Hiking In Iceland
With a landscape as diverse as Iceland the small volcanic island in the North Atlantic has become a hiker’s paradise. Maybe when you first think of Iceland you think of relaxing in the hot springs or exploring the glaciers but delve a little further into things to do in Iceland and you will find hiking in Iceland is increasing in popularity. From colourful mountains to lava fields, glacial lakes to black sands Iceland’s landscape is not only spectacular but also challenging and can be compared to some of the hiking trails in the Himalayas, especially in winter time. As you can probably guess hiking in Iceland is most popular during summer time but the shorter day and weekend hikes can be completed during the winter months depending on conditions.
If hiking isn’t your thing but you’d still love to explore the Icelandic countryside then you should consider Horse riding in Iceland, a great way to great out and explore the countryside from a different perspective. With many hiking trails to choose from across Iceland we have provided an overview on the most popular, but remember when choosing a hiking trail, keep in mind your level of fitness, experience and knowledge of hiking in changing conditions.
The Laugavegur Trek
The 55km Laugavegur trail which runs between Landmannalaugar and Thorsmork is just as popular with locals as it is with tourists and has become one of the most spectacular hiking trails across the world. The trek takes between 4-5 days and involves staying in wooden huts along the way, you can camp but you, of course, have to carry your own equipment. The difficulty of the trek depends on the weather but always be prepared and pack for the unexpected as the weather can be unpredictable. What attracts visitors to the trail is the variety and beauty of the landscapes, colourful rhyolite mountains, steaming hot springs, glaciers, rivers and lakes can all be viewed along the hike providing some stunning photo opportunities along the way.
Once you’ve completed the Laugavegur trek and arrived safely in Thorsmark if you have the energy you can extend your trek for a further day by hiking to Skógar via the Fimmvorduhals trail. The trail is a demanding hike which takes around 10 hours to complete, covering a distance of around 23km. After the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, the hike increased in popularity due to the eruption forming a new mountain with smoke still rising from the hot ground. Word has it that hikers on the trail cook their lunch along the way by wrapping the food in tin foil and burying it in the ground.
Mount Esja Trek
Often called the ‘city mountain’ due to its close proximity to Reykjavik, Mount Esja dominates the northern Reykjavik skyline and has become a popular destination for a 7km day hike departing from the city. There is a range of well-worn trails across the mountain range all clearly sign posted and graded for difficulty. The majority of hikers don’t quite reach the top of the mountain but stop around 200m below the summit at a place called Steinn, where the views on a clear day are out of this world. Trails beyond Steinn to the summit are steep in places and can become dangerous if weather conditions change but very achievable if you’re fit and sensible.
Glymur Waterfall Trail
Glymur waterfall is the second highest waterfall in Iceland and while popular with tourists it’s not visited as much as the waterfalls of Seljalandfoss or Skogafoss, why may you ask? Because there are no paved roads leading right up to the waterfall like the others. To be able to visit Glymur waterfall it requires a 5km hike across varied landscapes. The trail becomes steep in places and involves a crossing of the river that runs from the Glymur waterfall, but it is clearly marked and you will meet other people on the trail. It’s worth the small effort once you set your sights on this breathtaking waterfall. If you are after more of a challenge you can carry on up the mountain cross another river and descend back down the other side of the waterfall. Unfortunately, you won’t get a view of the waterfall from this side.
Hveragerdi Hot Spring Trail
No hike in Iceland wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a hot spring and the Hveragerdi trails provide just that, making it one of the most popular treks in Iceland. The 17km trail begins from the town of Hveragerdi leading to a geothermal river where you can bathe, relax and take in the stunning surrounding of the Icelandic landscape. The trial is easy going and no experience is needed. The trail can become busy in the summer for obvious reasons so if you want the hot springs to yourself, try and start as early as possible. Hveragerdi is relatively close to Reykjavik and can be reached by public transport making the trail easily accessible.
Have you ever hiked in Iceland? Leave a comment in the section below, we’d love to find out how you got on and which trek you completed.