North Iceland is a bucket-list of must-experience majesty. As the capital of the north, Akureyri is Iceland’s second-largest city and provides a fantastic base from which to explore fjords, the Arctic Ocean, and the volcanic desert. Travelling to the northern tip of Eyjafjörður delivers you to the once-rich herring village of Siglufjörður. Head east on the Diamond Circle to visit cetaceanophilic Húsavík, the volcanic fantasia of Lake Mývatn, and the glacial waterfall Dettifoss. In summer months, you have great access to the Icelandic highlands with highlights of Hveravellir’s geothermal area and Askja caldera. The remote northeast is a coastal paradise for birdlife, well worth a visit for those craving rural beauty. To help you out, here’s the best hike in North Iceland and the runner-ups.
Vatnajökull National Park
Iceland’s largest geothermal area meets Europe’s largest ice cap. An advanced pick for serious hikers, start your hike at the northeast corner of Vatnajökull. You’ll pass between two glacial tongues, famed for the constant volcanic activity below them, threatening eruption. Along the way, visit wild mud pools and hot springs. Kverkfjöll also features the genesis of Jökulsá á Fjöllum, the glacial river from which Dettifoss tumbles in the north. As this route is deep in the Highlands, paths are only accessible July to September.
With the highest mountains in North Iceland (towering over 1400m), Tröllaskagi offers gorgeous views of the Arctic Ocean and a variety of hiking terrains. For an easy option, consider Svarfaðardalur Nature Reserve as your target destination. Time your hike on summer nights when the sun reaches the surface of the sea.
Start your hike at Leirhnjúkur Mountain and make your way towards the nature baths in Mývatn. You’ll experience hot springs, boiling mud pools and fumaroles in this volcanic region. Our panel says, “The nature completely changes from volcanic fields to green Icelandic trees and nature. Drop by the Nature Baths afterwards!” It’s, no doubt, one of the best hikes in North Iceland.
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