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Off the Beaten Track: Hidden Gems on Iceland's Golden Circle

|January 26, 2023

Discover our list of hidden gems you can see when driving the Golden Circle in Iceland. Find the rarer sights on this popular driving route. Read now.

Iceland is home to an array of brilliant natural wonders, from immense waterfalls to bubbling hot springs. Although many of the country’s attractions have become world-renowned for their beauty, there are also some lesser-known locations that can be found off the beaten track. We’ll be exploring these hidden gems, so you can escape the crowds and discover something extraordinary.

Iceland’s Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is arguably Iceland’s most famous tourist route, taking visitors 190 miles across the land. Starting at the capital of Reykjavík, you’ll drive into the southern uplands, visiting attractions such as Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall. The drive can easily be completed in a day, however, some may also enjoy the route over the course of two days to allow time for refueling and viewing sights at a more leisurely pace.

The Golden Circle is full of charm, showcasing Iceland’s otherworldly fire and ice spectacles. Many people hit the road to see all of the famous bucket-list attractions, however, there are also some beautiful hidden gems along the route that are just as beautiful, and quieter! Here are just some of the lesser-known attractions you can see when driving the Golden Circle in Iceland.

Faxi Waterfall

Location: Biskupstungnabraut, 806, Iceland

Faxi is a wide waterfall that can be found in southern Iceland. People often drive right past this view, unknowing of what’s there. The waterfall is just seven miles away from popular attractions Gullfoss and Geysir, making it a very easy site to add to your itinerary. Though these waterfalls are more powerful than Faxi, what they lack is serenity, with far fewer crowds and more opportunities for unspoiled photographs. During the summer months, you will find an array of birdlife, as well as Icelandic horses grazing on the surrounding grass. There are a number of hiking trails for you to enjoy around here, too.

Faxi Waterfall Panorama in Iceland

Faxi waterfall on the Golden Circle in Iceland


Location: Laugarbraut, 840 Laugarvatn, Iceland

The town of Laugarvatn consists of around 200 people and is a very quaint spot surrounded by hills, countryside and lava fields. The area is also characterized by a pleasant lake, which is rich in aquatic life. Featuring geothermal springs, a spa was developed there, and is a great place to visit when driving the Golden Circle route. The Laugarvatn Fontana Baths are located in the center of the Golden Circle and offer a unique experience quite different to other Icelandic attractions. The outdoor pools vary in depth, size and temperature, and offer the perfect place to enjoy the healing powers of the geothermal springs. The ideal place to relax after a long day of exploring!

Aerial View of Laugarvatn Fontana Baths In Iceland

Birdseye view of Laugarvatn Fontana Baths in Iceland


Location: Friðheimar, 806 Reykholt, Iceland

Friðheimar is a food experience like no other. This country-style, family-run restaurant showcases tomato dishes on its menu, grown in its onsite greenhouses. Tomatoes are grown here all year round, despite the long cold winters that fall upon the country. There are also many different tourist experiences to enjoy, such as a greenhouse visit, a horse show, or a visit to the stables. If you’re looking for a lunch spot to add to your itinerary, we’d recommend taking a look at their website. It is advised to book well in advance, so be sure to plan ahead.

Aerial View of Fridheimar Farm in Iceland

Friðheimar tomato farm in Iceland

Kerið Crater

Location: Klausturholar, 805, Iceland

Kerið is a volcanic crater located in the Grímsnes area in south Iceland along the Golden Circle route. Approximately three thousand years old, scientists believe that the crater was once a cone-shaped volcano, which upon eruption, depleted its magma reserve, causing it to fall upon itself. This has resulted in a magnificent geological structure of vivid red slopes, contrasting against the blue waters of the lake inside. The crater does sit on privately owned land, so there is a small entrance fee of around 3 USD to allow the area to be maintained by the landowners.

Volcanic Kerid Crater Lake in Iceland

Kerið Volcanic Crater Lake in south Iceland

Slakki Petting Zoo

Location: Vesturbyggð 10a, 801 Selfoss, Iceland

Not only is Iceland well-known for its iconic natural landscapes but also its unique and beautiful wildlife. Slakki Petting Zoo is located in Laugarás, which is a stop on the Golden Circle. This hidden gem is the perfect place to visit with your family, or any animal lover, as the zoo allows you to not only see, but also pet the animals there. You will find parrots, goats, cows, and even puppies and kittens.

Secret Lagoon

Location: Hvammsvegur, 845 Flúðir, Iceland

The Secret Lagoon, known in Icelandic as Gamla Laugin, is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland. The lagoon provides a natural bathing experience in warming waters, heated by geothermal activity. You can expect a similar pool to the Blue Lagoon, however without the larger crowds and milky blue waters. There is a true natural vibe here, and without the tourist attractions, is a true hidden gem of the Golden Circle.

Walking Path in Secret Lagoon Iceland

Geothermal area of the Secret Lagoon in Iceland

Driving the Golden Circle

When it comes to visiting the Golden Circle’s hidden gems, we’d highly recommend driving in the comfort of a car, allowing you to travel at your own pace and your own time. Here are just some of the Golden Circle self drive tours we offer at Arctic Adventures. 

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