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Hiking Iceland: The Top Routes & What To Bring


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Jillie Gustafson



Iceland is a land of breathtaking natural beauty, with its dramatic landscapes, majestic waterfalls, and rugged mountains. It is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers, offering a plethora of hiking trails that showcase the country’s raw and untamed wilderness. From volcanic landscapes to glacier-carved valleys, Iceland’s hiking routes offer a unique and exhilarating experience for avid hikers.


With its remote location and pristine nature, Iceland offers a sense of solitude and tranquility that is hard to find elsewhere. The hiking trails in Iceland take you through diverse terrains, allowing you to explore its stunning geothermal areas, geysers, lava fields, and even its ice caves. Whether you choose to hike along the famous Laugavegur Trail or venture into the untamed beauty of the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, each trail promises unforgettable moments and awe-inspiring vistas.


One of the highlights of hiking in Iceland is the opportunity to witness the country’s unique geological features up close. From towering waterfalls such as Dynjandi in the Westfjords to the imposing Snæfellsjökull Glacier in the Snæfellsjökull Peninsula, each destination offers its own distinct charm and beauty.


It is important to note that Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable, with rapidly changing conditions. While the summer months offer longer daylight hours and milder temperatures, hikers must still be prepared for sudden weather changes, including rain, wind, and even snowfall. However, with proper planning and the right equipment, hiking in Iceland can be a truly exhilarating and rewarding experience.


In this article, we will explore some of the top hiking routes in Iceland, each with its own unique appeal and adventure. We will also provide valuable tips on what to bring for a hiking trip in Iceland, ensuring that you have a comfortable and enjoyable experience amidst the country’s awe-inspiring natural wonders.


The Laugavegur Trail

The Laugavegur Trail is often regarded as one of the best hiking routes in Iceland and is a must for any outdoor enthusiast. This 55-kilometer trail takes you through some of the most stunning landscapes in the country, showcasing the contrasts between lush valleys, colorful mountains, and steaming geothermal areas.


The trail begins in the Landmannalaugar region, famous for its multi-hued rhyolite mountains and natural hot springs. As you hike through this otherworldly terrain, you will be surrounded by vibrant colors, with shades of red, yellow, and green spread across the mountainsides. The highlight of this section is the chance to relax in the soothing hot springs, providing a welcome respite after a day of hiking.


Continuing along the trail, you will traverse vast lava fields and cross glacial rivers, offering a true sense of adventure. The landscape transforms as you make your way towards the Þórsmörk Valley, with its lush vegetation, deep canyons, and panoramic views of surrounding glaciers.


The final section of the trail takes you to Skogafoss, one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls. As the trail descends, you will be treated to breathtaking views of the waterfall, plunging from a height of 60 meters into a picturesque river below. This dramatic finale is the perfect ending to an enchanting hiking experience.


It’s important to note that the Laugavegur Trail can be challenging at times, with steep ascents and descents, rugged terrain, and unpredictable weather conditions. However, the effort is well worth it, as each step reveals a new and captivating landscape.


Whether you choose to tackle the trail in four or five days, camping along the way or staying in mountain huts, the Laugavegur Trail promises an unforgettable adventure in the heart of Iceland’s wilderness. It is recommended to undertake the hike during the summer months when the trail is more accessible and the weather conditions are relatively milder.


The Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Tucked away in the remote northwest corner of Iceland, the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve offers a truly off-the-beaten-path hiking experience. This untouched wilderness is a haven for nature lovers, featuring rugged cliffs, sweeping fjords, and abundant wildlife.


Accessible only by boat, the journey to Hornstrandir is an adventure in itself. As you disembark, you are greeted by a vast expanse of pristine nature, free from the presence of human development. The absence of roads and infrastructure adds to the allure of this remote region, allowing you to immerse yourself in Iceland’s unspoiled beauty.


The hiking routes in Hornstrandir vary in difficulty and length, catering to both experienced hikers and those seeking a more leisurely stroll. You can explore the towering cliffs of Hesteyri, hike along the stunning shores of Hornbjarg, or journey through lush valleys, where Arctic foxes roam freely.


The beauty of Hornstrandir lies not only in its landscapes but also in its incredible wildlife. The nature reserve is a sanctuary for numerous bird species, including puffins, guillemots, and arctic terns. Keep your eyes peeled for seals basking on the rocky shores and whales breaching in the surrounding waters.


It’s important to note that hiking in Hornstrandir requires careful planning and preparation. The region is remote and can be challenging to navigate, with minimal signage and no facilities along the trails. It is crucial to bring ample supplies, including food, water, and appropriate hiking gear to ensure your safety and comfort.


Due to its limited accessibility and pristine nature, the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve offers a unique opportunity to disconnect from the outside world and immerse yourself in Iceland’s untamed beauty. This remarkable adventure will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.


The Thorsmork Valley

Tucked away in the southern region of Iceland, the Thorsmork Valley is a hiker’s paradise with its stunning landscapes and diverse terrain. Named after the Norse god Thor, this valley is surrounded by glaciers, including the infamous Eyjafjallajökull, which gained international attention with its eruption in 2010.


Accessible via a bumpy mountain road or by hiking through Fimmvorduhals Pass from Skogar, the Thorsmork Valley offers a range of hiking opportunities for all levels of expertise. As you venture into this untouched wilderness, you will be greeted by a mix of lush green valleys, craggy mountains, and glacial rivers.


One of the most popular hiking trails in Thorsmork is the hike to the Basar Hut. This trail takes you through birch forests, past thundering waterfalls and over scenic river crossings. The highlight of the hike is reaching the Basar Hut, a cozy refuge nestled in the valley, where you can rest and soak in the awe-inspiring beauty of the surrounding landscape.


For more adventurous hikers, the Thorsmork Valley serves as a starting point for longer treks, such as the Laugavegur Trail mentioned earlier. The valley also offers the opportunity to explore the rugged Markarfljotsgljufur Canyon, which provides breathtaking views from its steep cliffs.


One of the unique aspects of Thorsmork is the powerful presence of glaciers. You can opt for a guided glacier hike, where you will don crampons and explore the icy terrain with a knowledgeable guide. This experience allows you to witness the raw power and beauty of these frozen giants firsthand.


The Thorsmork Valley is a stunning testament to Iceland’s natural wonders. Whether you choose to embark on a day hike or venture on a multi-day trek, this mesmerizing valley promises unforgettable moments and extraordinary scenery.


It’s important to note that hiking in Thorsmork requires caution and preparation. The terrain can be challenging, with steep ascents, river crossings, and unpredictable weather. It is essential to be well-equipped with proper hiking gear, including sturdy boots, rainproof clothing, and a reliable map or GPS device.


Exploring the Thorsmork Valley will not only satisfy your hiking cravings but will also leave you in awe of Iceland’s raw and untouched beauty.


The Fimmvorduhals Pass

The Fimmvorduhals Pass is a challenging and spectacular hiking route located in southern Iceland. This trail is known for its dramatic landscapes, including volcanic craters, lava fields, and panoramic views of towering glaciers.


The hike begins at Skogar, where you will be greeted by the iconic Skogafoss waterfall. As you ascend, the trail takes you through diverse terrain, including lush green valleys and steep mountain slopes. The highlight of the hike is reaching the Fimmvorduhals mountain pass, where you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding glaciers and valleys.


This trail gained international attention in 2010 when the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted, creating a new vent known as Magni and a stunning lava field known as the Eldhraun. As you traverse the lava field, you will witness the raw power of nature and the striking contrast between the black volcanic rock and the vibrant green moss that covers it.


Throughout the hike, you will encounter unique geological formations, such as the famous craters of Magni and Móði, formed during the volcanic eruption. These impressive landmarks are a testament to the dynamic and ever-changing nature of Iceland’s volcanic landscape.


While the Fimmvorduhals Pass is undoubtedly rewarding, it is crucial to note that it is a challenging hike that requires a good level of physical fitness and endurance. The trail is steep and can be treacherous, especially during inclement weather conditions. It is essential to come prepared with appropriate hiking gear, including sturdy boots, warm clothing, and reliable navigational tools.


Completing the Fimmvorduhals Pass is not only an accomplishment, but it also offers a unique and unforgettable experience in the heart of Iceland’s volcanic wonders. From the beauty of Skogafoss to the raw power of volcanic activity, this hike showcases the incredible natural diversity that Iceland has to offer.


It is recommended to undertake this hike during the summer months when the trail is more accessible and the weather conditions are relatively milder. However, always check the local weather forecast and trail conditions before embarking on your journey.


The Skaftafell Glacier

Nestled within Vatnajökull National Park, the Skaftafell Glacier is a captivating destination for hikers seeking to explore Iceland’s frozen wonderland. This glacier offers a unique opportunity to witness the breathtaking beauty of ice formations, towering ice walls, and pristine glacial landscapes.


The hiking trails in Skaftafell cater to various skill levels, from leisurely strolls to more challenging treks. One of the most popular hikes is the trail to Svartifoss, a stunning waterfall framed by basalt columns. The hike to Svartifoss takes you through a lava field and into an enchanting forested area, creating a stark contrast to the icy surroundings.


For a more adventurous experience, you can embark on a glacier hike or ice climbing expedition. Led by experienced guides, these excursions allow you to explore the crevasses, ridges, and blue ice formations of the glacier. It’s a chance to witness the ever-changing nature of the ice and gain a deeper understanding of glacial processes.


While hiking on glaciers requires specialized equipment and knowledge, it provides a remarkable experience that few get the chance to enjoy. Crampons, ice axes, and safety ropes are essential tools to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey across the icy terrain. It is highly recommended to join a guided tour to make the most of this unique adventure.


It’s important to remember that glaciers are living, dynamic formations, and safety should always be a top priority. Be mindful of the potential risks associated with changing weather conditions, unstable ice structures, and hidden crevasses. Always follow the guidance of experienced guides and stay within designated trails for a safe and memorable glacier hiking experience.


The Skaftafell Glacier offers a magical and ethereal environment that will leave you in awe of nature’s power and beauty. Whether you choose to hike to Svartifoss or venture onto the glacier itself, this unique destination will provide an unforgettable experience amidst Iceland’s frozen landscapes.


As with any outdoor activity, be respectful of the environment and leave no trace behind. The pristine nature of the Skaftafell Glacier deserves to be preserved for future generations to enjoy.


The Westfjords’ Dynjandi Waterfall

The Westfjords region of Iceland is known for its remote and untouched beauty, and one of its most mesmerizing natural treasures is the Dynjandi Waterfall. This magnificent cascade is often referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Westfjords’ and is a must-visit destination for any nature lover or hiking enthusiast.


The Dynjandi Waterfall is a tiered waterfall system, with a total height of approximately 100 meters. As you approach the waterfall, you will be greeted by a series of smaller cascades, each more beautiful than the last. The main waterfall, with its impressive width and sheer power, is the centerpiece of this natural wonder.


The hiking trail to Dynjandi offers a unique and immersive experience. As you weave your way through the rugged landscape, you will witness the power of nature up close. The trail takes you along the steep cliffs, offering breathtaking views of the fjords and mountains surrounding Dynjandi. The sound of rushing water echoes through the valleys, creating a vibrant and serene atmosphere.


Reaching the base of the waterfall is a truly awe-inspiring moment. The sheer force of water crashing into the pool below creates a mesmerizing spectacle. You can feel the mist on your face and hear the thunderous roar of the cascading water, immersing yourself in the grandeur of this natural masterpiece.


For a truly immersive experience, you can hike to the top of Dynjandi and witness the waterfall from above. This viewpoint provides a panoramic vista of the surrounding fjords and valleys, making it a perfect spot to pause, reflect, and marvel at the beauty of the Westfjords.


It’s important to note that the hike to Dynjandi requires moderate fitness levels and careful footing, as the trail can be steep and uneven. Taking your time to enjoy the scenery and being cautious of your surroundings will ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.


The best time to visit Dynjandi is during the summer months, when the waterfall is at its fullest and the weather conditions are more favorable. However, regardless of the season, Dynjandi’s beauty is undeniable and will leave a lasting impression on anyone fortunate enough to witness it.


The Dynjandi Waterfall is a testament to the raw and unspoiled beauty of Iceland’s natural landscapes. Its remote location and majestic presence make it a true gem of the Westfjords, inviting travelers to embrace the power and serenity of nature.


The Landmannalaugar Region

The Landmannalaugar region, located in the highlands of Iceland, is a true hiker’s paradise. Known for its colorful rhyolite mountains, geothermal pools, and stark volcanic landscapes, this area offers a unique and unforgettable hiking experience.


The Landmannalaugar region is best accessed during the summer months when the snow has melted and the trails are more easily navigable. The most famous hiking trail in this area is the Laugavegur Trail, which starts or ends in Landmannalaugar, depending on your chosen route. This challenging multi-day trek showcases some of Iceland’s most incredible scenery.


As you set foot in Landmannalaugar, you will be greeted by a surreal landscape of vibrant hues. The rhyolite mountains, painted in shades of red, yellow, and green, create a striking backdrop against the blue skies. This colorful display is a photographer’s dream and a visual feast for all hikers.


One of the highlights of Landmannalaugar is the chance to soak in the natural geothermal pools. After a day of hiking, these warm, mineral-rich pools offer a rejuvenating and soothing experience. Immerse yourself in the hot springs and take in the breathtaking surroundings as you unwind and relax.


The hiking trails in Landmannalaugar cater to various skill levels, from leisurely walks to more challenging ascents. You can explore the nearby lava fields or venture further into the highlands, hiking up to the summits for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Keep in mind that the weather can change rapidly in this region, so it’s essential to be prepared with appropriate gear and to check the weather forecast before embarking on your hike.


One of the unique attractions of Landmannalaugar is the rugged lava fields, stark reminders of Iceland’s volcanic activity. Walking through these ancient lava formations feels like stepping into another world, with their alien-like features and twisted rock formations.


Whether you choose to hike the Laugavegur Trail or explore the surrounding area, Landmannalaugar offers a breathtaking and unforgettable experience. The region’s stunning natural beauty, diverse landscapes, and geological wonders make it a must-visit destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts.


It’s important to note that Landmannalaugar is located in a remote area without any facilities, so it’s crucial to come well-prepared with food, water, and camping gear if you plan to stay overnight. Additionally, it’s advisable to be mindful of the fragile environment and follow Leave No Trace principles to ensure the preservation of this extraordinary natural area.


The Snæfellsjökull Peninsula

The Snæfellsjökull Peninsula, located on Iceland’s western coast, is a captivating region known for its impressive landscapes and the mighty Snæfellsjökull glacier. This glacier-capped volcano stands at the heart of the peninsula, creating a stunning backdrop for exploration and hiking.


The Snæfellsjökull Peninsula offers a range of hiking trails that cater to different skill levels and interests. One of the most popular hikes is the trail up to the summit of Snæfellsjökull itself. This challenging hike rewards hikers with breathtaking views of the surrounding coastal cliffs, black sand beaches, and the vast expanse of the North Atlantic Ocean.


For those seeking shorter hikes, the peninsula is dotted with numerous paths that lead to fascinating geological features, such as lava caves, volcanic craters, and unique rock formations. These hikes provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in Iceland’s rich volcanic history and witness the dramatic effects of past volcanic activity.


The Snæfellsjökull National Park is also located within the peninsula, offering a multitude of hiking opportunities. The park encompasses diverse landscapes, including ice-covered mountains, coastal cliffs, and grassy meadows. As you explore the park’s trails, you may come across a variety of wildlife, including seabirds, seals, and even the occasional Arctic fox.


One of the highlights of the Snæfellsjökull Peninsula is the chance to visit the charming fishing villages that dot the coastline. Villages like Arnarstapi and Hellnar offer a glimpse into traditional Icelandic life and provide a convenient starting point for coastal walks with stunning views of dramatic sea stacks, basalt columns, and roaring waves.


It’s important to note that the weather in the Snæfellsjökull Peninsula can be unpredictable, especially due to the influence of the glacier and the exposed coastal location. Make sure to check the weather forecast and come prepared with appropriate clothing and gear.


Exploring the Snæfellsjökull Peninsula is like entering a realm of natural wonder and enchantment. The combination of its mystical glacier, dramatic landscapes, and charming coastal villages creates an experience that is both awe-inspiring and unforgettable. Whether you choose to reach the summit of Snæfellsjökull or explore the peninsula’s other hiking trails, you are sure to be captivated by the unique beauty of this region.


The Hverfjall Crater

The Hverfjall Crater, also known as Hverfell, is an impressive volcanic crater located in northeastern Iceland. This massive tephra cone is 396 meters in depth and 1,300 meters in diameter, making it one of the largest of its kind in the world. Hiking to the rim of Hverfjall allows you to witness the raw power and geological wonder of this volcanic formation.


The hike to the rim of Hverfjall is a unique and rewarding experience. As you ascend towards the crater’s edge, you’ll be surrounded by a barren landscape covered in volcanic ash and black volcanic rock. The steep and uneven trail may pose a challenge, but the effort is well worth it once you reach the rim and are treated to panoramic views of the surrounding volcanic scenery.


From the rim of Hverfjall, you can marvel at the vastness of the crater, which resembles a colossal open mouth beckoning you to peer into its depths. The rugged interior of the crater reveals unique geological patterns and formations, reminding you of the powerful forces that shaped this volcanic landscape.


Hverfjall is believed to have been created by a volcanic explosion around 2,500 years ago and is now dormant. Its formation is characterized by layers of fine black ash and volcanic rocks, which add to the allure of this geological marvel.


Once you descend from the rim, take a moment to appreciate the serene atmosphere and the magnitude of Hverfjall. Its imposing presence serves as a reminder of the ever-changing and dynamic nature of Iceland’s volcanic landscapes.


It’s important to note that Hverfjall is a protected area, and visitors are expected to show respect for its fragile environment. Stick to designated trails and follow any instructions or signage to ensure the preservation of this unique natural wonder.


The Hverfjall Crater offers an incredible opportunity to witness the raw power and beauty of Iceland’s volcanic past. Its awe-inspiring size and dramatic landscape create a memorable experience for hikers and nature enthusiasts alike. By including a visit to Hverfjall in your Icelandic itinerary, you’ll gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the country’s geological riches.


The Glymur Waterfall

The Glymur Waterfall, located in western Iceland, is a hidden gem that promises a captivating and adventurous hiking experience. Tucked away in the picturesque Hvalfjörður fjord, this majestic waterfall is Iceland’s second tallest, standing at an impressive height of 198 meters. The hike to Glymur takes you through rugged canyons, lush forests, and offers breathtaking views of cascading waterfalls.


The hike to Glymur begins at the trailhead near the Botnsá river, where you’ll follow a well-marked path that winds through enchanting landscapes. As you ascend, you’ll be mesmerized by the beauty of the surrounding nature. The trail takes you along the edges of deep canyons, with sheer cliffs and stunning views of the meandering river below.


One of the highlights of the hike is crossing the Botnsá river via a unique cable bridge. This thrilling suspension bridge adds an element of adventure, making the excursion even more memorable. As you step onto the bridge and feel it sway beneath your feet, you’ll be rewarded with incredible panoramic views of the surrounding cliffs and the cascading Glymur Waterfall in the distance.


Reaching the base of Glymur is a truly awe-inspiring moment. The thunderous roar of the waterfall echoes through the gorge, giving a sense of the power and natural forces at play. You can feel the mist on your face as you gaze up at the towering cascade, surrounded by towering cliffs and lush vegetation.


For those looking for an extra challenge, there is an option to hike up a steep trail to a viewing platform that provides a different perspective of Glymur. From this vantage point, you can witness the sheer force and beauty of the waterfall up close, and admire the surrounding landscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see.


It’s important to note that hiking to Glymur can be moderately challenging, with some sections requiring careful footing and navigation. Parts of the trail can be steep and rocky, so proper hiking boots and caution are essential for a safe and enjoyable experience.


Visiting Glymur is like stepping into a serene and magical realm, where nature’s power takes center stage. The combination of dramatic landscapes, rushing waterfalls, and the sense of adventure makes this hike a truly unforgettable experience.


Whether you’re an avid hiker seeking a new challenge or simply a nature lover eager to explore Iceland’s natural wonders, the hike to Glymur Waterfall is a must-do when visiting the country’s western region.


What to Bring for a Hiking Trip in Iceland

When embarking on a hiking trip in Iceland, it is essential to come prepared with the right equipment and gear to ensure your safety, comfort, and enjoyment. The weather in Iceland can be unpredictable, and hikers must be ready for sudden changes in conditions. Here is a list of items you should consider bringing for your hiking adventure:

  1. Sturdy hiking boots: Choose waterproof boots with ankle support to navigate Iceland’s diverse terrain.
  2. Layered clothing: Pack thermal base layers, moisture-wicking shirts, fleece or down jackets, and a waterproof outer layer to adapt to changing weather conditions.
  3. Hiking pants or leggings: Opt for quick-drying and flexible pants or leggings for comfort and ease of movement.
  4. Warm hat and gloves: Protect yourself from the cold with insulated headwear and gloves.
  5. Sun protection: Bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen, as the sun can be strong, even on cloudy days.
  6. Backpack: Choose a comfortable and durable backpack to carry your essentials.
  7. Water and snacks: Stay hydrated and energized with plenty of water and high-energy snacks.
  8. Map or GPS device: Ensure you have a reliable navigational tool to help you find your way on the trails. Topographic maps or GPS devices with offline capabilities are recommended.
  9. First aid kit: Include essentials like bandages, disinfectant, pain relievers, and any necessary personal medications.
  10. Emergency supplies: Carry a whistle, a flashlight, and a fully charged mobile phone for emergencies.
  11. Camera or smartphone: Capture the beauty of Iceland with a camera or smartphone to cherish the memories.
  12. Insect repellent: Depending on the season and location, insects like midges can be present, so come prepared with protection.
  13. Camping gear (if applicable): If planning overnight hikes or camping, bring a sturdy tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and cooking equipment.

It’s important to note that hiking responsibly in Iceland includes respecting the environment and leaving no trace behind. Be mindful of fragile ecosystems, stay on designated trails, and adhere to any regulations or guidelines in place.


Preparing for a hiking trip in Iceland requires thorough planning and consideration of the weather conditions, the difficulty of the trails, and your personal capabilities. By coming well-prepared and equipped, you can fully immerse yourself in Iceland’s awe-inspiring landscapes and create unforgettable memories of your hiking adventure.



Embarking on a hiking trip in Iceland is a remarkable experience that allows you to explore the country’s breathtaking landscapes, from majestic waterfalls and volcanic craters to glacial wonders and colorful valleys. The diverse hiking routes offer something for every skill level, whether you’re a seasoned hiker seeking a challenge or a nature enthusiast looking to immerse yourself in Iceland’s raw beauty.


As you venture into Iceland’s untamed wilderness, it’s important to prepare adequately and come equipped with the right gear, including sturdy hiking boots, layered clothing, and essential supplies like water, snacks, and a first aid kit. Consider the specific requirements of each trail and tailor your equipment accordingly.


Respecting nature and hiking responsibly are paramount in Iceland. Stay on designated trails, follow any regulations or guidelines, and leave no trace behind. Preserve the fragile ecosystems and ensure that these natural wonders remain untouched for future generations to enjoy.


Immersing yourself in Iceland’s stunning landscapes offers a sense of awe and adventure like no other place on Earth. From the remote and rugged Hornstrandir Nature Reserve to the vibrant colors of Landmannalaugar and the icy majesty of the Snæfellsjökull glacier, each hiking destination holds its own unique charm and allure.


Whether you’re captivated by the peaceful solitude of the Laugavegur Trail, the raw power of the Dynjandi Waterfall, or the mystical atmosphere of the Skaftafell Glacier, Iceland’s hiking routes will leave an indelible mark on your soul.


So, lace up your boots, pack your backpack, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure into the untamed beauty of Iceland. Let the trails guide you to hidden gems, breathtaking vistas, and an appreciation for the wonders of nature that can only be experienced firsthand.