Iceland is a beautiful country with no shortage of places to stop and tour. Most stops are worth your time, but several are better off left alone. From barren stretches of desert to unique restaurants, we'll tell you exactly What NOT to Do in Iceland!
After driving over 2,400 miles around Iceland’s Ring Road, we saw a ton of what the country has to offer. This included both the good and the bad. When we return, there are definitely a few places we would skip. So if you're trying to find what to do in Iceland, or more importantly what not to do, you’ve come to the right place!
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Here’s our list of things we wouldn’t go out of our way to see again:
Drive Through Northern Iceland
If you plan on driving the Ring Road counterclockwise (like most people do) there’s really not much to see between Höfn and Akureyri, Iceland’s “capital of the north”. The coast is always pretty, but as soon as you start driving inland, there’s little to see and no towns for miles. Certainly, at first the views do not disappoint but eventually the dark brown earth starts to blur into one giant rock field. Sounds kind of like Nebraska minus the corn!
If you do go North, make sure to fill up on gas beforehand and pray for no car problems. When we say you're on your own up there we mean it. Even with a very fuel efficient vehicle you'll be running on fumes between towns. Additionally, be sure to buy "Pre-Paid" gas cards as many pumps do not take credit cards and don't have actual stores attached to them.
The Arctic Henge
Per #1 on our list, the Arctic Henge is one of the attractions that drove us to northern Iceland in the first place. Located just 20 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the megalith is in Raufarhöfn, the northernmost city in the entire country. On good nights, the stars and Aurora Borealis above the Arctic Henge are unimpeded by any light pollution. On bad nights, the clouds, cold, and unbelievable wind keep away even the hardiest travelers.
The attraction is not yet completed, but when it is, it will become a main attraction for Paganism in the world. While we respect the local cultures and religions, we are weary of the Arctic Henge because of this. Regardless of your views, in its current state the attraction is not worth the drive.
DC-3 Plane Crash at Sólheimasandur Beach
In 1973 a US Navy DC-3 airplane was forced to crash land on this black sand beach in southern Iceland. The years have not been kind to the plane. Harsh weather has worn away all recognizable marks and only the hull remains. Rumor has it a local farmer sold the tail years back for some quick cash.
Social media has exploded the popularity of the old wreck and in such expedited its demise. The thousands of new visitors are now expected to hike 2 miles across the sand to the wreck. Short yellow sticks guide the indeterminate pathway and wind kicks up the sharp volcanic sand the entirety of the hike. It was very cool to climb and crawl around the plane but you need to be very careful. Sharp metal fragments and wires jut out in every direction.
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Eat at The Viking Café (Höfn)
Though not too far out of our way, the Viking Café was an unnecessary stop. We originally came to see Vestrahorn and enjoy some "World Famous" waffles. Upon arrival we found you had to pay to park, pay to walk down by the beach, and pay to breathe... kidding! Not to mention they had stopped serving waffles 🙁
Vestrahorn and Stokksnes are by no means a let down. In fact, they were a highlight of our trip. The steep mountain peaks rising abruptly out of the ocean floor were just as incredible in person as in picture. Be on the lookout for high winds and any incoming storms!
Hike to Hengifoss and Litlanefoss
In Icelandic, “foss” means waterfall. So whenever you pass a road sign with the word foss on it, you should always stop! The last location on our list is located in northeastern Iceland (see a trend here?). Litlanefoss, like many waterfalls in Iceland, is framed by basalt columns of hardened magma. While as stunning as any waterfall in Iceland, it comes with its own downside. The hike.
The path to the falls walks uphill on an unpaved goat trail for about 2 miles. The word steep does not convey the magnitude this hike entails. On the path to Hengifoss you pass just above Litlanefoss— but you can’t see it. It can only be seen from across the gorge from untracked farmland. The falls themselves are gorgeous, but the work and hazardous trail aren't worth the effort.
Almost forgot? Remember to pin our guide of What NOT to Do in Iceland for later
Want to read more about what to do in Iceland? Check out these posts!
- The Truth About Iceland's Blue Lagoon
- What We Wish We’d Done in Iceland
- What We'd Spend More Time Doing in Iceland
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Verse of the Week: Ecclesiastes 3:11
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
It's funny to me that we are able to assign places as wildly beautiful as these as, "not worth your time." They were certainly worth God's time when he created them. In the same way, I often find myself think others are "not worth my time." I'm certain they were worth God's time as well... so why not mine? That appears to be the drawback of human nature, the need to compare and compete on every front. From places to people, my judgement is all based off a snapshot from a single moment in time.
God's plan can't be viewed through that lens. We were created for an eternity and not a single moment. The same God that formed the wildest places on earth formed everyone around you. The journey you're on, and the journey others are, is not defined by a single moment. Instead of rushing to judgement, let's focus on the long term. Just because your neighbor didn't want to go to church last week doesn't mean you don't ask them again this week. Just because you heard a teenager swear doesn't mean they're past saving. Just because someone's dirty and unkempt doesn't mean you don't show compassion. Appreciate every opportunity you're given to make an impact, because, while a single moment doesn't define you, it can begin to shape God's plan in another's life. This week, see what impact you can make on other's who may not have been "worth your time."
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