In a country where the landscape is molded by volcanic activity, it should come as no surprise that you’ll be able to find a lot of mountains in Iceland. But the Land of Fire and Ice does nothing mediocre, and the mountains in Iceland are quite impressive.
From the mountain that marks the highest point in Iceland to the most photographed mountain in Iceland. This article takes you on a journey of discovery across the mountainous terrain of the island:
This is the tallest mountain in Iceland and the tallest peak in Vatnajokull National Park (one of Iceland’s national parks). And remains covered in snow all year round. Clocking in at 2118 meters, it is an extremely challenging climb. Even though you don’t need a guide to hike this mountain, it is highly recommended. The summit consists of incredibly icy terrain full of crevasses and steep inclines.
This is considered to be one of the highest mountains in Iceland that are situated outside the Vatnjajökull National Park. Even though, technically, it’s a dormant volcano. Snæfell is located in the northeast of the Vatnajökull glacier and measures 1833 meters.
This is also one of the mountains in Iceland that allows visitors to climb to the top, offering majestic views across East Iceland. The hike is not very challenging and suitable for hikers of all skill and experience levels. If you’re lucky, you’ll even spot some of the wild reindeer roaming around.
This is yet another peak in Vatnajokull and the second-highest mountain in Iceland, clocking in at a staggering 2011 feet. There are frequent earthquakes in the area and, although actual eruptions here, are few and far between. The last one being in 1864, experts are keeping a close eye on Bardarbunga since it’s believed that an eruption will occur every 250–600 years.
Claiming the number three spot on the list of tallest mountains in Iceland, whilst claiming the top spot as the highest mountain in (ironically) the Highlands, Hofsjökull stands at 537 meters and is more than 38 kilometers wide. Although there is an active (and also the largest!) volcano in the vicinity, the last eruption was more than 12.000 years ago.
Herdubreid has actually officially been named Iceland’s national mountain in 2002. It is considered to have some of the most scenic surroundings of all the tallest mountains in Iceland. As the lone standing mountain on top of the largest lava field on the island, visitors get treated to some pretty impressive panoramic views.
This mounting measuring 1674 meters tall offers a challenging hike. Beginners should not even consider taking on this flat top/table mountain without the help of an Icelandic mountain guide. What makes this mountain climbing experience even more special is the fact that the mountain is surrounded by glacier ice.
This is one of the tallest mountains in Iceland that’s not really known for its height. In 2010, it had its last major volcanic eruption that caused havoc across Europe. It led to many, many canceled flights, and 800 people needed to be evacuated out of fear of glacial flooding and red, hot lava making its way across the land.
Today the mountain is calm and went back to a resting phase. There are many tours that not only take you on a guided tour of the area but also take you on hikes on the mountain itself as well as the surroundings.
Kerling is not just one of the tallest mountains in Iceland, reaching 1537 meters, it’s also one with an interesting legend attached to it. This mountain, in one of the most remote regions of the island, has a famous cliff called Kerling Cliff that’s better known as the “Old Hag”.
According to legend, three trolls (2 males and one female) decided to turn the Westfjords into an island. The two males started digging from the west and the female started digging from the east.
As dawn approached, the trolls knew they needed to take shelter. It was only then that the two males realized that they created a myriad of smaller islands in the west. However, there was nothing to be found in the east, where the female troll was given her assignment.
Furious, the two male trolls abandoned their post and left in a huff to take shelter from the sun. Meanwhile, the female troll realized that she still had nothing to show for herself. And, as it dawned on her, that she will not be able to find shelter in time, she created just one island before the first morning rays turned her into stone. This lone island is now known as Grimsey.
Hekla is affectionately called “the Gateway to Hell”. Yes, as you might’ve guessed, this is also not a mountain that’s simply revered as one of the highest mountains in Iceland.
Just like Eyjafjallajökull, Hekla is an active volcano. But this one is a bit more temperamental, with powerful and spontaneous eruptions. But Hekla is not all bad. In fact, 10% of Iceland’s total landmass is because of a Hekla eruption.
As the name might have already suggested, this peak is also known as “Troll Mountain”. It is not one of the highest mountains in Iceland, clocking in at only 274 feet, but it certainly is worth a hike due to its beautiful surroundings. The region, known as Krisuvik Geothermal Area, has some spectacular color schemes along the hillsides.
Grænadyngja aka “the Green Mountain” is Trölladyngja’s neighbor in the Krisuvik Geothermal Area. This mountain is actually taller than Trölladyngja and measures 392 meters. You can actually work in a visit to both mountains by taking on the hike between the peaks. There you’ll pass through a beautiful valley and get treated by magnificent views.
This is actually an entire mountain range that borders the northeastern side of Vatnajökull. At its highest peak, it does clock in at an impressive 1920 meters, though. Underneath the mountain, you will find large, hot magma chambers, but these are not open to the public and are only to be admired from afar.
This is due to safety concerns, since these glacial caves can collapse at any time and cause serious injury or even death. There are a number of hiking trails at Kverk fjöll, but all of them can only be accessed from the north, and you will need a 4x4 to get there. Around the mountain, you will find one of Iceland’s largest geothermal areas.
This counts as one of the tallest mountains in Iceland and stretches 1540 meters into the sky. One can actually hike to its summit called Hahyrna by taking a fairly easy hiking trail to the top where you will be treated to breathtaking views.
What makes Tungnafellsjökull even more interesting is the fact that its central volcano has two calderas. One is filled by the glacier (Vatnajökull) and the other is filled with rhyolitic lava.
This doesn’t count as one of the tallest mountains in Iceland, but it certainly deserves a mention here. It will probably be the first mountain you encounter on your way from Keflavik Airport. This mountain is perfectly coned shaped, standing 378 meters high today. What makes Keilir so interesting is its creation.
During the glacial period, a volcanic fissure erupted underneath a 300-meter thick ice cap. This ice sheet was, at that time, covering the Reykjanes Peninsula. Everything that was spouted out during the eruption simply piled up in a cavity in the ice. And this is what we’re seeing today. A mountain formed out of volcanic eruption material.
Also, technically, not one of the tallest or highest mountains in Iceland, but definitely one of the largest. Drangafjall is not just one mountain, but it is an entire mountain ridge. You’ll see Drangafjall while driving through Oxcadalur Valley on your way to the second-largest city on the island, Akureyri. Drangafjall is the result of a massive rockslide from the original mountain, Haafjall, many centuries ago.
Today, we find the ridge particularly interesting because of Hraudangi aka “Steeple Rock”. This sword like peak stands 80 meters above the ridge, making it a total length of 1075 meters above sea level. But the summit is also less than a half square meter wide, making this summit really look like a needle against the sky.
The Tallest Mountains in Iceland: Worth a Visit
These mountains are certainly one of the most impressive creations of the Land of Fire and Ice. You can take one of the hikes up a peak or a summit. Maybe, you can also capture the majestic mountain towering above you in a photograph. You won't run out of possibilities!
If you want to tick off most of the mountains on this list, we suggest that you rent a car in Reykjavík and make a mountain road trip out of your stay on the island. This will allow you to see these majestic mountains up close and personal and create memories that will last a lifetime.