How to Choose the Right Hike in Iceland

August 8, 2018

People have spent entire lifetimes in Iceland without getting bored of the landscapes and the hiking opportunities. The endless selection of fascinating attractions and natural wonders in this unique Nordic island country make it extremely difficult to choose when you are planning a limited stay. These tips from Iceland’s own experienced hikers should make choosing a lot easier.

How to Choose the Right Hike in Iceland infographic

How to Choose the Right Hike in Iceland

Do Your Research

In order to make your dreams about Iceland a reality, you first have to name them. What exactly attracted you to Iceland? What are the sites and experiences that you really don't want to miss while you’re here?

To answer these questions, you need to know a little more about Iceland. Do your research, look for images, videos, read about national parks, glaciers, volcanoes and consider the experiences of other travelers, then wander around a map of Iceland until you find what you’re looking for. Don’t forget to take notes!

Create Your Iceland Bucket List

The next step is to make a list and prioritize. Which waterfalls would you like to see? Are you a fan of sea stacks and cliffs? Or, is it the wildlife that you would put on the top of your list? Would you like to enjoy bathing in some natural geothermal baths? Do you want to explore one specific area in-depth, or would you rather travel more and see as much as you can?

Since your time is limited, there will be things that you will have to skip - or perhaps leave for your next visit. Prioritize your wishes, create your bucket list, and put the most important activities up top, then get on with planning your dream trip.

Consider Your Hiking Style

There are plenty of hiking opportunities to be found, from easy to challenging day hikes, short glacier walks and more challenging summit hikes to epic multi-day treks in the island’s mesmerizing and remote wildernesses.

Your previous experiences, physical condition, the length of your stay, and the gear you have will ultimately determine your hiking style. You may want to be challenged, but it is imperative that you also stay safe.

If you are unsure of hiking by yourself, it is best to trust a local guide and choose an organized hiking trip where professionals, who are familiar with even the most hidden treasures, will guarantee your safety and take care of all the organizing.

Take Seasonal Conditions Into Consideration

If you have already decided on the date of your arrival, check the average weather conditions for that particular season and the period of your planned stay. Since some of the areas and hiking trails in Iceland are entirely inaccessible from October to May, some of your bucket list items could be impossible to check off at certain times of the year.

If your arrival date has not yet been decided, then this leaves you free to choose the period of your stay based on your bucket list. If the Northern Lights top that list, avoid the summer months, from May to August, when the midnight sun makes it impossible to see them. The season will greatly influence your possibilities - just make the most of the options when you can come!

Consider Your Budget and Time Constraints

With your research and bucket list in hand, it’s time to compare them against your budget and time constraints. These factors will appoint the bucket list items that you can actually realize and determine what you’ll need to leave for some other time.

When you have the final list, locate the spots on the map and create your travel itinerary. If some of the items don’t fit into a workable travel plan, find another attraction of the same kind that fits better. There is certainly no lack of possibilities to add to your list, and many of them may be a closer fit than you had hoped for!

Be Flexible

Planning your adventure makes you well prepared and informed. Nevertheless, don’t forget that nature can be unpredictable. In Iceland, the weather and the landscapes always dictate the rules of the game, not us humans. Storms and closed roads are not unusual. Always have a plan B and a flexible mindset, don’t insist on fulfilling your bucket list at any cost.