The best 5 hikes in Iceland, amazing land of ice and fire

Iceland

There is no other place on Earth like Iceland, with its spectacular, otherworldly landscapes and amazing natural wonders. This incredible land of ice and fire is a real paradise for hikers of all kind! So, if you are looking for a destination with endless and exciting hiking trails, this country is definitely the place to go.

Iceland offers a unique mix of impressive volcanoes and glaciers, hot springs and beautiful waterfalls. You will also find incredible black sand deserts, lava fields, beautiful fjords, mountains and lakes. And as if all that wasn’t enough, you can also watch the magical Northern Lights!

Best Hikes in Iceland
The wild beauty and immensity of Iceland’s scenery at the Laugavegur Trail. Photo: Jan Zelina (Icelandic Mountain Guides)

Exploring Iceland on foot is also an extraordinary opportunity to witness the mighty forces of Earth in action, as it is still volcanically and geologically active. So, if you come to Iceland, you will discover the desolate beauty of some of the youngest landscapes in the world.

Whether you are looking for an easy day hike or a challenging multi-day trek, Iceland has something for everyone. There are endless hiking trails of all levels of difficulty, from really demanding ones to easy strolls in the countryside.

It is important to be aware, however, that Icelandic terrain and rapidly changing weather conditions make for some added risks. While in the Alps, for example, you might go for a day walk by yourself, we strongly recommend hiring a guide when trekking in Iceland, even for a short hike. Also, make sure you listen to locals’ advice when it comes to weather, what to wear and trail conditions.

But with so many incredible hiking trails in offer, choosing one is no easy task. To help you, Explore-Share.com has put together a list of the best 5 hikes in Iceland. Check it out and pick your next adventure!

Laugavegur Trail

The Laugavegur 5-day trek is one of the most extraordinary walking trails on the planet. It is also the most famous multi-day hike in Iceland. If you enjoy challenges and are an experienced hiker, this trek is perfect for you.

The Laugavegur 55-km hiking trail runs between the geothermal paradise of Landmannalaugar and the beautiful highland valley of Thorsmork. It will take you along black sand deserts, icy glacier caps and ryhyolite hills. During this 5-day hike, you will also see glaciers, geysers and hot springs — all in one trek!

Best Hikes in Iceland
Extraordinary landscapes at the Laugavegur Trail. Photo: Jan Zelina (Icelandic Mountain Guides)

The trail is usually open from mid-June until the end of September, depending on the snow conditions. There are comfortable mountain huts  along the way to spend the night.

Be aware, however, that there are no shops on the trail and weather is highly unpredictable. You should therefore make sure you have good hiking boots, warm clothes and all the food you will need.

Fimmvorduhals Hiking Trail

This is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime hiking experience. It’s also one of the most challenging hikes in Iceland — an adventure reserved for the brave. ¿The reward? Enjoying the most fascinating variety of landscapes in just one day. The Fimmvorduhals Trail was also voted one of the world’s best hiking trails by National Geographic Magazine.

Best hikes in Iceland
Fimmvorduhals Trek, a challenging experience for brave hikers. Photo: Icelandic Mountain Guides

This demanding hike is about 25-kilometers long and involves a climb of about 1000 meters. Usually, you will cover it in 8 to 10 hours. Along the way, you will pass about 23 beautiful waterfalls!

The hike will take you to southern Iceland, to the area between the glaciers of Eyjafjallajökull and Myrdalsjokull. The trail starts at the Skogafoss waterfall and finishes in the beautiful valley of Thorsmork.

The famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in 2010, spreading its ashes across Europe and disrupting air travel. You will also have the opportunity to see Magni and Modi, two of the youngest craters in the world, formed after this eruption. You will even see smoke rising from the still warm soil!

The best time for this trek is during the summer, from mid-June until the end of August. And if you are in very good shape, you could also climb the Eyjafjallajökull in a 1-day tour and observe the effects of the eruption firsthand.

Best hikes in Iceland
Volcanic craters on the Fimmvorduhals Trek. Photo: Icelandic Mountain Guides

Glymur Waterfall

This 1-day hike of moderate difficulty will take you to Glymur, Iceland’s second highest waterfall, at 198 meters. The starting point of the trail is located about an hour away from Reykjavik, near the beautiful Hvalfjordur fjord.

Best Hikes in Iceland
A beautiful hiking trail takes you to Glymur Waterfall. Photo: Matito (Flickr)

This enjoyable short hike is a local favorite and takes about 3 hours. To start, a magical trail takes you through lush and green landscapes. Then, across Thvottahellir, an alluring and breathtaking lava cave. It was used in ancient times by the inhabitants of the fjord to hang their laundry.

You will also go through a river and enjoy amazing views of green canyons of incredible beauty along the way. With every step you take, you’ll discover an even more stunning sight.

The trail to Glymur waterfall is quite adventurous. You will find quite a few slippery and steep areas on the trail, but don’t worry as there are ropes to offer support.

This short outing is suitable for everyone over the age of 10 in average physical condition. Above all, it is the perfect day hike right out of Reykjavík. This hike is usually available from mid-May until mid-September.

Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

If you are naturally drawn to the farthest corners of the map, the stunning Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is your hiking spot. This amazing reserve is located in the northernmost region of the Western Fjords.

The Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is an untouched place of spectacular natural beauty. There are over 260 flower species growing here! This remote and serene wild area is also home to a great variety of wildlife.

Best hikes in Iceland
Over 260 flower species grow in the wonderful Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Photo: Icelandic Mountain Guides.

Its incredible terrain made of cloud banks and sheer cliffs will make you think you are out of this world! The combination of wildlife and stunning scenery make this an incredible hiking experience.

The trek starts in the village of Hesteyri, over the waterfronts of the northern coast, and takes you through cliffs and impressive mountain passes along the way, among extraordinarily wild scenery.

This 5-day hike in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is suitable for hikers in very good shape. The average walking time per day is about 3 to 7 hours. During the trip, you will stay in tents and in mountain huts.

This hike is available during the summer months. And if you have more time available, there is also an 8-day hiking tour in the reserve. Otherwise you can also go on a 1-day guided hike around the reserve.

Northern lights and glacier walk

The incredible Northern Lights are a magical natural phenomenon that you must see at least once in your life.

This trek will take you about 11 to 12 hours. First, you will go to the Sólheimajökull glacier tongue for a short walk across the ice field.

Best hikes in Iceland
Walking on the Sólheimajökull glacier. Photo: Icelandic Mountain Guides

Then, you will stop by the impressive Skógafoss waterfall. You might even see a rainbow there! And finally, after dinner, you will go out searching for the amazing Northern Lights.

Best hikes in Iceland
The spectacular Northern Lights and the the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, which is lit up at night in the wintertime. Photo: Icelandic Mountain Guides

This great tour offers a sample of some of the many Icelandic wonders and is available from September to mid-April.

This is a list of what we consider the best hikes in Iceland. But there are so many more amazing places to discover! Take a look, for instance, at this incredible 15-day wilderness trek in Northern Ireland. Or check out another great classic: the 5-day Vatnajökull backpacking guided hiking tour — it covers about 65 km through impressive glaciers, waterfalls, natural pools and lava valleys.

So what are you waiting for? Contact a certified guide, book your trip and start planning an unforgettable hiking experience in wonderful and unique Iceland! You can also take a look at all the other exciting guided hiking trips in Iceland we offer at Explore&Share.