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.
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 seethe true faceof this mysterious land,hidden beyond the Ring Roadand 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 awild, 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 towalk 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 todiscover all of the hidden treasuresand to enjoy the ultimate peace and silence of Icelandic nature that is unparalleled by any other part of the world.
Hiking is the best way to explore Iceland's infinite natural beauty
About Our List of the Best Hikes in Iceland
Theresourceful hiking expertsand mountain guides atTREK Icelandhave compiled a list of the best hikes in Iceland for you. For those who aren’t Ironman alumni, they have separated the longermulti-day treksfrom theshorter hikesthat are easily accessible and can be completed in just one day.
A few of the listed hikes are Icelandic superstars like the legendaryLaugavegur and Fimmvörduhálstrails. 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 that 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.
A small group of hikers crossing the Icelandic Highlands
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)
TheNational Geographichas listed the Laugavegur and Fimmvorduhals trek as one of theworld’s best hiking trailsfor 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.
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.
Laugavegur trek, day 2. - 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.
TheLaugavegur & Fimmvorduhals Trekcan be completed in 6–8 days depending on how much time you’d like to spend inThorsmorkandLandmannalaugar.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 grandLaugavegur & Fimmvörðuháls Trekadventure!
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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)
Laugavegurtranslates 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 epicLaugavegur trekleads 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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 extraordinarysix-day Hornstrandir hikeguides 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.
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.
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 are available along the trail with limited facilities. Those who would like to sleep there are advised to book their spots months ahead of time.
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.
THE BEST ONE-DAY HIKES IN ICELAND
You don’t need to get lost in the wilderness for days or weeks toexperience a very special adventure. There are amazingday hikes in Icelandthat will absolutely blow your mind, some of them located within ashort 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 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)
TheGlymur WaterfallHike 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.
On the way to Glymur waterfall
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)
Landmannalaugaris famous for its incredible panoramic landscapes, multi-colored mountains, and geothermal valleys. The site is not only the base for the famousLaugavegur Trekbut 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 tour!
The surreal Blue Mountain in Landmannalaugar
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,Thórsmörkoffers some amazing hiking trails that can be completed in just one day.
TheFimmvorduhals volcano hikeisn’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!
Thrilling scenery on the Fimmvorduhals volcano hike
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 majesticHvannadalshnúkur. 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!
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.
Snaefellsjokullis 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!
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 os 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!
The cliffs in Hornstrandir
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 to enjoy 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!
A refreshing hike and a relaxing natural bath are the best combination
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.
Mount Esja near Reykjavík
The Best Hikes in Iceland: An Interactive Map
As obsessive hiking enthusiasts, we could continue this list by adding more and more amazing hikes, but we know that it’d only make your decision more difficult. That is why we’ve decided to end our list here.
However, for those who are curious and want to know more about Iceland’s best hikes, we created this interactive map with loads of amazing treks and day hikes. Check out our recommendations! We’ve added all of the information and photos you will need. Have fun and have a happy hike! Click here to open themap of Iceland's best hikes