PREPARE TO EXPLORE
Choose your own adventure travel blog
As I prepare for my third trip to Iceland in two years, I’m always looking for new and interesting places to explore in the Land of Fire and Ice.
And as more and more tourist fall in love with Iceland, they are coming back for repeat trips. But after the Blue Lagoon, Penis Museum and Gulfoss what is there to see? A lot.
Here’s my breakdown of waterfalls, geothermal pools, beautiful drives and more to explore after your first trip to Iceland.
Cave exploring 10 minutes from Reykjavik
Maríuhellar (also known as Mary Caves) are a series of lava channel caves in Svínahraun.
I stumbled upon Maríuhellar while killing time on my second trip to Iceland. While the caves aren’t very deep, they make for incredible pictures and a fun experience. Make sure to bring hiking shoes, as the rocks can be slippery.
Do geothermal pools like the locals
As I’ve explored in another blog post, most local Icelanders don’t go to the ritzy, expensive geothermal spas that tourists flock to (see: The Blue Lagoon). They opt for an affordable, traditional and community-oriented experience.
If you really want to check out geothermal pools used daily by Icelanders, you’ll have to go to local recreation center. That’s right, rec centers. Many small towns and villages across the country have their own local recreation centers. Local kids take their swimming classes there and adults file in to get their sweat on in outdoor geothermal pools. Leave your cameras and GoPros at home. Just relax.
My personal favorite is Arbaejarlaug, located about 15 minutes from downtown Reykjavik. It’s less than $10 for the day.
Drive south on Route 1
Don’t have time to do the entire Ring Road, no problem!
Just do a road trip down south on Route 1 to Vik. The most incredible part about driving south on Route 1 is the different landscapes you’ll see. You’ll drive through everything from black sand beaches and moss covered lava fields to snowy mountains and sun soaked meadows.
There are a number of waterfalls (my favorite is Skogafoss), beautiful landscapes, charming towns, picturesque scenery and a lot more. But make sure to take advantage of gas station and restaurant bathrooms, there aren’t much places to stop for food or drinks along the way. The journey takes about five hours from Reykjavik (not including stops).
Explore the sights, sounds and smells of geothermal areas
The Iceland countryside is dotted with geothermal areas. These areas -- unlike those turned into spas -- are too hot to host swim trunked guests but are incredible to look view. The bubbling mud pots, hot springs and sulfur deposits creates beautiful green-, red- and yellow-hued soil.
I recommend Krysuvik in the west and Deildartunguhver in the north.
Drive north and explore
There’s a lot more to Iceland than just Reykjavik. So if you have good weather, make sure you explore the countryside.
I recommend driving 90 minutes north from Reykjavik. Similar to the drive down south, you’ll have the opportunity to see so many of Iceland’s natural wonders that most tourists never make the effort to check out. While there is plenty to see along the way, including the Deildartunguhver geothermal area. Must visits also include the Hraunfossar and Barnafossar waterfalls. Stunning.
Expert tip: There’s a $10 toll to drive north. The good news is they take credit and debit cards at the toll booth.
What are your favorite spots in Iceland? Comment below!
Hey! I'm Christian.