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Lesser known Iceland

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The first time we went to visit Iceland we had limited time and concentrated mainly into covering the most well-known tourist attractions around the ring road. During our second visit we wanted to explore more of the lesser-known Icelandic sightseeing places. Not being able to find much information online about how to get to certain spots and trying to guess it ourselves at times, we decided to summerize our experiences in a short blog to help out anyone who wants to see these places.

Guide index:

1. Reykjadalur Hot River

GPS LocationParking: 64.021995, -21.213443 - Reykjadalur Hot River: 64.047853, -21.222048 Driving time and distance on gravel road Accessible with any type of car Hiking time and distance Hiking: 4km (60-90min) - Difficulty: 3/5 Entrance fee Entrance fee: Free!

Get ready for a bit of a walk for this one! On your drive in you already got to see lots of steam coming from everwhere, and as soon as you get out of the car you're almost directly surounded by warm rivers and boiling mudpits.

Just follow the path up for 750 meters (~10 minutes) and this is where the real hike begins. It's more of a hike than you might expect it to be with the path going up and down, but the walk itself is beautiful. After hiking for about 3 kilometers from the parking lot, you'll get to a warm stream. It starts of lukewarm, but the further upstream you go, the warmer it gets. So be patient with taking off your clothes and jumping in.

Photos from our visit:
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2. Hjalparfoss

GPS LocationParking: 64.114561, -19.853671 - Hjalparfoss: 64.115898, -19.849588 Driving time and distance on gravel road Gravel road: 1km (2min) - Accessible with any type of car Hiking time and distance Hiking: 0.1km (2-5min) - Difficulty: 1/5 Entrance fee Entrance fee: Free!

Hjalparfoss is a unique waterfall in the sense that it's actually two seperate waterfalls joining in a elliptical pool. You'll get a great front-on view directly from the parking lot and while walking down towards the waterfall.

Don't follow Google Maps blindly, because it might lead you to a small patch of gravel directly next to the main road. About 100 meters east of the bridge there should be a sign. Turn on to the gravel road and follow it for 1 kilometer, this shouldn't take more than 2 minutes. It'll lead you straight to the parking lot, giving you a beautiful view of the waterfall. Just follow the path and stairs down for a closer view.

Photos from our visit:
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7. Seljavallalaug swimming pool

GPS LocationParking: 63.5657689, -19.6074359 - Seljavallalaug swimming pool: 63.559819, -19.6208085 Driving time and distance on gravel road Gravel road: 2km (5min) - Accessible with any type of car Hiking time and distance Hiking: 0.8km (15-20min) - Difficulty: 2/5 Entrance fee Entrance fee: Free!

This is one of the oldest outdoor swimming pools in Iceland (built in 1923). We wanted to visit it for a long time but thought it was a bit difficult to get to and we expected a long hike. It turned out it’s actually not as remote as we thought at all and is located in between Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, so you could easily combine them. To get there you’d need to drive on a gravel road for 5 minutes (we had a 4x4 but the road was pretty good so a normal car should also be fine unless there’s snow). At the end of the gravel road there’s a small parking place and then you’d have to hike for about 15-20 minutes to get to the swimming pool itself. The trail is not marked but is quite intuitive and very easy, you’d have to cross a small stream and you’d be able to see the warm water pipes after about 10-15 minutes. However, you won’t be able to see the pool itself up until you’re almost there.

Photos from our visit:
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8. Kvernufoss

GPS Location Parking: 63.5281003, -19.481834 - Kvernufoss: 63.525389, -19.491222 Driving time and distance on gravel road Easily accessible with any type of car Hiking time, distance and difficulty Hiking: 0.75km (10-15min) - Difficulty: 2/5 Entrance fee Entrance fee: Free!

Kvernufoss is the much less visited but equally beautiful neighbor of Skógafoss. The best thing about it: You can walk behind it, giving you an amazing view! Most beautiful during sunset, when the sun illuminates the valley.
Both times we went there, there were no other tourists, so figuring out how to get there was tricky. You can park the car at the end of the Skogar Museum parkinglot, next to the hangars. Directly behind the very last building you'll find a small ladder that takes you over the fence. Keep left and follow the path to the stream. From here on you just need to follow the path and it takes you straight to Kvernufoss.

Photos from our visits:
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