Of all the outdoor activities outlined here, hiking is the most fundamental to an Iceland vacation. With its stunning landscapes, fresh air, and wide open spaces, Iceland is a hiking utopia. Numerous mountain huts across the country provide the infrastructure for an extensive network of backcountry routes—though hiking in Iceland hardly has to mean donning a heavy backpack and eating freeze-dried food. The country is equally blessed with short, easy hikes, not to mention tour operators who will transport luggage from hut to hut.
Independent-minded hikers who shy away from organized tours should at least reconsider the issue. Icelandic hiking tours are often just a practical means to have luggage transported and logistical hassles eased. Organized hiking groups tend to be small, laid-back, and fun, and you can keep to yourself when you want to. Moreover, Icelanders often travel with the groups.
Prime hiking season lasts from early June through mid-September, though some routes at higher altitudes are inaccessible until July. (Occasionally visitors plan their entire vacation around a specific trek, and arrive in mid-June only to find snow obstructing the trail and the mountain huts still closed.)
When Icelanders sign up for hiking tours, they usually go with Ferðafélag Íslands or Útivist. Neither organization is dependent on your business, but foreigners are always welcome. Trips range from a few hours to several days, with set departure dates. Prices are relatively low. As far as visitors are concerned, not much distinguishes the two organizations.
Fjallabak offers an impressive variety of well-designed hiking tours for day-trippers and serious backpackers alike, with set departure dates as early as April. Trips last 6 to 11 days and cost 105,000kr to 201,250kr ($1,680-$3,220/£840-£1,610) -- a decent price, considering the maximum group size is only 9 to 12.
Icelandic Mountain Guides has staked out some extremely interesting and remote backpacking routes well off the tourist radar. Tours have set departure dates, small group sizes, and good prices.
REI Adventures offers exciting multiday adventures in Iceland for hikers and snowshoers.
Wilderness Travel is a respected high-end tour company that arranges moderate-level hikes and accommodations in the country's nicer hotels.
World Expeditions, based in Australia, leads well-conceived trips with moderate hikes each day and most nights spent camping or in mountain huts.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.