Thorsmork Hiking: Exploring Iceland’s Nature Reserve
If you love the outdoors, Thorsmork, Iceland, is the ultimate adventure playground. This mountain ridge hugs the space between the Tindfjallajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, and Eyjafjallajökull glaciers.
Known as the country’s trekking capital, this ridge is named after the Norse God Thor and features glacial rivers, black deserts, and towering crags.
If you want to sample the best of Iceland’s hiking routes, the Thorsmork Valley is the place for you.
Why Should You Visit Thorsmork?
Icelanders themselves swear upon Thorsmork as one of the best hiking locations in the country.
Whether you want to take a single-day hike and return to your luxury hotel or pitch a tent under the stars, Thorsmork hiking has it all.
Breathtaking viewpoints from high cliffs, glacial waterfalls, steaming volcanos, and the richest geothermal area in the country are just some of the sights you can see on single or multi-day Thorsmork hikes.
All hiking routes are well-signposted and link up with Iceland’s famous volcano huts. You can also pick up a detailed hiking map featuring the Thorsmork volcano huts, so you’re guaranteed never to get lost.
Day Hiking Trails in Thorsmork
Before heading out for some Thorsmork hiking, think about your options. Not everyone wants to camp out. For the day hiker who prefers their creature comforts in the evenings, the Thorsmork, Iceland, hiking trails listed below will give you a taste of the best the valley has to offer.
Time: 1.5-2 hours
The shortest of the single-day hikes, this Thorsmork hiking option comes with several different trails from which to choose. Plenty of day trips from Reykjavik suggest this trail, so it can get crowded.
You will trek up through the Valahnúkur Mountain and take in a 360-degree view of the valleys beneath your feet. Once you have had your fill, circle back through the birch woods to the Langidalur Volcano Hut.
Time: 2-3 hours
Through the foothills of the Valahnúkur Mountain and up onto the Merukurrani plateau, you will negotiate sharp rocks across the Merukurrani cliffs, where you will be able to see glaciers, mountains, and rivers. The return journey takes you across the black sands of the Markarfljót Riverbed and past the Sóttarhellir Cave.
Time: 2-4 hours
Starting at the mouth of the canyon, follow the canyon for 2km between mossy cliff faces 100 meters above your head. The area is veined with many small rivers. You will negotiate these and enter the main ravine. Then, follow the narrow passage to reach the enchanting waterfall. This is your final destination.
Time: 3-4 hours
Take in the highlights of the stunning Thorsmork nature reserve, Iceland, with this ‘best of’ tour.
Cross through the Húsadalur Valleys and sample the foothills of the Tindfjöll Mountains before getting a taste of Iceland’s legendary Laugavegur trail on the return to your starting point.
Time: 5-6 hours
This is a steady full-day hike taking in the full challenges of the Thorsmork Valley. Start from the Langidalur Volcano Hut and trek up the steep slopes of the Tindfjöll Mountains.
Over the Stangarháls Ridge and down through the Krossá riverbed, you will experience the challenge of the Valahnúkur Mountain before heading through the forests and home again.
Multi-Day Trekking in Thorsmork
Thorsmork hiking has more to offer than just single-day jaunts. It is also a major hub for long-distance hiking. Two of Iceland’s most popular multi-day treks end here: the Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls routes.
All multi-day treks are challenging by nature and should not be attempted by those of limited fitness and mobility.
The most famous hike in Iceland, the Laugavegur, starts at Landmannalaugar and follows a 55km route across Iceland’s ever-changing landscape. It takes hikers through the Icelandic Highlands and typically lasts 3-5 days.
There are some volcano huts along the journey for you to take regular breaks during the night hours.
The Fimmvörðuháls trail takes you through the area where the famous Eyjafjallajökull eruption occurred in 2010. Expect no shortage of once-in-a-lifetime views and magical waterfalls.
Start at the dream-like Skógafoss waterfall and follow the 25km hike. It is demanding and can be done in a day, but many people choose to stretch this hike out over two or three days.
How to Get to Thorsmork
Thorsmork may only be 150km from Reykjavik, but it is in the deep wilderness. Ordinary cars and small 4x4s are unsuitable for making the journey due to the fast, deep rivers, particularly the Krossá.
Here are some options for how to get to Thorsmork:
Driving – Make sure you have a 4×4 with proper clearance. Follow the road and ford the rivers. River clearing experience is strongly recommended.
Bus – Take the bus from Reykjavik. It stops at a variety of well-known locations. The major bus companies are Trex and Reykjavik Excursions. Buses do not run in winter.
Guided Tour – Competition for guided tours is fierce, so you should not have too many problems finding a guided hiking tour. Prices vary, but it is possible to find tours from $50 per person.
What to Bring on a Hike in Thorsmork
- Layers. Moisture-wicking gear is essential as the weather can change quickly here.
- Sturdy hiking boots.
- Waterproof covers.
- Walking poles.
- Water bottles. You can refill at the fresh glacial streams.
- Battery packs for your phone and camera.
- Small first aid kit.
When to Hike in Thorsmork
Between October and April, the roads into Thorsmork are completely impassable. Unless you are an experienced winter survivalist, you must visit between May 1st and October 15th.
During the summer months, all huts, campsites, and other accommodations are booked well in advance. For this reason, the majority of people hop on a bus from Reykjavik and do not stay overnight.
Thorsmork Valley Attractions
Thorsmork Valley lies in the deep wilderness. It is primarily a hiking area, and there are limited facilities available here.
You will find only a single place to stay and eat, which is booked up months in advance. Volcano Huts offer private rooms, dormitories, camping spots, and meals.
This is why most people tend to only visit the valley on day trips.
Hiking in Thorsmork is on many a traveler’s bucket list. But, adventures in Iceland are expensive. Consider renting a camper van to cut down on your accommodation costs. Contact us today to find out more about renting camper vans in Iceland.