5 of Iceland’s Best Hiking and Trekking Trails

With hikes for all abilities, from easy day hikes to multi-day expeditions, Iceland has something for everybody. Here are five of the best.

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Photo © iStock/maroznc

The Laugavegur Multi-Day Trek

The 34mi (55 km) hike between Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk is doable in four to five days – most hikers stay in overnight cabins along the way. This is one of Iceland’s most popular treks and for good reason – the views are simply stunning.

Start the trek in Landmannalaugar where you can explore hot springs, rhyolite mountains, and vast fields of lava. You’ll find yourself hiking past colorful mountains, crossing raging rivers, exploring lush green valleys, and passing fascinating rock formations on your way to Þórsmörk.

Laugavegur Trek. Photo credit: iStock

Glymur Waterfall Day Hike

If you’re not keen on a multi-day hike but do want to do something epic, consider hiking to the second-highest waterfall in Iceland. Glymur is located at the end of Hvalfjörður (the Whale Fjord) and it’s a fairly easy three-to-four-hour hike to get up there.

Hiking to Glymur. Photo credit: iStock

Laugavegur & Fimmvorduhals Multi-Day Trek

This four-to-eight-day trek was recently named one of the world’s best hiking trails by National Geographic and passes through some of the most diverse and beautiful scenery in all of Iceland. Cross glacial rivers, chill out in a geothermal hot tub, and get up close and personal with some of Iceland’s most pristine glaciers.

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Hvannadalsnukur Summit Day Hike

The highest peak in Iceland at 6,920ft (2,110m), Hvannadalsnukur involves a challenging 10-to-15-hour hike across difficult glacial terrain and gaping crevasses. Hvannadalsnukur towers above Vatnajökull glacier, the largest glacier by volume in Europe, and offers stunning views.

Mount Esja Day Hike

One of the easiest and certainly the most accessible hike in Iceland, Esja is within spitting distance of Reykjavik itself and can be conquered in just a few hours. If you’re very short on time while in Iceland, this is the hike to aim for.

Hiking Moutn Esja. Photo credit: iStock

Top Tips for Happy Hiking

Keep an eye on the weather. The weather in Iceland can change rapidly and without warning. Bring multiple layers of windproof, waterproof clothing and make sure you have a hat, down jacket, and snacks in case you have to wait out a bad patch of weather.

It’s crucial to take into consideration the wind chill which can make you feel a lot colder – no matter when you travel in Iceland, carry windproof, waterproof, and insulated clothing with you.  

Bear in mind the length of the days. In the summer, there can be up to 23 hours of daylight. In the winter, there are sometimes only 4 hours of daylight, so plan accordingly.

Pack the right gear. For any hiking adventure, a proper backpack with a good hip belt is essential. Decent hiking boots or shoes are also crucial and well worth investing in. The most important thing to remember is proper clothing to protect you from the elements.

For some hikes, you may need crampons and ice axes – do your own research before you rock up at a trailhead.

Plan ahead. If you’re hiking in the Highlands, call the mountain huts along your route to get up-to-date intel on the current conditions. If you’re going on an ambitious multi-day trek, it’s worth investing in a GPS.

Supplies and accommodation. One of the best things about Iceland is that you can almost always find a clear running stream to fill up your water bottle, so you’re unlikely to have any problems with drinking water.

It can be much harder to find shops selling food or basic supplies, especially when hiking so be sure to plan ahead and pack plenty of snacks and meals for your journey.

If you’re camping, you will have to carry all your gear. This is a great way to save money, but on most of the multi-day treks, there are affordable mountain huts where you can stay. These will be a lot more comfortable and, of course, save you from carrying camping gear. You’ll still need to bring a sleeping bag as most mountain huts do not provide blankets or bed linen.

Want to know more about Iceland? Check out our podcast. We chat about where to capture the best photos in Iceland, how to speak like a Viking (almost), and how a social policy got them to the World Cup

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