Top Hikes In Iceland That Are Perfect For Adventure-Seeking Families

Iceland, a country known for its rugged landscapes, volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, and lava fields, is a paradise for families seeking adventures. Its diverse terrain offers some of the best hiking opportunities in the world, where every trail promises breathtaking views and a pinch of Icelandic magic. 

Let’s take a look at some of the top hikes in Iceland perfect for families who love to embrace adventure and make lasting memories.

1. Glymur Waterfall Hike

The Glymur Waterfall Hike is an exciting trail in Iceland that takes you to one of the country’s tallest waterfalls. The hike is about 4.1 miles long and offers some beautiful sights for those who love the outdoors. It’s a bit challenging, with rocky paths and river crossings, but it’s a fun adventure if you’re up for it.

You’ll walk through a green canyon and cross rivers to see the Glymur Waterfall, which is almost 200 meters tall. The waterfall is surrounded by impressive cliffs and nature. It’s a great hike if you like a good walk and want to see some amazing views.

Before you go on the hike, make sure you know what to expect, like the best time to go, how tough the hike will be, and what to do at the river crossings. The Glymur Waterfall Hike is a great way to see Iceland’s beauty and have an adventure you won’t forget.

Details:

  • Location: Hvalfjörður, West Iceland
  • Distance: Approximately 7.5 km round trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Highlights: River crossing that adds an element of excitement, Steep paths that challenge and reward, Unique cave navigation offering an adventurous twist and Unparalleled view of the waterfall, Iceland’s second-tallest
  • Suitable age: Best for families with children above the age of 8
  • Preparation: Pack waterproof gear to stay comfortable

This hiking route promises a day filled with stunning vistas, from glistening glaciers to ancient volcanoes, encompassing the quintessential Icelandic landscape. The trail to Glymur Waterfall is more than just a hike; it’s a passage through the heart of Iceland’s natural beauty. You’ll engage in a moderate but manageable challenge, suitable for families ready to experience one of the most beautiful hikes around Reykjavik. 

Remember to wear sturdy hiking boots and prepare for an extraordinary day hike that combines the thrill of exploration with the awe of Iceland’s wild, untamed landscapes. The Glymur Waterfall hike is not just a hiking destination; it’s a journey into the heart of Iceland’s staggering beauty.

2. Þórsmörk Nature Reserve

The Þórsmörk Nature Reserve, often simply called Thorsmork, is a magical place nestled in Iceland’s southern highlands. This natural paradise, named after Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is a haven for hikers, nature lovers, and anyone looking to immerse themselves in the breathtaking beauty of Iceland’s wild landscapes.

What Makes Þórsmörk Special?

Diverse Landscapes: Thorsmork is a marvel of nature, featuring a variety of landscapes from lush forested areas, glacial rivers, and rugged mountain ridges to volcanic surroundings. This diversity makes it a captivating place for exploration and photography.

Hiking Paradise: With an extensive network of trails, Thorsmork offers hikes for all levels of experience. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely walk or a challenging trek, you’ll find it here. The trails lead you through stunning scenery, including views of the famous Eyjafjallajökull and Myrdalsjokull glaciers.

Rich Ecosystem: The area is a vibrant ecosystem home to unique flora and fauna. The valley is somewhat sheltered, creating a milder microclimate that supports groves of birch trees and other vegetation not commonly found in Iceland’s stark landscapes.

Access to Other Treks: Thorsmork serves as a starting or finishing point for some of Iceland’s most famous multi-day treks, including the Laugavegur Trail and the Fimmvörðuháls Pass. Hikers from all over the world come here to embark on these epic journeys.

Getting There

Reaching Þórsmörk involves a bit of an adventure, as the only access is via rough F-roads that cross unbridged rivers. It’s advised to use a 4×4 vehicle and to be experienced in river crossing or to opt for one of the regular bus services from Reykjavik and other towns, which are equipped to handle the terrain and river crossings.

Tips for Visiting

  • Be Prepared for All Types of Weather: The weather in Þórsmörk, like the rest of Iceland, can be unpredictable. Layered clothing that can handle rain and cold is essential.
  • Respect Nature: Þórsmörk’s stunning environment is fragile. Stick to marked trails, and always follow the Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact.
  • Camping and Accommodation: There are several huts and camping areas in Þórsmörk, offering basic amenities for overnight stays. Booking in advance is recommended, especially during the peak summer months.

Þórsmörk Nature Reserve is a must-visit for anyone who wants to experience the unique beauty of Iceland’s highlands. The combination of its rugged terrain, diverse ecosystem, and mystical atmosphere makes it a place that touches the heart of everyone who visits. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker looking for your next challenge or just someone who appreciates the magnificence of nature, Þórsmörk has something to offer.

3. Skaftafell Nature Reserve Hikes

Skaftafell, located in the larger Vatnajökull National Park, offers a variety of trails, but the hike to Svartifoss, also known as the Black Falls, is a family favorite. Surrounded by dark basalt columns, this waterfall creates a fairy-tale atmosphere that will captivate both adults and children.

One of the most famous hikes is the Svartifoss Trail, distinguished by its basalt column surroundings and the magnificent waterfall it leads to. This trail is 2.0 miles long and has an elevation gain of 439 feet, making it accessible to most hikers who are comfortable with moderate walks

Details:

  • Location: Vatnajökull National Park, Southeast Iceland
  • Distance: Various trails between 1.5 to 5.5 km
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate, ensuring a family-friendly experience
  • Highlights: Cascading waterfalls that capture the essence of Iceland’s serene beauty. Majestic glaciers provide a close encounter with Iceland’s icy wonders. Striking basalt columns, showcasing unique geological formations
  • Famous hikes: The awe-inspiring Svartifoss, known for its basalt column backdrop, and the Skaftafellsjökull glacier hike offer an up-close glacier experience.
  • Suitability: Trails are accessible for families, making it an ideal hiking destination

The area is known for its incredible biodiversity, hosting around 250 varieties of plant species and approximately 30 different types of birds[2]. This rich ecosystem adds a unique layer of discovery to your hiking experience, allowing for frequent stops to appreciate the flora and fauna that Skaftafell has to offer.

For those looking for a bit more of a challenge, the Skaftafell – Svartifoss – Sjónarsker – Sel loop might be a perfect choice. This trail covers a distance of 3.8 miles and is generally considered a moderately challenging route. It’s popular for hiking and offers the chance to experience solitude during quieter times of the day.

4. Reykjadalur Steam Valley

Just a short drive from Hveragerði in South Iceland lies Reykjadalur Steam Valley, a hidden gem offering one of Iceland’s most unique hiking experiences. This moderate, approximately 7 km round-trip trail is best known for its stunning natural hot streams, making it a must-visit for adventure-seeking families ready to dive into the warmth of Iceland’s geothermal wonders.

Details:

  • Location: Near Hveragerði, South Iceland
  • Distance: Approximately 7 km round trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate, perfect for families with older children
  • Highlights: Inviting natural hot streams, rewarding hikers with a relaxing soak amidst nature
  • Preparation: Don’t forget swimwear and a towel for the hot springs. Pack snacks and water to stay energized and hydrated

Reykjadalur Steam Valley is not just a hiking trail; it’s an experience that combines the thrill of exploration with the relaxation of natural hot springs. It represents the best of both worlds, offering scenic landscapes and a unique opportunity to enjoy Iceland’s geothermal activity firsthand.

Families planning to explore this enchanting valley should prepare for an adventure that’s as rewarding as it is relaxing. Ensure to have sturdy hiking boots and bring along a spirit of adventure. This trail is a testament to the unforgettable outdoor experiences that await in Iceland, making it a staple on the list of the best hikes the country has to offer.

5. Landmannalaugar

A beautiful view of the buildings on the field surrounded by mountains in Landmannalaugar

Nestled in the heart of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Landmannalaugar is a jewel in the Icelandic highlands that offers a kaleidoscope of hiking experiences for every level of adventurer. From the striking rhyolite mountains painting the landscape in vibrant hues to the soothing warmth of natural hot springs, Landmannalaugar is a paradise waiting to be explored.

Details:

  • Location: Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Highlands of Iceland
  • Distance: Varied – from pleasant 2 km walks to challenging multi-day treks
  • Difficulty: Ranges from Easy to Difficult
  • Highlights:
    • The astonishing color variations of rhyolite mountains
    • Relaxing thermal hot springs perfect for a post-hike soak
  • Popular Hikes:
    • Laugahraun lava field, an otherworldly landscape peppered with volcanic rocks
    • The beginning of the famed Laugavegur trail, a bucket-list hiking route for many
  • Tip: Remember to pack swimsuits for an unforgettable dip in geothermal pools

Landmannalaugar isn’t just a hiking destination; it’s an experience that encapsulates the best hiking in Iceland. With trails that cater to all, including the easily accessible Laugahraun lava field and the more challenging Laugavegur trail, this region promises adventure around every bend. The chance to relax in natural hot springs after a day of trekking through some of Iceland’s most beautiful hikes—ranging from lush valleys to icy glaciers and volcanic vistas—makes Landmannalaugar a top pick for families seeking that perfect blend of thrill and tranquility.

Whether you’re looking for a short hike to introduce the kids to Iceland’s natural beauty or ready to embark on a hiking tour through the iconic landscapes, Landmannalaugar serves up the ultimate hiking adventure. Pack your hiking boots and swimsuits, and set off for a day trip or a longer expedition in one of Iceland’s most celebrated outdoor playgrounds.

6. Tips For Hiking In Iceland With Family

Taking a trip into the captivating landscapes of Iceland with your family is an exhilarating experience. To ensure every hike is as enjoyable as it is memorable, here are a few essential tips:

  • Prepare for the Weather: Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable. Dress in layers and bring waterproof gear to stay warm and dry. This is crucial for comfort on both shorter hikes and multi-day treks in Iceland.
  • Safety First: Always follow marked trails and keep a safe distance from potential dangers like steep cliffs and hot springs. Iceland’s beautiful but rugged terrain demands caution and respect.
  • Leave No Trace: Iceland is known for its pristine natural beauty and strict environmental preservation rules. Help keep it that way by following Leave No Trace principles.
  • Enjoy the Journey: Capture photographs and create memories. Hiking in Iceland is not just about reaching a destination; it’s about embracing the incredible journey through some of the best hiking trails in the world.

From the geothermal wonders of Landmannalaugar to the epic vistas of the Laugavegur Trail, Iceland offers an array of family-friendly hikes that promise adventure and awe-inspiring landscapes. The best time to hike in Iceland truly depends on what you want to see and experience, from the lush summers of South Iceland to the snowy peaks during the winter season in the highlands.

Embarking on a trip to Iceland, equipped with sturdy hiking boots and a spirit of adventure, is one of the best ways to experience the diverse and stunning landscapes Iceland has to offer. Whether you’re exploring the coast, venturing through East Iceland, or marveling at the highest waterfall, each step is an opportunity to create lasting memories.

We encourage every adventure-seeking family to explore and discover the magic of Iceland’s trails. With the right preparation and respect for nature, hiking in Iceland can be an unforgettable journey into the heart of this island’s extraordinary beauty.

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