Top three reasons to hike Iceland’s ancient trails
See a unique blend of historic landmarks and timeless landscapes
Dive into the island’s culture and delicious traditional cuisine
The Ancient Trail of Kjalvegur is one of the oldest passable highland routes
The story of Iceland is written in its landscapes and best told through its hiking trails. Get ready for a trek through time; follow ancient glaciers, primordial geysers, legendary Viking footpaths, and centennial hikers’ huts, and uncover the forces that have shaped the Land of Fire and Ice for millions of years. Embark on a trek along the almost forgotten Kjölur mountain pass used since Iceland’s first settlers. This path shroud in myth and legend is one of the two roads that connect the north and south of the country. At the end of each day, rest your feet in historic huts, eat traditional dishes, and unwind in natural hot springs like the travelers of old. The legacy of Iceland is one of fire, ice, measureless beauty, and mysterious history—experience them all in a single hike.
July through September
The tour starts in Reykjavik, Iceland
Book this adventure
Hut-to-Hut Hiking Tour of Iceland’s Ancient Trails
Leave the touristy trails behind and uncover the rich history behind Iceland’s iconic landscapes on this 6-day hiking tour! Explore a spectacular mix of natural landmarks, ranging from geysers and colorful rhyolite mountains to timeless glaciers, while learning about their legacy from a seasoned local guide. Spend your time off the trails unwinding in scenic mountain huts, chilling in saunas, and tasting traditional Icelandic delicacies.
Day 1: Welcome to the Highlands
Meet your guide at the BSI bus terminal in Reykjavik and head for Thingvellir National Park, where you can walk between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Curiously, this is also where the Althing, the oldest parliament in the world, was established in the year 930 AD. Then, proceed to the Great Geysir and its smaller brother Strokkur Geyser, which consistently spews boiling hot water up to 130 ft (40 m) in the air every 10 minutes. Heading to the Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort in Ásgarður where you’ll spend the night, you’ll stop by Gullfoss falls, considered by many to be the most beautiful waterfall in Iceland.
Hiking distance: 5 miles/ 8 km
Duration: 3 hrs on foot, 4 hrs by car
Elevation change: 660 ft/ 200 m
Day 2: Kerlingarfjöll to Hveravellir
Follow a loop trail over the mountains, to the boiling hot springs and fascinating multi-colored hills. You’ll encounter a spectacular array of colors, including, yellow, blue, black, green, and red from the iron and the rhyolite that the mountains are composed of. After the hike, get transported to the Hveravellir oasis, where you will spend the night. Make sure to take a dip in the nearby geothermal pool before hitting the hay.
Hiking distance: 7 miles/ 12 km
Duration: 4 hrs on foot, 1 hr by car
Elevation change: 1,900 ft/ 575 m
Day 3: Hveravellir to Þjófadalur
Get ready for the first day of your multi-day trek along the ancient Kjalvegur route, once used by Vikings, settlers, and farmers. The route winds between the Langjökull and Hofsjökull glaciers, and you’ll walk through unique vegetation, grass, flowers, and brush, but also black lava fields, volcanic craters, mountains, and glaciers. Spend the night in Þjófadalur, a small, cozy hut in a grassy green valley.
Hiking distance: 10 miles/ 15 km
Duration: 5 hrs on foot
Elevation change: 990 ft/300 m
Day 4: Þjófadalur to Þverbrekknamúli
Today, you’ll follow the Kjalhraun lava field while enjoying a spectacular view of the Hrútfell mountain and its gliding glaciers throughout. Watch the Fúlakvísl river roar through a very narrow canyon carved out by lava millennia ago. The scenery around your hut is so incredible you’ll want to explore it for days on end.
Hiking distance: 9 miles/ 14 km
Duration: 5 hrs on foot
Elevation change: 660 ft/ 200 m
Day 5: Þverbrekknamúli to Hvítárnes
On day 5, you’ll hike to one of the oldest mountain huts in Iceland. Built way back in 1930, the hut and its turf roof are protected by Icelandic law because of its age and uniqueness. Follow a trail through vegetated areas interspaced by some deep horse trails and crystal-clear water fountains. The hut is close to the Hvítárvatn glacial lake, which runs from the Langjökull glacier and is the source of both the Hvítá river and Gullfoss falls.
Hiking distance: 10 miles/ 16 km
Duration: 5 hrs on foot
Elevation change: 660 ft/ 200 m
Day 6: Vertu sæll, Iceland!
Make your way back to Reykjavik. Once you arrive, enjoy a short walk around town where you’ll experience the landmarks, learn the stories of the statues scattered throughout, and learn about the culture of the contemporary Icelandic people. Then, it’s time to fly back home!
Hiking distance: 8 miles/ 5 km
Duration: 2 hrs on foot, 3 hrs by car
Elevation change: 165 ft/ 50 m
Meet your guides
Get complete checklist for hiking and camping equipment.
Things to know
What you get on this adventure:
- An experienced, local hiking guide with extensive knowledge of the area
- Six days of hiking
- Transportation for the duration of the tour
- Mountain hut accommodations for 5 nights
- All meals for the duration of the tour
- Transfer of luggage between huts
- Charging battery/power bank
- Sleeping bag
What’s not included:
- Transportation to and from Iceland
- Transportation to the BSI Bus Terminal in Reykjavik
- Accommodations in Reykjavík before and after the tour
- Personal hiking gear
- Use of showers in huts — 500 ISK ($3.50 USD), payable on site
- Alcoholic beverages
- Meals outside of the trek
How fit do I need to be?
This Icelandic hiking adventure requires decent fitness levels. You’ll be hiking for 6 full days, covering around 7.5-10 miles (12-17 km) per day with moderate altitude change while carrying a loaded daypack. Your main luggage will be transported with a support vehicle. Keep in mind that you’ll also be covering tricky volcanic terrain, the weather and trail conditions may affect the difficulty and you will encounter several river crossings along the trail.
What do I need to bring?
Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring:
- Day pack large enough to carry all the items listed (around a 25-40L bag)
- Waterproof duffel bag for transporting your overnight gear between huts
- Quality lightweight hiking shoes with ankle support
- River crossing shoes — Crocs are a good choice, don’t use open sandals or flip-flops
- 2-3 pairs of soft wool or fleece hiking socks
- Long sleeve shirt (thermal underwear, wool or fleece)
- T-shirt (thermal underwear, wool or synthetic)
- Light sweater (wool, fleece or similar)
- Jacket with a good hood — windproof, waterproof and breathable, GoreTex or similar
- Hiking pants or shorts, something strong and light that dries quickly e.g. soft-shell
- Rain trousers — windproof, waterproof and breathable, don’t bring a poncho
- Warm hat and gloves
- Hiking poles
- Light towel, easily packable
- Sunglasses or ski goggles
- Sun and lip balm
- Neck buff
- Wind- and waterproof protective clothes
- Cash for the showers, normally around 500 ISK per shower
- Lunch box to pack each days lunch into
- Water bottle or hydration bladder (2L capacity)
- Swimwear if you want to bathe in the hot geothermal pool in Landmannalaugar
- Slippers for indoor use
- Clothes for wearing in the hut
- Toiletries (hand sanitizer, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
- Headlamp or flashlight
- Camera — optional (but recommended)
Your main luggage will be transported with a support vehicle, and you will not have access to it until you reach the huts in the afternoon. Everything needed for the day’s trek must be in your day backpack.
Please do not bring hard suitcases. A soft duffel bag, ca 60 L, is preferable, and please do not exceed 40 lbs (18 kg) per person. Also, keep in mind that the bags might move around or get wet during transport, so pack accordingly.
What is the accommodation like?
The huts on the trail are very basic. You will spend your night in shared dormitories with bunk beds. While the beds have mattresses, you should bring a sleeping bag and a liner. Each hut has different facilities but most include gas cooking. Some hut have running water, showers, and toilets, while other have out-houses and no running water.
Group sizes and age requirements
Group sizes and prices:
- For this group adventure, the usual client-to-guide ratio is 10:1.
- It takes a minimum of 2 people for this tour to operate.
- The cost does not decrease as the group grows.
Hiking in Iceland can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.
Min. age requirements:
- If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
- Minors younger than 18 may be permitted to join the hike on a case-by-case basis, but must be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.
If your group has hikers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.
Deposits and cancellation policy
A 30% deposit to secure your place is due upon booking. The remaining amount is paid 3 months (90 days) prior to departure. Once the trip is confirmed by the guide, the cancellation policy stated below applies.
- If Client cancels the Booking anytime prior to ninety (90) calendar days in advance of the trip contemplated by the booking, Client is entitled to a full refund.
- For cancellations eighty-nine (89) to sixty (60) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of ninety percent (90%) of the total amount paid when Booking.
- For cancellations thirty (30) to fifty-nine (59) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of fifty percent (50%) of the total amount paid when Booking.
- After that deadline, Client is not entitled to any refund. Any reimbursable expenses arising out of the Booking incurred by Guide prior to the date of cancellation (including but not limited to plane tickets, car rental payments, and lodging or transportation fees) are non-refundable as soon as they are incurred by the Guide.
Getting there and meeting location
To get to the BSI bus terminal in Reykjavik, the starting point of this tour, most people fly into Keflavík International Airport (KEF). From there, you can take a bus, shuttle, or taxi to Reykjavík.
You will be meeting your guide at the BSI bus terminal in central Reykjavik, which can be easily accessed by foot or public transportation. From there, you’ll head to the trailhead.
Covid measures in Iceland
57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.
We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, their guides, and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Iceland, please refer to the official guidelines for international travel to Iceland.
Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!