Húsafell in W. Iceland is a Hidden Gem according to Forbes Magazine
As most visitor and locals know Iceland is full of hidden gems, both big and small. Spectacular waterfalls hidden just a short walk from the Ring Road, small villages, moss covered lava fields or craters. And then there are the areas and districts travellers have yet to discover. One of these is Húsafell, which Forbes Magazine describes as a "hidden gem". A day tour to Húsafell is a great alternative to the Golden Circle, or as a base for exploring West Iceland".
A chance to escape the tourists
The article describes Iceland as "quirky, welcoming, otherworldly, rugged and remote", but notes that the growing popularity of Iceland has caused congestion at some of the most popular destinations, especially those along the Golden Circle. The author tells the story of a friend who had been unable to take more than one photograph which "didn’t have a person, car, tour bus or camper van in the frame".
While it is true that there are places in Iceland where you can expect crowds, visitors don't need to go to any great lengths to experience the serenity of Icelandic nature. In fact, Iceland is full of "hidden gems", places where you can enjoy the otherworldly landscape and natural beauty. One of these is Húsafell in West Iceland.
"A 90-minute drive leads to Húsafell, a small, isolated community of permanent and holiday homes, right at the edge of the country’s uninhabited interior. This is where Icelanders escape city life and tourist throngs in Reykjavik. There are some savvy foreign visitors these days, but it generally feels like a hidden secret."
Húsafell is one of a number of such areas around Reykjavík. What they tend to have in common is that they are located close to sites of unusual natural beauty, hiking trails and stunning views, as well as small geothermal swimming pools and small cafés or restaurants serving the holidaying locals.
Take the scenic route
Forbes then goes on to point out an important truth about traveling in Iceland: Nearly all routes are scenic routes, and you are usually better off avoiding the shortcuts and taking the longer route to your destination, enjoying the scenery along the way:
"Might as well make it a six-hour drive. Ignore the tunnel leading out of Reykjavik and drive instead around the bay above it. The two-lane road hugs the shoreline, giving tremendous views of the shimmering water and steep-sloped volcanic hills covered with vegetation. Rocky streams punctuate the scenery. ... A few farms along the way have charming cafes selling hearty soup and local delicacies like blueberry lamb jerky, as well as sumptuous wool sweaters."
If you take Hvalfjörður be sure to stop at Glymur waterfall, the tallest waterfall in Iceland. To reach Glymur you must first take route 5001 Litlabotnsvegur, then hike 3 km - but the view is definitely worth it!
Another great way to reach Húsafell, especially if you are driving a decent mid-sized car or SUV (and mountain roads have not been closed due to snow), is to take Kaldidalur mountain road north from Þingvellir National Park. Kaldidalur is the shortest, and most easily accessible highland routes, offering great views of Langjökull glacier and barren highland deserts.
A luxury hotel, fine dining and stunning views
Forbes argues that one of the things which make Húsafell a great destination is Hótel Húsafell. A small luxurious boutique hotel with a great feng shui, full of "the Icelandic version of hygge". Hótel Húsafell has a fine-dining restaurant and a bar with great views and local craft beers.
A "gorgeous and tricky" golf course as well as well as biking and hiking routes. Some of Iceland's most fascinating lava caves as well as both glaciers and the Central Highlands are all within reach.
Lava caves and waterfalls
Forbes argues that if you visit Húsafell you should definitely check out Víðgelmir lava cave and visit the Langjökull Ice Tunnel, but we at Iceland Magazine would also like to recommend Surtshellir lava cave and Hraunfossar waterfalls. We are genuinely shocked Forbes left Hraunfossar out of their article, since Hraunfossar are unquestionably one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. A true hidden gem.
Forbes dishes out one piece of awful advice
The article does make one important error: The author claims that motorists who hit and kill sheep are "expected to buy the farmer a new sheep". This is incorrect and bad advice, as it might encourage people who hit sheep to run. In fact the sheep are all covered by insurance, and the farmer is compensated for his loss by his insurance.
Farmers want people to report collisions, not to collect damages, but to ensure they can collect the dead sheep from the road, or put sheep who have been seriously injured out of their misery: Please drive carefully, and please report any collisions with sheep!
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