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Popular hiking and trekking tours

Map of hiking and trekking trails in Iceland

Explore the top hiking trails of Iceland with our interactive map

Our Iceland hiking and trekking tours are extraordinary experiences in remote locations and breathtaking landscapes. Our day hiking tours and multi-day trekking adventures will take you into the heart of the northern wilderness, carving trails among iconic glaciers, waterfalls, hot springs and volcanoes.

Discover the most scenic hikes in off-radar locations in the Land of Ice and Fire!

ABOUT HIKING AND TREKKING IN ICELAND

Nature is what keeps Iceland on the top of endless travel lists, while its secluded geographical location helps preserve the unspoiled vistas.

Iceland offers a plethora of unique landscapes like no other place in the world, providing fantastic opportunities for memorable trekking trips. From moss-covered lava fields to jagged glaciers and majestic volcanoes – the list of one-of-a-kind locations goes on. A hiking trip is an ideal chance to venture deep into the pristine panoramas of nature reserves and national parks to witness unfettered geothermal powers and ancient ice masses.

There are various trekking and hiking tours in Iceland available all year round, which is a perfect opportunity to see the dramatic change of landscapes. These tours take hiking experiences to a whole different level as you ascend Iceland’s most iconic glaciers, marvel over rhyolite hills and steaming hot springs, or soak in natural hot pools.

Best hiking destinations in Iceland

THORSMORK VALLEY

One of the best places for hiking in Iceland is Thorsmork Valley. The Thorsmork hiking trail offers the optimal experience to see the distinct seasonal scenery in Iceland. From the budding spring and leafy summer to colorful autumn and snowy winter, the mountain top will give you a panoramic view of the glaciers, rivers, and streams glistering against the black sand in the sun, and the Icelandic plants. The acclaimed “Valley of Thor” is nothing but splendid.

Stakkholtsgjá canyon in Þórsmörk

Located in the Southern Highlands, Thorsmork is about 150 km from Reykjavik and 100 km from Selfoss. When driving over gravelly terrain as you do in the Highlands, it is vital to have a capable automobile and an experienced driver. Self-driving requires a 4X4 vehicle with river crossing insurance coverage. Booked tours usually take on the adventure with a super jeep. Anyone visiting the valley will need a similar vehicle to cross the powerful Krossá River.

Hiking in Thorsmork can be challenging but exciting at the same time. Available from April to October, the Fimmvorduhals trail is popular for running events and hiking tours. It’s best to dress in layers with a wool base and pack some energy bars when you hike in Iceland. The weather can be unpredictable with the elevation gain, so it’s best to make sure you pack accordingly.

Review our blog with all the information you need on what to wear in Iceland. On your way to Thorsmork, you will also be able to take a glance at the famous volcano Eyjafjallajökull, which interrupted European and international air travel in 2010. Two new craters, Magni and Móði, were created that year near this area. They were named after the sons of Thor. The Seljalandsfoss waterfall, one of the most photogenic streams in Iceland, will also be on your route. These are all part of what you will see when you are hiking or trekking in Thorsmork Valley – the Icelandic geographic miracle.

LANDMANNALAUGAR HIGHLAND

Landmannalaugar Highland is a nature reserve that constantly reminds you of the beauty of our planet Earth. The best way to see this vast wilderness is on foot. Located in Southern Iceland, the 190 km drive from Reykjavik requires a 4WD vehicle that will eventually be necessary to power through this mountainous area.

The Highland is the home to multiple hiking trails that attract countless outdoor enthusiasts:

  • Laugavegur trail
  • Brennisteinsalda Mountain trail, also called the Sulphur Wave trail
  • Blahnjukur Mountain trail, known as the Blue Peak trail
  • Ljótipollur trial, meaning Ugly Puddle trail
  • Hellismannaleið trail
  • Sprengisandur trail

Laugavegur hiking trail is most popular among both local and international hikers. Every summer, you will see backpackers trekking on this route with the incomparable landscape passing on both sides. One of the wonderful things about this area is that you can choose from short, beginner-level hikes, or opt for an all-out rugged Icelandic trekking tour.

The Brennisteinsalda Mountain “Sulphur Wave” trail is another iconic route. The two-hour hike is never monotonous marching on a tundra. The juxtaposition of greenish moss and maroon hills with the backdrop of dark lava and ash fields transforms this hike into an intense visual treat. The well-known Laugahraun lava field with its lustrous colors and rough texture is a must-visit. This path is on top of the hiking trail recommendation in Iceland.

Next to Mt.Brennisteinsalda is Mt. Blahnjukur, known for the Blue Peak trail, it leads the hikers all the way up to the 940m top where five glaciers are visible on a good, clear day.

Man Standing on Cliff at Landmannalaugar Mountains

In addition to several other trails in this area, the Landmannalaugar Highland region provides a paradise where you will witness nature’s miraculous design. The tours can be either a one-day hike or a multi-day trek. Also, always remember to bring your bathing suit. The abundant natural hot springs in this area will welcome you with a therapeutic treatment after a long day of hiking.

There are many possible and wonderful routes when you hike in Iceland, and the Landmannalaugar hiking trails are without a doubt amongst the most precious ones. If you are a hiking fiend who has come this far from another time zone to visit Iceland, then it is inexcusable that you miss this land of untouched nature.

KERLINGARFJÖLL MOUNTAIN RANGE

Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Range is located within the remote Icelandic wilderness, deep within the Highlands. This location offers incomparable hiking and trekking experiences, taking visitors through geothermal valleys, snow fields, and glacial rivers.

The name “Kerlingarfjöll” is a combination of two Icelandic words: “Kerling,” which means “an old lady,” and “fjöll,” meaning “the mountain.” It is no surprise that this name comes from a legend (like many other famous names in Iceland). The legend says that there was once a woman troll passing through the area who was turned into stone by the morning sun. You can still see her column while hiking through the area.

The Icelandic highlands, where this mountain range is located, is an uninhabited region in central Iceland. Kerlingarfjöll is approximately 10,000 years old and was formed as a result of volcanic activity in the region. This area offers a beautiful mixture of geothermal hot springs and colorful rhyolite mountains. Kerlingarfjöll is often compared to the famous Landmannalaugar, a hiking area with rhyolite mountains. If you’re looking for a less popular (but still beautiful) option, the Kerlingarfjöll hiking tour might be the perfect choice!

Glymur Waterfall

Iceland is famous for its waterfalls in all forms and sizes. The variety of roaring cascades scattered over the whole country is nothing short of amazing. Among the incalculable waterfalls in Iceland, Glymur was once the highest of all.

Glymur means “a noise” or “a rumbling sound that can be heard in an echoing place”. The name neatly describes the waterfall’s hidden position and the sound created as a result. Now as the second highest Icelandic waterfall, (Morsarfoss, with a drop of 228m, is now the highest since the measurement taken in 2011,) it only shows itself to those who are determined to reach the top. The cascade drops from 198m high, all the way down to the bottom of the canyon and continues to stream into Botnsdalur.

Hiking to Glymur and back usually takes two to three hours. Both the north and south sides are good for observing the waterfall, but the south side is recommended since it is facing the cascade. And it will be even more charming when the weather creates the condition for a rainbow.

In Iceland, hiking is commonly beautiful for the eyes and illuminating for the mind. Hiking to Glymur is one nice example of this combination of sensations. Its location in Hvalfjordur (Whale Fjord), West Iceland, offers diverse scenery with an endless green sprawling all over the land, and a lava cave where you can spot the water stream and mountain ranges from inside. The hiking trip won’t be too much of a challenge. But a decent pair of hiking boots and waterproof pants would certainly help you feel comfortable along the way.

The Glymur waterfall hike is also a perfect day tour if you are planning to relax for the evening back in Reykjavik.

Snæfellsjökull Glacier

Situated at the western point of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Snæfellsjökull glacier is bestowed with a majestic view of land and ocean. Its peak reaches 1446m (4744 ft) above sea level. When clouds are passing, you could literally be going up through the clouds to see the top. When you reach the top, the view will prove the worth of all the effort you’ve put into your hiking trip. You can even sight the east coast of Greenland in superb visibility. The ice, the sky, the ocean, and the top of other mountains – everything around you looks pure. It is the most pristine glacier in Iceland.

Snaefellsjokull Glacier Summit in Iceland

Snæfellsjökull glacier gained international fame after the movie “Journey to the Center of the Earth” in 2008. Aside from the fictional narrative in the movie, the glacier itself shares a similar mysterious spirit. It is a beautifully shaped volcano with a white cap, and people living on the Northwest coast of Iceland's capital region can sometimes see its vision. It is a 700,000-year-old volcano that fills the imagination of those who are poetic and brave.

Hiking to the glacier summit usually takes three to five hours depending on the weather. If your route begins in the small fishing village of Arnarstapi, the hiking distance to the peak is 7-8 km (4.3-4.9 miles). There will be crevasses and other potential dangers along the way, so a professional guide on the team would be a big help. An adventurous glacier hiking experience like this one needs a team that works together. That’s what is unique about glacier hiking. It pulls you away from the daily normality and puts you in extraordinary conditions. It reminds you that while humans are capable, we are vulnerable.

Iceland’s high latitude has formed some of the largest glaciers in the world. Before Snæfellsjökull, there are 12 other glaciers that are larger. Vatnajökull glacier is the largest in Iceland and in Europe. Global warming presents problems to many glaciers in the world. In August 2012, the summit of Snæfellsjökull glacier was free of ice for the first time in recorded history. And Vatnajökull glacier has been shrinking at an alarming rate too. Although it’s not under imminent change, the natural magnificence needs to be well-protected.

Reykjadalur Geothermal Area

Reykjadalur (which translates to “steam valley”) Geothermal Area is a live demonstration of the earth's energy. When you travel on the Ring road from Reykjavik 45 km to the south, you will see a sweeping view of the Hellisheiði mountains with numerous ribbons of steam coming out of the ground. That’s when you know Reykjadalur is close.

Reykjadalur Hot Spring in Iceland

Before you can relax in the hot spring river, you need to hike 3 km (1.86 miles) to get there. It’s not challenging and there is no need to rush. Meandering between valleys in this area before taking a dip in the hot spring river in the middle of the wilderness will make your day enjoyable. The nature of hiking in Reykjadalur is more recreational than athletic, making it a suitable activity for people of all ages and fitness levels.

Along the way, you will see a small canyon called Djupagil and a babbling waterfall known as Djupagilsfoss. The hot steam emits a sulfur smell. If you are willing to walk further north beyond the common hot bath point, you will see the mineral-painted rocks and ground. It is an absolute relaxation experience for the senses,  with a symphony of colors, sounds, and smells.

Another beloved thing to do in this area is to get to know the Icelandic horses. Icelanders are very proud of what their horses can do – the noteworthy gait tölt. They are good at crossing rough terrain and are skillful with their footwork – they can do five gaits! This attracts quite a lot of curious visitors to ride on horseback for this exotic experience. That’s why riding horseback in the Reykjadalur area is so popular.

Aerial view of Hveragerdi city in Iceland

Hikers and visitors usually start their day in the nearby town named Hveragerdi. The town has beautiful greenhouses and even the largest banana plantation in Europe. Hveragerdi also has options for your last-minute preparations before venturing into Reykjadalur Valley for further activities. There are several restaurants, shops where you can buy woolen inner layers and hiking outfits, and a museum with the “Quake 2008” exhibition that displays and simulates the damage of the earthquake in May 2008 in South Iceland.

Iceland is known for its dynamic geology. Starting about 24 million years ago, the divergent boundary of the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates began to create an island under the ocean. Eventually, the oldest rock in Iceland emerged above the ocean surface,  16 – 18 million years ago. The movement from the two plates sliding apart constantly releases energy and shapes the island nation with volcanos, ice caves, steam, geysers and waterfalls. These endless geological activities make Iceland a huge geothermal hotbed. In contrast with the hotspot activities, the near-Arctic latitude bestowed Iceland with glaciers, cool air, and temperamental weather. Altogether, it molds the ultimate harmony of fire and ice on an island standing alone in the North Atlantic. Even more miraculous is that you can actually see and touch the two continents when you visit Silfra Fissure.

Iceland, therefore, became the unparalleled choice when you desire intimacy with our planet. And hiking is only the beginning of getting to know how wonderful it is to be in Iceland.

Other Hiking Places

In addition to the more far-off locations for long and rustic trekking tours in Iceland, there are also quite a few opportunities for hiking near Reykjavik.

Heidmork Nature Reserve, located on the outskirts of Reykjavik, is a popular hiking location for the locals. It is also a backdrop for many Icelandic photographers. Although the mossy land is not to be stepped on due to its fragility, looking at it nearby is also relishing. In winter, when Heiðmörk is covered by snow, you can also join the locals for cross-country skiing.

Besides Heiðmörk, Mt. Esja is another favorite weekend destination among the residents of the capital region. Two of the best-known hiking trails are Þverfellshorn (780m / 2559 ft ) and Kerhólakambur (851m / 2792 ft ). There are marks along the way for hikers and climbers. If you are not a very experienced hiker, the point to turn back is usually by the sight of a huge rock named Stein at 597m (1959 ft) high.

View from mountain Esja in Iceland

The highest point of Esja is Hábunga, which reaches 914 m (2,999 ft) above sea level. This requires another 3km-or-1.86 mile-climbing northeast. Your efforts will be rewarded by the breathtaking view of the cityscapes fragmented by the curving roads extending to the horizon.

If hiking in Heiðmörk is too easy and the Esja trail is a bit too challenging, there is one spot that offers a happy medium – the lesser-known but totally beautiful Mt. Helgafell in Hafnarfjörður. It is only 340 m (1115 ft) high, which makes the hiking fun and easy, plus it doesn’t get much better than the view at the top when the moonlight falls and the city lights turn on.

If you are traveling to East Iceland, there are several hiking trails definitely worth trying:

  • Storurd, a remote valley located in Mt. Dyrfjoll; the trail takes five to seven hours to finish and the elevation gain is estimated at 600m (1968 ft).

  • Mt Snaefell, the hiking trail starts from the Snaefellsskali Hut, a small mountain hut at the foot of  Mt Snaefell; it takes six to seven hours to the top and is suitable for experienced hikers.

  • Skalanes, this is a three-hour relaxed walk across a diverse nature reserve of grassland, waterfalls, seashores, and beaches; for those who are interested in Iceland’s culture and heritage, the nearby village and farm are also good to visit.

Visitors from densely urbanized areas are often amazed by the vicinity of nature in Iceland. There is no need to make too much effort when you plan to spend quality time in the scenic countryside because it is simply everywhere.

Safety information

As Icelanders are very outdoorsy, hiking is a basic activity that is done solo or in a group. The outdoor facilities in Iceland are well established. Areas such as Thorsmork Valley and Landmannalaugar have huts available for temporary use to hikers and trekkers. However, since unpredictable weather could result in harsh conditions, as a traveler, it’s always good to have a companion on the road. If you’re traveling alone, it’s necessary to update your itinerary on safetravel.is so that rescue teams can quickly locate you in case of an emergency. Preparation for hiking in Iceland is key.

When you travel to Iceland, it’s useful to pack swimming suits and bath towels. Iceland abounds in hot springs, so you need to be prepared for a likely chance to immerse yourself in the warm water and be able to dry yourself after. This is also a fun side of hiking in Iceland, as besides just walking on a trail, there are so many other things to experience along the way. However, you need to be careful when choosing a hot spring for your relaxing soak, as some of them can be too hot to bathe in! In order to stay safe, it’s always better to think twice before acting in wild surroundings.

FAQ

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Bringing the right equipment is the key to a safe and successful hike. As the weather in Iceland can change very quickly, your packing list must be thought-through. Check out our guide on preparing for hiking and trekking tours and the equipment list to help you pack. There you can find information on what to pack for an overnight hike as well as some tips on what to bring on a short hike.

Your clothing must fit certain criteria and be comfortable. Clothes such as jeans and sneakers are not appropriate for a hiking tour. Layering is the key to avoid getting too cold or too hot on your hiking trip. Check out our comprehensive head-to-toe clothing guide to help you get ready for your adventure.

Don’t worry, you can always rent sturdy hiking shoes, waterproof jacket, and pants in the booking process or add it to your booking list. Check out our rental equipment list to see what options are available. However, please keep in mind that we do not rent gear on location.

Firstly, read carefully the details of your tour and keep in mind our difficulty ratings. After you’ve chosen your tour, it’s essential to pack the required equipment needed, which can vary greatly from season to season. You might also want to check the weather forecast in Iceland, but keep in mind that the weather is still quite unpredictable.

Hiking in Iceland alone is possible, but the visitors should always stay within the limits of designated areas and paths for walking and driving. You should also keep in mind that some attractions, such as ice caves can be too dangerous to visit alone and therefore inaccessible without a guide. Never attempt to access closed or private areas. Always treat beautiful Icelandic nature with respect and remember to follow important rules such as no walking on the moss, no off-road driving and no stepping on the icebergs.

It is very dangerous and absolutely not recommended to walk on glaciers on your own. Hiking on glaciers requires special skills, equipment, and knowledge. Our expert guides undergo special training and therefore it is much safer to explore this natural wonder with the specialists.