The Highlands are open for the summer once again, so if you want to get away from it all in the wilds of Iceland, here are a couple of ways to do so. Also, you could just go to Ísafjörður.
Road Trip: Kjolur
Iceland’s highland desert is open to cars only during summer, and even then, you’ll need something heavy duty for this rocky, dusty, unpaved track. The reward is worth it: you’ll cross lava fields, white rivers, and yawning, empty plains, with distant glaciers visible on all sides. Camp at the Hveravellir geothermal oasis and have a soak in the natural hot pot, and hike the Strýtur route to circle the lip of a spectacular volcano crater. JR
The Fimmvörðuháls hiking route is not for the faint of heart. It’s a roughly 25km trail that starts at the base of the Skógafoss waterfall and ends at the Básar camping site. You’ll reach an elevation of 1000m, passing a series of spectacular waterfalls, a highland desert, and a still-steaming lava field, before descending into the dreamlike landscape of Þórsmörk. Take good boots, hiking poles—and maybe a guide, for that matter. JR
Off the Ring Road, deep in the Westfjords, lies the cultural capital of the area: Ísafjörður. Around the turn of the 20th century it was the second biggest town in Iceland, and its history is filled with witch trials and industry. Today, it has a population of only 2,600, but it remains a lively town with three museums—including the oldest row of houses in Iceland—two bars, and a movie theatre. Its houses are old, and its people proud. Definitely worth a trip. EÞ
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