Hiking in Iceland – Trails, Tips & Best Time to Go

We have been hikers for a while already and we can attest to the benefits that it offers. It strengthens the body, challenges the mind, and enriches the soul. There are not a lot of physical activities that can even level with the benefits and enjoyment it brings.

If we were to pick an ideal place to go hiking, though, then we’d pick Iceland in a heartbeat. It is filled with picturesque landscapes that look like they came straight out of a fantasy film. There are different trails for various skill levels. And it provides an experience that you simply can’t find elsewhere. Every. Single. Time.

The most convenient way to go to Iceland is to get the assistance of an agency like the online travel agency MustGo, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t tailor-make your experience on your own. That’s exactly what we are going to cover in this article.

These are the most important things to keep in mind if you’re planning to go hiking in Iceland. And of course, the different trails that you can explore. Let’s begin the adventure!

Best time to hike Iceland

The best time to go hiking in Iceland (whatever your skill level is) is summer. That’s from June to August. Their weather and terrain get extremely unreliable and dangerous at any other time. It’s also the time when the meadows are vibrantly green, the flowers are in full bloom, and the wildlife is buzzing with activity. It’s when you can make the most out of your experience.

When Not to Go: It’s important to keep in mind that Iceland only has two seasons – summer and winter. Hiking trails are not maintained during this time and the temperatures can be deadly cold. In fact, going to Iceland during the summer can already reach near-freezing temperatures depending on your trail.

We understand, though, that there are some of you out there that still want a challenge. If so, then at least, please get the proper winter survival gear and equipment.

Get a hiking buddy

Aside from having the proper gear (which we are going to talk more about in a bit), you also need to get a guide and more importantly, a hiking buddy. Hiking alone definitely has its charms. Some people find it lonely, while for others, it can be a life-changing spiritual experience. It’s as if you’re communing with nature.

Regardless, we recommend going with a partner, especially if you’re a beginner. In this way, there’ll be someone by your side to help you out in case of emergencies.

Prepare your gear

The first type of equipment that we recommend you to pack is navigational tools. There are a lot of reliable GPS devices with various features, or you can go old school with a compass and a map if you know how to read them. Just don’t forget to get your compass calibrated once you get to Iceland. There’s a bit of magnetic declination there.

As for your tent, you need something that’s certified for four-seasons use. Make sure to get a piece that’s resistant to the elements as well. For your sleeping bag, get one that can provide you warmth and comfort during 0ºC temperatures. An inflatable sleeping mat would be great too to elevate you from the freezing grounds.

As for clothes, thinner pieces that you can layer on top of each other underneath thicker outer layers made of windproof, waterproof, and insulated materials work best. Invest in high-quality waterproof hiking boots that offer a lot of stability and traction. And to store all your gear, you’ll need a waterproof hiking backpack.

Our favorite hiking trails in Iceland

Now that we’re all packed and ready, let’s move on to exploring the trails. Here are our favorites:

For beginners: Mount Esja

Esja is a beautiful mountain range that definitely holds its splendor in the breathtaking skyline of Reykjavik. What’s great about it, though, is that it offers different well-maintained trails for various skill levels. The hike takes two to three hours to go up and an hour or two to go down.

For intermediate hikers: Glymur Waterfall

For those who are looking for a bit more of a challenge, but still want a short and pleasant hike, then the Glymur Waterfall trail that takes you through an ancient lava cave is what we recommend. The trail is steeper and a little bit more slippery, but the path is well-maintained and offers a lot of ropes to help you through.

For experienced hikers: Fimmvorduhals Hiking Trail

Finally, here’s a trail that requires a lot of stamina. The Fimmvorduhals Hiking Trail is definitely not for the weak of heart, but if you’re up for the challenge, then you’ll be pleased to learn that National Geographic featured this as one of the best hiking trails in the world.

25,000 kilometers long and involving a 1000-meter climb, you will experience a wide variety of sights, 23 breathtaking waterfalls, and the two youngest volcano craters in the world. It’s an experience of a lifetime. If you’re lucky, you could even see the Northern Lights. Particularly as this is an overnight hike.

To sum up on Iceland hiking

Hiking is already a pleasurable experience on its own, but when done in a dreamy place like Iceland, every step becomes memorable. There are not a lot of places on Earth that can measure up to its splendor.

Be aware, though, that it’s not going to be an easy journey. But a well-informed guide, a friendly hiking buddy, and reliable gear and equipment can make the experience safer and even better.