Table of Contents
Hiking is a favorite Icelandic experience for many of our visitors. Guests can enjoy easy paths perfect for families or more advanced treks with elevation gain. South Iceland is a beautiful area with fantastic views of the south coast, cascading waterfalls, tumbling rivers and more. Below, we created our list of the best hikes in south Iceland. Keep reading to learn more.
The weather in Iceland is unpredictable, so all hikers should bring warm clothes, rain gear and good shoes. It is also a good idea to bring a water bottle and some snacks. We recommend that you tell our receptionists about your hiking plans. You can also record your hiking plan on safetravel.is.
East-Rangá River Walk
Distance: Varies by route
Walking time: As you like
Trail: The closest hiking near Hotel Rangá is just outside our back door. If you look behind Hotel Rangá, you will see the lovely Rangá River. Guests at Hotel Rangá are able to walk beside the river, which offers great views and interesting birdlife. This walk is a wonderful option for families. We always tell our guests that they can walk as far as they like. If you should come to a gate, you are welcome to walk through it. However, we ask that you please close the gate behind you.
The Rangá River is actually one of the best salmon rivers in all of Iceland. As you walk along the river, you might even see someone land a catch! As you are walking, be sure to look towards the northeast. You will see three distinct mountains. Hekla is an active volcano appears to have one distinct peak which is covered in snow. Eyjafjallajökull volcano-glacier is also snow-covered but seems to sprawl, stretching across the horizon. Þríhyrningur is an extinct volcano that offers guests a more advanced hike to its summit.
Directions: Walk outside Hotel Rangá to the Rangá River. You can walk in either direction for as long as you wish.
Best Hikes in South Iceland: Þríhyrningur
Distance: 7 km / 4.3 mi
Elevation: 500 meters
Walking time: 3 hours
The trail: If you stand in front of Hotel Rangá and look towards the northeast, you will see a mountain in the distance. This is Þríhyrningur, an ancient volcano that has long been extinct. The Icelandic word Þríhyrningur actually means triangle. In fact, the mountain’s distinct three points are said to resemble that very shape.
There is a well-established trail from the base of the mountain to its peak. On a clear day, the view from the summit is incredible. You will see excellent views of the south coast all the way to the sea. The hike to the top of the mountain is moderate though quite steep at some points. The trail can be covered in small stones and loose gravel. On dry days be sure to watch your footing – these loose stones can be unstable.
Directions: From Hotel Rangá, drive east towards the town of Hvolsvöllur and turn left on road 261 towards Fljótshlið. Drive until you reach the forest Tumastaðir and turn left. Follow this road until you reach the river Fiská. At this point, you should see a sign and a picnic table which indicates the trailhead. Walk towards the mountain through the field behind; you will climb over a small fence to reach the trail.
Tumastaðir Forest Path
Distance: Varies by route
Walking time: As you like
Trail: If you are looking for leisurely hiking near Hotel Rangá, we recommend that you visit the forest Tumastaðir. Most of these beautiful pine trees were planted in the 1940s – 1950s. There are many paths winding around the forest. Most visitors choose to walk the paths, but you are also able to mountain bike amongst the trees.
The forest is a lovely spot to relax and enjoy a picnic. In fact, there are several picnic tables where you can rest and enjoy the natural beauty. Small streams flow beside the forest paths, which create a relaxing atmosphere. Beloved by locals, Tumastaðir is a truly wonderful place to explore.
Directions: From Hotel Rangá, drive east towards the town of Hvolsvöllur. Take a left and drive down road 261 until you see the sign for the forest Tumastaðir. Take a left and drive until you reach a parking area with some picnic tables. There are several different paths you can take throughout the forest, though all will lead you back to the parking area.
Best Hikes in South Iceland: Stóri Dímon
Distance: 1 km / .6 mi
Elevation: 178 meters / 584 feet
Walking time: 30-40 minutes
Trail: Stóri Dímon is a small but mighty mountain which offers incredible views over the valley of Fljótslið. Stóri Dímon actually has a smaller sister mountain called Litli Dímon. The names Stóri Dímon and Litli Dímon are believed to derive from Latin and mean two mountains. However, some people suggest that the word means haystack, as the mountains can resemble haystacks from the right angle.
The history of this little mountain is rather interesting. In fact, battles were fought near Stóri Dímon during the settlement of Iceland. Stories of these ancient conflicts are told in the most famous of Icelandic sagas, Njálssaga. The trail up the mountain is very steep but a shorter hike. Depending on your speed, you can reach the top in anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes.
Directions: From Hotel Rangá, drive east on road 1. Take a left on road 261 towards Fljótshlíð. Drive about 17 km / 10.5 mi until you have just passed the waterfall Gluggafoss. Then, take a right on road 250. You will see Stóri Dímon rising above the relatively flat valley. You can park at its base where you will see a sign that tells about the history of the area.
Gluggafoss Waterfall in Fljótshlíð
Distance: 1 km
Walking time: 20 minutes
Trail: Gluggafoss is a beautiful waterfall in the valley of Fljótshlið. The word Gluggafoss means “window waterfall” in Icelandic. The waterfall gets this name from the way the water pours in between crevices in the rock, almost as if it is pouring through a window.
Gluggafoss has both an upper and lower falls, and visitors are able to walk up to see both levels. We highly recommend that you walk up to the higher falls. The close up view of the pounding water is incredibly refreshing. You can access the path on the left side of the falls. Visitors are also able to climb higher above the falls on the right side. This path is less established and quite steep, but it offers wonderful views of the valley below.
Directions: From Hotel Rangá, drive east on road 1 towards Hvolsvöllur. Turn left on road 261 towards Fljótshlið. Drive approximately 17 km. You will see Gluggafoss on the left. There is a small parking area.
Þórólfsfell in Fljótshlíð
Distance: 6.5 km / 4 mi
Elevation: 500 meters / 1640 feet
Walking time: 4-5 hours
Trail: If you are looking for more strenuous hiking near Hotel Rangá, we recommend the mountain Þórólfsfell. From the top of Þórólfsfell you can see amazing views of the Fljótshlið valley, the Icelandic highlands and the three glaciers Tindjallajökull, Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull.
This path is an intermediate level. The walk itself is not so difficult, but it can take quite a long time to reach the mountain’s summit. As you hike, the path becomes less well-established. Once you enter the main path, you will notice that the elevation gain is very gradual. On the summit, there is a permanent marker from Landmæling Íslands dating back to 1958.
Directions: From Hotel Rangá, drive east towards Hvolsvöllur. Turn left on road 261 towards Fljótshlið. Drive approximately 30 km / 18.6 mi and park beside the house in Felli. Walk along the river into Þórólfsgljúfrid along sheep tracks. The route is up a rocky ridge near the edge of a ravine. From there, you will gradually ascend the mountain until you reach its summit.
Beginning of Fimmvörðuháls
Distance: Varies by route
Elevation: Varies by route
Walking time: Varies by route
Trail: The Fimmvörðuháls trail is one of the toughest yet best hikes in south Iceland. It is notorious for its ever-changing weather conditions which can make the trail quite dangerous. The entire route will take approximately 8-12 hours. In fact, some people choose to complete the trail over two days. If you wish to complete the entire trek, we strongly recommend that you join a guided hike. We can assist you to book this tour in our reception.
If you want to get a taste of this beautiful trail, we have a suggestion. Instead of completing the entire hike, you can start the hike but turn back after 30 minutes up to two hours. This part of the trail is somewhat strenuous, but not as dangerous as the full trek. You will pass incredible waterfalls and see wonderful views of the south coast.
Directions: From Hotel Rangá, drive east on road 1. Keep driving about 54 km / 33.5 mi until you reach Skógafoss waterfall which you will see from the road. Turn left and park in the parking lot just beside the falls. To access the trailhead, you will climb the staircase located beside Skógafoss and see the path that continues from that point.
Ytri-Rangá Path in Hella
Distance: 3 km / 1.8 mi
Walking time: 1 hour
Trail: For relaxing hiking near Hotel Rangá, try the Ytri-Rangá riverside path. This is an easy but beautiful walking route starting from the town of Hella. The path meanders for several kilometers just beside the stunning Ytri-Rangá River. It is easiest to access the path from a public park near the center of town. Many locals use this trail for a leisurely stroll with their dogs. In the summertime, this path offers lovely views of many different kinds of birds.
If you head south, you can walk all the way to Ægissíðufoss waterfall. This route is about 3-4 km / 2 mi each way. You will walk alongside the riverbank and see charming views of the Rangá River. If you choose to walk north, you will encounter more stunning views of the river and the distant Eyjafjallajökull glacier. The route is quite flat in either direction.
Directions: From Hotel Rangá drive west on road 1. At the roundabout, turn right to enter the town of Hella. Take a left and follow the road until you shortly approach a grassy expanse on the left. You will see the river and can access the trail at this point.
Reykjadalur Hot Springs in Hveragerði
Distance: 8 km / 5 mi
Elevation: 347 meters / 1138 feet
Walking time: 2 – 3 hours
Trail: If you are looking for a truly unique experience, we recommend the Reykjadalur path just outside Hveragerði. This hike takes you through an active geothermal area filled with hot springs, bubbling pools of hot mud and clouds of steam. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit! At the end of the hike, you will find a hot river where you can sit and soak. There are only rustic changing facilities, so we recommend that you wear your bathing suit underneath your clothes.
The hike to the Reykjadalur hot springs is uphill and most appropriate for intermediate hikers. The hike takes about 2 – 3 hours depending on your pace. Please do pay attention to signs alongside the trail. Some of the geothermal areas contain water that is too hot to touch. The hot river itself is the perfect soaking temperature at about 36 – 40 °C.
Directions: From Hotel Rangá drive west on road 1. Drive approximately 57 km until you reach the town of Hveragerði. Enter the town via the roundabout and drive straight until you reach a football field on your left. Turn left and follow the road until you reach the parking lot. There are bathrooms and a small restaurant just beside the parking area.