Traveling to the remote region of the Icelandic Highlands depends on the weather, and is most often only possible during the warmer months of May-October. Self-driving is perhaps the best way to explore and adventure in this scenic area with as much flexibility and freedom as you'd like, however, the road conditions are difficult to navigate at times and require proper four-wheel drive vehicles. Bus tours during the summer months are also available for those who would prefer to leave the driving up to a more experienced guide from Iceland.
The Icelandic Highlands is an area in the interior part of the country that is sparsely populated and known for epic hiking trails and otherworldly scenery. The main places of interest are Thorsmork in the southern highlands, Kerlingarfjöll geothermal region, and Landmannalaugar, known for its colorful rhyolite mountains and famous multi-day hike, the 35-mile-long Laugavegur trail.
For those interested in hiking around Thorsmork, nestled between the three glaciers of Eyjafjallajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, and Tindafjallajökull, check out this article. Although Landmannalaugar is known for its multi-day trail, it's possible to visit in one day to get a glimpse into the landscape. Find out more information in this article. For those with extra time, this 7-day itinerary detailing trekking in the highlands is a great resource.
Duration: 3.5-5 hours
Renting a four-wheel drive vehicle is the best way to access the highlands, however, many 'Super Jeep' type tours depart directly from the airport for a full day or multi-day tour.
Duration: 4-6 hours
Depending which region of the highlands you're planning on traveling to, driving can take anywhere between four to six hours, possibly longer if the road conditions are difficult to navigate. Departing Reykjavik onto the Ring Road (Route 1), travelers will then take one of the mountain roads into the region of choice that is their destination.
For Thorsmork, F249 is the main route, for Kerlingarfjöll, F35 leads to the area, and for Landmannalaugar, F26 is the access road to the region. Many day or multi-day tours departing from the city are available to explore these regions as well.
Find out more about getting from Reykjavik to Thorsmork.
From the Golden Circle
Duration: 2-4 hours
Depending which region of the highlands you're planning on traveling to, driving can take anywhere between two to four hours, possibly longer if the road conditions are difficult to navigate. Reaching Kerlingarfjöll geothermal region is easiest from the Geysir and Gullfoss in the Golden Circle due to its proximity.