The Highlands of Iceland

Nordical Travel, last updated: July 14, 2021

The Iceland highlands are a vast landscape of unspeakable natural beauty. From the steaming vents and rhyolite, rainbow mountains in Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaugar, the volcanic craters of Víti and Askja, to the spectacular and atmospheric glacial valley of Þórsmörk.

The Iceland highlands invite you to take a step back in time to Iceland’s turbulent, volcanic past. You will witness the result of natural forces both cooperating and colliding to shape some of the most eye-watering beautiful backdrops on the planet, where you will truly feel that you are walking amongst the gods.

Iceland can often feel like a completely different planet with its alien landscapes and basalt deserts. This wild, raw and unforgiving environment has carved out some of the most exquisite mountain ranges, valleys, and gorges.

It is, therefore, no wonder that the Icelandic highlands are a hiker’s paradise. Trekkers from all over the world flock to this region every summer and head off into the wild in search of adventure. The most popular highland trek is the Laugavegur trail that stretches from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk.

This takes anything from 3-6 days, depending on what kind of pace you want to set. There is even the opportunity to run the route in the summer for a trail-running experience like no other.

Iceland’s highlands are also a beloved playground for local petrol-heads to take their jeeps and traverse the mountain roads, also a popular activity for visitors to Iceland who want the express route on four wheels, rather than two legs. In the later months, you can take cross-country skiing expeditions as the landscape puts on its winter coat.

It is here you will find Europe’s two largest ice caps, Langjökull in Kaldidalur valley and the colossal Vatnajökull in Vatnajökull National Park. You will also find Hofsjökull, whose scale is also not to be sniffed at, especially as this is one of the largest volcanoes in Iceland.

Don’t let this region fool you. It may look vast and motionless, but below the surface, there are rumblings and signs of things to come. Iceland is constantly moving, groaning, and breathing, making it one of the most wonderfully volatile islands on the planet, and the highlands of Iceland and their breath-taking palettes merely mask the shifting, brewing activity in the deep earth.

You may not have the highlands on your bucket list for the first trip, but we strongly recommend that you add the Icelandic highlands to your further adventures, because within the magical mountainshills, plains, valleys, canyons, gorges, and craters lie a whole host of treasures!

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