Do you feel like exploring some really cool places usually not mentioned in any of the typical Icelandic tourist books? Then pack some warm clothes, good hiking shoes/boots, a map, GPS (get directions just in case) and remember to take your cellphone along because there are sites around Reykjavík city really worth visiting. Here are our top five recommendations.
1. Reykjadalur, Hveragerði.
Your boots are made for walking and the walk up to a warm river ideal for bathing and surrounded by some hot scenery will not leave you disappointed. You can drive to Hveragerði by yourselves and walk from there to Reykjadalur or join one of the most popular tours: White night hiking. Oh and in case you were wondering the are no guards patroling the area. So if you should accidentally forget your bathing suit …. Well, don’t worry to much about it (wink, wink).
Where: Drive to Hveragerði and walk from there to Reykjadalur or join a tour.
2. Lambafellsgjá, Reykjanes.
Has walking in a horrific drift surrounded by lava been a dream ever since you can remember? Then this is your chance! The surroundings at Lambafellsgjá are like you have never seen before and sure to stir a bit of excitement – even romance. The walk takes around one hour and is ideal for both experienced hikers and beginners.
Where: Drive south of Reykjavik, in the same direction as Keflavík airport.
3. Álafoss-kvos, Mosfellsbær.
This might be one of the most romantic hidden gems of all. From one of the busiest streets out of Reykjavík city you will find yourself listening to calm river sound from Varmá river, while you drink coffee at the café or look at Icelandic knitted sweaters at the Álafoss store. The world famous band Sigur Ros (with openly gay frontman Jónsi) converted a swimming pool to a studio at Álafoss-kvos. And there they recorded one of their most prestigious albums to date called ( ).
Where: Drive Vesturlandsvegur from Reykjavík to Mosfellsbær. It’s on your right side.
4. Tröllabörn, Lækjarbotnar.
Just a 15 minutes drive from Reykjavik there are small caves and tunnels called “Tröllabörn” or Troll Children. The caves which were formed by volcanic eruptions and earth quakes are over 4500 years old and are preserved by law. If we want to get geological then “tröllabörn” are called “hornito”. The name Troll Children is derrived from Icelandic folklore which says that trolls live there. But don’t be alarmed trolls have absolutely no ambition – except for sleeping. And while we’re on the subject of trolls, they are believed to be as old as the land itself and the troll moms are thought to carry their children 5 times longer than humans. Oh, and after trolls are born they don’t walk for 10 whole years or talk for 20 years!
Where? Drive Suðurlandsvegur until you reach a sign on your right saying Lækjarbotnar. The caves are next to the road.
5. Hellisgerði, Hafnarfjörður.
After visiting Tröllabörn, “the home of the Icelandic trolls”, you might find it interesting to visit Hellisgerði, a small park, somtimes referred to as a home to Icelandic elves, in Hafnarfjörður town. Walk the wonderful path by the pond to find tiny caves and magical nooks in the lava. Who knows, perhaps you’ll notice elves, dwarves or other magical beings on the way.
Where: Hellisgerði is in the town of Hafnarfjörður, which is 10-15 min driving distance from Reykjavík city.
Main photo/Courtesy of Icelandic adventure and activity company Arctic Adventures.