Iceland walking vacations travel guide

The ‘huldufólk’, or ‘hidden people’ play an important role in Iceland’s mythological history and, for many historians, they very much represent the innate Icelandic tie with the natural environment. In the past, they were about fearing the power of volcanoes, avalanches, earthquakes and the sea, and somehow personifying this power. When you go on a walking vacation in Iceland, you explore landscapes that are so remote that you can only stay in mountain huts or go wild camping, and you start to get a feeling of how these wild places must have felt hundreds of years ago.
No wonder Star Wars was shot here. When you go hiking and wild camping out in Iceland’s highlands or alongside dramatic fjords, you definitely feel the force.
How stories evolved, and how people had to believe in magic. Most unbelievably, after negotiating crowds of tourists in and around Reykjavik, you will wake up somewhere glorious like Westfjords and ask yourself, where are all the people? Because you can walk for days and hardly meet a soul. The answer is, of course – they are hidden.

Read our Iceland walking guide for more details.

Is an Iceland walking vacation for you?

Go on an Iceland walking vacation if...

... you enjoy the challenge of long distance hiking trails, sleeping in mountain huts along the way. The Laugavegur is one of the most famous in the world. And deservedly so. ... you love wild camping. There are plenty of opportunities for this, in both mountainous and coastal terrain. ... you want to discover fjords, but your land legs are much stronger than your sea ones. ... you want to immerse yourself in Iceland’s volcanic virtuosity, but stay well clear of the crowds.

Don’t go on an Iceland walking vacation if...

... hotels with fluffy robes are high on your list. Small rural guesthouses, mountain huts and tents are what it’s all about in Iceland. ... you don’t respect the power of nature. This is a landscape of hot springs and boiling mud, remote marshlands and dangerous cliffs. And trolls. ... you want guaranteed sunshine. You need layers and more layers for walking here, where the weather can change every five minutes. ... you want to party. These walking vacations are ‘far out’ in a very different way.

Best time to go on an Iceland walking vacation

While the crowds were packing into Reykjavik for the Summer Solstice Festival, we were circumnavigating the island on foot. Plodding peacefully through paradise.
Most walking vacations take place between June and August as the weather is better for staying in remote hiking huts or wild camping. Temperatures vary from north to south. In Fjallabak Nature Reserve, for example, the average temperature is 1°C, but can be between 5-14 °C in July and August. So, no matter what time of year, layer up. June and July are the months of the midnight sun, which may sound wonderful but expect a few nights of troubled sleep as your body adjusts.

Iceland Weather Chart

 
MIN °C
MAX °C
RAIN (mm)
JAN
-3
2
105
FEB
-2
3
100
MAR
-1
3
105
APR
1
6
80
MAY
4
10
75
JUN
7
13
70
JUL
10
14
67
AUG
8
13
86
SEP
4
11
94
OCT
3
8
119
NOV
-1
4
110
DEC
-2
2
105

Our top Iceland walking Vacation

Iceland hiking vacation, Fjallabak

Iceland hiking vacation, Fjallabak

Amazing trek behind the mountains and off the beaten path

From £2420 9 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2018: 23 Aug
Helpdesk
Hello. If you'd like to chat about Iceland walking or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

WHEN TO GO ON AN ICELAND WALKING HOLIDAY & WHEN NOT TO

If you want to combine nature with culture, the summer solstice music festival in June is a big deal in Iceland. Walking after all the revelry would be a pretty cool thing to do.   If you want to see puffins while you are on a walking vacation, it times well as they arrive around April and May and stay until the end of August. June and July are the months of the midnight sun, which may sound wonderful but expect a few nights of troubled sleep as your body adjusts. The nights start to darken again by August. The Northern Lights appear from September until April, so you are unlikely to catch them on a walking vacation unless you are lucky. Never say never though. April can still be snowy, with average temperatures around 3°C, but by May the days are stretching, from almost 17 hours of daylight at the start of the month, to 20 hours by the end. Some walking vacations run in May, most take place between June and September as the weather is warmer and drier, so it’s better for staying in remote hiking huts or wild camping, plus the days are seemingly endless. Summer temperatures vary from north to south. In Fjallabak Nature Reserve, for example, the average temperature is 1°C, but can be 5-14°C in July and August. So, no matter what time of year, layer up.
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Kitty Terwolbeck] [Go on...: Ben Husmann] [Temp chart: sheilaahmadi]
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