Iceland walking highlights


OUR TOP TRAILS IN ICELAND

There are many Iceland walking highlights, but the most important one is the fact that these volcanic voyages take you well off the beaten track. Away from the crowds that pack into the island’s Golden Circle and into the wilds. Past the glistening glacier at the foot of the notorious Eyjafjallajokull volcano, along the remote black beaches of the Eastfjords region, across the beshevelled-by-beauty Hornstrandir Nature Reserve , as well as fjord after fjord. You can also go for the Icelandic Full Monty and do the whole circuit by foot. It’s cold out there though. So, ‘you can leave your hat on.’
Akureyri & Lake Myvatn Eastfjords Fjallabak Nature Reserve Full circuit Laugavegur hiking trail Westfjords and Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Akureyri & Lake Myvatn

Akureyri is the hub of northern hiking, and gateway to wild volcanic terrain around Lake Myvatn, with an obligatory wondrous waterfall such as Dettifoss en route. Witness the geological wonders of Mount Krafla caldera, 10km of active awesomeness, or the Leirhnjúkur’s steaming, multi-coloured lava fields. Iceland is a country that is so not grim up north. It will always be hot in fact.

Eastfjords

Do a week of walking in this region alone, starting in the bohemian town of Seydisfjördur and hiking to Borgarfjördur Eystri, with sea and mountains inspiring you along the way. Hike hut to hut with local expert guides who lead you through terrain ranging from fjords to peaks to deserted beaches, but also know the folkore of this “Elvish Realm.” As well as the fauna, including deer, arctic fox and myriad birdlife.

Fjallabak Nature Reserve

An alternative long distance walking route to Laugavegur, which can get busy in summer months. This really is isolated Iceland, where you can follow the ancient horse trails, hike across black deserts, experience hot springs and warm geothermally heated rivers. Walk from hut to hut and wake up to the light and shades of the volcanic rhyolite mountains, the centrepiece being Torfajökul Volcano.

Full circuit

Spend two weeks circumnavigating Iceland on foot, with the help of 4X4 transfers, and camp in the most remote landscapes. These include craters at the foot of Eyjafjallajokul Volcano and the stunning Vatnajokull Ice Cap in Skaftafell National Park. Fjords are a-plenty, with lava fields and lunar-like lakes, such as Myvatn, all simply wondrous sights. Walking in explosive Iceland will blow your mind.

Laugavegur hiking trail

You’d be wrong to think that Iceland’s terrain is all the same. This long distance trail takes you through colourful Landmannalaugar Mountains, past glistening glaciers such as the one at the foot of Eyjafjallajokull Volcano, through the orange rocky Jökultungur Valley and up to crater lakes. Sleep in tents or huts to enjoy these 55km of magnificence from dawn until dusk.

Westfjords and Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

This is Iceland at its wildest, with hiking trails in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve that will keep your toes on turf for a week. Uninhabited, it's walking and wild camping territory using local expert guides to share their pride of place, be it basalt mountains, exquisite lakes, dramatic fjords or scary Atlantic cliffs. This is stressbusting camp, Icelandic style.

Iceland walking vacations travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS IN ICELAND

Advice on when to go


Emmanuelle Bluman from our supplier Equipe Alkemia offers insights into the best time to visit Iceland on a walking vacation: “Iceland is unpredictable for its weather so there is no good or bad time. In winter you have the Northern Lights – but there is likely to be snow on the road. In summer, there's midnight sun and the temperature gets a little hotter! But if you want to hike, the best season is July and August.”

Advice on when to go


Tom Wilkinson from our supplier Exodus Travels speaks up for winter as the best time to visit Iceland for a walking vacation: “The weather in Iceland is fickle throughout the year. Midsummer for 24 hour daylight is an experience, but the drama of a snow-covered volcano or a waterfall encased in ice makes winter pretty special too. There are also far fewer tourists in winter so the main sites are less crowded.”

Natural connections


Emmanuelle Bluman from our supplier Equipe Alkemia offers some Iceland walking vacation tips for connecting with the island's unique landscape: “Most of what you'll experience you won't have anywhere else because Iceland is a volcanic land almost on the Arctic Circle. In winter, you have the Northern Lights; in summer the midnight sun. You have geysers, smoke, solfatares [aka fumaroles – geothermal openings in the Earth's crust that emit gases from inside the planet], places where basically the ground is boiling under your feet! Untouched and wild places like none that exist in the rest of Europe – no houses, just hiking paths... And not forgetting bathing in natural hot water pools!”

Trekking tips


Tom Wilkinson from our supplier Exodus: “Exploring Iceland properly does require you to get out of a bus and amongst the rocks, lava fields, volcanic beaches, glaciers and waterfalls. With the right guide and itinerary it is very safe, even in winter, and taps into that feeling of otherworldliness, when you’re away from the tourist spots.”

Toasty Dips


Tom Wilkinson from our supplier Exodus Travels sings the praises of hot dips in his Iceland walking vacation travel tips: “Thermal baths are a key part of Icelandic culture – a very social thing to do, where friends meet, chat and unwind. Where else would you be floating about in 30 degree water, face covered in therapeutic mud, in an outdoor pool with little flecks of snow settling on your nose and ice in your hair?!”

Iceland walking vacations travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR TRAVELLERS

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful tips on Iceland’s walking highlights that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation.
“Each season in Iceland brings a different set of wonders. A one-off vacation, such as this one (which was run, unusually, at the end of winter) gives an opportunity to see an astonishing country at a time when it is more-or-less free of tourists. Coping with the spectacularly changeable weather is worth it for the sense of isolation and seeing an amazing landscape in all of its wildest glory” – Kerry Bateman on our Iceland well being vacation

“Travel light as you are moving around. I wore my walking boots all the time and didn't really need another pair of shoes. And no need to take a skirt or dress – just spare trousers and layers.” – Gillian Girling

“Prepare real winter clothes to protect yourself not only just the cold weather but also the wind. I thought that I brought enough but next time I will bring more wind-proof jackets and pants.” – Chada Ruangtoowagoon

“Most of the walking is not flat or easy (rock piles, sand, pebbles, very deep moss, up/down). I am not complaining – it was great.” – Ardath Walcott

“Be aware that you need good equipment to photograph the Northern Lights, but it is still a memorable event without photos – and others will share photos with you.” – Valerie Oakley
Photo credits: [Map topbox: David Sorich] [Akureyi & Lake Myvatn: Scoundrelgeo] [Eastfjords: jaisril] [Fjallabak Nature Reserve: Unsplash] [Full circuit: Anjali Kiggal] [Laugavegur hiking trail: Jo Rainer] [Westfjords and Hornstrandir Nature Reserve: Mickaël Delcey] [Advice on when to go: Kitty Terwolbeck] [Natural connections: Winniepix] [Toasty Dips: dom fellowes] [Tip1: Jeff Turner] [Tip2: momo] [Helpdesk: Ben Husmann]
Written by Catherine Mack
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