Iceland is a paradise for trekkers and hikers and walkers of all kinds. From leisurely 2-hour hikes to multi-day marathon treks, Iceland is full of twisting, crisscrossing trails in incredibly varied landscapes.
Specialist of the field are often quoted saying Iceland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world for hikers. Trails are countless and well-maintained, especially in national parks and nature reserves.
Since Iceland's nature is fragile and tourism has grown immensely in the country, you really need to respect the rules and stay on marked trails so as not to damage fragile ecosystems.
First things first, this very detailed hiking map was designed by iceland-dream.com and is updated all the time with the best hikes in the country:
Check out these articles for our favorite hikes and treks:
For many years now this reference book has been the gold standard for hikers in the country and lists about sixty of the best: the Rother guide:
Shelter and weather information websites in Iceland:
While some short hikes are very easy, others require a rather high level of physical endurance. Whatever you do, don't go out hiking on monster trails in Iceland without doing your research, especially for multi-day treks that require proper organization and training.
There are shelters in the highlands designed for long treks with over-night stops, but these are rare and can get crowded, so it is essential to check first on the official fi.is website.
It is of course essential, especially for long hikes, to get accurate weather data before leaving, especially since the weather changes very quickly in Iceland and can really rain on your parade.
In terms of equipment, here are some essentials:
While you can hike technically at any time of the year in Iceland, most are only possible in summer.
The Icelandic winter is rough and the days are short, and the road conditions do not allow for long drives. Most secondary roads are simply closed in winter, making it impossible to get to the inland areas where the trails are most numerous.
Those who wish to hike within the island or on the glaciers in winter should know that these are usually organized tours with professional guides.
The preferred period for those who want to hike without a guide is therefore summer, from May to September for so-called “short” day hikes. But for the more adventurous trekkers and hikers, the long days from early July to September are best.
While hiking trails can be found absolutely everywhere in Iceland, some regions are better than others, with more trails or more beautiful trails, as is the case for:
While all of these have amazing hiking trails, some are known for their much more intensive treks, such as Landmannalaugar, Thorsmork, the Eastern Fjords or Hornstrandir.
Landmannalaugar is simply the best region for hikes and treks in Iceland. The landscapes are some of the most beautiful in the world and if you had to choose only one region for hiking, we would recommend this one. Besides its incredibly colorful rhyolite mountains, the region is also known for its hot springs and having the best-known trek in Iceland which leads to the Thorsmörk region in 4 days and can even be extended to Skogafoss.
The Thorsmork region is just as beautiful. The landscapes found along the trek are unforgettable with their birch forests (extremely rare in Iceland), black sand deserts, volcanic phenomena, solfatares and other fumaroles, and finally the splendid multicolored Landmannalaugar mountains.
Skaftafell Park is one of the most popular parks for hikers. It is located in the south of Iceland and is very easy to get to. There are numerous very well-marked hiking trails and this time in completely different setting, a world of waterfalls, greenery, and glaciers!
The Myvatn region is one of the most touristic regions in Iceland because there is so much to see. There are scores of hiking trails concentrated in a radius of about 50 km around the lake. The landscapes alternate between lakes, lush flora, and lava fields...
In the eastern fjords you can enjoy hikes of beautifully contrasting and varied landscapes. Here, you'll see waterfalls, meadows, fjords, and mountains. This variety is particularly pronounced near Seydisfjörður or Borgarfjörður Eystri. And Viknasloðir and its treks are among the most beautiful in the country. Altogether there are dozens of hiking trails in the region.
Often compared to Landmannalaugar, but less well known because it is more isolated, the Kerlingarfjöll region is nevertheless one of Iceland's treasures. The site offers numerous well-marked hikes and trails that traverse snowy rhyolite mountains with scattered fumaroles, a real slice of paradise.
Accessible even in winter, the peninsula is known for its many short and user-friendly hikes that are nevertheless magnificent. Many of them have the famous Snaefellsjökull volcano in the background, which dominates the area. And in the Snaefellsjökull National Park you can actually ascent the volcano to see the incredible panorama from the top.
While all the western fjords have a many hiking trails, the Hornstrandir region at the far north of the fjords and accessible only by boat, is quite simply a dream for trekking enthusiasts. Indeed, it is in this region cut off from the world and inhabited only by birds and polar foxes that you can do two of the Iceland's most mythical treks, one in 7 days from Grunnavík to Hesteyri, the other from Aðalvík to Hornvik in 3 days.