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Walking and Trekking in Iceland

AuthorPaddy Dillon
PublisherCicerone Press
ISBNISBN-13: 978 1 85284 647 3 (First Edition)
ISBN-13: 978 1 85284 805 7 (Second Edition)
ISBN-13: 978 83 7136 229 3 (Polish Edition)
Also available in eBook and Kindle formats
Glacier walking skills can be learned at Skaftafell

Glacier walking skills can be learned at Skaftafell

Magni - a mountain that has only existed since May 2010

Magni - a mountain that has only existed since May 2010

Paddy’s tent pitched in the wild and remote Hornstrandir

Paddy’s tent pitched in the wild and remote Hornstrandir

They call Iceland ‘The Land of Ice and Fire’, and its combination of glaciers, ice-caps, volcanoes and geothermal hot-spots makes it a fascinating place to explore. It has long been an ambition of mine to visit and explore the place. During discussions with Cicerone about writing a guidebook to The Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland, I was asked, “Do you want Iceland as well?”

During the preparation of this guidebook, which spanned 150 days over two summers, there were three volcanic eruptions, and in each case these were accompanied by ‘glacier floods’. One of the peaks climbed in the guidebook has only existed since May 2010. The whole of Iceland is subject to change, and there are many places where dramatic and often violent changes to the landscape have taken place during recorded history.

Travelling around Iceland can get very expensive, very quickly, but I was keen to explore budget options, and was delighted to discover a network of fine trails within walking distance of the airport at Keflavík, and a fine long-distance trail starting at the ferryport of Seyðisfjörður. Of course, the incredibly popular long-distance Laugavegur is included in the south of Iceland, extended at either end by the popular Skógar Trail and the little-known Hellismannaleið.

There are 100 days of walking in the book, ranging from very easy low-level trails to a much harder, higher, permanently glaciated mountain summits. The highest mountain in Iceland, Hvannadalshnúkur, is included. Half of the book contains day-walks, while the other half contains details of ten trekking routes, ranging in length from two days to nine days. There should be enough variety to keep all kinds of walkers happy. The only limit on the trekking routes is how much food you can carry, and how kind the weather is likely to be for the duration of your trek. The total distance covered by the various routes is 1722 kilometres (1070 miles).

Iceland has been split into twelve regions for the purposes of aiding exploration, and most of these regions contain day-walks and a trekking route. In some instances, walks and treks can be combined. If there are any useful facilities, such as huts, campsites, shops, bus or ferry routes, then these are noted. There are four little island walks included in the guidebook, and the northern island of Grimsey is the only part of Iceland that extends north of the Arctic Circle.


1 Reykjavík, Reykjanes and Hengill

Walk 1 Reykjavík and Seltjarnarnes
Walk 2 Þverfellshorn from Esjustofa
Walk 3 Keflavík to Grindavík
Walk 4 Grindavík to Vogar
Walk 5 Grindavík and Prestastígur
Walk 6 Krýsuvík and Krísuvíkurbjarg
Walk 7 Seltún and Kleifarvatn
Walk 8 Seltún and Djúpavatn
Walk 9 Þingvellir and Skógarkot
Walk 10 Hveragerði and Reykjadalur
Walk 11 Ölfusvatn and Ölkelduháls
Walk 12 Hellisheiði to Hveragerði
Walk 13 Nesjavellir and Vörðuskeggi

Trek 1 The Reykjavegur

Stage 1 Nesjavellir to Múlasel
Stage 2 Múlasel to Bláfjallaskáli
Stage 3 Bláfjallaskáli to Kaldársel
Stage 4 Kaldársel to Djúpavatn
Stage 5 Djúpavatn to Brattháls
Stage 6 Brattháls to Þorbjörn
Stage 7 Þorbjörn to Reykjanesviti

2 Fjallabak and Þórsmörk

Walk 14 Landmannalaugar and Suðurnámur
Walk 15 Landmannalaugar and Bláhnukúr
Walk 16 Hvanngilshauser and Tangafoss
Walk 17 Þórsmörk and Valahnúkur
Walk 18 Fljótsdalur and Þórólfsfell
Walk 19 Vestmannaeyjar – Heimaey

Trek 2 Hellismannaleið, Laugavegur and Skógar Trail

Stage 1 Rjúpnavellir to Áfangagil
Stage 2 Áfangagil to Landmannahellir
Stage 3 Landmannahellir to Landmannalaugar
Stage 4 Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker
Stage 5 Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn
Stage 6 Álftavatn to Emstrur
Stage 7 Emstrur to Þórsmörk
Stage 8 Þórsmörk to Fimmvörðuháls
Stage 9 Fimmvörðuháls to Skogar

3 Skaftafell and Vatnajökull

Walk 20 Sandfell and Hvannadalshnúkur
Walk 21 Svinafellsjökull and Hrútsfjall
Walk 22 Skaftafell and Kristínartindar
Walk 23 Skaftafell and Svartifoss
Walk 24 Skaftafell and Morsárdalur
Walk 25 Jökulsárlón – Glacier Lagoon

4 Snæfell and Lónsöræfi

Walk 26 Snæfellsskáli and Snæfell

Trek 3 The Lónsöræfi Trail

Stage 1 Bjálafell to Geldingafellsskáli
Stage 2 Geldingafellsskáli to Egilssel
Stage 3 Egilssel to Múlaskáli
Stage 4 Múlaskáli to Stafafell

5 Egilsstaðir and the Eastfjords

Walk 27 Egilsstaðir and Fardagafoss
Walk 28 Neðri-Stafur and Seyðisfjörður
Walk 29 Litlanesfoss and Hengifoss
Walk 30 Hallormsstaðaskógur
Walk 31 Vatnsskarð and Stórurð

Trek 4 The Víknaslóðir

Stage 1 Seyðisfjörður to Loðmundarfjörður
Stage 2 Loðmundarfjörður to Húsavík
Stage 3 Húsavík to Breiðavík
Stage 4 Breiðavík to Borgarfjörður

6 Jökulsárgljúfur

Walk 32 Ásbyrgi and Áshöfði
Walk 33 Svinadalur and Rauðhólar
Walk 34 Selfoss and Dettifoss

Trek 5 The Jökulsárhlaup

Stage 1 Dettifoss to Vesturdalur
Stage 2 Vesturdalur to Ásbyrgi

7 Akureyri and Eyjafjörður

Walk 35 Akureyri and Súlur
Walk 36 Eyjafjörður and Hrísey
Walk 37 Grímsey

8 Kverkfjöll and Askja

Walk 38 Kverkfjöll and Hveradalur
Walk 39 Herðubreiðarlindir

Trek 6 The Askja Trail

Stage 1 Herðubreiðarlindir to Bræðrafell
Stage 2 Bræðrafell to Drekagil
Stage 3 Drekagil to Dyngjufell
Stage 4 Dyngjufell to Botni
Stage 5 Botni to Svartárkot
Stage 6 Botni to Grænavatn

Trek 7 The Mývatn Trail

Stage 1 Dimmuborgir to Reykjahlið
Stage 2 Reykjahlið to Krafla
Stage 3 Víti to Reykjahlið

9 Sprengisandur and Kjölur

Walk 40 Nýidalur and Kaldagil
Walk 41 Nýidalur and Sprengisandur

Trek 8 The Kjölur Trails

Stage 1 Ásgarður to Klakkur
Stage 2 Klakkur to Ásgarður
Stage 3 Ásgarður to Gíslaskáli
Stage 4 Gíslaskáli to Hveravellir
Stage 5 Hveravellir to Þjófadalir
Stage 6 Þjófadalir to Þverbrekknamúli
Stage 7 Þverbrekknamúli to Arbuðir or Hvítárnes

10 Hornstrandir Peninsula

Trek 9 The Hornstrandir Trail

Stage 1 Hesteyri to Hlöðuvík
Stage 2 Hlöðuvik to Hornvík
Stage 3 Hornvík and Horn
Stage 4 Kjaransvík to Látravík
Stage 5 Látravík to Hesteyri

11 The Westfjords

Walk 42 Hnífsdalur, Bolungarvík and Ísafjörður
Walk 43 Suðureyri to Flateyri
Walk 44 Þingeyri and Kaldbakur
Walk 45 Helluskarð and Lómfell
Walk 46 Foss to Krossholt
Walk 47 Brunnaverstöð and Látrabjarg
Walk 48 Brjánslækur and Surtarbrandsgil
Walk 49 Flatey and Breiðafjörður

12 Snæfellsjökull and Snaefellsnes

Trek 10 The Snæfellsjökull and Snaefellsnes Trail

Stage 1 Ólafsvík to Arnarstapi
Stage 2 Arnastapi to Djúpalónssandur
Stage 3 Djúpalónssandur to Öndverðarnes
Stage 4 Öndverðarnes to Hellissandar