best day hikes from reykjavik

The 10 Best Day Hikes from Reykjavik

If there’s one place on Earth that’s a hiker’s paradise, it’s Iceland. Thanks to its unbelievably diverse landscapes, long daylight hours, and friendly locals, Iceland is one of the best places in the world for hiking. You’ll find yourself constantly amazed by the beauty and ruggedness of Iceland’s waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, and beaches. Behind every corner is something different and unique – it’s a dream situation for any hiker.

One aspect of Iceland’s geography that’s both impressive and convenient is the vast amount of hikes in a relatively concentrated area. When you get off the plane, you’re a short car or bus ride away from the capital of Reykjavik. Once in the city, there are a handful of awesome hikes that you can reach in a matter of 20-minutes, to a couple of hours.

If you’re visiting Iceland and plan on staying in the capital, here are the top 10 best day hikes from Reykjavik you can embark on! 

  1. Laugahraun Lava Field Hike

The Laugahraun Lava Field is one of the most iconic and beautiful destinations in all of Iceland. Known for its colourful mountains and otherworldly views, it’s quickly become a must-see spot for hikers and travellers alike. While it is a three-hour drive from the capital, the views are definitely worth the trip. There are a number of different trails you can consider, but the Landmannalaugar Loop, which covers about four kilometres, allows you see a lot in a short amount of time. 

  • Hiking Time: 2 – 5 hours
  • Time from Reykjavik: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy (rolling hills)
Landmannalaguar, Iceland
Hiking in the Landmannalaugar lava field | © Davide Cantelli/Unsplash
  1. Glymur Waterfall Hike

Considered one of the “lesser known” waterfalls, the Glymur waterfall is still one of Iceland’s most impressive hidden gems. It takes a bit of a hike to get to the top, but the view of the falls and the lush moss-covered canyon below are unbeatable. This hike is not for those who have a fear of heights, as it is Iceland’s second largest waterfall at 198 meters tall, so be prepared for some serious altitude.

  • Hiking Time: 3 – 6 hours
  • Time from Reykjavik: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Moderate (fairly high up)
Glymur waterfall, Iceland
Iceland’s second-tallest waterfall, Glymur | © Matito/Flickr
  1. Mt. Esja Hike

Sitting quietly just 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik rests the sleepy Mount Esja. As one of the most accessible hikes from the capital, this trail is perfect for anyone looking for adventure on a short timeline. From the peak of the mountain (which stands at 605 metres high) you’ll have lovely, uninterrupted views of the bay of Reykjavik and the naturally diverse slopes below. This hike is roughly seven kilometres long, with most of it being uphill, so it may be a bit tricky.

  • Hiking Time: 2 – 4 hours
  • Time from Reykjavik: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: Moderate (considerably steep)
A view of Reykjavik from the top of Mt. Esja
An incredible view of Reykjavik from the top of Mt. Esja | © Börkur Sigurbjörnsson/Flickr
  1. Skaftafell National Park & Glacier Hike

Skaftafell is one of Iceland’s most popular National Parks, offering a massive range of landscapes, from glacier lagoons to neatly hidden waterfalls. While the drive from the capital is long and you will have to leave quite early, the trip will be worth it. One of the most popular hikes in the park is the route to Svartifoss, arguably the most unique waterfall in all of Iceland. If you do the full loop it will take you around two hours, depending on your walking speed, but it’ll take longer if you want to stop and take in the amazing views.

  • Hiking Time: 2 – 4 hours
  • Time from Reykjavik: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy (some steep parts, both up and downhill)
Svartifoss, Iceland
The hike around Svartifoss is absolutely gorgeous! | © Jesse Warner
  1. Kerid Crater Lake

If you’re looking for a short hike that leaves plenty of time for photo ops, the ring around the Kerid Crater is perfect! This 3,000-year-old volcanic crater has evolved into a colourful lake covered by lush moss and vegetation. In just an hour or so you can make your way around the entire perimeter, and even head down into the bowl to get a closer look at the lake. As an added bonus, the town of Selfoss just down the road is a perfect place to grab lunch and take more photos.

  • Hiking Time: 45 minutes – 1.5 hours
  • Time from Reykjavik: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy (steep, but manageable)
Kerid, Iceland
Hikers braving the Kerid Crater | © Balazs Busznyak/Unsplash
  1. Seljavallalaug Pool

This is one of Iceland’s best-kept secrets. Start your morning off early and set your GPS for the “Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool”. Park your car in the lot and hike for about 25 minutes into the heart of the mountain. Shortly, you’ll arrive at one of Iceland’s oldest swimming pools. The real secret? After you take a dip, continue your hike above and behind the pool. There are dozens of little waterfalls, flowing rivers, and moss-covered peaks for you to hike and enjoy. You may even see some sheep up there with you.

  • Hiking Time: 1.5 to 3 hours
  • Time from Reykjavik: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate (the initial trail is easy, but after the pool, it gets very steep and slippery)
Seljavallalaug, Iceland
The pool in Seljavallalaug | © Michael James/Unsplash
  1. Thingvellir National Park 

If you’re going to Iceland, you must stop and hike through Thingvellir National Park. One of the most famous routes is the Öxarárfoss Waterfall Trail, which allows you to walk between the crater of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. This is a once-in-a-lifetime hike that you won’t be able to experience anywhere else!

  • Hiking Time: 2 to 4 hours
  • Time from Reykjavik: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: Very easy (easy to walk on, well-maintained trail)
The Drowning Pool, Iceland
A pool in Thingvellir National Park | © pml2008/Flickr
  1. Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

This hike is a bit more off the beaten path, but in recent years it has begun to increase in popularity. Just 40 minutes outside of Reykjavik, this hike will lead you to one of the most wonderful natural springs in the country, just behind the small town of Hveragerði. Small cabins and bridges have been built to accommodate tourists who wish to bathe in the warm pools, so remember to bring along a bathing suit and towel.

  • Hiking Time: 2 – 3 hours
  • Time from Reykjavik: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
Hot springs in Reykjadalur Valley, Iceland
A portion of the hot springs in Reykjadalur Valley | © Peter Collins/Flickr
  1. Ytri Tunga Beach (spot the seals!)

While to some this may not be considered a hike, the walk along the beach of Ytri Tunga will leave you with some of the most amazing views of the ocean, along with the amusement of a booming seal colony. This beach has become famous for its seal-watching opportunities, and because it’s so close to Reykjavik, it makes for an awesome day trip. Take the time to hike along the entire beach, not just the seal watching area, and you’ll increase your odds of spotting them.

  • Hiking Time: 1 – 2 hours
  • Time from Reykjavik: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Very Easy (soft sand, some rocks to climb)
Ytri Tunga Beach, Iceland
Take a stroll along the shores of Ytri Tunga Beach | © Jesse Warner
  1. Snaefellsjokull National Park Hikes

The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is one of Iceland’s most underrated areas. It’s filled with amazing cliffs, charming churches, and dozens of hiking opportunities. Snaefellsjokull National Park, way at the end of the peninsula, is home to a ton of day hikes (like Mount Hreggnasi), each unique and differing in difficulties. Here you can pass through whimsical lava fields and landscapes that are beautifully bizarre and almost alien, making it perfect for your uniquely Iceland photos.

  • Hiking Time: 4 – 6 hours (depending on which hike you opt for)
  • Time from Reykjavik: 2.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate (watch for sharp and moving lava rocks)
Snaefellsjokull National Park
The beautifully-rugged Snaefellsjokull National Park | © Jesse Warner

Most scenic hikes in Iceland

Here a table for summarizing the hikes we talked about above.

HikeHiking Time Time from ReykjavikDifficulty
Laugahraun Lava Field2-5 hours3 hoursEasy
Glymur Waterfall3-6 hours1 hourModerate
Mt. Esja2-4 hours45 minutesModerate
Skaftafell National Park2-4 hours4 hoursEasy
Kerid Crater45 minutes – 1 hour1 hourEasy
Seljavallalaug1,5-3 hours2 hoursModerate
Thingvellir National Park2-4 hours45 minutesEasy
Reykjadalur Hot Springs2-3 hours1 hourEasy
Ytri Tunga Beach1-2 hours2 hoursEasy
Snaefellsjokull National Park4-6 hours2,5 hoursModerate

Hiking Grades

For families
On/off trail


Iceland is one place every hiker should add to their travel list. It’s beautiful, charming, and easily one of the most unique places in the world. Plus, if you’re sticking around Reykjavik, there are tons of options for day-hikes. If you’re thinking about a tour through Iceland, don’t forget to pack your hiking shoes, because it’s one thing you’ll find yourself doing just about every day.

Jesse is a blogger and content creator who loves travel, the outdoors, and her dog, Molly. When she isn't planning her next trip, she can be found watching Netflix documentaries, enjoying time by the water, or eating soft-serve ice cream. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, or check out her blog.

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