With over half of the country made up of hills and mountains, Iceland is a hikers dream.
The interior Highlands region of the country has very few roads and no habitation, but instead there are endless hiking or trekking trails to be found. Filled with mountains, rivers, waterfalls, hot springs, volcanoes, geysers, and glaciers in every shape, size and colour.
Anyone who's walked the waterfront of Reykjavík has seen Mt. Esja. The mountain sits on the other side of the bay from the city and is featured in many of the Icelandic sagas. Its convenient location makes it a great half day hike from Reykjavík.
This hike is very popular among locals in the capital region, especially during the summertime. You have the choice of either taking the easier, less steep, trail or the more difficult, steeper trail but everyone's goal is the same -- to reach Steinn, which directly translates to 'Stone' and is a common Icelandic name for men. The boulder even has a guestbook next to it for hikers to sign their names in.
This lovely little hike goes through the hot spring river valley of Reykjadalur. The start of the track can be found by driving 40 minutes east of Reykjavík near the small town of Hveragerði, which is easily accessible by the city's bus system.
The trailhead starts at the end of town, past the golf course and horse stables. The hike isn't technical, though it is steep in parts, and the round-trip is roughly 7 kilometers. Bring your bathing suit and towel because at the end of the trail there is a geothermal river where you can bathe in warm water while admiring the astonishing Icelandic landscape.
There are hundreds of powerful waterfalls to be seen in Iceland, but you can only get to Gylmur, the country’s second highest waterfall, by foot.
The start of the trail is about an hour north from Reykjavik, at the far end of Hvalfjörður (The Whale fjord). Both the drive to the trailhead and the hike up to the waterfall are truly enchanting. The hike itself is about three to four hours (the roundtrip), and is full of mossy green canyons, caves, wildflowers, bubbling streams, and endless vistas. You will not be disappointed.
The Laugavegur trek is the most famous multi-day hike in Iceland. It's a 55 kilometer, four-day and three-night hike that starts in the highlands at a geothermal paradise known as Landmannalaugar. The trek is well marked and not too difficult, but a map or a GPS device is highly recommended.
The long trail goes past the eruption site of Eyjafjallajökull volcano and ends in the fertile, Jurassica Park-esque, valley of Þórsmörk. If you're looking to explore the vastness and diversity of Icelandic nature, then this is your trek!
Starting in Þórsmörk (where the Laugavegur trek ends), the incredible 23 kilometer Fimmvörðuháls trail can usually done in about 10 hours, but it's a very demanding hike. But difficult tasks more often than not come with great rewards, and this is no exception as this hike offers one of the most fascinating landscapes you'll ever see.
Going up and down you'll encounter much of the amazing scenery that Iceland is famous for; Glaciers, mountains, lava fields, waterfalls and steaming volcanoes. Being up close and personal with these powerful phenomena is truly a transforming experience.