the south of Iceland. This area being not far from the village Vík, is easily accessible if (in case you are heading east from Vik) you make a turn left after about 6 km from leaving Vík. Drive along that road for almost 14 km, past some abandoned Game of Thrones set until you reach a sumptuous green flat valley bounded by small rivers and rocky mountains. The area is covered and protected from the wind and there is also a cave to dine inside! You might just have to be riding your own car to get there.