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Backpacking Iceland falls into the “dream vacation” category. It’s the type of adventure you read about in a Nat Geo feature or on the Discovery Channel. One of those “man, that would be awesome” situations. Why is it so special? Well, it’s not everywhere that you can hike through lava fields and past blue lagoons to end up taking a dip in a hot spring. Or maybe it’s ice-caving during the day and then leaving your sleeping bags to catch the Northern Lights at night. Whatever dream combination you’re after, backpacking Iceland is certainly an adventure not soon forgotten.

So how does one navigate this beautiful island, it’s vast wilderness and natural beauty? We’re here to give you a little head start and help you make that dream vacation a reality.

By Vitalii Matokha

Overnight Trekking Trips

Laugavegur and Fimmvorduhals Trek

Normally tackled in five to seven days, Laugavegur and Fimmvorduhals is one of Iceland’s most stunning treks. You’ll walk in between glaciers, visit volcano eruption sites and explore geothermal areas (hot springs).

The trek makes a loop in southern Iceland and is easily accessible from Reykjavik. While you may have to compete with other backpackers looking to see the sights (Southern Iceland is the tourist region), this loop is one of the best ways to see the incredible diversity of Iceland’s wilderness.

By Pavel Dobrovsky

The Golden Circle

Another southern loop that usually takes about five days to complete, the Golden Circle will bring you to Gullfoss (the famous double waterfall), Pingvellir National Park, and then Strokkur geyser. This loop is the best way to see Iceland’s most recognizable natural attractions.

The loop begins in Reykjavik and covers more than 150 miles of incredible terrain.

By Alexander Levitsky

Hesteyri to Kogur Loop

Hesteyri to Kogur is for backpackers looking to escape the crowds and dive into Iceland’s more remote wilderness. The loop takes you along the Hornstrandir Peninsula which juts out from Iceland’s northwestern coast.

In three to five days of hiking, you’ll see fjord views you simply can’t imagine. On top of that, you’ll be far from all the crowds. This is our adventurer’s pick.

By Frederic Maillard

Day Hikes

Mt. Esja

A quick, but challenging ascent up to the top of Mt. Esja is an excellent day hike for adventurers staying in Reykjavik. The logistics are easy and the views from the top are rewarding. Not to mention, you’ll get some solid exercise on the way up.

By Stock Design

Laugahraun Lava Field

We talked about lava fields in the intro and that was for good reason. You’ll likely get a “Lord of the Rings feeling” as you move through the hardened lava rocks and catch the smells of the steam rising out of Mt. Brennisteinsalda.

By vvoe

The Blue Peak

The Blue Peak loop is like stepping inside a painting. You’ll look out on steep inclines covered with volcanic ash at their peak but made up of different color stone on the way down. The greys, greens, and browns mix in a way you’ve most likely never seen before.

By Liz Glasco

What to Bring

Waterproof Everything

Expect plenty of rain. Getting caught without waterproof gear to protect you and your stuff will quickly derail an awesome trek.

By Olga Danylenko

Osprey Backpack

They’re lightweight, durable and big enough to carry all the gear you’ll need for the longer, overnight loops.

GPS

The maps may be excellent and the trail may be marked, but Iceland is likely new territory and getting lost is always possible. A GPS can be treated as emergency equipment, but it’s a must-have.

By Lithiumphoto

Winter Sleeping Bag

This may sound obvious but expect severe temperature drops. You need rest to tackle the more challenging loops. Don’t let the cold keep you up all night.

By zhukovvvlad

Backpacking Iceland can be adjusted to meet the needs of all types of trekkers. For those looking for intermediate day hikes, there are plenty of options. For those looking for multi-day, challenging loops out in the wilderness, you may as well be in heaven.

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26 Comments

  1. Iceland looks so amazing. Such stunning views. But I’m neither a backpacker nor a hiker, so I wonder how one can get around and see some of it without doing those two things. I can only hope to join one of the easier tours meant for people like me.

  2. I’m so intrigued by Iceland! The views on these hikes look stunning. Very helpful advice. This would be something my kids are more likely to do than me, but if I got to see these amazing sights maybe I’d resort to sleeping on the ground. 🙂

  3. I would love to go hiking there, but couldn’t find the time yet. It is funny, Iceland is so close to me, yet, I still did not make it there.

  4. Kogur Loop looks incredible and as you’ve recommended it, I’d like to try it! I love Iceland and only went to the Golden Circle when we were there. Hopefully next time we’ll see more!

  5. Iceland has some of the most beautiful scenery from all of the photos I’ve seen. It looks like it would be an amazing experience to go hiking there. I’ve never been, but Iceland is on my list of bucketlist destinations. I like your tips about waterproofing and bringing a GPS!

  6. Iceland looks amazing! We have discussed visiting multiple times, I am thinking we need to make it happen!

  7. stunning pictures! One of my friends also went a few years ago. Would love to go myself!

  8. Renata Green

    It’s amazing, I’ve read so much about Iceland recently, but there is still anything new. I really like the Golden Circle, haven’t heard of it before.

  9. Iceland looks like an amazing place, hope to visit one day.

  10. I’ll definitely saving this. Iceland is on my bucket list. And i wanna experience aurora borealis.

  11. I love hiking! and also I love travel too. Iceland is perfect for great hiking! I like the photos!

  12. Iclenad looks so wonderful! I am not sure a visit would make me closer to it though.

  13. I am seriously saving this post because visiting and hiking Iceland is something I desperately want to do in the near future. Great information!

  14. Loved this! So informative and the photos were stunning. I also fully agree with Osprey backpacks for any occasion. I love mine and won’t travel with anything else ever again, even a suitcase.

  15. I was wondering of a way to know how one could hike in ice countries. Sounds like a hard treking I will never be able to do

  16. Sheena Moncatar

    Iceland is ever amazing! One day, someday I would want to set my feet in that part of the world, for now, I just have to finish Asia. This is a wonderful blog!

  17. Indeed, Iceland should be in Dream category….. It’s a magical place….

  18. We can only visualise hiking through lava fields and past blue lagoons. Thanks for putting together this guide for hiking routes in Iceland. We have been Into the Arctic in Alaska. We are yet to see the Aurora lights! Iceland may be!

  19. The Golden circle is spectacular and unbelievable. Seeing places like this makes me want to travel the world to see and experience the beauty that is buried in the heart of the Earth.

  20. This list is awesome! Loved the pictures! We are adding these to our travel list

  21. These pictures are great..so pretty!

  22. Kamapala Chukwuka

    This is such a helpful and well put together guide. The scenery around the mountains are just breathtaking and these pictures you shared are just perfect in helping bring the experience to life

  23. Your pictures are amazing! Iceland is on my bucket list, can’t wait to visit one day.

  24. These are absolutely stunning! I don’t think I’ll be able to trek there but knowing that places as pretty as this exist is so cool.

  25. woah! These pictures are extraordinary! Iceland is totally a place I want to go now. WOOOOW

  26. I became interested in Iceland after watching them and their President in the world cup. I have since read about them and planned my visit. I’m saving this post for when I need it. It’s a helpful guide that will come in handy.

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