Hiking in Iceland
We guide you through the best hiking trails in Iceland
Hiking in Iceland is one of the best ways to enjoy the full beauty of this magical country. Choose from glacier hikes, single or multiple-day trips to the famous geothermal paradise Landmannalaugar or evergreen Thorsmork (þórsmörk) Valley.
Explore one of the world’s most famous treks, Laugavegur, on an unforgettable glacier hike. This hiking tour will make you feel like a true explorer and introduce you to some of the best sights of the South Coast.
For those seeking more challenges, a guided Snaefellsjokull glacier hike is something not to miss. This unique hiking trail will lead you all the way up to a mystical glacier volcano. The view that opens up from the top will take your breath away!
The Thorsmork hike will take you to wonderful valleys, oases filled with lush greens and gushing rivers. Hike through this nature reserve to discover lava fields, enjoy astonishing mountain views and stay in cozy mountain huts.
Once you’re in Iceland, hiking Landmannalaugar is a definite must on your list. This gem of the Icelandic Highlands combines some of the best natural wonders that Iceland has to offer. On this popular hike, you’ll relax in hot spring pools, soak in amazing views of the unique, colorful rhyolite mountains and climb a 60,000-year-old volcano! Choose a winter tour if you want to add on a night of the Northern Lights.
Whether you’re looking for a day hike or a week-long tour, glacier hike or a relaxing trip to hot springs, we’ve got you covered!
Browse our selection of hiking tours in Iceland
A Guide to Icelandic Hiking Tours
Hiking and trekking are the best possible way to closely interact with and observe nature. Walking off the beaten path will help you build a deeper connection with the land and will provide a more intimate experience of the country.
Out of the large number of visitors that Iceland receives each year, only a small number of them will have the opportunity to see this Arctic country as it really is. Only outdoor enthusiasts and hikers can access Iceland’s hidden gems and enjoy the peace that the natural world has to offer in this exceptional country.
TREK Iceland has been guiding small group hiking tours in through the Icelandic mountains for more than a decade. Our dedicated team is made up of the county's most experienced hiking guides who are eager to share their passion and knowledge about Iceland, its nature, and its best hikes.
The Most Pristine Hiking Areas in Iceland
Each region offers visitors something different and totally unique. You don’t have to drive too far to find stunning wilderness areas that are filled with fantastic hiking trails. Don’t be surprised if some of the best hiking spots are close to the capital!
There is an impressive selection of trails to choose from, suitable for all fitness levels. Regardless of if you are a complete beginner or an experienced hiker, you’ll definitely find the perfect adventure within this list of the best hikes in Iceland that we have prepared for you.
The Icelandic Highlands
Some of the most impressive natural attractions in Iceland can be found in the Highlands. This area, which covers the interior of Iceland, is filled with vast volcanic deserts, glaciers, geothermal areas, and endless tundra. The Highlands are uninhabited and therefore offer ultimate silence, serenity, and unspoiled natural beauty.
The two most impressive spots in the Highlands are Landmannalaugar and Thorsmork. Both are located in the southern part of the Highlands some 34 mi. (55 km) apart. The trekking route connecting these two spots, called Laugavegur, is one of the best trails in the world.
Famous for its steaming geothermal valleys, visitors to Landmannalaugar in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve can watch as hot water springs up from the black solidified lava field. The surrounding rainbow-colored rhyolite mountains have slopes which are painted in pink, yellow, blue, green, and chocolate brown. The mountains of Landmannalaugar offer a great network of hiking trails and the hot pool in the valley is available for public bathing free of charge.
Thórsmörk is a whole different world. It’s a forested valley enclosed by jagged mountain ranges and glaciers. Glacial rivers wind through the moss-covered slopes and small birch forests, creating a rich natural habitat for many species of Arctic bird and the cute Arctic foxes.
Landmannalaugar and Thorsmork are by far the most beloved hiking areas, among local and foreign hikers alike.
Hiking Tours in the Icelandic Highlands
The Icelandic Westfjords were included in the Lonely Planet’s list of the top 10 regions of the world to visit. Even though the area is still deeply underrated, only about 10% of visitors to Iceland ever set foot here. The Westfjords are also one of the least populated regions in Iceland, making it a perfect hiking location for those who would like to leave the noise behind.
The main attraction of the Westfjords, the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, is one of the last untouched wilderness areas in all of Europe. Lying in the northernmost corner of the Westfjords, what makes this region remarkable is that it’s untouched by any type of motor vehicle. Any visitors must explore this virgin land on foot.
As the region has no human inhabitants, the Arctic fox is the largest mammal in Hornstrandir. That is why these little foxes do not fear humans. Instead, they are curious and friendly to any visitors. Hiking in Hornstrandir really is an exceptional experience!
Hiking Tours in Iceland’s Westfjords
The fjords in East Iceland, just like in the Westfjords, are very rarely visited. Anything other than the Ring Road seems to be ultimately avoided by mass tourism, making it a perfect destination for hiking tours.
East Iceland offers awe-inspiring views of the fjords surrounded by sharp mountain peaks and impressive waterfalls. Iceland's largest forest is located here as well. Wild reindeer roam through the area along with horses and sheep.
The sight of abandoned, rustic farms and charming fishing villages gives the area an unforgettable atmosphere. To top off all of this, a great network of hiking trails awaits adventurers here.
Hiking Tours in East Iceland
- The Waterfalls Hike
- The Abandoned Farm
The Reykjavík Area
You don’t need to go off the map to experience Icelandic nature. Reykjavík is a tiny city and wilderness is within reach everywhere in Iceland. There are amazing short walks and day hikes available even within a short drive from Reykjavík.
The second-highest waterfall in Iceland is located only one hour’s drive from the capital. Glymur, a 650 ft. (198 m) waterfall is a real hidden gem. The only hikers who will find it are those that are willing to cross a river (either by a log or on foot) and to hike alongside a deep canyon.
The scenery is mindblowing. On a clear day, you’ll have a view over the spectacular “Whale Fjord” and will be able to see all the way to the ocean.
The Hot Spring Hike
The famous Reykjadalur “Smokey Valley” Trail can be found only 40 minutes in car from the capital. This is the famous hike that leads to a naturally warm river in a valley. The water temperature is ideal all year round to allow visitors to enjoy a relaxing bath at any time.
The hike leads through a geothermally active zone where steaming hot springs and bubbling mud pots will surround you. The scenery is breathtaking along the entire hike, which is short and easy. The Reykjadalur Trail is certainly the perfect combination of hiking and relaxing!
Mount Esja is the scenic mountain backdrop of Reykjavík. The mountain range is situated only 9 mi. (15 km) from the capital, making it the locals’ favorite recreational area. The 2998-foot (914-meter) high mountain offers a nice variety of hiking and running trails, a few tiny forests, scenic viewpoints, and adventurous climbing locations.
Guided Hiking Tours Near Reykjavík
Adventurous Day Hikes for Experienced Hikers
A day tour doesn’t necessarily mean “easy” hike. In fact, the most demanding hike in all of Iceland can be completed in a single day. Any hikes that contain an extreme change of elevation gain or that lead through difficult terrain (such as glaciers) can be challenging, no matter how short the hike is.
Iceland’s Highest Peak
The most thrilling hiking adventure in Iceland is definitely climbing its highest peak, the 6922 ft. (2,110 m) Hvannadalshnúkur. It’s located near the Ring Road, within Vatnajökull National Park. The peak is covered by a glacier which hides Öræfajökull, the largest active volcano in Iceland, under its ice sheet.
Climbing this peak is not for the faint of heart! The glacier terrain is extremely challenging and is only to be done with the proper equipment and with an expert mountain climber guide.
The Snæfellsjökull Volcano
Those who want to climb a scenic peak but aren’t professional mountain climbers should climb the Snæfellsjökull glacier volcano instead. It’s considerably less challenging but equally scenic!
Snaefellsjokull is 4744 ft. (1446 m) high and summiting it is an absolutely epic adventure. As the volcano is topped by a glacier, it’s only recommended that you do this hike via a guided tour as well.
Challenging Day Hikes in Iceland
Clothing and Equipment
In a country like Iceland, where the weather can change from good to bad at the drop of a hat, having the right equipment is essential. If you follow some basic rules, not only will you have a safe hiking trip, but you’ll also have a more enjoyable trip.
Make sure to have materials that are waterproof and windproof. Your backpack should be water repellent and should always have a rain cover for it on hand. Inside of your backpack, pack your clothes and sleeping bag in waterproof bags to keep those items safe and dry, no matter what.
- Base layer: thin, long-sleeved, wool or breathable synthetic (no cotton)
- Mid layer: fleece, down or wool
- Water- and windproof outer layers
- Wool socks
- High-cut waterproof hiking boots (that have been broken in before the trip)
- Gloves or mittens
- A buff, a hat
- River crossing shoes
- Long-sleeved pajamas
- A swimsuit
- A day backpack
- Sunglasses, lip balm, sunscreen
- A reusable water bottle
- A towel
- If doing a self-guided trek
- A first-aid kit
- A personal location beacon
- A compass, a map, a GPS, and extra batteries
Preparation for Icelandic Hiking Tours
The first step to any hike is planning. It doesn’t matter if you are planning a day hike or a multi-day trekking tour, you always need to find information about your destination before you leave. Research the seasonal conditions, the weather forecast, and the road conditions and warnings for the areas you will visit on your trip.
Another important thing to keep in mind is the length of day. Iceland has very bright nights from June to August while the winter nights are extremely long and dark.
Depending on what kind of tour you are planning, you might need to start training for your trek a few weeks ahead of time. You’ll need to be fit, so focus on improving your general fitness and strength. It’s also always a good idea to test your gear, break in your boots ahead of time, and to practice using your equipment.