Information about Highlands

An aerial view of the Icelandic Highlands

The Icelandic Highlands cover the majority of the country and many of Iceland’s impressive natural attractions can be found here. Away from crowds, noise and bustle, the Highlands offer silence, serenity, peace and extreme natural beauty.

A favourite amongst hikers and photographers, the Highlands are accessible from June to September.

The Central Highlands

The Central Highlands cover a vast area, at an altitude of over 500 metres (1640 feet), with numerous mountains reaching heights between 1,000 and 2,000 metres (3,281 and 6562 feet). Most of these higher mountains are covered by glaciers.

The tallest mountain in the country is located in the Highlands, beneath Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull. Hvannadalshnúkur stands at an incredible 2,109 metres (6,919 feet) tall and can be reached on some helicopter tours. Another notable peak is Bárðarbunga, a sub-glacial volcano in northwest Vatnajökull that stands at 2,000 metres.

Vatnajökull is the greatest of the three largest glaciers in the country, all of which are in the Central Highlands; the others are Hofsjökull in the centre of Iceland and Langjökull, west of Hofsjökull.

Various highlands paths lie between the glaciers. These usually open in June, but late snows have been known to push the opening to July. One of the major routes is Kjölur, which connects the south and north of Iceland. It is located between Hofsjökull and Langjökull and passes through a region of rhyolite mountains and geothermal oases.

Sprengisandur, is another noteworthy path connecting the south and north, and it is located between Hofsjökull and Vatnajökull.

Kaldidalur is also a significant highland road stretching west of Langjökull, from Þingvellir towards the Borgarfjörður district.

Always remember that the natural environment that makes up Iceland's Highlands is as delicate as it is enchanting. The slightest damage inflicted upon small areas can cause erosion and irreversible landscape wounds that can easily spread over large areas. Consequently, when travelling in the Highlands visitors must at all times uphold responsible travel etiquette.

Driving off-road and designated paths is strictly forbidden and punishable by heavy fines. The moss is delicate and should not be walked or camped on, let alone removed, and fishing is heavily regulated.

The South Highlands

Landmannalaugar is the most popular part of the southern Highlands for visitors.

Almost all the mountains south of the glaciers are tuff mountains, formed during the Ice Age. Volcanic activity is confined to tuff areas of the country and the southern Highlands are home to some of Iceland's most active volcanoes: Hekla, Eyjafjallajökull and Katla, which sits under Mýrdalsjökull, Iceland’s fourth largest glacier

Eyjafjallajökull is the most famous of these volcanoes. When it erupted in 2010, it caused major disruption to air travel across Europe, and widespread confusion to newsreaders everywhere as they tried to pronounce it; it was thus nicknamed to E11.

The South Highlands is also home to Landmannalaugar, one of the country's best hiking and hot spring bathing sites.

Northeast, Central-North and Northwest Highlands

In the northeast of the Highlands are the Lakagígar Craters the famous subglacial lake and volcano, Grímsvötn, and the glacier Öræfajökull. North of Vatnajökull, the best-known volcanoes are Askja and Krafla.

Also in this area is the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, which holds the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss.

The northwest and central-north Highlands consist of ancient basalt formations, similar to the mountains that comprise the Eastfjords.

Highland Oases

There are a few oases in the highlands that have unique vegetation and wildlife. The most important of these are Þjórsárver, Nýidalur/Jökuldalur, Herðubreiðarlindir and Eyjabakkar. The pink-footed goose has its main nesting places at Þjórsárver and Eyjabakkar. Þjórsárver was designated as a Ramsar site in 1990.

Wild reindeer reside in the east Highlands; this is the only place they can be seen. Initially brought over for farming, the industry never took out and they have roamed free in their herds since.

 

Services near Highlands

All services in 50km radius

Attractions nearby Highlands

Odadahraun

Odadahraun is the most extensive lava field in Iceland, with a total area of around 4-6000 km² (definitions vary), consisting of relatively young...

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Hofsjökull

Hofsjokull is the third largest glacier in Iceland and is situated in the Mid-Higlands. Hofsjokull has an active subglacial caldera volcano which is...

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Kjölur/Kjalvegur

Kjolur/Kjalvegur is 600-700 m high mountain pass in the highlands, located east of Langjokull glacier and west of Hofsjokull. It starts by the popular...

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Vestari Jökulsá

Vestari Jokulsa, a.k.a. Jokulsa vestri ('West Glacial River') is a glacial river in Skagafjordur. It is a highly popular river for rafting. T...

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Hveravellir

  Hveravellir is a geothermal area and nature reserve in the Icelandic highlands, between the glaciers Hofsjokull and Langjokull. The area fea...

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Laugafell

  Laugafell is a small mountain to the north-east of the glacier Hofsjokull, in the Icelandic mid-highlands. On the north-western slopes of La...

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Þjórsárver

Thjorsarver is a wetlands area and natural reserve in the mid higlands of Iceland and became listed as a RAMSAR site in 1990, mainly as it the wo...

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Hveradalir

Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by ezioman Hveradalir, ‘the Valley of the Hot Springs’, is exactly what its name suggests. It ca...

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Austurdalur

  Austurdalur is a valley in Skagafjordur district in Northwest Iceland. The mighty glacier river Austari Jokulsa runs through the valley and pu...

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Kerlingarfjöll

Kerlingarfjoll is a beautiful and colourful mountain range in the Icelandic highlands that hosts the third largest geothermal area of the ...

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Tyrfingsstaðir

Tyrfingsstaðir turf farm is unique turf house with several outhouses, dating back to before the year 1300. Last inhabited in 1969, these huts ...

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Nýidalur/Jökuldalur

Nyidalur (a.k.a. Jokuldalur) is a valley in the Icelandic highlands, south of the glacier Tungnafellsjokull and north of Hofsjokull glacier. It is a f...

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Hvítárvatn

Hvitarvatn is a glacier lake in the Icelandic highlands, feeding the glacier river Hvita in South Iceland. The lake lies where the highland road Kjalv...

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Sprengisandur

The Sprengisandur highland plateau stretches between the glaciers Hofsjokull and Vatnajokull (Europe’s largest glacier) and was the main route b...

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North Iceland

North Iceland is a beautiful region, hosting some of the best attractions on the island.  Home to the Lake Mývatn region, the town of A...

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Saurbæjarkirkja

Saurbaejarkirkja is a beautiful 19th century Lutherian turf church in the fjord of Eyjafjordur in North Iceland. The church site is an old one, ...

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Hallmundarhraun

  Hallmundarhraun is a lava field of the pahoehoe type (i.e. smooth unbroken basaltic lava with a smooth, billowy, undulating, or ropy surface) ...

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Austari-Jökulsá

  Austari-Jokulsa (East Jokulsa River), 'The Beast of the East', is a glacier river in Skagafjordur district. With its strong stream, wi...

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Varmahlíð

  Varmahlid is a small village by Highway Route 1 in Skagafjordur. It is a popular nesting place and resort. Varmahlid features a hotel, a res...

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Eiriksjökull

  The  1675 meter high Eiriksjokull is located in the Borgarfjordur district, just east of Langjokull glacier. Eiriksjokull lies on the fri...

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Tours near Highlands

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Landmannalaugar Day Tour | The Pearl of the Highlands

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Askja Caldera & Viti Crater | East Highlands Day Tour

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10 Day Itinerary | Ring Road Circle of Iceland & Reykjavik

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Hiker's Ride To Landmannalaugar | One-Way Bus Ticket

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Askja Caldera Tour from Akureyri | With Godafoss Waterfall

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A Day in Thorsmork | The Hikers Paradise

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One-Way Bus Ticket | Departure from Thorsmork

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Into the Glacier with Lava Caving

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One-Way Bus Ticket | Departure from Landmannalaugar

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Hiker's Ride To Thorsmork | One-Way Bus Ticket

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Askja Caldera Hike | Highland Adventure from Lake Myvatn

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Hiking in Thorsmork Valley | Super Jeep Day Tour

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Thorsmork Valley | Super Jeep Day Tour

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Askja Caldera & Holuhraun Lava Field | Super Jeep Day-tour

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Landmannalaugar & Hekla Volcano | Small Group Super Jeep Tour

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The Golden Hikers Bus Pass | Return Bus Ticket to the Highlands

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Private Super Jeep Tour to Mount Hekla & Landmannalaugar

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6 Day Summer Self-Drive | Hidden Gems under the Midnight Sun

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Landmannalaugar & Hekla Volcano | Private Super Jeep Tour

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Helicopter Tour | Eyjafjallajokull Glacier & Fimmvorduhals

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Flightseeing in South Iceland with the Ice Tunnel

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Flightseeing Tour | Eyjafjallajokull Volcanic Canyon & Laki Craters

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Iceland's Top Sites | 4 Day Super Jeep Winter Holiday

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Diamond Helicopter Tour | Landmannalaugar and Eyjafjallajokull

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Three Day North Iceland Tour to Hrisey Island

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4-Day Adventure Tour | South Coast, Thorsmork & Glacier Hike

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The Beautiful Fimmvorduhals Route | Super Jeep / Hiking Day Tour

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Grimsvotn Eruption Site | Flightseeing Tour

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Capture the Colours | Laugavegur Photography Tour

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48-hour Full Day Tour to the Highlands of North Iceland

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The 'Full Monty' Private Helicopter Tour

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Three-Day Trek to Landmannalaugar | Backroad Highland Adventure

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Hekla Volcano & Sydra Fjallabak Super Jeep Adventure

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Volcanic Trails | 7-Day Hiking Tour of the Highlands

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10 Day Photography Workshop | Circle of Iceland in Summer

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7-Day Laugavegur & Fimmvörðuháls Trek in Huts

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2-Day Thorsmork Exploration

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12-Hour Landmannalaugar Tour & Hot Springs

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4-Day Northern Lights Adventure | South Coast with Glacier Hike

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14 Day Northern Lights Package | Complete Guided Circle of Iceland with Snaefellsnes and Reykjavik

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14 Day Photography Workshop | Ring Road with Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Autumn

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Tröllakrókar Canyon | Super Jeep Sightseeing Tour

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Visit Leirubakki & Rjupnavellir | One-Way Bus Ticket to the Highlands

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6-Day Highland Snowmobile Adventure

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A Leap of Faith | Highlands Mystery Super Jeep Tour

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Thingvellir & Highlands | Private Super Jeep Day Tour

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3 Day Photography Workshop in the Icelandic Highlands

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Eight Hours in Iceland | Customise Your Private Tour in a new Mercedes Benz V-class luxury

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Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork | Five-day hiking tour

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10 Day Photography Workshop | Highlands & South Coast

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Landmannalaugar Winter Break | A Night in the Highlands

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14 Day Photography Workshop | Ring Road in the Winter with Ice Cave

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