Have you ever sought out a remote place? A hiking paradise, perhaps, where breathtaking views transport you beyond imagination? Centuries ago, farmers and outlaws stumbled upon a hidden valley nestled behind the Eyjafjallajökull glacier—an oasis of birch forests and glacial rivers. Welcome to Thórsmörk in Iceland, where legends came alive and nature itself defied our senses.
Thórsmörk, the valley of Þór (Thor) in Iceland
Before starting, don’t forget to check from time to time our adventures in Iceland and our microadventures (daytours). We have recently joined the Clean&Safe project from the Icelandic Tourist Board with which we intend to guarantee the safety of our travelers during the COVID-19 pandemic situation, committing to receive our customers in a responsible way so that they feel safe while creating good memories of their trip.
Where is Thórsmörk within Iceland?
Þórsmörk (or Thórsmörk), nestled amidst the awe-inspiring beauty of Iceland, is an enchanting valley that captivates visitors with its breathtaking landscapes and fascinating history. Situated between the mighty glaciers of Eyjafjallajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, and Tindfjallajökull, it is truly a place where nature’s grandeur unfolds in all its glory. Upon entering Þórsmörk, you are immediately greeted by a sense of tranquility and wonder. Moreover, the valley, adorned with picturesque mountains, deep gorges, and lush greenery, offers a stunning panorama at every turn. As if standing as sentinels, towering peaks, clad in snow and ice, guard this hidden gem, adding to its mystical allure.
Þórsmörk means the Valley of Thor, the God of Thunder. But actually, “mörk” is an old Norse word that you can translate as “forest”.
The valley is crisscrossed by several rivers, each contributing to its unique charm. Krossá, flowing gently in the south, showcases its crystal-clear waters, inviting travelers to dip their toes and immerse themselves in its refreshing embrace. To the north, the majestic rivers Markarfljót and Þröngá carve their way through the rugged terrain, their roaring currents adding a touch of drama to the landscape.
For centuries, Þórsmörk has served as a sanctuary for farmers and their flocks of sheep. Moreover, the fertile lands have sustained generations of farmers, who have cherished this bountiful haven.
But Þórsmörk was not just a sanctuary for farmers and sheep—it holds secrets and stories from times long past. Within the valley, hidden amongst the cliffs and crags, lie remnants of a bygone era. Here, you can discover the Snorraríki cave, a place steeped in legend and associated with famous outlaws of old. As you explore its dimly lit chambers, you can almost hear whispers of their adventures echoing through the ages.
How to get to Thórsmörk?
Thórsmörk is at the end of road 249 which departs from Seljalandsfoss waterfall, on the Icelandic South Coast. There’s one point where the road turns into the F-249, only suitable for 4×4. Depending on the season, the first rivers might be smaller or bigger, but once you arrive at Steinholtsá River, only XL 4×4 are allowed. An XL 4×4 is never rented, you would need tires up to 38 inches to be able to cross safely to the valley.
So, at the end you can only get to Þórsmörk by big jeeps or buses, since the small innocent rivers can turn into big rivers in a few hours.
We recommend you coming with us to discover the valley in our Microadventure to Thórsmörk, you will discover the best places in the valley aboard our superjeep and you will hike with a certified local & experienced mountain guide.
I do have a good car, can I go by myself?
Yes, but we do not recommend you driving yourself to the valley. The rivers going into Thórsmörk are really tricky and they never are the same even during the same day. Also, it’s never about the car, but also about the mountain driving skills and the river crossing skills of the driver. Risking your car or your life is never worth it. There has been several accidents in the valley.
Rental cars are NOT allowed to drive Krossá river.
The forceful flow of Krossá, fueled by glacial meltwater, creates strong currents and unpredictable water levels. Crossing the river without proper knowledge, experience, and suitable equipment can be hazardous. The depth and intensity of the river can vary greatly, making it difficult to gauge the level of risk involved.
It is highly recommended that those considering crossing Krossá River with a car consult with local authorities, experienced guides, or obtain the most up-to-date information from reliable sources. They can provide insights on current conditions, safety guidelines, and whether it is advisable to attempt the crossing based on the specific circumstances.
For those who prefer a safer alternative, guided tours and excursions are available where experienced professionals navigate the river in specialized vehicles designed to handle the challenging terrain and water conditions. This allows visitors to experience the beauty of Krossá River without compromising their safety.
On June 22nd, 2021, a Dacia Duster attempted to cross Steinholtsá river, and one of our guides took the following photo.
What to visit in Thórsmörk?
When we talk about endless possibilities, Thórsmörk is the location. You can spend 3-4 days hiking different routes across the valley and they will never disappoint you.
- The classical hike: arrive at Húsadalur or Langidalur and hike to the top of Valahnúkur mountain. There you’ll get one of the best views of the entire valley. On the way back take a short detour through the Hamraskógur forest.
- Stakkholtsgjá Ravine: Fan of Game of Thrones? You should visit Stakkholtsgjá ravine, a 100m high walls canyon that will make you feel really small.
- Nauthúsagil Ravine: One of the most beautiful ravines at the entrance of the valley. The rowan trees cover the ‘roof’ of the tiny canyon, making this place known. A short hike from rock to rock, and with a little climb will take you to one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the island. Good balance & waterproof clothes are mandatory!
- A short hike around Básar mountain hut: an amazing option is to take a short hike like Básahringur. A short hike of almost 2km long through the beautiful forests of the valley. Ideal for traveling with kids.
- And much more!