epiciceland

Day 9 – Northern Highlands

Day 9 – Northern Highlands

F839, Leirdalsheiðarvegur and F899, Flateyjardalsvegur combined with Husavik whale watching and Asbyrgi canyon. For this day of our highlands trip we once again planned a more relaxing day without hikes and with more driving. Firstly, I wanted to drive the two F-roads leading to the sea – F839 and F899. Then we had whale watching in Husavik scheduled for the afternoon. Afterwards we simply wanted to head towards our accommodation in Grímsstaðir and if we had time and energy, make a stop or two along the road.

F839 – Leirdalsheiðarvegur

F839 is one of the two F-roads leading to the shore from where you may reach Flatey island. It’s a beautiful F-road leading along the green valley, in between mountains on both sides. The road has many curves and you have to drive it slowly, not because of it being dangerous but because of narrow curves everywhere. It took us longer to complete than Google had suggested, because of this.

f839 Leirdalsheiðarvegur iceland

F839 – Leirdalsheiðarvegur

I don’t remember any bigger river crossings on the road. There were some streams, puddles and smaller rivers but nothing major. That being said, any 4wd car should be able to complete the road in summer. The main challenge of the road is the curved, slightly mountainous drive with some ascents and descents. Otherwise the road is fine to drive.

f839 Leirdalsheidarvegur north iceland

F839 Leirdalsheidarvegur

F839 or F899? If I had to choose again, I would go only for F899. The roads are pretty similar and I liked F899 – Flateyjardalsvegur more. The views around F899 were slightly more beautiful in my opinion and the road was more exciting – both because of the terrain and the medium river crossings. There’s also a nice beach at the end of Flateyjardalsvegur.

F899 – Flateyjardalsvegur

f899 iceland

Flateyjardalsvegur

The roads F899 and F839 are pretty similar in terrain and surroundings. F899 is the second of the two F-roads leading to the shore from where you may reach Flatey island. It’s also a beautiful F-road leading along the green valley, in between mountains on both sides. F899, Flateyjardalsvegur, too has many curves and you have to drive it slowly, not because of it being dangerous but because of narrow curves everywhere. F899 also took us longer to complete than Google had suggested, because of its curvature.

f899 Flateyjardalsvegur north iceland

F899 – Flateyjardalsvegur

F899 contains several river crossings. At the time of our visit, in the end of August, the biggest river crossing at F899 could be classified as a medium-sized river crossing. There are multiple streams and small river crossing at the road. The biggest river crossing is located almost at the end of the road, close to the beach. So, you may still drive the road up to this point and if feeling unsafe, simply turn back.

In good conditions in summer, you can drive F899 with any 4wd vehicleup to the last river crossing. The last river crossing really depends on whether it rained during past days/weeks, i.e. what is the actual water level in the river at the time of the crossing. In good conditions and dry weather, it’s doable by any 4wd car, in medium conditions Dacia Duster would be a minimum and in worse conditions it’s better to opt at least for a Land Cruiser (as we did).

f899 near flatey

F899 near Flatey island

After the last river crossing of F899 you will spot the sea and the beach in front of you. This part of F899 actually leads literally “through the beach”, because you will be driving in a deeper sand. This is also the spot where bigger 4×4 may come handy. You wouldn’t want to get stuck in the sand with some small Subaru or Suzuki in here, trust me. We didn’t have much time to enjoy the beach and the coast, but I definitely do recommend you do it. Especially on a beautiful day. It’s a very picturesque place.

Whale watching

Although I’m personally not a big fan of organized tours, we decided to go for a whale watching in Husavik. Why? Because you probably won’t find a better place in Europe to see whales. And that’s a once in a lifetime experience.

husavik whale watching gentle giants

Whale watching overalls

Whale watching tours we recommend

When it comes to whale watching by wooden boats, we definitely do recommend North Sailing whale watching. North sailing is one of the oldest Icelandic whale watching companies with almost 30 years history. They run their tours from Husavik, Hauganes as well as from Hjalteyri – so you may choose which spot works better for you. North Sailing is also very covid-friendly, because they rapidly reduced their boat capacities due to Covid. North Sailing is also one of the cheapest companies out there.

north sailing whale watching

Whale watching by North Sailing

Because of the reasons above we decided to partner with North Sailing and can offer our readers a free 10% discount code for North Sailing: EPICICELAND

If you prefer whale watching by speed boat, our favorite company for this is Gentle Giants. They have long history and experienced crew. You won’t make a mistake by going with them.

Our whale watching experience

We wanted to try whale watching by speed boat, because we were short on time and wanted to maximize our chances to see the whales. When it comes to speed boats there’s a simple number one company – Gentle Giants. They are both the most famous speed boat whale watching company in Iceland and also the most professional.

husavik whale watching rib boat

Husavik whale watching by RIB boat

We arrived at the base of Gentle Giants in Husavik and everything started on time exactly according to schedule. English speaking guides, warm overalls, whale watching stories and vycerpavajuce information are a certainty. Our guide was a marine biology student from Italy, so she knew every bit of information when it comes to whales.

Meeting the whale

She also explained to us this summer was especially hot, which meant lower number of whale spottings. There were 10 passengers on the board of our speed boat. The captain sailed the boat for roughly 20 minutes when the first humpback whale appeared. As we were told later, we were lucky to meet this whale, because during past 3 days there were no sightings at all.

humpback whale husavik

Humpback whale taking a dip

Once you meet a whale, it has a special ritual which can be predicted. Firstly, it comes above the sea level to get some air for a few minutes – this is when you spot a whale. Secondly it dives back into the sea, leaving a “diving circle” mark behind itself. Thirdly, after roughly 3-5 minutes a whale comes above the sea again. This cycle usually repeats for a few times, meaning that once you find a whale you should stick to it and enjoy a show several tens of minutes long.

While we were lucky to see the beautiful humpback whale, we weren’t that lucky with anything else. Other than humpback whale, we’ve seen one seal sunbathing near the rock and that was it. The boat sailed around for another hour but didn’t find any other whales nor dolphins or anything else. Probably due to warm waters as mentioned before.

Ásbyrgi canyon

asbyrgi canyon iceland trail

Alone in August at Ásbyrgi canyon

Our next and the last stop for the day was Ásbyrgi canyon. Every Icelander we met recommended us Ásbyrgi as one of the most beautiful places in Iceland. On the other hand, if I read reviews online, Ásbyrgi sounded like nothing special. That’s also why we hadn’t visited it before, only now. From what I’d read, Ásbyrgi also seemed to be a pretty touristy place and I had expected it to be really crowded.

We arrived at Ásbyrgi pretty late, at half past 7 PM. For a short while, we thought we made a mistake and chose a wrong path, because there were no cars, nor buses, nor tourists both along the road and at the car parks. In late August. We left our car at a huge, well maintained, paved car park and went for the short exploration of Ásbyrgi on foot.

asbyrgi canyon iceland trail

On a trail to Ásbyrgi canyon

There are many hiking trails in Ásbyrgi, and if you are into it, you may easily spend here an entire day, or even several days. To have an idea, here is the map of Ásbyrgi hiking trails:

asbyrgi hiking trails map

Ásbyrgi hiking trails map

We took the shortest (and probably most efficient) visitor’s trail (A1 on the map above). The Ásbyrgi visitor’s trail will take you to the main viewpoint for the canyon, from below, in about 10-15 minutes. You will reach the nice spot near little lakes located at the bottom of the canyon. From there you may observe the “U-shaped” canyon embracing you from several sides. There are also several short detours from the visitor’s trail which end up at viewpoints of the same canyon, but from different angles.

Icelandic midges

Ásbyrgi is also the place where we really had a chance to get seriously attacked by midges. I didn’t understand everyone asking about the midges in Iceland. We travelled around Iceland several times and met almost no midges. But the Mývatn area is different. In a good weather, i.e. when it gets hotter in summer, you may meet unpleasant midges, especially in the Mývatn area. They are not dangerous, just unpleasant. Imagine 1000 midges fighting to get as close to your face as possible. That being said, if you plan to spend longer time around Myvatn, headnets may be a useful tool for you. You may buy them e.g. at gas stations.

lake myvatn

Lake Mývatn is a place with the highest concentration of Icelandic midges

Ásbyrgi canyon – is it worth visiting?

Yes, Asbyrgi canyon is beautiful. Is it one of the most beautiful places in Iceland? Definitely no in our opinion. Having seen hundreds of out-of-this-world amazing places in Iceland, Ásbyrgi wasn’t that great in our opinion. It’s a nice stop if you have a way around, but you also won’t make a mistake skipping it. Hiking trails and surroundings of Borgarfjörður Eystri, Landmannalaugar or Skógar were much more stunning in our opinion.

Hljóðaklettar

Hljodaklettar iceland

Hljóðaklettar

Another interesting place we wanted to go look at is called Hljodaklettar. Hljóðaklettar is supposed to be a nice area for short hiked we beautifully colored hills and rocks. You will for example find a “red hill” there and several other interesting spots. Although Hljóðaklettar looked interesting from the photos, we decided to skip it due to lack of time. Hljodaklettar also didn’t seem to be that super interesting compared to many other amazing places in Iceland (similarly as Asbyrgi).

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Day 12 – Hvannagil and Lónsöræfi

Day 12 – Hvannagil and Lónsöræfi

On this day we wanted to explore south-eastern highlands. Once again, we planned to stay away from typical touristy places and rather explore lesser known hikes and F-roads. Our accommodation base was a picturesque fjord town of Faskrudsfjordur. We’ve never been in the hot spring near Djúpivogur, called Djupavogskorin, so we definitely had to try it out. On a way there, though, I didn’t want to take an easy route and rather planned a drive via an old mountain F-road, former F936.

As a next stop we wanted to try a hike in Hvannagil valley, a place not many visitors know about. Then we planned to drive a part of the road F980 to Lonsoraefi, until the big river crossing and then turn back. As the only (massively) touristy spot we went to see Vestrahorn and Stokksnes with their black beach. Weather was unbelievably beautiful, so it simply screamed for taking some pictures there 🙂 If we had enough time, I also wanted to drive F985 towards glacier an back. A long day ahead!

Fáskrúðsfjörður

faskrudsfjordur iceland

What you can see on a sunny day in Fáskrúðsfjörður

We woke up on an amazingly beautiful sunny morning with the view over the fjord. Mountains were mirroring themselves in the sea. What can be better? Faskrudsfjordur was a real positive surprise of our trip. The whole summer has enjoyed spectacular weather in the north and in the east, while pretty bad one in the touristy south. Our time in Fáskrúðsfjörður only confirmed this. We admired the views and the scenery for quite some time and then moved forward towards our next stop.

F936 – Þórdalsheiðarvegur

Road 936, Þórdalsheiðarvegur, is the road you won’t find much about on the internet. Some maps mark it as F936, there’s even a sign “F936” right before the road. However, official Icelandic road map says it’s now road 936. So be it. An ideal target for exploration on our own then 🙂

road 936 Þórdalsheiðarvegur iceland

Road 936 (F936), Þórdalsheiðarvegur

Thórdalsheidarvegur is an old mountain road which leads along the power lines in the mountains of Eastfjords, west of Faskrudsfjordur and connects the ring road with the road 95. Compared to road F338, that also leads along the power lines, the F936 is much more eventful, interesting and worth a drive. That being said, there’s probably no reason one would want to drive 936 other than just having an adventurous drive. There are several better quality road alternatives nearby.

What makes 936 unique is a zig-zagged mountain drive through green valley. It sort of resembles F821 in the north in some ways, though 936 is much less driven. There are no river crossings on 936 (hence it’s no F-road anymore). The road is steep and narrow at times, though. I definitely recommend driving a 4wd car on the road, ideally a medium-sized one or bigger. I enjoyed the drive and recommend it to any 4×4 enthusiast.

Djúpavogskörin hot spring

Djúpavogskörin hot spring

Djúpavogskörin hot spring, Djúpivogur

In short – the only hot spring I couldn’t bathe in. But not because it was dirty or anything, but because it was too hot in summer! In winter it was, however, just right 🙂 So we’ve already given you a spoiler ahead and now let’s talk a bit more about Djúpavogskörin hot spring.

Djupavogskorin is located right next to both the ring road and Djúpivogur. Thus, Djúpavogskörin is pretty well accessible and might get crowded in full season. On the other hand, Djúpavogskörin is not totally easy to find. We tried to follow Google Maps, that at least helped us locate the turn from the ring road. The turn will lead you onto a field track that simply ends at some point soon. That’s probably supposed to be a little “parking spot”. Please take care to not damage anything green with your car.

Djúpavogskörin hot spring iceland

Djúpavogskörin hot spring

The next step was to found the actual Djúpavogskörin hotpot itself. The path leading to the hot spring is not marked. That being said, you don’t have many options, only to follow the only slightly trodden trail you can observe with your eyes. The path will soon bring you to a small steel pool called Djupavogskorin.

There’s no changing room, but there’s a wooden platform right next to the hotpot, where you can leave your towels and change your clothes at. Djúpavogskörin is the hottest hot spring we’ve bathed in. Or at least tried to bathe in. We weren’t able to fully soak in, because the water was simply too hot in the end of August. Djupavogskorin hot spring is free of charge and it’s a nice short stop along the ring road. We were lucky to be alone there, though I do not expect this to happen in the future again in summer.

Hvannagil golden valley

hvannagil golden valley

Hvannagil golden valley hike – views from the top

If I had to name one of the “hidden gem hikes in Iceland”, hike to Hvannagil valley would be one of them. Almost nobody knows about this hike, yet it is beautiful. Hvannagil valley is located next to the settlement called Staffafell. Hvannagil is also pretty close to Lonsoraefi nature reserve, just on the opposite side of the river.

hvannagil hike map

Hvannagil hike map

You may get to the start of the Hvannagil hike trail by any car in summer. The road leading to Hvannagil valley is semi-paved and narrow but without any river crossings. There’s no designated car park, but you can safely park your car at the huge pebbles area located here. This is a good starting point for the hikes in the area. There are two main hikes of Hvannagil valley – shorter clockwise Hvannagil round trip and longer clockwise Hvannagil-Raftagil round trip.

Hvannagil valley hiking trail

hvannagil golden valley hike iceland

Beginning of the Hvannagil golden valley hike

We picked the shorter hike to Hvannagil valley. Hvannagil hike took us 2 hours to complete as a round trip. Hike is not marked at all and most of the time you just have to follow the (sometimes well, sometimes not) trodden trail. The maps like Alltrails or Mapcarta helped a lot. Hvannagil hike starts by walking on pebbles in the direction of the Hvannagil canyon. You will basically be walking through the dry river bed. Hike then continues steeply up the hill on your right via a bit slippery and a bit steep ascent. You should be able to spot this either as a trodden path or on your maps.

hvannagil hike iceland

Hvannagil golden valley hike

Both the views of the canyon and the views you will get when you reach the top of the ascent are amazing. And, most likely, you will not meet many fellow visitors in here. So the feeling of remoteness only intensifies the entire experience. Be sure to pick a nice day, i.e. not too foggy or too rainy, otherwise you won’t see much during the hike and the ascent may become a bit dangerous.

hvannagil golden valley hike

Hvannagil golden valley hike – the ascent

If you continue for 5 minutes from the highest point of the hike in a clockwise direction you will have two options for your descent. Either do a longer hike, which continues as a more gradual descent to the left, or descend quickly via a steeper gravel trail on your right. Firstly, we couldn’t even find this second alternative. Luckily, we met one other couple and together we figured out, also thanks to our maps, how to descend back towards our car.

The descent

This steeper descent leads via gravel trail pointed directly towards a lake in Hvannagil valley. You should clearly see this lake, so this will be your lead. Try finding a path leading to the right (not left) edge of the lake. It’s useful to have hiking poles at hand for this section, it can get slippery and a bit steep. Otherwise it’s pretty doable in good weather and in normal health conditions and fitness.

hvannagil valley hiking trail

Hvannagil valley hike – the descent

After this descent, you can walk around the lake, or just have a picnic there, or both. At this point, you are already back down at the lowest altitude point of the trail. The only thing left, is to find the way back towards your car. This again took us a few moments, because the trail is not marked. That being said, you don’t have many options, so you will surely find your way. We made a mistake and turned too much to the right, where we got surrounded by a private property soon.

Instead, after passing the lake, we should have gone more to the left (straight ahead from the lake) and not turn right that soon. That way, we soon reached the huge pebbles area where our car was parked in roughly 10 minutes.

Hvannagil track

hvannagil track iceland

Hvannagil dirt track

After reaching Hvannagil valley car park, it’s possible to continue further following the dirt road, or better said a dirt track, along the river, deeper into highlands. We drove the track for a few more kilometers with our Land Cruiser and you definitely need a 4wd car for this first part of the track. Maybe even a super jeep for latter parts (which we haven’t driven yet).

hvannagil hike views

Hvannagil golden valley track – views from the top

The first part of the track, right next to pebble “car park” of Hvannagil valley, is a narrow and a bit steep ascent on leading on the nearby orange hill. There are steep falls on your sides. Luckily, the ascent is not that long. Once you reach the top, amazing 360° views will open up all around you. It’s definitely worth doing this climb to see these views in good weather.

The track continues further along the river, more into the highlands, but we didn’t follow it anymore, due to the lack of time. There are some huts and settlements in the area, so the track should definitely be accessible in summer, I’m just not sure about the quality of the road, or whether there are any river crossings or not.

F980 – the road to Lónsöræfi

f980 Kollumulavegur iceland

Views halfway into F980 Kollumulavegur

A long day has continued. Our next planned destination was a treacherous F-road called Kollumúlavegur, in other words F980, leading to a huge Lonsoraefi hiking area. F980 itself is not treacherous, however, there is one spot on F980 which makes this road one of the hardest-to-pass F-roads in Iceland. This spot is the huge river crossing right in the middle of Kollumúlavegur.

f980 Kollumulavegur lonsoraefi iceland

F980 Kollúmulavegur to lonsoraefi

But let’s start from the beginning. We had an amazingly beautiful weather when driving F980 and the surrounding views were simply magnificent. The road starts as a drive through lush, green valley. There’s a small river crossing somewhere around the first quarter of F980. The highlight of the drive came after driving for around 20 minutes, after the first (small) river crossing. We passed a pretty narrow part of the road with a steep fall on our right and then the most beautiful view of the day popped out.

f980 lonsoraefi jokulsa views

Views at Jökulsá river from F980

On a beautiful day, you can observe endless arms of the river Jökulsá on your right. Some of them are drier, some of them heavier with more water. In the background, mountains of the Hvannagil area stand proudly. This makes for a really unique and picturesque scenery. We’ve even met two local photographs who were taking advantage of this amazingly beautiful day and making their photoshoot of river Jökulsá as well. We’ve taken some pictures of this unforgettable scenery, enjoyed the views and continued towards the biggest threat of the road F980.

Skyndidalsá river crossing

f980 Kollumúlavegur iceland

F980 – Kollumúlavegur to Lónsöræfi

This threat is the river crossing of the river Skyndidalsá. And this river crossing is huge. In terms of width and depth Skyndidalsá may be bigger than infamous Krossá in Thórsmörk. On our way to the river crossing we’ve met one local on an older, but bigger car than our Land Cruiser. I asked the driver whether he attempted to cross Skyndidalsá and he just replied “no, I didn’t have the guts, it’s just too big”. Nevertheless, we arrived at the river crossing anyway and made our own assessment.

f980 lonsoraefi skyndidalsa river crossing

D980 Kollumúlavegur Skyndidalsá river crossing

Our assessment was in line with that of the local guy. The crossing simply looked too big and dangerous to do, despite the road F980 being marked as “green”, i.e. open and passable on www.road.is. Even this mark is not everything, it’s better to turn back than to get your car drowned. We’ve seen several videos of cars getting entirely drown in Skyndidalsá on this river crossing of F980 (see below) and didn’t want to end up in a same way. That being said, we’ve admired the power of the river for a few moments, turned back and drove all the way back to ring road.

In a beautiful weather, F980 is definitely worth a drive at least up to the river Skyndidalsá , especially due to amazing views over river Jökulsá and Hvannagil in the background.

Vestrahorn

vestrahorn stokksnes iceland

Vestrahorn, a.k.a. Stokksnes on an amazingly beautiful day

For our next stop we headed to the famous and popular Vestrahorn mountain. For the first time. Yes, we always rather avoided this touristy place, in the same way as we up to today still avoid trips like golden circle, because they are just too crowded for us. Anyway, let’s come back to Vestrahorn. Is Vestrahorn worth all its hype and is then Vestrahorn and Stokksnes worth visiting? Well, if you get a nice weather then we have to admit, it really is.

We were lucky to have almost completely clear skies. And that’s exactly one of the settings when we definitely recommend you should visit Vestrahorn. When, on the other hand, we do not recommend the visit, is a too foggy weather. If Vestrahorn is covered in mist, the entire scene loses most of its charm. This luckily wasn’t our case this time.

vestrahorn black beach iceland

Vestrahorn black beach

We firstly bought 2 tickets for the area at the Viking café (yes, this is private property and you have to pay for the visit). We parked our car roughly on a halfway between Viking café and the Lighthouse. Then we simply walked and enjoyed a picturesque black sand beach. Although sunny, it was still pretty windy, but hey, that’s Iceland, right?

Next, we headed towards the artificial “Viking village” next to a Viking café. We decided to take a walk through the beach to reach the village from the east. And this was not a good idea. The beach soon started to be wet and there was no clear path leading to the Viking village. We spent more than half an hour just figuring out how to find a path to the Viking village without getting our feet wet.

vestrahorn stokksnes beach iceland

Vestrahorn beach pic

We finally figured that out by zig-zagging in-between all of the puddles. But it took us ages. And the path was much longer than we originally expected. That being said, I recommend you don’t walk to the Viking village through beach but rather drive there and leave your car at the car park.

F985 – Jökulvegur

f985 jokulvegur iceland glacier

Amazingly beautiful sunset at the peak of F985, Jökulvegur, next to the Skalafellsjökull glacier

As the last adventure of the day, I planned an F-road drive and this time I was determined to finish the road until the end. My target was the road F985 – Jökulvegur, F-road leading to Skálafellsjökull glacier, branch of the biggest Icelandic glacier – Vatnajökull. I already knew that F985 doesn’t contain any river crossing so I expected just a mountain drive, which was exactly the case. But, as usually in Iceland, F985 is no ordinary mountain drive at all.

f985 jokulvegur iceland

F985 Jökulvegur

F985 has probably the biggest number of zig-zag bends out of all roads I’ve driven in Iceland. F985 will lead you to a pretty high altitude through steep gravel road. F985 seems to be short on the map, but in reality, it felt to be quite a long drive. And the drive is not for those afraid of heights 🙂 Several parts of the road will test your guts.

I drove F985 in our modified Land Cruiser and had no problems at all. It may be dangerous to drive all these steep ascents and rough gravel with Dacia Duster or anything smaller. Yes, it may be possible, but irresponsible. I better recommend taking a Land Cruiser or anything bigger, no shame for a super jeep.

f985 jokulvegur glacier

F985 – Jökulvegur, views at Skalafellsjökull glacier

F985 mostly serves as an access road to the glacier. Tour companies take their jeeps with snowmobiles and transport tourists together with snowmobiles directly to the glacier via this road. Once you reach the final bits of F985 in the highest altitude, you will understand what I’m talking about. Hint: you will be really close to the glacier! The downside: F985 gets rougher and harder to drive. At one point, F985 was just too rough and steep even for our Land Cruiser. At that point, already being really close to Skalafellsjökull glacier, I decided to stop, take pictures and turn back.

f985 vatnajokull glacier

F985 Vatnajokull glacier

F985 is a pretty adventurous, exciting and also a bit dangerous drive. The main “attraction” of the road is the glacier in the end. Is F985 worth driving for someone who is in Iceland for the first time? Probably not, and it might also be dangerous without prior experience in driving roads like this. For me, F985 was definitely worth a drive for another out-of-this-planet driving experience in Iceland.

Northern lights in Rauðaberg

We finally headed to our accommodation, which was located on a remote farm of Raudaberg. This is a great spot for hunting down the northern lights, if they are present. We stayed at Rauðaberg on a first day of September and we were lucky enough to already see the northern lights, although weak! We had totally clear skies and some aurora activity, so we simply headed out towards midnight and in a few minutes, we were able to take this picture:

northern lights Rauðaberg

Northern lights in Rauðaberg, 1st September

Beware, though, that in reality aurora at the time of our visit was not as green as the picture shows. It was more like white or faint-green. The entire magic was then performed by the camera of my phone. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful experience anyway.


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Day 11 – Borgarfjörður Eystri

Day 11 – Borgarfjörður Eystri

For this day I planned some beautiful short hikes in Eastfjords and hikes in Borgarfjörður Eystri. And, as always, I also planned to drive some amazing mountain roads in Eastfjords highlands. I’ve done a thorough research for beautiful and remote places in Eastfjords and ended up with the following list.

The plan was to start by driving north from our accommodation in Hrafnabjorg and do the short hike to picturesque sea cliffs called Ker. Then I wanted to do some mountain driving with nice views from above, so I planned to drive road 917, enjoy the view from above and come back. Our next destination was Borgarfjordur Eystri and I planned a beautiful short hike to Brunavik beach there. Our hike to Brúnavík beach turned out to be one of the most amazing short hikes we’ve done in Iceland. Definitely recommended!

Enjoy car rental discounts and tour discounts in Iceland for our readers.

If we had enough time, energy and daylight I also wanted to drive the legendary F946 F-road all the way to Loðmundarfjorður. But not in a straightforward way, rather driving via detour to Breidavik beach first, via Breiðavík track. The aim was then to end the day in Seydisfjordur. A long day full of adventures ahead!

Hike to Ker

ker cliffs iceland

Ker

There’s one pretty overlooked short hike that almost nobody seems to be mentioning which I somehow managed to dig out from local Icelandic sources. It is called Ker. The area of Ker is a coastal area and the entire hike leads along the beautiful coast. It ends in front of picturesque cliffs that carry the name Ker.

hiking trail ker eastfjords

Hiking trail to Ker cliffs

In late August, the weather at the time of our visit was amazing in the north and in the east. Weeks and weeks of sunshine and hot weather of 20°C (68°F) and more almost every day. We took advantage of this and planned some amazing hikes in Eastfjords, one of them being hike to Ker, which was really enjoyable in sunny weather.

Ker hike map eastfjords

Map of the hiking trail to Ker

Hike to Ker is a short and easy hike even families or elderly will definitely be able to do. It takes around 30-40 minutes one way and along the entire trail you will have a nice coastal view of the sea and nearby cliffs. The trail is not well marked, but there’s a semi-trodden path that can be distinguished with some effort. The entire hike starts here and leads along the coast, closer to Ker cliffs. There are multiple nice viewpoints along the trail.

ker cliffs eastfjords iceland

Ker cliffs

You’re gonna pass black beaches, cliffs with black beaches and all that near the sea. And you’ll meet almost no visitors. The hike is not being done by typical tourists. We’ve met just one couple during the entire hike. I can definitely recommend a hike to Ker as a nice short hike in Iceland.

Road 917 Hlíðarvegur

road 917 Hlíðarvegur iceland

Road 917, Hlíðarvegur

The next on the plan was a drive towards zig-zagged mountain road 917, Hlídarvegur. Driving up the road 917 is a pretty decent climb which can be done by any car in summer, because Hlídarvegur has quite good quality and is almost fully paved. The more you go outside of the full summer season (July and August), the lower the chances you can drive the road in any car. If you plan to drive the road in a more off-season period I definitely do recommend a 4×4 car.

road 917 hlidarvegur

On top of the road 917, Hlidarvegur

Views from Hlídarvegur are very nice, especially in a good weather with good visibility. You are able to see all nearby beaches from above as well as Borgarfjörður Eystri further in the distance. For me, road 917 was worth a short detour, not for my wife though, who doesn’t enjoy driving Icelandic mountain roads as much as me :))

Borgarfjörður Eystri

Our main activities of this day in Iceland were the hikes in Borgarfjordur Eystri and driving the F-roads in Borgarfjörður Eystri. That being said, our next stop was exactly this amazing mountainous area. Borgarfjordur is a group of several mountains in Eastfjords and is truly a hikers’ paradise. There are more than 40 different hiking trails and if you wanted to explore only half of them, you could easily spend here a month or more. Here is the map of Borgarfjörður Eystri hikes.

borgarfjordur eystri dyrfjoll mountains

Dyrfjöll mountains in Borgarfjörður Eystri

We obviously didn’t have a spare month to spend in Borgarfjordur, so the hardest task was to choose. What short and beautiful hike should we take in Borgarfjörður Eystri to have a good glimpse of the entire area? After some research I finally settled with a hike to Brúnavík beach. And now I can conclude it was a good decision.

borgarfjordur eystri iceland

View over Borgarfjörður Eystri

Luckily, just driving to Borgarfjörður Eystri made it for amazing views. You will be driving coastal zig-zagged roads which are fully paved with views over sea and over massive mountains of Dyrfjöll. There are places at the side of the road where you can stop and take a picture of this beautiful area, so take advantage of it 🙂

The actual village of Borgarfjordur is pretty small with limited meal and accommodation options. But, this is what makes this area so unique – remoteness and endless surrounding nature.

Hike to Brúnavík beach

brunavik hike trail iceland

In the middle of the trail to Brúnavík beach in Eastfjords

There are two alternatives of hiking to Brúnavík beach – a longer one and a shorter one. A longer one starts closer to Bakkagerði (see our map below) and you can either make a loop trip or a roundtrip via same trail. It is 15km long and will and the roundtrip will take you roughly 5 hours.

brunavik beach hike map

Brunavik beach hike map

The shortest hike to Brunavik beach starts at a little carpark near Borgarfjarðarhöfn (see the trail marked with yellow in our map). This is where we started our hike to Brúnavík. The roundtrip hike to the Brunavik beach and back from this spot is roughly 8km long and it took us 3.5-4hours to finish the roundtrip using the same trail there and back. Hiking trail is marked with yellow sticks so it’s easy to follow the path.

dyrfjoll mountains eastfjords view from brunavik hike

View over Dyrfjöll mountains from the hiking trail to Brúnavík

The hike connects the western and eastern part of the coast via small mountain pass. Brunavik hike starts with a rather uneventful ascent, but turning back and looking at the coast you will soon be getting really nice views over Borgarfjörður Eystri and mountains of Dyrfjöll. After roughly an hour of ascent, you will reach the highest point of the trail where you cannot sea either part of the coast (yet). After continuing forth for a few minutes, the best views will slowly start to reveal in front of you.

brunavik beach hiking trail

Hiking trail to Brúnavík beach

In a good weather you will soon realize what is this entire hike to Brúnavík beach about. The view over Brunavik beach is one of its kind and truly amazing. Brúnavík beach was one of the most beautiful places we’ve seen during our trip. Even my wife, that is not much into hiking, was amazed by this hike. The second part of the hike is a descent towards the beach. At times it gets a bit steep but the hiking trail is in good conditions so anybody in at least a medium shape should be able to do it. Just don’t expect a 10-minute flat walk.

hike to brunavik beach

Hike to Brúnavík beach

Brúnavík beach was lovely at the time of our visit. And completely deserted. We enjoyed our time at the beach so much, the more so in warm and sunny weather. It’s an amazing picnic spot and both a place to just sit, relax and enjoy the beauty of Icelandic fjords. We were able to take some of our most beautiful photos here just with our phones.

brunavik beach borgarfjordur eystri iceland

Amazing Brúnavík beach hidden in Borgarfjörður Eystri

Rather than doing a longer loop-trip to Bakkagerði, we took the same way back. Thus, we firstly had to ascend the steeper part near the beach and then to descend back to the car park. When we finished the hike, it was around 16:30, so we still had a few hours of daylight and I definitely wanted to spend them by driving some amazing F-roads.

Breiðavík track

If you want to drive the road F946, Loðmundarfjarðarvegur, all the way to Loðmundarfjorður and Klyppstaðarkirkja, you can either drive road 946 first and then directly proceed to F946 or you can do a mountain drive detour to another beach called Breidavik. Since I don’t like the easier roads, of course I wanted to rather drive the Breiðavík beach track.

breidavik track eastfjords iceland

Breiðavík track in Borgarfjörður Eystri leading to Breiðavík beach

The Breiðavík track starts by driving a few kilometers of road 946 first and then turning left to the Breiðavík track. Keep in mind this is just a track, i.e. the road quality is even worse than F-roads. You definitely need at least a big 4×4 to drive the road and ideally a super jeep. Also, please check with you car rental company if you are allowed to drive the track. If you rent a super jeep, it’s usually allowed (that’s what super jeeps are for, right?).

The Breiðavík beach track starts as a pretty scary steep and narrow ascent with abyss to one or both sides right next to you. Although we had a great car for such roads, my wife was still freaking out. And yes, I have to admit, this road is nothing for 4×4 beginners and neither for those who are afraid of heights.

Breiðavík track in Borgarfjörður Eystri

Breiðavík track in Borgarfjörður Eystri leading to Breiðavík beach

After a few minutes of drive, you will reach the point where you can see another steep, narrow and really zig-zagged part of the track in front of you. This was the spot where my wife refused to continue, so we turned back and didn’t finish the track. But I definitely plan to finish it sometimes soon all the way to Breiðavík. After doing that, I will also complete this article about the Breidavik track and report on the quality of the second half of the track.

F946 – Loðmundarfjarðarvegur

We drove back from the Breiðavík track to the beginning of road 946. You have to first drive 946 to reach F946. The “simple” 946 makes for roughly a half of the entire path to Loðmundarfjorður. 946 is a semi-paved road, technically possible to be driven by a 2wd vehicle only, but we recommend to take a 4×4 for it, especially if you plan to reach the end of the road, not just the beginning.

f946 iceland

F946 in Borgarfjörður Eystri

The second half of the road 946 turns into a mountain drive and you will begin a zig-zagged and steep ascent into the Borgarfjörður Eystri mountains. You will eventually reach the point where 946 turns into F946. This is where the road conditions worsen. Road gets even bumpier, steeper and narrower. There are no river crossings on F946, though.

f946 Lodmundarfjardarvegur eastfjords

F946 – Loðmundarfjarðarvegur

We recommend driving F946 in at least a medium-sized 4×4 car, ideally a large 4×4, especially if you don’t have much experience with steep mountain drives. The main danger of the road lies in steep and narrow ascents and descents and all that on a gravel track with potholes. We’ve seen also small 4wd cars driving F946 (like Jimny) but they were struggling and we consider using such cars irresponsible and dangerous.

F946 Loðmundarfjarðarvegur Borgarfjörður Eystri

F946 Loðmundarfjarðarvegur Borgarfjörður Eystri

Views all around F946 are simply amazing and you will be passing many different types of mountains and mountain passes of the beautiful Borgarfjordur Eystri area. Once you climb the highest point, which is located after the Húsavikúrskáli hut, you will then need to make a longer descent all the way to Klyppstaðarkirkja. This part of Iceland is inhabited only scarcely, mostly by rangers or researchers and only during summer. We didn’t have many hours of daylight remaining so we turned back soon and drove all the way to Seydisfjordur for our next accommodation stop.

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Day 7 – Langisjór Highlands

Day 7 – Langisjór Highlands

Langisjór, Skælingar track, Blautulón track and Sveinstindur hike. That was our schedule for our last day in the highlands of southern Iceland.

In case of a good weather I had planned to visit either Kerlingarfjöll or Thakgil or Langisjór area. The weather at Kerlingarfjöll was either rainy or foggy the 8th day in a row so this wasn’t an option, and also we’d already been there a year ago. Thus, it became a choice between Langisjór and Thakgil, both of them with a mixed weather forecast, but Langisjór area with one which was slightly less rainy. And I really wanted to drive the Skælingar dirt track to Langisjór 🙂 Thus, we went for Langisjór!

Beware, the Skaelingar and Blautulon tracks we drove are just dirt tracks. Not even F-roads. This means they are even harder to drive than F-roads. Always check with your rental company if it allows for such roads, choose your car wisely and study the roads in advance. Mostly only super jeeps are allowed to drive the dirt tracks.

map of langisjor tracks

Map of our day around Langisjór tracks

Weather was merciful to us and the day actually turned out to be pretty nice along our road, despite the mixed forecast. We didn’t experience any rain and the fog was present only at some spots (like Sveinstindur once again…). This night we were based near Hekla so it didn’t make sense to drive to Langisjór from the south (F208 south) and hence we drove from the north.

F225 and F208

I was sure I don’t want to drive the boring, bumpy and full of tourists road 208 (F208 north). We turned to F225, Landmannaleið, which is an “F-road highway” in my opinion. Very good quality F-road and a bit underrated road in my opinion – at least compared to 208 which is much worse in both the views and the quality – that’s my view. Landmannaleid is also shorter than 208 north, so we soon reached the Landmannalaugar area.

f208 north of landmannalaugar

F208, Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri, close to Landmannalaugar

The weather at Landmannalaugar was amazing. It actually seemed like the only place with the clear blue skies and sun shining everywhere. The views from our drive around Landmannalaugar mountains were amazing. And, we faced a though dilemma – whether to go for an unknown (and probably worse) weather at Langisjór or whether to hike again at Landmannalaugar (we’d been there already and done the hikes, though not in such a great weather). Finally, I decided to risk it and go for Langisjór.

The easiest way to get to Langisjór is via pretty harmless F-road of F235, which contains only small to medium sized river crossings and no other real obstacles. I wanted to try a more adventurous track there, though. It is called the Skaelingar track and it’s located north of Holaskjól highlands centre, just next to the river crossing (and the ranger’s hut). Skælingar track is a not much known detour from F208 south that not many travelers pursue, due to it not being well-known. Great highlands destination 🙂

F208 after F235 junction

Road F208, or Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri, after crossing with F235 towards Landmannalaugar

The visibility got much worse 10 minutes south of Landmannalaugar already, much sooner than expected. We drove in a giant fog and couldn’t see more than a few meters ahead of us. However, we knew that all of the river crossings on this route should be harmless – we’d done them a year before in Dacia Duster and this year the water level was even lower. And exactly this was the case – no problems at all with the fords at F208 and really shallow rivers.

Skælingar dirt track

skælingar road to langisjor iceland

Skælingar track before Skælingar hut

After some foggy driving, we firstly arrived at the junction of F208 and F235. We continued driving the F208 and drove by another hidden detour – Faxasund track – which is actually a third track (along F235 and Skaelingar) leading to Langisjór. Faxasund is, however, said to be the most difficult out of these three paths, so this time we chose the second one – Skælingar track. Lastly, we crossed the first river at F208 south, next to the ranger’s hut and north of Holaskjól and finally arrived at the slightly hidden detour towards the Skælingar track.

skaelingar track langisjor

Skaelingar track

There’s a very interesting medium to big river crossing (more medium at the time of our visit) right at the beginning of the track. So, if you don’t feel like doing it, you may turn back right at the beginning. For this kind of river crossings, you should have both the past experience with river crossings and take the proper car, i.e. at least Land Cruiser size or some kind of super jeep. Of course, it may be doable with Dacia Duster if you are lucky, but you may also fly with Dacia Duster if you are lucky – this doesn’t mean it’s recommended, nor responsible!

skælingar track river crossing

Skælingar track river crossing

The first river crossing on Skaelingar track is also the only river crossing. To arrive at the other bank, you have to actually drive tens of meters IN the river bed (similarly to e.g. F210 river crossing or Strútur track river crossing). This is always a very exciting and memorable experience. With our 33” Land Cruiser with snorkel we didn’t have any problems with completing the ford.

Skælingar track iceland

Skælingar track

The Skælingar track then continued in form of the narrow dirt tracks in green surroundings of grass and moss. We passed along the big Mercedes Unimog which was struggling a bit driving these very narrow tracks, but the driver looked to be really enjoying the drive anyway 🙂 He was kind enough to let us overtake him at the earliest convenience.

skælingar hut iceland

Skælingar hut

The landscapes were picturesque almost along the entire road. After some 30 minutes of driving we arrived at the Skaelingar hut situated remotely in beautiful surroundings. It’s possible to take 2 different paths towards Langisjór from here… I already knew I want to take the longer, but much more exciting and picturesque route leading not next to the, but THROUGH Blautulón lake. Yes, through. More about that soon.

Blautulón lake track

blautulon track iceland

Blautulón track shortly before the Blautulón lake

The dirt track towards Blautulón lake led in between little hills and was a track consisting of both the gravel and the volcanic ash without any major obstacles, nor river crossings. It was steeper at times but definitely manageable. The most exciting part of the Blautulón track was about to come. Once you arrive at the lake, the road suddenly disappears. Where it leads, I already knew because I had studied it and was really looking forward to it 🙂

Skælingar blautulon track langisjor iceland

Between Skælingar track and Blautulón track to Langisjór

We were lucky to have an amazingly beautiful weather at Blautulón with partially blue skies, little fog, no wind at all and an occasional sun. We were even able to make a picnic at Blautulón wearing just T-shirts! God bless this kind of Icelandic summer. And all of that in between stunningly beautiful mountains and the blue lake just in front of us. And us being completely alone there. A once in a lifetime moments for us.

blautulón lake drive iceland

Unforgettable drive on the edge of the Blautulón lake.

As I already hinted, after we moved on from the front of the Blautulón lake, the road didn’t just continue in an ordinary way. The Blautulón track leads through the edge of the lake itself. You have to drive inside the lake, at the bank of the lake, for several hundreds of meters. For me as a roads’ enthusiast, this was an amazingly unique drive. After passing Blautulón, the track soon connects to the final part of F235.

Sveinstindur hike

sveinstindur hike iceland

Hiking to Sveinstindur peak next to Langisjór lake

Sveinstindur is the highest accessible peak in the Langisjór area with amazing views around the surrounding landscapes in every direction. When the visibility is good. And this was the catch once again for us. A year ago, I had a plan to propose to my (at that time) girlfriend after climbing up the Sveinstindur. However, the weather had different plans 🙂 There was no visibility at all and it started to rain a lot roughly around a midway towards Sveinstindur. Hence, we decided to turn back. Hence, I proposed (just) on the hiking trail.

sveinstindur hike trail

Sveinstindur hiking trail ridge

A year after, our weather was much better. Blue skies with occasional clouds and even a shining sun. However, the peak of Sveinstindur, as the only one, was covered in a fog for the entire time we drove and hiked around. We gave it a try anyway and climbed a few meters further than last time, but we still arrived at the point where everything above this point was entirely covered in fog. And it wasn’t getting any better. The trail from this point above is also pretty exposed with huge falls at both its sides. Thus, for the second time we gave up on our plans to reach the top.

langisjor lake view from sveinstindur

View over the Langisjór lake from Sveinstindur trail

Nevertheless, the views around the area were still stunningly beautiful. Judge it yourself, here are the pictures 🙂 This time we were lucky enough to see almost the entire Langisjór lake. Langisjór is a giant glacial lake and a hiker’s paradise with numerous trails close to its banks. With its crystal-clear waters, Langisjór is also a fishermen paradise.

langisjór lake iceland

View over the Langisjór lake from Sveinstindur trail

Sitting in the car for almost entire day, we were still hungry for a nice hike. However, the weather at Sveinstindur started to worsen. Fog was falling down and the clouds were coming. We hiked back to our car when it started to rain. We decided to drive back towards Landmannalaugar to see if the situation is still as good there weather-wise as was the case in the morning. On our way there, it started to rain considerably with an entire area covered by fog. Luckily, we had already seen an amazing F235 a year before.

Bláhnúkur hike

landmannalaugar from blahnjuku

One of the best views over Landmannalaugar is from the peak of Bláhnúkúr

The daylight was slowly approaching its final hours when we arrived at Brennisteinsalda campsite in Landmannalaugar. The weather remained wonderful there. Although being already pretty tired, I persuaded my wife to go for a quick Bláhnúkur hike. This meant, we would probably be dead-tired after the hike, but I simply couldn’t resist doing it in such a wonderful weather and close to the sunset.

blahnukur view over landmannalaugar

Another view from Bláhnúkúr over landmannalaugar

The year before we went for an entire Brennistensalda – Bláhnúkur loop, which took us more than 5 hours to complete, including pauses and attempts to find the correct path. This time we just wanted to get directly to Bláhnúkur and back via the same trail (west from the campsite). My wife was skeptical whether we will be able to do the Bláhnúkur round-trip in 2 hours, as I had expected. More specifically, she really doubted, we would get up under 1.5 hour.

best view in landmannalaugar

Looking from the peak of Bláhnúkúr

In reality, we climbed to the peak of Bláhnúkur in 38 minutes 🙂 Yes, we hiked pretty quickly, without pauses. But still – Bláhnúkur maybe looks as a distant peak – but it’s actually pretty close to the Landmannalaugar campsite.

Why we even bothered to climb Bláhnúkur? Because the views from Bláhnjúkur are the best views you can get over an entire fairytale-like Landmannalaugar area in the shortest time possible. And we were not disappointed! Hiking in the T-shirt, we arrived at the peak and admired all the surrounding beauty with the sun shining all over the mountains. Great decision to go. Great views. Great memories.

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List of all Hot Springs

List of all Hot Springs

Enjoy our unique and detailed list of all Icelandic hot springs! Currently 55 hot springs. Note: the page is still a “work in progress” and we are adding new and new info every day. If you think some info should be updated, feel free to contact usAlso, please, if you know of any hot spring not listed here, let us know and we will give you all the credit for that one! 🙂

Below we list all the wild hot springs, man-made hot springs, hot pools and mountain hot tubes. We only list all the hot springs you are allowed to bath in, unless otherwise stated. We exclude hot caves like Stóragjá, because it’s forbidden to bathe there. We also exclude classical public pools. The borderline is sometimes pretty thin in Iceland, so it’s impossible to create a perfect classification 🙂

Yes, there is Laugafell, there is Laugarfell, and there is also Laugavallalaug! All of these are different hot springs at different locations, each one differently amazing! And that is not all. There are actually two different hot springs with the same name – Krosslaug, located completely elsewhere! And then that’s also Krosnesslaug to make it easier to remember. That being said, hopefully this list will help you to find your favorite one.

Askja hot spring

swimming in askja crater

Me swimming in 25°C sulphuric water of Víti crater in Askja

Askja definitely isn’t a typical hot spring. It’s a big warm crater lake. It’s often known as Askja caldera. The road leading to Askja is long and challenging but really worth it. We wrote an entire guide about how to visit Askja.

Askja hot spring type

Askja warm lake is a completely natural and wild crater where warm sulfur water created this unique “blue hot spring lake”. There are no changing rooms at all, you are in central highlands here. Bathing is free of charge and requires a hike down the crater, which can be challenging. Water is not especially hot, actually much colder compared to typical hot springs, but still warm, with around 28°C / 82°F.

How to get to Askja hot spring

We wrote a detailed guide on getting to Askja. Roads to Askja are open only during full summer (July and August) and require at least a medium-sized 4wd car. The bigger, the better. “Can we do it in a Suzuki Jimny?”, yes you can try and you may succeed, but you may also not. Jimny is considered to be a small-sized SUV, which, when driven in the right way and in good weather may be enough. It may also not be enough if the opposite is the case.

In short, You can either come from the north via F88 or from the east by F905. You will then connect to F910 and lastly to F894. After parking your car, you will still have to hike/walk for another 30 minutes one way. If you don’t feel like driving to Askja, you can take an epic Askja tour!

Not sure what type of car to choose? Feel free to read how to choose a proper car or how to pick the best Icelandic car rental insurance. We also collaborate with Icelandic car rental companies to give you a discount and us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Video of Askja hot spring

Tips about Askja hot spring

Pick a day with good weather, or take a guided tour. A drive in rain and fog will usually bring you no joy and no views just stress. If you decide to drive to Askja, read carefully both our Askja guide and Askja F-roads descriptions. Last but not least, please choose a proper car, so that you don’t have to call 112 for rescue.

Once you reach Askja, to get down to the warm lake, you need to take a short but steep descent. In bad weather, this may get dangerous. We recommend taking the descent to Askja only in good weather. Better also use hiking poles for stability. Moreover, it’s not allowed to bathe in all parts of the lake. There are signs that you cannot cross, please watch out for them or you may get yourself injured!

To sum up, bathing in Askja is more challenging and more adventurous compared to most of the other hot springs out there. Adjust your expectations and prepare accordingly 🙂

Biskupslaug – Reykir

Blue Lagoon

blue lagoon iceland

The famous Blue lagoon by Epic Iceland archives

Brúarpotturinn

bruarpotturinn hot spring

Brúarpotturinn hot spring. Image courtesy to: www.icelandthebeautiful.com

Djúpavogskörin

Djúpavogskörin hot spring

Djúpavogskörin hot spring, Djúpivogur

Closed as at April 2022. Should be repaired and reopened in the following weeks/months.

Djúpavogskörin hot spring, is virtually a hot bathing tank. It’s located right on the ring road next to Djúpivogur, as the name suggests. Yet, Djúpavogskörin is still nicely hidden away from the main road and you have to keep searching for it for a few minutes.

Djúpavogskörin hot spring type

Djúpavogskörin hot spring is basically a man made stone block with a really hot water flowing into it. When we visited Djúpavogskörin in summer, we were unable to bathe there, because the water was simply too hot, definitely more than 43°C (109°F). In the winter, though, the temperature seemed to be considerably lower and just right for soaking up 🙂 Based on this finding, we better recommend a winter visit.

How to get to Djúpavogskörin

You don’t need any special car to get to Djúpavogskörin, any car can do that. The only tricky part is a bit cumbersome parking. The hot spring is located right next to the ring road, where cars drive around 90km/h, so you need to slow down, find the right detour and don’t block other cars. The car park is just a worn-out grass field that can easily get icy or muddy.

Not sure what type of car to choose? Feel free to read how to choose a proper car or how to pick the best Icelandic car rental insurance. We also collaborate with Icelandic car rental companies to give you a discount and us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Once you leave your car at this unmaintained parking area, you need to walk for around 5 minutes via an unmarked path to find the Djúpavogskörin hot spring. There’s a little hill right next to the parking area and the hot spring is hidden right below this hill. The easiest way is to follow the prior footsteps of someone, but even without it, you should still be able to find the hot spring, because it’s really close by.

Video of Djúpavogskörin

Tips for Djúpavogskörin hot spring

Hot spring is free of charge, there was no donation box at the time of our last visit. There are also no changing rooms, but there’s a clothes-hanger. The short path leading to the actual hot spring can be really muddy when it’s wet, so get ready for that with your footwear.

Drangsnes hot pots

drangsnes hot pots iceland

Drangsnes hot pots. Image courtesy to: www.love-iceland.at

Forrest Lagoon

New luxurious lagoon soon to be open.

forrest lagoon iceland

Forrest lagoon iceland. Image courtesy to: www.forestlagoon.is

Fosslaug

fosslaug hot spring iceland

Fosslaug hot spring

Fosslaug hot spring is a beautiful stop when driving near Varmahlíð, definitely worth a little detour. There’s also a waterfall – Reykjafoss – and the whole place is magical especially during the sunset.

Fosslaug hot spring type

Bathing in Fosslaug is free of charge. We couldn’t find any money box, as is the case with many other Icelandic hot pots. There are no changing rooms, so just don’t be shy 🙂 Hot spring can accommodate up to 10 visitors, however comfortably maybe only up to 5. Fosslaug is a natural hot spring (man maintained) so naturally, the water isn’t entirely clear, but we think it belongs to the better ones when compared to other Icelandic hot springs. Water in Fosslaug is pleasantly hot with a temperature of around 38°C / 100°F.

How to get to Fosslaug

In summer, you can reach Fosslaug with any 2wd car. In winter a 4wd car would be better. Finding Fosslaug is part of the adventure. Although Google maps do show its location, it’s not that straightforward to find it anyway. We firstly turned right a few tens of meters earlier and ended up parking our car at the wrong spot, which we however didn’t realize at that time. After a few minutes of walking around, we eventually reached a dead-end and came back to our car.

Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

We realized we should have taken the next turn right. This turn will take you to the small, but pretty well visible car park. There you may leave your car (probably along with several other visitors, because Fosslaug is pretty popular and easily accessible). After parking your car at Fosslaug car park, it takes about 10-15 minutes of walking through the easy trail to reach the actual hot spring. As far as I remember, there are 1 or 2 gates which you have to open and then also close after you pass.

Video of Fosslaug

Tips about Fosslaug

On your way to Fosslaug, you will also pass the beautiful Reykjafoss. One of the smaller Icelandic waterfalls, Reykjafoss, is especially picturesque during sunrise and sunset, which we were lucky enough to experience.

What we liked the most about Fosslaug is that it overlooks a river and if you are lucky, you may observe a beautiful sunset over the river! Despite not being remote and thus possibly a bit touristy, Fosslaug is definitely one of our favorite hot springs.

Galtahryggjarlaug

galtahryggjarlaug hot spring

Galtahryggjarlaug hot spring. Image courtesy to: www.icelandthebeautiful.com

Geosea geothermal sea baths

husavik geosea geothermal baths

Husavik Geosea geothermal baths

Geothermal Goldfish Pond

Gjörvidalslaug

May be open, may be locked. It’s recommened to ask locals for permission.

gjorvidalslaug hot spring

Gjörvidalslaug hot spring. Image courtesy to: Harpa Hreinsdóttir

Grafarlaug

grafarlaug hot spring

Grafarlaug hot spring. Image courtesy to: www.icelandthebeautiful.com

Grettirs pool – Grettislaug

grettislaug hot spring

Grettislaug hot spring. Image courtesy to: www.icelandthebeautiful.com

Guðlaug baths

gudlaug baths

Guðlaug Baths. Image courtesy to: www.facebook.com/Gudlaug.NaturalPool/

Guðrúnarlaug

gudrunarlaug hot spring shelter

Shelter for changing clothes and Gudrunarlaug hot spring

Guðrúnarlaug is one of the most picturesque hot springs in Iceland. It’s very well accessible.

Gudrunarlaug hot spring type

Guðrúnarlaug hot spring is man-made and man-maintained. It also has a cute little “cottage” changing room. Bathing was free of charge, we didn’t notice any donation box, but one may have been added in the meantime. The water was around 38°C / 100°F hot at the time of our visit, i.e. very pleasantly hot.

How to get to Gudrunarlaug

In summer, Guðrúnarlaug is easily accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Video of Guðrúnarlaug

Tips about Guðrúnarlaug

Guðrúnarlaug is definitely a bit more touristy compared to, for example, Lýsuhólslaug. The reason for that is its proximity to ring road and to Westfjords, i.e., it’s quite easily accessible. The same is true when it comes to access to the actual hot tube – it’s a 2-minute walk from the car park, which sits right next to it. Google Maps are also quite precise about the location of Gudrunarlaug, so feel free to orientate according to them.

Guðrúnarlaug is located next to the small rural campsite (we didn’t see anyone camping at the time of our visit, during Covid-19 times) and something which looked like a school.

Gvendarlaug

gvendarlaug hot spring

Gvendarlaug hot spring. Image courtesy to: www.laugarholl.is

Hauganes hot pots

hauganes hot springs

Hauganes hot pots

What’s probably best about Hauganes hot springs is their location. They are situated just few meters from the actual fjord. This guarantees you an amazing view over the fjord while enjoying pleasantly hot water.

Hauganes hot spring type

Hauganes hot springs consist of 4 pools. The first pool (and the most legendary one) is shaped like a boat and definitely is pretty cool to bath in. In summer, the “boat-pool”, however, has the coldest water out of all pools (around 30°C), so it’s more a “warm spring” rather than “hot spring”. The other 3 pools (not that cool looking) have higher temperature though (35°C+). To us (and to our local Icelandic co-visitors) it seemed like the hottest pool was the rightmost one, that’s why we spent almost all our time there.

In winter, temperatures of the pools changed, however. The boat-shaped one felt just right with about 35°C, while the other two hot tubes were unbearably hot with more than 40°C.

There’s also a changing room, so you don’t have to do it outside in the cold as is the case with many wild hot springs. Price for Hauganes hot springs is 1000kr/person (ca. 7Eur/8USD). When the owner is present, you can pay it directly to him. If he’s not present, and you have cash, there’s a cash box right next to the pools. And thirdly, if you don’t have cash, you can pay by card at the nearby restaurant Baccalá.

How to get to Hauganes hot pots

Hauganes hot pot is easy to find (e.g. on Google maps, surprisingly in Hauganes). Hauganes hot springs are easily accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Video of Hauganes hot pots

Tips for Hauganes hot pots

Hauganes hot springs are located just next to the little campsite, so there’s a high chance, you won’t be alone in here, given the hot pots are not that remote, nor hard to access. At the time of our visit, there were 2 groups of visitors, plus us and the place didn’t feel crowded at all. A capacity of one pool is around 8 people, therefore it’s not that easy for hot pools to become crowded. For those interested – you may even rotate between hot springs and sea, which lies right next to hot springs. Just don’t forget to shower yourself before each hot spring dive (the sea is dirty and salty).

Hellulaug

hellulaug hot spring

Hellulaug hot spring

Hellulaug is a nice hot spring situated in one of the fjords in the southern part of Westfjords.

Hellulaug hot spring type

Hellulaug hot spring is a man-made and (not that much) man-maintained rocky hot spring. Hot spring is free to use, I don’t remember a donation box next to it, but there may have been one. There’s no shelter, nor changing room, you have to change your clothes either in a car or just next to the hot spring. The water is pleasantly hot, with some 37°C / 99°F.

How to get to Hellulaug

In summer, Hellulaug is accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

The distance from the nearest car park to the hot spring is around 2 minutes of walking. You can get to Hellulaug from the main road 60. Just be sure to finally turn on Hellulaugavegur and end up here, because there’s one other (wrong) spot on Google maps. You will leave your car at a small, gravel parking lot. From there you have to descent about 2 minutes to reach the pool itself.

Video of Hellulaug

Tips about Hellulaug

Hellulaug is situated right in the heart of the fjord. If you are into “sauna style” bathing, you may even alternate between bathing in the hot spring and bathing in the ice-cold sea. Water in the hot spring is very pleasant though, having some 37°C (according to my professional, read as „guessed“, assessment).

If it rains, since there’s no shelter, some of your things will probably get wet, unless you cover them with something. We didn’t mind, though, because Hellulaug was probably the last stop of our trip.

Heydalur

heydalur hot spring

Heydalur hot spring. Image courtesy to: http://kitiniceland.blogspot.com/

Hjalteyri Hot Tub

Run by Strýtan dive centre, ask for permission / pay for access.

Hoffel hot tubes

hoffel hot pots

Hoffel hot tubes. Image courtesy to: www.icelandthebeautiful.com

Hörgshlíðarlaug

Horgshlidarlaug hot spring

Hörgshliðarlaug hot spring in the heart of fjord

Hörgshliðarlaug is a nice remote hot spring hidden in one of the fjords in the northern part of Westfjords. This is one of our favorite hot springs in Iceland.

Horgshlidarlaug hot spring type

Hörgshliðarlaug hot spring is a man-made and man-maintained seaweed hot spring. Hot spring is free to use, I don’t remember a donation box next to it, but there may have been one. There’s an old shelter next to the hot spring, which serves as a changing room. The water is pleasantly hot, with some 37°C / 99°F.

How to get to Horgshlidarlaug

In summer, Hörgshliðarlaug is accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Not only tough to pronounce, but also tough to find, that’s Horgshlidarlaug. At the time of our visit, road 633 was closed, so we had to use the northern part of road 61 and make a detour south (left) right before crossing the Mjóifjörður fjord. The distance from the nearest car park (next to the road) to the hot spring is around 2 minutes of walking.

Video of Hörgshlíðarlaug

Tips about Hörgshlíðarlaug

Horgshlidarlaug is a dirty, old, full of seaweed hot spring with a true Icelandic atmosphere. It lies right in the heart of the fjord, so you will be able to watch the fjord while soaking in the hot pot. If you are lucky enough, there may even be seals around (we haven’t seen any though).

If you are into “sauna style” bathing, you may even alternate between bathing in the hot spring and bathing in the ice-cold sea. Water in the hot spring is very pleasant though, having some 37°C (according to my professional, read as „guessed“, assessment).

Hrunalaug

hruni hot spring

Tranquil scenery of Hruni hot spring

Hrunalaug is one of the most picturesque Icelandic hot springs. Although it’s nowadays already really touristy, it definitely belongs to the top Icelandic hot springs.

Hrunalaug hot spring type

Guðrúnarlaug hot spring is man-made and man-maintained. There’s an authentic wooden shelter (similar to the one next to Guðrúnarlaug) serving as a changing room, right next to the pool. There’s a donation box at the wooden shelter and a recommended donation is at least 8 USD / person. The water was around 38°C / 100°F hot at the time of our visit, i.e. very pleasantly hot.

How to get to Hrunalaug

Hrunalaug (or Hruni) is easily accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Use Google maps. They were quite precise about the location. There’s actually a car park near the hot spring. From the “car park” it’s about 3 minutes of walk. You shouldn’t get lost, as far as I can remember there’s even a sign pointing towards hot spring.

Video of Hrunalaug

Tips about Hrunalaug

There are actually several pools, some of them smaller, some of them bigger. All pools do contain heated water, but each one has a different temperature. The hottest one is also the smallest and is the one right next to the shelter. It’s ideal for 2 people, and if you are OK with some squeezing even for 4.

I can confidently nominate Hruni hot spring for winning the award of the most authentic Icelandic hot spring. It is, without doubt, one of the best hot springs we’ve ever been to. Thanks to many aspects. Firstly, it’s a place secluded from anything else with no buildings or roads around. Secondly, the landscape surrounding it is truly peaceful and picturesque. Thirdly, the hot pot itself looks like to be from some kind of fairy-tale. And, importantly, the water (in the main one) is pleasantly hot with some 38°C according to my professional (read amateur) assessment.

The main downside of Hrunalaug is that it’s getting really crowded. It’s easily accessible and beautiful at the same time. I recommend either coming here off-season or during some weird times (like really soon in the morning, or during the night).

Húsafell canyon baths

This is a paid hot spring on a private property. You have to buy the package to visit it.

Húsafell Canyon Baths

Húsafell Canyon Baths. Image courtesy to: www.husafell.com

Hveravellir hot spring

Hveravellir hot spring

The only Hveravellir hot spring for bathing. Image: courtesy of hiticeland.com

Hveravellir is a hot spring area in the middle of F35 road with one nice free hot spring available for bathing.

Hveravellir hot spring type

Hveravellir hot spring is man-made and man-maintained. It has an uncovered exterior changing space. Bathing is free of charge, we didn’t notice any donation box, but one may have been added in the meantime. The water is pleasantly hot, with some 38°C / 100°F.

How to get to Hveravellir

You need a 4wd car to access the Hveravellir area. Road 35 leading there (former F35), a.k.a. Kjölur or Kjalvegur is open for tourists without super jeeps only from June to September.

In summer, the road F35 (Kjalvegur) is not hard to drive on, though. You may rent basically any 4wd car to drive it. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Once you leave F35 towards Hveravellir, it’s just a short, easy drive and you will soon find a parking lot in front of a small restaurant. Almost next to the parking lot lies a nice, public, free hot spring. The distance from the nearest car park to the hot spring is around 5 minutes of walking.

Video of Hveravellir

Tips about Hveravellir

Since it is so close to the car park, there’s a high chance someone will be inside most of the time. Nevertheless, the hot spring is big enough and the water is pleasantly hot, with some 38°C (according to my professional assessment). On the other hand, the air temperature felt really cold, something like 7-8°C even in the middle of August. So again – be prepared for that – you are in the middle of Iceland, in highlands.

I guess my expectations for Hveravellir were too big (read further to find out why). When planning our trip, I had read that there are “several hot springs in the Hveravellir area”. Moreover, seeing pictures like this had instantly made me a Hveravellir enthusiast. Well, the reality was a bit different. We were hiking for 1 hour around the entire area, but we haven’t found any hot springs, other than the main one near the parking lot.

We finally also asked the local at the restaurant who just confirmed our realization by saying: “you can bath only in this hot spring, next to the car park. There may be also some other hot springs further away, but you shouldn’t bathe there”.

Kerlingarfjöll hot spring

kerlingarfjoll hot spring

Kerlingarfjöll hot spring. Image courtesy to: www.icelandthebeautiful.com

Krauma Natural Geothermal Baths

krauma hot springs

Krauma hot baths. Image courtesy to: www.krauma.is

Krauma hot spring type

Long story short, Krauma is a nicely-maintained modern hot spring / hot spa with all the facilities you could probably need – showers, restaurant, café, changing rooms – all being new and with a glamorous touch. There are several pools of various (hot) temperatures and also an ice-cold “dip pool”. It is located in the exterior and has a view over nearby lands, which are not special anyhow, but not bad either.

How to get to Krauma baths

A normal road leads to Krauma, you can make it with any car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Video of Krauma baths

Tips for Krauma baths

For me Krauma is too expensive and without a wild touch I prefer, but if you are into more glamorous hot springs with all of the facilities, services and comfort and you don’t mind paying for that, you’re gonna be satisified. As was my wife 🙂

Krosslaug hot pot

krosslaug hot pot

Krosslaug hot pot

Krosslaug hot pot type

Krosslaug is a natural hot spring (man maintained). Bathing in Krosslaug is free of charge. We couldn’t find any money box, as is the case with many other Icelandic hot pots. There are no changing rooms, so just don’t be shy 🙂

Krosslaug is pretty little, suitable comfortably maybe for 2 people, and less comfortably for 4. The temperature is pleasant, though, with around 38°C according to my (non) professional estimate. The water is not entirely clean with some plants floating in it, though much clearer compared to some not well-maintained algae pools like Seljavallalaug.

How to get to Krosslaug hot pot

Krosslaug is located right next to road 52. You can leave your car at the little car park and from there it’s just a 2-minute walk. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Video of Krosslaug hot pot

Tips for Krosslaug hot pot

Beware, there’s also another hot spring called Krosslaug 🙂 This one is located in Westfjords, though. See below.

Krosslaug hot spring Westfjords

krosslaug hot spring westfjords

Krosslaug hot spring in Westfjords. Image courtesy to: www.icelandthebeautiful.com

Krossneslaug

krossneslaug

Krossneslaug

Krossneslaug is a really unique, one-of-its-kind hot pool literally at the end of the world (or at least all Icelandic roads).

Krossneslaug hot spring type

Krossneslaug is a man-made and man-maintained hot pool. There’s an access fee of around 8 USD. For that price, you can use the whole infrastructure around – changing rooms, showers, toilets, etc. There is 1 big “infinity” pool with a view over the fjord and 1 small hot tube as a bonus. The bigger, rectangular pool has a water temperature of around 34°C / 93°F and a smaller, more modern hot tub with a temperature of around 38°C / 100°F.

How to get to Krossneslaug

Although officially any 2wd car is allowed in here, I do recommend a 4wd car and some guts to reach Krossneslaug. Road 643 heading towards Krossneslaug could easily be classified as an Icelandic F-road. It doesn’t contain any river crossings but it contains almost everything else an F-road may contain. Potholes, gravel, narrow passages, steep parts, driving on the edge of the cliffs, …

Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Google Maps mark Krossneslaug quite precisely. They just don’t show that the “car park” (or better said the place next to the road where you may leave your car) is tens of meters above the pool. That means, you have to leave your car up, next to the road and you have to walk down the path to Krossneslaug itself. Only the owner of the pool has an access to reach the pool by car.

Video of Krossneslaug

Tips about Krossneslaug

Bathing in Krossneslaug is again a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It definitely belongs to the Top 5 of Icelandic hot springs. Once in the pool, you will again feel like being in some kind of fairy tale. Just you, a hot pool and a view of the endless sea. The smaller, hotter bathtub even has a windshield (I guess for cases of severe weather?).

Before our departure, I asked the owner whether it does make economic sense to maintain such a pool at the end of the world. He just smiled and replied that from June till 1st half of August usually hundreds of people come per day. So this hot spring may get a bit touristy in the full season.

Kualaug

Landbrotalaug

Closed as at April 2022.

Landbrotalaug hot pot

Landbrotalaug hot spring. Image courtesy to: www.icelandthebeautiful.com

Landmannalaugar hot spring

Landmannalaugar hot spring

Landmannalaugar hot spring. Picture courtesy of https://www.foodiebaker.com/day-4-iceland-travelogue/

Landmannalaugar hot spring (sometimes called Brennisteinsalda) is the only hot spring suitable for bathing in the main Landmannalaugar area. It is located right next to Landmannalaugar campsite.

Landmannalaugar hot spring type

Landmannalaugar hot spring is one of the few 100% real natural hot springs (without any human interference) we’ve seen in Iceland so it’s definitely worth trying. It’s basically a stream of some really hot water (>50°C / 122°F) flowing into the small river and you may bathe in this river. The water temperature gradually goes down the more you go away from the source. The hot spring is free to use. It has an uncovered exterior changing space.

How to get to Landmannalaugar hot spring

You need a proper 4wd car to reach Landmannalaugar and Brennisteinsalda hot spring. However, there’s a huge difference between whether you come from the northern side of F208 or the southern side. The distance from the nearest car park to the hot spring is around 5 minutes of walking.

Read more about these different routes in our F-road guide. Read also about how we chose our car, as this is essential for your Icelandic trip. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Video of Landmannalaugar hot spring

Tips about Landmannalaugar hot spring

The river you firstly need to jump in actually isn’t so hot, maybe around some 26-30°C / 79-86°F which doesn’t feel so fantastic when it’s really cold outside. But the more you approach the actual hot stream, the warmer it gets. The warmest place is, of course, just near the place where the stream flows into the water. This is the place you want to aim for (but so will all your fellow co-campers). You will probably have to wait some time in a queue to get to that source. There’s also another smaller stream a few meters to the right, so these 2 streams flowing into the river are the hottest spots.

The river is also really shallow, only some 40-70cm deep, so you basically have to lie in it to be covered by water. Nevertheless, it’s definitely worth the experience and it’s a really cool thing to try as Brennisteinsalda hotpot is one of the very few “wild” hot springs not artificially modified by locals.

Laugafell

laugafell hot spring

Laugafell hot spring

Laugafell hot spring is an enjoyable, spacious and pretty remote hot spring located in the central highlands of Iceland. Laugafell lies right next to the road F752 – Skagafjarðarleið and is a part of the Laugafell mountain hut and campsite area.

Laugafell hot spring type

Laugafell hot spring is a man-made and man-maintained hot spring lake. The temperature in summer was pleasantly hot with about 38°C (100°F). There’s a huge changing room with toilets, as a part of the Laugafell campsite area. There’s also a wooden path leading to the hot spring, so Laugafell definitely belongs to one of the really well-maintained hot springs.

How to get to Laugafell

Laugafell hot spring is located in the central Icelandic highlands, so you definitely need at least a small 4×4 car to reach it. Then, it depends on what season and what road you choose, whether small 4×4 is enough or whether you would need a large 4×4.

Option 1 is to arrive from the north, first via F821 – Eyjafjarðarleið and then via F752 – Skagafjarðarleið. This is the easiest way to reach Laugafell. F821 is a beautiful road without any considerable river crossings, only some small streams. Some parts of F821 are pretty steep and bumpy, though, especially the final parts in the direction of highlands. F752 up to Laugafell doesn’t contain any major river crossings, I remember only smaller streams. If you go in summer and the roads are officially open, you should do fine also with smaller 4×4 cars like Jimney or Duster.

Not sure what type of car to choose? Feel free to read how to choose a proper car or how to pick the best Icelandic car rental insurance. We also collaborate with Icelandic car rental companies to give you a discount and us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

laugafell mountain hut iceland

Laugafell campsite and hot spring near the sunset

Option 2 is to arrive from the south, firstly via F26 – Sprengisandur, a.k.a. Sprengisandsleið and then via the aforementioned F752 – Skagafjarðarleið. Both these roads, if you come from the south, contain medium to big-sized rivers to be crossed. We definitely recommend at least a large 4×4 SUV, and ideally a super jeep to drive the roads safely. Under extremely good conditions it’s possible to drive the roads also in medium 4×4 cars, but I would not rely on that!

Option 3 then involves driving also the F881 – Dragaleið. Up to our knowledge, there’s no river crossing on F881. Then, it depends whether you connect to F881 from the northern F26 or southern F26. Southern F26, as described above, contains one medium to big-sized river called Hagakvislar, next to Nyidalur, that needs to be crossed. You need a large 4×4 for that and at least some river crossing experience.

Video of Laugafell

TBA soon.

Tips for Laugafell

Price for bathing was 500ISK per person at the time of our last visit. You have to pay for bathing to the warden located in one of the huts. The hot spring is huge enough to accommodate for 20+ people so do not worry about it being crowded.

Laugarfell

laugarfell hot spring

Laugarfell hot spring

A nice remote hot spring in the middle of nowhere, yet still easily accessible by any car in full summer, with a hotel next to it.

Laugarfell hot spring type

The hot spring is private and it’s a part of a Laugarfell hotel. If you want to use only the hot spring, price is 1500ISK (10Eur) per person. There are actually two hot pools – one with a water temperature of around 38°C and the other one with around 43°C, which is already VERY hot and not many people are able to stay there 🙂

How to get to Laugarfell

Laugarfell is easily accessible by any car via a fully paved road 910. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Video of Laugarfell

Tips for Laugarfell

There are also several beautiful hikes available around the area, so there’s definitely stuff to do for an entire day, if not longer. Some beautiful waterfalls also lie nearby, such as Kirkjufoss, Stuðlafoss and Faxi waterfall.

Laugarvatn Fontana

laugarvatn fontana hot spring

Laugarvatn fontana hot spa. Image courtesy to: www.fontana.is

Laugavallalaug

laugavallalaug hot spring

Laugavallalaug hot waterfall spring

Laugavallalaug hot spring really positively surprised us and it definitely belongs to one of our favorite Icelandic hot springs, probably even to the Top 3 🙂 Maybe you’ve been to hot springs already, but have you ever been to a hot spring waterfall? Well, that’s exactly what Laugavallalaug is!

Laugavallalaug hot spring type

Yes, Laugavallalaug is a hot spring with your private hot waterfall! This can happen only in Iceland, right? Water in Laugavallalaug is pleasantly hot (my professional assessment would say around °37C to °39C). Water is also pretty clean, at least compared to other wild hot springs (several levels cleaner compared to e.g. Seljavallalaug).

How to get to Laugavallalaug

There are several options how to reach Lagavallalaug:

  1. If you want to avoid F-roads as much as possible, you can come from the Hallormsstaður direction – via road 910. Road 910 is very well maintained and fully paved road. It’s probably one of the best 3-digit roads I’ve driven in Iceland. 910 ends at Kárahnjúkar dam and then you have to drive a bumpy F910 for a few kilometers. No river crossing, though.
  2. If you want to see the Stuðlagil canyon along the way (which we highly recommend), then come via road 923 (semi-paved, easy-to-drive road). Google labels 923 as just “Jökuldalsvegur”. The correct names are here https://vegasja.vegagerdin.is/eng/. Afterwards, you will have to drive F910 in the southern direction (Google again has a wrong name – “Karahnjukar”). This part of F910 is very bumpy, but contains no river crossings (maybe some small streams that I don’t even remember).
  3. If you want to see Askja area first (as we did), the longest and the most difficult access road to Laugavallalaug leads also via long part of F910 coming from the crossroads with F88. The road is definitely doable in a medium-sized 4×4 in good weather and road conditions. There are one (or two) medium-sized river crossings.

Access to Laugavallalaug is thus is a bit cumbersome, but manageable. The last part of F910 close to Laugavallalaug is really bumpy, but doesn’t contain any river crossings. Still, it’s advantageous to have a good ground clearance of car for it. Coming from the north-east, you then have to turn right and drive the dirt track to Laugavallalaug for approximately 1.5km to arrive at the small car park.

Several visitors left their car just before the turn. The reason is, after taking this detour, the road turns into a steep, narrow and bumpy track, making it not that pleasant a drive. Nevertheless, we’ve seen even cars much smaller than ours (like Dacia Duster) making it to the car park as well, so it’s definitely doable. Just a lifespan of your car’s bumpers would probably be a bit shortened after this drive 🙂

Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Video of Laugavallalaug

Tips for Laugavallalaug

Laugavallalaug is also surrounded by picturesque, green hills and a few pretty hungry sheep. The place is quite hard to access, so we expected almost no visitors. We were surprised to arrive at the car park and park our car along 5 other cars. Nevertheless, these car owners were probably only chilling in their cars, because we met only one couple in the hot spring.

What we liked the most about Laugavallalaug was its remoteness, amazing surrounding countryside and, of course the waterfall experience! It was more than just worth the drive!

Lýsuhólslaug

lysuholslaug hot spring

Lýsuhólslaug hot spring

Lysuholslaug or Lýsulaugar is a nice hot pool “spa”, hidden in the southern part of the Snaefellsnes peninsula.

Lýsuhólslaug hot spring type

Lysuholslaug is a man-made and man-maintained hot pool. There’s an access fee of around 8 USD. For that price, you can use the whole infrastructure around – changing rooms, showers, toilets, etc. There are 2 small hot tubes and 1 bigger pool. All of them are the so-called “sea-weed baths”. That means, they look to be dirty, because of the sea-weeds everywhere. The ground and walls of the pool are also slippery, because of sea-weeds.

The big pool has water with a temperature of around 32°C / 90°F. Water in the small hot tubes is much hotter, around 36-38°C / 97-100°F  in the first of them and around 39-41°C / 102-106°F in the hottest one. It’s definitely not recommended to stay in the hottest one for too long.

How to get to Lýsuhólslaug

Lysuholslaug is easily accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental. The distance from the nearest car park to the hot spring is around 1 minute of walking.

Tips about Lýsuhólslaug

Bathing in Lysuholslaug is definitely a very pleasant activity when the weather sucks. We really enjoyed it, despite the place not being anywhere near as picturesque as Hrunalaug or some other “wilder” hot springs. So, it depends on your preference, weather (and who knows what else), whether it’s worth making a detour for you. For us it definitely was.

Marteinslaug

Marteinslaug hot spring

Marteinslaug hot spring. Image courtesy to: http://losangelesswimmin.com/

Mývatn nature baths

myvatn nature baths

Mývatn nature baths. Image courtesy to: www.myvatnnaturebaths.is

Nauteyrarlaug

nauteyrarlaug hot spring

Nauteyrarlaug hot spring. Image courtesy to: www.love-iceland.at

Nauthólsvík beach lagoon

nautholsvik beach iceland

Nauthólsvík beach lagoon

Pollurinn hot pool

pollurinn hot spring

Pollurinn hot pool. Image courtesy to: www.icelandthebeautiful.com

Reykjadalur hot river

reykjadalur hot river

Reykjadalur hot spring river. Image courtesy to: www.icelandthebeautiful.com

Reykjafjarðarlaug

Reykjafjarðarlaug hot pool

Reykjafjarðarlaug hot pool

Reykjafjardarlaug is a nice hot spring in the middle of nowhere, right next to the Road 63 in Westfjords.

Reykjafjardarlaug hot spring type

Reykjafjarðarlaug hot spring is man-made and man-maintained. It also has a changing room. Bathing is free of charge, we didn’t notice any donation box, but one may have been added in the meantime. The water was around 35°C / 95°F at the time of our visit, i.e. not that hot but still pleasant.

How to get to Reykjafjardarlaug

In summer, Reykjafjardarlaug hot spring is accessible by any 2wd car. Although road 63 leading there is zig-zag and secluded, it should be alright to reach with a bit of careful driving. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental. The distance from the nearest car park to the hot spring is around 5 minutes of walking.

Video of Reykjafjarðarlaug hot spring

Tips about Reykjafjarðarlaug

There are actually 2 places for bathing in here. The first one is the man-made artificial pool with regulated water temperature. The second one is the actual source of the hot water itself – a wild hot spring with varying temperatures (usually much hotter). This secret Reykjafjardarlaug hot spring lies nearby.

We made just a quick stop at the hot spring because we had already visited several of them at that time and headed elsewhere on that day. Reykjafjardarlaug is nevertheless nice and pleasant, just maybe not that exceptional compared to some other ones in Iceland. As someone had put it: “3 out of 5 Icelandic stars, i.e. 5 out of 5 anywhere else in the world”.

Sæberg hot tubs

Saeberg hotpot

Sæberg hot tubes. Image courtesy to: www.icelandthebeautiful.com

Secret Lagoon

secret lagoon iceland

Secret lagoon. Image courtesy to: www.secretlagoon.is/

Seljavallalaug

seljavallalaug hot spring

Seljavallalaug hot spring

Just a short hike from the ring road lies a popular, yet not very neat, hot pool, a.k.a. Seljavallalaug. You need to take around 30-minutes long hike to get there.

Seljavallalaug hot spring type

The pool is big, full of algae, slippery, and with water of a temperature of around 30°C+, which is not that much compared to several other 40°C+ Icelandic hot springs. It’s an old pool, not much maintained.

How to get to Seljavallalaug

Seljavallalaug is located on private land and to get there you need to walk. You can park your car also on the private land – there are 2 not very big car parks, which, however, weren’t completely full at the time of our visit. We parked the car at the one closer to the pool (but it really doesn’t make any difference, because they are both next to each other). Luckily for visitors, the landowners have not yet started to get money for the parking and visit of the pool. This may change in the future, though.

Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

After parking your car it’s a 30 minutes (one way), non-demanding walk around a nice area. It’s not marked, but it also isn’t hard to follow because a) there’s no other route, b) you will probably meet several fellow tourists on the way there.

Tips about Seljavallalaug

There’s an old changing room at Seljavallalaug (actually 2 rooms, maybe supposed to be for men and women, but people mixed it anyway). As I said above – the pool is big, full of algae, slippery, and with water of a temperature of around 30°C+, which is not that much compared to several other 40°C+ Icelandic hot springs. Nevertheless, many other visitors seemed to enjoy the pool very much anyway. To sum it up, Seljavallalaug was still a nice experience, although we prefer other Icelandic hot springs and pools much more.

Video of Seljavallalaug

Skátalaug

Skátalaug hot spring iceland

Skátalaug hot spring. Image courtesy to: www.icelandthebeautiful.com

Sky Lagoon

sky lagoon iceland

Sky lagoon. Image courtesy to: www.skylagoon.com/

Snorralaug

It’s forbidden to bath in Snorralaug. Photos only.

snorralaug hot spring iceland

Snorralaug hot spring. Image courtesy to: www.icelandthebeautiful.com

Strútslaug

strutslaug hot spring iceland

Strútslaug hot spring

Strútslaug is one of the most remote hot springs in entire Iceland. It’s located deep in the highlands, close to Maelifell volcano and Laugavegur trail. You have to firstly drive there pretty long and then hike for 1,5 hour one way, at best.

Strútslaug hot spring type

Strutslaug is a pretty big, totally wild natural hot spring that could easily welcome tens of visitors. I guess it’s never really full, given its total remoteness. It’s also pleasantly hot, with a water temperature of around 40°C according to my (non) professional estimate. It’s a very surreal and pleasant bathing experience in the middle of the total nowhere. One of my favorite Icelandic hot springs.

How to get to Strútslaug

Getting to Strútslaug is quite a challenge and you better use a super jeep for that or a guided tour. Under a good weather and road conditions, it’s possible to drive to the start of the hiking trail also by a large 4×4 SUV, like Land Cruiser. But as I mentioned, I better recommend a true jeep.

Strútslaug is located a 1,5 hour long hike from the end of Strútur track. Remember, Strútur track is not even an F-road, it’s even rougher, it’s just a dirt track. Now to get to the Strútur track, you have to arrive there by F210 – Fjallabaksleið syðri, which is not easy to drive either, from neither direction (west, nor east). There are several usually medium, sometimes big, river crossings. Please study this route carefully before going or just don’t go. Otherwise you can seriously hurt yourself. We described the drive in our detailed article about Strútslaug and also in our List of F-roads. We, however, take no responsibility for your drive.

This was the drive, and now the hike.

The hiking trail towards Strútslaug is roughly 5 kilometers long, not difficult at all, and it took us around 1.5 hours to finish it at a normal pace. It leads through nice valleys full of moss and along river streams. To hike to Strutslaug is a nice way to experience Icelandic highlands, even for families. The hike is pretty easy, just a bit long, but it doesn’t have any steep or exposed passages. It’s basically a walk through the moss valleys. Up until the last meters we were not sure where the end of the trail actually is. The Strutslaug itself is not well visible from the distance.

Tips about Strútslaug

There’s no changing cabin at Strutslaug. Anyway, we looked very much forward to bathing in Strutslaug, because the weather was very moody, with completely clouded skies and light drizzle throughout our entire hike. We put a bag on the wet ground, changed our clothes, covered them with waterproof clothes, and ran for the hot spring.

Video of Strútslaug

Sturlungalaug

Vök baths

Vök Baths hot spa iceland

Vök Baths hot spa

Posted by epiciceland in Guide, 3 comments
Day 6 – Hidden hot spring, Canyon and Road

Day 6 – Hidden hot spring, Canyon and Road

Hidden hot spring. Hidden canyon. Hidden gem. Everybody wants to see this hidden place for himself. And logically, there’s a huge debate on what “hidden” nowadays actually means. Some argue that once you write about it, it’s not hidden anymore. That’s why I don’t like the word hidden at all. Let’s say the places we write about are hard to access. And that’s why, for most of the tourists, they are “hidden”.

map of fjallabak highlands

Map of our day around Fjallabak highlands

Rainy forecast and planning

The third day in a row forecast showed rain almost everywhere in the south and around the places we planned to visit. Once again, we had to alter our plans and chase the only remaining spots of good weather. If you are interested in how we do it, feel free to read our piece about finding a good weather in Iceland.

The forecast showed considerable rain at all the places which remained on our to-do list and even at all my back-up options. So, we basically had the following options:

  1. Drive and hike in a considerable rain and most likely also fog with no visibility – No.
  2. Make it a hot spring day in hot springs we had already visited in the past and around the pretty touristy and accessible southern region – No.
  3. Stay inside, go for restaurants, cafes, museums etc. – No.
  4. Do short hikes and go see waterfalls – we’d already done all we wanted in the south – No.
  5. Go for the only spot where the forecast showed only a little rain, although we’d already been around that area, highlands around F261 and F210OK!

hella cabin iceland

Our cabin between Hella and Hekla volcano

Our friend Haraldur gave us an insider tip to go see the very remote and picturesque highlands hot spring called Strutslaug, located exactly in this area. We couldn’t make it to Strutslaug on Day 2 of our trip, because we already had a pretty packed schedule and Haraldur told us it’s roughly a 4-hour hike roundtrip. This time it looked like the most plausible option – if it rains, at least we can soak in the hot spring. And let’s go for some adventure!

I also wanted to see Markarfljotslgjufur canyon from the west and if we had enough time and favorable weather, maybe also to drive the entire Hungurfit track. We had already driven the first part of the Hungurfit track on Day 2 and it was amazing (although really scary at times). So, this was the plan 🙂

F261 from west to east

f261 Emstruleið iceland

F261 Emstruleið

The forecast was indeed right. We left our cabin near Hekla and it was raining. It was raining also all the way towards F261. But once we got on F261, like a miracle, it just stopped raining and the skies even seemed to clear! Once, again – chase the weather 🙂

The western part of F261 basically leads through the other bank of the Krossá river and you are able to see the Thorsmork area and F249 well from it. This part contains a lot of big gravel and the drive has to be slow and not very comfortable. The scenery is beautiful as always, although, for me, F210 was even more picturesque. This may, however, be due to the effect that we had seen F210 first 🙂

einhyrningur f261 iceland

Einhyrningur mountain next to F261 road Emstruleið

F261 near F210 is composed of big gravel and some steep sections so you have to drive slowly. F261 doesn’t contain any major river crossings, only Blafjalakvisl in the end (next to F210). Blafjalakvisl is considered to be a medium river crossing. At the time of our visit, this area was pretty dry and the water level in the rivers low, so it was pretty easy to cross the river. It’s definitely possible to drive F261 also in SUV like Dacia Duster, although I cannot imagine how uncomfortable it has to be. We recommend Land Cruiser and bigger.

Markarfljotsgljufur canyon from the west

markarfljostgljufur canyon west and east access

Markarfljótsgljúfur canyon west and east access

Near the end of F261, there’s a dirt track leading right as a detour from F261. It’s a detour to the western viewpoint of Markarfljotsgljufur canyon. We wrote about driving to Markarfljotsgljufur from the east here. The dirt track towards Markarfljot canyon is in pretty bad conditions, with some sharp stones all over the road. It’s also steep and narrow at some spots. However, it’s quite short. That being said, if you don’t feel like driving it, it’s also possible to simply hike/walk it.

markarfljotsgljufur canyon west view

Markarfljótsgljúfur canyon from the west viewpoint

The dirt track ends at a flat-ground spot considered to be sort of a car park. There was a group of 3 jeeps driving the track right in front of us, so we all left our 4 cars at this parking spot. There’s a sign pointing to the left (north) with the name “Markarfljotsgljufur” and a walking sign, indicating a hiking trail. However, there’s no clear trail anywhere. Definitely not a marked one.

We managed to find a not very well visible path and follow it. However, this was a real challenge given that it simply disappeared from time to time. We took special care not to walk through any moss or other parts of the fragile nature and managed to somehow always connect to the well-trodden path. The unmarked trail mostly leads along the edge of the canyon.

markarfljotsgljufur canyon west trail

Hard to find the western trail of Markarfljotsgljufur canyon

At this point you are already able to see some parts of the canyon, which is stunningly beautiful, however, you cannot see it in its entirety, because getting to the edge is simply too dangerous. There are no ropes, or barriers to prevent you from falling so you have to be very careful. We walked along the edge of the canyon towards the north for about 20-30 minutes when the path suddenly completely ended. The canyon widened and branched towards left and right at that point. I think the path was supposed to continue to the left (west) but we didn’t follow it anymore and rather turned back.

Markarfljótsgljúfur canyon iceland west

Amazing rock formations of the Markarfljotsgljufur canyon in Icelandic highlands

In the beginning, we also met a group of jeep travelers, who we realized were from Switzerland. They told us they didn’t manage to find any trail and came back to their cars. Luckily, we seemed to find a much bigger part of the trail than they did. Views along the path were beautiful, but they were definitely more stunning from the eastern viewpoint. So, if I chose to visit the Markarfljotsgljufur canyon again, I would definitely go for the eastern viewpoint only.

Strútur track

To get to the Strutur dirt track, you have to first ford the Blafjalakvisl river at the end of F261. We wrote more about F261 here and also in our List of F-roads. Then you have to drive a considerable part of F210 all the way towards Maelifell. We wrote about driving the F210 towards Maelifell here. Coming from the west of F210, right before the majestic Maelifell, there’s a turn left for the dirt track with the sign “Strútur hut”. That’s exactly where we turned this time.

Beware, the Strútur tracks we drove are just dirt tracks. Not even F-roads. This means they are even harder to drive than F-roads. Always check with your rental company if it allows for such roads, choose your car wisely and study the roads in advance. Mostly only super jeeps are allowed to drive the dirt tracks.

strutur track to strutslaug map

Strútur track to Strútslaug map

The dirt track towards Strútur hut (and Strútslaug hiking point) was a beautiful, totally remote track accompanied by many sheep, river streams, and tons of lush green moss. We drove in a cloudy weather and light drizzle, which made the specific lunar atmosphere of the place even stronger.

The Strutur track is not very long but you have to drive through multiple small to medium-sized river streams. The only spot which seemed terrifying at the first glance was a drive literally through the river for a hundred of meters. We reached the spot where the normal road simply ended and we couldn’t see any road, not even in the distance. Just yellow sticks in the river which led into the river and along the river bed (not to the other side of the river as usually).

strutur track to strutslaug

Strutur track to Strutslaug in a foggy weather

We had already driven through the length of the river bed at that point, during our drive via F210, but that was just a very shallow stream. Here the river already had some depth, I would consider it a medium-sized river crossing, but not just crossing, but rather river driving 🙂 There was no current, though and the river looked calm. I examined the river thoroughly and thanks to its calmness I could even see the bottom of the river bed which looked firm and even. The same was true for the rest of the river – at least as far as I could see.

The yellow sticks were located along the right bank, which looked slightly deeper than the left bank. But, I had already realized in the past – the sticks are there for some reason! Don’t try to be smarter than Icelandic rangers. It usually doesn’t end well 🙂 Thus, I came back inside our Land Cruiser, turned on 4×4, low-gear and locked the differential, and drove slowly along the right bank. The crossing was pretty exciting because we were virtually driving in the river for some time, but otherwise, it went smoothly.

As far as I remember, there were maybe 1 or 2 more river crossings but none of them were that big. Soon we arrived close to the Strutur hut on our left, which looked lovely in the surroundings full of moss. There was a wooden sign pointing at several available trails from this point. We aimed at Strutslaug, naturally – this was the trail to the right.

Soon we realized, the trail is actually the road with very clear and well-trodden tracks. Hence we got back into our car and drove 1 more kilometer through this right detour and arrived at the little car park with another wooden sign pointing at different trails. This was the end of the Strutur dirt track. We left our car here and began our hike towards Strutslaug.

Strútslaug hot spring

hidden strutslaug car park

See that little white thing? That’s our car at the improvised Strutslaug car park

The hiking trail towards Strútslaug is roughly 5 kilometers long, not difficult at all, and it took us around 1.5 hours to finish it at a normal pace. It leads through nice valleys full of moss and along river streams. To hike to Strutslaug is a nice way to experience Icelandic highlands, even for families. The hike is pretty easy, just a bit long, but it doesn’t have any steep or exposed passages. It’s basically a walk through the moss valleys. Up until the last meters we were not sure where the end of the trail actually is. The Strutslaug itself is not well visible from the distance.

strutslaug hiking trail iceland

Beautiful Strútslaug hiking trail full of vivid green colors

When we arrived, we were very surprised not to be completely alone there. One hiker had been already there, setting up his tent in the area. After a short talk, he told us he was from the Netherlands, doing a walk all the way from Akureyri towards Hella, only via highlands and camping along the way. Brave guy 🙂 If it wasn’t for this adventurer, we would be definitely alone at Strutslaug.

There’s no changing cabin at Strutslaug. Anyway, we looked very much forward to bathing in Strutslaug, because the weather was very moody, with completely clouded skies and light drizzle throughout our entire hike. We put a bag on the wet ground, changed our clothes, covered them with waterproof clothes, and ran for the hot spring.

strutslaug hot spring hike

Surroundings of the Strútslaug hiking trail

Strutslaug is a pretty big natural hot spring that could easily welcome tens of visitors. I guess it’s never really full, given its total remoteness. It’s also pleasantly hot, with a water temperature of around 40°C according to my (non) professional estimate. It’s a very surreal and pleasant bathing experience in the middle of the total nowhere. One of my favorite Icelandic hot springs.

hidden strutslaug hot pot

A really surreal place. This is a hidden hot spring Strútslaug

After soaking up in Strutslaug for about an hour, we hiked back to our car, drove back via Strutur track to Maelifell and then drove back via western F210 to F261. We crossed Blafjalaskvisl again and were deciding whether to go for one more adventure or not. Of course, we went 🙂 I persuaded my wife to drive the entire Hungurfit track.

Crazy Hungurfit track

We had already driven around one-third of the Hungurfit track on Day 2 of our highlands trip. It was very difficult, yet also amazingly stunning. As we already wrote about here, the first part of the Hungurfit track consists of narrow and steep passages and uneven gravel ground. You definitely need at least a big 4×4 to drive it, but we rather do recommend a superjeep, to be sure to drive it safely. Our friend Haraldur told us, our raised 33” Land Cruiser with snorkel was just about a minimum requirement for the Hungurfit track 🙂

Beware, the Hungurfit tracks we drove are just dirt tracks. Not even F-roads. This means they are even harder to drive than F-roads. Always check with your rental company if it allows for such roads, choose your car wisely and study the roads in advance. Mostly only super jeeps are allowed to drive the dirt tracks.

hungurfit track iceland narrow pass

This is the legendary spot on the Hungurfit track. Many call it “impassable” 🙂

Left or right?

After the first part, you arrive at the main crossroad of the Hungurfit track. The left part leads through the amazing area full of river streams, many small river crossings, and a legendary place where you drive between two very close huge stone boulders. The right part leads through more steep and mountainous terrain with bigger holes and uneven ground and slopes, but no river crossings. For me it was an easy choice – I definitely wanted to drive again through the river crossing area. This river crossing area at the Hungurfit track was one of the most beautiful remote places I’ve seen in Iceland.

After finishing driving through the river streams area, we arrived at the crossroads which connect the two main detours (left and right) at their other endpoint. Afterwards the road continues into the steep hill and as far as I remember there were two paths available – one steeper but with better ground and one less steep but with big holes and worse terrain. I don’t remember which route we chose, but none of them was easy. We had to drive very slowly, though steadily with all our 4×4 assistants turned on and yet still the drive was scary and at times we really felt our 33” Land Cruiser drives on the edge of its capabilities. But we made it.

hungurfit track river crossings

Many small to medium river crossings are an amazing part of the Hungurfit track

Although it started to get darker already (and thus much scarier) the views along the road were amazingly beautiful and one of their kind. The surrounding landscapes were breathtaking. This drive’s gonna stay long in my memories 🙂 There are different kinds of steep and narrow terrains, ascents, descents and even a drive in very narrow and deep tracks which you have to exactly follow meter by meter to not get yourself bumped away out of this world. We had thought this was the worst. No, it wasn’t 🙂

River crossing

We arrived at the pretty fast flowing river, which didn’t look shallow at all. And the crossing was wide. This was the point where I was seriously considering turning back even with our 33” Land Cruiser with snorkel. I simply didn’t feel like wading this river nor by walking through it first, it just looked dangerous. And I didn’t know anything about it. No cars in the radius of a hundred of miles maybe. I contemplated a little and then I decided for the most rational option – to put on my wading socks, take my hiking poles and attempt to wade the river firstly by foot very very carefully.

After getting into the river I realized the current wasn’t as strong as I had thought and also the river wasn’t as deep as I had thought, so I was able to get almost to the middle of the crossing. At that point I pretty much knew our Land Cruiser should be able to make it. I came back to our car, turned on all the 4×4 support systems (low gear, differential lock) and went slowly for the crossing exactly in the way I waded by foot. And the crossing went well! To not look too brave – we (and I) were still scared as hell when doing the crossing 🙂 but we had made all the rational precautions to ensure that we should be able to make it.

Ascents and descents

So, the worst part behind us. Or no? Not really. Soon we arrived at the top of the steep descent with the Hungurfit hut already visible in the far distance in front of us. This had signaled we should be nearing the final part of the road. The descent didn’t look that bad only because of the steep slope. The main problem was the quality of the track – big sharp stones stuck out every few meters from the ground followed usually by even bigger holes – and all of this in a steep descent.

hungurfit f-road iceland

Surroundings of the Hungurfit track are also amazingly beautiful

There was actually a crossroad at this point with the left and the right track both ending at the same point. None of the tracks looked attractive, though. We eventually chose the right track. It was already almost dark and the descent again tested the abilities of our Land Cruiser hugely. We successfully avoided the biggest holes and sharpest stones and got successfully to the end of this passage.

The rest of the road was thankfully much easier. I remember one more river crossing which was shallow, thus without any problems. After driving next to the Hungurfit hut we finally arrived at the junction with F210, turned left and headed towards west end of F210. Still an hour of driving via F210, now completely in the dark. Interesting experience. However, we had already driven via this part of F210 on Day 2 of our trip, so we knew it should be OK and it was.

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Posted by epiciceland in Highlands, 0 comments
Icelandic road system

Icelandic road system

The Icelandic road system is pretty simple, yet very interesting. And so are most of the Icelandic roads. Stunningly beautiful, yet sometimes pretty difficult to drive through. The more difficult roads you go for, usually, also the more beautiful the surrounding landscapes are. For difficult roads (F-roads and dirt tracks) you have to prepare thoroughly in advance, though. And to do that, it’s also good to understand the Icelandic road system.

Important read: How to choose the proper car for Iceland.

Icelandic road system explained

In the most simplified words possible – the more digits the road contains, the more difficult it is 🙂 If the road doesn’t even have a number, then it’s probably even the most difficult and unmaintained one.

The ring road

The ring road – the road no. 1. This is the main and the most famous road which leads around the entire Iceland. In good weather, you may drive it in any car.

iceland ring road

Somewhere on the ring road.

The 2-digit roads

The two-digit roads, e.g. 54. These are the turns/detours from the ring road. Still paved and well-maintained roads. Sometimes may be steeper and narrower (e.g. in Westfjords). In winter, it’s highly recommended to drive a 4×4 car on them.

Dynjandi Vestfjarðavegur road 60

Road 60, or Vestfjarðavegur in Westfjords towards Dynjandi waterfall

The 3-digit roads

The three-digit roads, e.g. 939. These are the roads of worse quality / terrain / maintenance compared to the ring road and the two-digit roads. Usually, these are “dirty” roads, where you drive on the dust, or some kind of gravel, but they are still passable with a 2-wheel drive car in good weather conditions. That can’t be said about worse weather conditions, though – and winter. Always use a 4×4 when driving in worse conditions on three-digit roads.

road 643 near Arneshreppur

Overview of Strandavegur, a.k.a. road 643

The three-digit roads vary in quality highly. Sometimes they have a lot of potholes and washboards. Sometimes they are narrow and steep. Sometimes they are just straight, good-quality roads that are just not completely paved. The three-digit roads never contain unbridged river crossings, though.

Enjoy car rental discounts and tour discounts in Iceland for our readers.

F-roads

F-roads, e.g. F905. The most famous Icelandic roads are undoubtedly F-roads. Some are afraid about driving on them, some love them. All of you have probably read a lot about F-roads already so I’m not gonna go into general info.

Shortly, F-roads are highland roads that are too remote or too difficult to be paved or regularly maintained. Very often they contain unbridged river crossings of various sizes (though, not always, e.g. F985, F947, F347, …). F-roads may be (and often are) difficult also in many other aspects – steep, narrow, big holes, bad grip, big gravel, sharp stones, uneven ground, etc.

f899 flateyjardalsvegur iceland

F899 Flateyjardalsvegur

It’s compulsory to drive the F-roads only with 4×4 cars. F-roads are also officially open only in summer (usually July and August). It’s possible to drive the F-roads also outside of summer, however, there is no winter service, which means they are not maintained and most of the time they are virtually impossible to drive on. Outside of the summer, most of the F-roads are passable only by huge super jeeps and experienced drivers. Snow is one of the biggest road dangers in Iceland. See below the section explaining the difference between “impassable”, “closed” and “no winter service” road.

F-roads also often get closed due to bad weather, bad road conditions, too much rain etc. – see the section below – road alerts and weather alerts.

Most of the car rental insurance packages also do not cover many common damages which occur on F-roads (such as damaging the undercarriage/chassis of your vehicle). For example, there is only one company – Lotus car rental – which insures you also for water damage / river crossings. No other company does this!

Luckily, there’s an external insurance provider which can insure you against everything (except river crossings) for an affordable price, which we always use when renting cars in Iceland. RentalCover gives you better coverage for a lower price compared to local insurance packages. If you are interested in more details about how car rental insurance works in Iceland, we wrote an article about how to choose the best car rental insurance in Iceland.

We also wrote a detailed list of all F-roads to help you navigate through beautiful and difficult Icelandic highland roads.

f985 vatnajokull glacier

F985 Vatnajokull glacier

Dirt tracks

Dirt tracks, e.g. Krakatindur. “Dirt tracks” is not the official name. It’s a term I use for unpaved non-F-roads which are still considered to be roads and are perfectly legal to drive on (in a proper vehicle and conditions). Most of them, you will not find on Google maps. But you should find all of them on the Icelandic map Iskort.

If the road isn’t marked as a “road” on this map and it doesn’t lead to any settlement/hut then it is forbidden to drive through it and it’s considered off-road driving (see the section below).

emstrur track markarfljotsgljufur

Some well-known dirt tracks in the south include the Krakatindur track (Krakatindsleið), Skaelingar track, Hungurfit track, and several more. The list is pretty long, though. We list some of the dirt tracks in our List of all F-roads. Most of these tracks do have names and if you arrive at their beginning you will find a metal or wooden sign next to it pointing towards a final destination (which is usually a hut or some locally well-known place).

These dirt tracks are the least maintained and often the most difficult Icelandic roads. Some insurance packages are not applicable at all. They are covered by RentalCover insurance packages, though. That’s why we always use RentalCover for insurance when renting cars in Iceland. These tracks are often steep, uneven, full of potholes, may contain big river crossings, there’s often no network coverage and the traffic is very scarce, meaning if anything happens, any help may be far away.

Skælingar blautulon track langisjor iceland

Between Skælingar track and Blautulón track to Langisjór

Moreover, many car rental companies explicitly forbid you to drive on Icelandic tracks. Even with 4×4 cars, it’s often forbidden. F-roads are allowed, but not dirt tracks. Always ask your car rental company and/or read your rental car terms and conditions! If you rent a super jeep, however, these tracks are usually allowed to drive on.

  1. Please, be very careful and prepare well in advance when driving dirt tracks.
  2. Never go during weather or road alerts.
  3. Don’t go outside of summer.
  4. Have backup plans ready, enough food and water.
  5. Most importantly, take a proper car – a super jeep.
  6. Ask someone, ideally a ranger, before going.
  7. Study the tracks in guides like our List of all F-roads.
  8. And if you are not willing to put up all these efforts, then definitely DON’T DRIVE them yourself, take a specific guided tour or a private super jeep tour!

Read our guide on how to choose the best insurance for your car rental in Iceland.

Road alerts and weather alerts

The most important thing to look at – and to begin with – are the weather and road alerts. You can find most of these summarized on the website www.safetravel.is. Weather-related alerts are also to be found on en.vedur.is. Road-related warnings are displayed on road.is.

Please always CHECK THESE FIRST. If everything is OK, then proceed with the planning of your trip further. These alerts appear all year round in various forms, so please read them daily.

f207 around laki craters

F207 around Laki craters in rainy weather

For example, during our stay in August, it rained a bit more for 3 days and some of the roads became impassable even in the middle of the summer. We planned to cross the country via F26, only to realize the day before the trip that it was marked impassable due to high water level in the Hagakvisl river. We had to change our plans, but better to change your plans than to get your 50 000 Eur worth car rental drown in the river. Or worse – to end up in the river yourself.

The other day there was a strong wind warning for the Snaefelssnes peninsula, hence we decided not to travel there. All of these warnings are useful and can help you save time, nerves, health and money.

Impassable vs. Closed vs. No winter service

This is often mistaken by visitors. Usually, it goes like this:

Tourist: “F249 is impassable.

Icelander: “Impassable doesn’t mean closed.

Tourist: “What? But it’s impassable, isn’t it?

closed impassable road iceland

The difference between the a) closed, b) impassable and c) no winter service road in Iceland

Let’s clear this up:

  • Impassable – this means the road is impassable for a typical visitor with a typical 4×4 car, i.e. impassable for virtually all tourists. But not for Icelanders with a super jeep and local experience. It is NOT forbidden to drive this road. BUT, the chances are (99%) you would not be able to drive it without help. An Icelandic guide can take you here, or you can use a special convoy service or a private sit-in guide. Even they can do it only in good conditions. Please don’t drive the impassable road yourself alone, you can die. 
  • No winter service – this is very similar to “Impassable”, but it’s softer. No winter service means the road is NOT closed. BUT, (if this is the F-road) the chances are (50-90%) you would not be able to drive it without help. There may be 1-meter deep snow, fast-flowing unbridged rivers, or simply anything else because the road just isn’t maintained at all. Again, An Icelandic guide can take you here, or you can use a special convoy service or a private sit-in guide. Please don’t drive the “no winter service” F-road yourself alone, you can get injured. If it’s not an F-road, it’s slightly better but still can be dangerous to drive.
  • Closed – this is the only official sign which really makes it illegal to drive the road. No one can drive the closed road under any circumstances.
iceland snow f-road

This is how an F-road in great condition looks like when it snows

Off-road driving

Off-road driving is illegal and strictly forbidden in Iceland. This is rule number one. If you drive off the road, you may get a hefty fine of several tens of thousands of Euros/Dollars. The reason is, Icelandic nature is very fragile, and if you e.g. drive through the moss, it may die completely and never grow again. But not everyone understands what off-road driving actually means.

What is off-road driving

  • If you drive away from any road – be it normal road, F-road, or any official Icelandic track
  • If there’s a puddle/water in the middle of the road and you drive away from the road (e.g. on a moss) to avoid it
  • Look at the picture below which depicts it nicely:
off-road driving iceland

What is off-road driving in Iceland?

What is NOT off-road driving

  • Driving through a puddle in the middle of the road
  • Driving on the impassable / no winter service road (if you really stick to the actual road, if not, it’s illegal driving!)
  • Driving on the dirt track which is not on Google Maps and it’s not even an F-road, but it’s on Icelandic maps  
hekla f-road iceland

The final ascent of the Hekla track.

The main roads and F-roads are not the only legal roads to drive on in Iceland. There are also “dirt tracks”, usually a road with clear tracks and a sign pointing to their endpoint (e.g. “Hekla”). It’s OK to drive there – BUT – they are usually very difficult (more than F-roads), require a big car and you will drive there entirely on your own responsibility. Check your car rental terms, the chances are it’s forbidden to drive a dirt track unless you rented a super jeep. More on the dirt tracks above.

If there are tracks on the ground, which you cannot find on any maps, nor a local Icelandic map and the tracks don’t lead to any hut / settlement, then this is illegal off-road driving and you are forbidden to do it. Hence, a good rule of thumb is – if you can’t find the road on any map – don’t drive there!

krakatindur track near hekla

Krakatindur track near Hekla. Watch out for your car’s ground clearance!

Free maps of Icelandic roads

The easiest and most accessible set of maps for Iceland – available also for a free offline download – is Google maps. If you find the road on Google maps, 99% of the time you may drive there (of course except for road alerts and weather alerts which Google doesn’t have). Google maps don’t have all the Icelandic roads though and aren’t entirely precise. That’s why it’s good to combine them with local Icelandic maps:

Vegasja

vegasja.vegagerdin.is/eng/ is a great, updated, official source of all regular Icelandic roads and F-roads. This is a good and precise set of local Icelandic maps. It doesn’t have dirt tracks marked on it, though.

vegasja local online map iceland

Vegasja – local updated online map of Iceland

Iskort

vefsja.iskort.is/ is probably the best set of online Icelandic maps I’ve found. They were recommended to me by my friend Haraldur – thank you for that. This map contains also almost all dirt tracks and thus is the most comprehensive Icelandic map source you may possibly find.

iskort local icelandic map

Iskort is the best local Icelandic map with all roads and dirt tracks.

Karta GPS

A great Icelandic road map mobile app is available also for free offline download. Content-wise it’s one of the greatest and you can use it as a navigation! It contains almost all of the roads, including dirt tracks and even a lot of hiking trails! Graphically, it’s maybe not that pleasant compared to the options above, but it serves its purpose well.

Videos of Icelandic roads

We tried to record all of the drives we made in Iceland recently. Subscribe to our Epic Iceland YouTube channel and get the newest videos first.

Our friend Ervin makes wonderful F-road driving videos as well. He has a pretty successful F-road YouTube channel himself, definitely follow him!

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Posted by epiciceland in Tips, 3 comments
Day 5 – Hekla Highlands

Day 5 – Hekla Highlands

Highlands around Hekla are a unique area of remote and rough Icelandic nature almost untouched by tourists.

hekla highlands map

Map of our day around Hekla highlands

The weather forecast was not very favorable once again. So, we had to chase the weather yet another day. We were based in Hella and I had prepared several backup plans and alternative options for each day to stay flexible, as mentioned in our article – how to plan an Icelandic highlands road trip. On day 5 of our trip, however, the forecast showed rain at ALL of the places I had planned 🙂 Welcome to Iceland.

Nevertheless, there were no weather warnings, nor road closures, so we (I) definitely wanted to head out for some new adventures. I finally decided where to go based on the forecast showing probably the least rain in the area near Hekla, south of Landmannaleid (F225). Moreover, this day plan contained a lot of driving and you don’t care that much about rain when driving (unless it’s torrential, which it wasn’t).

Enjoy car rental discounts and tour discounts in Iceland for our readers.

F225 – Landmannaleið

From our accommodation located at the beginning of road 26, it took us only a couple of minutes to reach the junction with F225 road, Landmannaleid. Landmannaleid is an old highlands road that serves as a shortcut from Hella/Hvolsvollur to the Landmannalaugar area.

f225 landmannaleid in rain

F225 Landmannaleið in rain

All the blogs and articles recommend taking the northern part of road 208 (previously F208) to reach Landmannalaugar. They claim this route is easier, faster, and safer. None of these is true in my opinion. F225 did undergo many road improvements, and it’s possible it will even be reclassified to 225 (without an “F”). Driving F225 was liking driving on a highway for me 🙂 It’s much more comfortable, more straight, less bumpy, with fewer potholes, and considerably fewer cars compared to 208 (F208) north.

Moreover, landscapes around F225 are 100x more beautiful than those around F208 north, which are pretty boring and there’s pretty much nothing to see. F225 is also much shorter and thus quicker than 208 north. Even Icelandic highland buses use F225 to reach Landmannalaugar – and they know why. The only disadvantage of road F225 is that it contains 2-3 little water streams that need to be crossed, but they were of minor size at the time of our visit (late August) and they never turn to big river crossings. Of course, it’s always best to adhere to all river crossing rules, but these fords shouldn’t be any problem even in a smaller 4×4 SUV like Suzuki Jimney.

F-roads and dirt tracks near Hekla

While F225 is a “highway F-road” in my opinion, this definitely cannot be said about other roads in the Hekla area. All the roads and tracks connecting to F225 are rough highlands roads and you will need a big 4×4 car to pass them safely. We wrote an article about which cars are suitable for F-roads and tracks around Hekla and similar. Hint – aim at least for a Land Cruiser – or better a raised super-jeep-like vehicle. I rented exactly a super-jeep-like vehicle (raised Land Cruiser with snorkel) to be able to pass all these roads safely.

Hekla track (F-road)

Our first stop after turning right to F225 was another turn right towards Hekla. There’s a track that leads around halfway to the top of Hekla. This means some gorgeous views when it’s not foggy. Definitely, a place we wanted to visit 🙂 Some (and Google as well) mark this road incorrectly as “Hekla F-road”. However, this is not an F-road! It’s just a dirt track, which means, the quality is even worse than for an F-road. Always check with your rental company if it allows for such roads, choose your car wisely and study the roads in advance. Mostly only super jeeps are allowed to drive the dirt tracks.

f-road to hekla

Beginning of the F-road to Hekla

This road is even marked on Google maps (unlike other dirt tracks in the area), so getting in the right direction shouldn’t be a problem. There are no river crossings on the Hekla road. The road consists mostly of ash and mould, is really bumpy, and gets pretty steep soon. The main difficulty with the road is undoubtedly its steepness – and big potholes on steep slopes. You need a 4×4 with big tires and a great grip on these tires to be able to make it all the way to the top through the potholes.

hekla f road track

Hekla F-road near the top

That being said, with every additional meter climbed, the views get better and better. We eventually reached the point (the last kilometer or so of the road) where the slope was so steep that it looked really scary. We stopped at that point, parked our car next to the road on the only flat ground, and wanted to climb the rest of the road by walking. However, we could hardly get out of the car, because the wind blew so strongly, it wasn’t even possible to open the doors. After getting out of the car, we felt like we would be blown if we jumped a little, so we decided to get back to the car.

hekla f-road iceland

The final ascent of the Hekla F-road track.

I tried to persuade my wife to go to the top in our Land Cruiser – which would definitely make it – but she was too scared. The slope up to Hekla wasn’t only probably the steepest we’d seen at that time, but also very uneven, narrow, and full of potholes and other similar obstacles. Thus, I didn’t push it further and rather turned the vehicle and went back. Bye-bye Hekla, maybe next time.

Raudaskal crater

One of the “secret” and “impassable” places where guided tours in the highlands would take you is a Rauðaskál crater. You will not find Raudaskal in many guides or lists of to-visit-places because it’s still not much visited and thus also not touristy at all. Surprisingly, Raudaskal is not hard to access at all. Of course, you need a 4×4 and have a proper map to find it. But there are no river crossings on the way and you can make it to Raudaskal in basically any 4×4.

raudaskal crater iceland

Rauðaskál crater, often marked as a “hidden” spot.

Here is a map of Raudaskal. After a few kilometers of driving the F225 from the west, you simply turn right towards “Hekla F-road” and then, instead of continuing straight/right towards Hekla, you turn left. A few hundred meters from this left turn there’s another left turn and you will quickly find yourself at improvised gravel parking in front of Rauðaskál. There have been issues of illegal offroad driving in the past – drivers drove right on the edge of the Raudaskal crater – which is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN. You need to leave your car at the gravel parking spot and continue by walking. There’s no road at the edge of the crater.

raudaskal crater map

Raudaskal crater map

Raudaskal crater is one of these lunar, out of this world and completely remote places, not yet discovered by hoards of tourists. Its green and red colors and surreal surroundings are both unique and stunning at once. It’s possible to walk a while around Rauðaskál, however, we had a really strong wind during our visit so it didn’t feel safe at all to approach the edge of the crater. Thus, we rather observed the crater from a safe distance – which I recommend everyone to do as well. There are no ropes, nor any safety barriers. This is still a pretty wild place.

Krakatindur track – Krakatindsleið

rainy krakatindur road iceland

Rainy Krakatindur track

Next on my list of unexplored Icelandic dirt tracks was a track named Krakatindur. Krakatindur is an older volcano/mountain in the middle of the highlands south of F225 and north of Landmannalaugar. There are several dirt tracks in this area and the Krakatindur track is one of the best known out of them. As the name suggests it leads to and around legendary Krakatindur mountain. Once again – this is not an F-road! It’s just a track, which means, the quality is even worse than for an F-road. Please carefully check with your car rental company if you can drive it.

krakatindur track near hekla

Krakatindur track near Hekla. Watch out for your car’s ground clearance!

Krakatindur track starts right next to road F225 and next to the detour to Raudaskal. It is a narrow track in the huge moss area surrounded by hills, moss and absolute silence. It’s impossible to drive the road fast because it has many holes, little and bigger slopes, twists, turns and all of those even combined together to give you a hard time in some passages. Here is a map of Krakatindur road – Krakatindsleið.

krakatindur mountain iceland

Legendary Krakatindur mountain

Nonetheless, the Krakatindsleid road is picturesque, and more so are its surroundings. For highlands track lovers, this one is a must. We’ve done the track in a raised Land Cruiser (33” Cooper discoverer tires) and the car felt just right for the road. We had seen also one Dacia Duster on this road, but in my opinion, Duster is simply too small for the Krakatindur track and I consider it irresponsible driving in the Duster in here. Come only with a large 4×4!

krakatindur f-road iceland

Crazy Krakatindur F-road track – where to now?

There are no river crossings on the Krakatindur track, but remember, the road is not easy to drive on. Our aim was to finish at the north-east part of the road which is located next to Raudfossar. We firstly passed Krakatindur mountain (roughly in the middle) and then headed to Raudfossar area. At times, there were some pretty big holes at the track, testing the ground clearance of our Land Cruiser pretty well. Eventually, we arrived at Raudfossar gravel car park.

Raudfossar

Another of the “hidden gems” we wanted to explore in this part of the Icelandic highlands was the not that much known Raudfossar waterfall. We were surprised to arrive at the little gravel car park to find there 5-6 cars already, which seemed a lot, given the place is still pretty unknown and hard to access. We then realized why this was the case – Krakatindur is not the only way leading to the Raudfossar trail. The turn to Raudfossar is located closely to the main F225 Landmannaleid road, so it’s actually pretty easy to access from F 225. And that’s how all these cars got here.

raudafoss hiking trail

Raudafoss, a.k.a. Raudfossar, hiking trail

The rain didn’t get any better at this point, rather the opposite – not only wind, but now also more rain. All that in 5°C in the middle of August. Welcome to Iceland once again 🙂 My wife really didn’t feel like going for a hike in this kind of weather, so she stayed in the car. I put on all my wind and waterproof layers and went for the hike towards Raudfossar. This was supposed to take me some 20 minutes one way (still unpleasant with the wind blowing the cold rain into my face). But I didn’t feel cold, nor I was wet, thanks to the layers, so the hike was doable.

raudufossar iceland

Rauðufossar, Raudfossar or Raudafoss – all the different names for the same picturesque waterfall.

Rauðufossar trail

After 10 minutes of walking on the well-trodden path through the giant moss field, I was already able to spot Raudafoss in the distance. Beautiful sight in beautiful surroundings. It’s roughly 2-3km from the car park and it took me roughly 20-30 minutes to reach Raudfossar. The last part of the trail is slightly steep (a couple in front of me even used hiking poles), but for me it was manageable also without the poles. It was definitely much much easier compared to e.g. parts of the Fimmvorduhals hike.

raudafoss hike views

Amazing views from the hiking trail next to Raudfossar (Raudafoss)

Raudfossar waterfall is very unique with all its orange colors and I definitely do recommend doing this short hike. Even in unpleasant weather the short hike to Raudfossar was doable without problems, when dressed properly. Raudfossar definitely belongs to one of my favorite Icelandic waterfalls.

Raudufossafjoll

The trail towards Raudfossar doesn’t end at Raudfossar, though. You may continue to pursue the source of all these orange colors and orange-colored water in Raudfossar. That’s what I did. In the beginning, I was just curious what will be the view like if I climb the nearby hill right next to Raudfossar. I climbed the hill right of Raudfossar and the view over the entire moss area was amazing (see picture above). There’s also a big crater hidden in that way, which you will be able to spot only after climbing the hill.

raudfossar trail

Hiking trail between Rauðufossar and Rauðufossafjöll

The trail then continues along the water streams further ahead. I didn’t have any idea if it was worth going forward or not. I met a British couple and asked them if the trail is worth continuing and they replied “absolutely, it’s amazing”. I was too curious not to continue after these words 🙂 However, I wasn’t sure how long will it take me to reach the end of the trail. I went anyway, with my wife still waiting in the car.

raudufossafjoll end of raudfossar trail

The end of the Raudfossar hiking trail, a stream called Rauðufossafjöll

The trail continued into the new and new valleys, new and new moss fields, over new and new water streams. I don’t know why I had thought it will end in a few minutes, but it didn’t :)) The further I got, the less I wanted to turn back before reaching the end. Eventually I finally reached the end of the trail in around 1 hour, which was much longer than I expected. And I hiked at my full speed, which I don’t consider to be slow.

That being said – it takes around 3 hours from the car park to do the entire Raudfossar – Raudafossafjoll round trip. Or around 1 hour if you want to go for the waterfall only.

raudufoss stream source - raudufossafjoll

Raudufoss stream source – Raudufossafjoll

There’s an oval orange source of all these orange water streams at the end of the trail. There’s also another cute little orange waterfall. The entire area fits well into the moon-like landscapes of this part of highlands. Was it one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in Iceland? Probably not. Was it worth hiking the extra 1 hour one-way? Probably yes, the area is very nice.

Blahylur (Hnausapollur) lake

During our last visit, we had found out that probably the most beautiful crater lake near Landmannalaugar was supposed to be Ljotipollur and we were happy to see it and admire it, being entirely alone there. This just confirmed our thoughts that Ljotipollur was a very good option when searching for beautiful, non-touristy places. We had not gone for any other lakes at that time, though. This time I wanted to explore also another, supposedly more touristy, crater lake – Bláhylur also known as Hnausapollur.

If you have time, nice weather and a good camera, you may take a picture like this one from Blahylur. We had none of those 3 so we took a picture below 😀

blahylur hnausapollur iceland

Hnausapollur, a.k.a. Bláhylur int not that good weather

Blahylur (Hnausapollur) is located already on 208 (F208) north. It’s also possible to get very close to Hnausapollur by driving. You don’t need any special 4×4 to visit them, basically, any SUV should be enough, even Suzuki Jimny or Dacia Duster. Blahylur lake is beautiful and pretty much comparable to Ljotipollur, yet a bit different. We didn’t even meet many fellow tourists there (maybe due to rainy weather?). Blahylur lake is also definitely one of the places which are fine to visit in the rain because it is easy to access and does not require extensive walking.

Gjain

gjain hiking trails view

View over the entire Gjain area – hobbit land 🙂

After driving and exploring F-roads and dirt tracks around the Hekla area, the weather still didn’t get any better with rain and fog still in place. Hence, we decided to go and see one of the more touristy spots that was situated nearby (and we hadn’t been there yet) – Gjain. From my own Icelandic research, I had never found Gjain particularly interesting, but several visitors praised it for being beautiful, so we decided to go and to form our own opinion.

gjain trail waterfall

Everything is smaller in Gjáin. Especially waterfalls.

There’s an easy gravel road leading towards Gjain, without any river crossings. It’s bumpy, so cars with really low ground clearance may struggle a bit, but definitely doable for everyone. I had thought before, that Gjain is a larger natural area, but it’s actually pretty small. To us, it seemed like a hobbit land. Everything was smaller in Gjain than at other similar Icelandic places. Smaller waterfalls, smaller lakes, smaller rivers, smaller islands, shorter trails. Like a huge miniature of the Icelandic countryside.

gjain iceland waterfalls

One of the waterfalls in Gjáin

Nevertheless, Gjáin is a nice, short, stop when going to/from the Landmannalaugar area and/or Haifoss. If you don’t like it, you may simply leave earlier and it will not cost you a lot of time. Gjain doesn’t belong to one of our favorite places in Iceland, but we still do find it interesting and some other visitors even amazing. It’s also one of the spots which are easy to visit even if it rains.

Stong Viking House

The rain still poured persistently, so we went for our last stop, which lied very close to Gjain, and was actually a part of it probably – old Viking house. It’s actually a reconstruction of the real old Viking house with some parts of the base of the building still being original. Interesting, though not my cup of tea 🙂 But, my wife seemed to be thrilled.

Videos of highlands near Hekla

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Posted by epiciceland in Highlands, 6 comments
Day 4 – Laki craters

Day 4 – Laki craters

Laki craters are an amazing remote place in Icelandic highlands in the south. Climbing Mt. Laki and seeing the remnants of the 250-year-old eruption is an unforgettable experience. The eruption changed European history and we were able to feel that pretty lively when visiting Laki craters.

Rainy forecast – what to do?

We had beautiful weather during the first 3 days of our trip. Then the weather got worse, exactly according to the forecast. In our case, this meant some rain at most of the places in the south and clouds everywhere. Light rain is still good, unless the visibility worsens, i.e. unless fog appears. Because once it does, any place with a view won’t serve you any view.

Our summer season in Iceland was very specific, with the south having colder, cloudier, and more rainy weather compared to the north and the east. And this persisted throughout most of the summer. For our trip, we planned 9 days in the south and 9 days in the north and the east. So, the question was – with 3 already nice days – what to do with the 6 remaining days which were supposed to be rather rainy?

f207 around laki craters

F207 around Laki craters in rainy weather

Luckily, the rain often isn’t everywhere. This means, that even in a rainy forecast, it’s often possible to find some places where it either doesn’t rain a lot or it even doesn’t rain at all. And that’s what we actually successfully achieved – to “chase the non-rainy skies”. We wrote an entire article about that – “How to find a nice weather in Iceland”, feel free to read it.

This was exactly the case also on Day 4 of our trip – rainy forecast for most of the south. Yet, we managed to find some local regions where the forecast didn’t show the rain. One of them was Laki craters.

How to get to Laki craters

Almost everyone knows where the Fjadrargljufur canyon (Justin Bieber canyon) lies. Yet, almost nobody knows where Laki craters are 🙂 Even in spite of the fact, that in my opinion, Laki craters are 100x times more interesting than over-touristy Fjadrargljufur canyon. And surprisingly, the road to Laki craters is located right next to the Fjadrargljufur canyon.

laki craters roads map

Laki craters roads map

F206 and F207 to Laki

F206 – Lakavegur and F207 – Lakagigavegur are F-roads leading to and around Laki craters. Roads are quite long and you have to drive slowly on them, because of their uneven surface and narrow paths. I drove there twice this summer – once in light rain and total fog, the second time in cloudy weather, but with good visibility. If it’s foggy, you definitely have to slow down even further.

f206 laki craters

F206 to Laki craters in rain and fog

If it’s not too rainy or it has not rained too much in previous days/weeks (rising water levels in the rivers too much), even an ordinary 4×4 like Dacia Duster should be enough for the road – when driven carefully. To be almost 100% sure to pass without any damage, I, however, do recommend bigger 4×4 like Land Cruiser or Defender.

The roads lead through various different landscapes. Some of them are full of moss. Some of them are just huge gravel areas. And some of them are already part of a volcanic crater area near actual Laki craters. The landscapes around F206 and F207 leading to Laki are beautiful and I do recommend taking your time to go and see them.

f207 river crossing laki

F207 river crossing (road to Laki craters)

There are two medium-size river crossings on roads F206 and F207. One is on F206 leading to the ranger’s hut a.k.a. tourist information center next to Mt. Laki. The other river crossing is near the end of the F207 loop around the Laki craters area. Both F206/F207 river crossings are similar – the water is calm (no strong current) and the riverbed is pretty even and flat. The only issue is with the water level which varies. At the time of our visits, however, water levels were very low, making it an easy ford. Except for these two crossings, there are several other smaller ones.

How long is a trip to Laki craters?

The answer highly depends on 1) weather, 2) your driving skills, 3) how much time you want to spend in the main Laki area. It took us roughly 2 hours of quick driving in foggy weather to get from the beginning of F206 to Mt. Laki. To finish F207 and come back via F206 count for around 2,5 hours of quick driving. Add to that the time you want to spend in the area (2-4 hours) and you will arrive at almost a full day trip 🙂

Fagrifoss

There’s a beautiful stop roughly in the middle of F206 towards Laki craters – Fagrifoss waterfall. For me, this was one of the most interesting waterfalls with a very special remote atmosphere. Fagrifoss car park is located a few meters to the right from the main F206 road (when coming from Kirkjubaerklaustur). You should find it easily because it’s basically the only detour to the right in the middle of F206. You can also try to locate it on the map.

fagrifoss f206

Fagrifoss – a beautiful waterfall next to F206 on a way towards Laki craters

There’s a big gravel car park next to Fagrifoss, where we even saw 2 buses parking (not both at one time). Most of the time, however, you should be here almost alone. It’s then a short 5-minute walk from the car park towards Fagrifoss via a paved path and a little gate (close it after passing). There’s even a viewing deck built over the waterfall, so you can enjoy it from a very nice viewpoint.

During our first visit to the waterfall, Fagrifoss was partially covered in the mist. The atmosphere was still very special though and I would recommend seeing it even in a partial fog. During our second visit to the waterfall, we didn’t have any fog and were able to see Fagrifoss and its surroundings in their entirety.

Laki craters – the main area

laki craters area map

Laki craters area map

When I was planning the trip to Laki craters, I was struggling to find specific information about the Laki craters area. How big and long is the Laki area? What exactly is at Laki craters? How much time should we devote to Laki?. This is one of the reasons why I decided to write an article about it more in detail.

Once you reach the crossroads of the roads F206 (Lakavegur) and F207 (Lakagigavegur) you have arrived at the Laki craters area. The area is full of little old volcanoes, lava, ash, and moss. The circular road F207 leads around the area. The road is OK to drive through even in smaller SUV like Dacia Duster (during summer, if there are no weather alerts). There are some small car parks along the road where you may stop your car and take some pictures or just admire what you see.

f207 lakagigavegur iceland

F207 – Lakagigavegur

Except for these “car stops” there’s also the main Laki craters area. You will reach it the soonest if you turn right at the crossroads of F206 and F207 (which most visitors do). The main Laki craters area is located just below Mt. Laki. There’s a map of the area, ranger’s hut, toilets, and visitors’ center right below Mt. Laki. This is the main starting point to explore the area.

Laki crater hikes

The two main hikes in the Laki craters area are the visitors’ trail and the trail to the peak of Mt. Laki. If the visibility is good, I definitely do recommend you climb up the Mt. Laki.

mount laki

Mount Laki trail, a quick hike with some solid elevation

Mt. Laki

The views from the top of Mt. Laki are simply breath-taking. This was one of the most amazing places I’ve been to in Iceland. Looking at many small 200-year old eruptions from the bird’s eye perspective was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The hike is a bit steep but short and not dangerous at all in a normal weather. There’s a well-marked path all the way to the top, which took us 15 minutes to complete at a quick pace.

laki crater hike

Mount Laki views

With each step up, the views are getting only better and better and once you reach the top you will be rewarded with an unbelievable 360~ scenery. During our first visit to the Laki craters we had foggy weather and little visibility, so climbing the mountain made no sense. However, we went for Mt. Laki also for the second time, during the good visibility and we don’t regret going there twice at all!

Visitors’ trail

The visitors’ trail was the second most interesting hike in our opinion. It’s a really easy 30-minutes long walk (rather than a hike) via out-of-this world little old volcanoes covered with green moss. It serves as an introduction to the entire area and has a unique atmosphere attached to it.

laki craters visitors trail

Laki craters visitors’ trail – the easiest hike

The Laki visitors’ trail begins a hundred meters left to the ranger’s hut and there’s a small car park right next to it. Thus, if you want to save 5 minutes, you may drive from the car park in front of the tourist center to this little car park right next to the trail.

Laki crater lakes

There are several lakes located in the Laki craters area. Two of them are easily accessible by car and/or walking and one of the Laki lakes (Tjarnargigur) is really picturesque (and recommended by rangers to visit).

If you continue in the counter-clockwise direction via F207, you will arrive at the Tjarnargigur lake on your left and at the Lambavatn lake on your right. There’s an improvised gravel car park in front of the Tjarnargigur lake where you have to leave your car and continue further by walking. On the other hand, you may drive all the way to the Lambavatn lake with your car.

laki tjarnargigur lake

Tjarnargigur lake at F207 – a beautiful spot near Laki craters

It takes about 10 minutes of walking from the car park to arrive at the Tjarnargigur lake. We went there in light rain and foggy weather and the surrounding landscapes shined in the green color of the moss. The lake is very nice, peaceful and easy to visit. It, of course, is worth the little detour.

Our experience with Laki craters

During our first visit, this was one of the very few places in the south where it wasn’t supposed to rain all day. Yet, it was still foggy. We had to drive slowly and carefully all the way from Fjadrargljufur canyon, next to Fagrifoss to Laki craters. The visibility was bad, the roads narrow, twisty and full of gravel. In foggy and rainy weather, the drive is not that pleasant and feels a bit long. It’s still a surreal experience, though, given the beautiful Icelandic landscapes coming out of the mist from time to time.

f206 to laki in rain

F206, Lakavegur, in rain

We made a stop at Fagrifoss, being entirely alone there and enjoyed it in a partial mist. Yes, we couldn’t see it entirely clear, but still it was beautiful.

Then we continued towards Laki craters and crossed the only medium-sized river there without any problems (low water level at the time of our visit + adhering to river crossing rules). Soon after the river crossing, we arrived at the crossroads. This is where the Laki circle begins and road F207 – Lakagigavegur starts. You may continue in either of the directions, but most of the visitors (and us as well) go right first. If you turn right, you will reach the tourist information center (a.k.a. ranger’s hut) with toilets and map of the area after some 20 minutes long drive.

f207 to laki in rain

F207 to Laki in rain

At that time the crater area full of old lava popping out of the moss already starts to reveal in front of you. Once we arrived at the ranger’s hut, the ranger immediately welcomed us, showed us the map of the area, and suggested doing the short visitor’s trail and finishing the Laki circle of road F207. He also suggested making a stop at Tjarnargigur lake, which, in his opinion, is one of the most beautiful places in the Laki area. On the other hand, the ranger suggested not to climb Mt. Laki due to foggy weather and no visibility from the top.

Laki craters when it rains

We followed the ranger’s advice and went for the visitor’s trail located a few hundred meters left, up the hill, from the visitor’s center. Laki visitor’s trail is basically a nice, easy and short walk in between the old lava and little craters created during the Laki eruption in late 1700’s. It was an amazing experience even in foggy weather and light rain. Then we tried to climb at least a bit towards Mt. Laki and realized the ranger was right and we couldn’t see a thing as we progressed towards the peak. Hence, we decided to turn back, get into the car and continue towards Tjarnargigur lake.

laki craters in rain

Laki craters in rain (view from the Mt. Laki trail)

The F207 road is just a bumpy dirt road, without any huge obstacles so we drove it all the way to the Tjarnargigur lake without any problems. It’s roughly a 10-minute walk from the little car park towards Tjarnargigur lake. The lake is located in a very fragile vegetation environment, full of stunningly green moss, and once again has a pretty special atmosphere. Definitely worth making this short detour.

After the visit to the Tjarnargigur lake, we continued to finish the circular F207 Lakagigavegur. There we encountered our second medium-sized river crossing which was pretty similar to the first one and we didn’t have any problems with the ford. Short before the end of the F207, there’s even a small campsite where you may spend the night if interested in that. Not our case, we continued back via the same road F206 to Kirkjubaerklaustur.

There are 2 or 3 no-name roads other than F206 and F207 as detours from these roads which lead either west or east of Kirkjubaerklaustur. These roads are considerably less maintained, so we decided not to go for them this time and used the ordinary F207 and F206 to get back. Maybe next time.

Laki craters in nice weather

Two weeks after our first visit to Laki craters (which was really foggy and with an all-day-long drizzle) we decided to go see them again. We didn’t climb Mt. Laki on our first visit, due to the fog and no visibility at all. This time we wanted to climb it and see the views! We finished all our activities on that day at 4 PM and the weather was great. Thus, we made a quick decision to hurry up and headed directly to Mt. Laki. Laki-ly, by 6 PM we had our car already parked in front of Mt. Laki.

mt laki view at laki craters

View from Mount Laki at Laki craters on a beautiful day

The hike to the summit is really quick in nice weather. And the views are more than just stunning. Seeing the earth “opening” in front of our eyes is an unforgettable experience. It was definitely worth it going to see Laki again in clear weather.

Laki craters Videos

To be added.

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How to find a nice weather in Iceland?

How to find a nice weather in Iceland?

The aim of this guide is to help you assess the weather conditions at a particular place during your visit in Iceland. It works best in the summer season (June to September), although we believe there’s a lot of useful info also for the other seasons. Always check first the safetravel.is website and road.is for any travel and road warnings – these are priority number one.

In the winter, please additionally to all rules below – carefully consider also snow conditions and shorter daylight hours.

vestrahorn in rain iceland

Vestrahorn in rain

Beginner’s mistakes in the Icelandic weather forecast

1. “The forecast shows rain all of the time!”

Us: OK, what did you look at?

He: “What, what? The forecast!”

Us: OK, but what forecast? 🙂

He: “Like what, what? On google”.

The forecast on Google is from weather.com and this forecast sucks entirely. It usually shows rain everywhere almost all of the time, because there’s a CHANCE it can rain. Yes, there’s a chance everywhere and all of the time in Iceland that it can rain 🙂 But such a forecast is useless. Please when looking at the forecast, look at the official Icelandic meteorological office website en.vedur.is. This is the most precise forecast.

2. “I looked at en.vedur.is and it shows rain in the south!”

OK, once again, what did you look at? This general country forecast?

iceland weather forecast

General local Icelandic weather forecast screen

This is a good indication of the entire weather situation in the country, but the weather may change rapidly also LOCALLY. In order to find out what the weather might be at your points of interest, look at the regional/local forecast of the specific place you plan to visit.

3. “I looked at the specific place where I plan to go at en.vedur.is and it shows rain!”

OK, good, and did you look at the intensity of the rain? Did you look specifically at the rain forecast itself, not just a general weather forecast? There’s a section called “precipitation” at en.vedur.is which you should study precisely.

heavy rain forecast iceland

Your best chances for no rain are at Snaefellsnes. Although, it may rain there as well, of course, but probably less than elsewhere.

4. “I looked at the weather forecast and the next week should be beautiful”

OK, good for you, but please don’t rely on a 1-week ahead forecast. This is simply too long for Iceland to hold without changes. It’s more than possible that the 1-week ahead forecast will change entirely. Unfortunately, it is not possible to plan according to the weather that far ahead. In our experience, the forecast becomes very reliable some 1-2 days before the planned date.

5. “The forecast for Fimmvorduhals hike for tomorrow shows nice weather and no rain”

OK, great. The chances are, you are all set for the beautiful day. But never forget to check the WIND as well. The wind may be very strong and dangerous, especially in the mountains. If the weather is generally nice in the summer, the wind usually isn’t that strong. But it may be. So please, better make sure and check the specific wind forecast as well.

Where to find the precise Icelandic weather forecast

In the above lines, we tried to present some examples of how NOT to look at the Icelandic weather forecast. We also mentioned some ways how the forecast can be improved. Let’s summarize them here. So, in the first place – where to find the precise Icelandic weather forecast? At en.vedur.is. This is the official forecasting website of the Icelandic meteorological office and you will hardly find any better for Iceland.

Next thing – don’t look just at the general forecast – icons of sun/clouds/rain, temperature, wind speed. Go more into detail.

Firstly, search for the location of your interest and look at that particular region:

iceland forecast regions

Regional forecast

Secondly, look at the dedicated precipitation forecast and then at the dedicated wind forecast. These are the most precise estimates of rain and wind throughout the country and at your place of interest. We were surprised to realize how many visitors don’t know about these two forecasts at all:

rain and wind forecast iceland

LEFT: This is how a “rain forecast” may look like in detail. Many places with no rain at all! RIGHT: a bit windy weather, better avoid Snaefellsnes!

Thirdly, don’t plan too much ahead (like 1-week or more). The most precise and reliable forecasts are the ones 1-2 days before the desired date.

Fourthly, look at the evolution in time. If the forecast shows no rain just during a particular hour, but rain during all other times, the chances are you will experience rain anyway. On the other hand, if the forecast shows rain just at a particular hour and no rain for the rest of the day, the chances are you will not experience rain at all.

How to read the Icelandic weather forecast

Let’s say you plan to do the Fimmvorduhals hike the day after tomorrow (as we planned here). How to find out as precisely as possible what weather to expect?

First of all, let’s precisely locate the Fimmvorduhals trail in the map of en.vedur.is. After short research you should realize it’s about here:

fimmvorduhals weather forecast

Fimmvorduhals hike located on a general weather forecast map

This (and a few kilometers around) is the place you should be looking at in all of the forecasts. So let’s now locate it in the more detailed regional forecast at en.vedur.is:

fimmvorduhals weather forecast

Fimmvorduhals hike located on a local weather forecast map.

Better, but we still don’t know where exactly the rain showers will be and what the wind will be like. So let’s firstly look at the rain forecast:

fimmvorduhals rain forecast evolution

Fimmvorduhals rain forecast evolution

What we aim for is no rain (default brown-pinkish ground color) or little rain (occasional yellow color). Anything other is just a stronger rain. Always scroll in time throughout your desired day. If there’s no rain at all during all different times, the chances are there will be no rain also in reality.

In the example above, there’s actually no rain at the Fimmvorduhals pass at all. There’s a lot of rain nearby, though. Thus, the chances are, that most likely there should be no rain – if the rain area doesn’t move to the west. Now let’s do the same also with the wind forecast:

fimmvorduhals wind forecast evolution

Fimmvorduhals wind forecast evolution

Here we aim for the lightest green color. The darker it gets, the worse. Ideally, it should stay at green, or at worse blue – this is already a considerable wind you will feel. Anything worse might be already dangerous. Same as with the rain forecast, please analyze the wind throughout the day. In the example above the wind should be fine.

What if it rains everywhere?

If you look at the detailed local forecast – as we described above – most of the time you are able to find places with little or no rain. This is the strategy we used and thanks to it experienced almost no rain during our last 18-day long trip. Even if the forecast stated rain for most of the country.

Sveinstindur near Langisjor

Upper part of the hike on Sveinstindur near Langisjor lake on a foggy day with slight rain

Nevertheless, sometimes there are really days when it simply rains almost everywhere and almost during the entire day. Does it mean your day is completely lost then? Not at all. Although your options are a bit narrowed down, you still have plenty of them. We wrote an entire article about what to do when it rains in Iceland.

Weather and road alerts

The most important thing to look at – and to begin with – is the weather and road alerts. You can find most of these summarized on the website www.safetravel.is. Weather-related alerts are also to be found on en.vedur.is. Road-related warnings are displayed on road.is.

Please always CHECK THESE FIRST. If everything is OK, then proceed with the planning of your trip further. These alerts appear all year round in various forms, so please read them daily.

For example, during our stay in August, it rained a bit more for 3 days and some of the roads became impassable even in the middle of the summer. We planned to cross the country via F26, only to realize the day before the trip that it was marked impassable due to the high water level in the Hagakvisl river. We had to change our plans, but better to change your plans than to get your 50 000 Eur worth car rental drown in the river. Or worse – to end up in the river yourself.

iceland august impassable road

The road F26 becomes impassable in August due to heavy rain.

The other day there was a strong wind warning for the Snaefellsnes peninsula, hence we decided not to travel there. All of these warnings are useful and can help you save time, nerves, health, and money.

We hope this guide helped you at least a little bit with the planning of your trip. If you have any questions or ideas, always feel free to post them in the comments section.

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