Travel search
Can't find it? Try searching for it :)

The Highland

The Highland

Iceland’s highlands are spectacular, incomparable and well worth a visit. The terrain is as rugged as it is breathtaking. Guided tours are available but should you prefer to undertake a trip to the area on your own, certain preparations and precautions should be taken. Keep abreast of weather forecasts and road conditions. Ascertain your vehicle is adequate for the task, well maintained and that all emergency equipment is functional; a four-wheel drive utility vehicle is recommended.  Dress warmly and pack extra clothing. Ensure your cell phone is fully charged and consider other means of radio communication. Carry the most current road maps and inform others of your projected route and destination. With proper planning, a highland trek can be a memorable and exhilarating experience.

Blahnukur in Landmannalaugar

The very most popular mountain in the Landmannalaugar-region to walk on top on. It´s a 945 m. above sea-level wiewpoint, with a horizont-disc on the top.

Domadalur

A valley at the west side of lava Dómadalshraun. It has a small lake with brown-trout in it. F225, Dómadalsleið lies through it. Supposingly this was the meeting-point for people from two counties in the flatland, where strong rivers separated them (dómur=judgement).

Dynkur in Thjorsa river

Dynkur in Thjorsa river The waterfalls Hrauneyjarfoss and the sometimes turquoise coloured Sigjaldafoss are both easy to reach. It is also a good idea to drive and see the majestic waterfall Dynkur in the River Thjórsá. The road is signed but it is only suitable for jeeps and off-road vehicles. It is also an excellent trip to drive down to the waterfall Fagrifoss in the Kaldakvísl canyon on the way. There are also many other waterfalls to visit in the waterfilled flowing region.

Hrafntinnusker

Hrafntinnusker in Torfajökull glacier is place you have to look at. The English name of this 1128 m high mountain is The Obsidian Skerry. It is situated some distance east of the infamous volcano Hekla. It is accessible by 4wd vehicles from the north and south

Kerlingarfjöll Mountains

The mountain massif Kerlingarfjöll (The Giantess Mountains; 800 - 1500 m) is the main ornament in the chain of mountains and glaciers framing the Kjölur area. It covers about 150 km² area southeast of The Temple Glacier (Hofsjökull) It derives its name from a single, 25 m high and dark hyaloclastite pillar protruding from the light colored, rhyolite scree of the peak Kerlingartindur. The aforementioned types of rock represent the main structure of the mountain massif and this yellowish tint is the dominant color in the area.
The area is full of small steaming hot springs, mudpools and water fountains. It is truly a hikers paradise. It is one of the largest geothermal areas in all of Europe and there are future plans to construct a large geothermal steam plant here for electricity to harness the massive amounts of energy stored here. The area is very unique, sensitive and beautiful - why such a decision may be controversial if proper conservational steps are not taken when doing so.
It is recommended to use 4wd vehicles because of the various and changing condition of the tracks and unbridged rivers, which have to be forded with the greatest of care. It is also recommended that people read the special brochure on driving in the interior before heading up there and remember, that off road driving is strictly forbidden. Many of those who have visited the interior catch the bug and the only remedy is to come back again and again. It is like an incurable disease. Travelling across the interior was common during the Saga period, but after that up to the middle of the 18th century, superstition kept people away. Nowadays - more and more people enjoy this part of the country the whole year round.
The small glacier patches up there have been retreating fast and now the summer skiing school, which was operated for decades, exists no more. Its complex of houses is now being used to accommodate travelers in the area during the summer months.

The small glacier patches up there have been retreating fast and now the summer skiing school, which was operated for decades, exists no more. Its complex of houses is now being used to accommodate travelers in the area during the summer months.

Lakagigar and Laki

Lakagígar is a row of craters, formed in one of the world's largest mixed eruptions in recorded history. This continuous series of eruptions emitted a vast quantity of lava and substantial amounts of volcanic ash from a fissure stretching 25 km across the area west of the ice cap. The craters are regarded as a globally unique phenomenon and are as such a protected natural monument.

In 1783, a huge lava flow streamed from Lakagígar in what became known as the "Skaftá Fires." This is believed to have been one of the greatest lava flows in a single eruption in the history of the world: the molten lava filled the gorges through which the Skaftá and Hverfisfljót rivers flowed, and swept down in two branches into inhabited areas, to spread over the lowlands where it laid waste many farms. The eruption produced large quantities of volcanic ash. For residents of the region, and Iceland as a whole, the results of the eruption were catastrophic: this time is known as "Móðuharðindin" (the Haze Famine).

Landmannalaugar - Nature Reserve

The Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Peaceland between the mountains
The pearl of the central highlands, Landmannalaugar, and its surroundings are too colorful and magnificent to describe with words.

Langisjor Lake

Langisjór is a lake that's 20 km long and 2 km wide in some places. The lake is to the southwest of Vatnajökull, between the mountains Tungnárfjöll and Fögrufjöll, in a beautiful and picturesque landscape. Its square measure is 27 km², it reaches a depth of 75 m and the water surface is 670 m above sea level.

Lónsöræfi

The Stafafellsfjöll mountains dominate the skyline east of Vatnajökull glacier and have long included one of Iceland's most extensive protected areas, known as Lónsöræfi. Besides the deep, rugged canyons, the landscape displays a wide range of colours due to rhyolite and other attractive rocks. In contrast, there are lushly vegetated, sheltered valleys, and a good chance of spotting reindeer. Numerous trails make this a perfect hiking territory.

Ofaerufoss - Nyrdri Ofaera river

Ófærufoss is an extremely beautiful waterfall in the river Nyrðri-Ófæra and falls into Eldgjá in two cascades. There used to be a stone arch across the lower one up until the year 1993, when it fell into the river during spring thawing. From Northern Fjallabaksleið it is possible to drive into Eldgjá and walk from there to the Ófærufoss. A road lies up to the eastern edge of Eldgjá. To get there, one needs to cross the river Nyrðri-Ófæra at a wading place, which can be risky. It is safe to recommend a walk up the mountain Gjátindur, from where there is magnificent view of Eldgjá, mountains by Langisjór and Lakagígur and its surroundings.

Ófærufoss falls into Eldgjá in Skaftártunguafréttur. Eldgjá is an approx. 40 km long eruptive fissure, approx. 600 meters wide in many places, and up to 200 meters deep. When it was formed, probably around 934, there were likely eruptions along the whole extent of it. The fissure is believed to reach under Mýrdalsjökull glacier. From Eldgjá, extensive streams of lava have flowed through Landbrot and Meðalland, reaching sea at Alviðruhamrar in Álftaver. The lava-field is believed to cover 700 km², which makes it one of the vastest lava-fields on earth in historical times, that is, after the last ice age.

Eldgjá is believed to belong to the same crater system as Katla. Eldgjá is a unique natural phenomenon and is listed as natural remnants. Plans to make Eldgjá and its surrounding area a part of Vatnajökull National Park are in place.
Theories have surfaced that suggest that the Eldgjá eruptions had even more effect in Europe then the Lakagígar eruptions. According to newly discovered evidence, crop failure, plagues and other disasters occurred in both Europe and the Middle East at that time. It has also been speculated that these eruptions caused more damage than the eruptions of Lakagígar.

Vatnajökull National Park

Vatnajökull National Park, established in 2008, encompasses not only all of Vatnajökull glacier but also extensive surrounding areas. These include the national parks previously existing at Skaftafell in the southwest and Jökulsárgljúfur in the north, so that today's national park covers 13% of Iceland and ranks as Europe's second largest.
In general, national parks are protected areas which are considered unique because of their nature or cultural heritage. The unique qualities of Vatnajökull National Park are primarily its great variety of landscape features, created by the combined forces of rivers, glacial ice, and volcanic and geothermal activity.

Description
Vatnajökull is Europe's largest glacier, with a surface area of around 8,100 km2. Generally measuring 400-600 m in thickness and at the most 950 m, the glacial ice conceals a number of mountains, valleys and plateaus. It even hides some active central volcanoes, of which Bárðarbunga is the largest and Grímsvötn the most active. While the icecap rises at its highest to over 2,000 m above sea level, the glacier base reaches its lowest point 300 m below sea level. Nowhere in Iceland, with the exception of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, does more precipitation fall or more water drain to the sea than on the south side of Vatnajökull. In fact, so much water is currently stored in Vatnajökull that the Icelandic river with the greatest flow, Ölfusá, would need over 200 years to carry this quantity of water to sea.

The south side of Vatnajökull is characterised by many high, majestic mountain ridges, with outlet glaciers descending between them onto the lowlands. The southernmost part of the glacier envelops the central volcano Öræfajökull and Iceland's highest peak, Hvannadalshnúkur. Sheltered by the high ice, the vegetated oasis of Skaftafell overlooks the black sands deposited to its west by the river Skeiðará. These sands are mostly composed of ash which stems from the frequent eruptions at Grímsvötn and is brought to the coast by jökulhlaups, or glacial floods. Substantial volcanic activity also characterises the landscape west of Vatnajökull, where two of the world's greatest fissure and lava eruptions of historical times occurred, at Eldgjá in 934 and Lakagígar 1783-1784. Vonarskarð, northwest of the glacier, is a colourful high-temperature area and a watershed between North and South Iceland.

Preservation objectives
The objectives of designating Vatnajökull as a preservation area, along with the main regions it affects, are the following:
• To protect the nature of the region, including the landscape, biota and geological formations, as well as cultural features
• To allow the public to get to know and enjoy regional nature, culture and history
• To provide education on nature and nature conservation and on regional history, society and cultural features, as well as encouraging research to gain greater knowledge of these aspects
• To strengthen communities and business activity in the vicinity of the park.

Visitor centres and other tourist information offices working with the park
Visitor centres and other tourist information offices working with the park provide information and services for the park and its immediate environs. The following offices operate along the south coast of Iceland:
Skaftá Visitor Centre | Kirkjubæjarklaustur | open in summer
Skaftafell Visitor Centre | Skaftafell | open all year*
Skálafell farm | Suðursveit | varying hours - all year
Hólmur farm | Mýrar | varying hours - all year
Hoffell farm | Nes | varying hours - all year
Höfn Tourist Information Centre | Höfn | open in summer
* Closed on December 25 and January 1.

South Iceland

Towns & Villages

The south of Iceland has several towns and villages, each with its own style, charm and points of interest. Selfoss is the largest town and has a variety of shops, services, many restaurants and fast food places. Most towns are close to the main route, making them accessible and enjoyable.

Explore map by categories

Map Höfn Kirkjubæjarklaustur Vík Vestmannaeyjar Hvolsvöllur Flúðir Laugarvatn Reykholt Laugarás Borg Brautarholt Hveragerði Árnes Selfoss Hella Stokkseyri Eyrarbakki Þykkvibær Þórlákshöfn