- Best time to visit
- Spring - Summer
- 63.63379, -19.43454
- Distance from Reykjavík
- 160km (100mi)
In the summer, Skógar comes alive, turning into a lush green wonderland under the towering Eyjafjöll mountains. The area is home to one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls, Skógafoss, a pearl of the south coast. The drive to Skógar is a scenic ride through the picturesque south of Iceland, passing by small farms and charming villages with astounding views of the surrounding mountains and volcanoes on clear days. Whether you are planning a day trip to the region or a multi-day hike, leave the driving to us!
Enjoy the journey of a lifetime on this fantastic hiking experience in the glacier valley of Þórsmörk, up to the Fimmvörðuháls pass. This is one of the world’s best treks; through volcanic landscapes and green moss Þórsmörk is the last part of the famous Laugavegur trail, considered by many the most beautiful part. Expect to walk 4-7 hours per day on this guided 4-day tour with accommodation in rustic mountain huts. It’s a moderate to challenging hike that spans 40 kilometres with a maximum ascent of 1000 metres.
Want to experience a slice of the highlands but don’t have the time for a multi-day hike? Book this guided day tour over the spectacular Fimmvörðuháls pass! A professionally trained guide will lead you on this trail, named one of the Best Hikes in the World by National Geographic. Expect a demanding 10-hour hike where you will see fantastic glacier views, volcanic craters, vast canyons and impressive waterfalls. The 22-kilometre hike is available July-August; participants must be at least 12 years old and up for a challenging hike.
Hiking Iceland’s Fimmvörðuháls Trail
How to get to the Fimmvörðuháls Trail
The Fimmvörðuháls trek is a point-to-point hike between Skógar and Þórsmörk and you can begin the walk at either end of the trail. Most walkers begin at Skógar and follow the 25-kilometre route to Þórsmörk through Iceland’s empty interior. From Reykjavík, it’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Skógar, following the Route One main road along the south coast.
As the Fimmvörðuháls walk takes between 8 and 10 hours to complete in a single day, most hikers choose to spend the night at Skógar or nearby Vík before embarking on their adventure early in the morning.
If you do plan to start your Fimmvörðuháls walk at Þórsmörk, there is a handy Highland Bus that departs from Reykjavík daily and is equipped to deal with the river fords and bumpy F-roads that lead to the trailhead. Of course, if you book a Fimmvörðuháls guided hike, tour companies can include transfers from Reykjavík so you don’t have to worry about logistics.
A Fimmvörðuháls day hike
The Fimmvörðuháls trail is considered the best day hike in Iceland and one of the best in Europe for its varied landscape and breathtaking scenery at every turn. At 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) long, it’s a challenging day hike and includes around 1,400 metres (4600 feet) of climbing. It’s not a hike for beginners and those tackling this route should have some experience of long-distance hikes and come prepared with the right equipment.
You’ll want to bring a rucksack with plenty of supplies to refuel along the way. There are no shops or cafés out here, so make sure to bring enough cereal bars, sandwiches and snacks for a full day and a challenging hike. With the weather being so changeable, a waterproof cover for your backpack and waterproof clothing is essential. You’ll also need to wear a pair of very sturdy hiking boots, preferably waterproof as well. Even in summer, there can be snowy patches along the route. There are some fairly steep ascents, so if you’re more comfortable using walking poles, it’s a good idea to bring these. Of course, water is essential to any day hike but the wonderful thing about Iceland is that you can drink water straight from glacial rivers and springs – you’ll need a refillable water bottle. Crucially, you’ll want to bring a power pack for your phone because the views are incredible and you’ll be snapping away, taking photo after photo throughout your hike.
Starting from Skógafoss, you’ll pass Waterfall Way, a riverside walkway that takes in 26 cascading falls. The Skógá River keeps this section of Iceland’s interior verdant green until, eventually, the green valley gives way to ice caps amidst a rocky, lunar landscape. You can spot the vast glaciers of Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull before making the descent into Þórsmörk Valley – a vision of almost luminous green moss and craggy hills. Once you reach Þórsmörk, you can hop on the Highland Bus back to Reykjavík. If you’ve booked a guided tour, your transfers back to Reykjavík may be waiting for you in Þórsmörk.
Fimmvörðuháls camping and overnighting
25 kilometres can seem daunting for a day hike, so some hikers opt to tackle the Fimmvörðuháls trail over two days, spending the night in the wilderness along the way. You won’t find any hotels or guesthouses in this remote region of Iceland, but there are a couple of hikers’ huts and campsites along the route. Baldvinsskáli Hut is the first along the trail and can act as a toilet rest stop if you’re not spending the night. Most walkers prefer to carry on to Fimmvörðuháls Hut which is bigger and better equipped. The Fimmvörðuháls Trail is one of the most popular hiking routes in Iceland and it is only open and accessible a few months of the year. So the huts and campsites along the route do fill up quickly and you should book your Fimmvörðuháls hut or camping spot well in advance. It’s important to note that wild camping is not allowed in this area.
If you want to embark on a real, long-distance walking adventure, you can combine the Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trails. The Fimmvörðuháls trail acts as an extension of the Laugavegur trail, adding 25 kilometres to an already 55-kilometre-long route through Iceland’s remote highlands.
All About Fimmvörðuháls
If you are tackling the Fimmvörðuháls hike in a single day, it is considered a challenging hike. The distance is long and there is a lot of climbing involved. It is by no means a hike for beginners, but those with a bit of experience on long-distance trails will find the variety of the landscape and views of the valleys the perfect reward for a day of hard work.
The Fimmvörðuháls trail is approximately 25 kilometres long from point to point. It begins at Skógar, meanders through the rugged interior of Iceland where there are no towns or villages, and ends at Þórsmörk. You can traverse the Fimmvörðuháls trail in the other direction – from Þórsmörk to Skógar. There’s a lot of climbing uphill involved in this day hike, around 1,400 metres of total elevation gain. The entire walk takes between 8 and 10 hours.
It is recommended that you hike the Fimmvörðuháls trail between mid-June and early September. Outside of the hiking season, harsh weather and conditions on the trail can make it a dangerous place. If you’re planning to tackle the Fimmvörðuháls trek beyond the summer months, you should go with a guide and with the proper equipment. In the winter months, the short hours of daylight make this trail particularly treacherous and impossible to complete within a single day. Also, there is no Highland bus or any scheduled transportation during the winter months from Thórsmörk to Reykjavík and the overnight huts are not open outside of the summer hiking season.
While hiking season begins in mid-June, the months of July and August see the most favourable weather in the interior of Iceland. In terms of trail conditions, visibility and chances of sunny days and good weather, July is considered the best month to visit Fimmvörðuháls. Of course, July sees the largest number of hikers on the trail, so if getting away from the crowds is your aim, consider visiting Fimmvörðuháls in late August or very early September.
Out in the middle of nowhere, Fimmvörðuháls has no light pollution to interfere with your chances of spotting the Northern Lights. If you are planning to do this hike in late August or early September, on cloudless nights, you can probably see the Aurora Borealis from Fimmvörðuháls in the late night hours, after midnight.
However, due to adverse weather and treacherous trail conditions in winter, this part of Iceland becomes inaccessible during the main months of the Northern Lights. Just off the Route One main road, you can safely spot the Northern Lights at Skógar – the beginning of the Fimmvörðuháls trail.
In terms of personal safety, the Fimmvörðuháls hike is very safe indeed. Iceland often tops “safest country in the world” lists and during the hiking season, there are usually plenty of other walkers on the trail, so it is perfectly safe for a solo hike. However, the trail itself is challenging with 1,400 metres of climbing and unpredictable weather year-round can create treacherous conditions without warning.
It is through a very remote and empty section of Iceland’s landscape, so there are no towns, villages or even farms to stop at should you sustain an injury or get into trouble. It’s a trail for experienced hikers, rather than beginners. To stay safe, the best option for hiking the Fimmvörðuháls trail is to join a guided tour with a professional hiking guide leading the way and offering support.
The Fimmvörðuháls trail is very long for a day hike at around 25 kilometres, and there is nowhere to stop for food and refreshments along the way. For this reason, it may not suit families with young children who are not used to long-distance walking already. However, it might make for an excellent family hike for those with older or teenage children who are keen hikers and enjoy the outdoors. There is definitely a sense of adventure to a day on the Fimmvörðuháls trail. As a guideline, tour companies running guided hikes of Fimmvörðuháls do not accept children under the age of 13.
There are two starting points to the Fimmvörðuháls hike – Skógar and Þórsmörk. You can reach Skógar by driving yourself along the Route One main road on the south coast of Iceland from Reykjavík. The drive is 155 kilometres and takes around two and a half hours. There is also a daily bus that runs from just outside the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík to Skógar, taking four hours.
If you are walking the Fimmvörðuháls route in the opposite direction, then you can drive to Þórsmörk from Reykjavík in three hours following the Route One Road and the narrow F249 road across rivers. As the F249 road is a narrow, unpaved road, you’ll need to have a 4x4 to tackle the route. The Highland Bus leaves Reykjavík daily to Þórsmörk and is designed to tackle the F-roads, so this is considered an easier option to get to Þórsmörk. If you are planning to walk the entire Fimmvörðuháls trail in a single day, it is a good idea to overnight at either Skógar or Þórsmörk so that you can leave early in the morning.
Fimmvörðuháls is considered one of Iceland’s best day hikes. Those fit and experienced enough to tackle the trail will be rewarded with captivating views of Iceland’s rugged interior from the top of mountain ridges and the bottom of verdant green valleys. If you come properly prepared for a challenging hike and enjoy stretching your leg muscles with steep ascents and tricky downhill sections, Fimmvörðuháls is definitely worth it.
The Fimmvörðuháls trek can be completed in a single day, taking between 8 and 10 hours depending on fitness, experience and weather conditions. However, there are those that prefer to take their time on the trail, pause to admire the scenery and take it easy on the uphill sections. There are a couple of huts and campsites along the trail suitable for an overnight stay if you want to complete it over two days instead of one. During hiking season, Fimmvörðuháls huts are very popular, so it is best to book your spot in one well in advance.