Hiking Route maps

This map shows hiking routes within Vatnajökull National Park. The hiking routes are color coded according to their level of difficulty. Green routes are generally short distance hiking routes, suitable for most people. Orange routes are harder and longer hiking routes that require the hiker to be in good physical shape and have some experience in hiking and mountaineering. Red routes mean that the route is either very hard or very long and should only be attempted be people in great physical shape with a lot of experience in hiking and mountaineering.

Vatnajökull National park is generally divided into 7 different regions


You can download hiking maps of Skaftafell area here

Scenic landscape, favorable weather conditions and a selection of hiking trails make Skaftafell an ideal destination for those who like to enjoy outdoor activities in Icelandic nature. Short and easy trails lead to waterfall Svartifoss and glacier Skaftafellsjökull, but for those who want to reach further out, the Morsárdalur valley and Kristínartindar mountain peaks are perfect in terms of distance and labour. Skaftafell is also the perfect base camp for those who seek to climb Iceland‘s highest mountain peak, Hvannadalshnjúkur.

Private travel companies operate in Skaftafell and offer guided hikes on the nearby glaciers and mountains. Also on offer are sightseeing flights over glacier Vatnajökull and other renowned attractions.

In 1967, Skaftafell National Park was established, but in 2008 it became a part of the newly established Vatnajökull National Park. To enjoy Skaftafell’s true value it is recommended to spend at least few days there, either staying at the camp site in Skaftafell or in a nearby accommodation.

For further information about this area go to the official website of Vatnajökull National park here


You can download hiking maps of the Snæfell/Lónsöræfi area here

The Snæfell Wilderness Area takes it name from Mt. Snæfell, which at 1,833 m is the highest mountain in Iceland that is not enclosed by glacier. West of Snæfell, the plain between the mountain and the foothills is about 800m high and is called Sandar.

A central volcano with magnificent rhyolite formations, Snæfell was created by eruptions over the last 400,000 years. Exactly when the last eruption occurred and whether the volcano is now active or extinct are matters of debate.

Some believe that Snæfell’s peak rose above the sheets of ice covering the island during the last glaciation of the Ice Age. That is when the hyaloclastite foothills surrounding the mountain were being formed through sub-glacial eruptions.

Sandar is a good place to spot large herds of reindeer, especially in late summer. Alpine vegetation reaches a long way up the Snæfell slopes, with glacier buttercup, Ranunculus glacialis, appearing frequently, while alpine whitlowgrass, Draba alpina, displays its yellow blooms mainly on the summits. Along the slopes, spring water emerges here and there and fosters bright green patches of the moss Philanotis fontana, which sharply contrast with the dark, unvegetated ground of the surroundings.

Snæfell hut, stands just west of the mountain itself. For reservations please call +354 470 0840 or contact snaefellsstofa@vjp.is


You can download hiking maps of the Ódáðahraun/Krepputunga area here

As part of an active volcanic zone, the highlands north of Vatnajökull are constantly being reshaped by earthquakes, volcanism, geothermal activity and the interplay of fire and ice.

The Ódáðahraun desert is notable for unusual geological formations, sands and broad lava fields that have been formed by various volcanic sources during different periods. With its spooky, barely passable lava outcrops, its chilly, dangerous glacial rivers and its treacherous outlaws, Ódáðahraun has long awakened fear among Icelanders. In the old days, people avoided the area, though that did not prevent them from telling memorable stories about natural and supernatural phenomena.

One of the most notable features in the highlands north of Vatnajökull is Askja, a central volcano located in the Dyngjufjöll mountains. Askja takes its name from a magma chamber that collapsed, resulting in a deep lake. It is also known for the explosion crater Víti which was formed in an eruption in 1875. Since then, several minor Askja eruptions have occurred: the first between 1922 and 1929, the latest at Vikraborgir in 1961.

Herðubreiðarlindir and Grafarlönd are oases created in the Ódáðahraun desert by springs flowing from under the lava fields and providing water for plants to prosper. Often called the Queen of Icelandic Mountains, Herðubreið is also considered to be Iceland’s national mountain. It is a volcanic table mountain which was created by repeated eruptions when the land was covered by ice up to 1,500 m thick during the last Ice Age glaciation.

The Kverkfjöll central volcano includes two calderas, both filled with glacial ice, and is divided into an eastern and western range of peaks by the outlet glacier Kverkjökull. In the western range, the valley of Hveradalur is a true meeting point of ice and fire, since it is one of Iceland’s most powerful high-temperature areas. In front of the glacier, the hyaloclastite hills of Kverkfjallarani were formed when eruptions occurred under the much more extensive ice of the last glaciation.

At Hvannalindir, water emerging from under a lava field produces a unique oasis in an otherwise quite unvegetated environment where lava has flowed over the land since the last glaciation.


All roads through the areas just north of Vatnajökull are classed as highland roads. While some of these are passable in a smaller 4WD, only a modified, higher 4WD can manage others. Note that some routes lead over large rocks or require slow manoeuvring between lava outcrops. The rivers may rise unexpectedly, becoming treacherous or impassable. Both road conditions and weather may change suddenly, so you should prepare for all possibilities and ask rangers for the latest information.


In summer, park rangers are based in Drekagil by Askja, Kverkfjöll and Hvannalindir. They provide information and education about the national park:

Ranger station Location (GPS coordinates) Phone number
N65° 02,514   W16° 35,691 +354 842 4357
N64° 44,850   W16° 37,890 +354842 4369
N64° 53,349   W16° 18,426 +354842 4368

Please note that neither food nor fuel can be bought in this area.


At Drekagil and Herðubreiðarlindir, the Akureyri Touring Club offers accommodation in huts and campgrounds, while the touring clubs of Fljótsdalshérað and Húsavík offer similar services at Kverkfjöll. No accommodation is available at Hvannalindir over the summer.


You can download a hiking map of the Laki/Eldgjá/Langisjór area here

The south-western part of Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður includes many well-known places, such as LakagígarEldgjá and Langisjór. The park contains areas of pristine wilderness and unique geological formations. These formations are due to volcanic eruptions on long fissures, forming surface features such as hyaloclastite ridges, crater rows, and gaping chasms. The area is also influenced by two glacial rivers, Skaftá and Tungnaá. All the land within the national park is highland, shaped by volcanic activity. It has been partially vegetated by vulnerable mosses. The aims of the protection order include helping visitors enjoy the area without damaging the volcanic feature or vegetation.

Access to the area

Driving is only allowed on the roads which are marked on the maps published by the Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður. Here, as elsewhere, driving off-road is totally banned by law. Its high altitude means that it is not accessible by normal vehicles except during summer and early autumn, see more details at The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration. 

The road to Laki crater (F206) leaves the main road (no. 1) by the farm Hunkubakkar, just south of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Eldgjá and Langisjór are reached by the mountain road Fjallabaksleið nyrðri (F 208), west of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. The road to Langisjór (F 235) turns off from F 208 about 3 km west of Eldgjá. All roads to the western part of the national park are mountain tracks, only navigable for vehicles with four-wheel-drive; some only for large jeeps. Some sections of road are rocky and full of potholes, and loose gravel is common. It is necessary to ford (drive through) mountain streams or even glacial rivers which can suddenly become swollen, making them difficult, or even impossible, to cross. For further information please contact our visitor centre Skaftárstofa.

Public transport

There are no regular trips to Laki and Eldgjá during the summer 2019.


The western part of the Vatnajökull National Park is influenced by four central Volcanoes and their fissures swarms. The volcano Katla lies to the southwest, below the Mýrdalsjökull ice cap, with the Eldgjá fissure running to the northeast. Grímsvötn, a central volcano in the Vatnajökull ice cap, sends a fissure system to the southwest where the Lakagígar crater row is. On the western rim of the Vatnajökull ice cap lies the volcano Hamarinn, which is probably connected to the hyaloclastite ridges between Langisjór and Tungnaá. Furthest to the north is Bárðarbunga which sends a fissure swarm southwest to the Veiðivötn lakes, all the way south to Torfajökull.


The ecosystem of the area is shaped by volcanic eruptions, high precipitation, and a relatively warm climate. Although the precipitation is high, the water quickly trickles away through the porous lava and pumice, so vascular plants with a root system have difficulty making use of it. The vegetation is, therefore, typically mosses and lichens which absorb the precipitation directly through leaves and thalli. The thick hummocks of fringe moss on Skaftáreldahraun lava are typical for the area. They prevent higher plants from growing, nowhere else in the country is moss as prevalent in nature as it is in the uplands of Skaftárhreppur district, where it forms 90% or more of the plant coverage.


You can download hiking maps of the Jökulsárgljúfur area here

Jökulsárgljúfur is the northernmost part of Vatnajökull National Park, with separate boundaries, but geographically connected to the rest of the park by the glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. The river’s source is in Vatnajökull glacier, near the subglacial volcano Bárdarbunga.

Jökulsárgljúfur literally transcribes as Glacial-River-Canyon. This canyon is 25 km long, 500 m wide and in many places 100-120 m deep, making it one of the deepest and most breath-taking canyons in Iceland. Jökulsárgljúfur is also known for its series of waterfalls: Selfoss, Dettifoss, Hafragilsfoss and Réttarfoss.

The park’s visitor centre is located in Ásbyrgi. A fairly large and developed campground can also be found in Ásbyrgi. A more primitive campground is located in Vesturdalur, which is midway between Dettifoss and Ásbyrgi.

Ásbyrgi can be visited any time of the year, although services may be limited during winter. Dettifoss and Vesturdalur are located at higher altitudes and therefore subject to snow cover and road conditions.

You can download hiking maps from this area in our pdf map section


You can download a hiking map of the Nýidalur/Vonarskarð/Tungnáröræfi area here

Welcome to the North-west Vatnajökull National Park which is influenced by four central volcanoes: Tungnafellsjökull in the northwest; Bárðarbunga in the northeast; Hamarinn in the south; and in the middle is the Vonarskarð volcano. The area is all highland and only about one tenth is vegetated. The main areas of continuous vegetation are at Tómasarhagi/Nýidalur (800 m a.s.l.) and Snapadalur in Vonarskarð (900 m a.s.l.).

Access to the area

Driving is only allowed on the roads which are marked on the maps published by the Vatnajökull National Park. Here, as elsewhere, driving off-road is totally banned by law. Since the highland soil is delicate, damage caused by off-road driving may take decades to heal. Should you witness any off-road driving, please report it to a ranger. In winter, however, vehicles may be driven over snow on frozen ground, both on and off roads. The high altitude of the area means that it is not accessible by normal vehicles except during summer and early autumn. See more details at The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration.

Visitors must also take every precaution before travelling to the area as all kinds of weather can be expected, even in July.

Nýidalur is located roughly in the middle of the Sprengisandur route (F 26) which connects north and south Iceland through the central highland. Its high altitude means that it is not accessible by normal vehicles except during summer and early autumn.

The Iceland Touring Association runs accommodation huts in Nýidalur. A ranger station is also located there, but that‘s about it. No fuel, food or other commodities are available in Nýidalur or anywhere nearby.

The ranger station is located at N64° 44.110′ – W018° 04.372′.

The ranger on duty can be reached at mobile number +354 8424377.


Hiking paths leads from Nýidalur to Vonarskarð. The northern end of Vonarskarð pass can be reached via a track trom Dyngjufjallaleið (F 910) west of Skjálfandafljót, ending at a car park by Gjósta. The southern end of the pass can be reached from a track which turns off Sprengisandsleið (F 26) at Skrokkalda by Hágöngulón, ending at a car park between Kolufell and Svarthöfði.


Access to Tungnaáröræfi is by the mountain road F 229 from Veiðivötn, or by a track from Sprengisandsleið (F 26) to Þórisós.

Public transport

From end of June to 31st of August scheduled buses drives road F 26 via Hrauneyjar and Nýidalur.

There are no regular trips to Tungnaáröræfi.

Jökulsárlón – Hornafjörður

You can download hiking maps of the Jökulsárlón/Hornafjörður area here

A paved road leads to Hoffell farm, only 3 km from Road 1. A gravel track continues the short distance to Hoffellsjökull glacier. A 4×4 vehicle is recommended but not always necessary.

Hjallanes and the Heinaberg area are located between Skaftafell and Höfn. To visit Hjallanes, turn off road nr. 1 towards Skálafell.

To visit the Heinaberg area, use the following instructions:

When traveling on road number 1, the Ring road, from west to east, turn left 1,5 km after you cross the bridge over river Kolgríma. Or when traveling from east to west, turn right about 3 km after you pass the farm Flatey. The road leading to the Heinaberg area is indicated with a couple of signs: one saying „Heinabergsjökull“, the other one „Heinaberg“.

The road to the Heinaberg area is a gravel road, passable for most vehicles (low clearance sports cars being the main exception).  But it‘s made out of gravel so it‘s best to be careful and limit the speed. The road leads to a car park in front of Heinabergsjökull glacier, where you will also find a dry toilet which you are welcome to use.

Another option is to turn right onto a sideroad, shortly before you reach the car park at Heinabergsjökull. The sideroad will take you to car parks at Heinaberg (remains of an old farm), Heinar (a small mound characterised by basalt columns) and Bólstaðafoss (a small waterfall in beautiful surroundings).

Hiking in the area

The Hjallanes loop is a hiking route which goes from the farm Skálafell towards Skálafellsjökull glacier and back to Skálafell. Hjallanes is within the boundaries of Vatnajökull National Park; a remarkable area due to both glaciology and plants. The loop is about 8 km so estimate 3-4 hours for the hike.

Information and educational signs are to be found at the end of the gravel road which leads to Hoffellsjökull. From there, marked hiking paths lead into the Hoffellsfjöll mountains, which give the opportunity of a 30 minute hike, a 2 hour hike and a 4-5 hour hike. The first two are loops but the third one extends from the longer loop towards the peak of Geitafell. All of these paths are waymarked, although the last one only has markings up to 500 m, after that hikers follow a ridge which should be easy to find. There are also longer paths in the area, which remain unmarked.

There are no marked trails on the eastern side of Jökulsárlón. However, one end of the Breiðármörk trail can be found on the western side. The Breiðármörk trail lies between the glacial lakes Fjallsárlón and Jökulsárlón. It was originally made as a cooperative between Visit Vatnajökull, Hornafjörður municipality, South East Iceland Nature Research Center and Vatnajökull National Park, with help from Friends of Vatnajökull. Further information can be found on the hiking map: Breiðármörk – Hiking map.

You can also browse our tips and tours section here or visit our specially selected collections of blog articles, tips and tours for each part of the country below. We recommend only the best!

Click here for our Vatnajökull travel tips and tours