Fimmvörðuháls Hike: All About This Icelandic Classic

By Natascha Langelaan

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Fimmvörðuháls Hike: All About This Icelandic Classic
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Fimmvörðuháls. Difficult to pronounce and also quite difficult to walk. However, both the pronunciation and the hiking are definitely worth it. Together with the Laugavegur Trail, the Fimmvörðuháls hike is one of the most legendary hikes in Iceland. This is one of the most popular hikes in Iceland, but possibly also one of the most dangerous, due to the rapid changes in weather that can occur in any season. While it can be calm and sunny in the lowlands of Skógar and Þórsmörk, the weather at the top of the route (approx. 1000 meters above sea level, the highest point of the route) can be harsh.

What Is Fimmvörðuháls and Where in Iceland Is It?

Of the many hiking trails in Iceland, the Fimmvörðuháls hike, also called the Fimm hike, is one of the best day hikes. It is located in the southwest - one of the busiest tourist regions in Iceland - but only a few travelers complete the entire hike. The highlight of this hike is the opportunity to walk through a wide variety of landscapes in one day, or rather two days: starting at the ocean, past 26 waterfalls to tundra grasslands, then across a volcanic plateau where some of the world's most recent volcanic activity has taken place.

Fimmvörðuháls, pronounced as Fimveurdihols, is the area between the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull in southern Iceland. The route between Skógar and Thórsmörk runs through this pass and is one of the most popular hiking routes in Iceland, despite its length of 22 kilometers and 1,000-meter climb. The hike is also popular in combination with the Laugavegur Trail. On March 20, 2010, an eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano began in Fimmvörðuháls. Just over a week later, the Fimmvörðuháls eruption caused a 300-meter long gap and new craters were seen erupting on a northward path. The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, which paralyzed air traffic across northern and western Europe, followed not much later. But don't worry, it has been quiet since then.

From Reykjavik, it is a two-and-a-half-hour drive to the Skógar waterfall, from where the hike begins. If you want to hike the Fimm hike during the day, you will need to start early, as this is a long day hike and you don't want to finish too late in the evening. The route ends in Þórsmörk (named after the Norse god Thor), a part of the river valley that can be reached by road from the ring road and where there are places to stay overnight and camp. The road follows the river valley back to the Ring Road (1 hour's drive) on a bumpy gravel road with several river fords. Note: Do not attempt this on your own. Keep reading to find out more about the buses that run to Skógar.

What Is Fimmvörðuháls and Where in Iceland Is It?

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Where to Find a Fimmvörðuháls TrailMap?

Every experienced hiker will agree that there is no better map than a real old-fashioned map, possibly made of paper. It is best to buy one in Reykjavik. You can get a map of the Fimmvörðuháls hike in any bookstore in town.

In Which Direction Do I Hike the Fimmvörðuháls?

The route can be started either in Skógar or Þórsmörk. It is fair to say that almost all Icelanders who hike the Fimmvörðuháls hike take the route from south to north, from Skógar to Þórsmörk. In general, the route from Skógar is easier, as the ascent is more gradual. In addition, all the beautiful waterfalls in the Skógá river are in front of you the whole way. On the descent, the view of Þórsmörk is indescribable, something you must see with your own eyes.

Not sure yet or want to discuss your plans for the Fimmvörðuháls Hike with one of our trekking experts? Get in touch today and turn your dreams into memories!

How Do I Get From Reykjavik to Fimmvörðuháls? And Back?

The best way to get to Skógar, the starting point of the Fimmvörðuháls hike, is by bus. There are two companies that sell tickets for their adventurous bus ride. Adventurous? Yes, it's definitely not a city bus ride. To get to Skógar, you follow gravel roads and finally cross a river. The bus is of course well equipped for this. You can contact our trekking experts and book the cabins and your bus ticket in one go.

How Do I Get From Reykjavik to Fimmvörðuháls? And Back?

Where Do I Spend the Night on the Fimmvörðuháls Hike?

On the Fimmvörðuháls trail, you will spend the night in huts or put up your tent next to one. Please note that it is absolutely forbidden to place your tent outside the designated areas inside the nature reserve. All the huts along the route have camping areas. Two huts are on the trail. One is Baldvinsskáli, which is located at the top of the main trail. It is owned by Ferðafélag Íslands (Iceland Touring Association, FÍ). The hut has sleeping bag accommodation for 20 people. The other hut is located northwest of the main trail. It is owned by the touring club Útivist and is called Fimmvörðuskáli. Þórsmörk offers a large and spacious chalet with room for 75 people.

The cabins along the most popular hiking routes are very popular, so it is essential for hikers to book their accommodation in advance. Please note that there is little choice on the Fimmvörðuháls. A reservation is therefore a must. Our trekking experts specialize in booking cabins at the most beautiful hiking destinations in Europe. They will be happy to help you make booking a hut on the Fimmvörðuháls trail a piece of cake.

Where Do I Spend the Night on the Fimmvörðuháls Hike?

Did you know that we can book all huts and refuges for the Fimmvörðuháls Hike for you? Check out all our options here.

What Is Life Like in an Icelandic Hut?

If you stay in an Icelandic hut, you must bring your own sleeping bag, as no sleeping bags or blankets are provided. The huts are warm, so the sleeping bag does not have to be of Arctic quality. In the larger huts, you can expect both running water and water toilets, but in some smaller huts, you will have to fetch water from a nearby stream and use a latrine or outdoor toilet. Please note that it is not possible to buy hot, ready-made meals in most Icelandic huts. You will therefore have to bring your own food while hiking in Iceland. The exception to this is the huts along the popular Laugavegur walking route. There, all huts sell some supplies, such as dried food for backpacking, soft drinks, and bars, as well as cookers and gas. Only in Langadal in Þórsmörk is it possible to buy beer and wine.

Moreover, in all, except the largest huts, you cannot leave any waste or rubbish behind but have to take it back to the lowlands. You can camp near the huts for a camping fee, but campers have to bring their own cooker and kitchenware because they cannot use the kitchen facilities in the huts.

Hygiene, cleanliness, and consideration for fellow travelers are very important. The aim of these simple hut rules is to ensure a comfortable stay for hikers and other travelers.

Hut rules

  • If the manager is available, please discuss your reservation with him/her, where to sleep, and specific hut rules
  • Rest times are from midnight to seven o'clock the next morning
  • No shoes in the hut. Please leave your hiking boots in the hallway
  • Smoking in the huts is strictly forbidden
  • Leave the cooking area clean and tidy
  • Add water to the big pot on the kitchen cooker, if necessary
  • When leaving, make sure the hut is clean and tidy
  • Don't forget to pay for the accommodation and facilities
  • Help to keep the environment clean by not leaving your rubbish behind

You hike in Iceland to experience nature. Remember: Clean environment = beautiful nature!

Laugavegur Trail Huts' Price List

Check the price list below to get an approximate idea of what you can buy in the huts and what it costs. Please note that the prices are in Icelandic Kronor (IKR).

Laugavegur Trail Huts' Price List

Day Program for the Fimmvörðuháls Trek

You can walk the Fimmvörðuháls in one day or split the trek into two days. You can then, for example, spend the night in Fimmvörðuháls hut and make it a real hut trek.

Day
1

Arrival in Reykjavik

Today you will have to make your way to Reykjavik. Here, you will spend the night in a hotel or B&B, preparing for your Laugavegur Trail adventure.

Hotel Frón

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Hotel Frón
Day
2

Fimmvörðuskáli Hut / Baldvinsskáli Hut

Duration: 05:00 h
Distance: 14.5 km
Ascent: 980 m
Descent: 20 m

The hike starts with climbing up the stairs on the left side of the waterfall Skógafoss. When you walk up the first hill, the path is very clear and lies on the east side of the Skógá River. Make sure you don't miss the spectacular waterfalls you have in front of you on the way up. When you reach the bridge over the river Skógá, you have walked about eight kilometers.

From the bridge, most hikers choose to walk up the gravel road to Baldvinsskáli hut, just over four kilometers. Alternatively, you can hike along a marked path to the west (left) of the gravel road (Landnorðurstungur) to the other hut, Fimmvörðuskáli, a distance of just under seven kilometers.

In Baldvinsskáli you can find an outhouse and facilities to eat your provisions. There is no drinking water.

Baldvinsskáli

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Baldvinsskáli
Day
3

Fimmvörðuskáli Hut / Baldvinsskáli Hut - Þórsmörk

Duration: 05:30 h
Distance: 15.3 km
Ascent: 160 m
Descent: 940 m

From Baldvinsskáli, the path across the Fimmvörðuháls itself is largely covered with snow, but it is marked with posts. The path becomes clearer and clearer in late summer when more people have walked through it. After walking about three kilometers, you come to the lava field (Goðahraun) that was created during the volcanic eruption in spring 2010. During the same eruptions, the mountains Magni and Móði were formed. It is highly recommended that you hike to their summits. An information board about the eruption stands next to the mountains.

Shortly after the lava field, you will pass a stone tomb with three names. It is a memorial to the people who died there in 1970 from exposure to the sun. A short road now follows to the hill Brattafönn (fönn = snow), which in contrast to its name and due to recent climate changes, is usually snow-free in summer. Careful walking is necessary, however, as the tuff under the snow can be very slippery and gives a risk of falling. Next, you cross Heljarkambur, a short ridge that connects Fimmvörðuháls and Morinsheiði (morins means a rusty red sheep). To make the path over Heljarkambur safer, a support chain is installed.

The flat Morinsheiði is next. The view from the eastern edge of Morinsheiði is very picturesque. From there, you look over glacier Mýrdalsjökull with the volcano Katla on top. The view from the northern part of Morinsheiði called Heiðarhorn is also very nice. There are at least two alternative routes down from Morinsheiði. One route is down through the Hvannárgil ravine, which is recommended only for experienced hikers with relatively good hiking conditions. It is also possible to go via the summit of Útigönguhöfði Mountain. The traditional path, however, runs straight ahead with markers and a clear path.

Shortly afterward, you will reach the Kattarhryggir which may be a bit difficult to cross for those who are afraid of heights. The path has been improved to make it safer, but you still have to be careful. The last part of the path is partly steep and in some places a line has been attached to the cliffs for safety. To reach the hut in Langidalur, which belongs to Ferðafélag Íslands, we have to descend two kilometers and cross a footbridge over the river Krossá.

Hotel Frón

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Hotel Frón
Day
4

Departure from Reykjavik

After breakfast, our services and your Laugavegur Trail adventure will be over. Have a safe trip back home!
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Combining Fimmvörðuháls With the Laugavegur Trail

If you've been paying attention, you know that the traditional directions of both the Laugavegur and the Fimmvörðuháls hike end in Þórsmörk. It is therefore common to combine the two. You then start in Landmannalaugar and finish in Skóra. This makes the 4-day Laugavegur trek into a 6-day trek. You can see how that works in the following video. Something for you?

How to Do the Fimmvörðuháls Hike

A hut trek can be done by anyone in normal health. However, if you want to get the most out of your Fimmvörðuháls Hike, it is wise to prepare yourself physically. Iceland is not nothing, so you will have to be creative when it comes to your preparation. For adequate preparation, consider the following five things.

Cardio

It is best to get moving as soon as you think about your walking holiday in Iceland. With proper aerobic fitness, you will have a better heart rate, healthy muscles, and great lung capacity. Running, walking, more walking, and cycling or swimming are excellent exercise methods. One hour, 3 to 4 times a week is sufficient.

Endurance training

Building up endurance fitness is also important. The best thing you can do is walk long distances, at least once a week. If you can walk comfortably for a long time you are ready to go.

Train with equipment

Use the backpack and shoes you plan to use for your hut trip and add this to your training as you work on your cardio and endurance.

Altitude

If you can, mimic altitude by hiking and trekking in the hills and mountains. If you don't live in the right area for this, don't panic. The first two points are the most important.

Know your body

This is perhaps the most important part. If you question your physical abilities, it is wise to have a check-up by your doctor. There is no set method for preparing for your hut trek. Do not overthink your preparation. Take it easy and enjoy your time in Iceland.

How to Do the Fimmvörðuháls Hike

At Bookatrekking.com, we not only book your huts, we also send you on your way with a comprehensive hiking guide with the most important information for your Fimmvörðuháls Hike, including interactive Komoot maps. Browse all our options here and turn your dreams into reality.

Packing List for the Fimmvörðuháls Hike

It doesn't matter where you are going trekking or for how long: Carrying the right equipment with you is paramount. For a hiking trip in the mountains, you will need, first and foremost, a good backpack. Its size will depend on how many days you will be spending in the mountains, the season, and the clothes you will be taking with you. We have prepared a packing list with some essential clothing that you should include and some extras that you may find useful:
  • Essentials

  • Extras

Safe hiking tips for the Fimmvörðuháls Hike

When you go on walking holidays it is wise to be aware of a few points. Even if this is not your first time, you should never underestimate the mountains. Good tour planning and compliance with the regulations on the mountains will significantly increase safety. To ensure that your hiking holiday is a safe and enjoyable experience, here below you can find a list of 8 recommendations for safe hiking in the mountains:
  • Know your limits

    Hiking the Fimmvörðuháls Hike is the perfect outlet to escape from daily life. It is an endurance sport along with a beautiful nature experience with a positive effect on body and mind —as long as one is in good shape and has a realistic picture of one's possibilities and limits—. Never overestimate yourself or underestimate the route. Don't overdo it! Always choose the slower variant and take more time for your plans. Hiking under time pressure is not fun and at too fast a pace it can be dangerous. Be wise!

  • Plan carefully

    Good planning is half the work! Hiking maps, literature, the Internet and expert advice are invaluable when planning the route in the Fimmvörðuháls Hike and enable you to determine the length, altitude difference, difficulty and conditions of the hike. When planning group treks, the itinerary should always be planned for the weakest member of the group! The weather in the mountains can change incredibly quickly and rain, wind and cold all increase the risk factor. For this reason, always check the weather forecast beforehand and contact our trekking experts to find your way around before you start.

  • Be fully equipped

    Equipment is everything. In the most extreme case, it makes the difference between life and death, and in any case, it definitely makes the difference between having fun and having a bad time. Food and water, sunscreen and waterproof and warm clothes must always be in your backpack, as well as a first aid kit and a mobile phone with a full battery (in case there is an emergency). However, packing light makes walking easier, so don't take too much extra luggage with you. Your equipment should always be suitable for the terrain you'll be hiking on in the Fimmvörðuháls Hike.

  • Wear suitable footwear

    Good walking shoes protect your feet and provide a better fit. Shoes with a good fit, with non-slip soles, water-resistant and lightweight are a must for additional walking pleasure during the Fimmvörðuháls Hike. Trail running shoes are great for a weekend in the mountains, but on longer hikes or more technical trails, you'll want at least A/B hiking boots. That means it is recommended wearing high mountain shoes that are water-repellent with extra ankle support to prevent sprains.

  • Stay on marked trails

    Fimmvörðuháls Hike has endless marked hiking trails, which are controlled and maintained and should not be deviated from. It may be tempting, but it's not a good idea to take shortcuts or alternative routes through unmarked terrain. It increases the risk of disorientation and you're more likely to get lost and have accidents or fall in the mountains. Even steep slopes of packed old snow are often underestimated and dangerous. Are you in doubt? Better don't do it. For easy navigation we work with our trusted partner Komoot, whose interactive maps, also available offline, provide you with the necessary digital means to get from A to B. As a backup, make sure to bring a hiking guide or a paper map with you. FYI, 75% of stumbles occur due to carelessness on marked paths or roads, not in open terrain!

  • Take regular breaks

    Remember you're on a hiking holiday. Timely and regular breaks not only provide welcome relaxation but also make it possible to enjoy the Fimmvörðuháls Hike. The body needs a regular food and drink intake to maintain performance and concentration. Our advice is that if you have little time, it's better to follow the short itinerary than to speed up the long one.

  • Stay reachable

    If you are hiking solo or in small groups it is advisable to inform people back home about your plans, what route you are taking and when you plan to return. Even small incidents can lead to unpleasant emergencies so make sure you are available at all times. Bring a charged phone containing at least the phone numbers of immediate family members, your accommodations en route and the emergency phone numbers operating in the Fimmvörðuháls Hike.

  • Respect nature

    Leave no rubbish behind, prevent noise, stay on the marked trails, do not disturb wildlife or grazing animals, and respect protected areas.

Where Can I Book the Fimmvörðuháls Hike?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book the self-guided Fimmvörðuháls Hike and many other treks. We take care of all the details for you, including arranging accommodations and providing you with relevant information well in advance of your trek. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is the Fimmvörðuháls Hike not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:

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