Hiking trails in Iceland take you out into the wilderness of Icelandic Highlands, where the horizon is endless and the terrain is diverse. Novice and experienced hikers from all over the world come together in nature’s great playground to experience Iceland at its most raw.
A bit About our Hiking Guide Francois Denis
Francois has been guiding hiking tours since 2015 and is one of the best hiking guides in Iceland. He first came to Iceland in 2012 and fell in love with the country straight away. Francois finds his job exciting on many levels, though managing people's expectations on tours seem to be the biggest challenge.
Our expert hiking guide and passionate traveler, Francois Denis, tells us the top 10 reasons hikers are crazy for guided hiking across Iceland.
1. HIKE ACROSS ICELAND FOR SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT
Francois says that difficult terrain and unpredictable weather make each hike in Iceland challenging. Hikers choose Iceland because of the overwhelming sense of accomplishment you get after you complete your day’s goal.
“Nature in Iceland can be very demanding, even for the most experienced hikers,” Francois says, smiling. ”The sense of accomplishment at the end of every day is the best reward a traveler can get.”
Forget all your troubles once you reach your goal, drop your backpack, and soak in the stunning scenery that surrounds you.
2. “NATURE IS VERY DIFFERENT HERE”
Nature in Iceland is otherworldly. The land of contrasts is home to active volcanoes, black sand beaches, rhyolite mountains, and many other nature’s wonders. Francois says the breathtaking nature is a big draw for travelers.
“Nature is very different here,” he explains. “There are very few trees, so the horizon is endless. When wandering around in this country, you feel very small. Nature, and especially the ever-changing weather, often gives you a big slap in the face! It shows you how powerful it can be and puts you right where you belong.”
3. THORSMORK VALLEY
When asked about the most breathtaking attractions in Iceland, Francois instinctively says it’s all incredible. A few seconds later, he gives in and says “Thorsmork Valley.”
“I often go there and it puts me in awe every time,” Francois says of Thorsmork.
Most multi-day treks in Iceland end in Thorsmork Valley.
The valley is located between two glaciers, mapped out by three rivers and protected by walls of volcanic rock. Breathtaking views of Iceland’s highlands open up from the top of the valley.
A guided tour is a great way to explore this stunning area: your shoulders are light of a heavy backpack, an experienced guide will get you there safe and sound, and you can share your experiences with a group of like-minded hikers.
4. CHALLENGING TERRAIN AND UNPREDICTABLE WEATHER
“Be ready for any kind of weather. Even in the summer, there’s a possibility that you’ll walk through snow, hail or ice in the Highlands,” advises Francois.
Icelandic weather is notoriously unpredictable, so hikers need to be prepared at all times. Vedur has the latest information on the weather in Iceland.
“You can do the same trail over and over again, but each time the experience will be completely different, mainly because of the weather.”
5. LONG HIKES IN THE MIDNIGHT SUN
The Midnight Sun dominates the Arctic region in summer. From late May to early August nights in Iceland are bright and hikers can explore highlands during the day as well as at night.
“The good thing about hiking in Iceland in summer is that it’s bright all the time,” explains Francois. “You don’t have to rush to get to the camp by the dawn. You can hike as long and as much as you want.”
6. GROUP SUPPORT
“Meeting new people is not what hikers come for, but it always makes the tour better.”
Regardless of your fitness level or experience, trekking in a group can be very rewarding. Other hikers on the trail with you will lift up your mood, share similar pains, or simply be there for you.
“On our guided tour, you’ll feel a lot of positive energy and support from others in the group. Also, hikers on the same tour share loads of advice. Sometimes I feel like I’m not the most experienced.” Francois smiles.
7. BEGINNERS ARE WELCOME
For hikers with little or no experience, Iceland can be overwhelming. Francois says that guided hiking tours are the best option for brave souls who want to confront the Icelandic wilderness.
The tours are flexible. You’ll be accompanied by a guide and surrounded by a group of other hikers. These hiking trips are a safe place to test yourself and find your limit!
“But whatever the difficulty, always try to push your limits,” reminds Francois, “even on a small hiking trip. Do it and see how long and how far you can hike.“
8. “IF YOU WANT FEWER PEOPLE, YOU HAVE TO COME IN SEPTEMBER”
The end of August and beginning of September is a great time to visit Iceland. The weather still smells of summer, the Northern Lights shine over the highlands and only a few hikers are exploring the trails.
9. EVERYTHING IS PLANNED
“We go to very remote places, with no access to public transport or anything,” explains Francois.
“Mountain huts are located far from any facilities or cities, and the food we provide on tours is of exceptional quality and there’s a lot of it. Fresh fish, meat, vegetables, and fruit every day when camping is luxury.“
Guided hiking tours include transportation, accommodation, and food, so you don’t have to worry about logistics. On the tour, just focus on hiking and the surrounding landscape. Everything else is taken care of.
10. NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT
The guides leading hikers towards their goals each day are not only experts on Icelandic weather, terrain, and subtleties of the trail. They’re also experts in making sure you have the best time possible.
“Sometimes, it’s the difficulty of the hike that gets in the way. Sometimes it’s the food or accommodation that hikers don’t like. And sometimes it’s their physical condition that lets them down,” Francois says.
“Anyway, in these cases, adjustments can be made and it’s up to a professional guide to make travelers happy.”
There are major benefits to a guided hiking tour in Iceland as opposed to solo hiking.
On a guided tour, you’ll have a great outdoor experience, learn a lot about the country from your guide, and meet new people.
Pumped about guided hiking tours? Check out our list of hiking tours in Iceland.