The Wilderness Center in Iceland is the top place to log out, reboot and recharge. Relax in complete tranquility as you visit the area’s incredible nature and history. Discover Iceland’s Wilderness Center – a nature-lovers paradise at the edge of Northern Europe’s largest wilderness area.
In Icelandic, the Iceland Wilderness Center is called Óbyggðasetrið. The word óbyggð literally means no settlement and is very descriptive to this location. The center is an incredible hideaway located right at the brim of Northern Europe’s largest wilderness area.
This place is a step back in time and offers unique accommodation options, food made from local ingredients, daily hiking trips, and fishing expeditions.
You can also do Icelandic horse riding tours and day tours – both custom made and scheduled and even exhibitions.
The history of Iceland truly shines from beginning to end at this authentic hideaway. Truly get a sense of what it’s like to live in Icelandic wilderness.
When visitors arrive on site, they park their cars at the designated parking spot and continue to cross over an old wooden bridge.
What awaits at the other end is an adventure and participation that has been carefully orchestrated with particular attention to detail. This is evident in the whole experience and has been done through the building’s beautiful decor, both inside and out.
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The accommodation has a few options ranging from the part you wish to play. Will you stay in the landowner’s suite, maybe the old farmhouse or even in a bed closet?
The options are all beautifully displayed and the feeling of staying there has often been described as if you are staying in a museum.
The preparation of food is all done in an open kitchen so the visitors can learn a thing or two. The ingredients are fresh from the region and the recipes are old ones from Iceland.
The Icelandic horse is one of the things locals are the proudest of when it comes to their homeland. The passion not only lays in riding them and caring for them, but also in sharing them with others.
They are known to be very friendly, have big personalities and spirits. They are sometimes referred to as Icelandic ponies, due to their lack in height but Icelanders prefer the use of word horse. You can join a horse riding tour daily at the center.
The hiking in the area is also something the Wilderness Center is happy to introduce you to. Be it with instructions or on guided tours.
The walk along the river Jökulsá in Fljótsdalur is truly a dazzling one with numerous waterfalls cascading down. One of the best waterfalls to see in the area is Hengifoss, known as the hanging waterfall or the waterfall with the red stripes.
The hiking and walking tours in the area are all packed with endless tales and folklore but the area is known for its long tradition of storytelling.
The hot spring spa is yet another authentic Icelandic touch which many of the guests consider being a highlight. This hot spring spa has been designed and built in the same way the Vikings used to do when they utilized the warmth of the ground for bathing just as you can do when visiting.
The exhibition at the Wilderness Center opened in 2016 and covers a 3 kilometer (1,86 miles) long trail. Guests are invited to explore and experience the spirit of the old farm buildings and learn about the livelihood of the people who lived in the area in the 19th and 20th century.
Exhibition Hours and Entrance Fee:
Other activities and tour options from the center are fishing in the nearby river, the rental of mountain bikes, crossing a river on a rope bridge to explore an abandoned farm, stargaze in a specialized hut and so much more. See below for tours in the area!
The hospitality of the hosts is renowned and they go out of their way to make your stay at the Wilderness Center a magical one. There are so many different ways to experience the retreat and they are expert at figuring out which way is the best for you!
The Iceland Wilderness Center is located in between Vatnajökulla, Europe’s largest glacier and the famous lake Lagarfljót, home to Iceland’s Loch Ness monster.
The valley it sits in is called Norðurdalur or the North Valley but actually, the center is in the Eastern Highlands of Iceland. The closest settlements to the Wilderness Center are Reyðarfjörður and Fáskrúðsfjörður.
Latitude: 64° 57′ 54.154″ N
Longitude: 15° 9′ 8.186″ W
Wilderness Center / Óbyggðasetur Íslands
Norðurdalur in Fljótsdalur
Driving from Egilsstaðir you continue on head south on Ring Road one and continue for about 10 minutes. Take a turn into road 931 and take a left turn at the T-junction right after having crossed the long bridge.
When you see the hydropower station make a left onto road 9340 (F-road = gravel road). You follow the gravel road for about 8,5 kilometers (5,2 miles) before arriving.
The center is open all year round and truly a great place to witness the Northern Lights but please note that the roads needed to get to the Wilderness Center are more challenging to drive in winter.
Nonetheless, it really doesn’t matter when you visit the center will always be a peaceful hideaway and a unique place of real character. It’s worth the trip any season!