Have you ever been to the middle of nowhere? Iceland’s interior highlands are where man has never made his home and is still a rare visitor. Here, nature is still at its rawest, with glaciers, deserts of black sand, barren glacial moraine, steaming hot springs, active and spent volcanoes and strange oases of vegetation.

Two main overland routes link the north and south. The western route over Kjolur is passable by ordinary vehicles in summer, skirting Langjokull glacier on the way to Hveravellir geothermal field before emerging by the Ring Road in the north.

The other more directly central route is over the black sands of Sprengisandur, and with only rough tracks as well as un-bridged rivers that can only be negotiated by big 4WD vehicles. The Sprengisandur route threads its way between glaciers to come out southeast of Akureyri, near Lake Myvatn.

Major attractions in the highlands of Iceland

Highland favorites include the area around Mt. Askja, where you can bathe in a naturally warm lake called Viti (Hell), and Kverkfjoll, a high-temperature geothermal field on the rim of Vatnajokull, where the heat creates fantastic but ever changing caves formed in ice.

And let’s not forget to mention two of the biggest highland attractions in Iceland; the Thorsmork Nature Reserve, one of the most popular hiking areas in the country, and the geothermal area Landmannalaugar, with its multicolored mountains, steaming lava fields and countless hiking opportunities.

For more detailed information about attractions and activities in the Icelandic highlands be sure to go through our destination guide.