Iceland is a country known for its breathtaking landscapes and natural beauty. The Land of Fire and Ice was shaped by volcanic activity and as a result, we have some of the most unique scenery you'll find anywhere in the world. Hiking in Iceland is extremely popular, especially in areas like Landmannalaugar. This zone at the base of the Icelandic Highlands is filled with numerous hiking trails and natural hot springs.
Hiking in Iceland
Because there are so many different locations and ways to go hiking in Iceland, there truly is something for everyone. Whether you want to know where to go for the best short hikes or prefer a multi-day expedition, our beautiful little island has you covered. Outdoor enthusiasts will fall in love with both hiking in the summer as well as winter hikes.
Hiking is a great way to slow down and take in the views surrounding you. Many travelers who come to visit Iceland spend their time driving around the Ring Road and making stops at major attractions. Rather than doing adventure activities and sightseeing, deciding to go hiking for a day or several days will really get you up close and personal with Iceland’s nature and breathtaking landscapes. You'll see volcanic moss up close as well as be able to truly take in the full views of glacier-capped volcanoes.
Best hikes in Iceland: The Laugavegur Trail in Landmannalaugar
Landmannalaugar is where you will find the best hiking trails in Iceland hands down. Hiking in the area includes Iceland's most famous trekking route, the Laugavegur trail and its signature mountain huts. This hiking destination is a favorite among experienced hikers and novices alike. From the rhyolite mountainous scenery to charred volcanic lava fields, Landmannalaugar has some of the best hiking routes in Iceland.
Best day hikes in Iceland
Some of the best day hikes in Iceland can be found in our national parks. From Vatnajökull National Park to the hiking trails in Snæfellsjökull, there are plenty to choose from. One of our popular hikes for a day trek in the West fjords is the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. This is one of the day hikes in Iceland that allows you to get up-close-and-personal with Icelandic nature. You might even spot a rare and beautiful Arctic fox while out on the trail.
You'll also find some nice places to go hiking in East Iceland, but the West is much more remote and therefore truly untouched.
Best hiking in Iceland near Reykjavik
Of course many people want to know some of the best day hikes and short hikes near Reykjavik. This is only natural given that it's the capital city and the place where all of our international visitors arrive to and depart from.
If you're looking to go hiking in South Iceland, here are a couple that you can easily do as a full-day or half-day excursion. You'll find some of the best hiking in Iceland near Reykjavik located in the South.
The Reykjadalur Trail is quite easy to get to and is the easier option among the two that I recommend. The terrain is quite flat or slightly sloping. You’ll want to take your Iceland campervan rental on the Ring Road towards the town of Hveragerdi. It takes just under 40 minutes to arrive, so you can very easily drive there as a day trip. The hike itself is a relaxing three to four hours strolling through sloping hills and it can be done at any time of year.
Another option for the best hiking in Iceland near Reykjavik is the Mount Esja hike. The mountain is only about 15 km (9 miles) away from the capital, which means you can see it from Reykjavik. Consequently, from the top of the 776 meter (2,546 foot) summit of Esja, you can also have a wonderful view of Reykjavik. Just remember that if you come in the winter you'll need crampons for your snow shoes and hiking boots.
There is a longer route and a shorter route. The longer one takes you through a beautiful wooded area and is much easier to walk. The second option is more difficult, but look on the positive side. You’ll burn more calories, so just be sure to bring some snacks. It takes between 2 to 4 hours to complete this trek depending on your level of fitness and how quickly you go.
Best time to hike in Iceland: Winter or summer?
If you're trying to determine the best time to hike in Iceland, a big factor to consider is exactly where you want to go and what you want to do. If you really want to explore the trails of Landmannalaugar, then you have to come in summer. This isn't just because the weather will be better for taking a dip in the region’s hot pools.
This area of the country actually closes in the summer because its F roads are too dangerous to drive most of the year. In addition, Icelandic mountain huts, which would be your accommodation, do not open outside of summertime. If you’re planning on doing a multi-day trek, you'll need to come here during the summer.
Additionally, you'll have the light of the Midnight Sun, which will give you more time to take part in activities and go exploring.
And of course, winter is also an option for the best time to hike in Iceland. Weather conditions can make things a little bit more difficult, but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the Northern Lights in the evening. As long as the snow on the ground doesn't intimidate you, you'll be just fine. In fact, you might even enjoy the winter wonderland surrounding you.
It's important to note that winter in Iceland starts in October and lasts through April or May. Daylight is quite limited, so you'll have less time for your treks. And of course, always give yourself enough time to get back before the sun sets. You only have around three or four hours of sunlight during the darkest months, which are close to the winter solstice in December.
The good news is that it's not as cold as you might expect. If you have the right type of clothing, you'll be totally prepared. Just constantly check the weather to make sure you don't get caught in the middle of a storm. Keep emergency numbers on hand, and if you're really worried, join a tour and they will take care of everything for you. You can find several of the hike best day hikes in Iceland in the winter as long as you know what to expect.
Best hiking routes in Iceland
Our small Nordic Island is a mecca for hikers and is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Whether you're taking in the breathtaking views across the Laugahraun lava field or bathing in hot pots caused by geothermal activity, you'll no doubt enjoy yourself. I hope this primer on the best hiking routes in Iceland has given you some good information about where to begin when planning your hiking adventure. Be sure to pack a good pair of sturdy waterproof boots and wool socks before you hit the trail.