Hikes Reykjavik

12 Best Hikes Near Reykjavik Iceland You Can’t Miss

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There are a lot of hikes near Reykjavik you can add to your road trip while visiting Iceland. So make sure to add some of the hikes on your list so you can stretch your legs during the trip and feel the fresh air while hiking on the National Parks or hiking trails mentioned below.

Before you go

As you may already know in Iceland the weather can change in 5 minutes, and so you can have all seasons in just one day. So be prepared to bring a rain jacket and warm clothes with you during your hike. Please don’t bring an umbrella or poncho as the wind can be really strong in Iceland.

It’s not only the water and windproof clothing but also make sure you are wearing the right waterproof footwear. Not only waterproof but as the paths in Iceland can be rough as in lava rocks you need proper and I would suggest higher shoes. 

Best time to go hiking in iceland

When hiking in Iceland, nothing beats the midnight sun and having daylight for nearly 24 hours. Iceland’s northerly location near the Arctic Circle produces dramatic amounts of daytime during summer. And this extended period of daylight also provides warmer temperatures that are much more comfortable for hiking. Iceland isn’t known for balmy temperatures as July has average highs around 57°F (14°C), and August has average highs around 55°F (13°C). 

And the height of summer is the best time to visit Iceland to guarantee access to all its best hiking trails. Iceland’s weather is extremely unpredictable, and some paths close outside of the summer months. And the worst part, it’s the most jaw-dropping hikes that close when the temperatures drop and days become shorter. For instance, June to early September is the only time you can reach the Icelandic Highlands. So, if you’re going to Iceland specifically for hiking, we highly recommend July or August for the best experience. In this blog I also mention the best hikes near Reykjavik in winter, best short hikes in Iceland and hikes near Reykjavik by bus.

What to bring when hiking in iceland

An Iceland hiking vacation brings you face to face with some of the world’s most diverse landscapes. Before embarking on your adventure, it’s imperative to prepare yourself for anything. As we’ve mentioned, Iceland’s weather can be insane and change at a moment’s notice. And when there are zero facilities around, missing items from your packing list can put you in a critical situation. Here’s what we recommend you pack before you start one of the hikes near Reykjavik:

  • Backpack – A 30 to 40 liter backpack should be enough space to carry your supplies on day hikes. But if you’re planning on multi-day treks, then plan on bringing a 55 to 65 liter backpack for extra gear. Make sure you choose a hiking backpack with waist support to relieve the tension from your shoulders. Also check out our buying guide to the perfect backpacking backpack to know exactly what to look out for when purchasing one. 
  • Waterproof Backpack Cover – In case it rains, you don’t want the gear inside your backpack to get soaked.
  • Water Bottle – Bring a 1-2 liter bottle that can be filtered. Tap water and many natural sources are fine to drink. But if you’re uncomfortable drinking water out in nature, you can always filter it to be safe.
  •  Navigational Tools – Pack a paper map, compass, GPS, or combination of the three. Don’t strictly rely on your phone’s GPS and always have a backup.
  •  First Aid Kit – Stock your kit with bandages, anti-inflammatories, antibacterial ointment, antiseptic wipes, medications, adhesive tape, and anything else specific to your needs.
  • Mobile Phone – Save important Icelandic phone numbers in case of emergencies. It would also be a smart idea to buy an Icelandic sim card and portable charger for your phone.
  • Multifunction Knife – A knife comes in handy for a variety of utility purposes to get you out of a jam.
  • Whistle – If you’re stuck in an isolated section and can’t call out for help, you want a whistle to signal others far away.  
  • Headlamp – If you’re in the wilderness in the dark, a headlamp is a must to observe your surroundings and to find your way around camp.
  • Toiletries – Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm, and anything you need to refresh between hikes.
  • Eye Shades – In case you have difficulty sleeping beneath the midnight sun.
  • Sunscreen & Sunglasses – For protection against UV rays during the extended hours of sunlight.
  • Spare Food & Water – Only to be used for emergencies in case your hike takes longer than expected.
  • Sturdy and waterproof hiking boots – It’s easy to get your boots wet when hiking in Iceland, and you don’t want your feet inside wet boots for a long time. Also check the profile of the shoes to make sure you have enough grip on the rough Icelandic surfaces.
  • Trekking Poles – Not everyone requires them but they help provide stability on difficult trails.
  • Camera – To capture breathtaking photos to show your loved ones.

Must read: Best women’s daypacks for the greatest outdoor adventures

Camping Gear

Iceland has thrilling multi-day treks that require camping gear to include with your packing list. If you’re planning on a multi-day hiking excursion, also include these items:

  • Sturdy Tent – Ensure your tent has a solid foundation to remain standing against strong winds.
  • Warm Sleeping Bag – Even in summer, Iceland doesn’t get very warm, and you want a sleeping bag comfortable for cooler temperatures.
  • Cooking Supplies – Nothing fancy but a small, lightweight camping stove and an easy way to light it.

Check out: Best lightweight backpacking tents

What to wear when hiking in iceland

When hiking in Iceland, you have to dress for all weather conditions. The forecast can change in a heartbeat, and you need several essential pieces of clothing to survive the elements. Here’s a list of what you need to wear while hiking one of the hikes near Reykjavik:

  • Several Thin Layers – Give yourself the ability to adjust your outfit based on the current weather conditions. If you need help maintaining a healthy body temperature in extreme environments, check out our guide on the layer system.
  • Waterproof Hiking Boots – You’ll make lots of water crossings and need waterproof boots with good tread.
  • Gaiters – In case you have to trek through snow or water.
  • Waterproof Jacket – The weather can be unpredictable and hiking in cooler temperatures in the rain is a recipe for hypothermia.
  • Wool/Fleece Jacket – An added layer of protection for the evenings when the temperature drops.
  • Hiking Socks – Bring socks that keep your feet comfortable, warm, dry, and blister-free. Merino wool socks are a great option for any Iceland hiking trip.
  • Waterproof Pants – Pack trousers that provide comfort, warmth, and freedom of movement while keeping you dry.
  • Thermal Underwear – An extra layer for cooler temperatures at higher altitudes.
  • Waterproof Gloves – Prevent your hands from being exposed to frigid temperatures and rainy weather.
  • Scarf or buff – An extra layer to protect your face and neck in cold weather.
  • Hat/Beanie – Protect your head, face, ears, and neck from cold temperatures and fierce wind.
  • Swimsuit – You can’t hike in Iceland without taking a dip in those hot springs.
  • Towel – To dry off if you get wet on the trail or after relaxing in the hot springs.
  • Spare Clothes – Always pack at least one change of dry clothes for each hike.

Also read: Iceland packing list: what to pack in winter and summer?

Best hikes in Iceland – Reykjavik

1. Mount Esja

Distance: 14 km (8.7 miles)
Elevation gain: 948m
Duration: 5 hour 36 min
Difficulty level: Hard
Kind of trail: Out & Back
Starting point: Near Mosfellsbær
Distance from Reykjavik: 25 km (15.5 miles)

When walking on the water side of Reykjavik you will see Mount Esja on the other side of the bay. In just 20 minutes from downtown Reykjavik you can start hiking this incredible hiking trail to capture a nice view all over Reykjavik. Most of the hikers would spend around 3 hours on the mount esja hike, if you want to climb even further it is possible but make sure you have the right gear. If you visit in winter make sure to bring crampons and ice axes with you.Because of the weather conditions changing really fast, make sure to download an offline map so you will be sure to get back to the carpark. 

Click here or on the title of the trail on the right corner of the map, to get more information.

2. Thingvellir National Park

Distance: 10.5 km (6.5 miles)
Elevation gain: 349 m
Duration: 1 hour 41 min
Difficulty level: Moderate
Kind of trail: Loop
Starting point: Near Kjósarhreppur
Distance from Reykjavik: 45 km (27.9 miles)

One of the most popular national parks in Iceland is Thingvellir, so I would suggest exploring this area while hiking. Especially the routes in the Öxarárfoss Waterfall Trail, where you will walk between two tectonic plates (North American and Eurasian plates). For me this was really one of my favorite hikes in Iceland.

Click here or on the title of the trail on the right corner of the map, to get more information.

4. Landmannalaugar

Distance: 5 km (3.1 miles)
Elevation gain: 199 m
Duration: 1 hour 41 min
Difficulty level: Moderate
Kind of trail: Loop
Starting point: Near Landmannalaugar
Distance from Reykjavik: 195 km (121.1 miles)

Iceland is home to some of the most diverse landscapes in the world, and the spectacular region of Landmannalaugar is no exception. Marked by rainbow-colored mountains, glistening lakes, and relaxing geothermal hot springs, Landmannalaugar is one of the best destinations in Iceland that everyone should tick off their bucket list.

Outdoor enthusiasts will also appreciate the plethora of Landmannalaugar hikes and trails. From short half-day treks through carved lava fields to extreme multi-day hikes along the mountain ridges and peaks, there’s something for every type of hiker and skill level.

Check out: The complete hiking guide to the Laugavegur trail in Iceland

5. Glymur Waterfall

Distance: 6.9 km (4.3 miles)
Elevation gain: 397 m
Duration: 2 hour 37 min
Difficulty level: Moderate
Kind of trail: Loop
Starting point: Near Pyrill
Distance from Reykjavik: 70 km (43.5 miles)

When you are looking at one of Iceland’s incredible hidden gems, absolutely visit Glymur waterfall. You need to do something to get there, it’s not an easy trail but when you are there it will be so worth it. The moss covered canyon surrounded the second largest waterfall with a height of 198 meters so is not for people who are scared of heights. If you want to know more about waterfalls in Iceland, check out this blog: 10 waterfalls in Iceland you simply want to add to your bucket list.

Click here or on the title of the trail on the right corner of the map, to get more information.

6. Reykjadalur

Distance: 8 km (4.9 miles)
Elevation gain: 347 m
Duration: 2 hour 47 min
Difficulty level: Moderate
Kind of trail: Out & Back
Starting point: Near Hveragerði
Distance from Reykjavik: 46 km (28.5 miles)

Just 40 minutes from Reykjavik you will find one of Iceland’s most beautiful natural springs. So this track will be a great combination of two of my favorite things to do in Iceland: Hiking and relaxing in a hot spring. The area has begun to increase popularity as there are cabins and bridges to accommodate tourists.

Click here or on the title of the trail on the right corner of the map, to get more information.

Must Read: Top 30 incredible things to do in Reykjavik

7. Keilir

Distance: 9.2 km (5.7 miles)
Elevation gain: 473 m
Duration: 3 hour 21 min
Difficulty level: Moderate
Kind of trail: Out & Back
Starting point: Near Vogar
Distance from Reykjavik: 37 km (23 miles)

When you land at Keflavik airport, Keilir will grab your attention for sure. The hike starts easy and the climb is not too hard even with the steep path. Make sure to wear proper hiking boots as the path is full with loosen rocks. If you pick a clear day to do this hike you can enjoy spectacular views over steam clouds of the nearby Blue Lagoon, the city of Reykjavik, the ocean and a glacier. 

Click here or on the title of the trail on the right corner of the map, to get more information.

8. Búrfellsgjá

Distance: 5.5 km (3.4 miles)
Elevation gain: 133 m
Duration: 1 hour 40 min
Difficulty level: Moderate
Kind of trail: Out & Back
Starting point: Near Garðabær
Distance from Reykjavik: 12 km (7.4 miles)

Búrfellsgjá is a great hiking area to spend your weekend day and you will find locals enjoying their weekend over here with the whole family. The scenery is fantastic with all the mountains surrounding this area. You can enjoy great views over the lava canyon and the nearby Heiðmörk Nature Reserve.

Click here or on the title of the trail on the right corner of the map, to get more information.

9. Helgufoss

Distance: 1.3 km (0.8 miles)
Elevation gain: 49 m
Duration: 26 min
Difficulty level: Moderate
Kind of trail: Out & Back
Starting point: Near Garðabær
Distance from Reykjavik: 18 km (11.1 miles)

Just 18 km from Reykjavik you will find the Laxness trail which leads you across Helgufoss, a small but really nice waterfall. The hike is not too hard, and absolutely suitable for families or people with a low fitness level. If you want a bigger challenge you can climb up the summit Grímannsfell.

Click here or on the title of the trail on the right corner of the map, to get more information.

Must Read: The ultimate guide to hiking in Iceland

10. Sneafellsnes Peninsula

Distance: 4.7 km (2.9 miles)
Elevation gain: 414 m
Duration: 2 hours 5 min
Difficulty level: Moderate
Kind of trail: Out & Back
Starting point: Near Grundarfjörður
Distance from Reykjavik: 179 km (111.2 miles)

Snæfellsnes peninsula is an area where you can find a lot of Icelandic scenery, if you don’t have too much time visit this area and you get a great idea about the landscapes of Iceland. Kirkjufell mountain is the most photographed mountain in the entire country, especially the situation with the waterfall in the front. Fans of Game of Thrones will recognize this mountain as one of the spots used in the famous television serie.

Click here or on the title of the trail on the right corner of the map, to get more information.

11. Kerid Crater

Distance: 1.4 km (0.9 miles)
Elevation gain: 35 m
Duration: 26 min
Difficulty level: Easy
Kind of trail: Loop
Starting point: Near Grímsnes- og Grafningshreppur
Distance from Reykjavik: 68 km (42.2 miles)

Kerid is a 3000 old volcanic crater with a colorful lake, the sides are covered with moss and red vegetation. In just an hour you can walk around the crater, you can also walk downhill to have a closer look at the lake. Remember that you have to pay a small entrance fee to visit Kerid Crater lake.

Click here or on the title of the trail on the right corner of the map, to get more information.

12. Seljavallalaug pool

Distance: 1.9 km (1.1 miles)
Elevation gain: 63 m
Duration: 37 min
Difficulty level: Easy
Kind of trail: Out & Back
Starting point: Near Skógar
Distance from Reykjavik: 150 km (93.2 miles)

One of the oldest (outdoor) swimming pools in Iceland was built in 1923 and is called Seljavallalaug. This hike is incredible especially when you visit this place after rainfall, you can enjoy the surrounding waterfalls. The temperature is not too warm, but if you sit closeby the spot where the pool is fed by the hot springs then you have a great warm pool. Make sure to leave some donations after your visit.

Click here or on the title of the trail on the right corner of the map, to get more information.

Check out: Best breathable and durable rain jackets for women

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FAQ Hikes near Reykjavik – Iceland

Does Iceland have good hiking?

Iceland has great hiking trails with all kinds of landscapes.

Are hikes in Iceland hard?

The main challenge for hiking in Iceland is the steep climbs and definitely the weather changes.

How long is the hike to Reykjadalur?

The hike to Reykjadalur is 3 km one way and will take around 45-60 minutes with some photo stops. In the beginning of the trail you will pass some hot springs and mud pools.

Do you need a permit to hike in Iceland?

You don’t need a permit to hike in Iceland, but booking a hut is necessary.

Is hiking in Iceland safe?

The main challenge for hikes in Iceland is the steep climbs and definitely the weather conditions which can change in minutes. My biggest challenge while hiking and biking in Iceland was absolutely the strong wind. 

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