Let’s talk about something more off-the beaten track, shall we?
If you rent a car in Iceland, there are a ton of cool things you can explore at a maximum 2 hours drive north from Reykjavik! If you want to do it quickly, this site has the best prices on car rentals!
Here is what I did on days 13 and 14 of my 2 weeks road trip, plus a bonus – things that you absolutely cannot miss when in Iceland, even if you have just a couple of days!
You can organize it yourself, and I will help you with that. Here, for the beginning, I have the map with the route of these two days:
Day 13 – Waterfalls and Ice caves
13.1 Hraunfossar / Barnafoss Waterfall
I have seen tons of waterfalls in my two weeks in Iceland. They are all gorgeous, but Hraunfossar is special! It comes from an underground river which comes out from underneath the edge of a lava field and spills itself into the glacial river Hvítá.
Except for being gorgeous by itself, I will remember this one as special also because of the way I found it. I was driving towards it in a pouring rain, with horrible weather. Two curves later, the rain stopped and the sun immediately broke through the clouds.
Remember, I told you about this phenomena in my tips about driving in Iceland? This created a fantastic rainbow, one with colors so strong I seriously felt like I was in a Skittles commercial! By the time I reached the parking lot, it had already faded a bit, but check it out, it’s still beautiful!
So back to the fantastic waterfall: It is actually made out of a collection of big and small cascades that spread out over 900 meters. The color of the water is indescribably bright blue, a blue I only saw in Iceland. Let’s call it Iceland blue! And the fact that the water comes out directly from the lava plain feels truly unique!
It also comes with its own story: Hraun is lava in Icelandic – ok I mentioned already what that is about. And for the second name, Barnafoss, it means “Children’s waterfall”. It takes this name from 2 children that fell into the waterfall. According to the legend, these 2 kids were left alone in the village, when all the others left to go to church on Sunday. When their parents came back, they could not find the kids any more. Everybody went to search for them and they understood what happened only when they saw footprints leading to the natural bridge, a stone arch, over the river. The children tried to cross it and they fell into the rapid waters.
Afterwards, the grief-struck mother had the bridge destroyed promising no one would ever cross those falls again.
Did that make you sad? Ok guys, cheer up, it’s a legend! Going there makes a great trip with a really special waterfall, lava fields and beautiful trails.
The waterfall is situated close to Husafell, which is about a 2-hour drive from Reykjavik.
COST: free, of course!
13.2 Lava cave
There are several lava caves in the area. You can get tours from the Fljótstunga farm on the 518 road. There, a guide will lead you to a cave made by the flowing lava after a volcanic eruption which happened long ago. Not that long, geologically speaking.
It is a cool thing to see, the lava, the hot and then the very cold air have created really unusual formations of really interesting shapes. There are smooth walls that look like they were designed to look like they were created by humans, but nope, it’s all natural.
There are also some stories about outlaws that used to live in these caves hundreds of years ago. That is much harder than it seems considering that the light does not penetrate inside the cave. If your flashlight (or torch back then) went off, that was it, you would be stuck in a pitch blackness with no way to find the entrance but feeling your way out. Ask your guide to give you a feel of what that is like by asking everybody to turn their lights off. Perfect darkness is a cool thing to experiment with… I mean, in a controlled environment, of course: D.
PRO TIP: Even now there are new discoveries of small objects inside the cave. Keep your eyes open, you might find a little piece of the past lying around.
COST: $3000 ISK (around 22 euros per person). You cannot go there without an organized tour.
13.3 Deildartunguhver – the boiling river!
Now this is one awesome natural attraction of Iceland that you must see. Plus, it’s on your way to/from Reyjkiavik when you come from the caves and Hraunfossar.
What is it? It’s just Deildartunguhver (4 euros to those who will pronounce it correct!) – Europe’s biggest hot spring!
How big is it? 180 litres per second that’s how big and strong it is!
Can you imagine what a stream of 180 liters of boiling water per seconds looks like?
It makes everything around feel like a steam bath. You can also spot it from far away by following the great steam “clouds””.
Or if for some reason you get confused by other steam clouds in the region, you will find this boiling river on the 50 road, close to where it meets the 517 and 518 roads.
Around it, everything becomes a good few degrees warmer. It was hard to take pictures because of the steam (dah) but I really recommend going there! The water is used for a geothermal plant which you can see right there, and afterwards it is carried via pipes to nearby homes to warm them up.
COST: freeee 🙂
Day 14 – Some extreme stuff and relaxing afterwards
14.1 Safari Quads adventure
Do you want to see some of the great off-road Iceland views but don’t want to pay a fortune to renting a 4×4 car?
There are some places where you cannot get to with your car, it is too far off the road. In that case taking an ATV tour can be a great solution!
I searched online for a bit and found the Safari Quad company that does ATV tours around Reykjavik. That suited me just fine and off I went!
The guide I had was truly an expert and he made sure we took care of the safety issues before the ride. Gloves, overalls and helmets will be, of course, provided.
There are many options of “quading” – from just a 1-hour get to know the surroundings to a quad adventure even for 2 days. You can do it during the winter too with hot tubs and sauna – that must be fun!
I took the Twin Peaks tour solo ride – during 2 hours you will pass through a lot of different types of terrain, from city streets to mountain tracks, rocky (rocky as in full of huge boulders) paths and very steep slopes. By the end of the trip you will reach a breathtaking mountain view on Reykjavik city and the peninsula. Great reward, don’t you think?
Is it easy? Oh yes, it is fully automatic, the ATV has just 2 buttons – stop and gas.
If I figured it out, so you can too, believe me!
COST: 22 000 ISK per person (~160 euros)
14.2 Time to relax in The Blue Lagoon
Yes, I admit, this one is definitely touristy, but it is popular for a reason right? You should not miss it, it is amazing!
So what is it all about? Well, the Blue Lagoon is a spa which lies right in the middle of a lava field. The thermal springs around this place have been turned into one of Iceland’s most popular attractions – a high quality spa center. The waters are full of minerals and this is what gives the blue color and the name of the Blue Lagoon.
It is warm and silky and a bit smelly (from all the sulfur in the water, I guess). In some parts it is very warm, quite hot I’d say. The pools are large and you can swim or just relax enjoying the hot temperatures while outside it can be even below zero. It’s a cool experience!
You have a choice of different tickets:
- Comfort – from 50 euros – That is the one I got. I think it is a pretty good deal – you get a free drink of your choice, a towel (it is REALLY cold outside, you do need a towel!), and a Skin care trial pack. The cream that comes in the pack is amazing! I used it during my 30 days Interrail trip.
- Premium – from 70 euros, you get the same as the above plus slippers and bathrobe, plus a complimentary glass of sparkling wine in the LAVA restaurant.
- Luxury – from 560 euros, if money is not a problem (you are a newly-wed, planning a proposal or celebrating a special occasion), it is probably great to try this most expensive package. It is aonce in a lifetime luxury experience as stated on the website. In addition to all the above mentioned items you will get a personal changing room, a private entrance and set of skin care products worth 54 euros.
Here is a transfer if you do not rent a car and want to get right to/from Keflavik airport (no problem to leave your luggage in the locker while you bathe).
TIP: If you are going with a child who is 13 years or younger, he or she can enter free of charge.
TIP2: If possible, come to the Blue Lagoon in the early morning, this way you will be able to enjoy it with less people and you will take great pictures! (Remember, if you are visiting Iceland in the winter, the daylight lasts only for 3-4 hours).
The inside of the Blue Lagoon is very nicely decorated, I was pleasantly surprised! Everything is new and shiny, and hair dryers, shampoos and creams are available for you to use.
There are many questions about hair, will it be destroyed after the Blue Lagoon or not? To be honest with you, I do not know if it will damage your hair. I read a lot about it and decided not to wet mine, and I think it was a good decision.
COST: See above, the cheapest entrance option is 50 euros in the winter, 85 euros in the summer.
Bonus – any day, but a MUST DO!
Here are some amazing tours that you should consider taking! I did not post them on a specific day because you can take them in many places, but it would definitely be a loss if you don’t do it!
UPDATE: Read my new blog post 10 Best Tours You Have to Take in Iceland
1. Horseback riding in Iceland
It does not really matter for me WHERE in Iceland you will do horseback riding, but please promise me you will do it!
The Icelandic horse is a breed developed in Iceland. They are special – something in between a pony and a horse, and VERY cute! They were brought by the Viking colonists over 1000 years ago to the island, and they have not been bred with any other breed ever since!
You can find some Icelandic horses outside Iceland (expensive) but you CANNOT find any normal horses inside Iceland. It is done in order to protect the breed, to keep it clean. It is illegal to import horses in Iceland. Point.
Just look at this, how can you not adore them?
No wonder why I was so excited to see them, to pet them and obviously to ride them!
I found a farm close to Reykjavik that does not have a web site, so I can’t recommend to you which one it was, but there are plenty of companies that offer horseback riding, just ask your hotel or ask around.
It was great and I really can recommend that experience to anyone who likes horses! Even though my horse knew oh-to-well what to do and I found it hard sometimes to manage it, Icelandic horses after all, have quite a wild spirit, even if raised in a farm.
P.S. if you are afraid to ride horses, no worries, it is not a big deal. But at least stop from time to time when they are out in a pasture to look at them, and maybe you’ll find the courage to pet them!
P.S.S. If you cannot choose which Iceland horseback riding company to choose, I recommend this one or this one. They are both close to Reykjavik and you can be sure about the conditions the horses are kept in and the staff’s qualification.
COST: It really depends from the company and the tour you are taking (private or in a group), but it should not be more than 40 euros per hour for group horseback riding.
2. Whale watching
Other cool things to do – whale watching! The best place to do it is in Husavik. I wrote quite an elaborated piece about my experience here! But, if you are not traveling to Husavik, you can try your luck in Reykjavik. They too know how to spot whales; here is a good environmentally certified whale watching company.
Or, if you want to combine the whale watching and horse riding together in one organized tour – this one is for you!
3. Silfra Fissure Snorkeling
Don’t miss your chance to snorkel one of the TOP 10 diving spots in the world!
Silfra Lava Fissure is the place where American and European continental plates meet, and guess what? You can swim in between them!
I haven’t personally done that yet, but swimming in the crystal clear water between 2 tectonic plates is one of the main reasons I want to come back!
This tour has a PADI certified snorkeling guide, all gear and admission fee included.
– Where to stay near Reykjavik –
If you are planning to do any of the trips above (or all of them?), I recommend staying in a hotel near Reykjavik. This way you do not have to rush to come back to the capital before it gets dark.
I stayed in a great place called Husafell Hotel. Honestly, that was the best hotel I stayed at in Iceland. It is brand new, just opened its doors to visitors. Great location and amazing facilities! Oh, and if you want to go for an Iceland northern lights tour, head there from November to April, the location is just perfect for admiring the Northern lights!
If you are of an adventurous spirit, this place is your dream! You can stay for a looong time, the list of activities around are endless!
The waterfall and the cave I described above are just around the corner. Different corners :), but around the corner, nevertheless!
Oh, and what is cool about that place is they have a thermal slide at their pools! There are many places all around Iceland that offer their guests thermal baths (no wonder!).
But Husafell was the first place where I could slide down the slope in a hot thermal water. How cool is that?
I have heard that their restaurant is really good for dinner, but I have not tried it. I did eat at the Husafell bistro (just next to the hotel) – the double hamburger was amazing, we even came back a second time!
UPDATE: I now also have an article that will help you book ALL hotels in Iceland in under 10 minutes – they are sorted by cities and prices for your convenience and they all have great reviews!
Great job, you have finished reading all 4 parts of the 14-day road trip itinerary and are all set to go!
In this post we talked about numerous natural wonders that are located just around the corner from Reykjavik.
You are welcome to use my ready to go driving itinerary, or you can just visit it right away from Reykjavik if you don’t have much time to discover more remote regions of the island.
If you go, you will probably want to rent a car (very much recommended). Read my most comprehensive guide of how to choose a car in Iceland.
Congratulations, you have finished reading my ultimate Iceland travel guide, now you are completely ready to go! (If you did not go through all of them, I invite you to do it, lots of useful tips will be found there).
Please share and “Like” it, let’s spread some Iceland love together!
Have you been or are you planning to go to Iceland in the future?
Do you have any additional questions?
I am always happy to help out my readers, especially when if comes to my favorite country in the world! 😉
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