Panoramic view of Iceland

Your Guide to Hiking in Iceland This Summer

Iceland has one of the most dramatic and remarkable landscapes in the world. From volcanoes and hot springs, to glaciers and black sand beaches, it is as diverse as it is beautiful. One of the best ways to take it all in is by exploring on foot. Walking and hiking trails are prevalent in Iceland, and even if you are new to the pastime, you can find a trail to suit your level of experience. Here, we will take a look at walking and hiking in Iceland during the summer months, and how you can make the most of this scenic and striking country. 

 

Is there a lot of hiking in Iceland?

Hiking is very popular in Iceland because of the country’s unique landscape, and there are many trails to enjoy. With three national parks and a plethora of nature reserves, there are hiking trails to suit everyone, whether you are a seasoned hiker or just starting out. Some of the most popular treks for expert hikers include Laugavegur and Fimmvörduháls, Hornstrandir, Kjolur, and Askja, each taking several days and are challenging.

However, visitors looking for a one-day hike can enjoy smaller simpler hikes around the country, for example to and from the Glymur waterfall. This hike is particularly beautiful and it is also a little more off the beaten track than some of the country’s other waterfalls, like Seljalandsfoss or Skógafoss.

Where can I hike in Reykjavik?

There is a veritable bounty of hiking trails surrounding Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik. Some are hugely popular with tourists, whereas others are less travelled. For a quieter hike, try Móskarðshnjúkar. Located in Mosfellsdalur, which is a 20-minute drive from the city, its peak is part of Mt. Esja, a volcanic mountain range. The moss-covered lava fields and wildflowers are replaced with yellow rhyolite rock as you move up the trail. From the top, you’ll have panoramic views across Reykjavik and the surrounding area.

An hour outside Reykjavik is Kerid Crater Lake. The short hike around the rim offers a wonderful view of the 3000-year-old volcanic crater which has become a bright and colourful lake surrounded with red volcanic rock. Another place to enjoy a hike that is just 45 minutes from the city is Thingvellir National Park. The famous Öxarárfoss Waterfall Trail is a gorgeous hike and gives you a unique chance to traverse the crater of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

Kerid Crater Lake Iceland

How long does it take to hike across Iceland?

It is possible to hike across the entire country, but it’s definitely a journey for experienced hikers. The entire journey takes around 18-20 days from the north to the south coast, but some hikers go from east to west as well, which will take between 3-4 weeks at a normal pace.

Again, this is a journey for dedicated hikers who understand the challenges of such an extensive hike. However, you could choose to drive some of the distance, choosing smaller hikes throughout the journey. This will give you the chance to explore the wilderness without having to be on your feet for the entire route.

 

What is extreme hiking?

Extreme hiking is not for the faint-hearted, as the name suggests. Extreme hikes take place in harsh environments or intense weather conditions. For example, hikes through heavy snow, or through a desert, or during a storm, would be considered an extreme hike. Iceland’s naturally diverse landscape make it an ideal location for extreme hiking – but these types of excursions are definitely for hikers with experience.

What is the highest elevation in Iceland?

Mt. Hvannadalshnjúkur is Iceland’s highest mountain, but at a height of just 2110m it’s quite surprising that it has gained that title. Whilst there are hundreds of low-level peaks in Iceland, only around 100 rise to 1400m or more with only a handful over 2000m.

Hvannadalshnjúkur is the highest point of Öræfajökull volcano on the Vatnajokull glacier and is a popular place for hikers, but only those with a lot of experience and all the necessary equipment.

 

Can you see glaciers in Iceland in summer?

You might think that the summer months are not conducive to glacier hikes, but this is not so. There are hikes across most of Iceland’s glaciers during July and August. Sólheimajökull, Vatnajökull and Skaftafellsjökull all offer hikes of varying difficulty, or you could traverse them by snowmobile for a more adrenaline-inducing experience.

Man hiking glacier

Is July a good time to go to Iceland?

July is a good time to visit Iceland for a number of reasons, not least of all because it is a fantastic month for hiking and trekking. Iceland’s weather in July is generally mild and, although the midnight sun peaks in June, July’s days are still long with an average of 20 hours of daylight. 

With fewer storms and more light, summer tends to be more enjoyable for hikers. Also, Iceland’s spectacular flora and fauna are out in all their glory. Colourful Arctic flowers and plants coat the green pastures and the vibrant chirping of birds give life to the air and will help you feel closer to this incredible environment.

However, July is also peak season when well-known attractions and hiking trails can be busy. 

What should I pack for Iceland in the summer?

Packing for visiting Iceland in July should be based on the layer principle as although it’s typically the mildest time of year, weather is changeable. For hikers in particular, warmth is a key factor for packing. Make sure you take wind and waterproof clothing and enough layers to be able to adapt to any changes. Temperatures can fluctuate dramatically even within a couple of hours in Iceland.

 

Do I need hiking boots for Iceland in summer?

The weather might be nice in summer, but the trails are rugged, which means you need to be prepared. You should definitely take hiking shoes or boots with you if you intend to walk even the simplest of trails, as these provide safety and comfort on uneven ground.

Valley in Iceland

Do you want to take on some of Iceland’s incredible hiking trails? Learn more about hiking in Iceland on our holidays page or get in touch with our expert team on 01737 214 250.