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Lonely Planet recommends Hrísey

Photo: María H. Tryggvadóttir
Photo: María H. Tryggvadóttir

Discover where locals travel in Iceland

Iceland is a short flight from Europe and the east coast of North America, yet its beauty is so extraordinary— rainbow-capped fjords, black lava fields, glowering volcanoes and glass-clear glacial rivers—it could be on another planet.

While popular and cinematic attractions like the Ring Road, a 830-mile drive around the island’s coastline, the moonlike Reynisfjara beach, and the iconic Blue Lagoon geothermal spa on the Reykjanes Peninsula are worth exploring, Iceland offers even more to those who wish to experience it like a local.

With the toasty warmth of Reykjavik's bars during winter and colourful fishing towns to explore in summer, there is an endless supply of authentic experiences to enjoy. So, if you want to holiday like an Icelander, where should you begin?

Three travel authors have each selected a destination: Hrísey, Neskaupsstaður, and Ásbyrgi. Carolyn Bain shares her thoughts on Hrísey as follows:

"The small island of Hrisey is a 15-minute ferry ride from the North Iceland village of Árkógssandur, but it’s a world away from the hustle of the Ring Road. The ferry doesn’t carry cars; wheelbarrows huddle at the island’s dock so new arrivals can transport their luggage. Parked nearby is a row of tractors, the island's preferred mode of transport.

Some 160 people live here, and there’s not much by way of services: a shop, low-key restaurant, guesthouse, and geothermal swimming pool (this is Iceland, after all!). I come for the tranquillity, the birdlife (ptarmigan, terns, gulls and ducks aplenty), the walking trails, and the views. Hrisey sits in the middle of a long, mountain-lined fjord, with stunning panoramas in all directions.

It's well worth visiting at any time of year. In winter, the ferry continues to operate and the geothermal pools remain open. Plus, the island's beauty is just as captivating. I love visiting in the summer, too. Friends and I will rent a cottage with a private hotpot on the deck (a spa tub, minus the bubbles) and spend hours scouting for whales.”

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