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Hvannadalshnúkur; The Peak of Iceland

Iceland is well known for its stunning nature, breathtaking glaciers, and abundance of mountains. The height of this geological beauty is Hvannadalshnúkur, or Hvannadalshnjúkur, as it can also be written.

Hvannadalshnúkur is the tallest mountain in Iceland and sits snuggly in the largest and most popular national park in Iceland, making it a perfect part of any Iceland holiday.


Where is Hvannadalshnúkur?

The highest point in Iceland is located at the southernmost part of Vatnajökull National Park and can easily be spotted from Ring Road 1 long before you reach your destination. If you are planning on going to Iceland and experiencing the breathtaking scenery, you are very likely to visit the area where this mountain resides.

From Reykjavík, you simply drive east along Ring Road 1, and you will be at the foot of Hvannadalshnúkur roughly around the time you reach Svartifoss. If you are doing a clockwise road trip around Iceland, you’ll approach it from the east and reach it when you can turn off to Fjallsarlón.

If you are there to hike up the mountain, you will likely have to stop at Sandfell to the southwest of Hvannadalshnúkur in Iceland, since most tours will start there.

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How High is Hvannadalshnúkur?

As the highest peak in Iceland, Hvannadalshnúkur reaches 2,110 meters above sea level. There are over 4,000 named mountains in Iceland, with only 13 reaching over 1,000 meters, and only two are 2,000 meters or taller. Due to the geological activity on the island, it’s unusual for mountains to reach any significant heights, making Hvannadalshnúkur extra unique.

The summit is the edge of the volcano in Iceland that lies dormant underneath. This volcano erupted in 1362 and in 1727, with the first eruption being the largest and most devastating one. Luckily, there is no notable risk of eruption right now, so you can hike it in peace.

Just like many mountains in Iceland, this one sits underneath a glacier and is covered in ice and snow all year round. This glacier, Öræfajökull, is much larger in surface than Hvannadalshnúkur and loosely translates to “wasteland”. The name was given after the wastelands left after the eruptions.

How Hard is it to Hike Hvannadalshnúkur?

Even though you don’t have to be an expert mountain climber with advanced climbing techniques, you need to be in pretty good shape. It will be a good struggle to get there, but the view from the top will be well worth the effort.

When seeing a high peak, the first thing that comes to mind for the adventurous is “How do I get up there?” Fear not, there is a way.

Even though this mountain is more than 2,000 meters above sea level and completely covered in slippery ice and snow, there are ways of conquering it. Through a series of deep crevasses and incredibly steep and slippery slopes, you can reach the top of Hvannadalshnúkur.

highest peak in iceland

Is it Dangerous?

Getting to the top of Hvannadalshnúkur is not necessarily dangerous, but you need to go with an experienced guide to not get into serious trouble. There is no safe way for an inexperienced explorer to take a first stab at hiking to the highest point in Iceland and getting there safely.

Hvannadalshnúkur in Iceland

Hiking the tallest mountain in Iceland is an adventure in itself, but renting a car in Iceland and making the entire journey on your own terms is what it’s all about.

After you’ve been to Hvannadalshnúkur, there is no reason for the good times to stop, so make sure to visit some of the many hot springs, black sand beaches, and the rest of the beautiful Vatnajökull National Park.



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