Breathe in the fresh air, wander through the limitless valleys, and hike up steep mountain slopes until you arrive at what feels like the top of the world: this is the experience that people look for when going to Thorsmork, Iceland.
Nestled between glaciers and open skies, this stunning nature reserve is a treasure, and a highly recommended destination for anyone planning a visit to Iceland. But, while Thorsmork is a beautiful place, it is not for the faint of heart. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re well informed before your trip.
In this Thorsmork hiking guide, you’ll find:
- The best season to visit Thorsmork
- Which hiking routes are best suited to your needs
- Where to stay in Thorsmork
- General tips to help you plan a successful trip
Travel to: Iceland
What’s the Best Season to Hike Thorsmork?
If you’re planning a trip to Iceland between the months of May and October, you’ll be all set to visit Thorsmork safely. These months are warmer, but don’t forget that there could still be snow on the tops of the mountains through the summer.
In the winter months, it’s still possible to visit Thorsmork and see the dramatic mountain range covered in a soft coat of pure snow. However, winter’s unpredictable weather makes visiting Thorsmork significantly more dangerous, and campgrounds within the reserve close down for those months. If you plan to go to Thorsmork in the winter, hire an experienced guide to stay safe.
Best Hiking Routes for All Levels
Thorsmork has plenty of different hiking trails. No matter how experienced you are as a hiker, you’ll find a trail that adapts to your needs and challenges you in the right way.
Valahnukur (2 Hours)
This loop trail is best for those who want to see some incredible views but can’t make the longer trails. You’ll hike up the Valahnukur mountain and see a panoramic view over the entire Thorsmork valley, complete with white-capped glaciers in the background.
Known as one of the easiest trails, Valahnukur is very well-marked throughout the trail, and even includes steps in some of the steeper slopes.
Stakkholtsgja Canyon (3 Hours)
To get a different perspective of Thorsmork, try this canyon trail. Instead of going up, you’ll head down into the valley, cross the Krossa river, and enter the Stakkholtsgja canyon. Hiking here reminds you of just how small you are when looking up at the jagged cliffs above.
This trail is a bit longer than the Valahnukur, but is generally easier since the terrain is rather level.
Tindfjoll (6 Hours)
If you’re up for an adventure and want to check out some of the most stunning views you may ever see, then the Tindfjoll trail is definitely for you. The trail is rather steep in parts, so get ready to be challenged by the raw force of nature. You’ll hike over the foothills of the Tindfjoll Mountains, making your way to the other side to get up close and personal with the glaciers.
If you want to mix things up on the way back, you can add a hike over the Valahnukur mountain.
Laugavegur (3-5 Days)
Warning: This trail should only be attempted by experienced hikers, and should really only be done in the summer months.
If you’re ready to test your physical limits, this is the trail for you. For days, you’ll be traversing mountain ranges, lava fields, glaciers, arctic deserts, and more! The scenery on this journey is unbeatable and allows the hikers to become a part of the natural world around them. Enjoy solitude and silence in the heart of a unique landscape that remains pure and clean.
See Also: Iceland Off-Season: Your Complete Guide
Camping, Glamping, and Volcano Huts
There are plenty of places to stay in and around Thorsmork. Here are some of the most popular options.
Located in the Basar valley, this campsite doesn’t have much in the way of amenities, but it’s a place to spend the night. You’ll have to rough it in a tent, but there are bathrooms, showers, and cooking facilities.
One of the most popular options, the Volcano Huts offer a bit of rustic variety for hikers passing through Thorsmork. Camping is obviously an option here if you’re bringing equipment. You can also try glamping in your own private yurt, complete with a heater for cold nights and a very comfortable bed. You can also rent a small cabin with a kitchenette, or sleep in one of the mountain hut dormitory rooms.
To help you relax at the end of a long day of hiking, the Volcano Huts also offer a spa, complete with sauna and geothermically heated pool. There’s also a restaurant and bar offering local foods.
Tips for a Successful Trip to Thorsmork
In order to make a success of your trip to Thorsmork, here are some tips you should keep in mind.
Plan to Take Public Transport
The road to Thorsmork is only accessible in 4×4 vehicles, and you’ll have to cross a glacier river. If you’re not an experienced off-road driver, don’t attempt this. Instead, book a mountain bus from Reykjavik, and trust an experienced driver to get you there safely. Of course, your other option is to hike in, if you’re planning on doing the Laugavegur trail.
See Also: The 10 Best Day Hikes from Reykjavik
Pack Plenty of Layers
Weather inside the nature reserve is unstable and subject to rapid changes, even in summer. You could be sweating in the sun one minute and throwing on your heavy rain jacket the next. The point is, when hiking in Thorsmork, always pack plenty of layers. That way you won’t have to worry about being too cold or too warm.
If You Camp, Stay at a Campsite
It is illegal in Iceland to set up a tent wherever you feel like it. So, if you’re tempted to make your own wild campsite, remember that there’s a hefty fine involved if you get caught.
Thankfully, there are plenty of approved campsites that you can stay at. Whether you’re inside the valley or hiking to it on the Laugavegur trail, it’s always good to plan ahead and book a place to stay, even if it is just a campsite.
Be Aware and Stay Safe
Hiking Thorsmork isn’t dangerous, as long as you know what you’re getting into. While you may hear some horror stories, these are mostly because the people involved weren’t prepared.
So, stay informed. When you’re heading out to hike, make sure someone knows where you’re going, and when you plan to arrive back. If you’re unsure of your physical abilities, hire an experienced guide to take you through the park. That way, you’ll stay safe and your trip will be far more enjoyable.
Are you ready to see those stunning views for yourself? Plan a trip to Thorsmork to find pure landscapes and stunning natural beauty in the valley that lives up to its powerful name.