Iceland walking travel guide

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. 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?

Responsible Travel recommends

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 a Iceland walking vacation


Most walking vacations take place between June and August as the weather is better for staying in remote hiking huts or wild camping. And the days are longer, of course. 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. There are winter trips available too in January and February, when you can hope to see the Northern Lights as well as walk on glaciers. But hotels will replace huts.
Photo credits: [topbox: Ben Husmann] [Temp chart: Axel Kristinsson] [Helpdesk: Ben Husmann]
Written by Catherine Mack
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