Tourism is at a crazy all time high in Iceland. Honestly, the Icelandic nature cannot withstand the amount of visitors currently happening right now year round either. Nature never gets a chance to repair itself because the flow of people is constant. Plus, who wants to be surrounded by 100’s of other tourists taking the same exact photograph either? Today we would like to focus on being a responsible tourist and would also like to share with you 55 Offbeat and Unique Things to do in Iceland!
Responsible Tourism in Iceland
Being a responsible tourists meas a lot of things to different people. Some may think offsetting your travel foot print by donating to organizations like Carbonfund is enough. And that is a fantastic start, truly. But being locals to Iceland and you coming to visit, we would encourage you to consider a few other avenues as you embark on your travel plans.
To illustrate, we urge you to read, believe, take, and follow the Icelandic Pledge. Serious folks, we want all parts of Iceland to be as unforgettable for you as future generations and we cannot do this without your help. On that same note, leave nothing behind, respect boundaries of ropes, gates, signs, and ask for permission before if taking professional photographs. NOTE: The majority of the areas you will travel throughout are on private property (not government owned or public), like 80% of the country. Example, the extremely popular and touristy, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is privately owned by several farmers, not the government.
Furthermore, please log your travel plans on Safetravel so the people here and at home can come find you if you do not hit your hiking marks for example. Lastly, please STOP GEOTAGGING! I beg you, please stop. Sharing locations is becoming an epidemic and many locations can only handle a certain amount of people visiting. Just tag it as “Planet Earth” if you must. Be responsible, the future of those locations depends on you.
Finally, please all of the above before you delight in taking any of our advice below on 55 Offbeat and Unique Things to do in Iceland, please!
How Iceland Wedding Planner Takes Responsibility:
From inception of our adventure wedding business model in circa 2010 (and 2012 specifically based in Iceland) it’s been our mission to be sustainably minded. How do we do this? First, we cultivate relationships with the landowners, have contracts in place or request permission / permits before arriving, and offer them something to them or a service in return. Second, we exclusively work with a local (not big box) super jeep company. One who meticulously maintains their trucks (No oil / fuel leaks in route damaging the landscape) and employs experienced drivers who take care in the routes we choose to get to our private Iceland wedding locations.
Each truck also has an inflation and deflation system for the tires to proved a smoother ride, but also ensures we leave no trace behind. Our objective is to leave areas better than when we found them. Third, arriving to areas, if we see trash we pick it up and we never leave anything behind once our couples or groups are finished exploring. Fourth, more often than not, our highland porta potty is in tow to ensure no “calling on nature.”
Lastly, we take our clients to places that are not tourist locations. This saves some of the wear on the tourist locations. We also require all of our clients and partners to sign NDA’s protecting the areas and landowners privacy. Certainly executing weddings with guests, an announcement is made as well to ensure the guests do not geotag either.
Likewise, by educating our clients that when or if they do choose visit those places, they respect and stay behind the designated ropes and are aware of the waves, etc. Knowledge is power and allows you to be a responsible tourist and not piss off the locals in the process either 😉 All that said, come along with us today as we share 55 Offbeat and Unique Things to do in Iceland instead of heading to the tourist locations!
55 Offbeat and Unique Things to do in Iceland
No matter if you are eloping in Iceland or planning an Iceland wedding with guests, it is likely you will explore the island before or after. Chances are you’ll want to experience Iceland in the purest way you can, right? After all, that are what all of the photos imply. The reality of the situation is that you’ll likely be next to 100+ people while exploring the typical tourist locations like Seljalandsfoss; Skogafoss; and Reynisfjara Black Beach, etc. Below we will feature by area 55 Offbeat and Unique Things to do in Iceland!
Reykjavik Offbeat Things to Do:
Literally the translation for Reykjavik is “Smokey Bay.” Did you know Reykjavik is not only Iceland’s capital, but it is also our only city? Everywhere other place you encounter is just a town or village, not a city. Mainly because of the population within each. Example, the town of Vik is only 300-400 person strong. In contrast, the entire Icelandic population is only a mere 330,000 people (when this Iceland Wedding Planner post was written).
That said, do not expect our city to be some amazing metropolis like Chicago, Los Angeles or New York City, well only in price that is! But we can hold our own in things to do. The city is constantly changing, growing, and learning. There is a lot of American influence so many of you may feel right home.
When exploring a new city you may seek out places that a bit more off the beaten path. We don’t blame you, so do we! Personally I’m terrified of crowds and when I see selfie sticks I suddenly have the urge to break them in half, lol! Finding others who dance to the same tune and like traveling that way as well… You have inspired us to craft this 55 Offbeat and Unique Things to do in Iceland list! Thanks for that 😉
1- Enjoy an early morning breakfast at Grái Kötturinn (Gray Cat Cafe)!
2- People watch on the main shopping street of Laugavegur at our favorite local bakery, Sandholt.
3- Pay a visit to the Nordic House!
4- Delight in an afternoon coffee, play a board game, and meet locals at Cafe Babalu.
5- Need a place to meditate and recharge? Try a session in the Float Spa!
6- Obsessed with Vikings? Be one for a few hours and forever document it with Mink Viking Portraits!
7- Ever want to have a private experience in a sweat lodge? Godheimar offers a very unique experience.
8- Experience Reykjavik like a local by heading to Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach. There you can go to the public pool and switch between that and the actual ocean. Locals do this to promote good blood flow. Personal fave for us and why it makes our 55 Offbeat and Unique Things to do in Iceland list!
9- Looking for indulgence and a romantic environment? Try an appointment at the Reykjavik Spa.
10- Crave nature near the city limits? Visit the dynamic area and red cliffs and caves of Heiðmörk.
11- Book a dinner reservation at one of the best restaurants in Reykjavik!
Southern Iceland Non-touristy Things to Do
Ohhhh man, Southern Iceland. Everything here, makes my heart skip a beat. Except for the tourist locations that is. We would much rather introduce you to less or non-touristy places to explore within Southern Iceland. It’s important for you to encounter places that will give you that “I just discovered” this feeling. It’s rejuvenating and good for your soul, truly!
Special note to those couples who are clients of ours reading this 55 Offbeat and Unique Things to do in Iceland list!… This is just the tip of the iceberg, there are wayyyyyyy more incredible places we will share with you to experience on your own before after your adventurous elopement or Iceland wedding with us. These are just the places, we are comfortable with releasing to the public. We’ll hook you up when you’re ready to plan your pre/post Iceland wedding adventures!
13- Take a short hike down to þórufoss Waterfall (on the way to þingvellir National Park).
14- Explore an Icelandic forest! Haukadalur Forest is within the token “Golden Circle” area.
17- Head to Friðheimar Greenhouse for lunch!
18- Drive to the non-touristy waterfall named Faxafoss (near to the Golden Circle). Tourist traffic typically stays at the top. Walk down from the top parking area, explore, and also checkout the salmon ladder to the left side of the waterfall. Super cool place!
19- The lesser known Reykjanes Peninsula should also be on your list! You’ll find a cool geothermal area to explore (not bathe) named Gunnuhver.
20- Go lighthouse hunting in the Reykjanes Peninsula. One of our favorites is Reykjanesviti, mainly because of the sea cliffs all around.
21- Checkout the best places to eat in Southern Iceland!
22- Board the ferry to the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar) and go discover it’s beauty!
23- Take our advice on heading out on some of Southern Iceland’s best hikes!
24- Pack a picnic and delight in the quietness of Þorsteinslundur (Thorsteins Grove Waterfall).
25- Wanting a more daring adventure on your own? If you have an SUV and knee high waterproof boots and sense of adventure and hike through a river canyon that opens to an offbeat waterfall named, Nauthúsagil. For instance, if you’re brave enough, follow the chains mounted to the canyon walls to an even more beautiful waterfall! Proceed with care and only take memories!!
26- Interested in experiencing an ice cave year round? Our exclusive super jeep team, Katlatrack offers a unique ice cave experience and smaller group sizes!
27- Need something to do indoors because the weather is crazy? The Icelandic Lava Show in Vik is a perfect time filler!
28- Beer lover? We have just the spot for you! A local brew house sits in the small village of Vik named, Smiðjan Brugghús. Taste away friends!
29-Visit the Hillside Church in Vik and hike above for EPIC views of the town.
30- Adventure to a offbeat black sand beach that will have barely any tourists, likely just locals. It’s called Vikurfjara Black Sand Beach.
31- Visit the Wool Gallery. Many folks ask us where to buy the best local souvenirs, and our answer is simple: Vik Wool Gallery. Lots of handmade items by locals!
32- Paraglide from the top of a Mountain in Vik Our talented friends at http://www.paragliding.is/ will take good care of you!
33- Eat a traditional Icelandic Hot Dog or Meat Soup! Hands down one of our favorite things to do are to buy a hot dog from the N1 fuel station in Vik. For example, they are so delicious and ingrained as a part of our culture. Don’t worry my American friends out there who are likely cringing… Not made from random pig parts, they are 100% lamb meat and taste totally different! You dress the hot dog with raw and fried onions, ketchup, mustard, and remolaði sauces. Traditionally you would also grab a can of coke and a Prince Polo bar too if you want to go full on Icelandic. Doesn’t sound like fun? Try traditional Icelandic meat soup, sold at almost all of the fuel stops.
34- Systrafoss Waterfall can be found in the lovely town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Hiking to the top is super fun! Yet another reason this waterfall makes our 55 Offbeat and Unique Things to do in Iceland list!
Offbeat Things to do in East Iceland
East Iceland is abundant with things to do all depending on your likes and dislikes. In example, if you’re a nature lover, hiker, a foodie, or a budding photographer. If you plan to visit East Iceland wedding locations you’ve come to the right planner! East Iceland has been home to one of our favorite unique Iceland hiking elopements too!
35- Hike to the offbeat Iceland waterfall named Hundafoss that lies within the Skaftfell National Park! Note: It is near the more known waterfall Svartifoss.
36- Pay a visit to the less touristy Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon!
37- Who doesn’t love an amazingly shaped mountain? A must do if you’re heading towards East Iceland is visiting Vestrahorn Mountain and Viking Village. Park at the cafe and make sure you pay the landowners per person admittance fee.
38- Stuff your faces with langoustine soup at the BEST lobster place in the east, Humarhöfnin!
39- Lay your eyes on one of the most adorable churches in Iceland, Seyðisfjarðarkirkja. It’s blue and in an charming town.
40- Care to explore a village barely anyone ever goes? If you’re planning a trip to Iceland in July and August, you should visit Mjóifjörður. Crazy place full of history, mystery, shipwrecks, and a gorgeous waterfall! This place is one of our favorite hidden gems in Iceland and for sure why it makes our 55 Offbeat and Unique Things to do in Iceland agenda!
41- Find your way to the town of Seydisfjordur and you’ll pass Gufufoss Waterfall on the way. Spend a few minutes checking it out and stretching your legs (it’s a 2-5 minute walk but park carefully!)
42- Are you a hiker and going to East Iceland? Hengifoss is often a waterfall that is overlooked. Embark on a 45-60 minute walk from the car park and you’ll be there!
43- Ever hear the joke about getting lost in an Icelandic forest? Just stand up 😉 There is in my opinion the most beautiful forest in Iceland found in the East called, Hallormsstaðaskógur. There are lots of amazing views, waterfalls, and caves in this forest area begging for you to explore it!
Northern Iceland, What offbeat Things to Do!
Oh la la, Northern Iceland. Did you ever see our Godafoss Waterfall Elopement we did in circa 2015? It’s a pretty place to explore and the good news is that you don’t need a super jeep to get to almost everything. Although, our team does not do much in Northern Iceland these days because our private locations are in the South. But, that doesn’t mean we cannot share with you some super cool offbeat things to do in Northern Iceland or some fabulous hidden gems!
44- Maybe you’ve seen Stone Henge? Here in Iceland, we have our own version with a twist, called Arctic Henge in Raufarhöfn! Stopping here fits in perfectly with our 55 Offbeat and Unique Things to do in Iceland!
45- Unique textures and tones with less tourists can be found in a valley near to Lake Mývatn with the name of Hljóðaklettar.
46- A less touristy place to go whale watching is in the quaint town of Husavik. Try our friends at Gentle Giants!
47- Take a long drive around the village of Siglufjörður, it’s crazy cute!
48- Hofsósi Swimming Pool is self proclaimed the nicest swimming pool in Iceland… And we might agree! Take a visit and judge for yourself!
49- Pack a picnic and head over to one of our personal favorite locations… Hike along the cliffs of Hvítserkur to get away from the tourists and enjoy bird watching, the waves, and the sounds.
West Iceland Offbeat Adventure Ideas
There are magical Peninsulas in Iceland called the Snaefellsness and the West Fjords. There are countless folklore stories proclaiming such and most of our couples would agree that there is a feeling of magic and wander in the air. We no longer offer weddings in the Snaefellsness or the West Fjords as it has become to saturated with the growth of tourism and there is not enough super jeep routes to tick all of our boxes or keep our interest. However, we are thrilled to have our clients experience it!
As a matter of fact, we remember how desolate the area once was and it breaks our heart how it’s changed. For instance, in Circa 2014, our clients Tiffany and Brian had the most inspiring wedding photos at Kirkjufellsfoss. Way back when Kirkjufellfoss didn’t have ropes or barriers. It feels like a very different place now. But don’t fret! We are not going to share with you the some of the less touristy places to discover as part of 55 Offbeat and Unique Things to do in Iceland post today!!
51- Second to the above would be a beautiful unique looking place called Rauðisandur Beach. Hello Red Beach, you for sure make our list of 55 Offbeat and Unique Things to do in Iceland!
52- Within the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, you’ll find a golden sand beach that will make you swoon! Skarðsvík Beach is the perfect place to relax, picnic, or hike along cliffs!
54- Do the hike from Malarrif Lighthouse to Londrangar Basalt Rock Formation.
55- Djúpalónssandur & Shipwreck Beach (where the ship wreck of the English Trawler Epine resides). You can easily spend hours here exploring along the beach and the cliffs! Plus there is enough space to spread out and find your own nook away from the tourists.
Feeling inspired after our rundown of 55 Offbeat and Unique Things to do in Iceland and maybe now to plan an Iceland wedding in private locations via super jeep instead? Our Iceland Wedding Planner team would love to craft a custom experience driven wedding for you! Please contact us to gain more information on potentially becoming a client!
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