Situated 30-minutes drive away from Reykjavik, with plenty of natural wonders, southern Iceland is the most visited region of the country. As breath-taking as Gullfoss, Blue Lagoon and Geyser are, the southern part of the island offers plenty of secret gems that are equally as stunning and easy to get to.
With over 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland, you do not have to choose one which is crammed with tourists. There are other options such as Gljúfrabúi, which can be enjoyed privately. Despite being located next to the famous Seljalandsfoss, it has remained largely undiscovered. However, those who walk to the side of Seljalandsfoss for a few minutes will get to experience the unique beauty of Gljúfrabúi, which is hidden behind the cliff. Once you step into the canyon, you will find yourself right underneath the waterfall. Don't forget your raincoat!
Stables can be found next to Reykjavik and all across the stunning landscapes of the southern part of the country. Since Icelandic horses take up a large part of local life and culture, you may not regard riding as an unexpected activity. Yet rather than the riding itself the places that horses can take you to are far from popular. Experienced riders can enjoy trips through the mountains and uninhabited river valleys. For beginners, even a ride of a few hours is a good way to explore naturally-formed roadless lava fields, which are dotted with small caves and lakes. Riding a horse through the endless lava gives you a feeling of complete wilderness.
Blue Lagoon is definitely worth a visit, but not everyone knows that there is a possibility to also enjoy natural hot springs in the wild completely free of charge! One such place is the Reykjadalur valley (Steam Valley) located 45 km from Reykjavik. As the name suggests, it is full of steamy hot springs. Reykjadalur offers a 60-90 minutes hike amidst its unique scenery of mountains, small waterfalls, mud pools, and a hot river for bathing.
At the edges of Iceland’s Highlands, the Gjáin valley is one of the most beautiful and the least known oases in the country. In a relatively small area, visitors get the opportunity to see the very best of Icelandic nature. It has waterfalls, clear and tranquil ponds, as well as delicate volcanic structures. Gjáin is said to be a home of elves. Once you get there, the mysterious scenery leaves you no choice but to believe that.
Just as magical as its cousin Fjaðrárgljúfur but less known, Stakkholtsgjá is a 2-km long, 100-m high canyon, formed by a glacier river. Its green moss and peculiar rock formations take hikers to a world of folktales and mystery. The track takes around 1.5 hours to walk back and forth, but at the end of it, you will be rewarded with the view of a high, open-top cave with a dreamlike waterfall.
Undoubtedly, southern Iceland is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and even with its growing influx of tourists, it still has plenty of remote natural sights. Visited with caution and respect, they will transform your trip into the wild and magical stuff of dreams.