Thanks to the wide variety of landscapes and wide open spaces just perfect for long hikes, Iceland is one of the top countries in the world for trekking enthusiasts.
Many treks are possible in Iceland, but some really shouldn't be missed.
A few essential links before you start:
In this article, we will discuss:
It is essential to prepare carefully and deliberately for a trek in Iceland. You may have experience in other countries, but here conditions can be very difficult, even in summer. Rain, wind, or snow can strike out of nowhere at any point in your trek, even in the middle of July in some areas inland, and as the name suggests, Iceland can be freezing cold...
In addition, Iceland is a country of peaks and gorges and the elevations can be significant, so you'll need to be in top physical condition to complete certain treks.
The vast majority of hikers prepare their trek independently and want to conquer the elements alone, but you can easily find a trekking guide with packages including overnight stays in shelters (see specific trek details near the end of the article).
Clearly, the best period for trekking is summer, July and August. The rest of the year most shelters are closed and the weather conditions are unfavourable to safe hiking and some trails are simply impossible (mud, snow, etc.).
Tour companies and professionals themselves stick to the summer for organized treks.
★★★★★ - Duration: 4 days - 55 km
This is without a doubt the most famous trek in Iceland. Also known as “Laugavegur” or “Laugavegurinn”, literally the “trail of the hot springs”, this trek takes you through incredible lunar landscapes with the rhyolite mountains, ash deserts, and hot springs of the Landmannalaugar region before a complete reversal in Thörsmork or "Thor's woods" with lush greenery, colourful canyons, and birch forests.
If that's not enough, keep going after Skogafoss for an extra 3 days with the Fimmvörðuháls trek.
Below are the different stages of this trek:
If you prefer to take this trek with a guided group:
★★★★★ - Duration: 2 days - 25 km
The Fimmvörðuháls trek is a difficult mountain trail that cuts between two major glaciers in the south of the country: Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. The trail starts at the Skogafoss waterfall in southern Iceland and winds its way up to the Thörsmork Valley.
Starting from Skogafoss over several kilometers you will encounter no less than 22 waterfalls before slipping between the two large glaciers. The landscape already out of this world at this point, and you haven't even seen Thörsmork's garden of Eden!
While some hikers attempt the trek in one day, most do it in two with a stop at a refuge halfway.
★★★★ - Duration: 5 days - 96 km
Askja is another mythical place in Iceland. The famous volcano is known for its lake Öskjuvatn and the Viti crater with its balmy warm waters. This trek departs from Herðubreiðarlindir at the foot of Herðubreið. The stages then take you to the Dreki refuge before crossing the Askja caldera.
The different stages:
★★★★★ - Duration: 3 days - 36 km
There are plenty of fantastic treks in this completely isolated region in the northwest of Iceland. 2 or 3-day expeditions are possible, and even some full 7-day adventures. The great classic is the 3-day trek from Aðalvík to Hornvík.
One of the most beautiful treks in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve starts from the famous Hornvik Bay and crosses this wild wonderland heading south to Veiðileysufjörður.
The different steps:
★★★★★ - Duration: 3 days - 43 km
Head to the eastern fjords for landscapes you won't find on most other treks. The Borgarfjörður Eystri and Seydisfjörður Eystri fjords in particular are among the most beautiful in Iceland.
These coastal regions are full of hikes and treks on and around the Dyrfjoll Mountains and the nearby rhyolite mountains. The views are incredible, and the trek from Seyðisfjörður to Borgarfjörður Eystri is particularly appreciated by enthusiasts.
★★★★ - Duration: 2 days - 33 km
You should know that this particular gauntlet is an official trail for one of the most extreme hiking competitions called the Jökulsárhlaup, which takes place every year in August. Jökulsárgljúfur Park, where the Dettifoss waterfalls and the Asbyrgi Canyon are located, is a real must-see in Iceland.
The landscapes along this punishing trail alternate between rugged desertic expanses and lush flora in every shade of green. It departs from the Asbyrgi Gorge with its vivid vegetation, takes you along shimmering lagoons, to finally land in a whole other type of desert around the famous Dettifoss waterfall.
The stages of the trek: