A Complete Guide to Hiking in Iceland

Iceland’s spectacular scenery is almost hypnotic to look at. But for a truly immersive experience, you have to head into these landscapes and feel the beauty truly come to life.

It’s no surprise, then, that Iceland welcomes hikers from all around the world!

From glaciers to lava fields to breathtaking waterfalls, hiking in the Land of Fire and Ice brings you face-to-face with some of nature’s most awe-inspiring wonders.

While we don’t offer any guided hikes on land as such, thrilling glacier hikes are among our most popular adventure trips and courses in Iceland — but more on them below!

If you have any questions about our adventures, please get in touch for the answers you need.

For now, though, let’s continue with our complete guide to hiking in Iceland.

Getting Ready for Your Hike in Iceland

The key to a successful Icelandic hiking adventure lies in smart preparation. 

Begin by packing sturdy waterproof boots, moisture-wicking clothing, and layers to combat the ever-changing weather. 

Don’t forget essentials like a reliable rain jacket, a hat, multiple pairs of gloves, and a backpack stocked with water, energy snacks, and a first aid kit. 

Our weather is famously unpredictable, so it’s wise to prepare for all conditions!

Are you hoping to see the Aurora Borealis while you’re here? Check out our guide to chasing the Northern Lights in South Iceland for plenty of local tips.

Iceland’s Most Popular Hiking Regions

Iceland’s diverse landscapes offer a variety of hiking terrains to suit every explorer’s preference.

From the mystical Snæfellsnes Peninsula in the west to the lunar-like Highlands covering our country’s core, each region has its own charm. 

Vatnajökull National Park in southeast Iceland also has an array of natural features and wonders to astound hikers of all levels. 

With its rich biodiversity, towering ice caps, and awe-inspiring vistas, it’s a paradise for nature enthusiasts.

Read our adventurer’s guide to Vatnajökull National Park to discover more about this otherworldly place.

Must-Visit Hiking Trails in Iceland

Just a small selection of Iceland’s must-visit hiking trails include:

  • Svartifoss Trail: Set in the stunning surroundings of Vatnajökull National Park, this trail is short but moderately challenging. Witness the striking Svartifoss waterfall surrounded by basalt columns, a sight that has inspired Icelandic architecture for centuries.
  • Fimmvörðuháls Pass: This trail offers an unforgettable hike between two glaciers, Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. Experience the dramatic shift from moss-covered valleys to lunar-like landscapes and witness the scars left by volcanic eruptions.
  • Laugavegur Trail: A visual feast that takes you through colourful rhyolite mountains, geothermal valleys, and stunning landscapes that are sure to leave you awestruck.

But don’t just take our word for it. National Geographic included both Fimmvörðuháls Pass and Laugavegur Trail on their list of the world’s best hikes!

You can also combine the two trails to tackle the Grand Laugavegur, a challenging 80km trail through the diverse landscapes of the Icelandic highlands.

Other outstanding hiking spots worth your consideration include:

  • Hornstrandir Nature Reserve: Iceland’s northernmost peninsula
  • Seven Peaks of North East Iceland: Earn the title of ​​Seyðisfjörður Mountain Viking
  • Landmannalaugar: Beautiful, colourful landscape in Fjallabak Nature Reserve
  • Reykjadalur: Trail leading up a valley to a picturesque natural hot spring
  • Thakgil: Choose the red, yellow, or purple trail for amazing views
  • Glymur: Enjoy an adventurous hike to the scenic Glymur Waterfall 
  • Kjolur: Can you take on this physically demanding 48.5km hike?
  • Mount Esjan: scale this 914m peak to the north of Reykjavik

You must always research any trails you plan to hike carefully to ensure you have the required fitness to enjoy them and to make sure that the trail is open when you visit.

And Don’t Forget Glacier Hiking in Iceland!

No Icelandic adventure is complete without a glacier experience — and glacier hiking is an adventure that you’ll never forget!

Join us on a glacier hiking expedition where you’ll tread upon ancient ice, explore jaw-dropping ice caves, and marvel at crystal-clear ice formations. 

Feel the thrill of venturing into the heart of Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier by volume, with our experienced guides leading the way.

Check out our full-day Vatnajökull Glacier hike in Iceland and find out more about the adventure waiting for you! 

Planning Your Hike in Iceland

Careful planning ensures a smooth and enjoyable hiking experience, be it on land or a glacier.

Research trail maps, distances, and elevation gains before setting out. Secure any necessary permits you may need and check trail conditions, as they can change rapidly. 

Always keep an eye on the weather forecast and make sure to inform someone about your plans. 

If you’ve got your eyes set on conquering a glacier, the team at Ice Guardians is here every step of the way during the planning process.

In the days before your hike, we keep you updated on expected weather conditions, ensuring you bring the appropriate clothing.

Our local guides are trained to navigate Iceland’s challenging terrain and unpredictable conditions, so we know how to create a safe and fun environment. This includes providing essential safety gear.

And during the hike itself, our passionate and experienced guides share their wealth of ecological, geographical, and historical knowledge for the kind of in-depth tour you can’t find anywhere else.

Looking for even more travel ideas? Read our tips for putting together an Iceland south coast itinerary, including must-visit destinations.

Sustainable Hiking in Iceland

Preserving Iceland’s pristine beauty is a responsibility we all share. Stay on marked trails to minimize your impact on fragile ecosystems and respect wildlife habitats. 

Pack out all waste and avoid disturbing local flora and fauna. 

We actively promote “Leave No Trace” principles to ensure future generations can revel in the same wonders that captivated us today.

Make Unforgettable Memories On an Iceland Adventure Tour!

We hope you’ve found this guide to hiking in Iceland inspirational and informative! 

If it’s stirred your wanderlust and you’re looking for even more outdoor activities in the Land of Fire and Ice, check out our range of adventure tours and courses in Iceland.

From canyoning to ice climbing to exploring ice caves, let us guide you through an authentic Icelandic adventure!
Do you have any questions about our excursions? Please contact us for all the information you need.

Leave a Reply