Hike and trek in Iceland. What and where are the best hiking and trekking trails ? See this article to find the best walks in Iceland.

Iceland is famous for its stunning, unspoiled nature. The country is filled with mountains, rivers, waterfallshot springsvolcanoes and glaciers in every shape, size and colour.

The interior of the country has hardly any roads and no habitation but instead there are endless hiking or trekking trails to be found.

Icelandic interior

Attention: Make sure you leave your travel plan here, so you can be saved if you should get hurt. Whatever you do: Don’t go hiking in the Icelandic highlands in jeans and a t-shirt and without letting people know about it – people have died by doing so when there’s a sudden change in the weather. Be prepared for any kind of weather, bring layers of wool, fleece and rainproof gear. Layer, layer, layer! I can't stress this enough, you don't want to underestimate the powers of nature and the volatile Icelandic climate! You will also need to bring all your food with you, as there are generally no shops in the highlands - but normally some freshwater around. Look up your preferred route in detail before going.

The following hikes can only be done in the summertime: Late May – early September.

The Laugavegur Trek

The Laugavegur trek is by far Iceland’s most popular trek. The trek itself is 55km and is between Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk. Most people walk it in 4-5 days, with Landmannalaugar as the starting point and stay overnight in cabins on the way. (You can also choose to start in Þórsmörk and hike from there to Landmannalaugar if you so wish.)

There is the option to camp on the way – but then you’ll need to carry your tent (and mattresses) with you the whole way.

There are various side treks that can be explored on the way if you feel like you’re not walking enough each day (for example there used to be a trek to an ice cave close to Hrafntinnusker cabin, that is now unfortunately broken). The first 2 days are the shortest and can be combined if you want to hike it in 3 days. 

I would recommend taking your time, especially if it’s your first time, just to take in the sheer beauty of your surroundings. You find yourself hiking over colourful mountains, crossing powerful rivers and a glacier, going through green valleys and ending up in the lush Þórsmörk, filled with unusual rock formations.

There are no shops on the way and the weather in the highlands is unpredictable, so make sure you have warm clothes (fleece, wool, raingear), good hiking boots and all the food you’ll need for the trip.

There is fresh and clean Icelandic spring water all along the trek so you don’t need to carry large amounts of water with you (a litre or 2 litre bottle should do) and you don’t need any water purification tablets. Make sure you fill up your water from a clear stream of running water.

This hike is suitable for people of all ages – but don’t underestimate how tired you’ll be from many hours hiking each day.

Fimmvörðuháls hiking trail

Fimmvörðuháls, by Boaworm from Wikimedia commons

Continuing on from Þórsmörk you can extend your trek all the way to Skógar, by hiking the Fimmvörðuháls hiking trail.

This trail is about 23km and is usually done in a day – about 10 hours hiking and is a very demanding hike.

This trek has grown in popularity over the past couple of years due to the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010. Now there is a whole new mountain to see on the way, with smoke rising from the still-warm ground – hot enough to grill a sandwich on! (Put it in tinfoil and bury it in the ground).

Leaving from Þórsmörk there is an extremely steep path for the first 2-3 hours but after you’ve reached the volcanic grounds it gradually descends.

Both Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls are combined in this Laugavegur trekking trail tour.

If you would rather go by yourself, you can get a hiking bus passport to the start of your location at either Skógar, Þórsmörk or Landmannalaugar and back from your final destination.

Other areas to hike in Iceland

These are the most popular trekking trails in Iceland but other areas that are popular to hike in are for example Hornstrandir in the Westfjords (only reached by boat), the three National Parks in Iceland, the area surrounding Mývatn, Hljóðaklettar and Ásbyrgi in the North-East of the country, Víknaslóðir around Borgarfjörður Eystri in the North-East and Kerlingarfjöll.

If you feel like going on a short hike around Reykjavík, why not hike up Esjan (you can reach the foot of the mountain by local transport), to the hot river in Reykjadalur by Hveragerði (also a short busride away) or hike to Iceland's highest waterfall, Glymur?