I have written before of my first impressions of Iceland being a bit ordinary, mainly due to poor weather. I was frustrated in my desire to to hiking in Iceland’s much vaunted scenery. After all more than half of the country is over 400 metres and the violence of nature has shaped a unique landscape. You could say I have unfinished business with Iceland.
In my view the only way to experience the true beauty of a county is to get out of your vehicle and walk. From epic trails and adventurous multi-day hikes to challenging day walks, you know I love hiking. Especially where the thrilling scenery draws you along (so the tough elements of the trek make a great story in the pub afterwards)! Hikes where my camera flies to my hands every five minutes and I have a strong sense of achievement at the end.
Here are the top five treks in Iceland that are still on my bucket list and give me an excellent reason for travelling to Iceland again:
The Laugavegur Trek
This is Iceland hiking’s star attraction, a 55-kilometre, four or five day walk between Landmannalaugar and Porsmork that is rich in mountains, rivers and green valleys. There are cabins to stay in along the Laugavegur Trek or you can camp along the way. As always in Iceland you will need to carry your own food.
Photo: Iceland Tourism
This is really an extension of the above, carrying on from Porsmork to Skogar – 23 kilometres that takes about 10 hours to walk. A major attraction is that it takes you past the Eyjafjallajokull volcano (yes that one), where the ground is still warm but nature is already covering her tracks.
Glymur Waterfall Hike
What’s not to like about a walk to a waterfall. Especially a stunning Icelandic waterfall that plunges nearly 200 metres into a lush green valley. It is well marked and there is a cave and a river crossing to keep things interesting on the climb up to the top.
This summit day walk is easily accessible from Reykjavik as you can catch a local bus to the foot of the mountain and there are awesome views from the top. The Esjan hike would be an excellent warm up for the abovementioned longer treks.
Photo: Iceland Tourism
Hornstrandir in the Westfjords
Hiking doesn’t get any more remote than this. The Westfjord area of Iceland can only be reached by boat. This is a fabulous nature reserve, barely populated, where the fjords cut into the basalt mountains and you will see many sea birds and seals.
Tips for hiking in Iceland
- Ask at local tourist information offices for local trails because Iceland has an impressive network of hiking options.
- There are mountain huts in place for multi-day and overnight hikes. These will often need to be booked in peak hiking months (summer) and on popular treks.
- There are often camping facilities but no wild camping is permitted in the nature reserves.
- Make sure to register your hiking plans for safety.
- Carry appropriate equipment for the terrain and all possible weather conditions. Anything can happen in the mountains.
- Also carry enough food, including at least one day of extra food. The water from streams is often safe to drink.
- Take a look at my hiking in New Zealand post for tips on what to pack for a hiking trip and how to prepare for a multi-day hike.
by Natasha von Geldern