The spectacular beauty of Iceland leaves visitors with a lasting sense of awe, and it’s no surprise given some of the one-of-a-kind attractions on offer in this country. The Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle may be top priority for many sightseers, but don’t limit yourself to the major tourist hot spots. Going off the beaten path is always rewarding, so here are some of our favorite attractions that still fly under the holiday-maker radar.
Near the Stokksnes Peninsula, you can travel back through the ages by entering this fully reconstructed Viking village. Driving along the main route from Höfn and Djúpivogur, look out for a small gravel road which leads to a remote farm. Its existence is due to it being chosen as a film location by Hollywood producers, for a film that never got made. The impressive set is the remains of this lost production, and it is a brilliant way to let your imagination fly for an afternoon.
The Icelandic Phallological Museum
Located in one of Reykjavík’s oldest shopping districts, Laugavegur, this museum could quite possibly be one of the oddest you will come across. Within close proximity to the main bus terminal Hlemmur, this unassuming building houses some fascinating artifacts. With more than 215 penises on display, this is one of the largest collections of phallic specimens in the world. Many of which are taken from Icelandic mammals, from walrus to polar bear!
Head to the charming village of Reykholt – an hour’s drive from Borgarnes – and you’ll find this curious attraction. Thought to be the oldest human-used hot spring in the country, many believe Snorralaug’s use dates back to the 12th century. The spring has even been mentioned in the medieval writings of famed Icelander, Snorri Sturluson. Interestingly, the poet and politician created his own private tunnel leading from the spring to his home which can still be seen today.
Nestled within the heart of Reykjavik, it’s hard to believe that such a tranquil oasis exists in the lively capital. Elliðaárdalur valley can easily be reached via a city bus to the Bústaðavegur/Reykjanesbraut junction area or by taking a short ten minute drive from Downtown Reykjavik. The area is popular with walkers and cyclists because it offers a great choice of woodland paths, pretty picnic areas, and a stunning waterfall. During the summer months, a fishing license can be acquired for the river which is famed for its rich numbers of salmon and arctic char.
The Silfra Rift
The Thingvellir National Park is no secret among eager tourists, but many miss out on the opportunity to explore its most impressive natural wonder. Considered one of best scuba diving sites in the world, exploring The Silfra Rift is an underwater adventure that shouldn’t be missed. Visitors will be provided a waterproof dry suit before swimming the crystal waters between the two tectonic plates. Approximately 45km north-east of Reykjavík, this can easily be enjoyed on a day trip for those staying in the capital.
So what are you waiting for? Try one of these lesser known attractions to create your very own unconventional Icelandic adventure.
Image by Moyan Brenn used under the Creative Commons license.
James Hairworth has been a travel writer for three years. Doing his best to see every country in the world, he is currently up to his 41st, with Iceland being one of his favorites. When he’s not travelling, he’s writing in his hometown of Manchester.