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Iceland’s Top 10 Hiking Trails

|March 22, 2023
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Heading to hikers' paradise? We’ve put together an expert guide to 10 of the best trails in Iceland, you’ll even find some maps to help you on your way!

Hikers of all levels, from novice to expert, flock to Iceland to experience the unusual landscapes shaped by volcanic activity and other forces of nature. Often referred to as a ‘hikers paradise’ the assortment of hiking trails in Iceland vary from dramatic coastlines and expansive valleys to active volcanoes and snow-capped mountains.

Aside from the astounding scenery in Iceland, there are also many other benefits to hiking in the land of fire and ice, including the ability to stop almost anywhere and enjoy a soak in a hot spring and the cool climate, which means even in the summer, it’s never too hot for hiking.

Naturally, with so much untamed wilderness to explore, it can be difficult to know what hiking trails to choose for your Iceland itinerary, which is why we’ve put together the ultimate top 10 and even added maps for some of the best, so you can start planning your trip right away!

Iceland's map with listed hiking top 10 hiking trails

1. Glymur Waterfall Hike

Length: 4.3 miles | Level: Moderate | Route Type: Loop | Duration: 3 hours

This stunning waterfall can only be accessed on foot, which means a hike here is a necessary means to a fantastic reward. The trail, which is a short distance from Reykjavik, includes a walk through a cave and river crossings, meaning it’s only really possible to hike here during the summer months when there is no snow or ice on the ground.

2. Reykjadalur Hot Springs

Length: 2.17 miles | Level: Easy | Route Type: One-way | Duration: 1 hour

Although short, the hike to Reykjadalur valley is certainly deserving of a place at the top due to its bubbling springs, rising steam and boreholes, which create a landscape of wonder. The trek here is a simple route from the car park and you should always stay on the paths to avoid the bubbling pools of water.

pathway in Reykjadalur Valley of hot springs

Hot Springs at Reykjadalur valley in Iceland

3. Skógafoss Waterfall Way

Length: 10 miles | Level: Easy | Route Type: One-way | Duration: 5-6 hours

Starting at the beautiful Skógafoss waterfall and meandering alongside the Skóga river, this hiking trail passes over 20 beautiful waterfalls. This stunning route is one of the lesser-known, which means it can often feel like you have the enchanting scenery all to yourself! Although the route is easy, there are a large number of steps to climb at the start.

Hike from Skógafoss waterfall alongside the Skóga river in south of Iceland

4. Fagradalsfjall (Eruption Site Path A)

Length: 3.7-4.9 miles | Level: Moderate | Route Type: One-way | Duration: 2-2.5 hours

The fascinating volcanic activity in Iceland can be seen up close when you hike to the eruption site at Fagradalsfjall. The trails around this volcano boast freshly made lava formations, volcanic craters and an experience like no other. You can also hike around the volcanic fissure in the Meradalir valley, which opened as a result of a further eruption in August 2022.

Lava field at Fagradalsfjall volcano eruption site in Iceland

5. Hornstrandir: Adalvik to Hesteyri

Length: 21 miles | Level: Hard | Route Type: Out & back | Duration: 10-11 hours 

Step into the wilderness and take a hike in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Firstly, you’ll need to take a boat to reach the isolated reserve, where you can begin the trail. You’ll navigate black pebbly coastlines, steamy hills and muddy paths - you may even be lucky enough to stumble across an arctic fox. If you’re thinking about challenging yourself to something more strenuous, a 6-day Hornstrandir hiking tour is one of the best ways to experience the Westfjords.

6. Mount Esja Trail

Length: 4.29 miles | Level: Moderate | Route Type: Loop | Duration: 2.5 hours

As one of the easiest hiking trails to reach from Reykjavik that can be completed in less than a day, the Mount Esja hiking trail, shown in the map below, is extremely popular. On this route, you will reach the top of the Tverfellshorn mountain range, which is 2523 feet tall at its highest point. It is important to note that when the mountain is covered in snow, the climb can be extremely dangerous and you will likely need crampons and an ice axe.

Mount Esja hiking trail in Iceland

7. Brúarfoss Waterfall Hike

Length: 4.1 miles | Level: Moderate | Route Type: Out & back | Duration: 2.5-3 hours

The Brúarfoss waterfall is small but mighty, and also known as Iceland’s bluest waterfall. The hike from the parking lot is flat, but the terrain can be uneven and muddy, so make sure to be prepared with waterproof hiking boots. On this trail, you will also be able to spot 2 other waterfalls: Hlauptungufoss and Miðfoss.

The Brúarfoss waterfall, a popular stop on the map when hiking in Iceland

8. The Trek to Stórurð from Vatnsskarð

Length: 4.7 miles | Level: Moderate | Route Type: One way | Duration: 2.5 hours

This illustrious spot in Iceland is located below a glacier, to the west of the Dyrfjöll mountains. The route passes large tuff boulders, milky blue ponds and flourishing green meadows. The mystical coves dotted along the trail are the perfect spots for exploration.

Trek to Stórurð from Vatnsskarð in Iceland

9. Stuðlagil Canyon

Length: 5.5 miles | Level: Easy | Route Type: Out & back | Duration: 5 hours

Though the North rim of the canyon is accessible by road, you’ll need to take this simple hiking trail to reach the South rim, which is often thought to be the most scenic. Located in the Jökuldalur valley, the Stuðlagil Canyon is composed of striking basalt columns.

View from the bottom of the Stuðlagil Canyon in Iceland

10. The Laugavegur Trek

Length: 34 miles | Level: Moderate | Route Type: One-way | Duration: 3-4 days

Last, but certainly not least is one of the most popular trails in Iceland.  The Laugavegur Trek allows you to experience the beauty of Landmannalaugar, the location in which the trail begins. Not only will you be immersed amongst the infamous rainbow mountains, but you will also be able to admire the blackened ash desert of Mælifellssandur, the geothermal activity in Stórihver and the Markarfljótsgljúfur canyon. The trail ends in the breathtaking Thórsmörk valley.

Signpost providing directions in Laugavegur, Iceland

Tips for Hiking in Iceland

Hiking in Iceland is an activity that is full of adventure and wonder, but there are plenty of things to consider when exploring the cold, sometimes remote and isolated trails and routes on the island. In order to make the most of your experience, here are some top tips:

  • Always keep an eye on the changeable, unpredictable weather conditions that can make your hike more difficult and risky

  • Take plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated

  • Plan your route in advance and check for alerts or warnings on

  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear, multiple layers and waterproofs are recommended

  • Make sure you are equipped with a torch and plan your time to make sure you can get to your destination before night falls.

If you’re keen to take advantage of the best trails in Iceland but aren’t sure about heading out on your own, we have a variety of hiking and trekking tours available whereby you can benefit from the expertise of a friendly, local guide.

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