3 Reasons to Get Off the Beaten Path in Iceland (PHOTOS)

Jessica Peterson

3 reasons to get off the beaten path in iceland

I always considered myself a city girl at heart, but a few years ago that changed. Now what I crave more than anything else is to get off the beaten path. I don’t like to share elbow room with other tourists. I don’t ever need to see another McDonald’s again. I don’t care if I’m within cell phone range. I like isolation, quiet, a bit of danger, and most of all — The Unknown.

This craving is the reason I took a three-day boat trip through the Borneo jungle to see wild orangutans and did a grueling, impromptu hike up Taal volcano in the Philippines.

Isolation is what drew me to Iceland. Clearly, it looks like another planet! With only 323,000 inhabitants, there are plenty of weird and wild landscapes and sites. I only scratched the surface in my 9-day campervan road trip. Here are three reasons to get off the beaten path in Iceland…

Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck

Sólheimasandur Plane Crash, Iceland Sólheimasandur Plane Crash, Iceland Sólheimasandur Plane Crash, Iceland Sólheimasandur Plane Crash, Iceland Sólheimasandur Plane Crash, Iceland Sólheimasandur Plane Crash, Iceland Sólheimasandur Plane Crash, Iceland

Like a scene out of the X Files, the wreckage of a U.S. Navy plane lies virtually unmolested since 1973. The plane was forced to crash land dangerously close to the ocean on a wind-whipped black sand beach in the middle of nowhere. We drove for miles across the barely marked beach to find and photograph it.

Seljavallalaug Geothermal Swimming Pool

Seljavallalaug Geothermal Swimming PoolSeljavallalaug Geothermal Swimming Pool   Seljavallalaug Geothermal Swimming Pool Seljavallalaug Geothermal Swimming PoolSeljavallalaug Geothermal Swimming Pool Seljavallalaug Geothermal Swimming Pool Seljavallalaug Geothermal Swimming PoolSeljavallalaug Geothermal Swimming Pool

This mountainside pool, built in 1923, is filled with a natural hot spring and tucked into a river valley. A 20-minute hike through a trail flanked by picturesque mountains and you’ll feel like you’ve discovered a hidden gem. Emerald water fills the mossy pool, which is hottest where a pipe empties geothermal water into the rectangular structure. An ancient changing room sits next to the pool. Don’t be shy — bring a bathing suit or strip down to your tighty whities to enjoy the bucolic scene.

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Hobbit Houses

hobbit house, Iceland hobbit house, Iceland hobbit house, Iceland

For lack of a better term, I call the turf-covered structures in Iceland ‘hobbit houses.’ I would be lying if I said I knew what they were for, but I’ve narrowed it down to sheep or elves. You see, Icelandic people believe in such things. Whatever the purpose of such houses, they are delightful to see peppered along the Ring Road farms. You can see me exploring one of these tiny houses built into the side of a rock wall in my latest Iceland film.

What has been your favorite off-the-beaten-path travel?

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Jessica Peterson
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Jessica Peterson

Jessica Peterson is a travel filmmaker, photographer, and journalist. She released her first documentary film about indigenous culture on Guam in 2016, after having lived nearly 7 years on the Pacific island. Jessica is currently on the Great American Roadtrip in her Airstream trailer.
Jessica Peterson
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  • I’ve just returned from Iceland and though for the most part I stayed on the beaten path I know next time (and oh goodness there will be next timeS) I will venture out farther! Bookmarking this for then! 🙂

  • lavieenliz

    this is so cool

    giveaway on my blog!


  • I especially liked the 2nd reason from your list – I love hot mountain geothermal pools and would like to try Icelandic ones too! Such soothing experience and the added value of picturesque mountains available to be admired from the pool – amazing thing!

  • Punita Malhotra

    Firstly, Iceland as a whole is of-the-beaten track and you managed to list even more unusual activities there. 🙂 Hobbit houses are so cute.

  • Gina Panozzo

    This is really cool because like you, I love the city for the convenience, but when I travel, I just need to get the heck away from people! I really liked your photos of the hobbit holes because it made me think that Vikings could have once been there!

    • Hi Gina. I feel the same way about people sometimes. Iceland was perfect for solitude.

  • Crazy Dutch Abroad

    That plane wreck and surroundings really look like a scene from the X-files. It would give me goose bumps I guess, especially the emptiness around it. The hobbit houses are so cute, what is inside?

    • I suspect the hobbit houses once contained sheep, but the ones I saw were dilapidated.

  • A city girl? You are Global Girl! And that’s why you’re awesome. We love reading about all your journeys on and off the beaten track.

  • Sonia Sahni

    I liked the plane wreck most of all! Do you that there was a Bollywood movie shot on the location as well? I have never been to Iceland in summers… will add these locations to my list when I get there during summer months!

  • Abhinav Singh

    Off late, Iceland has been making all the right news. That
    wreckage looks eerie. I am a fan of such surprises during travel. It is interesting
    to learn about the history of the wreckage.

  • Kathy James

    Such great places! I love the idea of hiking to a geothermal pool to float around whilst having a well earn rest.
    I also love how you have captures beauty in the plane wreckage. Not your normal attraction.
    The hobbit house is really cool too

  • Fairytale Studios

    For me iceland itself is an offbeat path only for nature lovers and photographers.. you managed to find offbeat places within this beautiful country. Thats just incredible. The wrecked plane is such a famous sight but i never knew it was in iceland.