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Best Hiking Trails in Iceland

Overview

Iceland, the land of Fire and Ice, is a small island sitting in the Atlantic and has seen a huge increase in tourism in the last decade, and from a hiker’s standpoint, it’s clear why.  There are plenty of wide ranging hiking trails, excellent infrastructure, abundant natural beauty and no bears (or other dangerous wildlife) to worry about.  Some of the best regions of Iceland to go hiking include: the popular south Iceland area which includes Landmannalauger and the Thorsmork valley, east Iceland with its majestic fjords, the Snaefellsnes peninsula, the wild Westfjords, and many areas of central and northern Iceland.  The best months to hike in Iceland are June – August.  Read on for more information on where and when to hike in Iceland. 

Capital: Reyjakvik

When To Hike in Iceland?

June – August: Driest, warmest months
May; September: Depending on the year and region, these months could be good for hiking
October – April: Snowy, cold

Climate: Temperate cold oceanic: Cold, windy, cloudy.  Little difference between day and night, and also between summer & winter. Unstable weather is common.  Due to little vegetation, wind is a big factor.  Coastal areas warmer than inland areas, with the south coast warmer (and rainier and windier) versus the north coast. Sept is often the rainiest month in many areas.

 

Iceland Monthly Weather

Accessibility of Hiking

Easy – Medium: Many trails are well marked, there are maps and written guides available.  However, some trails (particularly long distance ones) are best with a guide.  Roads and huts may be closed outside of the June – Aug months. Sparsely populated country therefore it is not easy to find accommodation in small towns.

Transportation required: Public transport can get you to and from hikes in many spots (particularly close to popular areas) but car is essential for anything else.  The Ring Road is the main road going around the whole of the island, and can get by with a normal car but interior roads require a 4×4. 

Where to stay in Iceland:

  • Reykjavik
  • Grundarfjordur – Snaefellsnes peninsula
  • Egilsstadir – east Iceland
  • Seydisfjordur – east Iceland
  • Akureyri – north Iceland
  • Vik – south Iceland

Most popular hikes in Iceland

Hiking trails abound throughout the country. The main areas for hiking are shown in the map, including in south Iceland, the Westfjords, Snaefellnes peninsula and east Iceland. There are 3 National Parks. Highest Peak: Hvannadalshnúkur (2110 m) in Vatnajökull National Park

Filter out hiking places of Iceland by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

East Iceland

  • Known as Austurland
  • Dramatic fjord scenery
  • East Iceland Hiking Trails
  • Víknaslóðir – base yourself here and there’s lots of routes of varying difficulty
  • Seyðisfjörður – Seven Summits 
  • Hengifoss – popular waterfall, 3rd tallest in Iceland

North Iceland

  • Home to second largest city in Iceland, Ayukeri, not as visited as southern Iceland
  • Hverfjall Crater Rim Trail
  • Hike North Iceland

Northern Highlands Iceland

  • For the hardcore hikers
  • Jökulsárgljúfur (Vatnajökull National Park North)
  • Volcanic trails
  • Vatnajokull Hiking

Westfjords

  • Less visited but there are hiking trails here 
  • Hornstrandir Nature Reserve – remote, rugged 
  • Latrabjarg Cliffs
  • Svalvolgar Circle
  • Westfjords Hiking

Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Skaftafell

Southwest/Golden Circle

  • The most visited area by tourists 
  • Laugavegur Trek – 55 km trek that is VERY popular; other day hikes in this area (ie. Sulphur Wave, Blue Wave) 
  • Thorsmork Valley (Thorsmork Nature Reserve) – a popular trek starts and ends here
  • Þingvellir National Park
  • Fimmvörðuháls – 25 km hike, popular, dramatic mountain pass
  • Golden Circle Iceland

Around Reyjavik

  • Mount Esja

Long Distance Trails of Iceland

  • Laugavegur Trek – This 55 km trek is Iceland’s most popular 
  • Fimmvorhuhals Trail – 25 km through Thorsmork Valley
  • Askja Trail – 100 km in central and north Iceland 
  • Viknaslodir Trail – 80 km in total (can be done in day hikes) in east Iceland
  • Kjolur Trail – 48 km between north and south Iceland
  • Hornstrandir Trek – 86 km in the Westfjords
  • Other treks

Iceland's Walking & Hiking Resources

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Iceland Hiking Books:

  • Walking & Trekking in Iceland: 100 Days of Walking and Multi-day Treks, Cicerone Guide, by Paddy Dillon, 2015 – Paddy Dillon, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/49eIJtD
  • Iceland: The finest coastal and mountain walks: 63 selected walks in the land of fire and ice, by Gabriele and Christian Handl, 2019, Rother Walking Guide – https://amzn.to/3TA5thU
  • Iceland Hiking with Reykjavik City Guide: 11 Selected Trails Including 1 to 3-Day Hikes and the Laugavegur Trek, by Jim Manthorpe, 2021, Trailblazer Publications – https://amzn.to/3PJEZcz
  • Trekking Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail & Fimmvorduhals Trail: Two-Way Guidebook (The Great Treks of the World), by Andrew McCluggage, 2023, Knife Edge Outdoor – https://amzn.to/3TtcJMs
  • Lonely Planet Iceland, by Alexis Averbuck, Carolyn Bain, Jade Bremner, Belinda Dixon, 2022, Lonely Planet Publications – https://amzn.to/3TVsE7R
  • Iceland, by Andrew Evans, 2022, published by Bradt Travel Guides – https://amzn.to/49gEQo3
  • Rough Guide to Iceland (Travel Guide with Free Ebook), by Rough Guides, 2022, APA Publications – https://amzn.to/49a1A8Z

 

Iceland Hiking Associations:

Best Day Hikes in Iceland:

You can find more details on hiking these trails in the hiking guidebooks, official hiking websites, trail maps/apps or other websites, and national/provincial park offices:

  • Mount Esja
  • Kirkjufell
  • Glymur Waterfall
  • Blue Peak
  • Sulphur Wave
  • Valahnukur Mountain
  • Blahnukur Brennisteinsalda Loop
  • Snaefellsjokull Hike
  • Seljalandfoss Trail
  • Seven Summits in Seydisfjordur

Easy Hikes in Iceland:

  • Arnarstapi Cliff Walk
  • Skogafoss
  • Dettifoss to Selfoss
  • Svartifoss

 

Iceland Hiking Websites: There are a lot of travel blogs with information on hiking in Iceland

 

Iceland Weather Website: 

 

Iceland Official Tourism Site:

 

Iceland Hiking Apps: 

 

Iceland Hiking Maps: 

What Else To Do

  • See Northern Lights
  • Whale watching
  • Hot springs (like the Blue Lagoon)
  • Puffins
  • Waterfalls

Other Important Points

  • Land of the midnight sun