Igor has spent months exploring every inch of Iceland over several years. He specializes in the Highlands, F-roads, hiking, hot springs, and less touristy places. He loves Iceland and keeps coming back.
Igor has spent months exploring every inch of Iceland over several years. He specializes in the Highlands, F-roads, hiking, hot springs, and less touristy places. He loves Iceland and keeps coming back.
How to Visit Maelifell Volcano

How to Visit Maelifell Volcano

Maelifell is an epic green volcano hidden in the black Icelandic desert in the southern Highlands of Iceland.

Did you know that there is not just one Maelifell in Iceland? There are about 20 of them. Maelifell means “measuring mountain” in Icelandic, or an “orientational hill”. And Icelanders in the past were not very original in naming their mountains. So, yes, there are many Maelifells in Iceland.

Below we explain in deep detail how to reach Maelifell. Information in this article is based on our multiple visits to the volcano over several years. There’s no guarantee the conditions will be the same at the time of your visit, though! More on this below.

Maelifell Video Guide

Maelifell Map

How to get to Maelifell

You have two options – drive to Maelifell yourself or take a private super jeep tour. There are no buses or bigger group tours.

Driving to Maelifell

You have three options to reach Maelifell:

  • From the West – the most scenic route
  • From the South – the easiest route
  • From the East – route with the biggest river crossing
how to visit maelifell volcano

How to visit Maelifell volcano in Iceland

First of all – it is NOT EASY to get to Maelifell. It’s not a trip for beginners.

You need to drive a big 4wd car AND you have to cross the unpredictable rivers.

Maelifell is disguised deep in the southern Icelandic Highlands. To reach it, you need to take the difficult Highland roads, which are also called the F-roads.

For all of this, you HAVE TO prepare in advance.

Western route

You can reach Maelifell from the west by either

  • Road F210 only, or
  • Roads F261 and F210

Both of these roads are incredibly scenic and rough highland roads. You have to cross medium-sized rivers on both.

F210 only

F210 west near Keldur

F210 west near Keldur

My favorite option is to take the F-road F210 from the west only. It’s one of the most beautiful roads in Iceland. Views on a nice day are simply amazing.

You will have to cross several small to medium rivers on F210. Moreover, you will also drive in a river bank for about 100 meters (yards).

The most significant river crossing is located near the crossroads with F261, and the river is called Kladaklofskvisl:

There are no more river crossings after Kaldaklofskvisl, but the road gets rougher and rougher.

You will, for example, encounter huge volcanic boulders that require a high ground clearance and cautious driving.

What Car do you need for F210?

f-roads maelifell iceland

F-roads around Maelifell

To pass F210 safely, you must drive at least a Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota Hilux, or Jeep Wrangler.

The best option is to drive a super jeep. Super Jeep is a modified vehicle with big tires and a snorkel. Some examples include Land Rover Defender, Land Rover Super Defender or a modified Land Cruiser.

You can rent all of these in Iceland. Check out our article on How to Rent a Super Jeep in Iceland.

F261 and F210

The second option from the west is to use the combination of the roads F261 and F210.

F261 is a bumpy road with one medium-sized river crossing at the end. The river is called Blafjallakvisl and requires just about the same cars to pass as F210.

F261 is also beautiful and worth the drive.

Southern route

f232 blafjallafoss waterfall

F232 Bláfjallafoss waterfall

F232 from the south is the easiest road.

It is the least bumpy road and there is just one medium-sized river crossing. Or better said – a waterfall crossing.

There are huge stones at the bottom of the river and the crossing is very bumpy.

f232 road iceland

F232 south of Maelifell

This one particular spot – the waterfall crossing of Blafjállafoss – is great for drone lovers, and it’s very picturesque.

Other than that, there’s nothing super highly interesting along the road, just one more cute waterfall called Holmsarfoss.

To pass F232, we again recommend ideally a Land Cruiser or something bigger.

On a dry day, you may be able to pass with Dacia Duster, Suzuki Jimny, Nissan Qashqai, or something similar. BUT you need to drive well without mistakes. To be sure not to damage your car, it’s better to rent something bigger.

Eastern route

The final option is to take F210 from the east. Eastern F210 is not difficult, but there is one major obstacle on the road.

f210 iceland east

F210 East of Maelifell

A big river crossing of Holmsa river. This river crossing is located east of Maelifell, right next to the Raudibotn craters area.

To pass this ford safely, it’s best to drive a super jeep. On a dry day you may be able to pass with Land Cruiser or Hilux or something similar.

Please never cross Holmsa in a Duster, Jimny or anything similar!

When to visit Maelifell

In short, you can visit Maelifell only in summer AND only when the roads to Maelifell are open.

maelifell iceland our visit

Our first visit of Maelifell in August

The roads to Maelifell typically open in the beginning of July and usually become impassable around mid-September.

Always check this upfront on www.road.is or www.trafficinfo.is, that is the same website of Icelandic Road Administration.

You can drive to Maelifell only if the road is marked green or dashed green.

What to do around

Our favorite hidden gems near Maelifell are Raudibotn craters, Strútslaug hot spring, Markarfljotsgljufur canyon, and Hungurfit dirt track.

Raudibotn craters

Rauðibotn waterfalls

Raudibotn waterfalls

Raudibotn craters are an out-of-this-world secluded area full of waterfalls, rivers, and craters. Beware, though, to reach Raudibotn from Maelifell, you must cross the more giant Holmsa river.

Or you need to go all the way back to the ring road and access Raudibotn by F210 from the south.

You can read more about our Raudibotn experience here.

Strutslaug hot spring

strutslaug hot spring iceland

Strútslaug hot spring deep in the Fjallabak highlands of Iceland

Strútslaug is most likely the least visited hot spring in Iceland. This is a truly wild hot pot, unlike many other touristy ones in Iceland.

To reach Strútslaug, you have to cross one medium-sized river several times and then hike for about 1.5 hours.

You can read more about our Strútslaug experience here.

Markarfljotsgljufur canyon

markarfljotsgljufur east viewpoint

East viewpoint of Markarfljótsgljúfur Canyon

Markarfljótsgljúfur Canyon is one of our favorite canyons in Iceland. You are almost guaranteed to be alone when you reach it.

That being said, Markarfljótsgljúfur belongs to some of the most difficult-to-access canyons in Iceland.

You can get to Markarfljótsgljúfur either from the west or from the east. We describe in detail both of these options in the article about our Markarfljótsgljúfur experience.

Hungurfit dirt track

We will finish our list of the most secluded and fascinating spots in Iceland by Hungurfit track. This is one of our favorite deserted and totally remote dirt tracks in Iceland.

Driving the Hungurfit track involves steep ascents and descents, driving next to the deep ravines, as well as crossing numerous rivers and streams.

The most sought-for spots on Hungurfit, even for locals, is one of the tightest boulder-passes in Iceland – see video thumbnail above.

Tips and Safety

How do you prepare for a trip like this?

  1. Watch road videos and read blog posts to know what to expect
  2. Rent a proper car – Land Cruiser, Hilux, or a super jeep
  3. Practice on easier roads first
  4. Don’t go alone, ideally, go with more than just one car
  5. Go only when the weather is good, and the roads are open for tourists
  6. Check road and weather conditions on road.is or trafficinfo.is and en.vedur.is in advance
  7. Check with your car rental company if you are allowed to drive the roads to Maelifell
  8. Read our Highlands road trip guide


maelifell iceland drive

Driving around Maelifell

Is there any accommodation near Maelifell?

There is no hotel or hostel anywhere nearby. Only mountain huts with sleeping bag accommodation.

The closest ones are Hvanngil hut, Strútur hut, Alftavatn hut, Alftavotn hut and Emstrur-Botnar hut.

Can I get to Maelifell in Dacia Duster or Suzuki Jimny?

Long story short – we do not recommend it.

It is theoretically possible on a nice and dry day. And only if you use the easiest southern route F232. But you are risking damaging your car.

Can I take small children to Maelifell?

Well, like generally? NO. Only if you already have experience with the highlands, otherwise not.

Maelifell highlands Iceland

Maelifell in the highlands of Iceland. Photo credit to: snorrithorphotography.com

How much time do I need?

It takes roughly 2 hours to reach Maelifell from the town of Vik and roughly 2.5hours from Hella.

If you want to see just Maelifell and nothing else, the roundtrip will take you around 6 hours.

Is it worth going in a fog?

Unfortunately not really. But this depends on how heavy the fog is and if it’s persistent or not. This is impossible to predict. So you just need to take your chances!

Why can I visit Maelifell only in summer?

Because there is snow or mud on the roads. You would get stuck or you could damage the fragile soil.

Can I hike Maelifell?

Yes you can, BUT it is a very hard hike on an unmarked trail. It’s very steep and only for highly experienced hikers.

Our Experience

maelifell highlands iceland

The gem on the highlands of Iceland

Our first trip to Maelifell started in Hella via F210 from the west.

Most of the F210 is without bigger river crossings, so in case of good weather, even if you don’t feel like doing bigger river crossings, you may try to drive it in a proper 4×4 (ideally Land Cruiser or bigger, see our guide on how to choose a proper car for Iceland) – up to Alftavatn mountain hut.

F210 west of Alftavatn

Up to Alftavatn hut, the road is just bumpy, with potholes and some steep sections, but really picturesque and one of my favorite Icelandic roads. You will get amazing views in each direction – seeing Landmannalaugar from the distance and a big part of Fjallabak Park.

Even until Alftavatn, you will still have to cross several smaller streams, and even drive in the riverbed for around 100 meters! This is really one of the “once in a lifetime” experiences, for anyone not used to it (yes, maybe not for Icelanders ;).

f210 iceland west

F210 west of Alftavatn

As I mentioned, the road leads through multiple mountainous areas, so if you are unsure about driving in such an environment, please don’t go. Once you pass Alftavatn, the first real obstacle gets into your path – crossing the Kaldaklofskvisl river.

F210 to Alftavatn

Hence, we drove F210 all the way to Alftavatn lake. The road was admiringly beautiful. The part I liked the most was the highest spot just before Alftavatn, where you could see all the surrounding land, including Landmannalaugar in the distance, almost from the “bird’s eye” point of view.

We took a short break at Alftavatn lake, which is a very nice, calm, and quiet spot to stop at and have a picnic or short stay during nice weather. We were lucky enough that exactly after our arrival at Alftavatn the sun started to fight its way between the clouds and we could even walk in the T-shirt outside.

F210 Fjallabaksleið Syðri

F210 Fjallabaksleið Syðri to Alftavatn

F210 after Alftavatn then continues in two directions – south towards F261 and east towards Maelifell and Holmsa river. Since our journey went smoothly up to this point, we definitely wanted to take a detour toward Maelifell and so we did. We turned left on the eastern part of F210. Here’s where the truly lunar landscapes have begun to emerge.

Kaldaklofskvisl river crossing

Kaldaklofskvisl crossing on F210 can get tricky at times because there are some large boulders in the river that you are unable to see beforehand. Secondly, the water level in the river may get too high to allow for safe crossing in vehicles not big enough.

It’s always necessary to strictly adhere to all the river crossing rules, watch someone cross before you, wade the river yourself if feeling unsure, and if still feeling unsure better turn back.

F210 kaldaklofskvisl river crossing

Kaldaklofskvísl river crossing F210

We had nice partially cloudy/partially sunny weather, luckily with no fog and no rain. We already knew from our friends and from the day before, that the water level in rivers is favorably low and rivers are shallower than usual. These are practically one of the best conditions possible.

F210 to Maelifell

F210 towards Maelifell is definitely one of the most unique Icelandic roads. Firstly, the weather almost always changes when driving on this road. F210 towards Maelifellsandur literally feels like a gateway towards another world, thanks to this. Secondly, the road itself is very specific – it starts with huge boulders and continues as a black sand road.

And it’s almost always covered with some kind of mist – either light or heavy. Huge boulders are the most difficult part of F210 towards Maelifell. The road doesn’t have a clearly visible track, and if you don’t take enough care, you may damage the underside of your car.

F210 Fjallabaksleid Sydri east to Maelifell

F210 Fjallabaksleid Sydri east to Maelifell

After basically driving on huge stone plates rather than an ordinary road, the route turns into tracks in the black sand. Oftentimes expect it to be wet and muddy because this is the area where it may rain occasionally. This part of the road doesn’t have any huge obstacles, or rivers, so it looks like a giant moon highway.

There are no more river crossings going from Kaldaklofskvisl to Maelifell. If you are the only car on the road (which is frequently the case, as with us) then your only guides are the tracks in the sand and yellow sticks marking the side of the road.


After a drive in the middle of “black sand nowhere”, you will be able to spot majestic Maelifellsandur in the distance. If you are lucky enough, and Mr. Maelifell is not covered in fog – which he likes to do – your view will be truly amazing. As I already mentioned, the weather usually changes to worse after turning towards Maelifell. This was exactly our case (multiple times). This time it, however, only changed to cloudy with occasional little rain – which is still considered good weather.

maelifell iceland

Maelifell in Fjallabak nature reserve

Finally, after an adventurous drive – there it stood – Maelifell volcano. It’s a view as if you were on a deserted planet. A huge green volcano in front of you, surrounded by black sand fields, with occasional little lakes created by past rain and absolute silence in the air.

It’s even possible to climb the Maelifell, but we don’t recommend doing that unless you are really experienced in performing steep, unmarked hikes unless there’s ideal weather and ideally only with a guide. We didn’t go for the hike as it may be really dangerous (and the view from above wouldn’t be great in partially foggy weather).

Holmsa river crossing

We still had enough time at that point of the day, because everything went pretty smoothly. Thus, we decided to take a look at the Holmsa river crossing with an aim of seeing Raudibotn – the beautiful hidden (from a typical tourist) area with a crater, river, and amazing landscapes all around.

holmsa river crossing iceland

Me crossing bigger Hólmsá river by Land Cruiser on F210 near Maelifell

After reaching Maelifell, we continued east and we soon arrived at the Holmsá river crossing. According to a friend of mine, the crossing was supposed to be doable, without problems, at this time of the year (especially due to low water levels). Beware, this is the river crossing which may get pretty nasty. Always check both beforehand and on-site.

The crossing looked exactly like my friend Haraldur described it – this time harmless. I examined the river anyway and it looked calm and shallow. Because of this, we decided to go for a ford even without wading the river on foot. And the crossing went smoothly. There’s a small hill with the road, usually easy to spot on your left after the Holmsa crossing.

Raudibotn, Markarfljostgljufur and Hungurfit

After crossing Holmsa we went hiking all the way to Raudibotn craters. Highly recommended and totally worth a tiring day!

hungurfit track river crossings

Many small to medium river crossings are an amazing part of the Hungurfit track

After Raudibotn, we didn’t have enough and explored also Markarfljotsgljufur canyon and drove Hungurfit track. You can read in detail about our Fjallabak highlands day involving all these activities.

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Posted by Igor in Guide, Highlands, 0 comments
How to visit Eldgjá

How to visit Eldgjá

Eldgjá is a gigantic canyon created by the largest volcanic eruption on earth in the last millennium. From a historical point of view, Eldgjá is definitely a fascinating place to visit.

Except for the Eldgjá canyon, there’s also a very picturesque waterfall called Ófærufoss right in the heart of Eldgjá.

But does Eldgjá belong to one of the most beautiful places in the Icelandic Highlands, as many people describe it? Well, we are not so sure about that, and we will explain why below.

Map of Eldgjá

eldgja map iceland

Map of the Eldgjá area (click to enlarge)

Eldgjá hiking trails

There are three main hiking trails in Eldgjá:

eldgja hiking trails iceland

Hiking trails in Eldgjá

The two most popular hiking spots in Eldgjá are Ófærufoss waterfall and the peak of Gjátindur. The majority of visitors go only to the famous Ofaerufoss because it’s the most efficient option.

We wrote a list of 25 Off-The-Beaten Track Places in Iceland that nobody else writes about.

Besides the main trails, there are also several traverse routes leading to the Highlands.

Ófærufoss waterfall

ofaerufoss waterfall eldgja iceland

Beautiful Ófærufoss waterfall in Eldgjá

Hiking time: 1.5 hours round-trip
Difficulty: very easy
Trail Map: Ófærufoss hiking trail

Ofaerufoss is the legendary picturesque waterfall and the main attraction of Eldgjá. The waterfall is a must-see spot in the area we highly recommend visiting. It’s spectacular in any weather.

It’s an easy, well-marked walk that anyone can do. It took us less than 30 minutes to reach the Ófærufoss waterfall from the Eldgjá car park.

The shortest trail to Ófærufoss leads along the right/eastern bottom of the canyon and turns left/west right before the waterfall.

Small circle

ofaerufoss waterfall eldgja

Ófærufoss viewpoint from the “Small Circle” hiking trail in Eldgjá

Hiking time: 2 hours round-trip
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Trail Map: Small Circle hiking trail

If you want to enjoy Ófærufoss from more angles and the bird’s eye perspective, you can take a longer Small Circle hike.

This trek is a loop path extension of the easy bottom-of-the-canyon walk. After passing Ófærufoss, you will need to climb shortly to the eastern edge of the canyon. From there, you turn back south.

Once you finish the climb, you will also get nice views over the Eldgjá Canyon. You can take this loop trail in any direction. It’s a nice compromise between a short Ófærufoss walk and a long Gjátindur trek.

Gjátindur circle

eldgja iceland

Bird’s eye view over the Eldgjá Canyon when hiking to Gjátindur

Hiking time: 5 to 6 hours round-trip
Difficulty: moderate with one steeper climb
Trail Map: Gjátindur hiking trail

Gjátindur is the tallest peak in the Eldgjá area. By climbing Gjátindur on a nice day, you will be guaranteed to have the best views over the entire Eldgjá. But are these views worth the climb? Well…

It took us almost 6 hours to complete the loop trail to Gjátindur and back, including a stop at Ófærufoss and then a struggle to find the correct path. The hike to Gjátindur is moderately difficult, with one pretty steep ash climb. Otherwise, the trek isn’t anyhow dangerous. It’s just long (around 16 kilometers, or 10 miles).

Several different trails lead to Gjátindur. One of the trails leads inside the bottom of the canyon, while the other trail leads along the upper edge of the canyon, see the Eldgjá hiking map above.

Langisjór traverse trail

langisjór lake iceland

View over the Langisjór lake from Sveinstindur trail

Hiking time: 1 to 2 days
Difficulty: moderate to difficult
Trail Map: Eldgjá Skaelingar hiking trail

Eldgjá Canyon is actually a part of the vast hiking area that stretches all the way in between the road F208 (Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri) in the southwest and Lake Langisjór in the northeast.

Numerous marked and unmarked remote trails connect Eldgjá to Langisjór and Uxatindar mountains in between. See the huge Eldgjá map.

How to Visit the Icelandic Highlands and prepare for the Highlands road trip?

How to get to Eldgjá

To get to Eldgjá, you must take the F-roads F208 and F223, respectively. There are no buses or guided tours, so your only option is to drive or take a private tour.

Road F208

If you take the road F208 from the south, you have to cross one medium-sized river. You need to drive at least a medium-sized 4wd car to pass safely.

When you arrive by F208 from the north, you will encounter several small to medium-sized rivers to ford. This route is one of the most beautiful Icelandic highland roads.

We again recommend driving, at minimum, a medium-sized 4×4 car like Dacia Duster. That being said, if the conditions are ideal and the weather is dry enough, you may also pass with smaller 4wd cars like Toyota RAV4 or whatever is being called a 4×4 these days.

Road F223

F223 to Eldgjá is an easy F-road without any river crossings or other obstacles.

It’s a very short drive from the southern part of F208 (Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri). The only reason Eldgjárvegur is marked as an F-road is probably that it’s impossible to get there without using other F-roads.

Once you reach Eldgjá, there’s a huge car park with a ranger’s hut and modern toilets.

Is Eldgjá worth a visit?

Eldgjá is worth a visit if you have more time to explore the southern Icelandic Highlands. If you are short on time, we recommend other fantastic spots in the Highlands.

Interestingly enough, if you ask locals in Iceland to name a few most beautiful places in Iceland, many replies will include “Ásbyrgi” and/or “Eldgjá”. We have visited both, and both were actually slightly underwhelming in our opinion (and other foreign visitors’ opinions).

How to choose the Best Car for Iceland based on your trip plans?

Don’t get me wrong, both Eldgjá and Ásbyrgi are beautiful places to visit. But Iceland has so many unique gems to offer that Eldgjá or Ásbyrgi simply don’t measure up to many of them.

What is the Best Hike in Eldgjá?

gjatindur eldgja iceland

At the peak of Gjátindur in Eldgjá

If you have just a few hours dedicated to visiting Eldgjá, we suggest primarily seeing Ófærufoss. Ófærufoss waterfall was probably the highlight of our full-day visit to Eldgjá. Moreover, a hike to Ófærufoss is just an effortless walk, not even a hike.

If you have more time, you can do a longer hike to Gjátindur, the highest summit of Eldgjá. We suggest doing this hike only if you are really into hiking and have enough time. Once you climb the edge of the Eldgjá Canyon, there’s a nice viewpoint over the entire Eldgjá area from a bird’s eye viewpoint.

List of 130 most beautiful Icelandic Waterfalls with detailed info.

However, to reach Gjátindur, you need to continue even further, and the view from the peak isn’t that special in our opinion. Definitely not if you compare it, for example, to nearby Sveinstindur, Bláhnúkur, or Thakgil.

Once again, don’t get me wrong, the Gjátindur hike is pretty. If you have time and energy, then go for it. It’s just not among our favorite ones in Iceland, not even close to it.

Our Eldgjá Experience

We visited Eldgjá at the end of July and did all the main treks. We hiked to Ófærufoss and then to Gjátindur for the best views over Eldgjá.

Ófærufoss hike

As expected, we met many fellow tourists along the way to Ófærufoss. Apart from tourists, we also met many infamous Icelandic midges 🙂 Eldgjá is actually the only place where we’ve ever used head-nets in Iceland.

Ófærufoss hiking trail eldgjá iceland

Easy hiking trail to Ófærufoss

Midges don’t bite, and they are not dangerous. They are just very pesky and persistent about getting into your nose and eyes, being attracted to wet spots. So either you will be waving your hand in front of you, or you’re gonna use head-nets.

Ófærufoss is totally worth a short walk. If I were to come here next time, Ófærufoss would be the only place I would visit again in Eldgjá. The waterfall is magnificent, and it will definitely make it to our list of favorite Icelandic waterfalls.

There’s even a huge viewpoint platform with seating. Rangers built ropes around the waterfall to protect the moss and tourists from falling into the waterfall. Despite the ropes, several arrogant visitors didn’t respect them and stepped on the moss to take better pictures anyway. This is how NOT to be a responsible tourist.

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Crowds at Ófærufoss and tourists breaking the rules by standing behind the rope.

Gjátindur hike

After seeing Ófærufoss, we still had enough time and energy to hike more, and the weather was ugly everywhere else anyway. Thus, climbing Gjátindur made great sense.

We were equipped with hiking poles, head nets, and an old map, which showed we were supposed to be able to reach Gjátindur from the western trail. The map was terribly wrong. The only real trail leading to Gjátindur is the eastern trail, but more on that below.

Be sure to always check the safety warnings, road conditions, and weather forecast before embarking on any hike in Iceland!

The Bottom of the Canyon

Our hike to Gjátindur started by walking to Ófærufoss from the eastern bottom of the canyon which, right before the waterfall, turned to the west to reach the waterfall itself. After stopping at the waterfall, we continued further along the western bottom of the canyon in the north direction towards Gjátindur.

eldgja canyon hiking

Hiking the bottom of the Eldgjá Canyon

This part of the hike is a fairly easy walk on flat ground. I remember very sparse red marks, but we mostly just followed the well-trodden steps along the bottom of the canyon.

Ascent to the Edge of the Canyon

According to our map, we were supposed to turn left a few hundred meters before the canyon ended and begin ascending steeply. There were no marks, only steps of someone else walking before us.

List of All Hot Springs in Iceland with detailed info.

Thus, we followed the steps, which soon turned into a very slippery and steep ascent via the ash slope. Steps soon disappeared, and we reached the point where it was impossible to continue safely. We tried to find the correct western trail but without success.

After climbing down the ash slope, we instead turned right to the marked trail (yellow sticks if I remember correctly). This eastern trail to Gjátindur led via a pretty steep slope entirely consisting of ash. Thus, with every step we slipped back a bit, because ash rolled back together with us. This was the spot where hiking poles came in extremely handy.

Crossroads and the Ridge

eldgja canyon iceland

Great view over Eldgjá on a halfway towards Gjátindur

After finishing the climb to the eastern ridge of the Eldgjá canyon, we soon reached the crossroad of several different trails. Some lead further toward the Langisjór area, while one leads to Gjátindur (yellow sticks). Another trail leads back to Eldgjá car park, but not via the bottom of the canyon, but rather via the upper eastern edge of it.

Once you finish this climb and get to the edge of the canyon in the Gjátindur direction, this is where the most beautiful views over Eldgjá will pop up in front of you. You can see the entire Eldgjá Canyon from the bird’s eye viewpoint and this sight is really magnificent.

We then continued towards the peak of Gjátindur via a marked trail, which was basically a pretty dull and rocky ascent. It took us roughly an hour to reach Gjátindur from the above-mentioned crossroad of routes.

The summit of Gjátindur

gjatindur iceland eldgja

Views from the summit of Gjátindur

Gjátindur is the tallest possible viewpoint over the entire Eldgjá, so yes, you will be guaranteed 360° views if you hike on a day with good visibility. Despite the moody weather, we were lucky to have this good visibility.

Nevertheless, we were not overwhelmed by the views from Gjátindur. They were a bit monotonous and not that spectacular compared to many other amazing views we’d seen already at that time. Nice hike, nice views, but nothing out-of-this-world.

The weather felt a bit cold at the time of our visit, with some 5°C and light winds. Not ideal picnic weather, though. We started to feel cold even in all our layers after standing on Gjátindur for 5 minutes. Thus, we made a short protein bar break and started our descent back.

The Way Back

gjatindur hiking trail eldgja

Hiking trail to and from Gjátindur

We decided to take a loop trail because we didn’t want to hike the same route twice. It was a good decision. Not only we avoided the unpleasant and steep ash slope descent, but we also saw Ófærufoss from a beautiful eastern ridge viewpoint.

The loop trail back from Gjátindur is a marked trail that leads along the upper edge of the eastern part of the Eldgjá Canyon. After more than halfway through the trail, you will reach an Ófærufoss viewpoint from the bird’s eye perspective, which is undoubtedly worth seeing. This is already a part of the “Small Circle” hike in Eldgjá. The trail then continues and descends back towards the car park.


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Posted by Igor in Highlands, Hikes, 0 comments
Best Active Volcano Tours in Iceland – 2023 Eruption

Best Active Volcano Tours in Iceland – 2023 Eruption

The Reykjanes volcano in Iceland was erupting again since 10th July 2023! And all volcano tours were quickly selling out!

We compiled the selection of the best helicopter, airplane, and hiking volcano excursions that are actively operating right now – in summer 2023.

As of 24th August, there is no lava flowing, and the eruption is over. Still, watch out for Safety Instructions when visiting the eruption site.

The most comfortable guided tours are the HELICOPTER VOLCANO TOURS!

We will do our best to update the list and broaden this article, and apologize for any discrepancies, which may occur because everything changes really quickly these days.

When in Iceland, be sure also to check out our hand-picked list of the best guided tours in Iceland.

Volcano Hiking Map

iceland volcano hiking trails map 2023

Iceland volcano hiking trails map 2023 (Updated 27.7.2023)

Active Volcano Tours – What to Expect

The volcano and lava flow change every day, so it’s essential to adhere to all rules set by Icelandic Civil Protection office and follow all the advice on Icelandic SafeTravel website.

The same applies to toxic gases! If you don’t want to keep track of all the safety guidelines and yet you want to see this spectacular natural wonder, it’s best to take the guided tour.

Types of the Volcano Tours

litli hrutur volcano eruption iceland

2023 Reykjanes volcano eruption in Iceland

There are two types of tours based on the number of participants:

  • Group tours – typically 6 to 20 participants
  • Private tours – only you and your group

You can visit the volcano eruption on three different kinds of tours:

  • Hiking tours – best for budget travelers and the physically fit
  • Helicopter tours – best and closest aerial view, the most expensive
  • Airplane tours – less expensive than helicopter, less flexible

Price of the Volcano Tours

volcano tours iceland 2023

This is how a view from a helicopter or an airplane volcano tour looks like

The cheapest hiking group tours are priced at around 80 USD to 150 USD per person.

The private hiking tours typically cost about 1000 USD to 1500 USD per group.

The helicopter tours range between 450 USD to 1200 USD per person based on the length of the tour.

What is Included in the Volcano Tours

reykjanes volcano eruption 2023 iceland

2023 eruption sight

A typical volcano hiking tour includes the following:

  • Reykjavik pickup with a driver (not for a Helicopter tour!)
  • An experienced guide
  • Free cancellation up to 24 hours before the trip

A typical volcano tour does NOT include the following:

  • Shoes, clothes, or any gear (no special is required, though)
  • Food, water, snacks

There are exceptions, though, and almost always, there is an option to buy or hire anything you need, so don’t be afraid 🙂

Best Volcano Tours in 2023

Without further ado, below are the highest quality and best price-to-value guided volcano tours with top reviews only:

1. Helicopter Tour by GlacierHeli

best volcano helicopter tour iceland

Best Volcano Helicopter tours in Iceland. You can use a 5% discount code: EPICICELAND

We think the best currently available 2023 volcano helicopter tour is a 45-minute-long tour by GlacierHeli. Why?

  • This is one of the cheapest tours! A seat with our discount code costs as low as 400eur!
  • GlacierHeli is the only company with great reviews that still has free slots available! Most of the other tours are fully booked.
  • They have flights running every 30 minutes from 8:30 until 19:00
  • You can easily book online and use our 5% discount code: EPICICELAND

This is an eruption-only tour, so you will just fly over the, or near the volcano and back.

You will be flying as close to an eruption as possible and see it from various angles. The tour departs from Reykjavik. There’s a maximum of 5 passengers on each tour.

2. Helicopter Tour by Atlantsflug

iceland volcano helicopter tour 2023

View from a 2023 Volcano Helicopter tour

Another great helicopter volcano tour in Iceland from Reykjavik is a tour by Atlantsflug.

The tour takes 40 minutes to complete and is again just the dedicated volcano helicopter tour, taking up to 5 travelers on board.

3. Helicopter Tours by Nordurflug

volcano helicopter tour iceland 2023

Best Helicopter tours in general in Iceland are run by Nordurflug. 5% discount code on all tours: EPICICELAND

Hands down, the best helicopter tour company in Iceland is Nordurflug. They are running various volcano helicopter tours!

Our readers can use an exclusive 5% discount code on all tours by Nordurflug: EPICICELAND

There’s no special tour dedicated to the volcano only as of 18th July 2023 on Nordurflug’s website, but be sure that almost all tours by Nordurflug will also fly by the eruption site!

4. Airplane Volcano Tour by Myflug

airplane volcano tour iceland 2023

Best airplane volcano tour in 2023

Looking for the cheapest flight tour to see the eruption? You might want to check out the volcano airplane tour by Myflug.

The airplane tour is roughly 30% cheaper than helicopter flights, but it can’t fly as close as helicopters.

Nevertheless, this is the best currently available airplane tour and departs four times a day. The flight duration is about 1 hour.

5. Cheap Volcano Hiking Tour by David the Guide

volcano iceland hiking tour

Litli-Hrútur Volcano Hiking tour 2023

This is one of the first tours that will take you directly to the eruption site of Litli-Hrútur, “The Little Ram”!

This is a HARD level hike. It is a 20km round-trip, i.e., about 8-10 hours of hiking. It is suitable for ages 14 and older and those comfortable hiking long distances with difficult terrain.

The tour provides blankets and hot chocolate/tea. Ponchos and Hiking Boots are available for rental if asked for in advance. All participants are REQUIRED to have good, sturdy hiking shoes, plenty of water, and food for this tour.

Pickup in Reykjavik area can be added to the tour.

6. Big Group Volcano Hiking Tour by Troll Expeditions

hiking volcano tour iceland

A Difficult Hiking Volcano tour to the Litli-Hrútur eruption site

This hike up to Litli Hrutur Active Volcano is quite hard. You need to be able to walk up to 9km each way, but you will enjoy unbelievable views of lava fields and an ongoing eruption.

Once you’re at the site of the volcano, you will witness how those lava fields were formed, as you can see new lava spewing and flowing.

While you will get to spend some time by this natural wonder, the tour guide will also find a good and safe spot to enjoy the Icelandic chocolate, hraun – which stands for “lava”. Please make sure to bring enough snacks and water.

7. Private Volcano Hiking Tour

private hiking volcano tour iceland

Private Hiking tour to an active Litli-Hrútur volcano

This is an exclusive private tour to the eruption site led by an expert guide.

You will be guaranteed to have the guide all for yourself, and the pace of the tour will be entirely adjusted to your needs.

The guide will take you as close to the mesmerizing lava flows as possible. You will experience the thrill of seeing a newborn volcano in action. You will learn about the geological forces at play and gain a deeper understanding of Iceland’s volcanic history.

The tour includes a pickup in Reykjavik area.

8. Volcano Transfer from Reykjavik

reykjavik volcano transfer

Roundtrip transfers between Reykjavik and Volcano Eruption site

Do you just need a transfer from Reykjavik to the Litli-Hrútur Volcano eruption site and back? Then your best option would be to book a transfer only.

This is the cheapest way to experience a volcano in Iceland in 2023.

A round-trip eruption transfer costs just about 50 USD and is running 3 times a day!

Eruption Safety Tips and Current Info

iceland volcano 2023 eruption night view

This is how the 2023 eruption in Iceland began.

  • The best Icelandic source for up-to-date safety instructions about the volcanic eruption is the SafeTravel website
  • Always watch out also for the Icelandic weather forecast. Don’t go near the volcano in heavy rain or heavy winds.
  • Under no circumstances get close to lava! Be it black lava or red lava. It can easily kill you or injure you!
  • Lava is not the only danger. So are the poisonous volcanic gases! Please follow closely any warnings regarding these gases!


best active volcano tours iceland 2023

A picture from an amazing volcano helicopter tour

Here we will be adding the most common questions and answers on the 2023 Reykjanes volcano eruption.

What is the Hiking Time to the Eruption Site?

It takes 2 to 3 hours one way to reach the viewpoint of the eruption. It’s a 10km (6mi) long hike, one way. Count for a 5 to 8 hours long visit, including time spent at the site!

Safety conditions change rapidly, though, always check SafeTravel website before going!

When is the Best Time to See the Volcano?

Daylight time, as well as nighttime, are both fascinating for experiencing the volcanic eruption. If you have the opportunity, go see the volcano during the day and also during the night!

Should I Book in Advance?

Book the tours as soon as possible! They can quickly sell out for an entire summer. Iceland does not have as many tour operators and guides as tourists! You may always reschedule or cancel within the cancellation policy of a particular tour company.

Is the Eruption Safe to Visit?

volcano eruption hazard map

Volcano eruption hazard map – stay away from shaded areas! (click to enlarge)

Potentially poisonous and dangerous volcanic gases have been detected at the eruption site. Moreover, new and new fissures can open anywhere around the volcano. Everyone hiking around the area has to do it entirely at his own risk! The safest way to experience the active volcano as of now is by helicopter tours.

How Long Will the Eruption Last?

Nobody can tell for sure how long the eruption will last. The eruption in 2022 lasted for about three weeks and the eruption in 2021 for about 6 months.

Are the Volcano Tours Worth the Money?

Most of the travelers we’ve met say that helicopter and airplane tours of the volcano they took were totally worth the money. Seeing the erupting volcano and flowing lava is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

epic iceland facebook group ask questions or get inspired in our community

Posted by Igor in Top Places, 2 comments
25 Hidden Gems in Iceland Nobody Writes About

25 Hidden Gems in Iceland Nobody Writes About

Hidden Gems in Iceland are increasingly challenging to find. Many travelogues claim to list them, but in reality, they are not hidden anymore and are often crowded.

To reach the authentic off-the-beaten-path places in Iceland, you need to do something different than everyone else. You have to step out of your comfort zone.

We have been exploring hundreds of Icelandic spots away from the crowds for years. They are never easy or quick to get to. There is always a trade-off between „easy“ and „hidden“.

Below we list the 25 places we still believe to be Icelandic hidden gems. You need to, however, plan your road trip carefully in advance when, for example, exploring the Highlands. And you may fail on your first attempt. But that’s the beauty of exploration!

Map of Hidden Gems in Iceland

1. Graenihryggur ridge

graenihryggur green ridge

Grænihryggur green ridge hike in the Highlands

Why go

Everybody visits the famous Landmannalaugar mountains and goes on the same two hikes – Bláhnúkur and Brennisteinsalda. But did you know there’s an even more beautiful hike in Landmannalaugar almost nobody knows about? That is the Grænihryggur hike.

We wrote a detailed guide on How to hike Graenihryggur.

Graenihryggur is the green ridge hidden deeper in the rainbow mountains. On your way there, you will meet some of the most stunning Icelandic landscapes of all different colors. Graenihryggur is one of our favorite Icelandic treks only locals take.

How to get there

You have to first get to Landmannalaugar. You can then find the Grænihryggur trailhead on the highland road F208, about 10km (6 mi) south of the final highway F224 to Landmannalaugar.

A 4wd car is necessary to drive on these roads. We better recommend at least a medium-sized 4×4 car.

An often overlooked sign beside the road indicates the hiking trail. You have to park your car next to the road.

Our tips

Graenihryggur hike is very scenic but also a bit more difficult. It involves crossing snowfields, climbing steep, slippery hills, and even crossing a shallow river. Go only in summer and prepare well in advance.

2. Sturlungalaug hot spring

sturlungalaug hot spring iceland

Sturlungalaug hot spring, sometimes called Guðmundarlaug, is one of the hidden gems in Iceland

Why go

Sturlungalaug hot spring is one of our favorite hot springs in Iceland because it’s wild, in the middle of nowhere, and you will most likely be there alone.

We wrote up a List of All Hot Springs in Iceland.

If you catch a nice day, you will get a bonus of gorgeous views around the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Sturlungalaug is large enough to accommodate even groups of friends, so no worries, it’s not just for couples.

How to get there

To reach Sturlungalaug, you need to take a gravel dirt track as a detour from Heydalsvegur, or Road 55, in Snæfellsnes.

You can get to Sturlungalaug only in summer when the road leading there is snow-free. You need a 4wd car or at least any car with higher ground clearance to pass the bumpy path safely.

There’s a little car park for about 2-3 cars; from there, it’s just a minute toward the hot pot.

Our tips

The grass around the hot spring may be wet. You can bring some slippers to handle this.

The temperature of the water in Sturlungalaug varies around the year. There’s no guarantee it will be hot during your visit. The pool even received some bad reviews from visitors due to this, but we think it’s impressive anyway!

3. Huldujökull glacier

Huldujökull glacier hike Þakgil iceland

Amazing views at the melting Huldujökull glacier in Þakgil

Why go

One place that really positively surprised us as a true hidden gem in Iceland was Huldujökull glacier. Very few folks know about this spectacular hike with a live view over a melting and falling glacier!

The Huldujökull glacier hike is especially astonishing on a sunny day. You may witness massive glacier chunks as they tear from the glacier base and fall down into a deep ravine below. We’ve never seen anything like that in our lives!

We wrote a detailed article about our hike to Huldujokull in Þakgil.

How to get there

Huldujökull is located in Thakgil, and it’s the longest day trek you can take in this hiking area.

In short, you first need to reach the Þakgil campsite via road 214. The road is open for visitors only in summer, typically from mid-June until the end of September. We recommend driving a higher ground clearance car because the road is very bumpy.

Once in Thakgil, you must take the yellow or red hiking trail. When you reach the northernmost end of these trails, you need to continue to the north via a partially marked white trail. After hiking further along the eastern ridge of the Þakgil Canyon, Huldujökull will appear in front of you on a clear day.

Our tips

Don’t go on a foggy day, you will see nothing. We also highly recommend avoiding heavy rain and winds, as they can be dangerous.

Our favorite day hike was a Yellow Trail – Huldujökull – Red Trail loop. It’s a long and challenging hike but very much worth your energy.

4. Strútsfoss waterfall

strutsfoss waterfall iceland

Why go

Have you ever heard about Hengifoss, the red strata waterfall in East Iceland? The car park is typically completely packed, and the path to Hengifoss suffers from human traffic jams.

What about an even larger red strata waterfall with a two-level cascade where you will be alone? Well, that exactly is Strútsfoss.

List of 130 most beautiful Icelandic Waterfalls with detailed info.

Strútsfoss is breathtakingly picturesque, and you can reach it via an easy hiking trail, suitable also for a nice family hike.

How to get there

Why is Strútsfoss still a hidden gem, then? Because it’s not so easy to find the trailhead.

The main orientation point you have to get to is the Sturluflöt farm. Strustfoss car park lies right next to the farm. You must take Road 935 on the southeastern bank of the river and drive all the way to the farm.

strutsfoss waterfall map

Map of the road and hiking trail to Strútsfoss waterfall

The major part of this road is not depicted in international maps like Google Maps. But the road is there and is an easy gravel road accessible in summer. Not sure about the winter, though.

Any car should be able to make it to the car park. It then takes about 1 hour of easy hiking from the car park to reach Strútsfoss.

Our tips

It’s impossible to get very close to the waterfall. It would involve hiking on unmarked trails and treacherous river crossings. We don’t recommend doing that without a local guide.

However, the main viewpoint at the end of the marked hiking trail is more than stunning anyway.

5. Brúnavík beach

brunavik beach borgarfjordur eystri iceland

Virtually everything between a T-shirt and 4 layers with a jacket. These are the clothes for the highlands.

Why go

In our humble opinion, Brúnavík beach is the most beautiful hike in Borgarfjordur Eystri and one of the most stunning beaches in Iceland. It can be proudly considered one of the hidden gems in Iceland.

When hiking to the Brúnavík beach from Bakkagerdi, we felt like on another planet. The beach is particularly jaw-dropping on a sunny day.

The best viewpoints of the Brúnavík hike are in the second half of the trek when you descend to the beach and then on the beach itself.

How to get there

The trailhead can easily be overlooked as it is located just on the side of Road 94 near the Kolbeinsfjara cliffs in Bakkagerdi.

Our Brúnavík beach hiking experience in September.

There’s a little car park that can serve only a few cars. It will then take you about 2.5 hours and 8 kilometers (5 miles) of moderate hiking to reach Brúnavík.

There are several hiking trail options. We wrote a detailed article about our hikes in Borgarfjordur Eystri and also alternative hiking options around Brunavik.

Our tips

An out-and-back hike to Brúnavík beach is the most efficient option with the best views.

Don’t get discouraged by the first half of the hike. It’s a tad uneventful without extraordinary views. Nevertheless, the main reward will come during the second half of the trip.

6. Snaekollur hike

snaekollur hike kerlingarfjoll

Snækollur hike in Kerlingarfjöll is one of the best off-the-beaten-path places in Iceland

Why go

Snækollur is the tallest peak of the otherworldly orange mountains of Kerlingarfjöll. If you climb Snaekollur on a clear day, you will be guaranteed the best views over the entire Kerlingarfjöll.

Almost every Kerlingarfjöll visitor hikes just the main geothermal Hveradalir hot spring area. While beautiful, it’s not the best viewpoint of Kerlingarfjöll. The peak of Snaekollur is.

How to hike Snaekollur in Kerlingarfjoll – our detailed experience.

Hike to Snækollur is more challenging compared to Hveradalir, but totally worth every step.

How to get there

First, you need to arrive at the main Kerlingarfjöll area by highland roads (F)35 and F347. For that, you need a 4wd car. Even a small one should be sufficient.


Right before Hveradalir, you must take the detour left to Fannborg car park. This is where the trailhead to Snækollur begins.

Our tips

The Snaekollur hike is not the easiest one, but also not one of the worst. Bring hiking poles, watch the weather forecast in advance, try to avoid heavy rain, fog, and winds.

Orientation may be a bit difficult because the marks are infrequent and, at some points, disappear altogether.

7. The Waterfall Circle

Kirkjufoss waterfall iceland

Kirkjufoss, part of the hidden waterfall circle in East Highlands

Why go

The Waterfall Circle is a magical place in the eastern highlands of Iceland you’ve most likely never heard about. It’s one of Iceland’s most incredible waterfall hikes, together with the famous Waterfall Way in Skógar.

There are almost ten waterfalls of various sizes and shapes along the Waterfall Circle. The two most astonishing ones are called Faxi and Kirkjufoss.

If you are at least remotely a waterfall enthusiast, this hike is an absolute must-do for you!

How to get there

The Waterfall Circle trailhead begins at Laugarfell Guesthouse. You may leave your car there.

How to visit Highlands of Iceland – guide to an epic road trip.

You can get to Laugarfell by any car from around June until September. The same applies to the hike, which is snow-free precisely during this period.

Our tips

The waterfall trek is moderately difficult, about 8km (5 mi) long, and takes about 3 hours to complete.

When you have enough time, be sure to also soak up in a nearby Laugarfell hot spring (paid).

If you, instead, prefer a wilder experience, you may take a longer drive to the other side of the Kárahnjúkar dam. There you may hike around the magnificent Hafrahvammagljufur canyon or take a dip in a wild Laugavallalaug hot spring.

8. Hungurfit track

hungurfit road iceland

Hungurfit track

Why go

Hungurfit Road is one of the toughest tracks to drive in southern Icelandic highlands. And also one of the most fairy-tale-like.

Hungurfit is the name of the mountain hut in the middle of this dirt track. The track connects F-roads F210 and F261 across the highlands, and it’s one of the top off-the-beaten-path roads in Iceland.

What are the dirt tracks in Iceland? Can you drive them too?

The entire area is an excellent spot for 4×4 enthusiasts as well as nature lovers. The highlights of Hungurfit drive include Lush green valleys, hills with views over highlands, and countless small streams and medium river crossings.

How to get there

Hungurfit is strictly only for advanced 4×4 drivers equipped with proper cars. A large 4wd vehicle is an absolute minimum, and we highly recommend renting a super jeep to pass the track safely.

Hungurfit track is very rough, with uneven terrain, steep ridge drives, and several river fords. You can get to Hungurfit from the north from road F210 or from the south from F261.

Our tips

The most scenic spot is a narrow pass between two colossal stone boulders. You have to pass it with an inch of precision, otherwise, you could damage your car.

This is where locals go play with their modified jeeps and where many private super jeep tours would take you on their highland tours.

9. Mt Laki

laki crater hike

Mount Laki at Laki Craters is one of the Icelandic hidden gems almost nobody knows about

Why go

Mt Laki is the highlight of a visit to Laki Craters – an area full of hundreds of 200 years old volcanos. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to enjoy the surreal atmosphere of this place.

After just a short climb, Mt Laki offers an unbelievable one-of-its-kind view over the Laki volcanos. This is also one of our favorite spots in the highlands of Iceland.

If you plan a trip to Laki, be sure to check out our detailed guide to Laki craters.

How to get there

The main roads leading to Laki are F-roads F206 and F207. Both require you to drive at least a medium-sized 4wd car to pass without problems.

Roads to Laki craters are open only in summer, typically from early July until late September.

A drive to Laki is long, bumpy, and involves two medium-sized river crossings. One on F206 next to Fagrifoss waterfall and one on F207 near Tjarnargigur lake. We recommend reserving an entire day to visit Laki area at a relaxed pace.

Our tips

When going to Laki craters, don’t forget to visit also the fabulous Fagrifoss waterfall next to F-road F206 and tranquil Tjarnargigur lake along the road F207.

10. Núpsárfoss waterfall

nupsarfoss hvitarfoss iceland

Núpsárfoss and Hvitarfoss in Núpsstaðaskógur

Why go

Núpsárfoss and Hvitarfoss are two hard to reach hidden gems among Icelandic waterfalls. They are unique waterfalls of two different watercolors right next to each other.

This scenic place has been formed thanks to a one of its kind natural phenomenon. Two different rivers, a clear river Hvítá and a glacial river Núpsá, flow into the same spot. This way, they create this unbelievable play of colors.

If you are adventurous and love exploring entirely remote spots, then a hike to Núpsárfoss will be one of your favorites. Zero tourists expected.

How to get there

Getting to Núpsárfoss is very difficult. Although located not too far from the ring road, next to Skaftafell park, there’s no road or marked trail leading to Núpsárfoss or Hvitarfoss.

Love remote places? Check our list of 25 best places in the Highlands of Iceland.

There is a dirt track for super jeeps that can get you closer to the waterfalls, however, it changes every year with the movement of nearby rivers. Sometimes it’s even entirely flooded.

An alternative option is to walk from the ring road to the waterfall. Just bear in mind it’s about 10km (6 mi) one way.

Once you reach the Núpsstaðaskógur area, you must then climb a several meters high rock with the help of the rope to reach the most beautiful viewpoints of the valley.

Our tips

We highly recommend contacting a local or a ranger in Skaftafell before the hike and asking about the best available trail at the time of your visit.

11. Raudaskal crater

raudaskal crater iceland

Rauðaskál crater, often marked as a “hidden” spot.

Why go

Rauðaskál crater is one of Iceland’s most impressive volcanic craters, yet overlooked by most visitors. Its unique red color makes it an attractive spot to visit in the southern Icelandic Highlands, close to the Hekla volcano.

Raudaskal experience also feels like one of the darkest and most remote corners of Iceland. You will be surrounded by the harsh volcanic area of Hekla with a very mysterious atmosphere.

How to visit Raudaskál crater in Iceland.

How to get there

You may drive to the upper edge of Raudaskal by a challenging dirt track suitable for big jeeps only and not covered by any insurance.

Alternatively, you can drive to the bottom edge of the crater and take a steep hike to the upper edge. The road leading to the bottom is still a problematic dirt track but more accessible than the one going up.

A large 4×4 car like Land Cruiser is an absolute minimum for this track. We would not drive to Rauðaskál in anything other than a super jeep. There may be snowfields, huge potholes, and steep slopes on the road.

The tracks are snow-free between July and September.

Our tips

Rauðaskál is not a trip for beginners in the Highlands. Practice 4×4 driving elsewhere first, and once you feel comfortable enough, then come and see the Raudaskal crater.

12. Hvannagil Valley

hvannagil golden valley hike

Hvannagil golden valley hike – the ascent

Why go

If you are looking for an off-the-beaten-path hike close to the ring road with panoramic views, look no further. The Hvannagil Golden Valley meets these criteria precisely.

Hvannagil is an area full of secluded canyons, dry river beds, and interestingly colored hills usually only Icelanders tend to visit.

Our detailed article about hiking the Hvannagil Valley.

How to get there

A gravel track called Grænahlíð on the eastern bank of the river Skyndidalsá will take you from Stafafell right into the heart of Hvannagil. Many Icelanders have their holiday houses here, so please don’t park or stroll through the private property.

You can get to the bottom of the Hvannagil Valley by any car, although a higher ground clearance car will be more comfortable due to the large gravel on the road.

Our tips

We took the Hvannagil loop hiking trail and were happy about the choice. The loop is one of the most beautiful hikes in the area, and it took us just 2 hours to complete.

If you want to drive past the Hvannagil loop trailhead, come with at least a medium-sized 4wd car. The track gets tougher, steeper, and narrower the further you drive.

13. Strútslaug hot spring

strutslaug hot spring iceland

Strútslaug hot spring deep in the Fjallabak highlands of Iceland

Why go

One of the hardest-to-reach and isolated Icelandic hot springs in the wilderness? That is Strútslaug.

Quietly hiding in the middle of the southern highlands of Iceland, Strútslaug is a perfect spot for hikers seeking a refreshment during their highland treks.

Our day trip to Strútslaug hot spring in the highlands.

Strutslaug is not extraordinarily picturesque or comfortable to bathe in. However, what makes it rare is the adventure of reaching it with the reward of bathing alone in the highlands.

How to get there

The only way to reach Strútslaug is to hike. Strutslaug is located close to the famous Laugavegur trail and the Maelifell volcano.

The shortest hiking trail to Strútslaug leads from the Strútur hut and takes about 1.5 hours one way to finish.

To get to the Strútur hut, however, you need to drive various difficult F-roads and dirt tracks. First, the highland road F210 and then the Strútur dirt track. Both involve crossing medium-sized rivers and are suitable only for large 4wd cars and, ideally, super jeeps.

Our tips

The hike to Strútslaug from Strútur is easy and comfortably doable with kids. The tricky part is the drive.

Always consult your car rental company before driving any dirt tracks in Iceland. Typically all the insurance is void, and sometimes it’s even forbidden unless you rent a super jeep.

14. Dynkur canyon

Búðarhálsfoss (Dynkur) waterfall iceland

Búðarhálsfoss (Dynkur)

Why go

Dynkur, or in Icelandic also Búðarhálsfoss, is a gigantic canyon close to a highland road F26 filled with tens of picturesque waterfalls.

It is one of the least-known, yet stunning, waterfalls in the highlands. If you have enough time and a proper car around the Sprengisandur road, we recommend you go and see Dynkur.

An ideal time for a visit is in summer, from early July until late September. Outside of this period, the dirt tracks leading to Dynkur may be muddy, and you can quickly get stuck with no help nearby.

How to get there

You will not find roads to Dynkur on Google Maps. You have to use the local map.

How to choose the Best Car for Iceland based on your trip.

Take the gravel detour north of the road 26, but south of Sultartangalón. You can then reach Dynkur from the southern bank. You will have to hike a last mile or so.

What car do you need to reach Dynkur? Well, it depends. In dry summer conditions, any 4wd vehicle should be sufficient. However, once it rains or the track gets distorted, the bigger the 4×4 car the better.

Our tips

We always better travel to the highlands in the super jeep. Yes, it is expensive. But, once you go to remote places like this, there’s always a risk something will happen to your car. And the bigger the car, the lower this risk.

15. Sveinstindur hike

langisjór lake iceland

View over the Langisjór Lake from the Sveinstindur trail

Why go

Sveinstindur is the highest peak of the surreal Langisjór Lake area. Views from the summit of Sveinstindur on a nice day are simply breathtaking.

This is one of our favorite hidden gems in Iceland. We discovered it just a few years ago, and since then, we keep coming back as if we were pulled by a magnet.

The entire landscapes around Langisjór are unique, picturesque, and more than just worth a detour. For us, Sveinstindur resembles a hike somewhere on the moon.

How to get there

The easiest way to reach the Sveinstindur trailhead is by taking the F-roads F208 and F235 to Langisjór. The hike to Sveinstindur then takes about 1.5 hours to complete one way.

Our drive to Langisjór via F235 and our next drive via Langisjór dirt tracks.

The trek to Sveinstindur is short, steep, and well-marked with sticks. You will need to climb some narrow spots with rocks, so the hike is not for the faint-hearted. Hiking poles will surely help.

If you are an offroad enthusiast, you can reach Sveinstindur trailhead also by driving several adventurous dirt tracks around Langisjór like Faxasund, Botnlangalón or Skaelingar and Blautulón. A super jeep is preferable for these roads.

Our tips

We’ve made several attempts to hike Sveinstindur in rain and fog and to no avail. Don’t make the same mistake as we’ve done. It doesn’t make sense to hike Sveinstindur when it’s foggy. You will not see anything.

16. Krakatindur track

krakatindur mountain iceland

Legendary Krakatindur mountain

Why go

As the name of this road suggests, Krakatindur is one of the darkest roads in the Icelandic Highlands. We drove Krakatindur on a rainy August day and it was a hell of an adventure.

A pointy green volcano mountain named Krakatindur is the main highlight of the dirt track. However, there’s more to see.

How to rent a Super Jeep in Iceland?

The road begins next to the beautiful Raudaskal crater and connects it to the Raudufossar waterfall hiking trail. If you plan a day in the highlands around Hekla, Krakatindur is an exciting track to take.

How to get there

You can easily get to Krakatindur road when you turn south from the F-road F225, or Landmannaleid. However, this is where the easy part ends.

Krakatindur is very rough, and it’s not even an F-road. There are huge holes and steep hillside drives at every step along the road. Only an experienced driver equipped with a super jeep should drive this road.

Our tips

We saw Dacia Duster entering one end of the Krakatindur track, but we didn’t see it exiting the other end.

So can you take a Dacia Duster on this road? For sure, you can, but you will most likely not get it out of this road anymore 🙂

17. Tungnaárfellsfoss waterfall

Tungnaárfellsfoss waterfall iceland


Why go

When looking for off-the-beaten-track waterfalls, Tungnaárfellsfoss should not miss on your list. It is one of the widest waterfalls in Iceland and it is actually not that hard to reach.

Tungnaarfelsfoss is a wild highland waterfall close to Landmannalaugar and a popular stop for many private super jeep tours.

It takes just a short while to visit it, so if you are seeking for something different, this may be a thing for you.

Need an inspiration? Read about the best places in Landmannalaugar!

How to get there

Tungnaárfellsfoss sits right next to northern Road 208, former F208 North. It takes about 15 minutes of driving to reach the waterfall from the famous Sigöldugljúfur Canyon.

You will have to leave your car beside the road and walk to the waterfall via an unmarked trail to see it from the best viewpoint. In summer, any vehicle should be sufficient to reach this spot when driven correctly.

Our tips

Combine the stop at Tungnaárfellsfoss with the visit to Landmannalauagar. There are many amazing places to see in Landmannalaugar and around as well.

18. Ker cliffs

ker cliffs iceland Þerribjörg

Ker, or Þerribjörg Sea Cliffs

Why go

Ker is an often-overlooked peninsula in East Iceland with some unique and gorgeous hikes to take along its coastline. One such hike is a trek to the Þerribjörg Sea Cliffs, sometimes called Ker cliffs.

We’ve discovered Ker cliffs just by chance, and they quickly became one of our favorite hikes in the Eastfjords.

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The coast of the Therribjorg, or Ker, cliffs forms one of the most breathtaking beaches and coastlines in Iceland. Moreover, it is very scarcely visited even during the high season.

How to get there

Ker cliffs are easy to reach via gravel road 917, or Hlíðarvegur in Icelandic. From the south it’s just a comfortable flat-road drive. From the north, you must take the somewhat scary mountain pass.

If you are at least slightly adventurous, we actually recommend taking the mountain pass, be it before or after the hike. It offers fantastic views over the coast on a clear day, and the drive itself is an adventure too.

You can easily pass Road 917 in any car, typically from May until October. Just watch out for the official road conditions and potential closures and openings.

Our tips

Þerribjörg Sea Cliffs is an easy family hike that will take you about 1.5 hours to complete as a roundtrip. It is a great photo spot as well as a place for a small picnic.

19. Lónsöræfi

f980 lonsoraefi jokulsa views

Views at Jökulsá river from F980

Why go

Lonsoraefi is a mountain range somewhat similar to the rainbow mountains of Landmannnalaugar, not yet been discovered by any foreign travelers. It offers wonderful hiking opportunities for more hardcore hiking enthusiasts.

Lónsöræfi is special thanks to its unconquered trails and thrilling views in the very remote surroundings. It’s a hikers’ paradise, especially for the locals who often visit the area in the summer.

Always check road conditions, weather forecast, and safety warnings before any trip!

How to get there

The main caveat of visiting Lonsoraefi lies in its accessibility. To get to the main Lónsöræfi area, you have to complete a drive on the road F980, Kollumúlavegur. That being said, F980 is one of the most troublesome F-roads in Iceland.

The main problem with F980 is one of the most treacherous river crossings in Iceland. Roughly around the mid-point of the road, you must cross the wide and deep Skyndidalsá river.

Never do this alone, not even in a super jeep! Always call someone local for help.

Our tips

Ask for assistance with the Skyndidalsá river crossing either at Stafafell guesthouse or contact the company called South East Iceland.

20. Markarfljótsgljúfur Canyon

markarfljotsgljufur east viewpoint

East viewpoint of Markarfljótsgljúfur Canyon

Why go

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon and Stuðlagil Canyon are in every other Icelandic visitor’s photo album. So how to beat all these crowds heading to these two canyons? Visit Markarfljótsgljúfur Canyon instead!

Markarfljotsgljufur is a massive ravine hidden in the highland next to the F-road F261. Some may argue it’s even more picturesque than the other crowded canyons. It’s undoubtedly unique and remote.

How to get to Markarfljótsgljúfur Canyon in Iceland?

You can hike along the edge of Markarfljótsgljúfur both from the eastern bank and the western back. And as is the case with many of Iceland’s hidden gems, the canyon is not easy to reach.

How to get there

Regardless of which side you choose to hike to, you need to first take the highland road F261 to approach the gorge.

The western viewpoint is easier to reach but less spectacular. You must take a short but very rough dirt track detour east from F261. A large 4wd car or a super jeep is highly recommended.

The eastern viewpoint is even tougher to get to. You have to take the Emstrur dirt track toward the Emstrur hut. This is a longer and similarly challenging drive with some pretty steep ascents and descents.

Our tips

If you want to avoid the worst part of the Emstrur track, don’t take the western branch! This is where the roughest and steepest part of the track is, where even our 31” Land Cruiser struggled to pass.

21. Morsárfoss waterfall

Morsárfoss waterfall iceland


Why go

Do you know which waterfall in Iceland is the highest? No, it’s not Skógafoss, nor Dettifoss. The tallest Icelandic waterfall is a little-known Morsárfoss.

Morsarfoss is no ordinary waterfall. It’s a glacial waterfall falling down from a giant glacier in Skaftafell with a respectable height of 230m (750ft).

It’s too dangerous to hike close to Morsárfoss, but you can still experience it from afar. Several treks can take you to the proximity of Morsárfoss, with the best one being a climb to Kristínartindar.

How to choose the Best car rental Insurance in Iceland?

How to get there

The best and most sought-for viewpoint of Morsarfossar can be enjoyed from the summit of Kristínartindar.

You may hike Kristínartindar from Skaftafell Park, but it’s not easy and requires experienced hikers and good preparation.

It takes about 4 hours of climbing and 11km (7 mi) to reach the best viewpoints.

Our tips

Good weather is crucial for this trip. Wait for the day you are sure will be dry, windless, and fogless.

22. Blautulón Lake track

Skælingar blautulon track langisjor iceland

Skælingar track and Blautulón track to Langisjór are Iceland’s off-the-beaten-path roads

Why go

In Iceland, you may bathe in the hot waterfall or sail in the glacial lagoon. But did you know you can also drive through the lake in the highlands? You can do this perfectly legally on a Blautulon dirt track.

Blautulón Lake dirt track, which gradually turns into Skælingar dirt track, is one of our favorite highland tracks in Iceland. It’s one of the old access roads to Lake Langisjór and one of the most deserted ones.

Our Skælingar-Blautulón road trip to Langisjór article.

The highlight of this drive is the picturesque, crystal-blue lake Blautulón. Once you arrive at the lake, you will realize there’s no other way to continue than to drive inside the edge of the lake. There’s even a road sign for this!

How to get there

To access the southern end of the Skælingar-Blautulón dirt track, you have to arrive by road F208, close to the Eldgjá area. The detour towards Skaelingar is then located just a few kilometers south of the detour to Eldgjá, just a few meters south of the little ranger’s hut.

There’s one medium to big river crossing right at the beginning of the track next to F208. So if you feel unsure about the drive, you may just turn back immediately.

The track doesn’t involve any other river crossings, but you have to cross the lake. It is similar to fording a medium-sized river. A large 4wd car or a super jeep is necessary, and a car snorkel is a considerable advantage.

Our tips

If you are already experienced in driving through the highlands, we recommend you take a loop trail. Drive to Langisjór via F235 and come back via the dirt tracks of Blautulón and Skælingar. This is the most beautiful drive possible.

23. Kverkfjöll

kverkfjoll hveradalur highland iceland

One of the least visited corners of the Highland of Iceland – Hveradalur in Kverkfjöll

Why go

Kverkfjöll is a glacial mountain range and an extensive hot springs area in the eastern highlands of Iceland. You can visit ice caves nobody knows about, observe hot pots and take several challenging hikes in Kverkfjöll.

If you aim for an adventurous experience without any fellow tourists, then Kverkfjöll may serve you well.

Never go without a guide or at least without consulting a Kverkfjöll ranger, though. You may have to hike through the glacier with a lot of crevasses. The local knowledge of the area is an absolute necessity.

How to properly cross Icelandic rivers with your car?

How to get there

You can access Kverkfjöll only in summer by the highland road F902, Kverkfjallaleið and/or F903, Hvannalindavegur.

F902 doesn’t contain any river crossings. It’s just a rough mountain road. That being said, all the connecting roads, be it F910, F905, or F88, all contain medium-sized rivers that have to be forded.

F903 is a bit tougher to drive with more challenging terrain and two unbridged medium-sized rivers.

Our tips

A hike from the Kverkfjöll cabin at the foot of the glacier to the hot spring area and back will take a full day. There are guided tours that start at the hut.

24. Vonarskarð hot springs

Vonarskarð iceland

Vonarskarð – a hidden gem in Iceland nobody writes about

Why go

Vonarskarð is a hard-to-access hot spring area hidden in the central highlands of Iceland. Vonarskarð has a little bit of everything:

  • a little bit of Landmannalaugar-like mountains
  • a little bit of Kerlingarfjöll-like hot springs
  • a few colossal glaciers around
  • a lot of harsh central highlands everywhere

How to get there

Vonarskarð is one of the most difficult-to-access places in Iceland. It has two main access points:

  1. The western one via the Svarthöfði dirt track
  2. The northern one via the Gjósta dirt track

List of all F-roads in Iceland with detailed info on each road.

To reach these points, you must first get into the central highlands, either by road F26 or by the central F910.

Most of these roads involve crossing medium to big rivers, and we highly recommend driving them exclusively in a super jeep.

Our tips

We visited Vonarskarð because we’d heard a story from one hiker describing a beautiful remote hot spring where he supposedly bathed at. We desperately searched for this hot spring but haven’t found any. Only steaming fumaroles not suitable for any bathing.

25. Bergárfoss waterfall

Bergárfoss waterfall iceland


Why go

Bergarfoss waterfall is most likely the prettiest and most secluded waterfall in North Iceland. Foreign tourists only very rarely stumble upon this waterfall, and locals don’t tend to visit the place either.

This makes Bergárfoss one of the hidden gems of North Iceland. The unclear directions on how to reach the waterfall will probably keep Bergárfoss away from the crowds for the time being.

How to get there

To reach the Bergárfoss, you must first get to the more famous Kolugljúfur Canyon. From there, take the local gravel road further to the south, but on the eastern bank of the river, not the western one.

Everything you need to know about Iceland in winter.

After about 4km (2.5 mi) long drive, you need to stop, leave your car at the side of the road, and continue by walking. Finding Bergárfoss is part of the adventure!

A 4wd car is necessary for all seasons to pass the gravel road safely. The road may be impassable in winter, although a large 4×4 car like Land Cruiser may be able to make it when appropriately driven.

Our tips

Please never block the road with your car, nor touch the moss or anything alive with your vehicle! Park on the gravel instead!


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Posted by Igor in Top Places, 0 comments
Snækollur – Hiking the highest peak of Kerlingarfjöll

Snækollur – Hiking the highest peak of Kerlingarfjöll

Snækollur is the highest peak of an amazingly beautiful Kerlingarfjöll. And guess what happens if you hike to the tallest point of the heavenly place? You will be getting once-in-a-lifetime views!

And that’s exactly what you will get once you climb to Snækollur on a nice day. Views above Kerlingarfjöll you will never forget.

Most Kerlingarfjöll visitors go just for the Hveradalir hot spring area and/or just visit the Kerlingarfjöll campsite area. Both of these are quite easy to hike, and this way, typically, everybody ends up visiting the same spots. Instead, we wanted to do something different this time. A hike to the highest peak of Kerlingarfjöll, Snækollur, seemed an ideal candidate.

Hike in a Nutshell

Hiking time: 4 to 7 hours round-trip (depends on the trail and conditions)
Length: 9.3km / 5.8mi
Difficulty: moderate to difficult
Season: July to September
Obstacles: slippery terrain, snowfields, sometimes bad visibility and sparse marking
Trail map: Snaekollur main hiking trail

Snækollur main hiking trail via Fannborg. Powered by Wikiloc

Kerlingarfjöll Hiking Map

Snækollur hiking trail map

The main hiking trail to Snækollur along other Kerlingarfjöll hiking trails

How to get to the Snækollur trailhead

It’s easy to reach Kerlingarfjöll by car via Kjölur (road 35, or former F35) and F347. You need a proper 4×4 car, though. We’ve already explained how to get to Kerlingarfjöll in our Guide to Kerlingarfjöll.

Heading to Highlands? Read how to prepare for Highlands in Iceland.

Snækollur trailhead is just a few hundred meters from the main Hveradalir geothermal area. You can easily park there, similar to parking in Hveradalir.

When to hike Snækollur

We highly recommend hiking only from mid-July until mid-September, when the trails are clear of snow. Sometimes, when spring is hot enough, it may also be possible to do the hike a few weeks earlier. And vice versa, when summer is longer than usual, also a few weeks later.

These are the Top 25 Places in Icelandic Highlands.

Regarding weather, we again highly recommend visiting only on days without rain or strong winds. Ideally, you aim for a day with good visibility. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense to hike to Snækollur and see nothing from above.

How to hike Snækollur

Hike to Snækollur is challenging. It’s no easy walk. You need to be in good physical shape to climb all the way up. On the other hand, the Snækollur hike is not especially dangerous or exposed if you come at the right time, in the right shape, and follow the right trails.

Now what about equipment? I highly recommend you bring hiking poles and a satellite location device, for example, PLB, if any emergency occurs. Otherwise, just autumn hiking clothes are needed.

snækollur hike kerlingarfjöll views

Views from the peak of Snækollur

Expect very chilly weather. The temperature reached around 5°C (41°F) at noon in July, when we reached the peak of Snækollur. Kerlingarfjöll is one of the coldest areas in Iceland due to its proximity to two glaciers and a pretty high altitude.

Oh, and one last thing – if you want to do the hike as a loop, starting at an unmarked trail in Hveradalir (as we did), you will need to cross a river. In that case, bring some water shoes and a little towel.

Hiking trails to Snækollur

There is one main hiking trail to Snækollur. It begins next to the Hveradalir geothermal area car park and leads first to the peak of Fannborg and then to Snækollur. It can only be done as an out-and-back trail. The main route is the easiest one for orientation.

snaekollur hike map kerlingarfjoll

Various hiking trails to Snaekollur, most of them unmarked

Then there are also several unmarked hiking trails leading to and from Snækollur. It was almost impossible to get any info about ANY of these trails, even the marked one, before our trip. This was also one of the main reasons why I decided to write this article.

All the alternative routes to make a “loop trail” are unmarked or barely marked. We’ve chosen one of these loop trails. And it was pretty hard to follow. I recommend instead taking the marked trail to Snaekollur and back the same way.

Before every trip check weather forecast, road conditions, and safety warnings.

Fannborg car park to Snaekollur – the main trail

When you drive to Hveradalir, coming from the Kerlingarfjöll campsite direction, there’s an often-overlooked detour left, a few hundred meters before reaching Hveradalir. This detour will take you to the Fannborg car park.

This is the beginning spot for the only marked trail to Snaekollur. We took this route on our way down, returning from the peak. This is the recommended trail. We describe it in detail in the section about the descent.

The barely marked loop trail we took (not recommended – take the main trail instead). Powered by Wikiloc

Hveradalir car park to Snaekollur – mostly unmarked

This is the trail we took on our way up. It starts at a Hveradalir hot springs area (marked) and follows as an unmarked detour towards the river crossing. You then steeply and steadily climb upwards to Fannborg, where you will join the marked main Fannborg trail. For more details, see our Snækollur experience below.

Other trails – mostly unmarked

There are multiple other, mostly unmarked trails leading to and around Snaekollur – see our Snækollur trails map. Most of them were covered by deep snow at the time of our visit in July. I strongly advise against taking these trails without a local guide. There’s a risk of an avalanche and dangerous falls.

Our Snækollur hiking experience

snaekollur hike kerlingarfjoll

Views from the Snækollur hike in Kerlingarfjöll

Since our first visit to Kerlingarfjöll, I wanted to see Kerlingarfjöll also in nice weather, which seemed almost impossible. I’ve been watching the forecast for quite some time, and Kerlingarfjöll had the worst weather possible for most of the time. The same happened last July when I was planning our 2nd visit.

Trail and Conditions

We began our hike to Snaekollur at 11:00 after a long morning drive from Selfoss to Kerlingarfjöll in the middle of July. The weather was very nice when it came to Kerlingarfjöll – cloudy, no rain, little wind, and occasional sun fighting through the clouds.

It was not ideal, though. From time to time, some huge fog clouds appeared, especially the higher we were on the trail. Nevertheless, this was definitely very good weather for the hike.

Snækollur hike views

Snækollur hike views

We chose a loop trail that starts in Hveradalir hot spring area, follows a marked path in Hveradalir towards Hverabotn, and then it turns into an unmarked trail as a direct ascent to Fannborg. Once reaching Fannborg, it then continues via a classical partially marked trail to Snækollur.

We finished at Snækollur, turned back, took the main marked trail down via snowfields to reach the north-eastern Fannborg car park, and then walked back to Hveradalir. This was our Snækollur hiking trail in a nutshell. Now how did it look in detail?

Ascent from Hveradalir

We left the car in a classical Hveradalir car park, where visitors of all the Hveradalir hot spring area park. Firstly, we descended to the famous hot spring area. Several short hiking trails lead all around Hveradalir, so we struggled a bit to connect to the correct path toward Snaekollur.

Following the Wikiloc trail on our cell phones definitely helped a lot. In Hveradalir, we turned left, climbed stairs onto a nearby hill, and continued hiking the otherworldly landscapes of Kerlingarfjöll for a few hundred meters.

hveradalir ascent to snaekollur

Beginning of the unmarked trail from Hveradalir to Snækollur

The marked trail then starts turning right. However, this is the direction toward another hot spring area called Hverabotn, not the right direction for our hike. Firstly, we got confused and hiked a little bit in this direction, but then we realized we had to take a different – unmarked – trail, so we did.

We followed some barely visible footsteps, which anyway disappeared for most of the time, and mostly used Wikiloc GPS trail for orientation.

Please never ever step on moss or fragile orange soil. It may never recover. If unsure, you better take a marked trail.

River crossing

We reached the point where there was no other way than to cross the nearby river. We searched for a suitable spot for a while and had to descend down to the river via slippery hills, following the almost invisible footsteps and our GPS.

At times even GPS didn’t help because its precision is relatively poor without a satellite connection. Nonetheless, we were surrounded by the fantastic beauty of Kerlingarfjöll and full of energy and motivation to reach Snaekollur.

We finally found an (at least for us) suitable crossing point. We removed our shoes, put on our wading shoes, and quickly crossed the ice-cold river stream.

Soon after the river crossing, another obstacle appeared right in front of us. A large, melting snowpack was blocking the (at least what we thought to be) trail, so we had to find a safe and careful way around it.

A word of caution – never step on any moss in Iceland, and don’t step on the ground in a way that the soil below your feet falls down. This can cause erosion to the fragile soil. If this is the case, find a different path or turn back.

The Worst Part

After about 20 minutes of searching for the best spot to climb the nearby hill, we finally found our way. We finished the very steep and slippery ascent with the substantial help of our hiking poles. This was one of the worst spots of the entire hike – hard orientation and risk of falling down. That’s why we instead recommend taking the main marked trail.

Snækollur hiking trail ascent

Snækollur hiking trail ascent

The footsteps completely disappeared at this point, and we only had to use our GPS trail. GPS was inaccurate and often led directly via deeper snowfields, which didn’t feel safe to cross through.

During this part, we basically had to traverse a lot between snowfields and take special care to step only on stones and gravel and head towards Fannborg. This is precisely the point where you need good visibility. I cannot imagine heading towards Fannborg if we didn’t see it before us.

Fannborg ascent

What followed was the steep and steady ascent towards Fannborg, with the ground covered by trillions of pieces of broken stones. With each step, we were getting more and more rewarded with better and better views of the entire Kerlingarfjöll area. You will not get these views anywhere else, only from this hike.

snaekollur trek kerlingarfjoll

Between Fannborg and Snækollur

After about less than an hour, we successfully connected to the (supposedly) yellow-marked hiking trail leading from the left (from the Fannborg car park) and continuing up to Fannborg and Snaekollur. The only thing was – the marks were not there 🙂 However, the footsteps on the ground were more evident, so we could follow them more easily. Finally, some guidance.

We reached the peak of Fannborg after 2.5 hours of hiking from Hveradalir. On a nice day with good visibility, views from Fannborg are already more than impressive.

If, for whatever reason, you are unable or just don’t want to continue all the way to Snaekollur, you don’t need to regret it too hard because you will already see close to the best available views from Fannborg.

fannborg kerlingarfjoll views

Views from Fannborg, the peak right before Snaekollur

Nevertheless, we initially thought we’d already reached Snækollur when we got to Fannborg. Only after checking the GPS, I wondered why it still shows less than one more kilometer to go.

Unfortunately, after we climbed to Fannborg, the fog settled down more intensely, interrupting our breathtaking views. At that moment, we contemplated ending the hike at Fannborg and turning back because continuing with almost zero visibility didn’t make sense. Moreover, Snækollur seemed still quite far away and not that easy to reach with a lot of snow on the trail.

Snækollur ridge

My cousin co-hiker, however, persuaded me to finish our hiking plan, no matter the weather. And luckily, I agreed. In the same way, the fog had started to settle down, it slowly faded away in a few minutes, and our spectacular views got even better.

snaekollur ridge snow

Snaekollur hike – ridge with snow

360° views into Kerlingarfjöll, Hveradalir, and around all nearby hills and hot springs partially covered with snow and partially with out-of-this-world orange and blue colors were simply overwhelming.

That being said, we still had to hike for quite some time through the ridge leading from Fannborg to Snaekollur. There was still a lot of snow on this part of the trail, so we had to be careful, and hiking poles came really handy here. We also had crampons in our backpacks but didn’t need them because the snow was soft, and the problem wasn’t the grip on the snow but the fear of falling deep into the snow. And, obviously, you don’t know what’s below the snow.

Firstly, we had to descend a bit from Fannborg, only to ascend again a few hundred meters later. The trail was not evident from a distance and sometimes not even clear a few meters ahead.

We reached the point where we had no other option than just to go through the snowfield and slightly climb over the big rock. During this part, we passed some pretty exposed spots of the trail, with steep falls on both sides. Luckily, the snow was firm enough to hold us, which we’d tried to test before stepping on it.

snaekollur peak kerlingarfjoll

At the peak of Snækollur

Finally, the last and the steepest climb took us to our final destination – the peak of Snækollur. It was hard but totally worth it! We felt like having climbed the Icelandic version of Mt. Everest.

Snækollur, the highest peak of the entire Kerlingarfjöll, obviously offers the best views out there over the Kerlingarfjöll area. We were lucky with good visibility and pleasant weather. Although cloudy, the clouds were high enough not to block our views and small enough not to produce rain. On a nice day, views from Snækollur could easily qualify as a natural wonder.

Descent – partially marked trail

If it wasn’t so cold out there, we would have stayed and admired the views for at least an hour. However, the reality was a bit harsher, with around 5°C (41°F) and occasional wind, up at Snaekollur. This meant that, by just sitting or standing, we started to feel pretty cold, and thus, we were pretty motivated to move again.

descent from fannborg

Descent from Fannborg

We had to return via the same steep and exposed parts, partially covered with snow, to reach Fannborg again (see section Snækollur ridge). Then we continued further down, now via the yellow-marked trail leading to the north-east. We got back to the little crossroads of our unmarked trail, which we used for the climb up and of a (supposedly) marked path with footsteps leading eastwards (to the right).

The trail led diagonally downwards on the slope of Fannborg, with billions of broken stones forming the ground. Still no marks, just footsteps. Eventually, we reached the point where there were only snowfields to continue through. One gigantic, which didn’t look very safe, and one smaller, with what looked like some old footsteps. We opted for the smaller snowfield with (hopefully) footsteps.

My cousin checked the snowfield, and it seemed to be pretty firm. Hence, we began our snowfield descent. Luckily, everything went alright. After crossing the biggest snowfield of our trip, we finally saw a stick in the ground. Is this supposed to be the mark or just the random stick? Yes, it turned out to be a mark, because it was followed by another yellow bar soon.

snaekollur trail snowfields

Snækollur hiking trail snowfields

Finally – a first real trail mark after 4 hours of hiking. This made the descent much more straightforward, and no other obstacles were on the trail. Soon we arrived at the Fannborg car park and headed back to the Hveradalir car park, which is about 10 minutes of walking on F347 away.

To sum up, the north-eastern (supposedly) marked trail to Fannborg is definitely easier in many aspects:

  1. The bottom part of this trail is marked, making orientation easier.
  2. Even after marks end, there should be trodden footsteps to follow in summer.
  3. This trail is much shorter. The unmarked trail via Hveradalir was more adventurous, but I instead recommend you take the partially marked trail from the separate Fannborg car park.
kerlingarfjoll highest peak view

Bird’s eye views of still snowy Kerlingarfjöll even in July, after the hard winter


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Posted by Igor in Highlands, Hikes, 0 comments
Hveravellir Hot Springs: 2023 Guide + Hiking Trails

Hveravellir Hot Springs: 2023 Guide + Hiking Trails

Hveravellir Hot Springs is a nice natural geothermal site in the middle of the highlands, pretty close to the famous Kerlingarfjöll.

Hveravellir is mostly special because there are several natural hot springs, and these things called fumaroles that bubble up from the ground. You can even take a dip in one of these natural hot pools.

There are also numerous trails for hiking, a little cafe, and a campsite. Hveravellir is surrounded by the remote area of the Kjolur Highland road, with great views of two big glaciers, Langjökull and Hofsjökull. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re into very remote lands and a bit of adventure.

How to get to Hveravellir

Unlike many other places in the Icelandic Highlands, Hveravellir is rather easy to reach. You can get to Hveravellir by driving or by a guided tour.

By Car

Road 35, or in Icelandic Kjölur or Kjalvegur, followed by Road 735, will get you to Hveravellir hot springs. These are both gravel roads where you officially don’t even need a 4wd car.

That being said, I do recommend driving a car with higher ground clearance, like Dacia Duster, which is typically also a 4wd car. The roads are bumpy and rough, with no river crossings.

When driving the highland roads in Iceland, always check the road conditions in advance, along with the official Icelandic weather forecast and current safety warnings!

f35 kjalvegur

F35, aka Kjalvegur, near Hveravellir

By Bus

There used to be a bus service from Reykjavik, but it has been recently canceled.

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By Tour

You can take a Hveravellir guided tour from Akureyri. The trip combines a visit to Kerlingarfjöll and Hveravellir to make the most of your day.

When to visit Hveravellir

The easiest and most popular time to visit Hveravellir is during Icelandic summer, i.e. between June and October.

Hveravellir hot springs

Hveravellir hot springs area, source: http://www.icelandofmine.com


Roads to Hveravellir typically become snow-free and mud-free sometimes between the end of May and the end of June. This is when the Icelandic Road Administration marks the road as “Easily Passable” instead of impassable.

Summer is the best time to visit Hveravellir because you can get there easily, hike freely in the area and there’s no danger of storms.

Roads to Hveravellir then become impassable again anytime between mid-September and the end of October once the new snow settles in.


It’s possible to visit Hveravellir also in winter and experience there fabulous Northern Lights, but only by a private jeep tour.

Top Things to Do in Hveravellir

Hveravellir is rather undeveloped without too many things to do. Yet hikers and hot springs enthusiasts will definitely have a fun time in here.

Hveravellir Hot Spring

hveravellir main bathing hot pool

Hveravellir main bathing hot pool

The number one thing to do in Hveravellir is undoubtedly the main Hveravellir hot spring. Bathing in a picturesque hot spring in the middle of nowhere is an unforgettable experience in any weather.

Hiking to Other Hot Springs

hveravellir hiking trails

Hiking around hot springs in Hveravellir

There are also many other hot pots and fumaroles where you can’t bathe, but you may still hike around them.

After seeing many other amazing places in Iceland, we found them a bit underwhelming, though. You can read more about our Hveravellir experience below.

Our tip: if you are short on time, take just a dip in the main hot spring. This was the highlight of our Hveravellir visit

Hveravellir Mountain Cafe

Right next to the parking lot, there’s a cute little cafe inside the Hveravellir Lodge. The lodge serves as a highland accommodation. You can also pitch your tent at the Hveravellir campsite right next to the lodge.

Hiking around Hveravellir

hveravellir hot springs iceland

The easiest hiking trail around Hveravellir hot springs takes about 20 minutes.

There are numerous hiking options in Hveravellir. The easiest but also the least spectacular option is just to wander around the main hot spring area.

The alternatives include longer hikes, where you will see some better views of the area, though not the best in Iceland in our opinion.

Hveravellir Hiking Trails

Hveravellir’s hiking trails offer harsh landscapes and historical points of interest entirely away from crowds or any civilization. The three main routes are the Green Trail, the Red Trail, and the Orange Trail.

Green Trail

hveravellir green hiking trail

Green hiking trail in Hveravellir. Source: www.hveravellir.is

Route: Eyvindarrétt Circle 
Length: 3km (1.8mi) 
Walking time: 30-50min
Elevation: almost none

The Green Trail takes you through a route lined with lava fields, moss heath, and heathland. If you’re lucky, you might even encounter an Arctic fox.

As you traverse this trail, one of the main points of interest is Eyvindarhellir, also known as Eyvindur’s cave. This was where Eyvindur and his wife took refuge with their sheep.

Alongside, you’ll also come across Eyvindarrétt, an impressive volcanic rock structure once used for sheep herding.

Red Trail

strytur hveravellir red hiking trail

Strýtur at the red hiking trail, source: www.hveravellir.is

Route: from Hveravellir to Strýtur and back 
Length: 12km (7.5mi) 
Walking time: 3-5 hours
Elevation: 240m (800ft)

Although a bit longer, the Red Hiking Trail in Hveravellir isn’t demanding, and anyone in fair shape can manage it. The trail offers a blend of grey, black, and brown colors, remnants of lava and volcanic ashes.

As you traverse this path, you’ll see steam escaping from beneath the lava and cross a few tiny streams. A nice stop is Strýtur crater, located amidst the lava field. It erupted roughly 7,000 years ago and is generally flat and vegetated, making it relatively easy to cross. You can even walk around Strýtur and even inside the crater.

On clear days, seeing glaciers, including the impressive Hrútfell, is a beautiful bonus.

Orange Trail

hveravellir orange hiking trail

Hveravellir orange hiking trail, source: www.hveravellir.is

Route: from Hveravellir to Þjófadalir and back 
Length: 21km (13mi) 
Walking time: 5-6 hours
Elevation: 150m (500ft)

The Orange Trail is straightforward and mostly flat, offering a diverse landscape to enjoy.

The literal translation of Þjófadalir would be the Valleys of the Thieves because several places in the area were used as hideouts for outlaws.

You will see lava fields, flowers, berries, and great views on this trek. The most spectacular ones are views over the mountain “Mt. Redhead” (Rauðkollur), the Langjökull glacier, and also of Kerlingarfjöll and Hofsjökull glacier.

Our experience with Hveravellir

Distance from car park: 2 minutes (hot spring)
Time spent at: 1 hour 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little 
Interesting index: 3 – nice  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

I had been so excited to visit Hveravellir, imagining a crystal blue bubbling hot spring in my mind. I had read about the multiple hot springs in the area and seen some absolutely mesmerizing photos, so I was really looking forward to experiencing it all for ourselves.

hveravellir hot spring iceland

This is a typical picture of Hveravellir hot spring you will find on the internet. Real? Not really. Just post-processed.


However, when we finally arrived, I was a bit underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, the Hveravellir area was nice enough, but it just didn’t quite measure up to some of the other stunning landscapes we had seen in Iceland.

When we got to Hveravellir from road (F)35, it was a quick and easy drive to a parking area by a charming little restaurant.

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Our Hot Spring Experience

There was a public hot spring right next to the parking lot that was really nice, although it was pretty crowded since it was so convenient. Despite our visit in the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis!

The hot spring itself was quite spacious, and the water was a lovely temperature, around 38°C from what I could tell.

hveravellir main hot spring

Hveravellir main hot spring, source: www.hveravellir.is

However, the air temperature was surprisingly chilly, even in August, hovering around 7-8°C. So, it’s definitely important to come prepared for those kinds of conditions, especially since you’re up in the highlands of Iceland.

Our Search for Other Hot Springs

We decided to take a chance and visit also the other hot springs in search of those mesmerizing photos I mentioned in the beginning. We had heard that there were multiple hot springs, so we set out to explore and hopefully find some that were less crowded.

We followed one of the hiking trails, which was an easy, flat path through fields with a great view, but no steam or hot springs in sight. We kept walking, hoping to stumble upon them, but after 20 minutes, we still had not found anything. Although we didn’t mind the walk, the scenery was unremarkable and lacked any exciting sights.

hveravellir trail

Hveravellir hiking trail. Pretty dull landscapes compared to other ones in Iceland

We did meet some sheep along the way, but they didn’t seem to know where the hot springs were either. Eventually, we reached a small hill, and I scanned the area, but still no hot springs in sight. We decided to take a different path on our way back, hoping for better luck.

Despite returning by the second trail, we still couldn’t find any hot springs. I was really looking forward to experiencing the stunning hot springs I had seen online, so I was determined to find them. As a last resort, we asked for help at a nearby restaurant.

hveravellir trail sheep

Sheep around Hveravellir trail

The staff member informed us that the only hot spring suitable for bathing was the one by the car park. The others were further away and not meant for bathing. With this information, our enthusiasm waned, and we decided to bathe in the only hot spring we had found.

Our take on Hveravellir

To be clear, Hveravellir, like almost every place in Iceland, is a beautiful place. Our disappointment stemmed from the difference between our huge expectations and what we actually experienced that day. Nice, but not overwhelming, like many other top Icelandic places.


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Posted by Igor in Highlands, 0 comments
Top 10 Easiest F-roads in Iceland

Top 10 Easiest F-roads in Iceland

The easiest F-roads in Iceland are those that either don’t contain any river crossings or their terrain is simply easy to drive. Many F-roads often lead to stunningly beautiful landscapes of the Icelandic Highlands. These are one of the most beautiful highland roads in the world and you should definitely visit at least some of them when you are in Iceland during summer!

It’s not easy to find information about what are the F-roads without river crossings and which roads are not steep, narrow, or dangerous in any other way. That’s why we collected all this info for you based on our multi-year driving experience in Iceland.

Below you will find the list of F-roads we consider the easiest to drive and suitable even for those with little 4×4 driving experience. The list is ordered based on the difficulty and starts with the easiest road, based on road conditions and obstacles.

When planning your Icelandic trip, please choose a proper car in advance, based on where you plan to drive. It’s also useful to know how to pick the best Icelandic car rental insurance. Moreover, we collaborate with the best Icelandic companies to offer you car rental and tour discounts and us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

1. (F)35, Across Iceland

f35 kjölur kjalvegur iceland

F35, Kjölur, Kjalvegur

Why is it worth a drive

Firstly, if you want to easily traverse from southern Iceland to the north, Road (F)35, Kjalvegur, or Kjölur (yes, these are all names for the same road) will be your best choice.

Secondly, the two of the most beautiful Highlands areas of Iceland are located right in the middle of (F)35:

Personal Tip: Both Kerlingarfjöll and Hveradalir have become quite popular. If you want to enjoy them alone, arrive either early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Why is it easy

F35 is the easiest F-road in Iceland and it’s not exactly an F-road anymore. It has been reclassified in recent years to a non-F-road 35. The reason why is, there are no unbridged rivers to cross, and, on top, significant road improvements were made to Kjalvegur.

Road 35 is just bumpy with many potholes, but otherwise, it’s completely OK to drive with no difficult parts or steep sections.

When to drive it

Despite being easy to drive, F35 is passable for visitors with rental cars only in summer. Kjalvegur typically opens the first among all F-roads, around the end of May.

It then usually becomes impassable due to snow in early October. Between October and May, only super jeeps are allowed on the road and only at their own risk.

Recommended car

A 4×4 car is NOT compulsory on Kjalvegur. Once the Icelandic Road Administration marks the road open, or passable, you can drive it in any car. It will be a more comfortable drive in a 4wd car with higher ground clearance, though.

2. (F)208 North, Fjallabak

F208 north horses

Horses blocking the F208 road Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri north of Landmannalaugar

Why is it worth a drive

Firstly, F208 North, or Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri in Icelandic, is the easiest road leading to picturesque Landmannalaugar.

Secondly, several otherwordly natural landscapes are situated along northern Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri, such as:

  • Sigöldugljúfur canyon – famous and touristy canyon with waterfalls and crystal blue color
  • Hnausapollur (Bláhylur) crater lake – probably the most photographed crater lake in Iceland
  • Ljótipollur crater lake – one of the most beautifully-colored volcanic lakes in Iceland
  • Frostastaðavatn lake – a huge lake right next to Landmannalaugar
  • Tungnaárfellsfoss waterfall – a glamorously wide waterfall almost nobody visits and nobody knows about
  • Dynkur (Búðarhálsfoss waterfall) – a very remote canyon with a big waterfall. Exercise caution, it’s further away from Road 208 and low-quality dirt tracks lead there.
Personal Tip: Road 208 North is pretty boring as such. Once you gain more experience with Icelandic highland roads, we recommend taking different routes back from Landmannalaugar.

Why is it easy

F208 North is also one of the very easy F-roads. The are no river crossings on northern (F)208. Moreover, the route has been reclassified to non-F-road in recent years due to road improvements. It’s not steep, nor narrow, just bumpy.

When to drive it

F208 North typically opens to visitors with rental cars around mid-June and typically closes near the end of September. This means you can drive with a rental car on F208 only in summer.

Recommended car

A 2wd car is sufficient for the northern part of (F)208 when it’s marked open. Nevertheless, we recommend driving it in a 4wd car with some ground clearance for a more comfortable drive. Such a car is also useful for many connecting roads, such as F225 or southern F208.

3. (F)570, Snæfellsnes

road 570 Snæfellsness iceland

Road 570 Snæfellsness near Snæfellsjökull

Why is it worth a drive

Firstly, there are no special spots or attractions along Road 570, Jökulshálsvegur. But – that does NOT mean the road is not interesting. It’s actually in our opinion one of the most beautiful roads in Iceland. The colorful surroundings of F570 are on their own worth the drive!

Secondly, there’s a plateau roughly in the middle of F570, with stunning views of the southern Snæfellsnes beaches. Definitely go for it on a nice day with clear skies, and enjoy the views!

Personal Tip: Road (F)570 leads to the bottom of the trailhead for Snæfellsjökull - the highest point of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. The hike goes over a glacier with unstable terrain and crevasses, never attempt it alone!

Why is it easy

There are no river crossings on F570, that’s why the road has also been reclassified to non-F-road recently and it’s quite easy to drive. The road is a bit steep, though, so if you are afraid of heights, we do not recommend driving it.

When to drive it

Road 570, Jökulshálsvegur, standardly opens around the beginning of July and closes near the end of September. Always watch out for current road conditions, though. For example, during our drive of (F)570 in July of 2022, the road became passable as late as on 19th of July, due to deep snow still covering the road – see video above.

Even after opening in mid-July, it was passable only for 4×4 cars (despite being non-F-road). Long story short – the bigger 4×4 car is always an advantage and always check road conditions before driving any mountain roads in Iceland!

Recommended car

After a mild winter, you can drive Road 570 in a 2wd car. However, when there’s more snow, Jökulshálsvegur is passable only in a 4wd car. Bear this in mind.

4. F347, Kerlingarfjöll

f347 Kerlingafjallavegur Kerlingarfjöll iceland

F347 Kerlingafjallavegur leading to Kerlingarfjöll, Hveradalir

Why is it worth a drive

First of all, F347, Kerlingafjallavegur, leads to one of the most spectacular areas of the Icelandic Highlands – the orange mountains of Kerlingarfjöll. That on its own is more than just worth a drive.

Secondly, my insider tip would be – don’t visit just Hveradalir hot springs area in Kerlingarfjöll! Almost everybody heads only to Hveradalir. And that’s a pity. There are many other amazing spots in Kerlingarfjöll and along F347:

  • Snækollur hike – the highest peak of Kerlingarfjöll with by far the best views
  • Kerlingarfjöll hot spring – a natural hot spring located in a picturesque canyon
  • Horseshoe Bend – one of the favorite spots for photographers
  • Hveradalir hot springs – the main and most popular hot spring area in Kerlingarfjöll
  • Gýgjarfoss waterfall – a cute little waterfall right along F347
  • Kerlingarfjöll mountain resort – a brand-new luxury mountain resort
  • Hveravellir hot springs – another great hot spring area; one-hour drive from F347
Personal Tip: Kerlingarfjöll is located in a special glacier microclimate. This unfortunately means, it's almost always foggy, cloudy and/or rainy. If you are flexible, be patient and try to find a day with clear skies to visit it. Trust me, it will be worth it!

Why is it easy

F347 is the easiest F-road in Iceland that is still officially being marked as an F-road. There are no river crossings on Kerlingafjallavegur nor on the connecting road (F)35. The road will most likely be reclassified to non-F-road soon, more so thanks to the new Kerlingarfjöll mountain resort.

The only difficult part of road F347 is the last section between the mountain resort and the Hveradalir hot springs area, which is a bit steep.

When to drive it

F347 typically opens once all the snow from the road melts. Given the proximity of the glacier, this usually happens around the beginning of July. However, due to a new mountain resort, it’s reasonable to expect the road will be much better maintained in the future and will open even sooner, around May or June.

As of now, F347 typically becomes impassable around mid-to-end September. We again expect this to be prolonged due to the resort, to sometime around October or November. F347 may in the future even be the only road in the highlands accessible also in winter. Watch out for the latest road developments on Icelandic Road Administration website.

Recommended car

F347 can easily be driven in any 4wd car. It is still compulsory to drive a 4×4 car on the road because it’s still marked as an F-road. This may change in the upcoming months/years, though.

5. F575, Snæfellsnes

F575 Eysteinsdalsleid iceland

F575 Eysteinsdalsleið, Snæfellsnes in mid-July

Why is it worth a drive

To begin with, the drive around F575 is full of lush green hills, valleys, and snowfields making it a beautiful colorful mountain drive a very few visitors take. F575, Eysteinsdalsleið, is a mountainous F-road in Snæfellsnes that leads up to Snæfellsjökull glacier. It connects the western Snæfellsnes coast with road (F)570.

Furthermore, there are several lesser-known places to see in Snæfellsnes around the road F575, for example:

  • Rauðhóll crater hike – very little visited crater, close to the road
  • Eyvindarhola Lava Cave – an old cave with old bones
  • Klukkufoss waterfall – hidden waterfall; requires hiking
  • Snekkjufoss waterfall – another hidden waterfall that you need to hike to
  • Scenic views from above – views from F575 on a clear day are simple breath-taking
Personal Tip: The drive on F575 takes only around 30 minutes. However, if you want to fully explore the entire area around, you will need around 5-6 hours for it. Plan accordingly.

Why is it easy

F575 doesn’t have any river crossings or any dangerous parts. It’s just a mountainous road where you will be driving up the hill for the entire time when coming from the west coast.

Eysteinsdalsleið may easily be reclassified in upcoming years to a non-F-road. I believe the only reason why it has not happened yet are some steep sections, remoteness of the road, and snow staying on the road often longer.

When to drive it

F575 becomes usually passable around the beginning of July and becomes again impassable around the end of September. This varies depending on the strength of the preceding winter and the quickness of the arrival of an upcoming winter.

In years of a soft winter, the road may open as soon as mid-June, and in years with harder winters (for example 2022) it opens as late as mid-July.

Recommended car

You can drive F575 in any 4wd car. A 4×4 car is compulsory on the road because it’s an F-road. Bear in mind the road has some steep sections and you will definitely feel safer driving a bigger 4wd car, though.

6. F225, Landmannalaugar

f225 landmannaleid in rain

F225 Landmannaleið in rain

Why is it worth a drive

F225, Landmannaleið, is the second easiest road leading to Landmannalaugar. We believe this is the best road to Landmannalaugar for first-time visitors. Why? F225 has amazingly beautiful surroundings and it’s easy to drive. It’s much much more beautiful than very often used northern road (F)208. Although there’s one river crossing, it’s an easy one, which we believe everyone can make when following river crossing rules.

Furthermore, there are many amazing hidden places around F225:

  • Rauðaskál crater – incredible volcanic crater where you either need to hike from below, or drive with a super jeep from above
  • Hekla volcano – famous volcano where you may hike in summer when weather conditions are good; the road leading to the hike is very difficult, though, and requires a super jeep
  • Raudufossar waterfall – one of the most incredible orange waterfalls in Iceland; you need to hike there
  • Raudufossafjol waterfall hike – the extension of the Raudufossar waterfall hike to the source of its orange water
  • Landmannahellir hiking area – a campsite in the middle of a hiking area
  • Domadalur ravine – scenic road in between volcanic hills full of black ash
  • Frostastaðavatn lake – one of the biggest lakes in Landmannalaugar with beautiful surroundings
Personal Tip: If you are unsure about the river crossings in Iceland and you want to practice somewhere first, F225 is a very good road for it. There are only small and easy river crossings on the road.

Why is it easy

There are no dangerous or steep sections on F225 and only small river crossings and ponds. It’s a good F-roads for practicing for any first-time visitors with some 4wd driving experience. There’s also usually good network coverage and a lot of traffic in the summer.

When to drive it

F225 typically opens among the first F-roads, around mid-June. This can move for about 2 weeks sooner or later based on the preceding winter intensity. Landmannaleið then typically becomes impassable around the end of September or the beginning of October.

Recommended car

A 4wd car is necessary for F225. Basically, any 4×4 car would be sufficient because this is an easy F-road. Bear in mind, though, that if you want to drive via some of the difficult detours from F225 like the Krakatindur dirt track, up above Rauðaskál crater, or towards Hekla, you will need at least a large 4×4 car, ideally a super jeep.

7. F235, Langisjór

F235 to Langisjor

Out-of-this-world landscapes surrounding the F235 road toward Langisjór Lake

Why is it worth a drive

Despite being located deep in the Icelandic Highlands, road F235 surprisingly belongs to one of the easiest F-roads in Iceland. At the same time is one of the most astonishing roads in Iceland at all. Out-of-this-world lunar landscapes surround F235 to Langisjór from the start until the end. And once you finish, a beautiful reward will be waiting for you – an unbelievably clear Langisjór lake.

Although the surreal landscapes encompassing F235 would be strong enough a reason to drive the road, there’s more to see around:

  • Sveinstindur hike – one of the most spectacular hidden Icelandic hikes
  • Blue River Valley viewpointviewpoint of a beautiful crystal blue river valley
  • Difficult dirt tracks – there are many fascinating connecting tracks for experienced drivers with large cars and super jeeps
  • Lake Langisjór – huge and amazingly clear and tranquil lake; you can hike around it for days
  • Eldgjá hiking area – a nice hiking area in the valley next to F235
Personal Tip: F235 should not be your first 4x4 experience. The road is easy to drive, but it's very remote and you need to cross one medium-sized river on F208 to reach F235.

Why is it easy

There are only small river crossings and ponds on F235 leading to Langisjór. Other than these there are no difficult parts and the road is easy to drive, almost like a highlands highway.

There’s one catch, though. To get to F235 you need to arrive by F208 either from the north or from the south. Both of these routes contain medium-sized river crossings. The northern route has several ones and the southern route has just one medium river crossing. When you rent at least a medium-sized SUV and follow the river crossing rules this should not be a problem, though.

When to drive it

F235 usually becomes passable and snow-free at the beginning of July. Some years this may happen a few weeks earlier and in some years a few weeks later. By mid-July the road should almost always be open to visitors. F235 then usually becomes impassable around the end of September.

Recommended car

To drive F235 we recommend at least a medium-sized 4×4 car. As we mention above, F235 as such is quite easy and would require only a small 4wd car. However, connecting southern F208 is harder and you definitely need a medium 4wd car such as Dacia Duster at minimum to pass safely under most of the weather and river conditions.

8. F586, Haukadalsskarðsvegur

road 586 Haukadalsskarðsvegur iceland

Road F586 Haukadalsskarðsvegur

Why is it worth a drive

F586 is an easy F-road with a little bit of everything and well suitable as an F-road driving practice for beginners. Haukadalsskarðsvegur will serve you shallow river crossings, exhilarating inclines, and just enough potholes and rugged patches to keep your heart racing. But don’t worry – this road never gets too wild or intimidating.

What sets the F586 apart, though, is the refreshingly green landscapes that surround you as you journey onwards. To add to the magic, there’s a little canyon nestled right beside the road on its eastern side, just waiting to be explored.

Personal Tip: If you're ready to take on the Icelandic F-roads but want to start with a gentle yet unforgettable adventure, the F586 is your go-to destination.

Why is it easy

There are only small river crossings on F586 and all the inclines and declines are moderate and bearable. The road is also located near the main roads and is short in distance.

When to drive it

F586 typically becomes passable for visitors in the second half of May and usually closes in the first half of October.

Recommended car

You can drive F586 in any 4wd car, which is, however, compulsory for the road. For peace of mind, we suggest driving Haukadalsskarðsvegur in a medium-sized SUV.

9. F821, Eyjafjarðarleið

F821 Eyjafjardarleid iceland

F821 Eyjafjardarleid

Why is it worth a drive

F821 is a scenic mountainous drive through a valley full of small river streams and moss around every corner. Besides the gorgeous drive, F821 also leads to Laugafell – one of the most secluded hot springs and campsites in Iceland. Laugafell is a peaceful oasis of remoteness in the middle of nowhere, and if you haven’t visited it yet, you should!

Highlights of F821:

  • Laugafell hot spring – well-maintained remote Highland hot spring with a campsite
  • Eyjafjardara Valley – one of the best roadside viewpoints in northern Iceland
  • Green summer scenery – horses, farms, rivers, hills
Personal Tip: You will get the best views over the Eyjafjardara Valley if you arrive from the south and descend towards Akureyri. This is also the easier way to drive Eyjafjarðarleið because you don't have to take steep ascents. You need to drive the northern part of F26 first and then continue via F881. These road sections should normally be doable with only small rivers to cross.

Why is it easy

There are only small rivers and streams on F821, so river crossings are not an issue. The only potentially problematic aspect of the road is its inclination and rough terrain. This is not a road for someone trying to learn how to drive a 4×4 car, but it’s definitely one of the easier F-roads.

When to drive it

F821 is one of the latest roads to open in summer. The median opening date happens to be around mid-July, and definitely don’t expect to drive the road sooner than in July. Eyjafjarðarleið then typically closes around the end of September.

Recommended car

A 4wd is compulsory on F821, the same as it is for any F-road. More experienced drivers should be able to drive the road in any 4wd car. That being said we better recommend taking at least a medium-sized 4×4 car for the road, to not risk damaging your car on rough and steep terrain.

10. F936, Eastfjords

f936 thordalsheidarvegur iceland

F936 (or 936 already) – Thordalsheidarvegur

Why is it worth a drive

F936 is kind of an outsider road because we have never noticed anybody talking or writing about it. I stumbled upon Þórdalsheiðarvegur just by looking at the map trying to find the roads I haven’t driven yet 🙂 Well, and it was worth a drive.

Although there are no special attractions along (F)936, the road itself is an attraction. Zig-zagged drive through huge Eastfjords valleys with no cars anywhere nearby made road 936 a little hidden road gem for us.

Personal Tip: Road 936 leads along the power lines. These go from Kárahnjúkar dam to Alcoa Fjardáal aluminum smelting company that consumes five times more power per day than the capital city Reykjavik. And this road is basically just a service road for them.

Why is it easy

F936 is not for the faint-hearted due to some pretty steep sections, however, these should be bearable for anyone with a 4×4 driving experience. There are also no rivers to cross on the road.

It is actually unclear whether the road is still an F-road (that’s why we wrote (F)936 at some points). On Icelandic Maps it’s just 936, but in front of the road there’s still a sign with “F936”.

When to drive it

(F)936 typically opens near the end of June and typically becomes impassable at the beginning of October.

Recommended car

While any 4wd should officially be feasible for the road (according to Icelandic Maps even a 2wd car), the bigger the car the better – at least for the steepest sections. Definitely take a 4wd car. We drove F936 in a Land Cruiser and it felt just right at the most difficult spots.

List of F-roads with NO river crossings

f985 jokulvegur iceland glacier

Amazingly beautiful sunset at the peak of F985, Jökulvegur, next to the Skalafellsjökull glacier

Here is a list of F-roads without any river crossings:

  • (F)35, Kjalvegur
  • (F)208 north, Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri
  • (F)570, Jökulshálsvegur
  • F347, Kerlingafjallavegur
  • F575, Eysteinsdalsleið
  • (F)936, Þórdalsheiðarvegur
  • F985, Jökulvegur – very steep and narrow road leading to glacier
  • F959, Viðfjarðarvegur – very steep and narrow road leading to the fjord
  • F881, Dragaleið – easy road to drive, but a bit boring, and connecting roads have rivers to cross
  • (F)508, Skorradalsvegur – nothing special about the road
  • F333, Haukadalsvegur – a bit boring to feature
  • F337, Hlöðuvallavegur – same as above
  • F223, Eldgjárvegur – nice road to Eldgjá, but all connecting roads have river crossings, similar to F235
  • F894, Öskjuvatnsvegur – a crazy, bumpy road to Askja; all connecting roads contain medium-sized river crossings
  • F946, Loðmundarfjarðarvegur – steep mountainous road, not exactly an easy one

F946 Loðmundarfjarðarvegur Borgarfjörður Eystri

F946 Loðmundarfjarðarvegur Borgarfjörður Eystri

And here is the list of F-roads with only small river crossings:

  • F225, Landmannaleið
  • F235, Langisjór
  • F586, Haukadalsskarðsvegur
  • F821, Eyjafjarðarleið
  • F66, Kollafjarðarheiði – a steep mountain pass connecting northern and southern Westfjords

F223 Eldgjárvegur iceland

F223 Eldgjárvegur

Weather, Safety, and Driving Advice

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Posted by Igor in Roads, Top Places, 2 comments
Grænihryggur hike: Guide to the hidden Green Ridge

Grænihryggur hike: Guide to the hidden Green Ridge

Graenihryggur hike is one of the most beautiful hikes in Landmannalaugar with stunning views full of spectacular colors. Grænihryggur is also one of Iceland’s best-kept secrets with almost no visitors even during the peak season! It’s a longer and more difficult hike but well worth the effort, making it a once-in-a-lifetime hiking experience.

So what is Graenihryggur? The literal translation would be a „green ridge“. And this is precisely what makes Grænihryggur special. Out-of-this-world blue-greenish color. It’s a ridge well hidden deep in the Landmannalaugar mountains. It can’t be seen from typical touristy hikes in Landmannalaugar, like Bláhnúkur or Brennisteinsalda.

Icelandic locals know well about Grænihryggur and they are usually the only visitors you will meet on a trail. Besides locals, guided tours also head to Graenihryggur, because this is one of those places in Iceland that can still be considered a true „hidden gem“.

Hike in a nutshell

Graenihryggur hike is an 8km long out-and-back hike that takes about 8 hours to complete. It is moderately difficult with some steeper and slippery parts and is accessible only in summer. It is one of the most beautiful hikes in Iceland, still not known to many visitors.

Location: 7km south of Landmannalaugar campsite detour
Length: 8km (5mi) one way, 4 hours one way
Difficulty: moderate to difficult
Season: typically from July to September
Gear: hiking shoes, hiking poles, rain-proof, and wind-proof clothes
Hiking trail: coordinates of the hiking trail

How to get to the Graenihryggur hike

Graenihryggur is located in Landmannalaugar, close to the campsite. There are several different ways to reach Graenihryggur hiking trails and none of them is trivial. Firstly, you need to reach the famous Landmannalaugar area. For that, you have the 3 options below.

f208 landmannalaugar iceland

Amazingly beautiful roads around Landmannalaugar

Getting to Landmannalaugar

You can get to Landmannalaugar via three different roads:

We explained in detail the differences between these three roads in our Guide to Landmannalaugar. You need to have a 4wd car when heading to Icelandic Highlands and Landmannalaugar. A medium-sized 4×4 car is the best for this type of trip.

Getting to Grænihryggur trailhead

There are two main trailheads leading to Graenihryggur from Landmannalaugar. The first, shortest, and most popular trailhead is located right next to road F208, close to Landmannalaugar campsite, 8 kilometers (5 miles) south of road F224. It is depicted on the map above and also zoomed in the picture below.

Grænihryggur trailhead map

Grænihryggur trailhead map. Source: Wikiloc

The second trailhead is located at the Landmannalaugar campsite itself, where all famous Landmannalaugar hikes start. For our hike, we chose the first option – the so-called Halldórsgil trail. Halldórsgil is the most popular and also the shortest and safest trail leading to Grænihryggur. It leads via Halldórsgil canyon. The other trails are difficult, dangerous, and barely marked, see below.

Grænihryggur hiking trails

Graenihryggur is located in the heart of Landmannalaugar, between Brennisteinsalda campsite and Hrafntinnusker hut. This means you can get to Graenihryggur by many different trails, none of them being short, nor easy, though. Several of these trails are not even marked, that’s why many choose a guided tour instead of a self-hike.

Map of the Grænihryggur hiking trails:

graenihryggur hiking trails map

Map of the Grænihryggur hiking trails

There are three known hiking trails to Grænihryggur:

  1. The main Halldórsgil trail. It starts as a hike through the canyon of Halldórsgil. Halldórsgil trail is a well-marked trail (red sticks). This is the shortest, easiest, and also most popular trail. The only disadvantage of the Halldórsgil trail is that it’s an out-and-back trail. Landscapes around the trail are more than just amazing. We took this trail and describe it in detail below. It took us roughly 6 hours to complete a round-trip.
  2. The Landmannalaugar trail. The second, significantly longer, more difficult, and unmarked trail is a loop trail from Halldórsgil, via Grænihryggur to Landmannalaugar campsite and back (or the other way around). After reaching Graenihryggur you have to climb up and down several steep and unmarked ridges and also ford the fast-flowing and wide Jökulgilskvísl river. We highly recommend doing this hike only as a guided tour, or only if you are a very experienced hiker and you are in luck with a great weather forecast (no fog, rain, or strong winds). The Graenihryggur Landmannalaugar loop takes about 10-12 hours to complete.
  3. The Hrafntinnusker trail. Apart from the two main Grænihryggur trails mentioned above, you may also hike to Graenihryggur by several different combinations of various trails in the area. Most of them are longer and more difficult than those we mentioned above. Hikers usually hike them as a part of multi-day Landmannalaugar hikes. In addition, the majority of them are unmarked.

Map of the Graenihryggur hike

Below is the detailed map of the main Grænihryggur hike, the Halldórsgil hike. There are the exact coordinates of the hike as we’ve done it in late July. All necessary info such as altitude, hiking times, and the trail we took are included in the interactive map below:

Powered by Wikiloc

Hiking difficulty

  • The hike is considered to be a moderately difficult hike.
  • The main danger of the hike lies in unpredictable weather, a very remote area with no network coverage and slippery trails
  • It is a full-day hike, it takes 7 to 9 hours to complete it as a round trip.
  • There are no chains, nor very exposed parts, yet some of them are steep
  • Many steeper parts are made of small gravel or dirt and the grip is not the best, especially if it rains
  • There is one river crossing, a wide Jökulgilskvísl river, not very deep; it is possible to cross it on dry feet in dry weather, however, you may need to wade it when there’s more water in the river;
  • It’s a great hike for anyone with hiking experience, even for families experienced in hiking;
  • It’s NOT a hike for the elderly or small children, or anyone used to just hiking for 1 hour and no more
  • Take special care early in the season (June/July), there may be snow bridges with dangerous rivers under them!

landmannalaugar Grænihryggur hike iceland

Unbelievable Grænihryggur hike views

When to hike Graenihryggur

Typically, you can go for the hike any time between the beginning of July and mid-September. Similarly to when F-roads are open, the hike is accessible when there’s no considerable snow on the trails. This usually starts in July, once most of the winter snow has melted, and ends at the end of September when the new snow arrives.

Of course, there are exceptions to the general rules mentioned above. After mild winters, you may be able to hike Graenihryggur even in June and maybe even until October. On the other hand, after very tough winters, you may encounter huge amounts of snow on trails even in July or August. This is exactly what happened to us in late July. The amount of snow was bearable, though, so we could just hike over it and not get stuck in it.

If you are unsure about the current conditions of the trails, it’s always best to contact SafeTravel.is by email, or to ask a local. One last important thing – even in summer, always check the weather forecast before the hike. Don’t hike during strong rain or strong wind, it can be very dangerous. Skies don’t have to be clear, but at least aim for no heavy rain or wind. We also wrote a handy guide on How to find nice weather in Iceland.

Grænihryggur hiking trail iceland

Grænihryggur hiking trail

How to prepare for the hike

  • Wear proper hiking shoes, wind-proof, and water-proof clothes (not just repellent!)
  • Have a winter hat and gloves ready if it’s too chilly
  • Hiking poles are a big plus, although it’s possible to hike also without them (not recommended)
  • Check the local weather forecast, and read tricks on how to manage weather; Go only if it doesn’t rain or blow too much; Ideally no rain at all
  • Check road conditions; you are looking for the green color
  • Better rent a satellite location device if you are not in a big group or not with a local
  • Bring wading shoes and a little towel for river crossing
  • Crampons are not necessary during the main season (July to September) and they won’t help either outside of the season (just don’t go)

graenihryggur hike view

One of the countless picturesque spots during the hike

The main hike – our experience

We drove by the Graenihryggur Halldórsgil trailhead on a cloudy, rainy, and foggy day. Definitely not an ideal day for a hike. We were indecisive about whether to go for the hike or not until the very last minute. Finally, my cousin co-hiker persuaded me to give it a try. And I’m now glad he did because the weather actually improved and the hike was amazing even without sun and clear skies!

We reached the starting point of the trail by our modified Land Cruiser around lunchtime, so pretty late. That was also the reason why we didn’t speculate with longer, unmarked trails, and rather stuck to the classic marked Grænihryggur trail from Halldórsgil canyon. The Halldórsgil trailhead is located just a few minutes of a drive south from the crossroads of F224 and F208.

There’s no car park, but we recognized the trailhead thanks to around 6 local Icelandic cars being parked at the edge of the road. These were apparently no tourists, but locals. We parked our car as the last one in the row, packed our backpacks, and headed out into moody weather.

graenihryggur trailhead

Graenihryggur hike trailhead -the beginning of the hike via Halldórsgil

Halldórsgil canyon trail

The first part of the trail to Graenihryggur is the easiest and also the most boring part of the hike. It leads via Halldórsgil canyon, which is one of the less magnificent Icelandic canyons, yet definitely a peaceful one. You won’t meet many fellow tourists here, as I already mentioned.

We hiked to Grænihryggur in July, in a year of a very strong Icelandic winter. This means we encountered a lot of snow on the trail, even in the second half of July. Soon into the hike, we reached smaller snowfields that got bigger and bigger the further we proceeded with the hike. Some of these snowfields were a bit scary. At one moment we could see a flowing river right under the melting snowfield and we had to walk through this snowfield, hoping not to fall down through it.

Halldórsgil canyon trail Grænihryggur

Snowfields in July on the Halldórsgil canyon trail to Grænihryggur

The ascent was gradual and there were no technical parts in this section of the hike. There was just a lot of walking in the snow, which is naturally more tiring compared to firm terrain. After about an hour of hiking, we stumbled upon the first of many amazing viewpoints. We finally got high enough to be able to observe the monumental Halldórsgil valley from the bird’s eye viewpoint. This is the typical Grænihryggur hike moment – Landmannnalaugar, but different, more remote, and even more magical, everywhere around you.

Crossing Jökulgilskvísl river

After reaching the highest point of the trail, what follows is at times steep and slippery descent all the way down to Jökulgilskvísl river. And yes, you have to cross the Jökulgilskvísl river. Luckily, at the time of our visit in July, it was possible to cross the river with dry feet. The reason is, this is not the main riverbed, it’s just an arm of Jökulgilskvísl. Or better said, many small arms.

graenihryggur river crossing

Graenihryggur river crossing of the river Jökulgilskvísl on our way back

We were able to either hop over some of the river arms or we found some shallower spots where our shoes didn’t get wet, or we managed to find some stones suitable for hopping through. This fun can actually take some time. At least we were able to cross it with dry feet, unlike the river in Vonarskarð.

Now maybe you can guess what follows after this descent? Yes, you’re right, another ascent! And once again slippery and at times steep. This is one of the reasons we don’t recommend hiking Grænihryggur during/after a strong rain. Trails can get wet and even more slippery, and trust me, you don’t want to hike steep trails with mud all over the trails.

Rainbow hills

rainbow hills graenihryggur hike

Rainbow hills on a Grænihryggur hike are some of the most beautiful ones in Landmannalaugar

Despite being a bit more difficult, the hike to Grænihryggur is strikingly beautiful! Most of the time you’re gonna be surrounded by various types and tones of rainbow mountains, feeling totally like in a fairy tale. The weather was far from clear skies during our hike, we nevertheless felt like on another planet anyway.

Shortly before the final ascent of the hike we met the local Icelandic hiking group, which seemed to be just a huge group of friends. At that moment we saw who came with all these local cars 🙂 The group was apparently enjoying their summer hike and making a little picnic with some amazing views over nearby rainbow hills.

graenihryggur green ridge hike iceland

The first glimpse of the green ridge in the distance

Nevertheless, we continued with our hike and eventually reached the plateau, where we could finally see the famous Grænihryggur in the distance! Visibility wasn’t ideal, and Grænihryggur definitely looked much better in reality compared to the pale colors in the pictures. But that’s Iceland! We were happy we caught only a slight drizzle and weak fog and conditions were otherwise nice.

From this point we could already see Graenihryggur in the distance, so we could have easily ended at this spot and turned back, but we wanted to arrive right next to this famous green ridge. That being said we continued further along the trail.

green ridge hike iceland

The final descent towards the green ridge of Grænihryggur


The plateau leads to a ridge that can get you all the way right next to Graenihryggur. At this part of the trail, we were able to observe Graenihryggur getting nearer and nearer in front of us with every additional step.

From this ridge, we had to again descend down into the valley and finally reached Graenihryggur with its out-of-this-world colors itself. It’s forbidden to walk over the green ridge, because of the very fragile soil that can be damaged easily. Nevertheless, you can stand by Graenihryggur for as long as you wish and for example take a little picnic, as we did.

This is where the easiest and the most popular “Halldórsgil to Grænihryggur” hiking trail ends. You can then either turn back and follow the same trail back, as we did. Or you can continue with unmarked trails to follow different ways back and/or get to Jökulgil canyon or Landmannalaugar campsite. These trails are more difficult though, and we do not recommend hiking them without extensive hiking skills and/or a local knowledge of the area.

Grænihryggur green ridge

Admiring the famous Grænihryggur green ridge!

Quick hiking Tips

  • Choose a nice day. I know it’s easier to be said than done, we’ve been there. But try to choose a nice day. This at least means no stronger rain and no strong fog. We had a light fog and light rain and the hike was nice anyway. Of course, ideally, you aim for clear skies and no fog, but that may be hard to achieve.
  • Come with a proper 4×4 car. You’re gonna need it to reach the trail.
  • Study beforehand where the trailhead, i.e. the beginning of the trail is located. It may be harder to find, there’s no big sign, nor a car park.
  • Bring hiking poles and good physical health. This hike is not for small children, nor for the elderly.
  • Some climbs are pretty steep but if you are in a good shape they are definitely doable, no chains, no sharp ridges, just typical slippery Icelandic hiking 🙂
  • Enjoy the hike, views, and surroundings are very versatile, Graenihryggur is one of the most beautiful hikes in an entire Iceland in my honest opinion.

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Posted by Igor in Guide, Hikes, 0 comments
Best Winter Tours in Iceland

Best Winter Tours in Iceland

We made a list of the top winter tours in Iceland that we loved the most. A crystal blue ice cave? A glacier hike? Or a Northern Lights tour? What about snowmobiling? Pick your favorite one too!

This post is part of our Winter Iceland articles series:

Map of the best winter tours in Iceland

1. Ice caves

best ice cave in iceland

Crystal Blue Ice Cave near Jökulsárlón

Map of the ice caves in Iceland:

The best Ice caves in Iceland are located around Jökulsárlón, and the pickup point is usually at Jökulsárlón or in Hali, the nearby village. If you have a combined tour with something else, for example, the south coast, the tour may start in Reykjavik too but usually does not.

The best ice caves in Iceland are accessible mainly from October to April, as we write in our Iceland in Winter primer. Katla Ice Cave is accessible all year round, though it is considered the second most beautiful.

1.1. Crystal Blue Ice Cave

sapphire ice cave local guide of vatnajokull

Crystal Blue (sapphire) ice cave

In our opinion the most beautiful ice cave in Iceland. There’s no 1-day tour visiting Crystal Blue ice cave from Reykjavik, it’s simply too far from Reykjavik. The only option is to drive to Jökulsárlón yourself, hire a private driver, or take a 2-day tour.

1.1.1. from Jökulsárlón

1.1.2. from Jökulsárlón as a combo with Glacier hike

The tour no.1 we enjoyed the most in winter in Iceland was undoubtedly the visit to an ice cave combined with a glacier hike. We can highly recommend the ice cave and/or glacier hike tour by Glacier Adventure, a 5* reviews company with amazing guides, and also IcePic Journeys for best photo tours.

5% DISCOUNT Code for GlacierAdventure.is: EPICICELAND

10% DISCOUNT Code for IcePicJourneys.is: EPICICELAND

Why Glacier Adventure and Ice Pic Journeys? They both try to stay as much away as possible from other tourist groups, have great and knowledgeable local guides, and will take you to all the best spots available in a particular season!

secret ice tunnel iceland

Combo Ice Cave + Glacier hike tour by GlacierAdventure.is

Not sure if to visit just an ice cave or do a combo tour with a glacier hike? Our recommendation –  definitely go for the combo tour. Not only will it be a much more private experience away from the crowds, you will also see much more and soak up the atmosphere of winter Iceland to the fullest. If you are in at least slightly good shape, you should be totally able to complete this easy all-day hike, including many stops at out-of-this-world places.

1.1.3. from Reykjavik as a 2-day tour

The best local tour company for multi-day tours in Iceland is definitely NiceTravel. They have professional and funny local guides and mostly only 5* reviews. They also operate an amazing 2-day Ice Cave tour from Reykjavik that will take you to the Crystal Blue ice cave and to the most beautiful places along the south coast.

5% DISCOUNT Code for NiceTravel.is: EPICICELAND

1.2. Katla Ice Cave

katla ice cave tour from vik

Katla Ice cave tour from Vik

This is a popular ice cave to visit also from Reykjavik because it’s much closer. There are several amazing Katla ice cave tours. The main difference between them is the starting point and whether it’s “just an ice cave” or the tour is combined with some other activity. The best Katla ice cave tour companies are KatlaTrack and Arctic Adventures (contact us for discounts or subscribe to our newsletter).

1.2.1. from Vik

1.2.2. from Reykjavik

1.2.3. from Reykjavik as a combo with the South coast

A semi-private combo tour of Katla ice cave + South coast from Reykjavik is run by amazing Glaciers and Waterfalls.

10% DISCOUNT Code for GlaciersAndWaterfalls.is: EPICICELAND

1.3. Skaftafell Ice Cave

Skaftafell blue ice cave

Skaftafell blue ice cave

There’s also a nice smaller ice cave located in Skaftafell park. Here is the best Skaftafell ice cave tour combined with a glacier hike:

1.4. Langjökull Ice Caves

There are two man-made ice caves hidden in the gigantic Langjökull glacier. No worries, the ice caves are no less stunning, even when dug by men! The first, southern Langjökull ice cave, can be visited only as a combo tour with snowmobiles, starting at Gullfoss. The second, the western Langjökull ice cave, can be visited as a day tour from Reykjavik or as a day tour from Reykjavik combined with snowmobiles.

1.4.1. from Gullfoss as a combo with Snowmobiles

Langjökull ice cave iceland

Langjökull man-made ice cave

The best tour to a Langjökull ice cave is a tour by Mountaineers.is in our opinion. Mountaineers are the best Icelandic snowmobiling company. In this amazing tour starting at Gullfoss, they combine both snowmobiling on a magnificent Langjökull glacier and a visit to a nearby Langjökull ice cave. Highly recommended!

5% DISCOUNT Code for Mountaineers.is: EPICICELAND

1.4.2. from Reykjavik as a combo with Snowmobiles

Ice Cave tour combined with snowmobiling will take you to the man-made Langjökull ice cave from Reykjavik.

1.4.3. from Reykjavik ice cave only

Into the Glacier tour will take you only to the man-made Langjökull ice cave from Reykjavik. You can use a 5% discount code for the tour: EPICICELAND23

2. Glacier hikes

glacier hike in iceland

Amazing Vatnajökull glacier hike by www.glacieradventure.is, 5% discount code: EPICICELAND

The best glacier hikes are run by two companies:

Both these companies are top-notch tour providers and they run many different types of glacier hikes from the top 3 locations in Iceland for glacier hikes – Sólheimajökull, Skaftafell, and Vatnajökull. 5* reviews are obvious for both Glacier Adventure and Icelandic Mountain Guides, and so are the funny and knowledgeable guides. We guarantee you will be happy with all their tours!

Map of the glacier hikes in Iceland:

2.1. Sólheimajökull glacier hike

Sólheimajökull Glacier is the closest huge glacier to Reykjavik. Below are the best glacier hiking tours in Iceland run at Sólheimajökull:

best skaftafell glacier hike tour

Top Skaftafell glacier hike tour run by www.mountainguides.is, 5% discount code: EPICICELAND23

2.2. Vatnajökull glacier hike

2.3. Skaftafell glacier hike

3. Super Jeep tours

winter super jeep tour

Winter super jeep tour by www.glaciersandwaterfalls.is

Highlands in winter are closed for all cars except super jeeps with local drivers. Does that mean you should not go into the highlands? Not at all! Go, and choose a great winter super jeep tour!

10% DISCOUNT Code for GlaciersAndWaterfalls.is: EPICICELAND

Some places look more magnificent and some less in winter, so it’s good to know where to go. For example, Landmannalaugar in winter usually looks like “white hills everywhere”. I.e., Landmannalaugar is definitely more colorful in summer, which many visitors prefer. On the other hand, e.g. Thórsmörk is very versatile and picturesque with many amazing spots also in winter.

3.1. Thórsmörk

thorsmork winter super jeep tour

Thórsmörk winter super jeep tour by www.glaciersandwaterfalls.is

That being said, we can highly recommend a super jeep tour to Thorsmork by Glaciers and Waterfalls, for us no.1 family company running super jeep tours from Reykjavik and the south. Great reviews, great guides, great tours to spots not all tours go to. And for our readers a 10% discount code: EPICICELAND

3.2. Landmannalaugar

winter super jeep tour iceland

Winter super jeep tour by www.glaciersandwaterfalls.is

And here, is the private Winter Landmannalaugar super jeep tour with a 10% discount code: EPICICELAND.

4. Helicopter tours

winter helicopter tour iceland

Winter helicopter tours by www.helicopter.is

Can any viewpoint be better than a bird’s eye viewpoint? Hardly! If you have some extra money, definitely go for a helicopter tour! We can highly recommend a helicopter company being 20+ years in business already, called Nordurflug, or Helicopter.is.

We are very proud to offer our readers a 5% discount on the best Icelandic helicopter tours run by Nordurflug, with the discount code: EPICICELAND

5. Horse riding

winter horse riding iceland

Tvistur horse rental in Dalvik

If you love Icelandic horses at least half as much as we do, you will love also riding an Icelandic horse in winter! Horse riding is one of the cheapest tours you can experience in Iceland and often also one of the best.

Horse riding in Iceland is also quite weather-proof because you usually don’t need a sunny and clear day for that. Yes, such a day may be much nicer and more comfortable, but it’s not a necessity. That being said, rather avoid stronger rain or too windy days.

The horse-riding tour we enjoyed the most and operates also in winter is, without doubt, www.tvistur.is operating from Dalvik, near Akureyri. Tvistur is a small family company taking care of horses for their entire life. No discount codes this time, let’s leave all the money to a family which deserves it.

6. Northern Lights tours

glaciers and waterfalls aurora tour

Pictures from a guided Northern Lights tour from Reykjavik by Glaciers and Waterfalls, 10% discount code: EPICICELAND

Of course, it’s perfectly possible to see Northern Lights yourself and you don’t need to take any guided tour for that. However, it requires time, knowledge, and skill. If you don’t want to bother with studying how, when and where to see Aurora, you can rather book a guided Northern Lights tour. There are many different northern lights tours in Iceland and we picked the three we consider to be among the best ones – two from Reykjavik and one from Mývatn/Akureyri:

6.1. From Reykjavik

northern lights tour reykjavik

A picture from a guided Northern Lights tour from Reykjavik by Glaciers and Waterfalls, 10% discount code: EPICICELAND

6.2. From Mývatn and Akureyri

northern lights tour myvatn

A picture from a guided aurora tour from Mývatn by Star Travel

7. Snowmobiling

snowmobiling gullfoss iceland

Snowmobiling in Iceland

If you are looking for excitement in winter, snowmobiling should satisfy your needs.

Snowmobile tours operate from their bases usually either at Mýrdalsjökull or at Gullfoss. If you want to take a snowmobile tour from Reykjavik, you have to take a combo tour with something else, e.g. Golden Circle, or you have to hire a private driver or private tour.

7.1. Snowmobiling from Mýrdalsjökull

snowmobiling myrdalsjokull iceland

Snowmobiling from Mýrdalsjökull

Where to go for snowmobiling? We can highly recommend a great snowmobiling tour by Icelandic Mountain Guides, which is one of the best and most reputable Icelandic companies. 5* reviews, professional guides, and amazing tours are all the certainty with Icelandic Mountain Guides.

5% DISCOUNT Code for www.MountainGuides.is: EPICICELAND23

Snowmobile tour by Icelandic Mountain Guides is operated from Mýrdalsjökull and is totally worth a drive there. Mýrdalsjökull is one of the best possible places to go for snowmobiling in Iceland.

7.2. Snowmobiling from Gullfoss

snowmobiling from gullfoss

Snowmobiling from Gullfoss

The best snowmobiling company in Iceland with the longest tradition is for many Mountaineers of Iceland. Their base is at Gullfoss, and you can take one of the cheapest snowmobile tours in Iceland from there.

5% PROMO Code for www.Mountaineers.is: EPICICELAND

Mountaineers offer various snowmobiling tours from various bases (Gullfoss and Reykjavik), both as standalone tours or as combo tours. They even offer a “super fast snowmobiling tour” for those seeking even more adrenaline. If you are looking for top-notch snowmobiles, definitely take a look at Mountaineers!

7.3. Snowmobiling + Golden circle from Reykjavik

7.4. Snowmobiling + Ice Cave from Reykjavik

This is a fantastic Snowmobile and Ice Cave tour from Reykjavik that combines both Snowmobiling and Langjökull Ice Cave visit and departs from Reykjavik.

7.5. Snowmobiling only from Reykjavik

We usually don’t recommend going only for snowmobiling and taking a Reykjavik departure, because the price of this tour is the same as if you went for a combo tour of Snowmobiling and something else. In other words, you can have a longer and richer experience with a different tour for the same buck. But if you insist, here is the Snowmobiling from Reykjavik tour which has good reviews.

8. Whale Watching

north sailing whale watching

Whale watching by North Sailing

Whale watching in winter? No problem! Some companies operate also in winter, and there’s always something to see when sailing the ocean. Warm overalls provided by tour companies will keep you warm.

8.1. from Reykjavik

Here are the two best-rated whale-watching tours from Reykjavik by Elding:

elding whale watching discount code

Amazing Reykjavik whale-watching by Elding

8.2. from Húsavik

The best traditional whale-watching company operating 20+ years is called North Sailing. Be sure to check out their tours!

We can also offer our readers a 10% discount on all their tours with the discount code: EPICICELAND

8.3. from Akureyri

The second best whale-watching spot in Iceland after Húsavík is undoubtedly in Akureyri. And when it comes to the no.1 company operating whale-watching tours from Akureyri, it’s definitely Elding:

9. Snorkeling between two continents

troll silfra snorkelling classic

Silfra snorkeling classic tour

Although a bit colder in winter, still nice and totally worth it!

By far the best company offering Silfra tours is Dive.is – PADI 5 Star Dive Center Iceland. No competitor is anywhere near when it comes to 5* reviews! here are their top snorkeling tours:

And here are their top diving tours:

10. Glacier and Ice Cave Monster Truck

ice cave monster truck iceland

Ice Cave and Langjökull Glacier by Monster Truck from Gullfoss

Wanna try something different? Something where typical tour companies won’t take you? Well, what about the biggest Glacier Truck in the world? Moreover, here is a 15% discount for the tour with the promo code: EPICICELAND

Sleipnir tours depart from Gullfoss and in winter includes:

  • Langjökull glacier drive by monster truck
  • Langjökull glacier walk
  • Ice Cave visit

11. Photo tours

iceland photo tours

The most amazing Photo tours by IcePic Journeys. 10% discount code: EPICICELAND

Looking for professional Photo tours at amazing spots? Definitely check out IcePic Journeys, then! Our readers can enjoy a 10% discount on all their tours with the promo code: EPICICELAND.

Ice Pic Journeys it’s by far the best Icelandic photo tour company. They only have 5.0/5 reviews on Google, Tripadvisor, and Facebook as well. They specialize in Ice Cave and Glacier photo tours but also service amazing South Coast photo tours and Highlands photo sessions! See below the selection of our favorite ones:

12. Multi-Day tours

winter multi-day tours iceland

Winter multi-day tour by Arctic Adventures

Coming to Iceland alone? Not renting a car? Want to see the most beautiful places around Ring Road? Then go for a Multi-Day tour! Thanks to a longer tour you don’t have to care about transport or accommodations and you can enjoy all the amazing winter activities in Iceland. For winter ring road tours in Iceland, we highly recommend two local companies:

  • NiceTravel, a smaller Icelandic family company with great local guides and tours, 5% discount code on all tours: EPICICELAND
  • Arctic Adventures, the oldest and biggest tour company in Iceland, with the widest tour selection. Subscribe to our newsletter or contact us for more info and discounts for Arctic Adventures.

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Posted by Igor in Top Places, Winter, 0 comments
15 Best Summer Tours in Iceland You Will Never Forget

15 Best Summer Tours in Iceland You Will Never Forget

We created a list of the top summer guided tours in Iceland run only by the best local tour companies. There are hundreds of trip providers in Iceland and it may be hard to choose the proper one. We went through almost all summer excursions and picked the top activities where your experience is guaranteed to be unforgettable!

You can see many magnificent places in Iceland on your own, but not all of them. You can’t fly a helicopter, raft in a river, watch a whale or hike a glacier by yourself in Iceland. But you can take the guided tour! The list below includes family tours, tours for solo travelers as well as tours for adventure seekers.

The list below is NOT just the random internet pick with affiliate links. We REALLY went through these tours and even personally took most of them. We guarantee that all the companies mentioned below are great and highly knowledgeable local companies, you will enjoy dealing with 🙂

Map of the best summer tours in Iceland

1. Super Jeep tours

summer super jeep tour iceland

Thorsmork super jeep tour by Glaciers and Waterfalls

Super jeep tours in Iceland are the safest and most comfortable way to enjoy the spectacular Icelandic highlands. Some places, like Thórsmörk, are unbelievably beautiful yet very hard to access. This is where a local guide steps in and safely makes it through all the river crossings with his super jeep.

We prefer small local companies with amazing reviews for guided highlands tours. Why? The groups are very small, every trip is unique, the guides are often very sincere and funny, and you support little-known family companies. Beautiful examples of such companies are Glaciers and Waterfalls in the south and Star Travel in the north. Both have 5* reviews only and will give you a unique local experience. And for both, you can enjoy our 10% discount with the discount code: EPICICELAND

1.1. Thórsmörk

thorsmork valahnjukur top view

A spectacular view from Thorsmork super jeep tour

If you can pick only one tour, then go for the Thórsmörk super jeep tour, and you will not regret it! Þórsmörk is one of the most beautiful places in the Icelandic highlands, but it’s hard to get there safely. There are multiple treacherous river crossings where a local guide with a super jeep will greatly help.

We carefully chose our local Thórsmörk tour companies, and we think the best are small family companies Glaciers and Waterfalls and IcePic Journeys. They have fabulous 5* reviews, always max 6 people on board, and some of Iceland’s best and funniest guides. Yes, we also tried different, slightly cheaper tours, but none were as great as the one with Glaciers and Waterfalls and IcePic Journeys.

1.2. Landmannalaugar

landmannalaugar summer guided tour

Landmannalaugar guided tour

The two best south-highlands tours are undoubtedly Þórsmörk and a Landmannalaugar super jeep tour. Yes, you can definitely visit Landmannalaugar on your own if you prepare well, choose your car wisely and plan your trip accordingly. For those who don’t want to plan, we highly recommend taking a guided Landmannalaugar tour with a super jeep by Glaciers and Waterfalls.

Amazing guides of Glaciers and Waterfalls will maximize your day so that you can enjoy the most of Landmannalaugar in 1 day to the fullest. They will take you to all the hidden corners along the road and adjust your pace according to your needs. Everything is possible during their tour 🙂 We totally recommend this company and had the best experience with them.

For photo tours, be sure to check out IcePic Journeys and use a 10% discount code: EPICICELAND.

1.3. Askja

askja oskjuvatn viti

Super jeep tour to Askja

If you are staying in the north, a must-see tour is the Askja super jeep tour. Askja is an otherworldly crater full of azure blue water, where you can actually even bathe when the conditions are right! Can you visit Askja on your own? Yes, you can, but it again requires a lot of planning and renting a proper car. If you don’t want to organize this on your own, then taking a guided tour is recommended.

Not many tours will actually take you to Askja because it takes a lot of driving to reach it. But man, that drive is more than just worth it! The best local company doing tours to Askja is Star Travel. We personally know the owner, and he’s a very funny and friendly guy, and so is his entire family company 🙂 Highly recommended!

1.4. Kerlingarfjöll

kerlingarfjoll hveradalir stairs

Kerlingarfjöll guided tour

If we had to make a list of the best highlands tours, the Kerlingarfjöll guided tour would definitely be at the top of it. Kerlingarfjöll is a place like no other in Iceland and everybody who has been there will only confirm this to you. It’s located in the heart of the Icelandic highlands and it takes a lot of driving to reach it. If you want to see Kerlingarfjöll on your own, read our guide on how to visit Kerlingarfjöll.

The top Kerlingarfjöll tour is run from Akureyri by Star Travel, an amazing local company with only 5* reviews and a lot of highlands experience. This is one of the authentic Icelandic family companies that will make your trip even more unique.

2. Helicopter tours

helicopter tour iceland

Best helicopter tours in Iceland are run by Nordurflug

If you want to fly over Iceland physically, not just in the cinema, then taking a helicopter flight tour is the single best option 🙂 When it comes to helicopter tours in Iceland, it’s easy to find the best company. It’s called Nordurflug, or Helicopter.is (that is the same company) and we are proud to offer our readers a 5% discount on all their amazing tours. And boy, there are so many of them!

Whether you want to fly over a glacier, fly near a volcano, fly above the highlands, or just fly above Reykjavik, you can do all of these and more with Nordurflug’s award-winning flights.

3. Rafting

iceland rafting

Best Iceland rafting tour by Viking Rafting

Want to try one of the best adventure tours in Iceland? It’s an easy choice then, go for the rafting tours by Viking Rafting from Akureyri and Varmahlíð! Icelandic canyons are nothing less than stunning. Now imagine not only observing the canyon from the top but also sailing down the river in the canyon! Well.. or better said rafting down. Sounds scary? Not that much with experienced guides!

Luckily enough, there’s a 5***** Icelandic company that puts both safety and fun in the first place. Be prepared to get wet, though! (Not too much, don’t be afraid). Viking Rafting is a top-notch Icelandic tour company with 5/5 ratings. They will serve you a rafting experience you will never forget!

4. Whale watching

north sailing whale watching

Best Whale watching in Iceland by North Sailing

You’ve probably already heard about whale watching in Iceland. This is one of the most popular Icelandic tours. And there is a reason why. Watching whales, dolphins, seals, and puffins in their natural habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. A whale tour is also probably the best summer tour for families in Iceland.

Whale watching is also an activity you simply have to book the tour for. Unless you have your own boat :). There are tens, if not hundreds, of different whale-watching tours. We reviewed all of them and picked the best 2 for you.

4.1. Húsavík

best whale watching husavik

Traditional whale watching from Husavik

If we had to pick the single best whale-watching tour in Iceland we would choose traditional whale watching by North Sailing from Husavik. There’s a reason why all the best whale-watching companies in Iceland reside in Husavik. Husavik is the best place in Europe to see whales, that’s why it is also called the whale-watching capital of Europe. If you want to maximize your chances of seeing the whales in Iceland, then definitely come to Husavik.

And why North Sailing and why the traditional boat and not a RIB boat? North Sailing is the oldest whale-watching company in Iceland with 30+ years of history, a great fleet, cool guides, and tons of knowledge about whales. If there are any whales in the bay, be sure that North Sailing will find them!

Moreover, a traditional boat is safer, more considerate towards sea life and the environment, have lower chances you will get seasick, and is definitely more comfortable and warmer. The chances of seeing the whales are the same for both boat types because they visit the same spots in the bay.

top whale watching husavik

Whale-watching tour from Húsavík

4.2. Akureyri

The second highest chances of seeing the whales in Iceland are in an Akureyri fjord. The best Akureyri whale-watching company is undoubtedly Elding:

4.3. Reykjavik

Reykjavik has lower chances of spotting the whales compared to Húsavík, but hey, Húsavík is no.1 in the world, and chances in Reykjavik are also good! So in case your itinerary doesn’t stretch to Husavik or Akureyri, you can still see the whales even in the vicinity of Reykjavik. We went through all of them and picked the best wooden boat whale-watching from Reykjavik and also the best RIB boat whale-watching:

5. Horse riding

icelandic horse riding snaefellsnes beach

Horse riding on a Snaefellsnes beach

Honestly, we are not much into guided tours, but horse riding tours are one of our favorite summer activities in Iceland. The reason why is simple – it’s one of the best summer tours for nature lovers in Iceland. You will enjoy Iceland slowly, to the fullest, and so close to nature and the countryside. We picked a few tours in different parts of Iceland we consider the best horseback riding tours in Iceland.

The Icelandic horse is one of a kind. It is a unique breed of horse, exclusive solely to Iceland. Icelandic horses are smaller compared to “regular horses”, so it’s a bit easier to ride them. There’s even a law that states that it’s not allowed to breed any other type of horse in here. And once the Icelandic horse leaves the island, he’s not even allowed to come back. So – it’s some kind of a secluded, exclusive VIP horse club here in Iceland.

5.1. Reykjavik and South

This is our hand-picked selection of the top horse riding tours from Reykjavik and in the south:

5.2. Snæfellsnes

horse riding akureyri iceland

Tvistur horse rental in Dalvik

One of the most beautiful horseback riding tours in Iceland is the horse riding on Snæfellsnes beach. The company we loved that will take you exactly to Snæfellsnes beach with their horses is called Stóri Kambur:

5.3. Akureyri

A picturesque green valley is hidden in a mountainous area of the village Dalvik, close to Akureyri. A small family company called Tvistur runs amazing horse riding tours there. Highly recommended:

6. Snowmobiling

snowmobiling from gullfoss

Snowmobiling from Gullfoss

Can you ride a snowmobile in Iceland in the summer? Of course, you can! Thanks to gigantic glaciers, you can snowmobile all year round in Iceland with no issues. There are two top-tier local companies running the best snowmobiling tours in Iceland. The first one, Mountaineers of Iceland, has a base near Gullfoss, and the second one, Icelandic Mountain Guides, sits near Skógafoss. Both these tours are amazing and totally worth taking!

6.1. from Gullfoss

The best company specializing in snowmobiling tours in Iceland with the longest history is undoubtedly Mountaineers of Iceland. We are proud to offer our readers a 5% promo code on all Mountaineers snowmobile tours:

Langjökull ice cave iceland

Langjökull man-made ice cave

6.2. from Reykjavik

The best Reykjavik snowmobiling tours are always combined with some other activities. The reason behind this is quite simple – it’s a long drive from Reykjavik towards the nearest glacier, si it doesn’t make sense to go only for snowmobiling. That’s why tour companies, like Mountaineers, combine the snowmobiles with either the golden circle or an ice cave visit, or with many other different activities.

6.3. from Mýrdalsjökull

snowmobiling myrdalsjokull iceland

Snowmobiling from Mýrdalsjökull

You don’t have to do snowmobiling from Gullfoss or from Reykjavik. There are also other great locations to ride a snowmobile at. One of the best snowmobiling locations in South Iceland is without a doubt the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. The top company running snowmobiling tours there from Vik is Arcanum Adventure Tours, or Icelandic Mountain Guides, or Icelandia – these are all just different names for the same company:

7. Hiking tours

best laugavegur hike guided tour

By far the best Laugavegur hike guided tour by Icelandic Mountain Guides

When looking at the best guided hiking tours in Iceland, the No. 1 company is pretty clear in this case. Icelandic Mountain Guides are by far the best and the longest-operating hiking guide in Iceland. Top reviews, top guides, top tour selection. They offer both physically guided tours as well as self-guided ones.

Many of the most beautiful hiking trails in Iceland are unmarked and often dangerous, so joining a guided hiking tour in Iceland often makes a lot of sense. Hiking tours are also one of the best Iceland summer tours for solo travelers because you can meet a lot of fellow enthusiasts on the same tour. Many hikers even find their future hike-mates on these guided tours.

7.1. Laugavegur guided hike

The most legendary and also the most beautiful multi-day hike in Iceland is the Laugavegur hike. It’s a 4-day hike through harsh but amazingly picturesque Icelandic highlands. It requires a lot of preparation, fording rivers, navigating in bad weather, and on difficult terrain. It, therefore, makes perfect sense to rather enjoy it as a guided tour for anyone less experienced in hiking:

Don’t see the availability in their booking system? No worries, just send them an e-mail and ask about your preferred dates. They may well create a new availability for you. Don’t forget to ask for a 5% EPICICELAND23 discount!

fimmvorduhals hike highest point

Fimmvorduhals hike guided tour

7.2. Fimmvörðuháls guided hike

While Laugavegur is the most beautiful multi-day hike, we argue that the Fimmvörðuháls hike is the best hike in Iceland out of all! At least the best day hike! It’s possible to hike Fimmvörðuháls also on your own, but it requires good planning of your logistics, adjusting to weather conditions, and navigating a slippery terrain while being bounded by bus times. If you want to do it on your own, be sure to read our ultimate guide to the Fimmvörðuháls hike. If you rather want to join the tour, here is the top Fimmvörðuháls hike guided tour:

7.3. Other amazing hikes in Iceland

Looking for off-the-beaten-path hikes in Iceland? Iceland has a clear number 1 company for the most amazing hiking tours with almost no competitors. And that company is Icelandic Mountain Guides. When looking for spectacular hikes, definitely look at all their hiking tours in Iceland:

8. Ice caves

dragon glass katla ice cave iceland

Katla ice cave from Vik

Can you visit ice caves in Iceland in the summer? Yes, you can, but not all of them. There are 3 ice caves open for visitors also during the summer months. The first one is the Katla ice cave near the town of Vik. The second one is the man-made ice cave at the Langjökull glacier and the third one is in Skaftafell. Are ice caves in Iceland worth visiting in summer? Yes, they definitely are! The ice caves look different in summer compared to winter, but they are still very beautiful and worth visiting.

Map of the summer ice caves in Iceland:

8.1. Katla ice cave

The only natural ice cave in Iceland open to visitors in summer is the Katla ice cave. There’s more volcanic ash in Katla compared to for example crystal blue ice cave in Jökulsarlón, so Katla is not as shiningly blue, but this doesn’t mean it is not spectacular! It is! Just in a different way. The best and one of the cheapest tours for Katla ice cave are run by KatlaTrack and Arctic Adventures (contact us for discounts):

8.2. Langjökull ice cave

Langjökull ice cave iceland

Langjökull man-made ice cave

The second ice cave in Iceland that is open also in summer is the Langjökull glacier ice cave. This is the ice cave that was dug by men inside the Langjökull glacier. This means, the ice and the glacier are all-natural, just the ice cave was created artificially by men. Is Langjökull ice cave worth visiting? Yes, it is, it’s a completely different experience to walk through this ice tunnel compared to anything else in Iceland. You can visit this ice cave both as a combo tour with snowmobiles, which we highly recommend, or separately (but it will be a long drive):

8.3. Skaftafell ice cave

Ice cave in Skaftafell is smaller and can be partially or fully melted in summer. This really depends on specific weather conditions. However, even in summer, you can visit the place of the ice cave and observe a smaller or bigger part of it!

summer sapphire crystal blue ice cave iceland

The only summer Sapphire crystal blue ice cave tour by IcePic Journeys, 10% discount code: EPICICELAND

8.4. Sapphire Crystal Blue ice cave

In some summers, it’s possible to visit the most beautiful Crystal Blue Ice Cave also in summer! The only company doing semi-private and private summer tours to Sapphire ice cave is an amazing IcePic Journeys:

9. Glacier hike

iceland glacier tour

Amazing glacier hike by www.glacieradventure.is, 5% discount code: EPICICELAND

Can you hike glaciers in Iceland in summer? Yes, you can! There are actually many different glacier hiking tours at various locations. Glaciers are omnipresent in Iceland so it’s only up to you which one you want to hike. That being said, you must use a certified guide to hike the glaciers in Iceland, otherwise, you may easily die due to the very dangerous glacial terrain full of crevasses.

What is the best glacier hike in Iceland? Well, this is a highly subjective matter. We loved the most Vatnajökull glacier hike by Glacier Adventure (5% discount on all their tours with the discount code: EPICICELAND). It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But also the glacier hikes at Sólheimajökull and in Skaftafell are magnificent, so the choice is up to you. You won’t make a mistake by choosing any of these glacier tours.

Map of the glacier hikes in Iceland:

9.1. Vatnajökull glacier

Vatnajökull Glacier is the biggest Icelandic glacier and the best glacier hiking tours there are run by a small family company Glacier Adventure. They have only 5* reviews, great and funny guides, and spectacular tours. We can only highly recommend them.

ice climbing iceland

Top ice climbing tour from Sólheimajökull run by www.mountainguides.is, 5% discount code: EPICICELAND23

9.2. Sólheimajökull glacier

The best glacier hikes in Iceland on the 2 smaller glaciers – Sólheimajökull and Skaftafell are being run by Icelandic Mountain Guides. This is a traditional Icelandic company with almost exclusively 5* reviews:

9.3. Skaftafell glacier

Skaftafell offers great opportunities for glacier hiking and once again Icelandic Mountain Guides run here their fabulous tours:

10. ATVs

atv tours iceland reykjavik

ATV tours from Reykjavik

ATVs are one of the top summer tours in Iceland for adventure seekers. There are multiple great spots all over Iceland to enjoy ATVs or quad bikes. We picked the 3 most popular and most beautiful locations to try ATVs in Iceland. The first one is the vicinity of Reykjavik, the second is Vik with its marvelous black sand beach, and the third is the amazing Westman islands.

There are many different tour variants, some ATV tours are longer and some shorter. With some, you ride alone, with some in doubles. Some allow kids, some don’t. You need to check all these small details yourself. What we’ve done for you, however, is we picked the best ATV tours in Iceland in some of the most picturesque spots.

10.1. from Reykjavik

There are numerous hidden spots around Reykjavik that serve as a great base for Icelandic quad-bike tours. Icelandic ATV tours are an action-packed once-in-a-lifetime experience:

10.2. from Vik

atv tours vik iceland

ATV tours from Vik

One of the most epic locations in Iceland to try ATVs is undoubtedly the black sand beach near Vik. If we had to pick the single best ATV tour in Iceland it would be this one:

10.3. from Westman islands

Similarly to the black sand beach, the Westman Islands are an amazing spot for ATVs. It’s not only a huge adventure and a thrilling experience, but it’s also a great way to explore the main Heimaey island:

11. Puffin tours

puffin tour from reykjavik

Puffin-watching tour from Reykjavik

Any list of the best summer tours in Iceland would be incomplete without a puffin tour. While you can definitely see puffins also when you drive your own car, it’s much more unique to observe puffins from a boat on the puffin boat tour.  There are several great spots for puffin boat tours around Iceland. Among the best are Húsavík Bay, the surroundings of the Westman islands, and small islands near Reykjavik. Below we picked the 3 best puffin tours in Iceland, according to reviews and our experience.

11.1. Puffin tour from Reykjavik

Can you see puffins in Reykjavik? Well, not directly in Reykjavik, but if you take a boat tour to nearby islands, you definitely can! The best time to see puffins in Iceland is between mid-April and mid-August, so be sure to book your spots during this time.

westman islands puffins storhofdi

Westman Islands puffin tour

11.2. Puffin tour from Westman islands

Westman islands together with the bay around Húsavík are some of the best spots to see puffins in Iceland. You can either drive around Westman islands and find puffins by hiking or you can take a boat tour around the islands, that will find puffins for you:

11.3. Puffin tour from Húsavík

The best whale and puffin-watching company in Iceland with the longest tradition is North Sailing. We highly recommend taking a combo tour of whale watching and puffin watching by North Sailing as this is a 5* reviews company with great and knowledgeable guides:

12. Snorkeling

troll silfra snorkelling classic

Silfra Snorkeling tour

Did you know you can actually snorkel between the two continents in Iceland? This is exactly what has become available in Silfra – a place where two different tectonic plates meet. Many visitors even say that snorkeling was their favorite tour in Iceland. While this is not our case, snorkeling in Iceland is undeniably an interesting and popular activity.

Below are the two best Silfra snorkeling tours in Iceland and the two top diving tours, operated by a clear no.1 snorkeling and diving tour operator in Iceland with 5* only reviews, Dive.is – PADI 5 Star Dive Center Iceland:

13. Kayaking

glacier lagoon kayaking tour south iceland

Glacier lagoon kayaking tour in south Iceland, 5% discount code: EPICICELAND23

The best kayaking tours in Iceland are paradoxically almost entirely hidden away from the tourist crowds. Everybody talks about snorkeling in Silfra and whale-watching in Reykjavik and that’s why these two aforementioned activities are already highly crowded. But have you heard about glacier lagoon kayaking? If not, it’s at least worth a thought!

14. Photo tours

iceland photo tours

The most amazing Photo tours in Iceland by IcePic Journeys. 10% discount code: EPICICELAND

Looking for professional Photo tours at amazing spots? Definitely check out IcePic Journeys, then! Our readers can enjoy a 10% discount on all their tours with the promo code: EPICICELAND.

Ice Pic Journeys it’s by far the best Icelandic photo tour company. They only have 5.0/5 reviews on Google, Tripadvisor, and Facebook as well. They specialize in Ice Cave and Glacier photo tours but also service amazing South Coast photo tours and Highlands photo sessions! See below the selection of our favorite ones:

15. Golden Circle tours

best golden circle tour iceland

Golden Circle tour

We usually advise against the Golden Circle, because this is where most of the visitors concentrate at. Nevertheless, the Golden Circle with Thingvellir national park is undeniably beautiful and easy to access. The Golden Circle tours are even up to this day the most popular tours in Iceland. We are getting questions on a daily basis asking “what is the best Golden Circle tour?” That’s why we include also this “must-see tour” in our list and we picked the 4 best Golden Circle tours in Iceland from our point of view:

16. Multi-Day tours

best multi day tours iceland

The best multi-day tours in Iceland are run by Nice Travel. 5% discount code: EPICICELAND

If you don’t want to drive and/or you are a solo traveler in Iceland, the best multi-day tours in Iceland may be a good choice for you. The multi-day tours typically include all your accommodations, transfers, and attractions. Some parts of the multi-day tours may sometimes be optional or customizable according to your preferences. The biggest advantage of these kinds of tours is that you don’t have to care about anything. No planning and no worries.

Below we selected the multi-day tours in Iceland we believe are the best in terms of all important aspects. This includes but is not limited to the richness of the schedule, company reviews, quality of the tour guides, price, and group size. Nice Travel limits their tours to max 19 participants, and in reality, there will almost always be fewer attendees.

Best Family tours in Iceland

family whale watching tour iceland

Family whale-watching Húsavík, 10% discount code: EPICICELAND

Are you coming to Iceland with the kids? No worries, there are multiple great options for Iceland summer tours for families. The best summer family tours in Iceland definitely include:

  1. Whale-watching tours – try a traditional boat, rather than a speedboat
  2. Horse riding tours – check the age limit with a particular company, but age is often not any problem
  3. Family Rafting tours – from our feedback, kids love the family rafting
  4. Langjökull ice cave – this is one of the tours which even allows babies

Please always check the age limit for a particular tour. If you are unsure, contact the company, they are typically very responsive and speak good English. Everything is possible in Iceland if you ask nicely 🙂

Best Action tours in Iceland

iceland rafting

Viking rafting from Varmahlid, 10% discount code: IAMEPIC23

There’s no shortage of adventurous and action-packed tours in Iceland. The top tours in Iceland for adventure lovers include:

  1. Rafting tours – high level of adrenaline guaranteed
  2. ATV tours – the combination of high speed and magnificent surroundings
  3. Snowmobiling tours – you can even try special high-speed snowmobiling (5% discount code: EPICICELAND)
  4. Ice climbing and Glacier hike tours – for those who prefer action on the ice

Best Highlands tours in Iceland

iceland laugavegur trail hike

Icelandic Highlands

Highlands may be sometimes pretty difficult to navigate unless you have a super jeep and proper planning and experience. For the hardest-to-reach spots in Iceland or if you simply don’t feel like going on your own, we recommend the best highlands tours in Iceland:

  1. Super jeep tours – can take you ANYWHERE; we recommend e.g. Thorsmork
  2. Highlands Hiking tours – a lot of hidden gems you may miss when going on your own
  3. Glacier hiking tours – you have to take a guided tour for this unless you are a professional mountaineer

Should you book the tours in advance?

Yes, you definitely should book the tours in Iceland in advance. The most popular tours in the full summer or full winter season are often fully booked months in advance. We recommend booking the tours roughly 3 months in advance and more. This way you will be guaranteed a seat and should always be able to cancel/reschedule if anything unexpected happens.

The vast majority of companies offer free cancellation and/or rescheduling policies when you inform them enough in advance. Typically, you can cancel/reschedule for free up to 1, 2, or 3 days before departure. Some more expensive tours may require a deposit, which is normal and is, again, refundable when canceled/rescheduled enough in advance.

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