The Ultimate List of the Best Hikes in Iceland

Recommendations for the Most Amazing Day Hikes and Multi-Day Treks in Iceland From Hiking Experts and Mountain Guides

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

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

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

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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 real face of this mysterious land, the one that is hidden beyond the Ring Road and the other touristic 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.

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

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

The fresh smell of the ocean wind, the sound of the young ground under your footsteps, the vivid colors of the tiny arctic flowers that grow in the black deserts, the smooth touch of the moss as you crouch down to stroke it, the refreshing taste of the ice-cold glacial water, and all those other small details that fill a nice landscape with vibrant life are only there for those who choose to walk the less-travelled 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 the hidden treasures and enjoy the ultimate peace and silence of Icelandic nature that is unparalleled by any other part of the world.

The Best hikes in Iceland

Enjoy the ultimate peace and silence of Icelandic nature - there's plenty of space for everyone

About Our List of the Best Hikes in Iceland

It is easy to find plenty of great hikes with spectacular views that are sure to engrave themselves into your mind. The resourceful hiking experts and mountain guides at TREK Iceland have compiled a list of the best hikes in Iceland for you. It is cleverly done in the sense that they have separated the longer multi-day treks and the more challenging trails from those shorter hikes that are easily accessible and can be completed in just one day, for those who are not Ironman alumni.

A few of the listed hikes are Icelandic superstars like the legendary Laugavegur and Fimmvörduháls trails. But most are not 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 is time to free up your inner geologist, botanist, photographer, or poet. Come and explore the most beautiful hiking trails in Iceland with us!

Best hikes in Iceland - Laugavegur

Laugavegur trek, day 2. - One of the best hikes not only in Iceland, but in the whole world!

Trail difficulty is highly dependant on the weather conditions and, of course, on your fitness level. An easy trail in Iceland may be rated moderate in another country. The difficulty levels are based on people that hike or exercise on a regular basis and are in good physical condition.

Research the weather forecast and warnings before beginning any hike. If you are uncertain of your capacities or the conditions that await you, choose a guided tour instead of venturing off into the wilderness alone.

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 & Fimmvörduháls Combined Trek

Duration: 6 days, 4-7 hours per day
Distance: 77 kilometers / 47.8 miles
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: 800 meters / 2600 feet

National Geographic has listed the Laugavegur and Fimmvörduháls 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- Fimmvörduháls hike starts with the Laugavegur hike in Landmannalaugar, a fascinating geothermal oasis. It then leads 77 kilometers (47.8 miles) through the extremely varied landscapes of the Icelandic Highlands.

You will hike among the unbelievably colorful mountains of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve. You will 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.

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

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

You will then climb up and down snowcapped peaks and moss-covered slopes, cross glacial rivers on foot, and 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 Fimmvörduháls trail. You will climb up a steep mountain to gain a thrilling view over the green valley and the jagged, mossy ridges. You will get a chance to wander in between three glaciers and visit the notorious Eyjafjallajökull eruption site that was freshly formed in 2010. The hike ends at what is probably Iceland's most famous waterfall, the majestic Skógafoss.

The Laugavegur & Fimmvörduháls trek can be completed in 6 to 8 days depending on how much time you would like to spend in Thórsmörk 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 and it is not safe to hike in the area.

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

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

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: 55 kilometers / 34.1 miles
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: 490 meters / 1607 feet

Laugavegur translates to 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 has been dubbed one of the most amazing adventures to be had in Iceland!

Best hikes in Iceland - Laugavegur

Hiking in a black desert on the Laugavegur trail

The epic Laugavegur trek leads 55 kilometers (34 miles) 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 will descend into a green valley and walk through beautiful meadows in a fairytale-like landscape. A black desert and a thrilling canyon also await you on the way as well as a few unbridged rivers that you will have to cross on foot, just to add to the fun.

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

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

Finally, you will end your hike walking through a lovely birch forest into the vibrant valley of Thórsmörk. It is surrounded by jagged green slopes and thrilling glaciers. The Laugavegur trail is really a beautiful journey from Landmannalaugar to Thórsmörk 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 is 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 are 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!

From the black desert you'll arrive in a lush valley at the end of the Laugavegur trail

From the black desert you'll arrive in a lush valley at the end of the Laugavegur trail

The Fimmvörduháls Trek

Duration: 1-2 days
Distance: 25 kilometers / 15.5 miles
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: 490 meters / 1607 feet

Iceland’s second most famous trail, the 25-kilometer (15.5 miles) Fimmvörduháls hike is the best if it is started in Skógar, from the top of the majestic Skógafoss waterfall, when it is 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 and a thrilling canyon that could easily be one the most beautiful gorges in Iceland.

View on the Fimmvorduhals trail

View on the Fimmvorduhals trail

The trail then leads up to the snowcapped mountaintop where you can stay in a mountain hut for the night. From there, you will 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 is 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 is also doable in just one day, but why would you hurry?

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

Breathtaking panorama on the Fimmvorduhals trail

Breathtaking panorama on the Fimmvorduhals trail

The Hornstrandir Trek

  • Duration: 6 days, 4-7 hours per day
  • Distance: 86 kilometers / 53.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging (4/5)
  • Experience: Magnificent (5/5)
  • Path Conditions: Less traveled, poorly signed
  • Main Challenges: The remoteness and a lack of facilities. A chance of bad weather.

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

This extraordinary 6-day hike guides you across one of Europe’s last true wilderness areas. Hornstrandir is famous for being inaccessible to any motorized vehicles. There is 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 is 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 are not very shy here. This is their natural habitat. They are protected here, therefore they are not afraid of humans.

Exploring the Hornstrandir 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 layers of clothing, excellent tents, and sturdy hiking boots. The best thing to do, for maximum safety and comfort, is to join a guided tour where a professional hiking guide will lead you through the most iconic natural features of Hornstrandir.

Hiking in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Hiking in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Photo: Steenaire

The Best One-Day Hikes in Iceland

You do not 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 will surely enjoy even if you have limited time in Iceland!

The Glymur Waterfall Hike

Duration: 4-6 hours
Distance: 6.1 kilometers / 3.8 miles
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: 360 meters / 1180 feet

The Glymur Waterfall hike takes you to the highest waterfall in Iceland. It is a real hidden gem as it is 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.

glymur

Glymur, the second highest waterfall in Iceland

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 here 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 fall. The path is steep and beautifully exposed with thrilling viewpoints to the breathtaking canyon. When hiking around Glymur, you will 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 will not be disappointed for sure!

Embrace the beauty and hike Glymur Waterfall with us!

The Brennisteinsalda-Bláhnúkur Loop - Landmannalaugar

Duration: 5-6 hours
Distance: 10 kilometers / 6.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate (3/5)
Experience: Magnificent (5/5)
Path Conditions: Well-traveled, well-signed
Main Challenges: Very steep climbs
Maximum Ascent: 503 meters / 1650 feet

Landmannalaugar is famous for its incredibly 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.

Amazing geothermal pool in Landmannalaugar

Amazing geothermal pool in Landmannalaugar

The most impressive hike in Landmannalaugar 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 855-meter (2,805 foot) high Brennisteinsalda summit. From here, the 360-degree panorama will surely blow your mind!

The view from the top of Brennisteinsalda is absolutely mind-blowing!

The view from the top of Brennisteinsalda is absolutely mind-blowing!

After the yellow mountain comes the blue one! The 916-meter (3,005 foot) high Bláhnúkur “Blue Peak” is incredibly tempting. The sight of a blue mountain is so bizarre that you will want to climb it immediately just to check if it is 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 will have along the way to the top make it totally worth the effort! From the peak, you will see the breathtaking panorama of the surrounding rhyolite mountains and the Laugahraun lava field. In good weather, you may see further than 100 kilometers (62 miles)! Be prepared to take a large number of photo stops!

Even though the huts in Landmannalaugar are open all year round, hiking is not 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

The surreal Blue Mountain

The Fimmvörduháls Volcano Hike-Thórsmörk

Duration: 12 hours
Distance: 16 kilometers / 10 miles
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: 800 meters / 2625 feet

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.

thorsmork fimmvorduhals hike

The view from the Thorsmork Volcano hike

The Fimmvorduhals volcano hike is not to be mistaken with the two-day Fimmvörduháls trek. This hike takes you up to Fimmvörduháls pass to the two volcanic craters, Magni and Modi, that were formed during the Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010. After reaching the top, you will 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 is hard to describe in words. In good weather, you will see the Highlands all around for probably hundreds of kilometers. Many who have hiked here claim that it is the most beautiful natural scenery that they have ever seen. We could not agree more!

Best hikes in Iceland Fimmvorduhals volcano hike

Thrilling scenery on the Fimmvorduhals volcano hike

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 challenge. But it will probably be the most beautiful challenge you have ever had! You will 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!

Hvannadalshnúkur Summit: Iceland’s Highest Peak

Duration: 12-15 hours
Distance: 24 kilometers / 14.9 miles
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. Do not attempt to climb this peak without a local guide!
Maximum Ascent: 2000 meters / 6,500 f33t

The crown jewel of all hiking adventures is definitely climbing Iceland’s highest peak, the majestic Hvannadalshnúkur. It is 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.

Hvannadalshnukur

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

Climbing this peak is not for the faint-hearted. The terrain is extremely challenging as the climb takes place on a glacier. It will 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!

Reykjadalur Trail-Hveragerdi

Duration: 3 hours + Bathing time
Distance: 6 kilometers / 3.7 miles
Difficulty: Easy (2/5)
Experience: Beautiful (3/5)
Path Conditions: Well-travelled, well-signed
Main Challenges: Many people on the trail. No changing facilities. Very fragile flora.
Maximum Ascent: 776 meters / 2546 feet

The famous Reykjadalur “smokey valley” trail is not a hidden secret anymore. It is 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 is still worth a visit!

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

You will walk into a geothermally active zone where bubbling hot springs and steaming ground will surround you. Soon you will 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 the amazing Reykjadalur hot spring hike!

Best hikes in Iceland - Reykjadalur

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

Mount Esja-Reykjavík

Duration: 2-4 hours
Distance: 6-15 kilometers / 3.7-9.5 miles
Difficulty: Very Easy to Moderate (1/5 to 2/5)
Experience: Beautiful (3/5)
Path Conditions: Well-travelled, well-signed
Main Challenges: Steep climb over Steinn
Maximum Ascent: 776 meters / 2546 feet

Esjan, or Mt. Esja, is the scenic mountain that can be seen from Reykjavík. Its best advantage is its great location, situated only 15 kilometers (9 miles) 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 914 meters (2998 feet).

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 780 meters (2,559 feet). The path over Steinn is more challenging as it becomes very steep and exposed. At some points, it even includes climbing over large boulders.

Both from Steinn or Varða, the view is absolutely spectacular. In clear weather, you will 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 is very slippery so you will need hiking crampons or spikes.

Mount Esja in November

Mount Esja in November

The Best Hikes in Iceland: An Interactive Map

As obsessed hiking enthusiasts, we could continue this list by adding more and more amazing hikes, but we know that it would only make your decision more difficult. That is why we have 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 have added all of the information and photos you will need. Have fun and have a happy hike!