Iceland was our Covid trip. You know, the one that got canceled and you thought you would just push back for a year and then that got canceled again? So basically, we had a whole three years to plan, look up photos, read way too many blog articles, tag locations on Google Maps after seeing them on Instagram and go completely crazy waiting for the trip to finally happen. Let's just say, when we got there, we were prepared and ready to go EVERYWHERE! So this article is for the places that don't usually figure in the guide book, but that I believe deserve a chance.
Hveragerdi geothermal park
rHveragerdi is a village build in a hot zone, which means that it has geothermal activity. Actually, it is so hot that there are three naturally heated swimming pools and a geyser in the middle of the village! The surrounding mountains are smoking and almost every yard has its own greenhouse, isn't that so cool? So while some of the springs in Hveragerdi Geothermal Park have gone dry since an earthquake in 2008, it was one of the rare places that we saw in Iceland that explained geothermal energy and that had little activities that helped understand how it works and how it helped the inhabitants of Iceland survive in such a harsh climate. You can visit the greenhouse, cook an egg in a hot spring, taste bread baked in steam, take a foot mud bath and put you feet in a warm spring, and understand life in the region. It is a pretty short visit and costs a few dollars, but it reminded me of the Land pavilion in EPCOT in Disney World and I loved it.
I had never seen this waterfall anywhere on internet and we just happened to see it on a sign while in Seljalandfoss and decided to check it out. It was complete luck that we saw it, and it turned out to be one of my favorite spots in Iceland. Gljufrabui is located in the same park as Seljalandfoss, but being completely hidden by the canyon walls and only reachable if you walk in the water, most people don't visit even though it is really pretty and quite easy to reach with hiking boots and a rain jacket. Honestly, it's worth getting splashed!
reykjadalur hot spring thermal river
The Blue Lagoon and Myvatn Baths are absolute musts when visiting Iceland, but one thing I really wanted to do was swim in a natural hot spring. We went to Seljavallalaug swimming pool, but since the water source is broken, the water is quite cold and really murky. So when I found Reykjadalur while looking for things to do on Google Maps, I decided we had to go! I honestly thought it would be close to the road and easy to reach, but the river is actually a 45-minute hike up a mountain away from the parking lot. I recommend hiking boots, at least a full bottle of water and some snacks. Like most things in Iceland, you need to earn the beautiful things you want to see, but they are worth it and these hot springs are no exception. The hike is not technical, the trail is large and well maintained, but it is pretty steep in some places. Once you get to the spring, though, you forget all the effort that it took to get there as you soak in the warm shallow water. It is so relaxing and the view is great!
Even though there were quite a few people while we were there, it never felt crowded as there are so many little basins separated by rocks. There are no changing room or bathrooms, but there are some screens were you can change out of your bathing suit before the walk back. I recommend putting on your bathing suit before you leave and bringing a change of underwear. Water shoes or flip flop/crocs are also a good idea to walk on the rocks.
Grjotagja is a grotto filled with bright blue water near Myvatn Nature Baths. Unfortunately, swimming is prohibited, but visiting is free of charge and it is a beautiful, quick stop while in the Myvatn area in Northern Iceland. The sun shines through the entrance of the grotto and allows you to see all the way to the bottom of the clear water. The water is also warm as bath water and steam rises form it.
Glymur is one of my favorite waterfalls in Iceland and features in my top ten waterfalls as you can see here. It is the beautiful reward you receive after an hour long hike. Although the hike isn't hard for most people with a normal fitness level, it is pretty technical. You do need to cross a river on a tree trunk and hold onto ropes as you hike up so I would recommend having done some hiking in small mountains before. Otherwise, the view is gorgeous all the way up and there are a few other people hiking along, but it isn't crowded. The descent was fairly easy as you can use the ropes to rappel down the steeper inclines. You do need proper hiking boots, snacks and plenty of water. When we visited in September we found it was warm, but you would need proper clothing according to the weather.
Unfortunately, it was raining pretty heavily the day we visited and the visibility was horrible (so bad that we drew an arrow in the sand pointing to the parking lot so we wouldn't have a hard time finding it on the way back), but Meleyri Beach is a beautiful black sand beach that stretches on for miles. It isn't as popular as other beaches like Reynisfjara so you could have the place completely to yourself!
Honestly, there are so many incredible things to see in Iceland, that you probably don't need to add anything to your already packed itinerary, but these are places that we found by chance and that I am so happy we found! You won't be disappointed!
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