Getting away from well-known attractions and visiting hidden Iceland on you family vacation can make your trip more memorable. With Iceland’s untouched natural beauty, you can see more of the country without the crowds.
This incredible country is a popular tourist destination, but many visitors miss out on some of the lesser-known attractions that make the country truly unique. If you’re planning a family vacation and want to experience Iceland in a whole new way, it’s time to discover hidden Iceland.
By getting off the beaten track and exploring lesser-known destinations, you can enjoy a more authentic and memorable trip with your family.
In this blog post, I will share some of the best hidden gems in Iceland that you and your family can visit to create a one-of-a-kind travel experience.
My Top Recommendations for Hidden Iceland Family Vacations
Iceland is known for its unique landscapes, including glaciers, waterfalls, hot springs, and geysers.
Visiting hidden Iceland with your family is great because you can have a more personal and intimate experience of these incredible natural wonders.
Studlagil Canyon is a jaw-dropping vista of pitch-black basalt columns that look like they have come straight out of an epic fantasy novel. This unique place in Iceland is also a protected wildlife reserve for Arctic Foxes.
Carved out by a glacial river over thousands of years, the canyon is home to spectacular basalt rock formations and crystal-clear blue water that will take your breath away.
Take a hike along the canyon trails and explore the amazing colors and patterns that the rocks have formed over time, or venture down to the river and raft your way through the canyon’s stunning landscape.
With its unforgettable scenery and unique geological features, Studlagil Canyon is a must-see destination for families looking to experience the natural beauty of Iceland.
You may wonder when could be the best time of year to go to Iceland. The secluded Helluhaug Hot Spring is a must-see for nature lovers looking to soak in a natural hot pool.
This geothermal wonder in East Iceland is the perfect spot to relax after a day of exploring and take in the breathtaking views.
It may be a trek to reach the hidden gem (a 5-hour drive from Reykjavik and a 6-hour drive from Akureyri), but the trip will be well worth it once you find the stunning pool. Just be sure to plan ahead and pack snacks and activities for the kids for the ride.
This secluded pool is heated by a natural underground spring and has a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius. The water is rich in sulfur and is believed to have healing properties. The best time to visit the hot spring is from September through May when temperatures are more relaxed and crowds are thinner.
This off-the-beaten-path adventure is one of the most unique things to do in Iceland. The soundscape is something to be experienced and consists of five concrete domes designed to resonate in specific harmony as the wind passes through their openings.
Iceland is a beautiful country with iconic tourist sites, but many popular destinations can get crowded during peak seasons. Fortunately, the island is home to plenty of hidden gems such as Seljavallalaug that are just as stunning and much more secluded!
Seljavallalaug is one of Iceland’s oldest geothermal pools and the least visited swimming pool in the country. It’s only a few minutes from Skogafoss Waterfall and Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, but mountains surround it, so it’s pretty secluded. This makes it a great spot to enjoy a relaxing swim and admire the scenery!
When visiting Seljavallalaug, make sure to pack plenty of snacks and drinks. No store is nearby, so you’ll want extra food for your trip. Also, be sure to wear hiking shoes that are comfortable and durable enough for hiking on rocky terrain. Finally, bring a backpack with sunscreen, a map, and a fully charged phone.
This unique art installation is a little to look at, but it’s a fun and memorable experience in Iceland. Tvisongur consists of five concrete domes that resonate in a different harmony when the wind passes through their openings.
It’s a perfect place to visit if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path family activity that will give everyone something to remember!
Glymur Waterfall is one of Iceland’s most dramatic waterfalls, but it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when visitors think of a great day hike. You can get here in under a 3-hour drive from Reykjavik and enjoy this hidden gem far away from crowds of tourists with the freedom to explore the dramatic landscape on your own.
This is a challenging hike, but it’s worth the effort! On this adventure, you’ll cross rivers, climb mountains, and walk through a cave.
The trail to the Glymur Waterfall starts easy enough but gets noticeably more challenging as you move upriver. The second river crossing is dangerous, even in good conditions. The water is deep and fast-flowing; no log can help you navigate the rapids. Some hikers choose to wade in bare feet, but it’s not recommended for beginners.
Aside from the second river crossing, the rest of the hike is relatively simple and enjoyable for experienced hikers. If you’re up for a bit more adventure, keep going to complete the loop, as it offers more beautiful views of the Hvalfjordur fjord.
However, this option requires an extra hour of hiking and involves a much more treacherous river crossing without a bridge above the Glymur Waterfall and my be too much for young children. It’s best done in good weather with a high hiking experience.
Thjorsardalur Valley, Iceland, is one of the country’s most hidden gems. It is a beautiful oasis with much to offer visitors, including the stunning Klifbrekkufossar waterfall and natural hot springs. This is a must-see place for anyone who loves raw beauty and a true escape from civilization.
Guests can enjoy bathing in the hot springs or simply sitting by the water’s edge and watching the Northern Lights shimmer over the nearby fjord.
The valley is also home to several beautiful hiking trails, including the rounded cliffs of Gaukshofdi and Vegghamrar.
The lava caves and surrounding nature make it easy to feel like you are in another world when exploring this island area.
While the gorge is stunning, it is also quite dangerous to cross due to the unstable rock formations. For this reason, it is essential to check the weather forecast before making a trip to the site.
If you’re looking for a remote and peaceful destination away from the crowds, consider visiting the Westfjords. This region is known for its stunning fjords, deep valleys, and dramatic coastline.
Here, you can explore charming fishing villages, go hiking in unspoiled wilderness areas, and soak in hot springs surrounded by breathtaking scenery. The Westfjords offer a glimpse into Icelandic life that many travelers miss.
Vatnajökull Glacier National Park
While most visitors to Iceland go to see the popular glaciers, you can avoid the crowds by visiting the less-known Vatnajökull Glacier National Park. This park boasts the largest glacier in Europe and covers a vast area that’s home to everything from waterfalls to glacial lagoons.
You’ll discover snow-covered landscapes, ice caves, and stunning natural formations that are unique to this part of Iceland.
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Skaftafell National Park
Skaftafell National Park is another off-the-beaten-path destination that’s perfect for adventurous families. Here, you’ll find a variety of hiking trails that lead to breathtaking waterfalls, glaciers, and rugged landscapes.
The park also has several campsites that offer the perfect opportunity for kids to connect with nature and experience camping in Iceland.
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a less well-known but equally beautiful destination that’s ideal for kids and family vacations. It’s often referred to as “Iceland in miniature” because it has many of the country’s most iconic landscapes in one small region.
You can explore waterfalls, glaciers, ice caves and lava fields, see unique rock formations, and walk on black-sand beaches. It’s a great destination for a road trip, as you can see so many different landscapes in a relatively short time.
If you’re looking for a destination that’s close to the airport, consider visiting the Reykjanes Peninsula. It’s just a short drive from Keflavik Airport, and yet it’s a destination that many travelers overlook.
Here, you’ll find geothermal areas, stunning rugged coastlines, and unique natural formations. There are several hot springs in the area that you can visit, as well as a rich cultural heritage.
Other Fun Ways to Explore Iceland with the Kids
Iceland has a rich cultural heritage, and getting away from the main tourist attractions is a perfect chance to delve into the country’s history and culture. You can visit small, off-beat towns to experience Iceland’s culture and traditions.
You can also try local food, listen to music from local artists, indulge in cultural crafts like making wool products, and explore museums and art galleries that are not often crowded.
Iceland is home to many fascinating museums, but some are more family-friendly than others. Check out the Vikin Maritime Museum in Reykjavik, which features interactive exhibits, a simulator that allows you to sail a ship, and a playground.
Another must-see is the Icelandic Phallological Museum, which may sound odd but is surprisingly informative and amusing for kids. Lastly, The Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Keflavik has interactive exhibits, games, and photo ops that are perfect for family memories.
For more adventurous families, visiting hidden Iceland offers plenty of opportunities to try unique activities like horseback riding, hiking, glacier hike, ice-caving, and snowmobiling and many other private trips.
Many of these activities are not available in the touristy areas of Iceland, which are too crowded and restrictive. These activities are also often organized in small groups, which means a more personal experience for your family.
Although not a hidden gem in Iceland, no family trip to Iceland is complete without a visit to a geothermal pool. This geothermal spa is known for its warm, milky-blue waters that are rich in minerals and are said to have healing powers.
It’s also a fun and safe activity for kids of all ages, as the water is shallow and has a comfortable temperature. There are also swimming areas and water features designed specifically for kids.
The Blue Lagoon is probably the most well-known, but smaller pools such as Fontana and Seljavallalaug provide a more intimate experience.
Not only is soaking in the warm water incredibly relaxing, but it’s a fun and unique experience that your kids will not forget.
Visiting Hidden Iceland – Take the Road Less Traveled and explore off the Beaten Path with your Family
No matter which activity or hidden Iceland destination you choose, make sure to come prepared with snacks, water, and proper clothing so that you can make the most of your experience. Be sure to check for recent updates on trails and conditions before visiting, as well, to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.
While the destinations listed above are some of the best hidden Iceland gems, there are many more incredible locations to visit when you explore this remarkable country.
Everyone is responsible for respecting the natural environment to protect the sites and keep them pristine for future generations. Please do your part to ensure that the clean Icelandic environment is protected by following basic rules such as leaving no litter and staying on designated paths.
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