• Iceland, Dyrafjordur, Westfjords
  • Trail near Stadur, Adalvik, hiking to Hesteyri, Westfjords, Iceland
  • Osvor maritime museum, Bolungarvik, Westfjords, Iceland
  • Trail between Adalvik and Hesteyri, Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, Westfjords, Iceland
  • Hesteyrarfjordur shoreline near Hesteyri, Hornstrandir Reserve, Westfjords, Iceland

Hiking in Iceland

Western Iceland & the Westfjords

Printable version of trip itinerary

Hiking in Iceland Slide Show

Hiking in Iceland Slide Show for iPad and iPhone

Iceland is a spectacular manifestation of Nature’s raw power and beauty. On this hiking tour you’ll sample trails that lead through the stunning landscapes that are at the essence of the country that is often referred to as “the Land of Fire and Ice.” Thundering waterfalls, austere lava fields, rugged coastlines, tundra-capped mountain tops, and twisting, steep-walled fjords provide a diverse range of hiking experiences. Climb to the summit of Mount Esja offering vistas over the colorful capital of Reykjavik and a seemingly endless landscape of fjord and mountains.On the Snaefells peninsula, explore the coastal trails of the Snaefellsjokull National Park. The peninsula is dominated by the ice-covered volcano called Snaefellsjokull where the author, Jules Verne, placed the entrance to the interior of the planet in his 1864 novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth. Finally, travel to the far northwest of Iceland to explore the rugged grandeur of the Westfjords which boast a coastline deeply indented by fjords. Travel by boat into the heart of the Westfjords to hike the paths of the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve which protects some of the wildest mountain and sea landscapes in Iceland. This less-trodden, remote and supremely scenic part of Iceland made it to fifth place on Lonely Planet’s list of top ten places in the world to visit in 2011 and frequently tops lists of the best places to hike in Iceland. Journey with us to Iceland for a hiking adventure in this far-flung setting at the edge of Europe!

A view of the basalt and tuff mountain range of Esja north of Reykjavik (Photo credit).

Day 1
Overnight near Borgarnes
Lunch and dinner included
Start your Iceland adventure off with a climb of Mount Esja, Reykjavik’s “neighborhood mountain” located less than ten miles away from the city center. Travel by vehicle the short distance to the trailhead at Mogilsa. From here, the trail ascends steadily to a large boulder known simply as “Steinn” (“stone”) from where the views extend over the Faxaflói Bay to Reykjavik and the Reykjanes Peninsula. If you’re sure-of-foot, you can continue beyond Steinn to the rocky peak of Þverfellshorn. Descend to the trailhead and travel north by vehicle to the town of Borgarnes situated on the banks of the Borgarnes fjord, the shallow estuary of the Hvita and Thvera Rivers.Overnight in Borgarnes.

Mountains rising above the town of Borgarnes.

Snaefellsjokull volcano reflected in the Bardalaug crater lake, Snaefells Peninsula.

Day 2
Overnight on the Snaefells Peninsula
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Travel by vehicle from Borgarnes to the Snaefells Peninsula (Snaefellsnes) which juts for about fifty miles into the Atlantic Ocean midway up the west coast of Iceland. The western tip of the peninsula is anchored by the glacier-capped volcano called Snaefellsjokull which forms the centerpiece for the Snaefellsjokull National Park (Snæfellsjökull Þjóðgarður), one of three national parks in Iceland. Today’s hike traverses the scenic south coast of Snaefellsnes leading from the beach at Djupalonssandur past the dramatic Lonbjorg sea cliffs to Londrangar. Sea birds wheel in the sky, waterfalls plunge over cliffs into the sea, and fantastically-shaped lava pinnacles punctuate the landscape! Following the hike travel by vehicle to Kirkjufell (“Church Mountain”) and the waterfall of Kirkjufellsfoss. Here, you’ll step into one Iceland’s iconic scenes featuring a cascading waterfall back-dropped by the sharp, elegant, free-standing peak of Kirkjufell. Overnight on the Snaefells Peninsula.

The lava coastline at Lóndrangar, Snaefells Peninsula.

The old church at Budir on the Snaefells Peninsula.

A misty view of Drapuhlidarfjall from the settlement of Nafeyri (Photo credit).

Day 3
Overnight in Patreksfjörður
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Travel by vehicle to the colorful volcanic peak of Drapuhlidarfjall. Enjoy a hike up the open slopes of the mountain to one of its two summits. As you ascend, the views become more expansive. Below you lies a patchwork of well-tended farmlands. To the south you’ll gaze over lava fields and the line of peaks that form the central spine of the Snaefells Peninsula. The view north on a clear day includes the numerous islets and skerries that lie scattered in the waters of the Breiðafjörður, the broad bay that lies north of the Snaefells Peninsula. After the hike, a vehicle transfer brings you to the picturesque seaport town of Stykkisholmur. Here you’ll board a ferry for a three hour crossing of the Breiðafjörður to Brjánslækur ferry terminal in the Westfjords (Vestfirðir). Disembark the ferry and continue by vehicle to your overnight accommodations in the village of Patreksfjörður set on the shores of its namesake fjord. Settle in for a two-night stay.

Quiet Patreksfjörður, Westfjords.

Stykkisholmur, Snaefells Peninsula.

A cobalt sea and mist racing across the tops ot the sea cliffs at Latrabjarg.

Day 4
Overnight in Patreksfjörður
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
This morning, travel by vehicle from Patreksfjörður to the spectacular bird cliffs at Látrabjarg (Iceland’s westernmost point) which placed number five in National Geographic’s list of the top ten ocean views. Enjoy a walk along the grassy cliff tops heading to Hvanngjáarfjall where the cliffs fall abruptly about 1,500 feet to the pounding surf below. Puffins, razorbills and other sea birds often congregate at the cliff edge offering lots of opportunities for close encounters. A few small tarns scattered in the grassy meadows add interest to the landscape. After the hike, return to Patreksfjörður for the evening.

Puffin at Latrabjarg.

View toward Raudassandur from the summit of Hvanngjaarfjall, Latrabjarg.

The rugged contours of the Arnafjörður en route to Dynjandi.

Dynjandi waterfall above the Arnafjörður.

Day 5
Overnight in Isafjörður
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Travel by vehicle through the fjord-saturated landscapes of northwest Iceland bound for the town of Isafjörður. En route, stop for a short hike at Dynjandi waterfall (also known as Fjallfoss)—probably the most spectacular waterfall in the Westfjords. Its name means “thunderer.” The waterfall is composed of a series of seven cascades each with its own name. From the uppermost cascade enjoy a great view over the Arnafjordur which some consider the most beautiful in the Westfjords. Later, hike a short path to the top of Sandafell from where you’ll enjoy a panoramic view over the town ot Thingeyri and the sweep of the Dýrafjörður. Continue north, pausing at the mouth of the Núp valley to pay a visit to the old horticultural garden of Skrúður restored in the 1990s. Here is a luxuriant oasis in the windswept environs of the Westfjords. Continue by vehicle to the town of Isafjörður, capital of the Westfjords, built on a peninsula that juts into the Skutulsfjordur. Settle in for a four night stay.

View of the Dyrafjordur from Sandafell (Photo credit).

A view of the Dyrafjordur en route to Isafjordur.

Morning reflections in the Súgandafjörður near the Kvianesdalur trailhead.

Day 6
Overnight in Isafjörður
Breakfast and lunch included
Transfer by vehicle from Isafjörður to the narrow and beautiful Súgandafjörður where you’ll set off on a fjord-to-fjord hike that proceeds up the Kvianesdalur, crosses the mountain plateau at Grímsdalsheiði, and descends the broad Hóls valley to reach the shores of the Önundarfjörður where the water sparkles in shades of green and turquoise over sandy shallows. At the end of the hike, shuttle by vehicle back to Isafjörður. For a shorter hiking option, you can walk from Flateyri town to the old fishing settlement of Kálfeyri. A line of picturesque grass-covered stone enclosures along a rocky beach are all that remains of what was once the largest fishing port on the Önundarfjörður. Return to Isafjörður for the evening.

Summer snow at Grimsdalsheidi.

Descending the Holsdalur en route to the Holl farm on the Onundarfjordur.

There are mountains in every direction—black basalt, green with moss, white with snow. There is ocean. There is glacier. There is a lamb, far off, bleating to the wind. There is grandeur, and it is immeasurable.

–SUE HALPERN writing about the Westfjords, “Eight Days, No Nights,” Condé Nast Traveler, July 2007

Descending the Valthjofsdalur. The town of Flateyri on the Onundarfjordur in the distance.

Day 7
Overnight in Isafjörður
Breakfast and lunch included
From Isafjörður, travel by vehicle south to the Dýrafjörður and into the mountains that separate the Dýrafjörður from the Önundarfjörður. From the mountain pass at Klúkuheiði hike down into the wide valley called the Valthjofsdalur all the way to the farm and small church at Kirkjubol i Valthjofsdalur. For a shorter hiking option you can ascend the pyramid-shaped peak of Myrafell for 360 degree views over the Dýrafjörður. Return to Isafjörður for the evening.

Hike’s end at Kirkjubol i Valthjofsdalur.

The pyramidal summit of Myrafell (left) offers another possible hiking option on this day.

Seaside track at the old settlement of Saebol at Aðalvik. The hike across the mountains to Hesteyri starts here.

Day 8
Overnight in Isafjörður
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Enjoy a day amidst the splendid surroundings of the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Travel by boat to the large bay of Aðalvik, site of the now abandoned settlement of Saebol. From here, hike up-valley (passing an old church en route) and ascend into the mountains via the Fannadalslaegðir (“Snow Valley Basin”). From the mountain plateaus, enjoy views across the waters of the Jökulfirðir (“Fjord of the Glaciers”) to the ice of the Drangajökull, the lowest-lying glacier in Iceland. Savor the wild landscapes before descending to Hesteyri, another abandoned settlement near the mouth of the fjord called the Hesteyrarfjörður. For a shorter hiking option, you can travel to Hesteyri by boat from where you can set off on a hike to the old Hekla whaling station at Stekkeyri. Travel by boat back to Isafjörður and enjoy a farewell dinner to cap off your Iceland hiking adventure.

Houses at Hesteyri beneath the Kistufell.

View from the trail to Hesteyri looking over the Jökulfirðir (Fjord of Glaciers) to the glacial ice of the Drangajökull.

Day 9
Departure day
Breakfast included
After breakfast, catch the morning flight from Isafjörður to Reykjavik’s city airport. (The cost of this flight is included in the trip price.) This scenic flight gives you a bird’s eye perspective over the rugged contours of the Westfjords and allows you to survey the terrain you traversed over the last several days! Fly over the waters of the Breiðafjörður dotted with numerous rocky islets before descending into Reykjavik city. Upon arrival transfer on your own to Keflavik International Airport for your departing flight.

The Geirþjófsfjörður, an arm of the Suðurfirðir en route to Dynjandi in the Westfjords.

The thundering waters of Gullfoss (“Golden Falls”) in southwest Iceland.

Seeing Reykjavik & the Golden Circle

We suggest you allow yourself one or two extra days in Reykjavik (“smoky bay”) prior to the start of your Iceland hiking tour so you can experience Iceland’s capital city and the countryside of southwest Iceland, home to noteworthy sights such as Geysir (the spouting hot spring that has given its name to geysers worldwide), the impressive, thundering cataract of Gullfoss (“Golden Falls”), and Thingvellir National Park with its water-filled volcanic rifts where the continental plates of North America and Europe are drifting apart. Thingvellir (a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site) is also the place where Iceland’s representative assembly (Althing) began open-air meetings in the year 930. All the principal sights of southwest Iceland are found along a route that is often referred to as the Golden Circle. Golden Circle day tours are organized by several companies in Reykjavik.

Strokkur Geyser in eruption at Haukadalur geothermal area. Watch an eruption of Strokkur Geyser.

Thingvellier National Park, Iceland.

Thundering waterfalls in the Land of Fire and Ice.

Other Resources

Check out the official website of the Snaefellsjokull National Park. Lots of information about the geology, history, flora and fauna of the park in English!
The Thingvellir National Park maintains a website in English where you can learn about the natural and cultural resources protected in the park.
Read Sue Halpern’s account of her journey through north and northwest Iceland in the July 2007 issue of Condé Nast Traveler magazine, or read it on-line.

View of Bolungarvik village where boats depart for the Hornstrandir Reserve.

Strokkur Geyser just before an eruption.

Printable version of trip itinerary

Hiking in Iceland Slide Show

Hiking in Iceland Slide Show for iPad and iPhone

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Photos on this page are by John Osaki except as otherwise credited.

Trip Dates
July 25 – August 1, 2017

Price
$5,995

Single supplement
$900. Single accommodations are subject to availability and may be limited.

Meeting Point
Reykjavik, Iceland. We suggest you plan your arrival in Reykjavik for July 24. International flights from the U.S. arrive at Keflavik Airport (airport code KEF) which is located about thirty miles west of central Reykjavik. We can help you arrange a transfer from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik along with hotel accommodations in Reykjavik if you require.

Departure Point
Reykjavik, Iceland. On the morning of the departure day (August 2) your flight from Isafjordur (where you’ll be spending the evening of August 1) to Reykjavik Airport is included in the trip price. Planned arrival time at Reykjavik Airport is approximately 10:30 AM. It’s possible to connect with some of the flights departing Keflavik Airport for U.S. destinations on this day. Or, you can opt to spend this evening in Reykjavik.

Accommodations
Eight nights in small hotels/inns; all rooms with private bath. Eight breakfasts, eight lunches, and six dinners are included. (Two dinners in Isafjörður are not included.) Please note that lodging in Reykjavik for the evening of July 24 is not included in the trip price. However, we are happy to assist you with hotel bookings for this evening.

Other Information
Domestic airfare from Isafjordur to Reykjavik on August 2 is included in the trip price.

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Trips for the adventurous hiker since 1996

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