- Best time to visit
- 63.99113, -19.05871
- Distance from Reykjavík
- 180km (112mi)
The popular Laugavegur hiking route from the Landmannalaugar region to the Þórsmörk area is a 56-kilometre (35-mile) multi-day hike that attracts backpackers and hikers from around the world. If you’re coming to Iceland to hike just one trail, this is the one. Its popularity stems from various landscapes: bubbling hot springs, vast glaciers, beautiful mountains, stunning waterfalls, and roaring rivers. Expect to walk 4-7 hours per day on this guided 5-day tour with accommodation in rustic mountain huts. It’s a challenging hike, but Iceland’s most famous trek lives up to the hype!
The highlands are spectacular. If you’ve seen a picture of multi-coloured mountains in what seems to be a vast, remote wilderness in Iceland, it’s probably from Landmannalaugar. This region of Iceland is a hiker’s paradise, with hiking trails along rhyolite mountains, natural geothermal hot springs and wide-open spaces. If you are planning to hike Landmannalaugar and/or the Laugavegur Trail, leave the driving to us and hop on the highland bus!
Hiking Through Landmannalaugar
The History of Landmannalaugar
Meaning “the people’s pool” in English, the Landmannalaugar is an area of geological beauty where milky blue glacial rivers cut through the protected valley. It is one of Iceland’s most striking landscapes because the rhyolite minerals of the hills tinge them in sepia tones and a vast spectrum of colours. It sits on the edge of the Laugahraun lava plain which was formed during the eruption of a nearby volcano around 1477.
The reason it is called “the people’s pool” is because this valley is home to several naturally heated hot springs. Local Icelanders have been bathing in these pools for centuries, and these days they offer respite for those hiking the Laugavegur trail.
Landmannalaugar is at the northern end of the famous Laugavegur hiking trail – a multi-day route particularly popular in summer. You can reach Landmannalaugar on foot by following this trail all the way from Þórsmörk. Those that simply want to experience the beauty of Landmannalaugar without having to lace up their hiking boots can reach this spot via the narrow, unpaved f-roads that lead into Iceland’s uninhabited interior. These roads are only open in summer and even then you need a 4x4 to navigate the rocky surface and to ford the glacial rivers that flood the way.
Once you’ve reached Landmannalaugar, there are a few hiking trails through the valley and mountains to explore on foot. Check a Landmannalaugar map to see the routes of the trails. The valley is also home to a few of Iceland’s geothermally-heated natural pools where you can bathe outside. The hot springs are free to use.
A Landmannalaugar self-drive adventure can be a little intimidating if you’re not used to navigating mountain roads. Guided tours to the region leave from Reykjavík, allowing you to embark on multi-day hikes through Iceland’s interior and experience the beauty of Landmannalaugar hiking trails in person.
The Laugavegur trail
This 55-kilometre (34-mile) hiking trail leads from Þórsmörk to Landmannalaugar, taking in the stunning scenery of Iceland’s untamed highlands as you go. Most people tackle the route over three or four days in order to fully enjoy the landscape and to allow for some of the challenging climbs. Experienced hikers who like a challenge can complete the trail in just two days. Either way, you will need to stay overnight in one of the rustic mountain huts that mark the way or a designated campsite. Along the route, you’ll see ancient lava fields, volcanic slopes, glaciers and mossy-green valleys. Some say the sight of the colourful rhyolite mountains of Landmannalaugar at the end of the trail is the most beautiful section. It is also where you’ll find several naturally-heated pools – don’t forget to bring a towel and swimwear to enjoy the Landmannalaugar hot springs towards the end of your hike.
There are several multi-day guided tours available, covering the entire route of the Laugavegur trail. On a tour, all the mountain hut accommodation and transportation are taken care of and a guide can lead the way through this isolated part of Iceland.
Preparing for a hike
The Laugavegur trail and routes around Landmannalaugar are not the most challenging hikes in Iceland but are not to be underestimated. There is quite a lot of uphill involved when exploring the area on foot, so you’ll need at least an average level of fitness. Tackling the entire Laugavegur trail takes a few days, so it is a good idea to train before you arrive in Iceland – make sure you are comfortable doing several long-distance walks over multiple days in a row. It’s a popular route, so if you’re not joining a guided tour, make sure to book your mountain hut accommodation well in advance.
In terms of equipment, you don’t need anything specialist like crampons, ice axes or ropes, just a very sturdy pair of waterproof walking boots with good ankle support. Walking poles can help you on the ascents and across the long distances. As the hiking trail is only open in summer, packing sunscreen and a hat is a good idea. You will also need a lot of provisions – enough food and liquid for each day as there are no hot dog stands or restaurants out here in the Icelandic wilderness. Whether you’re staying in the mountain huts or at campsites, you’ll need to bring a sleeping bag.
All About Landmannalaugar
Landmannalaugar is in the southern highlands of Iceland. It sits within the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, surrounded by the untamed wilderness of the centre of the island. Those embarking on the Laugavegur trail will find Landmannalaugar at the north end of the popular hiking route.
It is possible to drive to Landmannalaugar, but you will need to travel by 4x4 as the roads are mostly unpaved and sometimes require fording glacial rivers and bumping over rocky terrain.
You can join a guided adventure tour to Landmannalaugar from Reykjavík if you don’t want the hassle of hiring a 4x4. Guided walks along the Laugavegur trail are a great way to see the hidden wonders of Iceland’s highlands.
Landmannalaugar is around 180 kilometres (111 miles) from Reykjavík and there are a few ways to reach this isolated spot from the capital city. The fastest way is through the west of Iceland, via the narrow, unpaved f-26 and f-208 roads.
You follow the Route One road past Selfoss and join the Route 30 road, turning onto Route 32 before joining the f-26. Depending on road conditions, the drive from Reykjavík to Landmannalaugar takes around three and a half hours.
With natural, geothermally heated pools you can bathe in and an ethereally beautiful landscape of shifting colours and unique geology on show, visiting Landmannalaugar is definitely worth it.
The area is especially beloved by Iceland’s hikers and walkers, so if lacing up your boots and getting out in the unspoiled wilderness is your thing, you shouldn’t miss Landmannalaugar.
The only way to reach Landmannalaugar (if not via a multi-day hiking trail) is along the unpaved, narrow f-roads into Iceland’s rugged interior. These mountain roads often involve fording rivers, bumping over ravines and rocky inclines and even driving across sand.
A 4x4 is essential and driving to Landmannalaugar by normal car is not possible. Due to the Landmannalaugar weather, the roads are only accessible in summer – snowfall and ice in the winter make them impossible to pass, even with a 4x4.
The Laugavegur trail is around 55 kilometres (34 miles) long and hikers generally allow three or four days to complete the route. The really hardcore hikers can tackle it in two challenging days, but since the way is marked with waterfalls, mountains and ethereal mineral formations in the hills, you might want to slow down to take it all in.
There is a series of mountain huts for overnight accommodation along the way. Guided tours of the Laugavegur trail are available so all you have to think about is putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying the open landscape.
If you are driving to Landmannalaugar, you can follow hiking trails through this other-worldly landscape that are as short as half an hour. After making the long and difficult drive, most people want to spend a little longer – perhaps soak sore muscles in one of the natural hot springs along the trail and enjoy hiking for a couple of hours before returning to the city.
Landmannalaugar is free to access and you can follow miles and miles of hiking trails without paying to access anything. If you choose to spend the night in a Landmannalaugar mountain hut, a bunk costs around 9000 ISK (US$65) a night.
A summer trek along the Laugavegur trail doesn’t require any specialist equipment like crampons or ropes, but you might want to bring walking poles to help you up the steep inclines.
Whether you’re embracing the outdoors with a Landmannalaugar camping adventure or staying in huts, you’ll need to bring a sleeping bag with you and plenty of provisions – food and drink options are pretty much non-existent along the trail.
One thing that the trail has in abundance is drinking water – you can fill up your water bottle at any of Iceland’s glacial rivers or springs along the way. An average level of fitness is required and you should prepare to walk the Laugavegur trail by tackling a few long-distance walks with climbing a few days in a row to get used to a multi-day itinerary.
The Laugavegur trail is fairly challenging and is definitely rewarding, but it is one of Iceland’s easier routes. The most difficult hike in Iceland, certainly in terms of ascent, is the climb to the top of Hvannadalshnjúkur – Iceland’s tallest peak.
This hike is only achievable in the middle of summer when the long hours of daylight mean you don’t have to descend in the dark. The entire hike takes around fifteen hours to complete and involves an elevation of around 2,110 metres.
The trail is only open for a short window each year – usually between late June and the end of August. During that window, it is estimated that around 10,000 people hike the trail.
So it is not as crowded as some of the more famous multi-day hiking routes in Europe, and you can still feel very much as though you’re in the wilderness, unspoiled by human interference.
However, spaces in the mountain huts and at campsites do fill up, so it is essential to book your Laugavegur accommodation in advance.
You do not need a guide or a permit to hike the Laugavegur trail – you can navigate the way yourself, but you must book overnight stays in the mountain huts or campsites in advance.
There are plenty of guided walking tours of the Laugavegur trail available with all the logistics sorted out for you including transfers from Reykjavík, accommodation along the route and a guide to show you the way.
For a nice balance between the two, consider a self-guide hut-to-hut Laugavegur trek where a tour company takes care of the boring logistics like transport and accommodation and you have the freedom to navigate your own way between each point.