Julie Iceland 61 Comments

26 waterfalls, 1 volcano, 2 glaciers, and 3 very unique landscapes…this is the Fimmvörðuháls hike in Iceland.

This is one of the best day hikes we have done yet. Never have we seen so much diversity as there is on the Fimmvörðuháls hike.

Start at the mighty Skógafoss waterfall. The land is lush and green as you hike past 25 more waterfalls along the Skógá River. As you approach the ice caps, the green grass fades away, leaving behind a rocky, barren landscape. From here, you hike between the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull, on fresh, black, volcanic soil, which is one of the youngest landscapes on the planet. Once you begin the descent into Thórsmörk, the contrast is startling. Lime green moss covers the black soil and rocks, and eventually you will hike through a forest before arriving in Básar.

This is a long day with the hiking distance coming in at 25 km. Throw in 1400 meters of total elevation gain and it’s a challenging hike.

But what might be even more challenging are the logistics.

The Fimmvörðuháls hike is a point-to-point hike. This hike can be done in either direction, but most people do it Skógar to Thórsmörk. To get back to Skógar, you will need to arrange a 4×4 bus to get you back on the south coast. Depending on where you parked your car, you might also need to arrange a taxi. I will explain how to arrange your transportation later in this article.

But first, let’s get to the good stuff. Let’s check out the amazing Fimmvörðuháls trail.


Fimmvörðuháls Hiking Stats

Distance: 25 km (15.5 miles)
Elevation Gain: 1400 meters (4600 feet) total ascent
Difficulty: Challenging
Length of Time: 8 to 10 hours*
When to go: Mid-June to September. You should only do this hike outside of this season with a guide and with proper equipment.
Start and Finish: Skógafoss and the Básar Hut in Thórsmörk

Note:It is possible to do this as a two-day hike, spending the night at the Baldvinsskali Hut or the Fimmvörðuháls hut. Make your reservation far in advance.

About the length of time: 8 to 10 hours is the average length of time to do this hike and I have seen estimates as long as 12 hours. If you hike fast, you can complete this hike in less than 8 hours. We finished it in 6 hours and 45 minutes, which is really moving.

Fimmvorduhals Map

The hiking trail is in red. The blue line is the bus route out of Thórsmörk.

Fimmvorduhals Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile

Fimmvörðuháls Hike

Step-By-Step Trail Guide

This hike can be done in either direction. The trail and the logistics discussed in this article are for hiking the Fimmvörðuháls trail from Skógar to Thórsmörk.


What a wonderful place to start to hike, at one of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls.


If you start early in the day, you just might get Skógafoss all to yourself, just like we did. And we really weren’t here all that early. This photo was taken at 8 am.

The trail starts right next to Skógafoss. Take the long series of steps to the top of Skógafoss, catch your breath, enjoy the view, and get ready for an amazing day.

Along the Skógá River

The first third of the hike takes you along the Skógá River and past 25 more waterfalls. This is sometimes referred to as “Waterfall Way,” since it has such a dense collection of waterfalls in a short distance.

This part of the trail blew away all of my expectations. We had already seen bunches of waterfalls in Iceland by this point, so I was kind of “waterfalled out,” if you know what I mean, but there are some beauties along this part of the hike.

It is not just the waterfalls that make this part of the hike so spectacular. Just off the hiking trail are overlooks into a green, lush canyon. Sheep and their clanging bells sometimes make an appearance. And off in the distance are the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull ice caps.

Near Skogafoss

Iceland Hike

Fimmvorduhals Hike Iceland

Trail Fimmvorduhals

Waterfall Way Iceland

Sunset Falls Iceland

Earth Trekkers

This is one of the most beautiful parts of the day and it should be savored. However, we were in a rush. We had cloudy skies but rain, and a lot of it, was in the forecast. We wanted to make it as far as possible before those raindrops started to fall.

From Skógafoss to where the trail crosses the Skógá River, it’s an 8 km (5 mile) hike. It’s a steady uphill walk, nothing too challenging, but there is enough elevation gain to make it tiring.

Approaching the Bridge

Skoga River Bridge

Over the Bridge

The Trail to Baldvinsskáli Hut

Say goodbye to the lush green vegetation.

From the bridge over the Skógá River to Baldvinsskáli Hut, it’s a 5 km hike through a barren, rocky landscape. For most of this time, you will walk on a very rough gravel road.


More Monotony


This is the most boring section of the Fimmvörðuháls hike. It takes between an hour and an hour and a half to get to the hut.


Baldvinsskali Hut

There are bathrooms at the Baldvinsskali hut but there is no running water. The hut can accommodate up to 20 people per night. Click here to learn more or to make a reservation. 

From the Baldvinsskáli Hut, you get a nice view of the volcanic landscape and the hiking trail. You still have some climbing to go, but you are approaching the highest point of the trail. With that comes cooler temperatures and the chance for unstable weather.

By this point, it had started raining. This is a good place to stop for lunch or a snack, but we wanted to keep moving. We still had hours to go in the rain.

Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull

From the Baldvinsskáli Hut, hike across two snow fields separated by a small climb. 

Snow Field

View of the Trail

Looking back at the hiking trail to the Baldvinsskali hut.

When we did this, there was a lot of ice on the second snow field. It was very slippery, and since we were hiking on a sheet of ice down an incline, we really had to take our time.

Snow Fimmvorduhals

Once you make it across the snow field, it’s time to hike up to the Fimmvörðuháls Pass. It is a strenuous, uphill climb on volcanic soil and it feels almost like you are hiking through sand.

This is the most challenging section of the Fimmvörðuháls hike, but once at the top, it’s mostly downhill from here. There are still several short climbs to go, but most of the work is behind you.

The Fimmvörðuháls Hut sits off of the trail to the west. If you plan to do this as a two-day trek, I read that this is the better place to spend the night (than at the Baldvinsskáli hut). If you have no plans to spend the night at the Fimmvörðuháls hut, there is no need to detour out to the hut.

Fimmvorduhals Hut

Looking west. Off in the distance is the Fimmvörðuháls hut.

Important Note: On the Fimmvörðuháls hike, you cross over the Fimmvörðuháls pass. At this high elevation, weather conditions change rapidly and you could even get stuck in a snowstorm, even in July. Even if the weather looks clear in Skógar, be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions on this hike.

From the pass, you now get to hike between the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. In April 2010, the volcano under Eyjafjallajökull erupted, laying down this new volcanic soil. This was a relatively small eruption, but the volcanic ash in the sky disrupted European air travel for six days.

Fimmvorduhals Lava Field

Modi Fimmvorduhals Hike


The volcanic eruption formed two new mountains, Magni and Módi. Before descending into Thórsmörk, you have the option to detour to the summit of Módi. It’s worth it. The views are amazing and you get to stand on one of the planet’s youngest geologic features.

Modi Iceland

On top of Módi.


Fimmvorduhals Trail Lava Fields

View of the hiking trail from the top of Módi.

Godaland and Thórsmörk

We loved this section of the hike, despite heavy rain and foggy conditions. This is a beautiful part of Iceland and a very unique landscape. Hopefully you will get clearer weather conditions than we had.

Entering Godaland

Into Godaland


Now, it is an overall downhill walk until you get to Thórsmörk. It is steep in some spots. There is one short section where the trail clings to the cliff. On your right is a chain to assist you and to your left is a drop-off into the valley.

Steep Section

Cliff Section


Once you get past this short section, the views really open up and are some of the best of the day. From here, continue on the main trail to Básar, or you can detour down through the Hvannárgil Canyon to Thórsmörk.

Thorsmork Iceland

Hike Fimmvorduhals


After crossing a wide plateau, you descend into Thórsmörk on the Cat’s Spine Ridge (Kattarhyggir).

Hiking in the Rain

Fimmvorduhals in the Rain

Approaching Thorsmork

Hvannargil Canyon

Almost There

Arriving in Básar, Thórsmörk

We arrived in Básar, muddy and soaking wet from head to toe. But what an awesome day, despite the rain!

We did this hike FAST. Even with time to stop and eat, take family photos, and fly the drone numerous times, we finished the hike in 6 hours and 45 minutes. At first, we were in a race to get as far as possible before the rain moved in. And then, once it started raining, we wanted to get under cover as soon as possible.

I had originally booked the 6 pm TREX bus out of Thórsmörk. However, the 2:30 TREX bus was still in Básar when we arrived. Keeping our fingers crossed, we inquired about taking this earlier bus. Well, luck was on our side. Two passengers failed to show up, and since the bus was 15 minutes late leaving Básar, we made it on at the very last minute. We were THRILLED!

From Básar, it took an hour and 15 minutes to get to Hvolsvöllur and another 30 minutes to get back to our hotel and warm, dry clothes.

Because of our rush to the bus, I don’t have any photos of Básar. There is not much here…two huts that can accommodate 80 to 90 people, bathrooms, and a kitchen and dining hall. You can also camp here as well. For more information, click here. 

Iceland Travel Guide

Arranging Your Transportation

Arranging your transportation is one of the most challenging aspects of this hike. Before going Iceland, I spent hours trying to figure out the most efficient way to get from Thórsmörk back to our car.

There are numerous buses that travel from Thórsmörk to the south coast of Iceland, so that’s not the issue.

In 2019, there were no buses that took passengers from Thórsmörk directly to Skógar. The buses from Thórsmörk made stops at Seljalandsfoss, Hvolsvöllur, Hella, Selfoss, and Reykjavík.

So, you still have to get from one of these stops to Skógar, which means using an additional mode of transportation. There are several ways to do this.

Important Note: In my research, it looks as if bus schedules change from year to year. I will do my best to keep this article updated. However, if you recently hiked Fimmvörðuháls as a day hike and have transportation logistics to share, comment below!

Fimmvorduhals Map

Here’s another view of the Fimmvörðuháls map. The red line is the hiking trail. The blue line is the bus route out of Thórsmörk. It first stops in Seljalandsfoss and continues onto Hvollsvöllur. It does not go to Skógar.

Take a Morning Taxi to Skógar

In the morning, park your car at one of the Thórsmörk bus stops. We chose Hvolsvöllur, since it was a short drive from where we were staying and had plenty of parking options. We did this hike on a Sunday, so we parked at the bank across from N1 gas station, because we assumed the parking lot would be empty all day.

The day before the hike, we arranged a taxi service to pick us up at the N1 gas station at 7 am. He drove us to Skógafoss, the start of the hike. At the end of the hike, we took the TREX bus to Hvolsvöllur, where our car was waiting for us.

Seljalandsfoss is another parking option. This is the first stop that the Thórsmörk bus makes. It’s a huge parking lot but you will have to pay to park here (use one of the fee stations at the parking lot, the cost is 800 ISK and is valid all day). If you spend the night in Thórsmörk or at the Fimmvörðuháls hut, you cannot park here, since you have no way to pay for parking on the morning of day 2.

As for parking in Hvolsvöllur, we were lucky to be doing this on a Sunday. The bank parking lot was still empty when we arrived at 4 pm. On a weekday, it might be better to park at the N1 or at one of the other parking lots in town.

Take an Afternoon Taxi to Skógar

Park your car at Skógafoss and hike to Thórsmörk. Take the bus to Seljalandsfoss and from here, take a taxi back to your car in Skógar. Arrange the taxi in advance.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: We recommend using the taxi in the morning, to get from your car to Skógar. Once finished the hike, the Thórsmörk bus will drop you off right at your car. It’s one less thing to think about or worry about during the hike.

Taxi Service

We used South Iceland Transfer Services run by Magnus Haraldsson. Magnus speaks English and we communicated with him by phone and by email.

For the one-way transfer from Hvolsvöllur to Skógafoss we paid 20,000 ISK.

Use a Bus instead of a Taxi

A cheaper option is to take a bus. However, the only bus that I found leaves Hvolsvöllur at 9 am and does not arrive at Skógar until 9:45 am. That’s too late to start this hike, unless you have plans to spend the night in Thórsmörk. 

If You Have Two Cars

If you have two cars and two drivers, you can create your own shuttle. Park car #1 in Hvolsvöllur or Seljalandsfoss, use car #2 to drive to Skógafoss. Hike to Thórsmörk, take the bus back to car #1 and then pick up car #2.


Hitchhiking is not uncommon in Iceland and something we considered. However, I’m glad we didn’t do this. At the end of the hike we were muddy and drenched. We did not dry off at all on the steamy, hot bus ride out of Thórsmörk. I highly doubt that we would have found a driver willing to pick up four dirty, wet people and drive them 35 minutes down the road.

If you plan to do this in the morning, just be aware that traffic on the roads is very light until 9 am. You risk a late start to the hike, which could make you miss your bus out of Thórsmörk later in the day.

Arranging the Bus from Thórsmörk to South Iceland

To get in and out of Thórsmörk you must have a true 4×4. There are numerous river crossings and rough terrain to navigate. An AWD SUV will not make it to Thórsmörk. The river crossings are too deep for an SUV.


There are three main bus companies that have 4×4 buses: Thule, TREX, and Sterna. All are very similar, with similar pricing and routes. We randomly chose TREX, which worked to our advantage, since they operate two daily buses in and out of Thórsmörk. 

I recommend checking out each company (use the links provided above) and choose one based on their schedule and price. Each company offers a bus out of Thórsmörk in the evening, at around 6 pm. As of May 2022, the last bus of the day with TREX leaves Thórsmörk at 16:30 (4:30 pm) and the last bus with Thule leaves at 16:45 (4:45 pm). I could not get the Sterna website to work. So, you will need to hike fast to get into Thórsmörk by 4 to 4:30 to make these buses. I don’t know why buses are so much earlier this year, but if you aren’t a speedy hiker, consider booking a room at Básar Hut and taking the bus the following morning.

There are several bus stops in Thórsmörk. You want to book a bus from the Básar Hut in Thórsmörk. Some companies also list Thórsmörk Langidalur or as an option, but you don’t want this. It’s a much farther walk to get to Langidalur. The Básar Hut is the end of Fimmvörðuháls trail in Thórsmörk.

A one-way trip from Thórsmörk to Hvolsvollur comes in at about 5900 ISK.

Southcoast Adventures also has a bus that runs from Thórsmörk to Skogar. On their website, under Departure Stop – Bus 3, you can select the Thórsmörk to Skógar bus. It leaves Thórsmörk at 8:00 pm and gets to Skógar at 10:00 pm, so it’s late enough that you can day hike the Fimmvörðuháls trail from Skógar. The price is 6,000 ISK per person.

How far in advance should you book your bus tickets?

This is a tricky question to answer.

If you know your exact hiking date and don’t expect it to change, then book your bus tickets as soon as you know your dates of travel.

However, if you have a flexible schedule and are watching the weather, you can book your tickets several days in advance. It’s possible that there will be availability the day before your hike, but this is risky. 

Make sure you reserve a seat on the bus before starting this hike. This is a very popular hike and it’s possible that buses will be completely booked. Not only do you have day hikers arriving from Skógar, but there will also be hikers just finishing the Laugavegur Trek in Thórsmörk. 

Total Cost of Transportation

We booked the TREX bus and one taxi transfer.

TREX bus, one-way Thórsmörk to Hvolsvöllur: 5,900 ISK
Taxi: 20,000 ISK total

Total price: 25,900 ISK for one person (roughly $200 USD); each additional person will share the taxi but pay the 5,900 ISK for the Thórsmörk bus (about $45 USD per person)

If you park at Seljalandsfoss, your taxi and bus will be slightly cheaper but you will also have to pay the 800 ISK parking fee ($6)…just confirm that the bus makes a stop at Seljalandsfoss.

Other than taking a guided glacier hike or ice climbing tour, this the most expensive day hike we have done. Worth it? Absolutely.

But it does make hitchhiking look a little more appealing. 🙂

Do you want to see more great hikes from around the world? Don’t miss our Hiking Page, which has lots of amazing hikes to choose from.

Shorter Version of this Hike

If the idea of hiking 25 km does not sound like your idea of a good time, or if the logistics are too much of a hassle, you can do a shorter version of the Fimmvörðuháls hike. The Skogafoss Waterfall Way hike is the first 8 km (4 miles) of the Fimmvörðuháls trail. You do this hike out-and-back (for a total distance of 16 km) from Skogafoss, so there are no buses or taxis to work out. And since it is an out-and-back-hike, you can turn around when you have seen enough.

If someone in your group plans to do the full Fimmvörðuháls hike, you can hike a big portion of the trail with them, hike back to your car, and then pick them up at Seljalandsfoss or Hvolsvöllur once the Thórsmörk bus transports them back to the south coast. 

Tips to Have the Best Experience

The trail is well marked from start to finish. Even so, it’s a good idea to have a map of the Fimmvörðuháls trail. We used this map which is available on Amazon. It also includes Landmannalaugar.

Be prepared for all weather conditions: rain, snow, cold temperatures, and wind. Bring along waterproof clothing, a hat and gloves, and a waterproof shell to put over your backpack. We all wished that we had waterproof pants. Crampons or traction cleats would have made walking across the ice easier and safer.

Start Early. Give yourself plenty of time to complete this hike. Early in the season (late June into July) there could be a lot of snow on the trail which could slow you down.

Book your transportation in advance. Make sure you have a seat on the bus out of Thórsmörk. They can sell out.

Check the weather before you go. The most reliable website is en.verdur.is. The forecast is generally accurate within 48 hours but any forecast beyond 48 hours can change dramatically. 

Iceland Trail Sign

Fimmvörðuháls Hike with a Guide

If you like the idea of doing this hike but prefer to do it under the guidance and safety of a professional guide, there are numerous companies in Iceland who offer guided hikes.

Midgard Adventure offers a guided Fimmvörðuháls day hike. This costs 40,000 ISK ($315 USD) per person and includes pick-up and drop-off in the Hvolsvöllur area. 

Note: We did not use them so we have no personal experience with their services. However, they get excellent reviews on Trip Advisor.

In Our Backpacks

We had two hiking backpacks. This is what we carried with us:

Tyler also carried our DJI Phantom 4 drone in a separate backpack.

Waterproof pants and traction cleats are things that we wished we had brought along.

Where to Stay

In order to get an early start, I recommend staying in South Iceland. Somewhere between Vík and Hvolsvöllur would be a good location.

We stayed at the Lindartún Guesthouse in Lindartún. This is a bit out of the way, about 10 minutes south of Hvolsvöllur, but it was cheaper than staying near Vík. We had the family room for Tyler and Kara. Tim and I stayed in the bungalow which had a kitchen, living room, and one bedroom. Just outside of our door were horses. We really liked it here, even though it added on extra driving to our days on South Iceland.

If you have plans to hike the Fimmvörðuháls trail and have any questions, comment below. We would also love to hear about your experience if you have already done this hike.

More Information for Your Trip to Iceland:

MORE ADVENTURES IN ICELAND: One of the best ways to experience Iceland is on a hiking trail, and we have an article about 10 epic day hikes in Iceland. You can also venture to Kerlingarfjöll, go glacier hiking, and  visit Landmannalaugar. Learn how to put all of this together in our 10 Day Iceland Adventure Itinerary.

ICELAND ITINERARIES: There are several ways to put together a trip to Iceland. If you have 10 days, here are four different ways to spend your time in Iceland. This two week Iceland itinerary includes the entire Ring Road and main highlights of Iceland.

RING ROAD ITINERARY: With 7 to 10 days, you can drive the entire Ring Road and experience the highlights of Iceland. Learn how to do it in our Ring Road Itinerary.

SOUTH COAST OF ICELAND: The south coast is filled with some of the top sights in Iceland. Go glacier hiking, visit Skogafoss and walk the amazing Waterfall Way trail. For the full list, check out our Guide to the South Coast of Iceland.

MORE GREAT HIKES IN EUROPE: From thrilling trails in the Alps to easy walks along the coast, read our article 20 Best Hikes in Europe for some beautiful hiking trails to put on your travel wish list.


Read all of our articles about Iceland in our Iceland Travel Guide.



Fimmvorduhals Best Hike Iceland

Fimmvorduhals Hike Iceland Travel Guide


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Comments 61

  1. Avatar for April

    Thank you for the guide! We did the hike on a beautiful day in early September. We used SouthCoast Adventure for the bus ride from Basar back to Skogafoss. The bus wasn’t until 8:30pm, but there is a little snack bar at Basar where we stayed warm for a couple of hours. The ride back at 8:30 was in time for a gorgeous sunset.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  2. Avatar for Andrew H
    Andrew H

    Thanks very much for this article. It helped enormously with my planning, particularly arranging how to get to the start of the walk and back home from the finish.
    In my case, I took my two teenage sons who aren’t used to walking this sort of distance. We went on or around 27 June 2022. They loved the walk up by the waterfalls but did start whingeing for a few kms after the bridge as the scenery is a bit bleak and it is a bit of a drudge going uphill. We had a restorative stop in the hut, it is so well kept, and they walked the rest of the way quite happily.
    There were numerous snow fields to cross but we found this easy to do in walking boots as the snow was quite compacted. We managed to slide down some of the snow fields.
    In terms of getting there, we found what seemed to be the only taxi driver in South Iceland to take us from the N1 garage to the start of the walk. He was very interesting to talk to with some great local knowledge. We pre-booked the 8pm bus from Basar Huts back to the N1 garage about 2 months prior to the trip.
    The walk took us about 9 hours but we had plenty of stops and rests.
    All in all, it was a spectacular walk and I would thoroughly recommend it.
    Thanks once again for this article which opened up the possibility for us to follow in your footsteps.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Andrew. Thanks so much for writing in with your experience. I’m glad your teenagers enjoyed it…maybe they will want to do more hikes like this on future trips. Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Debra

    This is a great, detailed article – thank you!
    I was wondering about the safety of the descent, just how narrow and steep are some of the spots? I love hiking but get a bit frightened when it feels dangerous – how does this compare to Angels Landing (or similar) in this respect?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Debra. This feels much safer than Angels Landing. There are some drop offs, but it’s more like you would slide down the mountain a little ways rather than plummet off the edge of a cliff, like Angels Landing. There are some steep slippery spots, with chains to help you, and yes you could get injured if you fell, but there aren’t any cliffs to fall off of, as long as you stay on the trails. Have a great hike! Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Jenni

    We hiked this trail over two days last week (July 17th). We left Skogar in fairly rainy weather but enjoyed the waterfalls and scenery for the first few miles of the hike. At the bridge, the weather got rough and we ran into pelting rain, heavy wind and fog. It was tough few miles but we made it to the second hut for the night. We set off the next morning in the same weather conditions but after we crossed the pass and started to descend, the weather turned into sunny skies. The descent into Thorsmork was amazing. We took a bus from Basar to Volcano huts for the night (Loved the glamping at volcano huts) and took a day to recover. Overall, it’s a challenging if you’re not an avid hiker so we were glad we split it up into two days. But, we enjoyed it and would highly recommend it….just bring appropriate rain and cold weather gear! Also, we used the hiking pass bus from Reykejavik Excursions. One bus from hvollsvolur to skogar and another from volcano huts to Hvollsvollur. We parked our car for two nights at the N1 gas station (also the bus stop). We were very happy with the bus service. It was on time and very convenient.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  5. Avatar for Irene

    I would like to know when you have done this thek. I will go next 20 june and i would like to know if there will be snow or not.
    I don’ t know where i can find this information

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      1. Avatar for Helena

        Hi. We have just done this hike and there is a bus directly to Skógar with Southcoast Adventure. It’s only at 20:30

        1. Avatar for Julie Post
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