While it is hard to imagine an underrated place in Iceland, there are a few places that are known but not found in every tourist guidebook. Here are some of the places that deserve more credit including a museum, village, geothermal pool, and other places in need of a little attention as well.
Brimketill Lava Rock Pool
Brimketill is a small pool naturally carved into the rocks on Iceland’s South Coast thanks to marine erosion. Lying on a lava shore west of the town of Grindavík, it is one of the most popular natural attractions of Reykjanes Peninsula. However, it is not geothermally heated. According to folklore, it was the favorite place of a giantess, hence its shape.
Drangsnes Hot Tubs
Located in the small-fishing town of Drangsnes in Iceland’s West Fjords, these three small public geothermal hot tubs rest right on the shoreline. They lie just below the road running next to them. Only the white changing rooms across the road mark their location. Enjoy three different temperatures of cold, medium, and hot while gazing at the fjord, especially a treat during the midnight sun or with the Aurora Borealis overhead.
Petra’s Stone and Mineral Collection
This little-known collection in the East Fjords village of Stöðvarfjörður is quite an intriguing place. With thousands of rocks both inside the house and in the backyard, the late owner, Petra, turned her lifetime hobby into a museum.
Víddaflakk Art Installation
A bronze plaque installed by the ocean close to Hellnar and the Snæfelsness Peninsula’s tip plays an interdimensional role in the global art/geography installation project that is Kcymaerxthaere. The website explains it as “…a parallel universe that includes in its embrace our linear world—by which we mean our 3 dimensions of space—to the extent that places we encounter on what we call the Earth can become points of some kind of departure to these other realms.”
Páll Guðmundsson Stone Carvings
The artist and stone sculptor Páll Guðmundsson uses stones to create a legacy of works including a stone xylophone that has actually been used in concert with Icelandic musicians such as Sigur Rós. Working out of his hometown of Húsafell (which he has never moved away from), Guðmundsson works mainly in sculpture chiseled out from native rock. The town of Húsafell has a great hotel to stay in while exploring the area.
Húsafell Information Center, Húsafell, Iceland, +354 435 1553
Heiðmörk Nature Reserve
This reserve is located just 20 minutes southeast of Reykjavik. This area has many trails leading through an expanse of vegetation and lava formations such as Rauðholar, an interesting red-rock display. A popular spot for locals, especially families with children, it can be a great retreat from the city that is very easy to get to.
Bókakaffið Books & Coffee
This is the only cozy bookstore in all of South Iceland. It sells free-trade coffee mostly from South America as well as a variety of pastries and hot cocoa. Located only 40 minutes east of Reykjavik, it is located on the popular South Coast tip that many tourists take to reach Vik and Jökulsarlón. The bookstore has over 25,000 new and used titles covering a wide array of genres including original publications by Jon Sigurðsson, Iceland’s independence hero, and old versions of the Sagas. While most of the books are written in Icelandic, Bókakaffið has a growing selection of books written in English and other languages.
Bókakaffið – Books & Coffee, Austurvegur 22, 800 Selfoss, +354 482 3079
The Hafnarfjörður Centre of Culture and Fine Art
The Hafnarfjörður Centre of Culture and Fine Art is located in the small town of Hafnarförður. It is often overlooked as it is not in Reykjavik’s city center; however, it holds an excellent exhibition space on two floors. The center maintains dynamic cultural functions, creating one of few grounds for diverse cultural life in the town. The center also preserves Hafnarfjörður’s art collection, ensuring that the collection continues to be a visible part of society.
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