Iceland might not be the best place if you want to go to the beach. However, if you are into hiking, you will certainly find a good spot in Iceland. If you are into hiking make sure that you will have a proper itinerary for Iceland. You get to see different landscapes, exercise and feel the wilderness of Nordic nature. The best thing about the hikes in Iceland is the fact, that there is a lot of them all around Iceland, so you can hike all around.
Hiking spots in South Iceland
The name is hard to pronounce, but you will also have a hard time to say how beautiful that place is. Landmannalaugar is in the middle of highlands in the south of Iceland. Offering campsite, natural hot springs, basic supermarket, a place for riding horses and kilometers of hiking paths.
Trails around Landmannalaugar
Highlands Landmannalaugar is one of the best places for hiking for its diversity. Moreover, this national park goes under the nickname Rainbow mountains, because volcanic activity created different colors of sand and rocks that are all around. At the same time, you will get to see some blue glacier lakes. And snow. Even in the summer.
Hiking around Landmannalaugar can take different time. You can choose to stay here for just one day and just try only one of the hikes. It is possible to do several light hikes for one day. A lot of them are marked as easy and on the map of the area, that you can get to the local shop, you will see how much time it will approximately take.
It is also possible to stay several days and hike all the trails around. Alternatively, there is a possibility to hike from here to Skogafoss, the big waterfall. That hike should take about 4 days and it is medium difficulty. You shouldn’t try it if you are not experienced or if you don’t have a tent with you. On your way to Skogafoss are several camps, which are working only in summer as the place is really hard to reach with a lot of snow.
How to get to Landmannalaugar?
Talking about snow. It is good to know that you cannot get to this place during the offseason. The weather just won’t allow it. Even in summer, you need to have a 4×4 car to get here, because the road is just not nice. If you are not planning to rent a car, don’t worry. Some terrain busses come from a town called Hella or some other places around directly to this place. You can order online the tickets and see that it is possible to stay even for several days.
Thorsmórk’s beauty is similar to Landmannalaugar. Though you won’t see all the colors of the rainbow. There are more green grass and black sand from volcanoes that are right above the corner. From hikes in Thorsmórk, you also get to see a glacier. If you hike high enough, you get to see all these things at once.
If you are into adventures, you can try to hike to Thorsmórk from Skógafoss waterfall, similar to Landmannalaugar. The difference is that the hike isn’t that long and you won’t need 4 days to complete it, but 2 days should be more than enough. If you follow the path around the river next to Skogafoss, against the stream, you will get to the Thorsmork in 20 km. For this, I would recommend waiting for weather that will be dry enough and good shoes, since there are parts of the path, where you might get hurt.
Because this is also an established hiking place, you can find a campsite, bus station and supermarket around. There is the same bus company that goes to Landmannalaugar, so it is also possible to make it a day trip from one of the towns in Southern Iceland.
Now for a change. Hveragerdi is not a highland, but it is a path in geothermal place in Iceland. The hot river where you can bath makes it one of the best hiking spots in Iceland. You would walk for around 3 km, up and down a hill and finally come to the place, wherefrom all of a sudden everybody wears just swimwear and are in the river. On your way there, you get to see several waterfalls and hot pond smelling like sulfur.
There is also the possibility to take there a tour on horseback instead of hiking. Hveragerdi has a lot of stables that offer a day tour to the hot river and back. But you should probably know that this ride is not for beginners and it is rather costly – expect prices around 200 dollars.
If you are going to do this path, important information to know is that there are not that many places for food, so you might want to pack some lunch or something on your way. The good thing about this path is that it is not too far from the bus stop and geothermal activity around allows to hike in any season. My recommendation is to do it in autumn, you can bathe in the hot river and watch the sunset in the middle of nature. If you are lucky, you can also see northern light while being soaked up in hot springs. The road is not too difficult to hike back in dark.
How to get to Hveragerdi?
Hveragerdi is just a small town located about 45km from Reykjavík. If you have a car, then it is really easy and you can get here on the ring road. Otherwise, it is also easy to get here by bus. The bus comes every hour from the central bus station in Reykjavík. The ticket cost about 1050ISK. The trail to the hot springs is not too far from the station. In general, it is enough if you would head towards the hills on the east and soon enough you will find tracks around that will lead you there.
When I lived in Iceland, I have heard a lot of people saying that they would like to hike a volcano. That is something that can be very dangerous since there is a lot of sand or snow and most of the volcanos in Iceland are still active. But there is one exception. Westman Islands are on very south of Iceland. It is sort of hidden gem and not a lot of tourists would actually come here. But there is a whole new volcano that came to the world in 1973 and it is safe to hike. It is quite a short hike and easy one as well, but you will get hike a volcano and you can even sit in the place of the eruption and feel how warm it still is.
The hike to the volcano isn’t the only one that you can take, the island is full of gorgeous views and hikes around in nature, where you can see puffins in summer. Sometimes it is even possible to see here whales from far.
Getting to Westman island
There is only one way to get to Westman island. There is a ferry close to the Seljanasfoss waterfall. If you have a car, you just turn there and after about a 10km ride, you will meet the ferry destination. Around the ferry is a parking lot, where you can park for free. Otherwise, the ferry takes cars as well, but for that, you need to book it ahead because there is limited space on the boat. And in general, between April and September, it is probably better to book the tickets.
It takes about 35 minutes one way to get to the main town of Westman islands. When you are booking the ticket, you are also booking the time for the ferry. But in general, the ferry goes every hour, so it is easy to see it.
Hiking spots in east Iceland
East Iceland is full of glaciers, so the main hiking spots are just in the national parks. This is one of the best hikes in Iceland because you can hike between glaciers and see different waterfalls – like the Skaftafell waterfall – and lakes. It is said that in this place there are so many waterfalls that people stopped giving them names.
Unlike in southern highlands, the hikes are not too difficult, because the paths are usually pretty narrow. The only difficulty you can face would be if you decide to hike a glacier. For that go to the campsite and ask for guides, otherwise, it might not end well, glaciers are tricky to hike and no one should do that alone. If you come here in summer, you will also see here diverse fauna and flora. Which is just a nice bonus to these hikes.
How to get to Vatnajökkul?
Because this place gains its popularity, there are both tourist and public busses. Both can go from Reykjavík, but if you want to travel by public bus, you will have to switch to the southern town of Vík, which can take a longer time. On the other hand, it is possible to make a day stop in Vík and watch the beauty around.
If you choose the tourist bus, it stops right in the epicenter of all hiking places. Right around the infoshop. Very close to it is a bus station and not too far a campsite with all the necessary facilities like shower and toilets. In summer months there is also a place where you can buy some food.
Hiking spots in north Iceland and Westfjords
Lake Mývatn is an area in the north with a lot of hikes. You get to see rocky terrain and crater where it is possible to hike all the way to the top. You can go to Askja for bathing in another crater. There are also volcanic areas around Lake Mývatn, so you won’t be missing on hot baths after a whole day of hiking. Lake Mývatn is an area similar to Landmannalaugar with a central place where all the buses go and hikes around it, which makes it a perfect destination for several days.
This area is huge and it is important to divide it into several days in different places. Choose which natural wonder you want to see most and go for it. There are camping sites nearly at every national park. Usually, at the campsite, there are also supermarkets, since there is generally less population up in the north then it is in the south of Iceland.
Getting to Lake Mývatn
Car is an easy solution here. Mainly because north of Iceland isn’t so popular with tourists and it is generally harder to get around. But to Lake Mývatn, you can take a bus from Akureyri or Husavík. And because the Mývatn is a relatively big area, it is also possible to take buses from here to see some natural wonders. Very popular is to take a bus to Askja, which is just 40 minutes away from the main area.
Westfjords doesn’t have one special location for hiking, because there is a road everywhere around the most interesting places. But that doesn’t mean that there are no hiking spots in this part of Iceland. You can for example hike here around the cliffs and the lowlands of the fjords. There is a lot of beautiful areas that work just as much as hiking anywhere else around Iceland.
These places are also great for watching local animals such as seals or different birds that find safety on the cliffs. For watching puffins it is recommended to visit Latrabjarg, which is the most western place in Iceland. After that, you can see only Greenland or Canada.
Tips for hiking in Iceland
First of all, a lot of places are reachable by busses. It might not always be public busses through but sometimes it is better to pay the extra price and go with tourist busses.
If you are planning to go to some areas like Landmannalaugar by car, you should get a car that can be used in a rough environment. It is better to pay for a car that might be more expensive rather than pay full damage on a car that was cheap in the first place.
Always get a map of the location where you are going, so you wouldn’t get lost. Besides that, there is usually marked, where you can get some food or leave your trash and campsites around.
Another thing is, don’t forget to dress properly. Even if you are coming to Iceland in summer, it is still recommended to get proper warm clothes, gloves, a good rain jacket and wear clothes in layers. Iceland can be very cold in the summer months as well.
Don’t forget to pack proper boots for it. The terrain can be pretty rough. And it might be expensive, but it is worth to invest in best hiking boots for Iceland.
Even if you wear proper clothes, if you are planing some hikes in Iceland, you should consider coming in the main season. During that time, all the roads are clear and the weather is good even for multiday hikes.
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