Trekking Tours in Iceland
Guided trekking and hiking tours in Iceland, all the best trekking trails
Are you looking for an adventurous way to explore the beauty of Icelandic nature? Take your time and explore the highlights of Iceland in a multi-day trekking tour. Whether you’re looking for a challenge and want to climb the highest peak in Iceland, or simply wish to soak your feet into a hot spring pool in the Highlands, we’ve got a tour just for you.
One of the world’s most famous trails, Laugavegur, takes you on a journey through breathtaking views of colorful rhyolite mountains. If you’re looking for a short escape, our two-day trekking tour through volcanic highlands, black sand beaches, and lava fields introduces you to the green valley of Thorsmork (Þórsmörk). Don’t miss your chance to see some newborn volcanic craters!
For those looking to dive into the world of magic, let us take you to a place yet untouched by mass tourism: the East Fjords. This region is often referred to as the homeland of local elves. Who knows, maybe you’ll even meet some?
If you wish to leave all worries behind, take a trip to a secluded area of the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve that’s only accessible by boat. Our hiking tour through untouched nature and unique wildlife will make you feel like a time traveler!
Hide behind a waterfall cascade, sail between the icebergs or simply stay in a village with locals. Whether you’re a backpacker, solo traveler, family or a group of friends, we have a trekking tour you’ll enjoy!
Browse our selection of Trekking tours in Iceland
A Guide to Trekking Tours and Multi-Day Hikes in Iceland
Exploring a new place on foot and spending a few days in nature is the deepest experience that you can have with a country as well as the most direct connection to it you can forge. The best spots in Iceland can only be experienced by those real adventurers who are willing to leave their comfort zone and explore the wildest side of the Arctic island.
We have been guiding trekking tours, glacier hikes, and small group hiking tours all over Iceland for more than a decade. Our enthusiastic team is made up of the county's most experienced hiking guides who are eager to share their passion and knowledge about Iceland’s best treks and hikes.
Read on to learn about the multi-day hiking and trekking tours that are available for you in Iceland. Find out how to prepare for them mentally and physically, where to find the best trails and spots, what facilities are available in the wilderness, and what gear and equipment you should bring. Our comprehensive guide will help you become an expert before you even arrive in Iceland!
The Most Pristine Trekking Areas in Iceland
Iceland is a country with an extremely low population. You don’t have to drive for eternity to leave civilization behind. Amazing, remote hiking trails can be found just two hour’s drive from the capital. These are areas that feature extraordinary landscapes and a great variety of trekking routes, making them some of the favorite areas for hikers to explore.
The Icelandic Highlands
As home to the highest mountains, the largest glaciers, and the most well-known volcanoes in Iceland, it’s no wonder that the Highlands are at the top of the bravest adventurer’s Iceland bucket lists. Add the lava fields, endless black sand deserts, and geothermal areas with lush oases and striking hot pools and a visit to the Highlands is a no-brainer.
Some of the most epic multi-day treks in the world can be found in the 15,444 sq. miles (40,000 km2) of wilderness offered by the Icelandic Highlands. If you are looking to create memories that will last a lifetime, any of the trails in this area will be a surefire way to do so.
Trekking Tours in the Icelandic Highlands:
- The Landmannalaugar 3-Day Hike
- The Laugavegur Trek
- The Fimmvörðuháls Trek
- Vatnajökull Wilderness Backpacking Trip
One of the least populated regions in Iceland, the Westfjords are rarely visited by tourists. In fact, only about 10% of visitors to Iceland ever set foot here.
The crown jewel of the Westfjords, Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, lies in the northernmost corner of the region. The nature reserve is most famous for being untouched by any type of motor vehicle. Any visitors must explore the area on foot.
The area is completely uninhabited. The Arctic fox is the largest mammal to call this region home. The silence of this nature reserve is something to be experienced!
Trekking Tours in the Westfjords
The fjords of East Iceland are an awe-inspiring place which offers great views of fjords surrounded by sharp mountain peaks. The area is home to stunning waterfalls, lively herds of reindeer, Iceland's largest forest, and amazing folklore. The Eastfjords offer an abundance of charming fishing villages and a great network of hiking trails. Many locals choose the Eastfjords as a domestic travel destination for their hiking adventures.
Trekking Tours in the Eastfjords
Trekking Tours That Cover Multiple Areas
Combining tours with treks is a great way to explore more of the country. The Laugavegur Trek is typically the most requested trekking adventure in Iceland. That’s why we have created quite a few different versions of it.
- The Laugavegur Trek, South Coast, and Glacier Hike - 5-Day Tour
- The Laugavegur Trek and Glacier Hike - 7-Day Tour
- The Laugavegur and Fimmvorduhals Trek
Practical Tips for Trekking in Iceland
Orientation in Iceland
For those who prefer to hike alone, it’s crucial to have a GPS. There are good maps of Iceland for Garmin GPS devices available at many places online.
Paper hiking maps are sold in many places in Iceland such as in the many gas stations all over the country and in the bookstores in Reykjavík. The largest map selling bookstore is the “Ferðakort and Eymundsson Bookstore” in Kringlan Mall in Reykjavik.
Before departure, it’s a good idea to save the positions of huts, campsites, bridges, and safe locations to wade across rivers, along with the other things that make a journey safer. Remember that batteries in GPS devices don’t last for particularly long, especially in colder weather like that which we have in Iceland. You should plan ahead accordingly and bring enough extra batteries and/or conserve the usage of the device.
A compass is the safest positioning device as it doesn’t require batteries and no technological problems can occur. But a compass is only safe if you know how to use it! You must calibrate your compass due to magnetic declination. This means that when you’ve found your route on a map, you should add the magnetic declination before heading out. This ranges from 12–18° from east to west. Before heading out, you should first find out the magnetic declination of that area where you plan to hike.
Those who join a guided tour will have nothing to worry about as their trained and experienced guides will take care of their safety.
Iceland is home to more than 200 campsites which are cheap and easy to access with no need to pre-book. Some campsites even offer out of this world views. Others have their own geothermal pools, saunas, and playgrounds for children.
A warm shower is most included in the price at most campsites, while others will charge a small additional fee. Electrical outlets, washing machines, and dryers are usually available as well, for a small additional fee. All campsites accept credit cards but having cash on hand is always a good idea in case there is some problem with your card or with the card terminal.
Many travelers believe, erroneously, that they can camp anywhere in Iceland. This is untrue. Only allowed in a select few, very remote areas of wilderness are hikers who travel on foot allowed to pitch their tents and camp for the night.
To camp, you will need a tent - ideally a 4-season tent - which can withstand strong wind and rain. Make sure to bring extra pegs and poles as well. As a guideline, we recommend a sleeping bag with a comfort temperature rating of 0ºC (32ºF) in summer.
To properly isolate yourself from the cold ground, you will need a sleeping pad with an R-value of at least three. In the summer, you might want to bring a sleeping mask to ensure that you will get a full night’s rest during the 24-hour daylight period.
On our trekking tours, we either pitch our tents in designated campsites or sleep in mountain huts. On our wilderness backpacking tours, on the other hand, we roam freely and sleep legally on free land. For more information about the rules for camping in Iceland, join our Hiking Facebook group.
Crossing Unbridged Rivers
While trekking through the wilderness, you may find yourself crossing unbridged rivers. Most often, they are small brooks which can also provide fresh drinking water. But there are also larger rivers you may have to wade through like, for example, on the Laugavegur Trek.
The volume of water in the rivers can change within hours but they are usually less strong in the mornings than in the afternoons. Always check for warnings before heading out for a trek in case there are any river swellings forecasted.
Inspect the river for suitable locations to ford. Look for places where there is loose gravel, sand, and the current slows down. These are usually the best location for crossing because even though the river may be wider, it is shallower and the current is weaker. If there are other hikers in the area, wait for them and cross together by joining your arms at the elbow.
It is not wise to cross a river barefoot, so plan ahead and bring special wading shoes or sandals. When planning your hiking trip, make sure to get all of the information about the rivers that you can: if it is possible to cross them on foot, when the best time to cross is, where the best location to ford is, etc. If you are unsure about what to do, book a guided tour with us and we’ll keep you safe!
Huts and Facilities in the Icelandic Highlands
The Icelandic Highlands cover the majority of the country. The entire region is uninhabited and, therefore, the facilities are limited. The most visited areas are located in the Southern Highlands: Landmannalaugar, the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, and Thórsmörk. Among the lesser known areas are the Kerlingarfjöll geothermal area in the central Highlands and the Askja area in the eastern part of the Highlands.
The largest mountain huts are located in Landmannalaugar and Thorsmork. These offer fairly good facilities such as spacious camping grounds, cooking facilities, hot showers, rooms, and bunk beds. In Thórsmörk, made-up beds, entire cottages, and even glamping - “luxury camping” tents - are available for guests. These huts are open all year round but getting there in winter is only possible via a guided tour.
In Kerlingarfjöl, there is a cozy hotel has recently been built that offers double rooms with private bathrooms. Sleeping bag accommodation is available here in three larger chalets. Additionally, a few tiny year-round chalets can be rented as well.
Near the Lake Askja and Kevrkfjöll mountain, there are huts with sleeping bag accommodation owned by the local touring association. Other privately owned huts can be found as well.
There are smaller huts in the Fjallabak area, along Laugavegur Trail. They are only open in summer and offer limited facilities. Some of these huts don’t have showers or running water.
These huts are available for booking but fill up very quickly, so it’s a good idea to book your spot at least six months in advance, if not more. If you book a guided trekking tour with us, your place is guaranteed!
Clothing and Equipment
The right equipment is what makes the difference between a good and bad trekking experience. This is especially true in a country like Iceland where nature can bring sudden surprises in the form of bad weather. But, if you follow some basic rules, you’ll be safe!
Waterproof and windproof materials are crucial. Make sure to always have a rain cover for your backpack while the backpack itself should be at least water repellent. 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.
- 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, hat
- River crossing shoes
- Long-sleeved pajamas
- A swimsuit
- A backpack (from 30-75 L based on the type of trek)
- Hiking poles
- Sunglasses, lip balm, sunscreen
- A reusable water bottle
- A towel and toiletries
- If doing a self-guided trek:
- Cups, bowls, utensils, pots, pans
- A cooking stove and fuel
- A first aid kit
- A personal location beacon
- A compass, a map, a GPS, and extra batteries
- A 3- or 4-season tent with extra pegs and guylines
- A mattress (with an R-value of at least 3)
- A sleeping bag (down bags are the warmest)
Physical and Mental Preparation for Trekking in Iceland
Depending on how fit you are right now and what kind of trekking tour are you planning to book, you may need to start training for your trek a few months ahead of time. This means improving your general fitness and body strength. The most effective training activities are running, spinning, and taking long hikes while wearing your fully-loaded backpack. Testing your gear, breaking in your boots, and practicing using your equipment are always a good idea.
To feel more comfortable and confident, some mental preparation may be useful. This includes properly informing yourself about the weather conditions, Icelandic nature, the area the trail is in, and the typical difficulties that come with hiking in Iceland.
Prepare yourself mentally for the harsh climate, strong winds, and frequent showers. If you’re planning a self-guided trek, look up some survival tips for trekking in Iceland. Those who join a guided tour will have nothing to worry about as their trained and experienced guides will take care of their safety.
Off-Path Trekking in Iceland
Iceland is full of well-maintained hiking and trekking paths. When there is a hiking trail, it is not advisable to leave the path, especially if there is fragile vegetation around such as moss and lichen.
In very remote areas, however, there may be trekking routes that are not marked. Wilderness trekking and off-path hiking require extra planning as in many areas wild camping is forbidden. Going on a self-guided wilderness hike is not something we would recommend to anyone.
Our adventurous backpacking treks are specially designed for those experienced hikers who would like to go off the beaten path and get to know Iceland’s most hidden facets.