Top 5 hiking spots in Iceland
For real adventurers
Hiking in Iceland
With its mythical panoramas and extreme geological formations, Iceland is home to some of the world’s most exciting hiking trails. We created a list of the top hiking routes to help hikers plan an unforgettable adventure trip to Iceland.
Photographs of Iceland’s landscapes often go viral within hours, these vistas also star in videos and some of the best known TV shows and movies. Such epic places are never found in the towns and cities. The best spots can only be approached by adventurers who are willing to move out of their comfort zone and explore the wildest and most beautiful face of Iceland.
Top 5 Hiking Spots in Iceland:
1.The Icelandic Highlands
Iceland’s highest mountains, largest glaciers, best known volcanoes, endless black deserts and lush geothermal oases place the Highlands at number 1 on the bucket list for the bravest adventurers.
The vast 40,000-square-kilometer deserted wilderness contains some of the most extraordinary and epic multi-day treks in the world. For those looking for something truly unforgettable, choosing any of the trails in this area is a complete no-brainer.
TOP hiking routes in the Highlands:
Laugavegur, known as the hot spring route, is Iceland’s most famous hike (3-5 days)
Fimmvörduháls trail: the most scenic hike with glaciers, volcanoes and a myriad of waterfalls (1-2 days)
The Kjölur route, known as ‘the Haunted Highway’, leads between two glaciers in the very heart of the Highlands (2-3 days)
The Askja trail: endless lava fields, martian-like landscapes, epic volcanic calderas (4-6 days)
Vatnajökul National Park: a vast network of hiking trails within an 8,100 km² area
2. The Westfjords
Travellers who prefer to go off the beaten path love the Icelandic Westfjords for their dramatic cliffs and breathtaking fjord scenery. Only about 10% of tourists ever visit this remote place, and it is also one of Iceland’s least populated regions.
In the northernmost corner, lies the crown jewel of the Westfjords, the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. This is most well known for being untouched by any type of motor vehicle - Hornstrandir can only be explored by visitors who travel on foot.
This quiet region is completely uninhabited and the arctic fox is the largest mammal that resides here!
Watch a video from Hornvík on Hornstrandir to get inspired.
Best hikes around the Icelandic Westfjords:
Rauðisandur, the golden sand beach (day hike)
The puffin cliffs at Látrabjarg (day hike)
The breathtaking and scenic Dynjandi waterfall (day hike)
The flat plateau of Bolafjall Mountain with a view over Hornstrandir (day hike)
The epic Hornstrandir hike (3-6 days)
3. The Reykjanes Peninsula
Sitting on a drift zone between the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates, the Reykjanes’ landscapes are extremely diverse and moonlike. A rich network of hiking trails awaits adventurers who love to explore, one of Iceland’s longest multi-day treks can be found here.
Since Keflavík International Airport is located on this peninsula, Reykjanes is the most easily approachable hiking area, if you plan on traveling to Iceland by air. This area is, sadly, rather underrated, most visitors only admire its moonlike vistas through a car window when driving straight from the airport to Reykjavík or the Blue Lagoon.
Best hikes around the Reykjanes Peninsula
Thornbjorn trail - offers great panoramic view over Reykjanes Peninsula (day hike)
Krýsuvík geothermal area: weird volcanic scenery, hot springs and wildly colourful crater lakes (day hike)
The Gunnuhver geothermal area and Reykjanesvíti lighthouse (day hike)
Reykjanesvegur is an epic hiking trail which is known to very few, it leads around the whole of the peninsula (7 days)
4. The Snæfellsnes peninsula
This 90-kilometer-long peninsula is a legendary area known as ‘Iceland in miniature’. Hidden hot springs, scenic waterfalls, dramatic coastal cliffs, moss covered lava fields, tiny fishing villages and the famous glacier - the area is home to some truly breathtaking hiking trails.
Snaefellsnes is a perfect hiking destination for those who prefer shorter day hikes but don’t want to meet tourist groups on their way. Climbing to the top of the Snaefellsjökull glacier can be an irresistible challenge for experienced adventurers.
This is one of the few adventurous hiking trips in Iceland where you might consider taking your family or older kids.
Best hikes around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Eldborg, one of the most stunning craters in Iceland (short hike)
Kirjkufell, beautifully shaped free-standing mountain the most famous mountain in Iceland (short hike)
Búdir-Arnarstapi-Hellnar- Lódrangar: tiny black church, fishing village and soma scenic coastal rock formations (1-2 days)
Snaefellsjokull glacier hike: breathtaking views over the peninsula from the top of a cone-shaped volcano.
5. The Reykjavík area
You don’t have to travel far from the capital to explore the wilderness. Reykjavík is a small city, surrounded by fascinating mountains and active geothermal areas. Some other hiking trails are pretty famous but there are lots of hidden pathways that only the most enthusiastic local adventurers know about.
The closest option is the famous Mount Esja, located only 20 kilometers from the city, is not a single mountain but a volcanic mountain range. Hikers can spend days on end exploring the vast network of hiking trails around the Esja range.
This area is so popular that there is even an annual music festival held on the top of the mountain, with helicopter transport to the top.
Best hikes around Reykjavík
The ultimate Esja hike is the busiest trail around Reykjavík but offers a great view over the capital
Móskarðshnjúkar, this peak is part of the Esja range but it is much less well known and even more exciting
The route to the top of Mount Vífilsfell leads over a lava area with an extremely scenic panorama
Reykjadalur, the hot spring route is a short but breathtaking hike to the famous warm river where it is great to bathe (see picture below)
Glymur, at 198m (649ft) high, this is the highest waterfall in Iceland, there is beautiful fjord scenery in the background