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Spanning around 25 kilometres from Skógar to Þórsmörk (Thorsmork), the Fimmvörðuháls Trail is a challenging day hike. There are some steep ascents and challenging pathways, but those that embark on a Fimmvörðuháls adventure are rewarded with a glimpse of Iceland’s empty, rugged interior, a world away from civilization.
Hiker embarking on the challenging Fimmvörðuháls Trail, showcasing Iceland's rugged highlands
Best time to visit
Spring - Summer
63.63379, -19.43454
Distance from Reykjavík
160km (100mi)

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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

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