Iceland has a multitude of well-known, spectacular tourist attractions. The Blue Lagoon, the Golden Circle and Myvatn are all definitely worth seeing, but sometimes their fame masks some of the other jewels Iceland has to offer. For the visitor looking for something a little different, or someone making their second or third trip to the island, here are some less publicised ideas of how to spend your time:
The Icelandic Highlands, in the centre of the island, has some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. Only accessible during the summer, they offer a unique opportunity to anyone visiting in July or August. The Laugurvegurinn trail is a hiker’s dream. A 50km trail that can be covered in two to four days, it takes you through an incredible variety of landscapes. Starting with an easy climb up sulphur-belching volcanic rocks, you soon come to spectacular, multi-coloured hillsides from which there are views of four glaciers. In the following days you also take in an ash desert, desolate moorland, the now infamous Eyjafjallajokull volcano and Iceland’s biggest forest. There are three mountain huts along the route which offer both camping and dormitory rooms, although reservations are required. It is recommended that you start the route in Landmannalaugurand trek to Pdrsmork, as you will be rewarded by a spectacular descent into the valley around Alftavatn lake.
The Icelandic music scene is surprisingly large for an island with such a small population. The Icelanders have really embraced live music, resulting in successive generations of talented and independent-minded musicians. The biggest event on the musical calendar is the Iceland Airwaves festival held in October. At night, bars and clubs all over Reykjavik become festival venues as the city is taken over with music by both popular Icelandic artists and guest performers from North America and Europe. During the day, the cafes and streets fill with young performers and artists eager to showcase their talents to the sudden influx of visitors. Airwaves is unique, as the multiple venues give you a real feeling for the people and city as well as the music.
For the really adventurous festival-goer, Iceland also hosts Aldrei for eg Suður, usually held around April in the isolated fishing town of isafjorður. Organized by Icelandic blues legend Mugison, the festival is free and offers the cream of local and national talent, as well as the dramatic landscape of the West Fjords still struggling to escape from the winter.