This active 10-day itinerary highlights two major hiking areas in Iceland: the southern highlands and the Westfjords. Start off with a bus trip to Thorsmork for a plethora of trails overlooking moss-covered mountains, waterfalls, volcanoes, and glaciers. Next, you'll fly to Isafjordur—a great base for activities in Hornstrandir, accessible only by boat and trail, where you'll take a 3-day trek with a local guide. Return to Reykjavik for a night on the town and a chance to soak your muscles in the Blue Lagoon.

Highlights

  • Get a dose of Reykjavik's colorful downtown with street art, cafés, and shops
  • Choose a number of day hikes near three glaciers while staying in volcano huts
  • Let a professional guide take you through one of Iceland's most beautiful preserves
  • Look for distinct wildlife in the Westfjords like seals, Arctic fox, and puffins

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Reykjavik, Explore Downtown Reykjavik
Days 2-4 Thorsmork Hiking Trip Thorsmork
Day 5 Return to Reykjavik, Flight to the Westfjords Isafjordur
Day 6 Hornstrandir Traverse Trek: Day 1 of 3 Hornstrandir
Day 7 Hornstrandir Traverse Trek: Day 2 of 3 Hornstrandir
Day 8 Hornstrandir Traverse Trek: Day 3 of 3 Hornstrandir
Day 9 Flight from Isafjordur to Reykjavik Reykjavik
Day 10 Reykjanes Peninsula, Blue Lagoon, Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Reykjavik, Explore Downtown

Start and end the trip in Iceland's buzzing capital
Start and end the trip in Iceland's buzzing capital

Welcome to Iceland! Upon arrival at Keflavík International Airport, you'll take a 30-minute shuttle ride into Reykjavik. Since many international flights land in the early morning hours, you'll likely want to start your adventure with breakfast. Plenty of options in the city center open early. 

From here, you'll have the rest of the day to explore the world’s most northerly capital city. 

Things to do in Reykjavik: 

  • Walk through Reykjavik’s compact downtown area and check out the unique street art scene.
  • Head to the waterfront for the Sun Voyager Sculpture and Harpa Concert Hall with its cool glass architecture.
  • Visit Hallgrimskirkja church on the hill; take the elevator to the tower for a great overview of the city below and panoramic views of the area.

To escape inclement weather, you may consider visiting a few museums such as the Northern Lights Center, the Saga Museum, the Marine Museum, or the Whales of Iceland Exhibition. You can also join a whale watching tour from the Reykjavik harbor, and snack on a world-famous hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur.

Days 2-4: Hiking Trip in Thorsmork, "Valley of Thor"

Views of the mighty Eyjafjallajokull 
Views of the mighty Eyjafjallajokull 

Today marks the beginning of your first hiking adventure! Over the next few days, you'll take your pick of the trails in Þórsmörk (Thorsmork), named after the Nordic God of Thunder, one of the best-known hiking areas in Iceland. Tucked away in the southern highlands, Thorsmork is situated between three glaciers so expect to gawk frequently at the surrounding views. For instance, you will notice ash and lava flows from the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, which halted all European flights for a week. 

To arrive, you can either drive yourself or catch a 4-hour bus from Reykjavik into Thorsmork (a few departures daily). If driving, make sure to get a 4x4 vehicle as there can be some sizeable river crossings along the route. Before you hit the road, it's a good idea to pick up groceries before heading to Thorsmork, as food and dining options are limited. In fact, you'll likely stay overnight in the area's volcano huts, but camping is also an option. 

There are many options for how to experience the mountainsides, cliffs, waterfalls, volcanoes, river, and glaciers. When you arrive, make sure to pick up a trail map at the volcano huts, which includes some hiking options like these:

  • Thorsmork Panorama (1.5 to 2 hours): A good place to start is this well-marked trail, which leads you up and over the peak of the Valahnúkur mountain where you get an impressive 360° view. This trek can be easily added to all the following trails below.

  • Merkurrani Plateau (2 to 3 hours): This connecting trail leads you up to the foothills of Valahnúkur Mountain and onto the plateau a short distance from the volcano huts. From the cliffs, you can expect a great view over the Krossa River, Eyjafjallajokull, and surrounding mountains of Thorsmork. 

  • Stakkholtsgja Canyon (2 to 4 hours): A short bus ride from the volcano huts lets you off near this canyon and retrieves you a few hours later for an easy but rewarding hike with impressive cliffs towering above your head (the trailhead is also accessible by foot, about an hour each way). 

  • Thorsmork Highlights (3 to 4 hours): This marked trail includes all of Thorsmork's best views including the birch woods of the Húsadalur Valley and the foothills of the Tindfjoll Mountains. Near the end, you'll enter the last part of the Laugavegur Hiking Trail, before descending back to the volcano huts. 

  • Tindfjoll Circle (5 to 6 hours): This longer and more challenging loop trail rewards you with several viewpoints over Thorsmork Nature Reserve. From the bottom of the valley, you can head back to the volcano huts with the option of extending the trek by one hour. 

After each day of hiking, you can soak your muscles in the area's natural pool and sauna by the edge of the Húsadalur woods. The man-made pool is heated naturally and is around 89°F (32°C). Professional massage appointments are also possible.  

Day 5: Thorsmork to Reykjavik, Flight to the Isafjordur

Few tourists make it to the Westfjords
Few tourists make it to the Westfjords

This morning, you'll wake up with breakfast in Thorsmork and then make the return trip to Reykjavik by bus or rental car.

From here, you'll catch a short domestic flight into Isafjordur in Iceland's Westfjords region. Upon arrival to this remote region, you'll catch a shuttle from the airport and travel to the center of Isafjordur (about a 5-minute drive) and will have the rest of the day to explore the local sites. While in town, visit the Isafjordur Maritime Museum, join a cultural and historical walking tour of the town, or eat all the fish you ever wanted at Tjoruhusid, named the best seafood in Europe a few years back.

Day 6: Hornstrandir Traverse Trek: Day 1/3

Cliffside views on your first day
Cliffside views on your first day

Today marks the beginning of your 3-day guided trek in the remote Hornstrandir Natural Reserve. This is an area of magnificent beauty and wildlife, with sheer basalt mountains stretching from the sea to the sky divided by deep fjords, alcoves, and valleys. At the coastline, the relentless power of the ocean has molded towering sea cliffs, richly populated by birds, while alcoves are home to an abundance of seals. Inland, the crawling glaciers of the last ice age have hewn ancient mountain passes and lakes where the arctic fox wanders in its natural environment.

First, you'll need to catch a boat that leaves from the dock in Isafjordur towards Hornvík Bay, which takes about 2-3 hours.  During the trip, take the time to relax and observe the area's rugged coastline and sea life before you get back on dry land. 

Your first stop on the trail is the tip of Horn with spectacular bay-side views. You'll then continue along the grassy slope next to the cliff’s edge up to Mt. Miðfell before dropping down to the valley where there's a view of the cliffs. Continue to a small lake where swans tend to reside during the summer months.

Next, you'll cross over a ridge and make your way up the peak of Kálfatindar. This climb is pretty steep closer to the top but you will be rewarded with views over Iceland's coast including Drangajökull Glacier. You'll then begin your descent to the camp for dinner and your overnight.

Day 7: Hornstrandir Traverse Trek: Day 2/3

A sunset in the Westfjords
A sunset in the Westfjords

After a hearty breakfast at camp, you'll start today's loop trail with a hike past an impressive waterfall named Drífandi where your guide will likely share stories of polar bear sightings. In fact, polar bears sometimes drift (or swim) from Greenland's east coast all the way to these remote bays and struggle for survival.)

You'll then continue through the Innstidalur Valley and through Almenningar Pass where you'll hold steady again at the edge of the cliffs. From there, continue to the lighthouse in Látravík and stop for lunch overlooking the coastal scenery. After giving your legs a nice break, you'll make your way over another pass and return back to base camp where you'll be rewarded with a barbecue on the beach!

Day 8: Hornstrandir Traverse Trek: Day 3/3

Return to Isafjordur by boat
Return to Isafjordur by boat

This is the third and final day of the trek! You'll have time to relax with breakfast this morning before saying goodbye to your overnight surroundings. When it's time to hit the trail,  grab your bags and make your way to the fjord of Veiðileysufjörður in the south. The hike takes you up to Hafnarskarð Pass where you'll get a good view to the south on your way downhill. Once you reach the fjord, a boat will be waiting to take you back to Isafjordur (about an hour). From here, you'll settle in your hotel and have the rest of the evening to enjoy exploring this small fishing village on your own.

Day 9: Flight from Isafjordur to Reykjavik

Reykjavik's walkable streets
Reykjavik's walkable streets

This morning, you'll catch a quick hour-long flight from Isafjordur to Reykjavik city airport, which offers memorable views over Iceland's west coast. Once you've arrived, you'll catch a shuttle or 10-minute taxi ride into downtown Reykjavik.

Depending on your arrival time, you can spend the day exploring Reykjavik's vibrant city center, taking advantage of anything you may have missed, or perhaps join a whale watching tour from the harbor in the afternoon.

Day 10: Reykjanes Peninsula, Blue Lagoon, Departure

Head for the Blue Lagoon for some relaxation before a long flight home
Head for the Blue Lagoon for some relaxation before a long flight home

It's time to say farewell to Iceland! Soak up your last moments and explore more of Reykjavik. Or, if there's time before your flight, consider a side trip on your way to KEF airport. Here are some suggestions: 

  • Explore the hidden gems of the Reykjanes Peninsula: This is an area often missed by travelers quickly heading between Reykjavik and KEF airport. With a bit more time, you can explore lava fields, geothermal areas, and small fishing towns.

  • Blue Lagoon: Enjoy a geothermal soak in the iconic Blue Lagoon before you fly home (great for all ages).

  • Gardur Lighthouse: Two lighthouses are located near the airport: one on the coast (older and not as stable), and a second a bit further inland. This coastal area can be a nice area to walk around and stretch your legs before your flight.