avoid tourists

How to avoid tourists?

How to avoid tourists?

“Iceland off the beaten path.”

“Hidden gems in Iceland.”

“Iceland’s best-kept secrets.”

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

We’ve recently written a fresh piece titled 25 Off The Beaten Path Places in Iceland Nobody Writes About which you may like!

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?

Go for Highlands!

We write a lot about best places in the Icelandic Highlands, because exactly these are amazing, remote places with a true Icelandic atmosphere! Check out our Icelandic Highlands inspiration.

when to visit iceland

When to visit Iceland? (click to enlarge)

Our touristy index

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

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

Google a lot

Google for places with few reviews.

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

seljalandsfoss tourists

Tourists near Seljalandsfoss in February

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

4X4 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 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.


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 travelers – 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

Take a super jeep tour

There are numerous great super jeep tours in Iceland in the south (we offer a 10% discount for the best ones! Check out the link on the left) and also in the north (10% promo code: EPICICELAND). This is one of the most expensive options, but definitely the safest one. Some of the dangerous F-roads you simply don’t want to drive yourself. At least not, if you don’t have enough 4×4 experience or if you don’t study them really well in advance. Short on time or experience (or both) and want to see remote places? Go for a super jeep tour.

It’s also possible to rent a super jeep yourself. Not cheap, but very useful for F-roads. You still need to have enough 4×4 experience, know how to cross rivers, study the roads you go to in advance, and check the road conditions. Car is not everything!

touristy sapphire ice cave iceland

Sapphire ice cave with tourists in the background

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.

For example, during our first visit to Iceland, luckily to the Covid pandemic, there was a year-long-lasting shoulder season.

Reynisfjara beach

Reynisfjara beach at 9 pm in the evening

4. Choose non-peak times

This is an easy trick that 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.

Monthly tourists in Iceland

Tourist count by months

Thus, your easy trick may be to visit the usually most crowded places either very soon, near sunrise, or very late, near sunset. It’s not forbidden to visit beautiful places any time of the day, but also during the night. So if you are up to it, just rent a proper car and go!

Langisjór campsite

This was supposed to be Langisjór campsite according to maps. It just turned out to be a remote place with nobody 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 that 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 that cannot accommodate huge crowds.


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Posted by Igor in Guide, Tips, 1 comment