The world knows and loves all things Iceland, and the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ has seen many of us adding Northern Lights hunting, Sólheimajökull glacier conquering, Blue Lagoon dipping and waterfall chasing to our bucket lists. But a rising number of travellers are seeking new, under-the-radar experiences away from the tourist hordes. Thankfully there are few destinations better for exploring than Iceland, with plenty of untamed wildernesses and offbeat excursions to choose from. There’re geothermal baking workshops in sub-zero temperatures, snorkelling between tectonic plates, floating in the warm depths of the Vok Baths infinity pools and catching Icelandic lava shows – to name a few. One thing’s for certain; there are still plenty of hidden gems in Iceland yet to be discovered. So, to help get you started here’s five experiences we think are worthy additions to your Icelandic bucket list...
Experience Geothermal Baking
Harness the powers of Iceland’s geothermal energy (and its bread making abilities) with this Laugarvatn Fontana’s science experiment turned cookery class. Sandwiched between Þingvellir National Park and the Geysir Geothermal Area, this lakeside town champions a relatively unchanged age-old technique, where guests dig some 30 inches below the surface for their hverabrauð (hot spring bread). Below the surface of the iconic black sands are piping hot geothermal bubbles that bake the loaves to perfection in 24 hours before being enjoyed with copious amounts of homemade butter and smoked trout. When it comes to hidden gems in Iceland this isn’t one to be missed.
Float in Vok Baths Infinity Pools
Hidden gems in Iceland would be an incomplete list without a welcome dip in the Vok Baths infinity pools. Located in Urriðavatn, these facilities offer a hot springs experience with a difference, thanks to its two floating infinity pools lying just outside in Urriðavatni. Its geothermal waters come from a nearby borehole that warms them to a toasty temperature, offering a cosy contrast to the colder conditions above the surface. This is the perfect chance to reconnect with nature, as you relax, unwind, and let you’re your troubles float away. There’s also an on-site restaurant offering a range of tasty local produce and Icelandic craft beers produced by the Austra brewery in Egilsstaður, in a bid to promote support for the surrounding local community.
Feel the Heat with an Icelandic Lava Show
Experience the heat of a volcanic eruption from the safety of a showroom, with your very own Icelandic Lava show. It’s no surprise that watching volcanic eruptions in Iceland is an unpredictable and dangerous event, with access limited and often prohibited due to the poisonous fumes produced and risk, of well, burning. Thankfully this Lava show allows you to get up close and personal (in a safe way) with some seriously hot molten lava, as trained professionals harness the power of a volcanic eruption on a smaller scale. They superheat real lava and pour it out, with visitors able to witness first-hand the battle of fire and ice and be all-consumed by the warmth emanated, mysterious sounds and intense orange glowing lava.
From Farm to Table at Fridheimar Tomato Farm
We’re firm believers that there’s no better way to discover a country than through its produce, something Fridheimar Tomato Farm has in abundance. In Friðheim, the tomatoes and cucumbers are grown all year round, despite the long and dark winter months, thanks to an electrically lit greenhouse. This is an incredible family-run farm-to-table movement that encourages inquisitive visitors to explore and see exactly how the tomatoes and cucumber are grown. Of course, there’s also plenty of chances to sample the delicious products too, with a tasty restaurant and souvenir-filled gift shop.
Snorkel Between Tectonic Plates
Take the plunge and immerse yourself in some of the world's clearest waters as you float and snorkel your way between the famous Silfra fissure and tectonic plates. Silfra is a fissure created by the separation of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates that cut their way through Iceland. The Silfra fissure is filled with glacial water which has been filtered underground for decades through hardened and porous lava rock. This process has created some of the clearest bodies of water on the planet, with up to 120 meters of visibility making this a spectacular way to discover Iceland’s underwater wonders.