If you ask locals about the most beautiful campsites in Iceland, it’s not unlikely that they’ll mention Þakgil. If they don’t, chances are – they haven’t been there.

Why is Þakgil possibly one of the best camping and hiking spots in Iceland? Allow me to explain.

Photo: Berglind Jóhanns

What’s so special about Þakgil?

Besides being objectively beautiful, there is the added appeal of danger; the campsite in Þakgil is situated beneath the Mýrdalsjökull ice cap, underneath which is the volcano Katla.

“Katla is one of Iceland’s most active and most dangerous volcanoes, infamous for its powerful eruptions occurring on average every 50-100 years, causing devastating glacial floods.”

Furthermore, there’s only one way in and out of the campsite: a 14km gravel road leading through rough hills. But no need to worry, travellers would most definitely be afforded a timely warning if Katla decides to erupt. How can we be so sure? Well, Katla is closely monitored, and geologists maintain that an eruption would not come without fair warning.

To be clear: I’m not trying to scare you; I just find this whole volcano business really interesting, and it makes the place even more special, in my mind.

Þakgil – Possibly Iceland’s Best Camping and Hiking Spot
Photo: Berglind Jóhanns

The facilities in Þakgil is also one of a kind

It’s not everywhere that you get to experience a dining room that is a naturally formed cave, complete with a BBQ and a fireplace.

If you’re not that into camping, you can also rent a small cabin, accommodating four persons, which is located on the campsite. Contact us for more information.

Clean bathrooms and showers are, of course, available on site. There’s nothing more you can ask for, right?

Þakgil – Possibly Iceland’s Best Camping and Hiking Spot
Photo: Berglind Jóhanns

Do you like to hike? Or maybe just a nice walk?

Þakgil offers many hiking routes, something suited to everyone. When you arrive in Þakgil, you will find a sign with information and a map concerning the different hiking routes in the area.

If you’re unsure how difficult of a hike you’re after, I suggest locating a local warden and asking for an informed opinion. The map displays three different routes (see image below), but you can easily combine routes. You should also ask the warden about the walking conditions along the route.

A map of the different trails going from Þakgil. Photo taken of the sign located at the camping site.

The last time I hiked in Þakgil, I wanted to do the longest possible hike (the yellow route on the map): 17km long with an elevation of ca. 500-600m, taking approximately six to eight hours; however, my fellow travellers and I wound up combining the yellow and the purple route, which is ca. 15km and took about seven hours. 

We embarked on the yellow route, along a steep 4×4 dirt road. The further we walked, the more we found ourselves hiking in snow until we reached the glacier Huldujökull. The amazing view almost took our collective breath away! We looked down into a canyon, which the glacier has carved, with waterfalls appearing from underneath the icecap, it was an amazing sight.

In sunny and warm weather, with no wind at all, we enjoyed our lunch with the view of Huldujökull in amazing weather. Please note that this is rather unusual though. So don’t take the weather for granted when hiking in Iceland.

We continued following the yellow route, which took us along the edge of the canyon, awarding us with stunning views over the Kötlujökull glacier on our left side and Hjörleifshöfði on our right.

Þakgil – Possibly Iceland’s Best Camping and Hiking Spot
Standing above Huldjökull glacir looking at Kötlujökull glacier. – Photo: Berglind Jóhanns
Þakgil – Possibly Iceland’s Best Camping and Hiking Spot
Photo: Berglind Jóhanns

On our way back to the campsite, we took a shortcut by turning onto the purple route, which led us down a steep slope and terminating i a little river crossing (it was so refreshing for our tired feet!).

For those who prefer short and easy walks: When you’re at the campsite, you can hear the gurgling of a stream. Follow the river inside a canyon, where you’ll be awarded with amazing rock formations and a nice waterfall.

Þakgil – Possibly Iceland’s Best Camping and Hiking Spot
Hjörleifshöfði seen from the top. – Photo: Berglind Jóhanns

What does Þakgil mean?

The direct translation of Þakgil is Roof-Canyon, with the word connoting that the weather in Þakgil is relatively good, given that the campsite is sheltered between beautiful mountains.

Is the campsite open year around?

No, it is open from June 1 until September 15. Although, sometimes it is open longer than the 15 (it all depends on conditions).

Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.
Berglind Jóhannsdóttir
Berglind Jóhannsdóttir

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