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The Ultimate List of the Best Hikes in Iceland

Day Hikes and Multi-Day Treks in Iceland From Hiking Experts and Mountain Guides

|November 30, 2023
Viktoria is a restless adventurer with personal experience in all of the outdoor activities that Iceland has to offer. She has backpacked all over Iceland and she loves to inspire others to make a deep connection with the country during their travels...

Imagine that you’re standing on a grand mountain in the middle of the Icelandic wilderness. Everywhere you look are colorful hills, snow-capped peaks, moss-covered slopes, jagged glaciers, majestic waterfalls, and rumbling volcanoes. And you’re just there, in the middle of it, taking it all in. Could you imagine a better scenario than this? We don’t think so.

hiking and trekking in landmannalaugar in iceland

The Laugavegur trail, Landmannalaugar - one of the best hikes in Iceland

Why Hiking Is the Best Way to Explore Iceland

Unlike admiring the landscape passively from a car’s window, the world utterly changes and comes to life when you explore it on foot. This is especially true for Iceland. Only you and a small community of fellow hikers will be able to see the true face of this mysterious land, hidden beyond the Ring Road and the other tourist routes.

Iceland – that beautiful country that you have planned to visit for so long – will come into existence for all of your senses. The fantasy that you may have had of the country before arrival will turn into a wild, three-dimensional, one-of-a-kind reality.

You’ll feel the smooth touch of the moss as you crouch down to stroke it and taste refreshing ice-cold glacial water. Take in the fresh smell of the ocean wind. Listen to the sound of the young earth under your feet. Observe the vivid colors of the tiny arctic flowers that grow in the black desert and all those other small details that fill a nice landscape with vibrant life. These are only there for those who choose to walk the less-traveled path on foot. Iceland, as it is then and there, will become your secret.

Even though the country sees a large number of tourists each year, the vast majority of these visitors will stay on the paved roads near their cars and only visit the most popular places. Hikers, however, have the opportunity to discover all of the hidden treasures and to enjoy the ultimate peace and silence of Icelandic nature that is unparalleled by any other part of the world.

female hiker on laugavegur trail in summer

Hiking is the best way to explore Iceland's infinite natural beauty

About Our List of the Best Hikes in Iceland

The resourceful hiking experts and mountain guides from Iceland have compiled a list of the best hikes in Iceland for you. For those who aren’t Ironman alumni, there are not only the longer multi-day treks but also the shorter hikes that are easily accessible and can be completed in just one day.

A few of the listed hikes are Icelandic superstars like the legendary Laugavegur and Fimmvörduháls trails. But most aren’t yet that well known and could very well become the most memorable sight of your lifetime.

Even just scrolling through them is an inspiring experience that will have you shopping for new hiking gear immediately. It’s time to free up your inner geologist, botanist, photographer, or poet. Come and explore the most beautiful hiking trails in Iceland with us!

NOTE: Trail difficulty is highly dependent on the weather conditions and, of course, on your fitness level. The difficulty levels are based on people who hike or exercise on a regular basis and are in good physical condition. If you’re uncertain of your capacities or the conditions that await you, choose a guided tour instead of venturing off into the wilderness alone.

man with a backpack hiking thorsmork trail in iceland

A small group of hikers crossing the Icelandic Highlands

The Best Hikes in Iceland: An Interactive Map

As passionate hiking enthusiasts, we're excited to share our curated selection of amazing treks and day hikes in Iceland. We understand the challenge of choosing from so many incredible options, which is why we've carefully crafted this list to ensure you get the very best of Iceland's hiking adventures.

To enhance your planning experience, we've created an interactive map detailing each hike. Here, you'll find all the essential information and stunning photos to inspire your journey. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or just starting out, our guide is designed to help you make the most of your adventure in Iceland's majestic landscapes. So, gear up, dive into our recommendations, and get ready for an unforgettable hiking experience. Happy hiking!

The Best Multi-Day Hikes in Iceland

You will sometimes need to go off the beaten path and stay there for a few days to find the adventure worth remembering for the rest of your life. A multi-day hike will challenge you and will lead to a deeper, more profound, and more comprehensive experience than any other kind of tour. If you have a passion for nature, stamina, and a good pair of hiking boots, we encourage you to consider adding at least some of these trails to your Icelandic bucket list!

The Laugavegur & Fimmvörðuháls Combined Trek

Duration: 6 days, 4–7 hours per day
Distance: 47.8 mi. (77 km)
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging (4/5)
Experience: Magnificent (5/5)
Path Conditions: Well-traveled, well-signed, snowy parts
Main Challenges: A lot of up and down climbing. A chance of bad weather.
Maximum Ascent: 2600 ft. (800 m)

The National Geographic has listed the Laugavegur and Fimmvorduhals trek as one of the world’s best hiking trails for a very good reason. Combining two of Iceland’s best trails will allow you to view some of the most exquisite parts of Icelandic nature.

The ultimate Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls hike starts with the Laugavegur hike in Landmannalaugar, a fascinating geothermal oasis. It then leads 47.8 mi. (77 km) through the extremely varied landscapes of the Icelandic Highlands.

You’ll hike among the unbelievably colorful mountains of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve. You’ll pass by bubbling hot springs and walk on steaming ground while looking at the fascinating landscape with black lava fields and multi-colored rhyolite mountains all around you.

Fimmvorduhals Hiking views in iceland

One of the best hikes not only in Iceland, but in the whole world!

You’ll then climb up and down snow-capped peaks and moss-covered slopes, cross glacial rivers on foot. You’ll also walk through black deserts before arriving in the lush birch forests of the fertile valley of Þórsmörk.

This is where the second part of the hike starts: the Fimmvorduhals Trail. You’ll climb up a steep mountain to gain a thrilling view over the green valley and the jagged, mossy ridges. You’ll have the opportunity to wander in between three glaciers and visit the notorious Eyjafjallajökull eruption site that was freshly formed in 2010. The hike ends at what’s probably Iceland's most famous waterfall, the majestic Skógafoss.

The Laugavegur & Fimmvorduhals Trek can be completed in 6–8 days depending on how much time you’d like to spend in Thorsmork and Landmannalaugar. Along the way, you can sleep in mountain huts or pitch a tent at the campsite next to the building. The paths are accessible from late June to early September every year. Out of season, the huts are closed as the area is not safe to hike in.

If you’re looking to explore the vastness and diversity of Icelandic nature, this is your trek! Let’s go on this adventure together! Join us on the grand Laugavegur & Fimmvörðuháls Trek adventure!

Got questions about this hike? Join our Facebook groups:

hiking down a mountain in landmannalaugar area in summer

Breathtaking panorama on the Icelandic Highlands, the ultimate location of Iceland's best hikes

The Laugavegur Trek

Duration: 4 days, 4–7 hours per day
Distance: 34.1 mi. (55 km)
Difficulty: Moderate (3/5)
Experience: Magnificent (5/5)
Path Conditions: Well-traveled, well-signed, snow-covered in parts
Main Challenges: A lot of up and down climbing. A chance of bad weather.
Maximum Ascent: 1607 ft. (490 m)

Laugavegur translates as the “Hot Spring Route” in English, which is very suitable. Iceland’s most famous hiking trail leads through thrilling landscapes of black lava fields, steaming hot springs, colorful rhyolite mountains, black deserts, and moss-painted oases. It’s been dubbed one of the most amazing adventures to be had in Iceland!

The epic Laugavegur trek leads 34 mi. (55 km) through the southwest part of the Icelandic Highlands. It starts in the geothermally active Landmannalaugar Valley where you can take a dip in a natural hot spring before starting the hike.

Your walk will start in the most beautiful landscape with black lava fields and chocolate-colored mountains surrounding you. After climbing up a snowy peak, you’ll descend into a green valley and walk through beautiful meadows in a fairytale-like landscape. A black desert and a thrilling canyon await you on the way as well as a few unbridged rivers that you’ll have to cross on foot, just to add to the fun.

man trekking around landmannalaugar mountains in iceland

Breathtaking colors in Landmannalaugar - the first leg of the Laugavegur trek

Finally, you’ll end your hike walking through a lovely birch forest into the vibrant valley of Thorsmork, which is surrounded by jagged green slopes and thrilling glaciers. The Laugavegur Trail is really a beautiful journey from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmor, between two very different types of heaven!

At a very comfortable pace, you can complete this hike in four days with stops at the mountain huts along the way. You can either sleep in the huts or pitch your tent at the campsite next to the building.

Even though the huts in Landmannalaugar are open all year round, the rest of the huts on the trail are closed during the winter. The trail’s walkable from late June to early September, depending on the actual weather conditions. The rest of the time, meters of snow cover the trail making it impossible to trek safely.

If you’re looking for an awesome four-day journey into Iceland’s very heart, join us! Aside from our regular small group tours, we organize special Laugavegur hiking tours for families with kids or for those adventurers who travel solo!

female hiker crossing a river on the laugavegur trail

Crossing rivers in foot is part of the fun when hiking in Iceland

The Fimmvörduháls Trek

Duration: 1–2 days
Distance: 15.5 mi. (25 km)
Difficulty: Moderate (3/5)
Experience: Magnificent (5/5)
Path Conditions: Well-traveled, well-signed, snow-covered in parts
Main Challenges: A lot of up and down climbing. A chance of bad weather.
Maximum Ascent: 1607 ft. (490 m)

Iceland’s second most famous trail is the 15.5-mile (25-km) Fimmvörduháls hike. It’s best if you start in Skógar, from the top of the majestic Skógafoss waterfall, when it’s done by itself and not connected to Laugavegur.

The path leads along the river up into the mountains, showcasing an uncountable number of beautiful waterfalls. The thrilling canyon that you’ll walk along could easily be one of the most beautiful gorges in Iceland.

different views around thormsork valley in summer

The lush valley of Thorsmork

The trail then leads up to the snow-capped mountain top where you can stay in a mountain hut for the night. From there, you’ll soon arrive at the brand new ground where two young volcanic craters can be explored. The famous Magni and Modi craters were formed in the notorious Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010.

The trail then leads hikers between three glaciers and descends sharply into the incredibly scenic Thórsmörk valley. The hike down from the craters into the valley is the highlight of the tour. In good light conditions, this sight’s so enchanting that it can easily rewrite your idea of the greatest natural beauty that one could possibly imagine.

At a comfortable pace, the magnificent Fimmvörduháls Hike can be completed in two days. In good conditions, it also can be done in just one day. But why would you hurry?

Join us on this spellbinding tour and complete the hike of a lifetime with us!

Fimmvorduhals eruption

The Hornstrandir Trek

Duration: 6 days, 4–7 hours per day
Distance: 53.4 mi. (86 km)
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging (4/5)
Experience: Magnificent (5/5)
Path Conditions: Less traveled, poorly signed
Main Challenges: Remote with a lack of facilities. A chance of bad weather
Maximum Ascent: 1804 ft (550 m)

Iceland’s most remote hiking area is located in the Westfjords in northwest Iceland. The total area is 220 sq. mi. (580 km2) of Arctic tundra, craggy mountains, breathtaking fjords, flowering pastures, and some of Europe’s largest bird cliffs.

This extraordinary six-day Hornstrandir hike guides you across one of Europe’s last true wilderness areas. Hornstrandir is famous for being inaccessible to any motorized vehicles. There’s no infrastructure here and you can only access the nature reserve by boat.

There are no services and no cell phone reception, so travelers must be entirely self-reliant. Given the nature reserve’s isolated location, the area has remained perfectly untouched and uninhabited since the fifties. Only a few old buildings and farmsteads remain to remind us of the area’s settlement history.

The region’s exclusively accessible by boat during the mid-summer period. Some of the strictest preservation rules in Iceland apply to this area. Hiking is only allowed from late June to mid-August.

Even in those months, the sense of remoteness is very strong. You can hike for days on end without seeing a single person! Arctic foxes are, however, abundant in the area and aren’t very shy here. This is their natural habitat. They’re protected here, therefore, they’re not afraid of humans.

Exploring this remote nature reserve may be the most special experience of your life, but it also requires a lot of forethought. Travelers must be fully prepared with food, water, warm clothing, excellent tents, and sturdy hiking boots. For maximum safety and comfort, the best thing to do is to join a guided tour so that a professional hiking guide can lead you through the most iconic natural features of Hornstrandir.

For those who can't spend six days in the area, there are shorter versions of this hike: the 3-day Horstrandir trek and the 2-day Hornstrandir hike.

woman hiking around hornstrandir area in iceland

Hornvík, the most famous cliffs in Hornstrandir

The Kjolur Route

Duration: 2–3 days, 4–7 hours per day
Distance: 25.4–29.8 mi. (41–48 km)
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging (4/5)
Experience: Impressive (4/5)
Path Conditions: Less traveled, well signed
Main Challenges: Likely to have challenging weather conditions.
Maximum Ascent: 1880 ft (573 m)

The Kjölur Trek, also known as Kjalvegur or the “Haunted Highway”, leads between two glaciers in the very heart of the Highlands. Ever since the Vikings settled down in Iceland, there has been a route running through the interior of the country, connecting the northern and southern areas. In the old times, people used horses to cross the Highlands.

The route has a dark history as some travelers in the 18th century froze to death here. The trek remains notoriously challenging today due to the especially unfavorable weather conditions. With the right equipment, precautions, a good amount of hiking experience, and good preparation, this trek can be highly enjoyable!

Today, there’s a gravel road near the hiking trail which can be driven during the summer by larger 4X4 vehicles and truck buses. The road can get surprisingly busy during the high season in July and August. The trail is, however, further from the road, near the glacier Langjökull, where there’s much more vegetation, grass, flowers, and even small birches.

The trek leads between Hvítárnes and Hveravellir. The trailhead can be accessed by public transport. However, a 4.9-mile (8-km) hike is required to get to the trailhead from the drop-off point of Highland bus. In the Hveravellir area, hot springs invite the hikers to bathe in them and relax. Therefore, we recommend starting in Hvítárnes and ending your hike in the hot springs of Hveravellir.

hiking the Kjolur Route in iceland

Hikers walking in the wilderness of the Highlands

The Askja Trek

Duration: 5 days, 5–10 hours per day
Distance: 60.2 mi (97 km)
Difficulty: Challenging (5/5)
Experience: Impressive (4/5)
Path Conditions: Less traveled, well signed
Main Challenges: A shortage of drinking water
Maximum Ascent: 1640 ft. (500 m)

Askja, a 19.3-square-mile (50-km2) subsidence cauldron, is one of the most famous calderas in the world and certainly the most impressive in Iceland. It’s located in the northeastern part of the Highlands between the Dyngjujokull Mountains, within Vatnajökull National Park.

The caldera is now filled with water. There’s another smaller crater next to Askja called Viti, which is beloved among travelers for its milky-blue water. It was once comfortably warm for bathing, but today it’s no warmer than 20°C (68°F).

The volcano has erupted several times over the past centuries. The most infamous eruption took place in 1875 when Askja plunged the island into disaster, poisoning the land and causing the death of the livestock. The most recent eruption occurred in 1961 and ended without causing much harm.

The northeastern Highlands may be one of the least visited areas of Iceland, but the Askja region is a beloved trekking destination among local adventurers. The trekking route leading to Askja is called Öskjuvegur in Icelandic. The trek leads across Iceland’s largest continuous lava field full of lunar landscapes, impressive volcano-mountains, and rocky deserts.

Several huts with limited facilities are available along the trail. Those who would like to sleep there are advised to book their spots months ahead of time.

hiking around askja craters in north iceland

Viti crater at Askja

Wilderness Treks in the Icelandic Highlands

As Iceland’s 15,444-square-mile (40,000-km2) deserted wilderness, the Highlands contain some of the most extraordinary and epic multi-day treks in the world. Besides the listed treks, there are unmarked wilderness trekking routes available in the Kerlingarfjöll area as well as in the southern part of Vatnajökull National Park.

We don’t recommend that anyone venture off the signed paths without a trained and experienced local guide.

For those who are eager to explore the most hidden areas and untouched areas, we’ve created our special wilderness backpacking trek. It contains thrilling hot springs as well as glaciers and unforgettable landscapes.


You don’t need to get lost in the wilderness for days or weeks to experience a very special adventure. There are amazing day hikes in Iceland that will absolutely blow your mind, some of them located within a short drive from Reykjavík.

While not all are “easy” hikes, all are readily accessible and can be completed in a few hours or a single day. Some of the following trails are even accessible in winter. Of course, the same trail in winter becomes much more difficult and requires extra care and extra equipment. Here a few of the best day hikes that you’ll surely enjoy even if you have limited time in Iceland!

The Fimmvörduháls Volcano Hike-Thórsmörk

Duration: 6-7 hours
Distance: 10 mi. (16 km)
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging (4/5)
Experience: Magnificent (5/5)
Path Conditions: Well-traveled, well-signed, snowy parts
Main Challenges: Very steep climbs. A chance of bad weather.
Maximum Ascent: 2625 ft. (800 m)

Aside from being an important base for Iceland’s two most famous multi-day treks, Thórsmörk offers some amazing hiking trails that can be completed in just one day.

The Fimmvorduhals volcano hike isn’t to be mistaken with the two-day Fimmvorduhals Trek. This hike takes you up Fimmvörduháls Pass to the two volcanic craters, Magni and Modi, that were formed during the Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010. After reaching the top, you’ll descend the same way to return to Thórsmörk.

The views over the valley all the way up and down are so breathtakingly beautiful that it’s hard to describe in words. In good weather, you’ll see the Highlands all around for probably hundreds of miles. Many who have hiked here claim that it’s the most beautiful natural scenery that they’ve ever seen. We couldn’t agree more!

Given that the change in elevation is quite large over a relatively short distance, the trail is pretty steep, so hiking it can be a bit of a challenge. But it’ll probably be the most beautiful challenge you have ever had! You’ll encounter powerful contrasts hiking up to the two newly formed craters of Magni and Modi and hiking through a lush birch forest overlooking valleys carved by glaciers. Getting up close and personal with these powerful phenomena is truly a transformative experience.

Join us on this extraordinary hike!

dramatic landscape view in thorsmork valley

Thrilling scenery on the Fimmvorduhals volcano hike

Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Range and Hveradalir Geothermal Area Hike

Duration: 14 hours
Distance: 7.5 mi. (12 km)
Difficulty: Moderate (3/5)
Experience: Magnificent (5/5)
Path Conditions: Well-traveled, well-signed, snow-covered in parts
Main Challenges: Some up and down climbing. A chance of bad weather.
Maximum Ascent: 1476 ft. (450 m)

Hiking through Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Range and Hveradallir Geothermal Area will give you a unique look into the Icelandic wilderness. Located in a remote location in the central Icelandic highlands, this uninhabited area is like something that exists only in books.

On the one hand, there are colorful rhyolite mountains with snowy peaks, creating an amazing contrasting landscape. On the other hand, you’ll notice steam rising from the crater between the mountains. Ever dreamed of bathing in hot springs, surrounded by nothing but nature? Here’s a perfect opportunity to do that! 

The whole hiking trail is about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) long, with approximately 450 meters (1476 ft) of elevation. The whole hiking trail is mostly gravel, with the possibility of snowy parts. The trail leads up and down a few times and is moderately difficult. It is a well-signed path, with stairs for easier descent and bridges for easy river crossing.

Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Range and Hveradalir Geothermal Area

The Brennisteinsalda-Bláhnúkur Loop - Landmannalaugar

Duration: 5–6 hours
Distance: 6.2 mi. (10 km)
Difficulty: Moderate (3/5)
Experience: Magnificent (5/5)
Path Conditions: Well-traveled, well-signed
Main Challenges: Steep climbs
Maximum Ascent: 1650 ft. (503 m)

Landmannalaugar is famous for its incredible panoramic landscapes, multi-colored mountains, and geothermal valleys. The site is not only the base for the famous Laugavegur Trek but is also an amazing hiking area in itself which offers a fantastic hiking trail network. This is the perfect place to combine hiking in the highlands with hot spring bathing in a natural pool.

The most impressive hike of all in the Landmannalaugar area is probably the Brennisteinsalda-Bláhnúkur loop. This is a combination of two shorter hikes that climbs the two most scenic mountains in Landmannalaugar.

Starting from the base camp, the first leg of the trail shares the same path as Laugavegur. It leads through a black obsidian lava field, passing by hot sulfur springs and steaming hot pots. Then it gets much steeper and leads up to the 2805-foot (855-meter) high Brennisteinsalda summit. From here, the 360-degree panorama will surely blow your mind!

After the yellow mountain comes the blue one! The 3005-foot (916-meter) high Bláhnúkur “Blue Peak” is incredibly tempting. The sight of a blue mountain is so bizarre that you’ll want to climb it immediately just to check if it’s truly real.

This climb is rather short but very steep. Be prepared for your pulse to jump as you climb. But the incredible views that you’ll have along the way to the top make it totally worth the effort!

From the peak, you’ll see the breathtaking panorama of the surrounding rhyolite mountains and the Laugahraun lava field. In good weather, you may see further than 62 miles (100 km)! Be prepared to take a large number of photo stops!

Even though the huts in Landmannalaugar are open all year round, hiking isn’t possible when everything is covered with meters of snow. Hiking tours operate from mid-June until the end of September.

Pack your bathing suit and let’s get going! Join our Landmannalaugar hiking tours!

colourful landscapes near brennisteinsalda mountain

The surreal Blue Mountain in Landmannalaugar

Hvannadalshnúkur Summit: Iceland’s Highest Peak

Duration: 12–15 hours
Distance: 14.9 mi. (24 km)
Difficulty: Extremely challenging (5/5)
Experience: Magnificent (5/5)
Path Conditions: Very difficult glacier terrain
Main Challenges: Physically and mentally demanding. Deep crevices and extremely steep sections. Recommended for experienced mountain climbers.
Maximum Ascent: 6500 ft. (2000 m)

The crown jewel of all hiking adventures is definitely climbing Iceland’s highest peak, the majestic Hvannadalshnúkur. It’s located on the Vatnajökull glacier, which is the largest glacier in Iceland and one of the largest in Europe. The peak also hides Öræfajökull, the largest active volcano in Iceland, under its ice sheet.

Climbing this peak is not for the faint of heart. The terrain is extremely challenging as the climb takes place on a glacier. It’ll challenge both your stamina and strength, but the feeling once you get to the top is truly incomparable.

For those who are in great physical condition and have tested themselves on difficult terrains with challenging hikes, this adventure is both safe and truly unforgettable, with the proper equipment and an expert guide. To climb a really high summit is one thing, but to climb a grand summit on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is a whole new world!

Challenge yourself on our Hvannadalshnúkur summit trek!

snowy top of hvannadalshnjukur mountain in iceland

Standing on the top of Hvannadalahnukur is the best thing you can experience in Iceland as a hiker!

The Snaefellsjokull Summit Hike

Duration: 7–12 hours
Distance: 4.5–5 mi. (7–8 km)
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging (4/5)
Experience: Magnificent (5/5)
Path Conditions: Unmarked, snow and glacier terrain
Main Challenges: Very steep and snowy terrain. Deep crevices and extremely steep sections. Recommended for experienced mountain climbers.
Maximum Ascent: 2500 ft. (760 m)

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a perfect hiking destination for those who don’t want to meet tourist groups along the way. The stunning landscape of the peninsula even captured the imagination Jules Verne, the famous novelist who wrote the renowned science fiction novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

The story is about the epic adventure of a German professor who believes there are volcanic tubes going toward the center of the Earth. He, his nephew, and their guide descend into the Icelandic volcano Snæfellsjökull, encountering many adventures until they come to the surface again at Stromboli Volcano in Italy.

Snaefellsjokull is a 4744-foot (1446-meter) stratovolcano, the summiting of which is an absolutely epic adventure, not to mention the stunning view over Snaefellsnes and its surroundings you’ll have from the summit! The unique challenge can be completed by experienced hikers or even beginners that are in good physical condition.

For those, however, who don’t have experience on glaciers and don’t have the right equipment (rope, harness, ice ax, crampons, etc.) this hike can only be completed via a guided tour. Glaciers are no joke. Never venture off on a glacier alone!

gravel road leading towards snaefellsjokull glacier

Snæfellsjökull volcano

Day Hikes in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Duration: 6-8 hours
Distance: 6.2–9.3 mi. (10–15 km)
Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
Experience: Magnificent (5/5)
Path Conditions: Less traveled, poorly signed
Main Challenges: Remote with a lack of facilities. A chance of bad weather.
Maximum Ascent: 1640 ft. (500 m)

In the northernmost corner of the Westfjords lies the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. The region is the most well-known for being untouched by any type of motor vehicle – Hornstrandir can only be explored by visitors who travel on foot.

It’s possible to go off the beaten path here even for just one day. There are day tours to Hornstrandir from the town of Ísafjörður. After a short ferry ride, you arrive in Hornstrandir, where there are multiple day-hike options to choose from.

One hike  - the Honrstrandir Panorama - leads up a mountain to a viewpoint from which you will be able to see over two fjords in Jökulfirdir Bay. The other trail - the Green Cliffs of Hornstrandir - leads along the coastal cliffs, offering great views over the busy bird cliffs and the ocean. Any hikes in the area also carry with them a very good chance of encountering the cute Arctic foxes!

If you’re traveling in the Westfjords, make sure to join one of our day hikes to Hornstrandir!

wildlife and views of hornstrandir nature reserve

The cliffs in Hornstrandir

Reykjadalur Trail-Hveragerdi

Duration: 3 hours + bathing time
Distance: 3.7 mi. (6 km)
Difficulty: Easy (2/5)
Experience: Beautiful (3/5)
Path Conditions: Well-traveled, well-signed
Main Challenges: Many people on the trail. No changing facilities. Very fragile flora.
Maximum Ascent: 2546 ft. (776 m)

The famous Reykjadalur “Smokey Valley” trail isn’t a hidden secret anymore. It’s more like a public beach for hikers. There is a warm river in the middle of nowhere in a valley between the mountains where the water temperature is ideal for enjoying a relaxing bath. There is plenty of space, so even if the place is quite popular, it’s still worth a visit!

The starting point of this trail is close to a small town called Hveragerdi, 24.8 mi. (40 km) from Reykjavík. The hike may be very short and easy but is beautifully panoramic. In good weather, you’ll see all the way to the ocean and the surrounding smoky mountains.

You’ll walk into a geothermally active zone where bubbling hot springs and steaming ground will surround you. Soon you’ll see the geothermal river ahead, probably with other hikers in it, enjoying the warm water.

Combining a refreshing hike, a relaxing natural bath, and the breathtaking view is something that we highly recommend as one of the best things you can ever do in Iceland. Join us on this amazing hike!

man bathing in reykjadalur hot spring

A refreshing hike and a relaxing natural bath are the best combination

Mount Esja-Reykjavík

Duration: 2–4 hours
Distance: 3.7–9.5 mi. (6–15 km)
Difficulty: Very easy to moderate (1/5 to 2/5)
Experience: Beautiful (3/5)
Path Conditions: Well-traveled, well-signed
Main Challenges: Steep climb over Steinn.
Maximum Ascent: 2546 ft. (776 m)

Esjan, or Mt. Esja, is the scenic mountain that can be seen from Reykjavík. Its best advantage is its great location, situated only 9 mi. (15 km) from Reykjavík.

This provides the instant opportunity for a scenic day hike to travelers who only came for a short visit. Esjan offers a bunch of amazing hiking options from its bottom up to its flat top at a height of 2998 ft. (914 m).

You have the choice of either taking the easier and less steep trail through a few tiny forests, slowly climbing to the first viewpoint called Steinn, the “stone.” Or, you can choose the more difficult and steeper but shorter trail that will also take you to Steinn.

From here, the more daring can continue climbing to the top, called Varða (“Rock Pile”), which can be found at an altitude of 2559 ft. (780 m). The path over Steinn is more challenging as it becomes very steep and exposed. At some points, it even includes climbing over large boulders.

From Steinn, Varða, or Hábunga, the view is absolutely spectacular. In clear weather, you’ll be able to see the beautiful fjord with its tiny islands, the shockingly small capital city of Reykjavík, and the scenic mountains all around.

Up to Steinn, all of the trails are very easy and can be done by anyone, even children. In winter, however, it’s very slippery so you will need hiking crampons or spikes.

snowy mount esja near reykjavik

Mount Esja near Reykjavík

The Glymur Waterfall Hike

Duration: 4–6 hours
Distance: 3.8 mi. (6.1 km)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate (2/5)
Experience: Impressive (4/5)
Path Conditions: Well-traveled, well-signed
Main Challenges: Steep climbs and exposed sites.
Maximum Ascent: 1180 ft. (360 m)

The Glymur Waterfall Hike takes you to the highest waterfall in Iceland. It’s a real hidden gem as it’s located further away from the paved roads than the other popular waterfalls like Seljalandsfoss or Skógafoss. Glymur is only accessible for those brave hikers that are willing to cross a river on a log or on foot. It is, therefore, less visited and not touristy, but is very popular among hikers.

The waterfall is located at the end of Hvalfjörður, the “Whale Fjord”, and the hike up is truly enchanting. The path takes you through a beautiful cave called Þvottahellir. The name of the cave translates to “Laundry Cave” because in the old days the inhabitants of the fjord would hang their laundry there when it was raining.

Through the cave is a beautiful view of the trail and a lush setting that greets you on the way to the best viewpoint of the falls. The path is steep and beautifully exposed with thrilling viewpoints to the breathtaking canyon.

When hiking around Glymur, you’ll encounter two rivers that must be crossed by foot. This definitely makes it one of the most adventurous hiking trails you can find in the vicinity of Reykjavík. You definitely won’t be disappointed!

Embrace the beauty and hike Glymur Waterfall with us.

difficult hiking trail towards glymur waterfall

On the way to Glymur waterfall



Summer is the main hiking season in Iceland. During this time of year, the weather is pleasant, and the valleys and forests are in full bloom. Thanks to the summer sun, the days are longer, so you can enjoy a full day of hiking opportunities.

hiking near cliffs of hornstrandir in summer

You can expect temperatures ranging between 10-20°C (50-68°F), with the Highlands being the only exception. Even in the summer, the Highland region can reach near-freezing temperatures. The chances of encountering bad weather are lowest between June and August, so this season is your best bet if you want to visit.


Winters in Iceland are extreme. The temperature is not as cold as you might think – with temperatures hovering between -10 and 5°C (14-41°F) – but the combination of violent winds and heavy precipitation creates harsh conditions.

hiking in winter with a guide in iceland

Hiking in many areas is not permitted in the winter because the roads leading to them are inaccessible. The mountain roads and Highland roads (also known as F-roads) are sometimes closed off because of the rough winter road conditions. Additionally, most hiking paths are not maintained during winter, and large amounts of snow often hide the path signs.  

Unfortunately, the winter season lasts from October until May or June. So, if you want to try an overnight trek or hike, you should visit in the summer. For nature lovers who are visiting in the winter, some nice day hikes around Reykjavik are available all year round.


Iceland pretty much only has two seasons: summer and winter. But for practical reasons, the country also recognizes spring and fall. Spring is the few weeks before June, and fall is the few weeks following August. Both are considered off-seasons, and hikers should be wary of unpleasant weather.

a man looking over a trail in thorsmork in summer

The weather from April to May and from September to October is extremely unpredictable. One minute, the sun is out, and the next, there could be freezing rain. Because of the higher risk of bad weather, the off-seasons are unsuitable for multi-day hikes. Just like with winter, visitors who want to get out in nature should opt for a day trail around the capital area.



Anyone who is planning to hike without an experienced local guide is advised to use a GPS device or a compass. This especially applies to the Highland trails. It’s possible to rent a GPS device in many places in Reykjavik. Using a compass is also an option but only if you’re experienced.

In Iceland, all compasses must be calibrated due to magnetic declination. Magnetic declination ranges from 12 to 18° from east to west. Before heading out, you should first find out the magnetic declination of the area where you plan to hike. Paper hiking maps are sold in bookstores and at many gas stations all over the country.


More than 200 campsites are open to hikers during the summer. Campsites are cheap and easy to access with no need to pre-book. Even though many travelers believe that they can camp anywhere in Iceland, this is not the case.

There are a few remote wilderness areas where hikers traveling on foot can pitch their tents and camp for the night. Wild camping is restricted in the entire south coast, in all national parks, nature reserves, and private land. This basically means it is restricted in most of the country.

Campers are advised to have sturdy four-season tents. Being wind-resistant and waterproof are the most important features of tents in Iceland. Make sure to bring extra pegs and poles as well. For your sleeping bag, we recommend the comfort temperature rating be at 0ºC (32ºF) in summer. You'll need a good inflatable sleeping mat to isolate yourself from the cold ground properly.


If you’re hiking in colder areas, the four crucial bases to cover are waterproof, windproof, good insulation, and breathable attire. Your base layer should be breathable so that sweat doesn’t cool your body. Insulation is important to stay warm. Waterproof and windproof shells are important to protect your clothing and your body from the elements.

car trunk full of equipment for travelling

Use waterproof bags inside your backpack to put clothes and your sleeping bag in. This will keep them dry even if you lose your balance while crossing a river and fall in.


  • Long-sleeve layers (wool or breathable synthetic – no cotton) 
  • Fleece, down or wool layers 
  • Waterproof outer layers 
  • Wool socks
  • Waterproof hiking boots 
  • Gloves or mittens 
  • Hat 
  • River crossing shoes 
  • Thermal pajamas
  • Swimsuit


  • Backpack (30-75 L)
  • Hiking poles 
  • Sunglasses 
  • Reusable water bottle 
  • Gaiters 
  • Towel 
  • Camping kitchen set 
  • First aid kit 
  • Personal location beacon 
  • Compass, map, and GPS with extra batteries 
  • Multi-season tent with extra pegs and guylines 
  • Mattress  
  • Down sleeping bag

For more packing tips, check out our blog on what to wear in Iceland and our guide to the best hiking boots.


Iceland is a hiker’s paradise. You’ll find spectacular landscapes and truly beautiful hiking spots anywhere you go in the country. With some planning, you will surely find a hike that is perfect for you. 

If you are uncertain of your abilities or if you don’t have much time to put into planning, we strongly advise you to join one of our guided hikes. Our highly experienced local guides will keep you safe and ensure that you have the best possible experience on your hike. Join a group of like-minded hikers and explore Iceland’s breathtaking nature with us!

people hiking Hrafntinnusker mountains

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