Top 5 Less-Touristy Spots in Iceland You Need to Visit

Iceland is beautiful. There's no doubt about that. On one hand you have a luxurious Blue Lagoon set amongst a rugged lava landscape and on the other you have floating glacier lakes with snow capped mountains as the backdrop. But, besides seeing these miracles of nature, the best thing you can do in Iceland is to rent a car and take your time driving the open country road. 
No journey to Iceland is complete without having the freedom to explore the unexplored and having the ability to pull over and pet the Icelandic horses. So, that being said, here are my top 5 less touristy spots you shouldn't miss out on!

1. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Think, slow motion music video, sheer cliffs covered in plush moss overlooking emerald green waters, Justin Bieber fearlessly jogging to the edge. Breathtaking. And even if you're not a belieber (pffft you're not kidding anyone) you definitely want to make a stop here. 

2. Jökulsárlón Glacier River Lagoon

True to its name, Jökulsárlón is a magnificent river-lagoon hybrid that houses massive bobbing pieces of glacier. And if you're lucky enough, you might catch a seal and its pup sunbathing on it's surface.

3. Mývatn Mud Pots

You don't need to go far or to have studied for 18 years to fulfil your dreams of one day becoming Chris Hadfield because there is no way I was still on Earth standing next to the Mývatn Mud Pots.

4. Laufás Turf House

Any turf homes will do, really, but there's just something that screams iconic Iceland about them. They're just so curiously amazing, anyone else? I think they're spectacular. Sue me.

5. Hellnar to Arnarstapi Walk

Hellnar is an ancient fishing village with a cluster of old houses and buildings situated close to Arnarstapi on the westernmost part of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Take the incredible 60 minute walk yourself and end with the cutest cup of tea and homemade waffles in a quaint little cafe overlooking the water. You will not be disappointed!

9 Day Iceland Itinerary: Driving the Ring Road

Day 1: Reykjavik & The Blue Lagoon

I'd highly recommend jumping off the plane and hopping over  to the Blue Lagoon to spend the morning relaxing. Nothing beats jet lag better then bathing in silica and a 24 hour open bar. The facilities are heavenly for rinsing off afterwards in preparation for exploring Reykjavik. Stroll the cobblestone streets, eat a hot dog or two and end your first day with a local pub crawl!

  1. 1. Relax at The Blue Lagoon
  2. 2. Stroll Reykjavik (check out these tips to enjoying everything Reykjavik has to offer)
  3. 3. End the night with an epic pub crawl in the city

Where to Spend the Night: 

Reykjavik can get expensive, so skip the glitz and glam and spend the night at Hlemmur Square for about CAD $50.00. An upscale hostel with a bar attached and walking distance to anywhere in the city centre. There's also a 24h parking garage close by #convenient

  1. Hlemmur Square Reykjavik
  2. 105 Laugavegur, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland

Day 2: The Golden Circle

Get up early and start your roadie off right! The Golden Circle is an absolute must so here's my personal guide to driving it! It will take about 3 hours to drive total (not including stops) so be sure to leave lots of room to get out of the car and enjoy!

  1. 1. Þingvellir National Park 
  2. 2. Geysers At Haukadalur 
  3. 3. Gullfoss Waterfall
  4. 4. Kerið Crater Lake

Where to Spend the Night: 

Spend the night at Ljósafossskóli, a former boarding school converted into a hostel, for about CAD $62.00. I absolutely adored this place, with its spectacular environment, lake and mountain scenery and the odd glimpse of the Northern Lights during the winter time. The perfect stop along The Golden Circle.

  1. Ljosafossskoli Hostel, Selfoss 
  2. 801 Úlfljótsvatn, Iceland 

Day 3: Waterfalls, Waterfalls and More Water

Don't forget your rain jacket, today will be a wet one. First up is, Seljalandfoss, the best known waterfall in Iceland and the one you can walk behind during summer.  To the left of Seljalandfoss, and within walking distance, is Gljúfrafoss, which is hidden away in a cave between a cracked cliff. Next, hop back in the car and head to Skogafoss, one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland. Once you're seen enough waterfalls for a lifetime head to Iceland's oldest pool Seljavallalaug for an afternoon dip! Here is everything you need to know about getting there! Spend the night relaxing and treating yourself to some science views from one of my favourite spots in Iceland: The Garage.

  1. 1. Seljalandfoss & Gljúfrafoss Waterfall
  2. 2. Skogafoss Waterfall
  3. 3. Go swimming in Iceland's oldest pool Seljavallalaug
  4. 4. Relax and enjoy South Iceland from your room at The Garage

Where to Spend the Night: 

The Garage was my favourite stay in Iceland! Read why I love this place so much here

  1. The Garage
  2. Varmahlíð South Coast, 861 Varmahlíð, Iceland

Day 4: Plane Wrecks,  Black Sand Beaches, Canyons & Lagoons

Wakey Wakey, no time for breaky. Get en route to the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck, trust me you want to beat the crowds to get those instaworthy shots (and please, don't get lost on your way over there, read this map before you go). Jump back in the car and head to the Reynisdrangar Sea Cliffs which stand under the Reynisfjall Mountain, at the end of a dramatic stretch of black sand beach. The towering, spiky basalt sea stacks jut out from the ocean 66 meters in air and have a tale of folklore to go along with them. Take a pit stop in Vik for lunch as you pass through onwards to the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. This is one of those places you don't find in the brochures, and don't see many photos of, but that's one of the reasons it's that much more magical when you get there. Last stop of the day, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, which speaks for itself. Amazing. To eat, stop off in the lobster capital and seaside town of Hofn to grab a bite to eat at Pakkhús Restaurant! You gotta try their Skyr Volcano Dessert. Still. Drooling.

  1. 1. Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck 
  2. 2. Reynisdrangar Black Sand Beach
  3. 3. Explore the city of Vik & stop for lunch
  4. 4. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
  5. 5. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
  6. 6. Explore the city of Hofn & stop for dinner

Where to Spend the Night: 

By the time you're done with this larger than life day, you're probably not going to want to be driving hours in the dark on winding roads with no guard rails to your hotel (as we did...) so my suggestion and word of advice, would be to find something in Hofn. We stayed at the Hotel Framtid for about CAD $80, which other than being too far, we had a great stay! 

  1. Framtid Hotel
  2. Vogalandi 4, 765 Djúpivogur, Iceland 

Day 5: Eastern Fjords

Today have your pick at any of the Eastern Fjords! The fantastic driving scene starts shortly after leaving Hofn. Look at puffins close-up and see reindeer! The east is the only place in Iceland where you can see herds of wild reindeer roaming about, it's true! By now most people would have u-turned back to Reykjavik, so be prepared for the road conditions ahead. Stop off in the capital of East Iceland, Egilsstaðir, at Cafe Nielsen (Egilsstaðir‘s oldest house) for some afternoon tea or a quick cup of joe before heading out on your drive down the fjords.

Because of the winter conditions, we decided on only Seyðisfjörður for the day (and night) mainly because of the small, cute and blue church found there! If you like churches and old-fashioned architecture it is definitely worth the drive out to see. There are also a lot of hikes and you can do weather dependent!

  1. 1. Exlpore Egilsstaðir & stop for coffee or a bite to eat
  2. 2. Seyðisfjörður

Where to Spend the Night: 

We spent the night in Seyðisfjörður at the Hafaldan HI Hostel for about CAD $70. This way we were able to roam freely and not worry about a drive out of the fjord ... until the morning.

  1. Hafaldan HI Hostel
  2. Suðurgata 8, Seydisfjordur, Iceland

Day 6: The Myvatn Area A.K.A. Mars

On the 6th day we were ready to jump head first into an Icelandic thermal bath. Our feet deserved it. But, not before taking a walk around Mars at the Myvatn Hveraröndor Hverir. Like. So. Cool. But smelly. After relaxing in the nature baths we headed on to Akureyri, finishing off our driving for a little while.

  1. 1. Myvatn Hveraröndor Hverir
  2. 2. Myvatn Nature Baths

Where to Spend the Night: 

There is not much around Northen Iceland so you'll want to make your way to Akureyri and call it home for a couple of nights! We stayed at the Akureyri Backpackers for 2 nights, which came to about CAD $100.00 each, PLUS a free beer at their bar!

  1. Akureyri Backpackers
  2. Hafnarstraeti 98, 600 Akureyri, Iceland

Day 7: Wander Akureyki & Turf Homes

After moving everyday, spend two nights in Akureyri, the capital of North Iceland and the second largest city after Reykjavik! There are tons of things to do in this quaint little city all accessible by foot. And the restaurant scene is endless, so get your hungry on. Visit Akureyrarkirkja, the church designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, who also designed the famous Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavik. Venture out to the grass-topped farmhouses (Laufás Turf Homes) that defined Iceland or book a whale watching tour while in town!

  1. 1. Explore Akureyri and its charm
  2. 2. Check out the Turf Homes
  3. 3. End the night with an 

Where to Spend the Night: 

  1. Akureyri Backpackers
  2. Hafnarstraeti 98, 600 Akureyri, Iceland

Day 8: Snaefellsnes Peninsula 

It's back to that driving grind! Wake up, grab some breaky, chug your coffee and hit the road. It's time to see the most photographed mountain in Iceland. But first head down to Budir where the famous black church lies next to snowy mountains. Keep on heading on towards Hellnar and Arnarstapi which are both old fishing towns that have walking trails between them right beside the coast. You will not be disappointed! Have lunch at the coziest little cafe, Fjoruhusid, and be sure to get their yummy homemade waffles and jam! And then onward to Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss to see Iceland's iconic mountain.

  1. 1. Budir's Black Church
  2. 2. Check out the Turf Homes
  3. 3. Kirkjufell & Kirkjufellsfoss

Where to Spend the Night: 

Options are slim in this neck of the woods so many people make the drive back to Reykjavik once they finish Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Don't pass up the chance to stay amongst the natural beauty of Iceland. Kast Guesthouse is the perfect way to end your trip! So why not splurge a little? One night comes to about CAD $90.

  1. Kast Guesthouse
  2. 356 Lysudalur, Lýsudalur, Iceland

Day 9: Head Back to Reykjavik  

Sleep in and enjoy your last morning in Iceland before driving back to Reykjavik and hopping on your flight home! Pet that last horse, eat that last hotdog and let the water works begin. Because who wants to leave a place like this?

My Iceland Travel Vlog Here!

Read This: Big Little Lies

I chose this book, mainly because it was set in Australia, but also because I was in Australia at the time lounging by the pool with nothing to do. And maybe because it's a mini series on HBO and won  some awards. But, mostly because my friend Sara (who undeniably has the best taste in most things) recommended it to me.

At first glance it's a momdram (re: mom drama). Total yawn, but I was quickly surprised as I read further into the 400 pages (lord have mercy). And hey, it caught my attention, with its quick wit and serious topic discussion, I couldn't put it down. It also does a good job at bouncing through an array of emotions because I found myself obsessed in the downward spiral of each character. Janet Maslin of The New York Times summed it up pretty well: "[It's] a seemingly fluffy book [which] suddenly touches base with a vicious reality.”

Secondly, I liked it because it dove right into, as Madeline puts, “[the] many levels of evil in the world.” There's something to be said for an author who can put pen to paper about things many of us internalize, but never speak of. There's the good things, virtuousness or righteousness, versus the evil things, viciousness or unrighteousness.  Two diametrically opposed terms or things, used for morally judging an action committed by some intelligently and willfully operating agent, a.k.a. human beings. To say a thing is good is to voice approval and encouragement of that act, whereas to say that some thing is evil, voices disapproval and condemnation. But what if nothings said about that thing? The implications of Madeline's statement are seen all over the novel’s different storylines and characters. You, as the reader have the choice to read into these tiny things or let them float onward on the fluffy cotton candy cloud over your head. You become the voice, what is good thing, what is evil thing, and the novel enlists this responsibility onto you, as the reader. It's funny to think a book can be so adjacent to the lives we live everyday. It's haunting to compare your neighbours and friends to the characters in the book and wonder what their secrets are. What are their big little lies? I mean, we all wonder, right.

So What's it All About?

Well, Madeline is one hell of a force to be reckoned with. Celeste is just drop dead gorgeous. And then there’s Jane, who’d would rather sink into life’s dark shadows. But, despite their differences, these three women’s lives have intertwined into a twisted tale of friendship. Who thought this would end in a murder? Ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

So You've Read Big Little Lies:

What are your thoughts?

How Not to Get Lost on Your Way to the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck Iceland

Life Lessons: 1. The road less travelled is not always the road you should take. 2. If you plan on climbing a plane crash, bring gloves.
Yes. Those are the 2 major lessons we learned while trying to find a plane crash on a beach. I mean pffft, how hard could it be? We did our research. But, no blog, no person, not even Google Maps or Alexa was able to lay it out straight for us. So we got out of our car at the 'said-to-be-parking-lot' and hopped the 'said-to-be-locked-fence' and giggled off into the abyss. Two hours later, it's pelting rain-hail. We're climbing sand dunes. We're crossing a freezing cold river in our bare feet. My feet look like blueberry muffins.
Where the F is this ginormous plane? 
That whole experience was just a huge L O L because when we finally did find it, there was a really nice path with beautiful yellow reflectors that leads you right back to the beautiful carpark.

Now, a brief history (because A. history is cool) of how it all went down. Literally. Sorry, not funny. On Saturday Nov 24, 1973, the United States Navy Douglas Super DC-3 airplane was forced to land on Sólheimasandur’s black sand beach due to ... well no one really has an exact answer. Some say the plane simply ran out of fuel after the pilot switched to the wrong fuel tank and others say it had to land because of a nasty ice storm it was flying through. Whatever the reason, the crew survived the impact, but the plane was abandoned rather than recovered. And there it lies still.

So, How Do You Get There? 

It's extremely simple nowadays. After becoming a dream location for photographers and visitors world wide, Iceland has taken to it to make sure you can find your way. No problem. Easy peasy. Just make sure you're prepared to walk about an hour to the plane, and an hour back. Lace up those Asics people.

The Sólheimasandur wreckage is located on the south coast between Skógafoss and Vík. When going East on Route 1 of the Ring Road from Reykjavik, you'll cross a bridge and see the turnoff for Sólheimajökull on your left. About 2km further, there will be a turnoff with a gate on your right. This is the parking lot and you'll be able to tell. There're signs and garbage cans now so you shouldn't miss it, but just in case here are the coordinates: 63.4912391,-19.3632810

Now, get ready to walk. In the wind. On a sandy beach. For an hour. The path you're going to take has nice yellow reflectors to keep you on track so you don't get lost. Cause you might. It's about 4km to the plane, with never ending views of the black sand beach. So enjoy it, becasue you won’t spot the wreckage until the last minute because it’s hidden behind a sand dune near the edge of the ocean.

Get there early and beat the crowds, that's my advice! And if you want to climb to the top of the plane, bring some gloves. There are holes at the back left of the plane that someone must have carved out so you can stick your foot in there and hoist yourself up!

Definitely take some time to soak up all the black sand beaches, especially in Vik. We loved them, they're so unique and mysteriously beautiful.

Let me know how your experience here went!

This is the Best Place to Stay in Iceland: The Garage

This country is perfect in every way. From the rolling hills off the set of Teletubbies to the small towns settled on the tips of the Fjords, Iceland and their glorious hotdog stands should be at the top of everyone's bucket list.
But, if I had to look back on my trip and choose the one memory that stands out most ... well to be honest, I just can't. It is, however, those moments when you get to "live like a local" that stick with you. And when people ask "How was Iceland?" it's the first story I tell them.
So, here is one of my favourites. It's called The Garage.
Located in Varmahlíð, which is about 24 miles from  Vík, The Garage is magically tucked under the hills of Southern Iceland overlooking the loomy sea. It was Sam's (my sister) birthday and I thought we'd splurge (just a little bit) from hostels and cheap hotels for the night, so she could turn 23 in a comfortable bed. So, I booked the little secret guesthouse for us #greatsister
Rolling up to the The Garage I couldn't bare the cuteness of it all. Siggi had let us in, showed us around and left us to warm our toes. We stayed in 'Axel's Room' and read how The Garage had been in their family for years and years. You can really feel the history seeping out of this place. And just as we were about to take our fist sip of hot chocolate, we heard a knock at the door.

Siggi was back! And he was loaded with questions. What are you up to tonight night? Have you been to the plane wreck? Do you want to go fishing with my wife Anna? Uhm yes I want to go fishing with Anna, where is she? Lead me to her! I want a real Icelandic experience. Well, I want a real Icelandic experience that's not going to be the death of me. So, thank god for only having one extra pair of waders because Sam went off into the abyss, while I took snapchats.

And, well, Sam came back with loads of fish and hardly any sensation in her fingers. I want to be an Icelandic woman when I grow up, they're badass.
After the days events came to a close, Anna ripped us around in her truck fish flying around in the back and all. She dropped us off back at The Garage and asked us to come for dinner. A home made meal, you got to be kidding me! 
Now, I'm not just saying this but, it was truly the most scrumptious meal I have ever sank my canines into. Sorry mom. We chatted over the fish we caught (correction: they caught), laughed over large glasses of wine and gobbled up the cream eggs Anna and Siggi spread out for dessert. 
We really didn't want to leave the next morning. And we were wishing we didn't have to stick to such a tight schedule, but all good things must come to an end. Well, until the next time.
I will say that I've never felt so welcome somewhere so strange in all my life. Two of the most genuine people I have ever met showed me parts of them and parts of their everyday lives, for free. No catch. And they were excited about it. That's one of the reasons I love travelling. Not only do you meet amazing people, but you see people being excited about life and being excited about having you learn from them. I think that's pretty cool.
So, I think yes, The Garage, was my favourite memory from Iceland.