With dramatic landscapes and a rich outdoor culture, Iceland is a hiker’s paradise. This northerly island is made up of glacial and volcanic terrain with waterfalls around almost every turn, dazzling visitors with its diverse beauty.
The “Land of Fire and Ice” is best explored on foot, through the plethora of hiking trails where you can connect with nature by getting up close and personal.
Marvel at valleys carved by ancient glaciers, discover natural hot springs, admire unique, mossy lava fields, and mystical cascades. From easy nature walks to more challenging treks, there’s a trail for every fitness level in Iceland.
Venture into the country’s most remote and beautiful corners while on some of the best hikes in Iceland.
Hike to Iceland’s second tallest waterfall, located in the western region, just an hour’s drive from the capital city of Reykjavik. This half-day hike is an ideal adventure with everything from caves to canyons, and of course, the magical Glymurfoss (“foss” means waterfall) that makes it one of the best hikes in Europe.
Rated as moderate, the four-and-a-half mile round-trip trek to reach the astounding 650-foot falls requires a river crossing (a log acts as a bridge during summer in Iceland) and a steady climb up the edge of the deep crevice within the moss-covered Hvalfjordur fjord.
Watch seabirds soar above as you relax at the waterfall viewpoints, taking in the sheer beauty.
The hike can be done as either a full loop, or an out-and-back hike. If you choose to do the loop, it will require two relatively manageable river crossings but you’ll get two different vantage points of Glymur falls as you’ll climb up on the east side and descend back to the parking lot along the west side.
The out-and-back option will have you crossing the river just once, still absorbing spectacular views of the Icelandic waterfall, though just from the one perspective. Whatever route you take, it’ll be a fulfilling hike. The trek to Glymur waterfall is undoubtedly one of the best hikes in Iceland.
This amazing hike starts with drama, beginning at the famous Skogafoss waterfall in south Iceland. Start your trek by going up the stairs next to the thundering cascade, where you can then follow the trail along the Skoga River.
In total, this 10-mile path is a portion of the longer Fimmvorduhals Trail and is relatively easy, with stunning scenery. Choose how long you’d like to venture as it’s an out-and-back trail. Marvel at the mossy canyon, volcanoes, nearby glaciers, coastal views, flowing river, and mountain backdrop.
You’ll discover why this trail is known as “Waterfall Way” as you come across countless waterfalls as you hike. Beautiful cascades such as High Peaks, Subtle, and Sunset Falls are some of the highlights.
Skogafoss is just over two hours’ drive from Reykjavik, the capital, but the joy of traveling in Iceland is that there’s astonishing volcanic scenery at every turn, so the journey to the start point is part of the adventure.
This popular hike leads to the “Jewel of the Westfjords” known as Dynjandi Waterfall, a protected national monument in Iceland. The falls are located an easy drive from Isafjordur, across the bleak but beautiful fjord-indented hills of the Westfjords.
Enjoy a remote trek with a 328-foot cascade as its highlight, not to mention six smaller waterfalls leading up to it. Hike the rocky one-mile out and back trail to check out this majestic work of Mother Nature, up close and personal.
Listen to the thundering soundtrack of the massive set of falls as you walk. Marvel at Dynjandi’s gorgeous appearance, said to resemble a bridal veil as it cascades over a series of steps down the volcanic cliff face, pounded by the sea at its foot. Although the hike is short, it’s relatively steep, with a steady incline and some steps.
All of the different vantage points make the effort worth it, though. After, visit the old turf farm ruins, where you can see the remains of the structures that date back to the Middle Ages.
Enjoy sweeping views of the Lake Myvatn region in northern Iceland with a hike up Vindbelgjarfjall. Located an hour from the city of Akureyri, the ancient mountain towers more than 1,700 feet above sea level.
Formed during the Ice Age, it’s one of the best-known peaks in the area and one of the best mountains in Iceland. Hikers will embark on a well-marked, out-and-back trail totaling just over three miles, with a sweeping, 360 degree vista as the reward on the summit.
The trailhead is found on the southern edge of the mountain’s base and takes trekkers through lava fields and up the sometimes steep path. At the top, stop and catch your breath as you take in the view.
Your guide will point out the Skutustadir pseudo craters, Dimmuborgir lava formations, the Hverfjall crater, the other mountains within the Krafla volcanic system, and Lake Myvatn—one of the best lakes in Europe—so as long as the weather allows.
The hike up to the top of Vindbelgjarfjall is ideal for most fitness and skill levels and one of the best hikes in northern Iceland.
For a short hike with big views, venture to Nuastahivilft, just outside of Isafjordur, in the Westfjords region. The rock formation is referred to as “The Troll Seat” due to the local legend which says that the dip in the top of the mountain was formed by a hefty troll sitting to rest her feet, back in the mists of time.
The quick, but challenging trail brings hikers above the city of Isafjordur where a breathtaking panorama awaits. The hike is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Isafjordur, and it only takes between 20 and 30 minutes with fantastic views along the entire route.
Rest at the top and enjoy the scenery overlooking the village, airport, and the fjord’s bay, and make sure to sign the guestbook at the summit too.
Experience one of Reykjavik’s most beloved hikes. This almost five-mile hike is a popular way to stretch your legs, located just seven miles from the heart of downtown Reykjavik.
In addition to being a great trail for hiking, bird-watching and trail-running are enjoyed here as well. The basalt and tuff volcanic mountain range provides a gorgeous setting, with an idyllic river running down the hillside.
Embark on the well-marked trail where you’ll be sure to earn your view as you climb up, first to “Steinn”, a big boulder and well-known landmark, before continuing up to the summit, called Þverfellshorn (the Þ symbol in Icelandic is pronounced “th”).
Sprawling views of Reykjavik and the surrounding area will greet you – a perfect place to take photographs. At the top, it’s customary to sign the guestbook.
History buffs will relish in the hiking experience along the Haukadalur Loop in the Westfjords, near the village of Þingeyri. With ancient ruins, stunning scenery, and legends woven into this region, this three-to-four hour trail brings with it an intriguing story.
Walk through the beautiful valley, where you’ll see Lake Seftjorn, as well as Thvera Creek. This area is the setting for the well-known Gisla Saga, one of Iceland’s epic sagas, or narratives of actual events and characters set between the ninth and the 11th centuries.
The Gisla Saga tells the story of Gisli, a famous tragic hero and outlaw who is said to have lived in this location. You’ll also see ruins of the “witch’s hut”, home to Audbjorg the witch, one of the main characters from the story.
Hike to an Icelandic hot spring in the Reykjadalur Valley, less than an hour outside the capital city of Reykjavik. This easy, three-and-a-half mile, round-trip hike leads to one of Iceland’s favorite geothermal regions.
The trail starts near the village of Hveragerði, just outside of the famed Golden Circle in south Iceland. Meaning “smoky valley”, the Reykjadalur Steam Valley is a popular destination as it combines hiking and hot spring soaking without having to venture too far from Downtown Reykjavik.
Along your trek, you’ll pass by steaming mud pools, lush green landscape, and the stunning Djupagilsfoss waterfall. Icelandic horses and their riders frequent this trail as well. Once you reach the geothermal river, venture on the wooden boardwalk to find a spot on the platforms to sit.
Relax in the shallow rock pools and let the warm, healing waters help you unwind. This memorable hike is sure to be a highlight during your time in Iceland.
Venture out on one of Thingvellir National Park’s most popular hikes to the Öxarárfoss Waterfall in southwest Iceland. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a well-loved natural attraction in the country. Your hike to the “Ax Falls” will start off by crossing between the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia.
After checking this off your bucket list, continue on the two-and-a-half-mile loop trail towards the falls. Follow the Oxara River, where you’ll be dazzled by other small waterfalls within the Almannagjo Gorge and surrounding mountain scenery.
The 65-foot cascade with the rocky terrain around the base pool is a favorite of photographers and best captured in the morning light. This hike is a great introduction to exploring Thingvellir National Park, considered by many to be one of the best national parks in the world.
Viti Crater in Krafla
For a unique hiking experience, walk the rim of a volcanic crater in northern Iceland, near Lake Myvatn. With two options for both beginners and more advanced hikers, Viti Crater allows you to choose your own adventure based on your skill level.
Walk the half-mile rim trail which veers to the right around the edge of the crater for an easy, but jaw-dropping trek, surrounded by lava fields and geothermal terrain. Marvel at the massive crater, which sprawls almost 1,000 feet in diameter, filled with vivid blue water.
It was formed during a volcanic eruption in the 1700s. Hiking amid the steaming geothermal terrain is a surreal experience.
If you’re feeling more adventurous and are an experienced hiker, take the steep trail down to the bottom and gain a closer vantage point of the brightly colored water. This memorable experience will be worth the climb back up afterward.
The contrast of the landscape with the electric blue crater lake makes for a fantastic photo opportunity as well. If you do both the rim trail and path down to the bottom, this adventure takes approximately two hours.
Hornstrandir Nature Preserve
Hop on a ferry from the Westfjords town of Isafjordur and discover Hornstrandir Nature Preserve, a coastal haven for hiking and wildlife watching. Explore the bleak tundra landscape and see if you can spot one of the dapper Arctic foxes that live here.
The foxes aren’t the only wildlife you might see: whales, puffins, seals, and sea eagles inhabit this beautiful area as well. The nature preserve is famous for its remote location, seabird colonies, dramatic cliffs, and myriad fantastic hiking trails.
Immerse yourself in Iceland’s unspoiled nature while hiking one of the out-and-back trails, choosing to go whatever length you’d like. The nine-mile Adalvik to Heysteri trail is a good option to get a taste of this secluded region in Iceland, though it’s best to be a moderately experienced hiker, as well as be prepared for the sometimes harsh weather.
Trek through abandoned settlements with homes and churches of old farming communities, view lakes and fjord vistas, and visit a stony Icelandic beach along this trail. This isolated Iceland destination is a very memorable place to hike in the country.
Hike up Sulur, which looms over Akureyri. Situated just outside of downtown, this challenging seven-mile hike will have you gaining more than 3,000 feet in elevation.
If you want to add a bit more mileage to your trek, it’s possible to start from the village instead, which adds another two miles or so each way.
Pass through diverse terrain, with marsh, moss, and rocky landscapes, streams, steep mountainsides, snowy sections, and wildflowers in the summer months. From the summit, views stretch out over Akureyri below and the scenic Eyjafjordur, the country’s longest fjord and one of the most beautiful places in Iceland.
This hike will give you a hard workout with a great reward at the top.
Read: What to Pack for Iceland
From mountain peaks to waterfall expeditions, Iceland is a beautiful and varied outdoor playground for hikers. Embark on a luxury cruise to Iceland and discover some of the best hikes in the country.