Iceland’s mountains rise from every corner of the country. Most are laced with hiking routes, making them accessible to travelers during summer.
On foot, via a scenic helicopter ride, or from cleverly placed viewing platforms, there are plenty of options for travelers of all abilities to explore Iceland’s mountains without always needing to endure a strenuous hike.
Discover 13 of the most gorgeous mountains in Iceland to see on vacation below.
Mountains in Iceland don’t get much better than the tantalizing Bláfjöll, otherwise known as the Blue Mountains, straddling a section of the Mid-Atlantic Rift.
The slopes are used for skiing during winter, while in summer, hiking trails among the moss-clad tuff rock are revealed.
Twelve miles south-southwest of Reykjavik, the volcanic Bláfjöll is perfect for a moderate-level hike, which takes around 45 minutes to reach the top.
One of the best things to do on Bláfjöll is to tour the spectacular Leiðarendi lava tube. Leiðarendi was created from two eruptions that took place here, 1,000 and 2,00 years ago, forming two caves.
The caves shimmer a phantasmagoria of mineral-rich shades, from celadon green to yellows, coppers, and red. Leiðarendi is also characterized by the many stalagmites, stalactites, and dazzling rock formations inside.
Once feared in Icelandic folklore as the home of menacing trolls, and later rogue outlaws, these lava caves are must-see phenomena in Iceland.
It’s essential that you wear the appropriate attire to enter a lava cave, including a waterproof layer. Because of the sometimes compact nature of lava tubes, a visit is not suitable for anyone who is uneasy about being in small spaces.
Esja is an easy-to-reach mountain, a mere 50 minutes north of downtown Reykjavik.
Rising 2,999 feet in the district of Kjalarnes, Esja can easily be spotted from Reykjavik’s waterfront on a clear day.
The lower section of Esja is beautiful, with the southern foothill carpeted in a luscious Alpine forest and the mountain path lined with pretty wildflowers during summer.
A serene stream trickles down its southwest slope and into pastoral Mógilsá before reaching the Atlantic Ocean. It’s here where you can embark on one of the best hikes in Iceland.
Signposts indicate the difficulty of each section of Mount Esja, with one boot meaning easy and three meaning challenging. The latter section of the route to the top is assigned three boots.
Take your time and enjoy a gentle hike, breathing in the ultra-fresh air and the phenomenal scenery across this western path of Iceland.
Hverfjall is a 1,300-foot, 4,500-year-old mountain in north Iceland next to Dimmuborgir lava field.
The cone-shaped crater mountain is easily explored on foot. There are two routes to choose from; one leads up the north slope with the second on the opposite side.
Yomp around the crater’s rim, taking 20 to 30 minutes, for some of the best views of Lake Myvatn, Dimmuborgir, and Námafjall Geothermal Area.
Once you’ve explored Hverfjall, continue to Lake Myvatn, a 10-minute drive away. There’s a verdant forested area, Hofdi, on a peninsula that unfolds into the lake.
Wander to the water’s edge to see the lava rock formations that rise from the lake and keep an eye out for barrow’s goldeneye. You’ll spot these black, brown, and white birds by their bulging head shape.
Alternatively, join a thrilling horse-riding safari in Skútustaðir on the lake’s south shore. During summertime, horse trails typically take place three times a day.
Helgafell, or the Sacred Hill, is a tiny, easy-to-accomplish mountain on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in northwest Iceland.
According to local folklore, if you hike the 240-foot mountain without uttering a word or looking back, you’ll get three wishes granted. Give it a shot as you scale to the top for wonderful views of Breiðafjörður Bay.
There are plenty of photo opportunities around. At ground level, admire Helgafell’s storybook white church. Though the existing church was built in 1903, there’s been a church here since the year 1000, joined by an Augustinian monastery between the 12th and 16th centuries.
Stop by Ytri Tunga Beach, too. Just a short drive south of Helgafell, it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in Iceland, inhabited by a colony of seals.
Landmannalaugar, set within Fjallabak Nature Reserve in Iceland’s southern Highlands, is otherworldly.
Landmannalaugar lies at the northern stretch of the Laugavegur hiking trail, connecting it to Þórmörk valley and Skógafoss waterfall near the south coast.
The tumbling rhyolite landscape is a feast of colors—shades of orange, red, pink, brown, yellow, and green—thanks to its unique geology.
This alone puts it at the top of any list of the best mountains in Iceland. There’s more, though, including hot springs, mountain trails, and a vast lava field that formed in 1477.
Pack a swimsuit and towel and let yourself be lured into one of Landmannalaugar’s warm natural baths. Nothing beats swimming in this vast natural landscape, surrounded by the colorful mountains.
You could also walk the two-mile stretch from Landmannalaugar Tourist information Center to Frostastaðavatn, a glistening crater lake.
Frostastaðavatn is a treat for wildlife lovers, with plenty of bird life nesting here, including the great northern diver during summer, while the water also draws fishing enthusiasts for its bounty of Arctic char.
Another way to view this technicolor landscape is via a helicopter flight from Reykjavik. A typical four-hour tour covers some of the most beautiful places in Iceland, such as Thingvellir National Park, the famous Gullfoss and Háifoss waterfalls, and Eyjafjallajökull, the location of Iceland’s famous 2010 volcanic eruption.
Námafjall is a sensational mountain reached in just over an hour from Akureyri in northeast Iceland, near the country’s Route 1 highway. Part of the Námafjall Geothermal Area, there’s plenty to see and do here.
Follow Námafjall’s barren Námaskarð Pass, which runs 1,312 feet above sea level, to see smoldering fumaroles, steaming hot springs, and boiling mud. It’s vital that you stick to the designated paths since the water is scalding hot. Consider hiring a guide to lead the way.
The fissured earth is dazzling, though such is the geothermal activity below the surface that the scent of sulfur permeates the area of Hverir.
Námafjall lies near Mývatn, one of Iceland’s most famous lakes. Its grassy banks are easy to access if you fancy a serene waterside walk.
The curious Sigurgeir’s Bird Museum is located on the lake’s north shore, home to over 300 stuffed birds and 500 eggs, with information on what to spot during each season.
If you want to experience Iceland’s nature and bathe among clouds of rising steam, slip into the milky-blue Mývatn Nature Baths. The mineral-rich waters are heated to a blissful 96-104°F.
Around a two-hour drive east of Reykjavik, Hekla is among the most gorgeous mountains in Iceland. It’s also Iceland’s most active volcano, with its last eruption taking place in 2000.
In summer, embark on an exhilarating mountain hike here. Visit the Hekla Center to gain a better understanding of the mountain’s geology and to see an exhibition on its landscape.
If you’re exploring south Iceland’s fantastic Thjorsardalur valley, with its hot springs, steaming geysers, and cascading waterfalls, you could also get a glimpse of Hekla from afar.
Near the village of Vik on Iceland’s south coast, Reynisfjall stands at 1,115-feet tall and a whopping three-miles long.
Reynisfjall looms above one of Iceland’s best black-sand beaches, Reynisfjara, offering scenes of wild Atlantic waves crashing onto the jet-black shore and the spectacular Reynisdrangar sea stacks.
Wander onto Reynisfjara’s silky shore to Hálsanefshellir sea cave, surrounded by columns of grayish basalt pillars. Look out for puffins as you scramble around the coastline.
You could also explore the village of Vik, home to several restaurants, a microbrewery, and a beautiful hilltop church that was built in 1929.
If you’re looking for a local souvenir, Vik is a great place to find one. Browse Katla Wool Studio for Icelandic wool sweaters, ponchos, blankets, mittens, and hats.
Before departing the south coast, stop off at Dyrholaey beach, a short distance west, to see its hulking rock arch and more of Iceland’s famous bird life.
Kaldbakur—not to be confused with a larger mountain of the same name in the Westfjords—is a 20-minute drive from Akureyri on Iceland’s north coast, on the east shore of Eyjafjörður fjord.
During summer in Iceland, the road to Kaldbakur is lined with gorgeous bluebonnets, a purple flowering plant that’s also known as lupinus.
The track up the sky-piercing mountain begins a short distance north of the village of Grenivík.
Kaldbakur soars over 3,000 feet offering some of the most incredible views of the surrounding peaks, Eyjafjörður and Hrisey island.
There’s a grocery store, a handsome church, and a pared-back restaurant, Kontorinn, in Grenivík. Stop by to refuel on a pizza or burger after a nourishing mountain hike.
Nicknamed The Troll’s Seat for its unique shape, Naustahvilft faces the fishing town of Ísafjörður in the far-flung Westfjords.
One of the best hikes in Europe, Naustahvilft is easy to get to. Take a taxi or walk from Ísafjörður, which will take around 60 to 90 minutes.
The route loops around the innermost point of Skutulsfjörður, passing Ísafjörður’s slither of an airport, with the runway lying between Naustahvilft and the glassy Icelandic fjord.
The flat-topped Naustahvilft appears to have a seat carved into it. While the climb to the flattened part of Naustahvilft is fairly steep, it’s a short and satisfying ascent.
Return to Ísafjörður after to reward yourself with local ales at the town’s brewery, Dokkan Brugghús.
Mighty Mount Keilir is a hyaloclastite mountain—consisting of glassy rock formed by volcanic eruptions taking place beneath an ice sheet—on the Reykjanes Peninsula.
Halfway between Iceland’s busiest airport, Keflavík International, and Reykjavík, the cone-shaped Keilir can be seen from far and wide and was even used as a guide by seafarers long before lighthouses existed.
Keilir peaks at 1,243 feet and makes for a leisurely, though rugged three-hour trek. On a clear day, explorers are treated to views of the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, Snæfellsjökull glacier, and the glow of Reykjavik.
A glorious vision on Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Kirkjufell is among the most photographed mountains in Iceland.
The sawtoothed Kirkjufell is also known as Church Mountain because of its steeple-shaped pinnacle, lying less than two miles from the town of Grundarfjörður.
Enjoy delicious cake and coffee at Grundarfjörður’s Græna kompaníið (The Green Company), which also sells books and yarn, before setting off for the striking 1,519-foot mountain.
Soak up the Kirkjufell’s copper tones from Kirkjufellsfoss, a beautiful waterfall near the foot of the mountain. If you make it to the top, you’ll be met with some of the most extraordinary views on the peninsula.
Snæfellsjökull—a glacier-crowned stratovolcano—is one of the most dramatic Iceland mountains. Topping out at 4,744 feet near the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, the glacier covers around 4.6 square miles, though it is steadily receding.
Snæfellsjökull’s volcano formed 700,000 years ago and is the subject of much folklore and literature in the area. Learn about Snæfellsjökull’s place in Icelandic culture at the small visitor center in Malarrif.
There’s information on Snæfellsnes’ variety of bird life and a display about local fishermen, and the fishing stations that have played such a vital role in the region’s economy here, too.
After, walk the short distance from Malarrif to Lóndrangar’s haunting sea cliffs. From a distance, the jagged volcanic rock formations resemble the ruins of a castle left clinging to the cliff edge.
Djúpalónssandur’s coal-hued shore is a short distance southwest of Snæfellsjökull, while the fishing villages of Ólafsvík, Hellissandur, and Rif line the north side of the glacier, offering plenty of points of interest to add to a day-long jaunt.
The land of fire and ice—named for its contrasting landscapes of fiery volcanoes and icy glaciers—is a country like no other.
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