Thorsmork Valley is the ultimate haven for hikers and nature lovers. This place looks almost too enchanting to be true! Thorsmork is a lush valley in the deserted wilderness of the Icelandic Highlands. It is a green oasis far from Iceland’s paved roads and cultivated lands.
Thorsmork is named after Thor, the Norse God of Thunder. “Thor’s Forest” is sheltered by three giant glaciers and the lush hills of a recently erupted volcano.
The mountain ridges that protect this quiet spot create a calmer, drier and somewhat warmer microclimate. The weather on Thorsmork is more favorable than other areas in the Highlands. But what makes Thorsmork absolutely unique is its incredible natural scenery.
The contrasts of the fresh volcanic ash and rough blue glacier tongues pressing down into the verdant green valley are just amazing. Surreal geologic formations couple with moss covered slopes to truly enchant the human mind.
The lush Birch forests make this area even more special, as Iceland doesn’t have many forests at all. This is why Thorsmork was designated as a Natural Mountain Reserve after the 1918 eruption of the nearby Katla Volcano. Today, this land is part of the vast Katla Geopark.
A wide variety of vegetation prospers in this lush oasis. Countless types of moss, ferns, Birchwood, and a variety of other small shrubs grow here. Friendly and curious Arctic foxes live in the valley, and these lovely creatures sometimes approach humans, much to the delight of hikers.
If you ask any Icelander about his or her favorite place in the country, Thorsmork will surely be a top answer. It is the most popular camping and hiking area among Icelanders.
The fascinating landscape attracts hikers from all over the world. There is a well-constructed hiking trail network in the area that provides amazing hiking opportunities of a wide variety of distances and difficulty. The hiking trail network crosses both mountains and valleys, and it includes exciting caves, beautiful waterfalls, curious rock formations and awe-inspiring viewpoints in every direction.
Thorsmork is home to some the most beautiful hiking trails in Iceland. It connects two mind-blowing multi-day trekking routes. Combining the famous Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trails results in a four- to six- day hike and an unforgettable adventure.
The world-renowned Laugavegur trail runs 55 kilometers from the Landmannalaugar hot springs valley through the steaming lava fields, colorful mountains, black deserts and thrilling canyons of Thorsmork. From here, hikers can continue south.
The 30-kilometer Fimmvörðuháls hike starts in Thorsmork and passes by some brand new volcanic craters that were formed in the notorious Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010. This exciting trail leads hikers between three glaciers and into an incredibly scenic canyon with countless stunning waterfalls along the way. The epic hike ends at the majestic Skógafoss waterfall.
Those connecting these two hiking scenic trails will get a spectacular hike that might be the adventure of their lives!
There are three campsites in the area just a few kilometers apart: Básar, Húsadalur, and Langidalur. The best equipped and most popular campsite is the Volcano Huts in Húsadalur. It offers a wide variety of facilities, such as dormitory rooms, private bedrooms, cottages and even glamping (glamorous camping) options. Naturally, there is also plenty of space for tents at the site’s regular camping grounds.
Every guest gets access to the indoor dining area, small outdoor sauna, and the pool. There is also a restaurant that offers traditional Icelandic dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as some a la carte options.
Thorsmork is situated in the remote Southern Highlands, some 150 kilometers from Reykjavík. Getting there is a real adventure in itself! Starting from Reykjavík, you will drive along the stunning south coast of Iceland. After 90 minutes, you’ll reach the beautiful Seljalandsfoss waterfall. Here you’ll take road F249, a gravel road.
The journey from here becomes a bit rough. Be sure your car is suitable for this ride. Only large jeeps and specialized off-road buses are able to navigate from here. After driving on these rough roads, you will have to cross the unbridged river “Krossá” to get to Thorsmork.
In the summer season, from mid-June to late September, Highland buses run on a schedule from Reykjavík, making traveling much easier. The buses make stops at several towns and attractions along the south coast, such as Hveragerði, Selfoss, Hella and the Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
As you can see, there are several well-mapped trails throughout this fantastic location. However, there are also plenty of amazing guided tours to safely take you into the area. If you are uncertain about driving on mountain roads, crossing rivers and navigating wilderness trails alone, it’s wiser and safer to join a group.
You can easily find amazing Super Jeep tours to these popular hiking areas as well as bus tours that take you to the short and easy trails. Professional monster truck drivers and skilled hiking guides will lead you to the most beautiful places and popular trails in Thorsmork.
This breathtaking place is one of those natural phenomena that cannot be described in words or images, but must be seen, felt, and experienced in person to be truly appreciated.