When in Iceland, you’re never short of magnificent hiking trails to conquer. Choose any of the routes spread across the stunning expanse of the country and you’ll be treated to cascading waterfalls, majestic volcanoes and miles, and miles of unspoiled scenery. Although it can be hard to choose which trek is the best in this Northern wonderland, one hike that stands alone is the gorgeous Fimmvörðuháls trail.
The Fimmvörðuháls trail is 25 kilometers long and leads you through glaciers, lava fields, and lush plains, creating a hiking experience like no other. If you think you have what it takes, pop this Icelandic gem into your BUCKiTDREAM planner – just make sure you’re ready for one of the most challenging – and rewarding – hikes on the planet.
Visit at the Right Time of Year Tackling Fimmvörðuháls is not something that can be done at any old time of the year. If you make the ascent during an unfavorable month, you’ll be met with tons and tons of treacherous ice and snow. For this reason, we suggest that you take to the trail anytime between July and mid-September. As the route can be subject to sudden changes in weather, make sure to check the forecast before your arrival to be fully prepared.
Be Wise About What You Wear Clothes-wise, we suggest bringing plenty of layers that you can take on and off depending on the weather. Don’t pack anything too heavy that could weigh you down and make this arduous journey even more challenging. As the trail is often subject to bright sun, bring a pair of good, UV-protective sunglasses to avoid hurting your eyes. Likewise, if it’s sunny, don’t forget to bring a hat. The last thing you want when you’re hiking through the expansive hinterlands is a dangerous bout of sunstroke. Stay hydrated on the trail by bringing your trusty water bottle with you, which can be refilled at many stops along the route.
Find Affordable Transportation There are plenty of tour operators that organize tours from Reykjavik to the Fimmvörðuháls Trail, but if you want to save money – a smart thing to do in this expensive country – it’s more than doable to sort out your own way there. If you’re planning on staying in Iceland for a week or two, chances are you already have a rental car sorted to explore the majestic expanse of the countryside, if not pick one up from Cheap Car Rental Iceland to bring you to your starting point at Skogar (this should take you about 2.5 hours).
As the hike is not a round trip, you’ll need to do a bit of preparation to make sure you can get back to your car when you reach the end of the trek in Thórsmörk. Thankfully, there’s a bus service that runs from Thórsmörk-Seljalandsfoss Waterfall-Skogar, so book your tickets for this trip before leaving Reykjavik to bring you back to your car.
Spread Out Your Visit and Stay the Night Although most hikers opt to do the trail in one day if you feel like spreading it out over two days you can stay in the Fimmvörðuháls Mountain Hut along the trail. While the hut is a great option to have, it’s pretty small and isn’t quite 5-star quality (i.e. it’s just a shared room with small mattresses on the floor). As the hut can be in high demand – especially during the tourist season – it’s advised to ring ahead and book your space well in advance.
Section One of the Trail The trail is split into three stunning sections, each with its own unique geological features. The first section brings you along the eastern bank of the Skoga River to the Fimmvörðuháls Mountain Hut. Along with this route, you’ll be met with 26 cascading waterfalls, each one more breathtaking than the last.
Section Two of the Trail The second part of the trail brings you to the volcanic heart of Iceland as you cross the Skoga River. This area – nestled in between two crystalline glaciers – is in stark contrast to the lushness of the previous section, with barren volcanic rock stretching out before you. As you cross the snowfields on the pass, rising before you will be the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which erupted in 2010, causing travel chaos across the world. After Eyjafjallajökull you’ll come across two ‘baby’ 6-year -old mountains – Magni and Móði. Stop here and dig a little into the ground with your hands and you’ll feel the heat rising from the molten magma that lies just below the surface.
Section Three of the Trail Finally, you’ll begin the third section of your journey by heading north and descending a ridgeline that will lead you towards Thórsmörk. As you make your journey, make sure to stop and marvel at the stunning vistas that flank you on both sides. This descent can be a little rocky, so pay attention to your footing to avoid taking a tumble. When you’ve conquered the descent, you’ll emerge onto a gorgeous, expansive plateau that will bring you to the Krossa River before you start the 4.5-kilometer homestretch back to Thórsmörk.
As Iceland unbelievably has 100% internet signal, you can post your photos to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter as you hike (don’t forget to use the hashtag #BUCKiTDREAM). After conquering the Fimmvörðuháls Trail, your body will be in need of some serious TLC, and where better to get it than in the turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon.