Iceland is one of our favourite countries in the world. This is mainly thanks to the natural beauty of the island, which is nothing short of spectacular. What is the best way to experience that, you might wonder? On your own two feet, of course! For that very reason, we have written this post about hiking in Iceland. Here you’ll find 12 of the best hikes in Iceland, although you can be sure there are many, many more great ones to discover.
If hiking isn’t really your thing (and even if it is), you should also check out our Iceland itinerary for discovering the country by car. It’s is the perfect place for a road trip, and you’ll easily be able to combine that with your love of the outdoors as well. There are plenty of amazing stops along the famous ring road, all of which are incredibly interesting and photogenic. You won’t be bored for a second. Oh, and sitting still in a car for many hours straight will make you feel great about getting some hiking exercise done on the way!
Hiking in Iceland
Let’s get right down to business. What follows is a list of 12 fabulous walks, hikes, and treks you can embark on in the land of fire and ice. Although we’ve done a fair bit of hiking in the country ourselves, we haven’t tried every single trail there is. So we’ve also asked a few of our travel blogging colleagues about their take on the best hikes in Iceland. Our combined experience has resulted in this list, where some of the hikes are epic multiple day adventures while others are just a nice short stroll in the pretty landscape. Some are ultra-popular, while others are little-known. Some are round trips, and some go from A to B. There should be something for everyone.
Without further ado, here comes the carefully curated list of Iceland hikes brought to you by The Danish Nomads and friends!
Best hikes in Iceland: According to The Danish Nomads
1 – The Laugavegur Trail
2 – Fimmvorduhals
3 – Summit of Valahnukur
4 – Blue Peak in Landmannalaugur
5 – Glymur Falls
6 – Hverfjall Volcanic Crater
7 – The rift valley in Thingvellir National Park
8 – Glacier hiking
Iceland hiking map
Here’s a map showing the approximate locations of the hikes included in this post. Hope you find it useful in your planning!
Best hikes in Iceland: According to The Danish Nomads
1 - The Laugavegur Trail
Let’s start with what is probably the most famous trail in Iceland! The 4-day Laugavegur hike is a legendary long-distance trek across the otherwordly highlands of southern Iceland. It kicks off in Landmannalaugur, a destination in its own right, and extends 55 kilometres (34 miles) south all the way to Thorsmork. On the way, it crosses massive lava fields, several sizable mountains, ice-cold rivers, big patches of snow (even in summer), a few canyons, and endless amounts of epic scenery.
Don’t be alarmed when steam comes out of the earth below your very feet, or when you learn that the volcanoes in the area are still very much alive. This is exactly what you’ve travelled all the way to Iceland for. Personally, this is easily the best hike we’ve ever done. The landscape looks like something from a different planet, for the entirety of the trail, and because it isn’t actually too strenuous, you really get to enjoy the view.
We’ve been on some pretty epic hikes the past few years, including Everest Base Camp in Nepal, and Tour du Mont Blanc in the Alps. However, the Laugavegur hike was our favourite one, hands down.
You need to plan a bit ahead to embark on the Laugavegur trail. There is an important decision to be made regarding whether you want to camp along the way or sleep in mountain huts. If you choose the latter, you must book well in advance, but if you choose to camp, your pack will be much heavier. There are also logistical aspects to consider, particularly because the trail is located in a very remote area. You won’t be able to go in a regular car, and the trail moves from A to B so you wouldn’t be able to get back to your vehicle anyhow. You have no choice but to book commercial transportation. Then there’s the question of what direction to take the hike in. Should you walk independently or join an organized tour? What time of year should you go? What should you bring with you?
To answer these questions, and more, we’ve written a complete guide to hiking the Laugavegur trail. You should definitely check it out if you plan on going.
Difficulty: Long and strenuous
Length: 55 km / 34 miles
Time: 4 full days
If you aren’t yet convinced that the Laugavegur trail is for you, check out this travel video we recorded during our personal hike! It might just do the trick…
2 - Fimmvorduhals
The Fimmvorduhals hike is a 2-day extension to the Laugavegur trek, going through more of the same breathtaking landscape. It’s arguably a little tougher and more exposed, but expect to be rewarded in heaps for your efforts. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to complete this section during our own trip, but a post about hiking in Iceland wouldn’t be complete without including Fimmvorduhals. We did a ton of research on it during our planning, and we hugely regret not being able to fit it in. We suggest you prioritize this, especially if you plan to complete the Laugavegur trail anyway.
Fimmvorduhals can also be done as a very long and tough day hike. The distance clocks in at over 25 kilometres (15 miles) and you’ll need to conquer more than 1400 meters (4600 feet) of elevation change. Don’t let that deter you, though, from what we hear this hike is absolutely unforgettable.
The Fimmvorduhals trail starts in Thorsmork where the Laugavegur hike ends and goes all the way out to sea. Your final destination is the famous Skogafoss waterfall, which is one of the classic stops on a typical Iceland road trip itinerary. For much of the trail, you’ll be walking in between the two massive icecaps of Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull. Perhaps the latter, a rather unpronounceable name, rings a bell? It was Eyjafjallajökull that erupted back in 2010, causing pretty much all air traffic in Europe to come to a halt for weeks. And yes, it is still active!
Difficulty: Long and strenuous
Length: 25 km / 15 miles
Time: 1-2 full days
3 - Valahnukur in Thorsmork
Although we didn’t have enough time for Fimmvorduhals, we did manage to fit in a small hike after finishing our Laugavegur trek. We hiked up to the summit of Valahnukur, a famous mountain in the Valley of Thor (yes, that’s the cool translation of Thorsmork). It’s a tough and incredibly steep trail, but fortunately, it isn’t very long. It takes just about an hour to reach the top, where you’ll be welcomed by incredible views over Thorsmork, ominous mountains in the distance, and even glaciers! This hike is not to be missed when in the area – the cost/benefit ratio is just too good to ignore.
However, if you aren’t planning on hiking the multiple-day Laugavegur trek, getting to Thorsmork might be a challenge. It’s not that it’s particularly difficult to get there – several companies schedule busses on a daily basis – but it’s a long trip to take from Reykjavik. Expect about 4-5 hours of transportation. Unfortunately, there is no way to drive yourself unless you have access to a 4×4 vehicle. Even then, you’ll need to cross a fast-flowing river which we don’t advise unless you have prior experience driving off-road.
You can visit Thorsmork with busses from companies such as Trex or Reykjavik Excursions, but you should know they only drive during the summer months. However, you wouldn’t want to hike in the highlands outside of those anyway, unless you have plenty of winter hiking or mountaineering experience. If you intend to go, we suggest you stay for a few days at least and check out some of the other day hikes in the area as well.
There are 3 huts to choose from: Langidalur, Volcano Huts and the Utivist Basar Hut. Whichever you choose, make sure to book WELL in advance. Once you get there, speak to the wardens who will be most updated on the best day hikes, current conditions as well as the unpredictable weather of the mountains.
Length: 3 km / 2 miles
Time: 2 hours
4 - Blue Peak in Landmannalaugur
Landmannalaugur is the trailhead of the Laugavegur trail. But there’s much more to it than that. In fact, it might just be the best place in Iceland for going on epic day hikes. Take, for example, the steep climb up Mt. Blahnúkúr, better known as Blue Peak. As you might have guessed, the name originates from the colour of the rock, which is bluer than it’s black. Stare at it long enough, and you might just start to see all the colours of the rainbow.
From Landmannalaugur to the summit of Blue Peak it is primarily one long, steep and tiresome, scramble up some loose gravel. However, the views from the top make you forget all about your struggles. Up there, at an altitude of 940 meters (3100 feet) you get magnificent views over the surrounding landscape, including lava fields, glaciers and colourful rhyolite mountains.
If you want a short trip, you can head down the same way you got up. However, we recommend you descend on the opposite side of the mountain (or rather, volcano!) to extend the hike for a bit. You are in no rush to get back to camp because this is easily one of the most glorious day hikes in Iceland and maybe even the whole world. This way down takes you through the massive Laugahraun lava field, formed during an eruption in 1477. We’ve rarely seen an otherworldly landscape quite like this one.
When you finally do get back, you’ll likely be wanting for more. Luckily, there are plenty of other interesting hikes to choose from in the area, such as the 6.5 km (4 miles) Brennisteinsalda hike or the 8.5 km (5.2 miles) Suðurnámur trail. You may combine those two with Mt Blahnukur for a majestic three-peak day hike. That’s definitely one you’ll remember, in your mind as well as your legs.
Once you’ve conquered that beast of a hike as well, why not celebrate by soaking your tired legs and feet in the resident natural hot springs? That’s right, you may jump straight into the warm, comfy, water, free of charge. That’s no wonder because Landmannalaugur actually translates to “The People’s Pools”!
Remember to speak with the local warden in the Landmannalaugur Hut to check on current conditions. This is also where you should pitch your tent, or alternatively, make a booking (a year in advance – or more!) for a real bed. Same as for Thorsmork, to get to Landmannalaugur, you may use the bus services of Trex or Reykjavik Excursions. You won’t be able to get to Landmannalaugur without a 4×4 and taking the bus is a breeze anyway.
Length: 6 km / 3.7 miles
Time: 3-4 hours
5 - Glymur Falls
The first four hikes on the list were all located in the highlands of southern Iceland. There’s a good reason for that because that region is really exceptional beyond compare. However, Iceland has many more great areas to explore, so let’s make sure to cover some of those as well!
The first trail we’ll highlight is the one leading up to Glymur Falls. This is the second-highest waterfall in Iceland, and it really is a mighty impressive sight. It’s located only about 70 kilometres (44 miles) from Reykjavik and is therefore perfect for a day trip. The drive there is quite scenic in itself, but it’s the views once you get close to the falls that will really blow you away.
There is no way to see the actual waterfall without strapping on your favourite hiking boots and getting on with it. And it won’t be easy. The hike up is quite strenuous and not for the faint-hearted. There are sections which can be scary and vertigo-inducing, but if you push through your fears, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views at the top and a great sense of achievement. One of our favourite inspirational travel quotes goes:
Although this isn’t technically a mountain, it’s still really good advice! However, do be aware that the steep rocks can be slippery and dangerous when wet, so please only attempt this hike in clear weather.
Once you make it all the way up, you can walk downstream and cross over the river feeding the falls. It’s safe to cross but be prepared to get your feet wet. By doing this, you’ll get to walk down a much easier route and won’t have to look at the same scenery twice. If you would like to bypass the steepest section, you could, in theory, hike up this way and back down again. However, we do recommend the steeper route because it provides the best direct views at Glymur falls.
Length: 7.5 km / 4.5 miles
Time: 3 hours
6 - Hverfjall Volcanic Crater
It might sound like a daunting task to climb a volcano, but it’s much easier than you’d expect. Hverfjall is a proper dome volcano, but it’s only 420 meters tall. It takes just 15 minutes of steep hiking to reach the top and then approximately 1 hour to walk around the rim of the crater. It can be a little hard to appreciate the size of the volcano because you are so close to it, but the immense views across the surrounding landscape make up for that.
One thing you’ll notice immediately is patches of smoke and steam from all the geothermal activity in the area. Why not exploit this natural source of energy? Just 15 minutes from Hverfjall you find Myvatn Nature Baths; a great place to recharge your batteries after the climb.
Getting to Hverfjall requires driving a short section on a bumpy gravel road, but we didn’t find it too bad even in a large campervan. How to find it? Remember, further above we have included a map with all the locations of the hikes in this post.
Length: 3 km / 2 miles
Time: 1.5 hours
7 - The rift valley in Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park is a special place. Located on the so-called Golden Circle, it’s a very popular stop for tourists, and rightly so. This is where the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates meet. If it weren’t for those immense natural forces, Iceland simply wouldn’t exist. The island is located smack in the middle of that continental drift, and that makes it possible to do quite a unique hike. Here you can walk in between the tectonic plates, which interestingly, are still moving apart at a rate of 2 cm (0.8 inches) per year. The hike is super easy and short, but to walk in an actual rift valley is not an opportunity we’d let pass if we were you.
If you are interested in history, you’ll be in for a treat as well. The Icelandic Althing (the National Parliament) was formed in the year 930 right there at Thingvellir. In fact, their sessions were still held in this spot regularly until around 1800. As late as during WWII, the Althing convened at Thingvellir, where Iceland officially became a republic and thus independent from Denmark. Most Icelanders still speak Danish as a second language, and a majority of the goods you find in the supermarkets are actually Danish. This was super interesting for us as Danes, but embarrassingly, we had no idea until we visited Thingvellir ourselves!
If you feel more adventurous, you should know that you can also snorkel or dive at Thingvellir. The water is near-freezing, but you’ll be equipped with an advanced dry-suit keeping you warm. Nowhere else in the world can you dive between two tectonic plates. Equally impressively, the water is crystal clear with visibility up to 70 meters (230 feet).
You should definitely visit Thingvellir National Park, but don’t just take it from us. It also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Length: 2 km / 1.2 miles
Time: 1-2 hours
8 - Glacier hiking
This is technically not one specific hike, but we guarantee you, it’s an experience you don’t want to miss. Hiking on a glacier was the favourite activity we booked during our two weeks in Iceland! There are several places where you can do this, but the most common glaciers to explore are Svínafellsjökull, Sólheimajökull, and Skaftafel. Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce those names, no one outside of Iceland can. All of the above are located in the southern part of the country and are quite easily accessible.
You can’t do such a hike independently so you’ll have to book a trip through a tour operator. They’ll set you up with waterproof clothing, crampons, ice axes and a guide. Then you follow him or her in single file formation and just enjoy the incredible sight of blue ice, crevasses, ice caves, and underwater rivers.
Interestingly, you won’t have to bring any water for your hike because you can just drink straight from the melting ice. It’s a sad thing of course that the glaciers are melting, but at least the water will be the tastiest you’ve ever had. Make sure to appreciate that fact when you are drinking straight from the source, down on all fours like a savage Viking (or perhaps like a cute little dog?).
There are two typical tours these companies provide: A shorter 3-hour hike and a longer 5-hour excursion. We strongly advise you to take the longer version because you’ll want as much time as possible out on the ice. It’s really an amazing landscape to explore, and we assure you, once there you don’t ever want to leave.
The company we went with was called Troll Expeditions, and we can highly recommend their 5-hour tour. They took us up on the less popular Falljokull glacier, and we had a blast. Someday soon we’ll write up a full travel story for you to understand just how awesome it was.
This experience should definitely go straight on your bucket list!
Oh, and by the way, the name of that company reminds us of a little fun fact: Many Icelanders actually believe in trolls, elves and other superstitious creatures. You may laugh at that but just visit this magical country, and you’ll soon understand why!
Length: 5 km / 3 miles
Time: 3-5 hours
Best hikes in Iceland: According to fellow travel bloggers
We asked around in the travel blogger community for recommendations about great hiking in Iceland. The hope was that some hidden pearls would reveal themselves, and indeed they did!
9 - Dreki and Askja Víti
Dreki and Askja Víti are located in the east of the Highlands of Iceland and see a relatively small number of visitors. Dreki is 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the main Ring Road, following roads F905 or F910. The routes cross the lava fields with a number of river crossings, and therefore a 4×4 vehicle is essential.
This trek is best started from the mountain hut at Dreki which has a comfortable bunk bed house and campsite in the summer months. The rangers here will advise on conditions along the trail and whether the geothermal waters of Askja Víti are safe for bathing. Be aware that the conditions within Askja caldera can be significantly different from those in Dreki.
From Dreki, the path to Askja is clearly marked with yellow marker sticks. These start to the west of the Dreki Hut and follow the rough ash covered path close to the Nautagil Canyon. The path then heads towards the rim of the Askja crater where the view is absolutely stunning. Lake Öskjuvatn is laid out in front of you as you come over the rim with the smaller Askja Víti to one side. It’s a tough 10-kilometre trek (6 miles) taking about 4 hours, however, it is, without a doubt, worthy of your effort the whole way.
If conditions are right it is possible to swim in the blue geothermal water of Askja Víti. From here, the track heads away from the lake and is again clearly marked by yellow markers and cairns across the wide-open caldera. After 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) the track drops over the caldera rim, and there is a small car park, and a jeep track, back to the Dreki hut.
If the weather is cloudy, or the conditions are not suitable for the path over the rim, it’s possible to either walk 8 kilometres (5 miles) on the jeep track from Dreki, or to drive to the car park and walk the shorter 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) across the caldera to Askja Víti.
Suggested by Suzanne from Meandering Wild
Length: 10 km / 6 miles
Time: 4 hours
10 - Reykjadalur Valley & the Hot River
Reykjadalur Valley in Southwest Iceland is a beautiful area to explore. This highly active geothermal region is best known for the Reykjadalur Hot Springs, also known as Hot River. Here, the water flows steadily at 37C and is perfect for a leisurely dip. The Hot River can be reached through an easy 3-kilometre (2-mile) one-way hike, and it makes a fun stop on any Golden Circle road trip or as a day trip from Reykjavik.
The closest city to Hot River is Hveragerði. Once you reach this town, look for a restaurant called Dalakaffi. The hike starts at their car park, where you can leave your vehicle.
From there, it’s a 40-50 minute walk, with plenty of time for taking pictures. The hike is very easy, and there is no need for a guide or maps as the trail is well marked. Along the hike, there are bubbling mud holes, hot springs and even a small canyon with a beautiful waterfall cascading down into the valley. The terrain is alright when the weather is dry but it could be slippery on rainy days. In any case, sturdy boots and trekking poles are recommended.
At the end of the hike, there’s the Hot River and a couple of cabins where people can put their swimsuits to take a bath. There’s no entry fee, and it is a great feeling to take a hot bath outside when the air is so cold and fresh. If you arrive early, you can avoid the crowds and have the Hot River almost for yourself.
Length: 6 km / 4 miles
Time: 2 hours
11 - Westman Islands
The Westman Islands are one of the most overlooked pearls of Iceland. Even though it certainly pays off to spend a day here, there are not that many tourists. Of interest to anyone reading this post, there are several hikes that you can take. They are not too long, so it is easy to make them all just in one day.
First of all, if you go to the Westman Islands, you have the opportunity to hike a volcano. There is a path directly from town, that will lead you to the top of the youngest volcano in Iceland. Don’t worry, Eldfell erupted back in 1973, but it hasn’t been active since. The hike up should only take about an hour. The difficulty is quite low, even though the last part is very steep.
After that, you can continue to hike the next volcano in line, that sits right next to it and represents the biggest hill on the islands. The hike there is a much steeper and a little bit more difficult, but the view from the top is certainly unique. It takes about 2 hours to do it.
The last hike you can take is one that goes all around the island, walking right next to cliffs for the most part. That might not seem so special, but you’ll get a very nice view of all of the surrounding islands, and in the summer months, you’ll be treated to some beautiful Puffins along the way.
Suggested by Albi from Ginger Around The Globe
Time: From 1 hour to a full day
12 - Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir is one of the most unique places to visit in Iceland. It is located in the northern part of the island, near Lake Myvatn along the Diamond Circle. The entire area is filled with lava fields created when an eruption encountered a blockage and molten lava flowed out leaving areas of solidified lava. For this reason, there is no other place on Earth quite like Dimmuborgir.
If you’re short on time, Dimmuborgir has a few quick hikes that only take 15 to 20 minutes. The first of these is the shorter Small Circle. Being just 0.6 kilometres (0.35 miles) long, this one is a great introduction to everything that Dimmuborgir has to offer. The Big Circle is a bit longer at almost 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) and takes you through additional lava formations.
For a slightly longer and more interesting hike, take the Church Circle. This trail is 2.3 kilometres (1.4 miles) and will take you about 1 hour through one of the coolest geological formations in the area; the so-called “Church.” This unique piece of lava is named for its dome shape, and in fact, you can see through it!
Length: 2.3 km / 1.4 miles
Time: 1 hour
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That’s it for this little overview of great hiking trails in Iceland. If you liked what you read, please share the article on your favourite social media channel. You are also very welcome to throw a comment below if you have any questions, some kind words, or a bit of critique. Maybe you’ve got a great hike to recommend as well?