The Highlands of Iceland beckon with otherworldly landscapes, powerful volcanoes, meandering rivers, and glacier mountains. Accessible from the north, south, east, and west, this is a region for adventurous spirits – travelers that wish to stray off the beaten path and tread where few have gone before.
The rhyolite mountains of Kerlingarfjöll in the central Highlands are hemmed between the giant glaciers of Hofsjökull, and Langjökull. Beneath them you’ll discover meandering rivers and undefined hiking trails – steamy mist often lingers in the valley, curating a mystical ambience.
Hveravillir Nature Reserve is nearby on the north to south Highland route. The reserve offers abundant outdoor activities and awe-inspiring scenery. Spend time hiking through lava fields amidst steaming fumaroles, ride an Icelandic horse in the foothills, or enjoy a private show of the Aurora Borealis while relaxing in a warm geothermal pool.
In the vast Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Landmannalaugar is a major draw for outdoor enthusiasts. In this remote oasis, dreamy landscapes are sculpted by volcanoes and lava fields, and wildflowers converge beside glacial rivers, lakes, and waterfalls. A short drive to the west, you’ll discover one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Hekla – known by the ancients as the “Gateway to Hell”.
Unbeknown to many, the lunar landscapes of Askja in Vatnajökull National Park were once a training ground for astronauts. The land is punctuated by a series of calderas and sunken craters and visitors can trek to the azure blue lake – the deepest in Iceland.
Þórsmörk – Valley of Thor, in the southern Highlands is straight from a movie set – a diverse mix of mountains, complex river networks, glaciers, and forests. Here, Eyjafjallajökull volcano simmers and Icelandic horses roam the terrain. It’s a haven for adventurers and close to the famous Skógafoss waterfall. Visitors can walk to the base of the waterfall, sensing the spray mist as thundering cascades plummet into the pool below.