The Ultimate Adventure Guide To Iceland

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Skol! The hottest luxury travel destination can get pretty chilly. Here’s how to experience the natural splendor in Iceland.

Iceland is home to some of the most remarkable terrain and natural beauty on the planet, and is quickly becoming a bucket-list destination for many outdoor lovers. It can be overwhelming to plan a trip to such an enormous, unfamiliar island with little pavement and seemingly infinite glaciers, waterfalls, geothermal features and wildlife. For starters, don’t follow the crowds to the tourist traps. Instead, fill up your Hydro Flask with water, zip up your parka, and follow this insider’s guide to the best sites and sounds that define this magical country.

Sizzling Springs:

Unless your purpose is to party in Reykjavik and people-watch, skip the overcrowded Blue Lagoon spa. Instead, travel north to the base of Laugafell Mountain to dip in its geothermally heated pools. This lesser-known hot spring offers the same amenities as the Blue Lagoon—like public restrooms and water fountains to refill your Hydro Flask—without the giant crowds. Also to the north, near Lake Mývatn, are many hot pools including the bathing caves of Grjótagjá and Stóragjá.

For a remote soak, drive the 4x4 road to the Strutur mountain hut. From here, it’s about one hour on trail to Strutslaug hot spring. It may be hard to leave this dreamy scene, which you’ll likely enjoy alone much of the day, so extend your stay with an overnight at the hut and make sure to pack your Hydro Flask Wine Bottle and Tumblers so you can sip under the expansive starscape.

Walk among geothermal wonders with a glaciated backdrop near the Kerlingarfjoll mountain range and Hveradalir, known as the “Valley of the Hot Springs.” Nothing feels better than a soak after a full day wandering the trails around this zone where fire meets ice.

Jaw-Dropping Drives:

The Golden Circle has become Iceland’s go-to scenic drive, so locals avoid that route to beat the traffic. To really feel like you’re on an adventure, hit the road between Hofn and Egilstadir. Marvel at the beauty of Iceland’s most impressive fjords, then enjoy shellfish in the small village of Mjoifjordur or paddle out into the water in Bakkagerdi.

True off-roading is illegal in Iceland, since the natural environment is so fragile and the government would like to keep it intact. Unpaved roads, however, can provide an unforgettable, off-the-beaten-path tour of the country’s otherworldly topography. The mountain road between Landmannalaugar, home of the “Peoples’ Pools,” and Eldgja, the “Valley of Fire,” is quite possibly the most beautiful drive in Iceland. Rent a rugged, high-clearance vehicle—while the road is rough, the drive is worth every rut—and make sure to bring plenty of water in the 32oz Wide Mouth Hydro Flask, since you’ll be far from civilization and all the nearby water is frozen solid.

Tantalizing Trails:

While in Eldgja, don’t miss what many call Iceland’s prettiest waterfall. The trail walk to Ófærufoss is short, so it’s no surprise this has become a popular tourist attraction. Most stay on the main path, so if you’d prefer solitude, take time to also explore a number of quiet, longer trails in the area. If trekking is more your style, head far away from the roads to give the crowds the slip. Take a day-hike to Storurd with your Hydro Flask in your Tag Along bottle sling, and marvel at this giant meadow littered with mirror ponds and monster boulders at the base of the mountains, or hike past the farmland and toward the rocky coastline to the gorgeous lighthouse at Glettingsnes.

Fascinating fjords:

Glacier-carved inlets and waterfalls surround the island, but no matter how you do it–by foot, kayak or sailboat, or by car–be sure to explore the Westfjords. The magnificent green cliffs at Hornstrandir Nature Reserve are home to the Arctic Fox and are a bird-watcher’s paradise—especially Hornbjarg cliff, which towers 500 meters above the ocean. Puffins and seals hang out on and below Látrabjarg cliff, and whales are a common sight cruising the coastline. Pack a picnic in the Hydro Flask Unbound Series™ Soft Cooler Tote with local delicacies like flatkaka bread and hangikjöt smoked lamb, and spend a day on cliffs that feel like the edge of the world.