Six of Iceland's Best Hiking Trails

Take a walk on the wild side with our favourite hiking trails in Iceland. Expect easy, scenic mountain strolls near Reykjavík, hot-spring baths in the Southern Highlands and routes that scale glaciers and volcanoes. Crampons required.

Moss-covered slopes. Jagged glaciers. Geothermal springs. Iceland's famous ring road may join the dots between the country's postcard-worthy attractions, but this land of extremes wasn't made to be experienced from behind a car window. Step off the beaten track and onto a vast network of trails from which you'll hear the quiet rumble of a volcano, spot scampering Arctic foxes and feel the spray of canyon waterfalls.

We've pulled together some of our favourite hikes, including scenic mountain strolls near Reykjavík, hot-spring baths in the Southern Highlands and an Ironman-esque endurance test scaling the crevasses of Iceland's biggest glacier. Outdoor enthusiast? You'll want your crampons for this one.

A walk on the wild side: six of Iceland's most beautiful hiking trails


Best for: sky-scratching views and adrenaline thrills

Duration: 10-15 hours

Standing at a knee-shaking 2,110m tall, Hvannadalshnúkur is Iceland's highest peak and the crown jewel of this fabled country's hiking trails. Although you won't need any previous experience (all hikes to the top must be guided), summiting the peak does require a hearty amount of guts and stamina - the mountain is set across Iceland's largest glacier, which also happens to hide an active volcano tucked under its ice sheet. Most of the climb is on snow-covered trails scored with icy crevasses, so all hikers must trek with a harness, crampons and an ice axe. Don't let this put you off - views from the top offer a mesmerising, whitewashed glimpse across the Atlantic.


Best for: volcanic craters and scenic stays

Duration: 1-2 days

Starting at the top of Skógafoss waterfall, the Fimmvörduháls trail combines the best of Iceland's dramatic scenery in one trek - wind-beaten canyon waterfalls, wild volcanic moonscapes and craggy mountain passes that snake along the river and up to snow-brushed peaks. Once at the top, either spend the night in a timber-clad mountain hut or descend back down through Thórsmörk valley, passing scenic gorges, glaciers and lava formations along the way.

Glymur Waterfall

Best for: hidden caves

Duration: 4-6 hours

This trek to Iceland's second-tallest waterfall takes you far away from the often overcrowded roads that lead to other popular waterfalls, and instead winds through a steep gorge, over two river crossings and up to a beautiful hidden cave. Known as the spot where inhabitants of the fjord would traditionally hang their laundry when it was raining, the cave's name literally translates as "Laundry Cave" and offers breathtaking views of the neighbouring canyon and its surroundings. Don't worry if you're not feeling up to the full trek to the top of the waterfall, there are still great views after only an hour or so of hiking.


Best for: kaleidoscopic mountains and hot-spring baths

Duration: various

Set across the Southern Highlands, Landmannalaugar woos photography enthusiasts and nature lovers with its multicoloured rhyolite mountains, geothermal hot springs and jet-black lava fields. Offering three major hikes from its spiderweb of trails, including a one-hour mountainous jaunt and a four-hour trek past a cavernous crater lake, the area's diverse terrain and panoramic vistas are guaranteed to satisfy all hiking tastes and abilities.

Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Best for: edge-of-the-word seclusion (and Arctic foxes)

Duration: 2-6 days

One of Europe's last true wilderness areas, Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is a vast expanse of Arctic tundra, chiselled mountains and jagged bird cliffs found in the Westfjords of north-west Iceland. The area is so remote that it can only be accessed by boat and there's no infrastructure in sight, so all travellers must be completely self-reliant. Come here for isolation and you won't be disappointed - hikers often go for days without seeing anyone other than the area's bashful snow-white Arctic foxes, Iceland's only native land mammal.

Mount Esja

Best for: views over Reykjavík and beyond

Duration: 2-4 hours

Sitting within touching distance of Reykjavík, Mount Esja is a honeypot for day-trippers looking to get the best views of Iceland within easy reach of the capital. With a handful of different trails catering to all hiking abilities, the mountain seems as though it was sculpted with hikers in mind - either take the easier, less steep trail through a clutch of small forests up to Steinn viewpoint, or choose a shorter, more strenuous climb up. Once at the top, views stretch far across this colourful pocket-sized capital and out to the lattice of tiny islands beyond.

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