In a wilderness as wild and dramatic as Iceland’s, you’re sure to find countless opportunities for long day hikes. Here's a list of the best day hikes, ideal for a day’s adventure from your road trip around the Ring Road, or from a base camp in the highlands.

Which hike should you do?

All the walks listed here are more than two hours in duration, but may vary in length, elevation and difficulty. If you prefer an easier hike, you may want to try the hiking routes in the West Fjords or Skaftafell. More experienced trekkers will want to hit the slopes of Thorsmork and Fimmvörðuháls, to test their skills out on the dramatic and rugged terrain of Iceland.

#1 Landmannalaugar

Green valley in Landmannalaugar
Color contrasts on a beautiful day in Landmannalaugar

The highlands at Landmannalaugar are famous for their colorful rhyolite mountains and steamy streams. Hikers can take the 4-5-hour road through Laugaharaun lava fields, Vondugil canyon, and the sulfur-skinned Mt. Brennisteinsalda. Continue down into Graenagil, and if time and weather are favorable, you may want to climb up Blahnukur summit for its panoramic views. Don’t forget your swimsuit for a post-hike soak in one of the area’s geothermal pools.

#2 Thorsmork

Markarfljot canyon in Thorsmork
Markarfljot canyon in Thorsmork

In the Thorsmork wilderness, hikers can venture out on long but uncomplicated treks, or hit the more demanding trails. We recommend that you base yourself at one of the Volcano Huts and spend a few days exploring. Pick up a trail map to view your choice of routes. The Thorsmork Highlights trail (3-4 hours) leads you along the foothills of the Tindfjöll Mountains, through the birch forests of Húsadalur Valley and circles back to the Huts. Alternatively, Stakkholtsjá Canyon (2-4 hours) is an easy and scenic hike. Catch a 15-min bus ride at 12:30pm from the Huts to the canyon. From the base, cross the Krossá River on footbridge, skip across a small river, and hike past high cliffs and waterfalls into the Stakkholtsgjá Ravine. For experienced hikers, head into the Tindfjöll Circle (5-6 hours), a circuit of steep ridges, deep valleys and steamy rivers.

#3 Fimmvörðuháls

The lower green hills of the Fimm Hike
The lower green hills of the Fimm Hike

Walk between two giant, dormant volcanoes in the wild terrain of Fimmvörðuháls. This challenging hike of 25 km will demand 12-14 hours of your endurance--so make sure you have sturdy shoes. Start your trek behind Skogafoss waterfall, where you’ll pass as many as 26 cascades as you follow the eastern bank of Skoga river. After a night in a mountain hut, continue onto pumice fields to the infamous volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted in 2010 and spread ash throughout mainland Europe.

#4 Skaftafell

Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell
Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell

Skaftafell wilderness area in Vatnajökull National Park is rich with hiking routes, most of which are hikeable for the average hiker. On the Skaftafellsheidi route (10.4 miles, 16.7 km round trip), the bridge near Magnúsarfoss will take you through to Sjónarsker, Kristínartindar, Gláma, and then on back to the Visitor Centre, in a hike of around 5-6 hours. Hikers who prefer longer days (6-8 hours) of difficult trekking, may want to try the route through Kristínartindar (11 miles, 17.9 km). Follow the path from the visitor center to Sjónarsker, then at the crossroads of Kristínartindar, turn left and follow the trail onto steep scree. You return through Gláma, Sjónarnípa and finally to the Visitor Centre via Austurbrekkur. Skaftafell is renowned for its sunny summer weather, birch forests, and Arctic foxes, surrounded by dramatic glacier tongues, so you’re likely to have spectacular scenery if you visit in July or August.

#5 Súðavík to Ísafjörður

View of Isafjordur
View of Isafjordur

This challenging hike over the mountain begins in Sudavik, a fishing village in the Westfjords, and ends in Isafjordur in about 5-6 hours. The steep incline rewards you with incredible panoramas of Vigur Island and Hornstrandir Nature Preserve across the deep fjord. Hike up to Sauratindar plateau, at 856m the highest point in the Isafjardardjup Bay.

#6 Borgarfjörður Eystri

Bakkagerdi harbor in the east fjords
Bakkagerdi harbor in the east fjords

Stórurð, whose name means “The Giant Boulders,” is so-called as it’s home to huge rocks and green ponds at the base of Dyrjöll. It’s a tranquil, quiet area, full of mossy meadows and boulders silhouetted by majestic mountains in the distance. Stórurð was made famous by Kjarval, Iceland’s renowned painter, who featured the mountain in many of his paintings. The trail is fairly easy (6-8 hours), only it has a short steep ascent on Geldingafjall. Take Road number 94 or hike 2-3 hours from Borgarfjörður Eystri to get to the area. 

#7 Hornstrandir

Hornstrandir
Hornstrandir

The most isolated part of the Westfjords, Hornstrandir is fantastic for hiking. With snow-white fjord fingers and grassy slopes, this bumpy peninsula is worth exploring for a couple days or more. Trekking through here is like walking on the edge of the Earth--nothing but geese and Arctic foxes. At certain bays, you’ll stumble onto old housing foundations and a handful of summer residences. The only civilization you'll see here is the Doctor's House at Hesteyri, built in 1901 and now housing a café, restaurant and sleeping bag accommodation in the summertime. One 6-7-hour hike will take you over hills from the semi-abandoned settlement of Sæból in Aðalvík Bay, past an old church to Hesteyri. The boat leaves in the morning from Ísafjörður to Sæból, and returns from Hesteyri in the evening. 

Map

Map of Best Day Hikes in Iceland
Map of Best Day Hikes in Iceland

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

Best day hikes in iceland, Iceland - Aug 30 - Sep 15, 2018

Traveler: Kris M. - Local specialist: Preeti Bhide

Preeti did an excellent job tailoring our trip to our interests and responded quickly when we ran into snags.

Best day hikes in iceland, Iceland - Aug 30 - Sep 15, 2018

Traveler: Laura D. - Local specialist: Preeti Bhide

So happy to meet Preeti, Halldor and their family! The itinerary was exactly what we wanted to do! Though some days were packed and we had to skip some things. But we got in plenty of hiking and excursions. We were very please with the hotels and guesthouses too! For the very few issues we had, they were so responsive and gave great service!

We loved all of the hotel choices except for FossHotel Lind. The shower smelled like sulphur and the room was too small to open your luggage... read more

So happy to meet Preeti, Halldor and their family! The itinerary was exactly what we wanted to do! Though some days were packed and we had to skip some things. But we got in plenty of hiking and excursions. We were very please with the hotels and guesthouses too! For the very few issues we had, they were so responsive and gave great service!

We loved all of the hotel choices except for FossHotel Lind. The shower smelled like sulphur and the room was too small to open your luggage anywhere.

Our favorite hotels were:
>Tungulending; loved the location and the novelty of it! We could have stayed here awhile!
>Hotel Hellnar was wonderful and we loved the costal walk to Arnarstapi
>Hotel Heydalur - we loved this place! It would be a great place to stay for a couple of nights! Nice pool, hot pots, horseback riding, hiking, and we loved the animals! (dogs and an arctic fox!)
Heydalur was hard to find.  The gps to a dilapidated building with broken windows! We were driving on a narrow dirt road. We went back to a sign for Heydalur. The only sign was “restaurant “ so we went in to ask and that was the place.
>Hotel Bork - we loved the large rooms and the location right by the small harbor with an easy walk to dinner on the harbor at KAFFI DUUS. The food was great!
>Glacier World hotel, loved the little glacier museum with the video explaining how the community built the walls to save their town from the melting glaciers

Our favorite Restaurants:
>Tjoruhusid in Isafjordur was fabulous! We talked about the food there the entire rest of the trip! We actually enjoyed going there for lunch when the price was cheaper and it wasn't so crowed.
>Sjavaborg restaurant in Hvammstangi - the lamb shank and cheese cake was fabulous
> Cafe Vogafjos in Mytvatn, food was great and it was neat it was attached to the cow barn
> Pakkhusid in Hornafjordur; the langoustine was soooo good! It was neat to see the boat that brought them in right out the window
>Efsti-Dalur, found this on our own on the way to the Secret Lagoon. A wonderful cow farm that makes their own ice cream. We stopped back here for dinner after the Secret Lagoon

Favorite Hikes:
>Hellnar costal walk to Arnarstapi
>Dynjandi waterfall - it took our breath away!
> Landmannalaugur! Quite a crazy road to get there, but that was my favorite place. It was so beautiful!
>Valagil gorge; loved the beautiful grass land, the blue berries and the "surprise" gorge and waterfall
> Dimmuborgir - Beautiful hiking trails through lava rock formations. The plants interspersed in the rocks were so pretty, they look like a garden.
>Seydisfjordur; we loved this little harbor town... so picturesque. We did a small hike to to the man made structure called the singing concrete.  It was a great view of the town from up there!
> westman island Heimeny

We loved this place! There were still some Puffins and the desk clerk at the hotel told us how to find them. We hiked around the cliffs near the golf course where we got a picture of some. We also enjoyed the aquarium and the volcano museum. We heard about the kids rescuing pufflings and ran across some caring a big box. Sure enough they had a puffling they were getting ready to release. It was so cool to share this experience with them.

Excursions:
>Hellulaug hot pot
We loved this little remote hot pot! The view was fabulous! We had a little trouble finding it. It was further up the road than we could figure out. Found someone walking down the road that helped us find it. Also, it would have been nice to know there was a restaurant right there. Based on the itinerary, the only place we saw for dinner was on the car ferry and that food was not good.
>Kayaying in Isafjordur
We loved the kayak excursion in Isafjordur. It would have helped to know a little more about the gear they were going to provide, but it worked out okay. It was also confusing on where to meet. The voucher was not correct.
> Inside the Volcano!!! We LOVED this! It might be helpful to warn people that it is about a 2 mile walk to the base camp and 1/4 mile up the side of the volcano. But it was so worth it! It would have been helpful to know they were going to feed us meat soup (or vegetarian version) afterward. It was so good, but didn't know and had brought sandwiches to eat.
> Husavik Whale tour was a bust, but I guess you can't always count on seeing whales. There was a beautiful sunset that evening and we would have rather eaten at Tungulending and enjoyed the sunset.
>Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon 
our kayak trip was cancelled because of wind and rain, but the lagoon was well worth seeing the beautiful blue ice

Helpful hints:
> 100Kr coins needed for many of the WC we stopped at along the way.
> The Driving plan link on Day 12 had the wrong starting point. We couldn't use it, but we loved the Driving plan links provided to us for the entire trip! FYI, you might let the customer know that link is in the itinerary, I didn't realize it was there until right before we left.

We had an absolutely wonderful time. The itinerary was perfect for us! Thank you!