South Iceland contains many of the most popular sights, sites and hikes in the country. Close to Reykjavík is the Reykjanes Peninsula, with the Blue Lagoon, Keflavík Airport, and many wild spots and charming villages; over the Hellisheiði mountain pass lies the tranquil farmland and small towns like Hveragerði, Selfoss and Flúður. The Golden Circle and south coast roads are busy during the summer, and there are several glaciers dotting the coast and volcanoes silhouetted against the skyline. Vík í Myrdal is the halfway point, and Höfn—beneath the mighty Vatnajökull—marks the gateway to the east. To help you out along the way, here are our panel’s best South Iceland hikes.
Skógar to Þórsmörk
One of the more challenging day-hikes in Iceland, this 25km route is worth it for the diverse riches you’ll see along the way. The trail starts at the foot of Skógafoss, passing countless Highland waterfalls on the way to its 1,000m apex. You cross between the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers, passing the still-steaming site of a 2010 eruption. Finally, you’ll descend into the dreamy Þórsmörk valley, where you can camp, bathe, and catch a homeward bus. Take hiking poles.
Friðland að Fjallabaki, Highlands
There are routes to suit all skill levels threading around this stunning Highland paradise. “The colourful mountains are just amazing,” said the panel. Access the area as the finale of a multi-day Landmannalaugar hike, take a 4×4, or go by bus; camp for a few days to reap the full benefit. A truly breathtaking trip.
In the Reykjavík-adjacent town of Hveragerði you’ll find this famous route. It’s a gentle hike over a stunning mountain trail with a dreamy soak waiting for you at the end in the geothermal river that gushes down the Reykjadalur valley. “Go first thing, or late in the evening when it’s quiet,” advised the panel.
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