iceland tourist crowds

How to avoid tourists?

“Iceland off the beaten path.”

“Hidden gems in Iceland.”

“Iceland best-kept secrets.”

Everybody Googles these headlines. Everybody wants to have a private, remote experience. Nobody enjoys crowds of tourists, shouting, leaving litter, waiting in queues for pictures…

Well, Iceland is one of the few places around the world where it’s still possible to experience “remoteness”. But, it’s getting worse each year. Covid definitely helped with over-tourism a bit. The everlasting question still remains, though:

How to avoid tourists?

Be creative. We offer you inspiration, how.

sigoldugljufur canyon

Sigoldugljufur canyon. A remote, magical, non-touristy place.

1. Pick non-touristy places

Googling for phrases like hidden gems, off the beaten track or best kept secrets usually won’t work. Once it’s easy to Google it will be also crowded. So how to find non-touristy places?

Our touristy index

Use our touristy index. Our site is a brand new website and it’s a really niche one.

We’ve also covered a touristy index for all of our:

Google a lot

Google for places with little reviews.

“Travel around google maps” to arrive at spots which you may find interesting, there are many of them in Iceland.

road 643 westfjords

Semi-paved road 643 with many potholes

2. Go for hard-to-access places

If a place is hard to access it usually discourages the majority of visitors. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Being far away from any campsites or hotels
  • Challenging river crossings are in the way
  • The road to the place is steep, unpaved or even not marked on the map
  • The place is not even accessible by car

4×4 car only

The way we chose when searching for secluded places was to focus on sights accessible only by 4×4 vehicles. This way we eliminated at least all those who are not friends with driving on F-roads. And it’s a great adventure as well.

If you opt for an extensive highlands driving, as we did, be well prepared, though:

Study the F-roads you plan to drive on.

Respect all river crossing rules.

Choose your car wisely.

Hike

Going for a hike is another interesting option, although not such a comfortable one, due to Icelandic ice-cold weather even in summer. This is also the reason why you very rarely meet crowds on longer hikes. In Iceland, you have countless possibilities of where to go hiking. One of the most popular ones include areas of:

And literally hundreds and hundreds of less known ones.

Use a ferry

Why not use a ferry? This brings another discomfort to many travellers – you have to carry all of your equipment, you have to plan well for where to leave your car etc, etc. And at the same time, these are the reasons why areas only accessible by ferry are usually the least crowded ones.

One great and most well-known example of this in Iceland is the Hornstrandir Nature reserve. It’s accessible only by ferry and it’s one of the very few places almost untouched by heavy tourism.

Sveinstindur near Langisjor

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

3. Come in a shoulder season

Well, well. This is an eternal trade-off. You come off-season and you will freeze to death or you will get blown by a heavy wind. You come in a peak season with the best weather and you will be rammed by crowds of tourists. Sadly, it’s not much different in Iceland. Hence, it’s all about the trade-off and you are the final decision maker, what is most important to you.

It’s still useful to understand Icelandic seasons to make an informed decision. The sweet spot seems to be somewhere between May and September. According to your taste of course.

Luckily to Covid pandemic, during our visit, there was a year-long-lasting shoulder season.

Reynisfjara beach

Reynisfjara beach at 9pm in the evening

4. Choose non-peak times

This is an easy trick which is definitely doable in summer. Why in summer? The daylight is very long in Iceland during the summer. During its peak at the end of June, it starts around 3 AM in the morning and ends around midnight.

Thus, your easy trick may be to visit the usually most crowded places either very soon, near sunrise or very late, near sunset.

Langisjór campsite

This was supposed to be Langisjór campsite according to maps. It just turned out to be a remote place with nobody being there.

5. Stay away from campsites

And bigger villages. Or pick the remote ones.

While Icelandic campsites are usually well maintained and spending nights there is typically a pleasant experience, this is where most of the tourists concentrate. Because it’s cheap. Because it’s accessible.

Option number one is to Google campsites which are either remote or not well known (for example measured by a number of Google reviews).

Option number two is to opt for private accommodation in guesthouses, hostels or hotels. These are usually small family-run places which cannot accommodate huge crowds.

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Posted by epiciceland

1 comment

Hello from Letland!
I will arrive by ferry n mu motobikr at midle of May.I hope I will not get in crowd!

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