Things To Do Outside Of Reykjavík: A Highland Trail, Epic Hike & Westfjords Town

Things To Do Outside Of Reykjavík: A Highland Trail, Epic Hike & Westfjords Town

Elías Þórsson
Photo by
Art Bicnick

The Highlands are open for the summer once again, so if you want to get away from it all in the wilds of Iceland, here are a couple of ways to do so. Also, you could just go to Ísafjörður.

Road Trip: Kjolur
Iceland’s highland desert is open to cars only during summer, and even then, you’ll need something heavy duty for this rocky, dusty, unpaved track. The reward is worth it: you’ll cross lava fields, white rivers, and yawning, empty plains, with distant glaciers visible on all sides. Camp at the Hveravellir geothermal oasis and have a soak in the natural hot pot, and hike the Strýtur route to circle the lip of a spectacular volcano crater. JR

Hike: Fimmvörðuháls
The Fimmvörðuháls hiking route is not for the faint of heart. It’s a roughly 25km trail that starts at the base of the Skógafoss waterfall and ends at the Básar camping site. You’ll reach an elevation of 1000m, passing a series of spectacular waterfalls, a highland desert, and a still-steaming lava field, before descending into the dreamlike landscape of Þórsmörk. Take good boots, hiking poles—and maybe a guide, for that matter. JR

Town: Isafjörður
Off the Ring Road, deep in the Westfjords, lies the cultural capital of the area: Ísafjörður. Around the turn of the 20th century it was the second biggest town in Iceland, and its history is filled with witch trials and industry. Today, it has a population of only 2,600, but it remains a lively town with three museums—including the oldest row of houses in Iceland—two bars, and a movie theatre. Its houses are old, and its people proud. Definitely worth a trip.

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