There are a lot of beautiful nature reserves in Iceland, but Þórsmörk Nature Reserve is truly something different. Þórsmörk is a valley between two glaciers, Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull (you might have heard about this last one before). If you are a nature enthusiast or an avid hiker, then be sure to add this nature reserve to your itinerary. Not convinced yet? Then read our five reasons to visit Þórsmörk this summer.
1. Þórsmörk has the best campsites
In Þórsmörk there are three campsites: at Básar, at Langidalur and at Húsadalur. All three have huts as well as places to pitch tents. The campgrounds are equipped with showers, toilets and grill areas. Volcano Huts is the company that runs the campsite at Húsadalur, and there you will also find a sauna and a shallow hot tub of 32°C, and they also offer private rooms in a guesthouse and glamping options.
The campsites are perfectly located for hikes in the vicinity, as they are in the middle of Þórsmörk Nature Reserve. You will find that these are some of the most beautiful campsites in the world.
2. Þórsmörk offers wonderful hiking options
The most famous hiking trail of Iceland is called Laugavegur, a hike of approximately 55km through the highlands, from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk. You will walk through two nature reserves, with a wide variety of landscapes and several river crossings. From the red and yellow mountains of Landmannalaugar through lava fields with bubbly geothermal areas to the birch forests of Þórsmörk. This variety is what makes the trail so intensely popular.
For ardent hikes, it’s possible to add the Fimmvörðuháls trail to the Laugavegur trail, from Þórsmörk to Skógar. In this case, you will not stop once you’ve reached Þórsmörk, but you will add another 25km to the trail, usually split over two days. Even though it’s absolutely stunning, it’s important to note that this hike is not for beginners.
Next to these two hikes, there are lots of shorter hiking options in the area. Just pick up a map at the information centre at Þórsmörk and be on your way.
3. Þórsmörk has a birch forest
The first settlers of Iceland brought sheep, pigs and horses with them. Back in the days, Iceland was covered with trees, which had to be cut down to create pastures for the livestock. Over hundreds of years, more and more forests were turned into grasslands for cattle, until almost all the trees were cut. This phenomenon is called forest clearance for agriculture. For a long time, reforestation efforts were difficult, especially because the livestock ate the seedlings of Icelandic birch trees.
These days, reforestation is going well, and Þórsmörk is one of the places that has a flourishing birch forest. It has been kept by the Icelandic Forest Service since 1920.
4. Þórsmörk offers amazing views
Þórsmörk is a low-lying valley in between two glaciers, and the area contains beautiful hikes up to higher grounds. If you climb the hills and mountains from the valley, you have amazing views over the entire area. You probably have seen photos before of the complex river networks in Iceland, and usually these are taken at Þórsmörk. These waterscapes are unique to witness.
5. Þórsmörk is the habitat of arctic foxes
You can find arctic foxes all over the country, in the highlands as well as lower coastal areas. They are pretty shy and are mostly active at night, so you have to be lucky to spot one in the wild. In isolated, uninhabited areas like Þórsmörk, arctic foxes feel more at ease around humans and are therefore easier to spot.
Take the bus to Þórsmörk
Good news, you can take the bus to Þórsmörk. Since you have to cross a river to get there, it’s actually highly recommended! Every year, people get stuck in the river, so if you decide to drive yourself, make sure you have a proper vehicle and know the latest river conditions. You can also book a local guide to ensure a safe crossing.
Book your hikers bus passport including Þórsmörk here.
Interested in going to Þórsmörk?
Can’t wait to see it for yourself? Then check out these superjeep, helicopter and hiking tours in the Þórsmörk area.