The idyllic and lovely island nation of Iceland is without question one of the best places in the world to strap on your hiking boots and hit the trails.
For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of the best hikes in Iceland for you, including all fitness levels and abilities. Read on to see all 15 and why we love each!
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The 15 Best Hikes in Iceland in 2023
Iceland sits right between Europe and the United States and is just a little bit shy of the Arctic Circle. Its location gives it unparalleled access to beautiful nature, plus natural events like the Aurora Borealis.
It doesn’t matter what your athletic or skill level is; there’s a great chance that you can find something perfect for you and your family in Iceland.
So whether you want to trek through picturesque fields, climb mountains, or even try your hand at walking across a glacier, Iceland is ready to amaze and enchant you.
Here is our list of the 15 best hikes in Iceland, plus some advice on key things to consider and a FAQs section where we’ll answer the most relevant questions about hiking in Iceland.
1. Landmannalaugar Trails
If you’re looking for stunning geothermal pools, these trails are precisely where it is at. No matter what temperature it is outside, these pools will be nice and toasty. Remember to wear your bathing suit under all that hiking gear.
There are several different options that you take at Landmannalaugar, so simply pick the one that suits your athletic ability and needs best.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you might even be able to trek out to the volcanic rock formations. Prepare to be astounded by the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis if you head out at night between September and April.
Hveragerdi is a great, reasonably moderate day hike. One of this beloved trail’s best aspects is that you can easily get there from Reykjavik by bus.
Just remember to leave early in the morning so that you can spend ample time trekking around Hveragerdi. You’ll find tons of different walking trails, a few hot springs, and plenty of flora to check out.
Although there are steep parts of the hike, moderately fit people should be able to manage it at a leisurely pace. If the weather isn’t ideal, you could run into some slippery or muddy spots, so keep your wits about you if it’s wet outside.
If you’re an experienced hiker who really wants a challenge, you can always try your hand at Kjolur. Warning; this hike is definitely not for novices. It takes between two to three days to complete, and each day is full of intense hiking.
It definitely helps to have good endurance and footwear to manage it. While you can do many of the hikes on our list alone, you really should have a guide to try Kjolur.
You do not want to get lost out there in the wilderness. Bring plenty of water and food, and prepare to see incredible glacial formations and landscapes. Also, there are thermal baths so bring your bathing gear.
4. Fimmvorduhals Volcano
Although the Fimmvorduhals Volcano hike is technically only a day trip, it’s not for the faint of heart. This hike is definitely challenging, even for experienced hikers, and will take at least six to eight hours to complete — plan for about 10 miles total trip.
Although the terrain is steep, it is reasonably well-marked, but it can get snowy or slippery. You’ll get to see astonishingly beautiful views and craters during the course of your hike.
Plus, there are plenty of meadows and lovely mountain streams. This volcano truly showcases the best that Iceland offers, and many people think it’s worth the trek up.
From a challenging hike to an easier one! Thakgil is a great hike to do if you’re looking for more of a stroll than an actual hike. It should take more people between one to two hours to complete, and you’ll see gorgeous views, streams, and rolling greenery.
The only real problem with Thakgil is that many of the trails are unmarked.
If you’re not totally familiar with where you are going, it’s best to have an experienced guide or at least a map to help you out with things. You can also camp at Thakgil if you want to, and it’s very close to Vik.
Right on top of the Vatnajokull glacier, you’ll find Hvannadalshnukur. This peak has the tallest that you will find in the entire country, and the trek up is not for beginners.
There are some technical parts, and climbers gain a lot of altitude as they make their way up. Plan on starting your hike in the very early morning. It should take about 12 hours. Once you reach the top, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of much of the country.
It’s one of the most beautiful places in all of Iceland, and you can tell your friends that you summited the highest peak in the country. Just make sure that you’re prepared for challenging trails and come with a guide.
7. The Fimmvorduhals Pass
If you want to embark on a challenging but fun hike, The Fimmvorduhals Pass is a great pick. It’s another day hike that should take you about eight hours to complete, and you’ll see all sorts of incredible things like lava fields and glaciers.
Depending on the time of year, you might even see a fjord or two. The Fimmvorduhals Pass is fairly centrally located, just a little ways away from the capital.
And it’s an excellent chance for you to soak up those beautiful views while still staying close to civilization. Most of the trails are marked, but you will want to bring a guide with you just in case.
8. Honstrandir Multi-Day Trek
If you’re feeling up for it, try the six-day Honstrandir trek. This trek is moderate to difficult, with between four to seven-hour hiking days over occasionally rough terrain.
Although many of the trails are marked, a few don’t have the proper signage, so it’s best to go with a guide or a big group of people. Also, Honstrandir can get a little bit dicey when the weather is bad, so make sure that you check the forecast before you go.
It’s a very remote place in the Northwestern part of the country, so there aren’t too many amenities or places to rest. But, in return for your ruggedness, you’ll get to see some epic views and nature.
9. Skogafoss Waterfall
Possibly one of the most famous hikes in the entire country, Skogafoss Waterfall is arguably one of Iceland’s most impressive and worst-kept secrets. Plus, it’s relatively easy to do and suitable for in-shape beginners.
It’s about four miles roundtrip, and you can make the ascent and check out all of the flora and fauna along the way in about two hours. The waterfall is also a very popular and fun place to check out the local bird population or go mountain biking.
If you’re looking for a fun hike to do with the family, this one should be on your list. It’s also famous, appearing in blockbusters like Thor and Walter Mitty.
10. Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon
Plan two days for this amazing hike, and, if you can stomach it, go when the snow is falling. Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon have plenty of ice lagoons and even an ice cave to go explore.
But, aside from the polar parts of the earth, you likely will never get the chance to see an ice cave firsthand other than in Iceland. If you do go hiking in the winter, make sure that you take the proper supplies and dress in warm, waterproof layers.
Also, remember that hikes that are easier in the summertime are substantially more challenging when the mercury drops.
11. Laugavegur and Fimmorduhals Multi-Day Trek
This trail is so incredible that even National Geographic cited it as a must-visit. Although you will see plenty of amazing things, the Laugavegur and Fimmorduhals trek is not for the faint of heart.
Some parts of it are downright difficult, and the weather can be unpredictable in this part of the country. There’s also a reasonably significant altitude gain.
However, your reward will be a geothermal oasis, lava fields, and hot springs. It’s one of the most stunning trails in the country, and coming from Iceland, that’s certainly saying something.
12. Glymur Waterfall Trail
The Glymur Waterfall Trail is a lovely little loop right on the Western side of Iceland near Pyrill. Although it does have some challenging parts, and many people consider it reasonably difficult, the waterfall trail is certainly doable for most hikers.
It’s definitely one of the more rewarding hikes out there. In addition to the glorious terrain, there are also plenty of opportunities to bird-watch and see tons of different wildflowers, depending on which time of year you go.
Then, there’s the waterfall itself, which is one of the tallest in the country. It’s a lovely, otherworldly hike that will leave you breathless.
13. Mount Esja Hike
The Mount Esja hike is popular for a very good reason; it’s easily accessible for everyone and offers incredible scenic views that you really can’t beat.
Although the name is Mount Esja, the hike encompasses several different small volcanos so that you can expect different types of terrain and an enjoyable hike overall.
Plus, the summit overlooks Iceland’s capital, and there are plenty of restaurants nearby. One of the best aspects of this hike is that it fuses together convenience and nature. You can quickly get out of the city, do the hike, and return to celebrate your climb.
14. Snaefellenes Penninsula
In a country full of remote places, the Snaefellenes Penninsula might just be one of the remotest. However, it’s also arguably the best spot in the country to see the Aurora Borealis.
Generally, people make the hike in two days, although you can go for longer if you want to stop and check out the glaciers or simply soak in nature.
Those making this hike should consider getting a guide. It’s a remote, longer hike in cold terrain. Bring plenty of layers too. You never know what the weather will throw at you.
15. Northeast Iceland’s Seven Peaks
Finally, head to Northeast Iceland for the Seven Peaks hike. This hike is pretty challenging, and you need a guide; plus, it will stretch out over several days.
Since the Seven Peaks are challenging but rewarding, it’s a good idea to sit down with your guide to map your pace and trail.
The trail generally isn’t marked, and the Seven Peaks do require some technical skills, but most people think that it’s all worth it in the end. Plus, there are massive bragging rights for finishing all seven of them.
Things to Consider
Although Iceland is absolutely beautiful, it’s certainly no joke when it comes to trails. As such, you should respect the terrain and keep several things in mind if you want to summit, climb, and hike in safety.
Always remember that the weather can change rapidly in Iceland, so it’s a good idea to dress in layers. Plus, you might experience random rain or snow, depending on the altitude.
So keep weatherproof clothes with you at all times and always check the forecast. Also, Iceland is right near the Arctic Circle, so the days are much longer in the summer and barely there in the winter.
You should also research your trail in advance to determine if you need a guide or not.
Before hitting the trail, make sure that you let someone know where you are going and ensure that it suits your physical ability level. Smaller, well-marked day hikes are generally okay to go alone.
If you’re planning on doing multiple hikes around the country, renting a car is a good idea. Although public transportation is available, it tends to be pricy, and sometimes it’s just better to have the freedom of your own car.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before heading out to hike in a destination as impressive as Iceland, it’s good to clear up some frequently asked questions. Understanding what you’re in for will help you to have the best time possible and also stay safe and happy while hiking.
How difficult are Icelandic hikes?
The beauty of Iceland is that it offers hikes for all skill levels. It’s a good idea to do your research in advance, checking with other hikers or even apps like AllTrails to determine which hikes are best for you.
If you’re not sure if a hike is suitable, it’s a good idea to either skip it or go with a more experienced friend.
You should also take the time of year into account. Naturally, all hikes will be more difficult during the winter months than the summer ones.
Can I hike in Iceland by myself?
Generally speaking, you can hike safely in Iceland by yourself, although you will want to talk to a guide for more demanding trails.
Most of the easier, well-marked trails are very easy to traverse alone. However, if you’re going somewhere that’s very remote, or if you’re embarking on a multi-day journey, you will want to have a friend or guide.
Can I get by with English in Iceland?
Yes, you can get by with English in Iceland, especially in the larger cities. Many people are fluent in both Icelandic and English, and many people in the tourism sector also speak German or Danish. On the other hand, it never hurts to be polite and learn a few words in Icelandic.
Can I hike across Iceland?
Yes, you can hike across Iceland, although you will want to plan out your route and lodging in advance. There are several different routes to do it, and most of them take the better part of a month.
Although it’s safe to hike in Iceland, weather conditions and terrain can be really challenging for beginner hikers. If you are planning on hiking across Iceland, get a travel buddy to go with you, or at least tell someone where you are at all times.
How can I properly prepare for my hikes in Iceland?
Iceland can be cold, even during the summer months, so make sure to wear plenty of layers, good socks, and hiking boots. You will also want to pack away warm, thin gloves and a hat.
Make sure that you wear plenty of sunscreen, too, even during the winter and if you’re going on multi-day hikes, bring an extra pair of socks.
So, What are the Best Hikes in Iceland?
Determining the very best hikes in Iceland is fairly subjective to the hiker. However, since Iceland has so many different types of hikes for various fitness levels and needs, you’re sure to find something to fit your vacation style perfectly in Iceland.
Before you go, map out some of your must-do hikes, and plan your lodging around them. That way, you won’t waste any time exploring the great outdoors.