Iceland is Mother Nature’s favorite plaything. This little island nation dangling from the Arctic Circle, with its ethereal geothermal terrain, is always finding new ways to stun. Seismic activity molds lava fields and obsidian beaches into entirely different landscapes. Storms thrash mountains and backcountry manors, leaving in its wake only delicate snowdrifts, pretty as Martha Stewart meringue. Geysers babble and spittle, and the earth even births out new hot springs wherever it pleases. All you can do is wear multiple layers and gawk.
Iceland’s tourism boom has been well-covered; don’t let the supposed crowds deter you. Spend a couple of days in Reykjavik, yes, and at some point, get out onto the spectacular Ring Road. Then keep moving. The country is sparsely populated, and the tourists so clustered near the capital, so most of the mind-blowing natural wonders here are up for grabs. Here are places where you can feel calm, secluded, and like a bonafide Nat Geo photographer at the edge of the world. Here is your road map to some of Iceland’s most remote wonders: