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Hike Landmannalaugar: A Day Hiker's Guide

Updated: Oct 11, 2019

Landmannalaugar is a one-of-a-kind place to visit in Iceland. This wonderful area features an intense geothermal activity, which is reflected in the numerous hot springs, small fumaroles on the ground, and colorful rhyolite rocks. This place is located in Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the Icelandic highlands. It is located about 180 km or 110 mi from Reykjavík and 270 km or 166 mi from Akureyri.

Its name comes from the Icelandic translation “pools of the people”. Several geothermal hot springs have been part of the life of the locals for centuries. Make sure to pack your swimsuit and towel when you visit Landmannalaugar. You will definitely want to dip into these warm waters after an intense Landmannalaugar hike.

Before heading to hike Landmannalaugar, you should know that planning a road-trip to the highlands is not a simple task. The roads to access this incredible scenery are not paved as on the Ring road. They can get a bit bumpy and too steep sometimes. Also, some sections of the road do not have bridges. Even if you rent a suitable type of car, it could still be a challenge to get here.

Tourist during his Landmannalaugar hike in colorful mountains

Landmannalaugar hike tours in Iceland

Enjoy a special day-tour to Landmannalaugar on board a specially designed 4x4 bus. It will take you across a few river crossings as we travel through the majestic Icelandic highlands. If you do not have much time in Iceland, booking a day-trip will surely come in handy. Landmannalaugar by Bus tour departs from Reykjavik, Hella, and Leirubakki on summer months. If you are not driving on your trip to Iceland, this is your best alternative to explore the highlands.

This tour is a great opportunity for those wanting to discover Iceland’s best-kept secrets. At first, you may probably think this scenery was taken out from an apocalyptic movie set. But there is no need to worry, you will also see some green patches along the way that will color your ride. You will discover a place surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, such as volcanoes, mountain peaks, and green moss.

Landmannalaugar may be accessed any day of the year. If you are visiting Iceland in the summer months, you will enjoy clear, beautiful landscapes that include: rhyolite mountains of different color variations, huge craters, and active volcanoes to name a few. Not to mention, the different day-hikes options available when the weather is nice out. Summer tours are highly popular from mid-June thru mid-September, so booking in advance is a must. The days in summer are long so you will have plenty of time to explore the area.

Traveling in winter? Not a problem! A Super Jeep Winter Tour is available to visit Landmannalaugar all year round. Get a hold of the true Icelandic winter wonderland on board of a super jeep, capable of reaching undiscovered paths along the way. Explore the enigmatic lava fields, frozen lakes and enjoy a relaxing bath in the hot springs. If you are lucky, you could possibly spot the Aurora borealis away from the city lights. Come along for the ride and join us in this incredible adventure through the Icelandic highlands.

Remember that traditional 4x4 SUV’s or any standard vehicles are not suitable to enter F-roads during winter. Please do not attempt driving on F-roads as it may cause irreparable damages to the rentals and in most cases, void the guarantee. Super jeeps, on the other hand, are capable of driving on snow, so they could access difficult paths, including rivers.

Mountain hut in Landmannalaugar where you can rest before day hike

What can I do in Landmannalaugar Hike?

  • Visit the natural hot springs

Landmannalaugar was originally known as the place where Icelanders come to enjoy the hot-spring waters. These hot springs are suitable for swimming and they are open all year round, no entry fee. After a long day hike, enjoy a warm relaxing bath on these clear springs. This is a very cozy setting as it is surrounded by massive colorful hills. After you arrive at the Landmannalaugar’s information cabin, simply walk a few meters on the boardwalk to get to the hot-spring.

  • Lodging in Landmannalaugar

There are no big hotel chains or guesthouses in this remote location. You only have two options if you wish to sleep here. There is a hut (green roof) where tourists can sleep, bringing their own sleeping bag. It has about 80 beds distributed on a two-story cottage. The place is cozy and it opens all year round. The second option is camping, set up your tent and use basic services such as toilet, showers and kitchen areas at a small service fee.

Woman admiring a magnificent landscape of Landmannalaugar while hiking

Landmannalaugar hike - best one-day hikes

There are a few interesting things you can do while visiting Landmannalaugar. Landmannalaugar hike is by far one of the most popular activities among visitors. Don’t worry, there is a hiking path for everybody whether you are an adventuresome or a beginner.

  • Laugahraun lava field

Begin your day-hike by exploring the Laugahraun lava field trail, a very popular rhyolite field formed right after the terrain was settled. You should know that the starting point is located at the back of the campsite. Just follow the red and white indicators that will lead the way through. This hike-trail is relatively easy and suitable for all ages because of its circular shape. It is interesting to see how the lava remains blends with colorful rocks along the way. Laugahraun was a result of Brennisteinsalda volcano eruption back in the year 1400.

  • Mt. Brennisteinsalda

Continue your way up to the top of Mt. Brennisteinsalda where you will witness the untamed landscape from the summit. The generous glacier, valleys and lava fields vistas are truly rewarding after a 2-3 hour hike. We will notice the steam coming out from the mountain. Since this is a geothermal terrain, a particular eggy-smell will indicate that you have reached the top. This is normal as the sulfuric gases are being constantly released into the air. Try not to get too close to those vents as you may get easily burned.

If you are into photography, do not miss out this hike as the landscape here is incredible. The color variations of the rhyolite mountains are simply formidable. This area was devastated by a volcano eruption so it is interesting to see the lava course still present on the ground. A huge lava wall is found at the end, forming a unique landscape of contrasts.

  • Mt. Bláhnjúkur

Another interesting hiking trail leads to the popular Bláhnúkur, also known as Blue Peak in English. If you are struggling to pronounce the word in Icelandic, just say Blue Peak. Thousands of visitors come attracted by the mountain’s black and blue body. As you get closer to the summit or higher slopes, a panoramic view of the volcano peaks awaits. Also, black lava fields are spotted from the distance along with razor-shaped mountains. This hike usually takes 3 hours from Landmannalaugar base camp. It will all depend on your pace and how many stops you choose to make along the way. The hike-trail may be a bit uneven and steep, so watch your step at all times. The way down may take a bit longer as there are unmarked sections on the trail. Don’t worry, there are different paths to reach the valley right between the mountains. After crossing a small river, you will be just a few meters away from the campsite.

  • Laugavegur Trail

Landmannalaugar is the starting point of the famous multi-day Laugavegur Trail leading toward Þórsmörk. This hike will require more preparation compared to day-hikes. It usually takes 3-4 days and 55 kilometers or 34 miles to fully complete it. Experienced hikers say that you must be physically to complete this adventure. You should know that the scenery is varied but so is the weather, so packing wisely is very important. Since this is a multi-day trail, there is a great hut network along the way. You could also set out a tent outside these huts to sleep for the night. Laugavegur hike Trail may be a recommended activity to visit during summer months. Visit this iconic Landmannalaugar hike, known to be one of the world’s best treks.

Rhyolite mountains of Landmannalaugar- best place to hike in Iceland

Landmannalaugar Hiking Trips

If you wish to have a great time on your hike, take a look at these useful tips. These will truly come in handy when planning a visit to this incredible landscape in Iceland.

  1. Buy groceries and other supplies in advance. There are no supermarkets in kilometers so it is always best to bring everything you need. You may be able to buy some basic snacks or coffee at Mountain Mall, a small bus shop in the area. The prices are way more expensive compared to large shops found in cities nearby. They do take credit cards and foreign cash.

  2. If you are camping, make sure to bring a proper tent for your expedition. These must be water, dust and windproof. The temperatures may drop dramatically at night so make sure your tent is properly insulated. Don’t forget to bring a comfy mat and warm sleeping bag with you.

  3. Remember to speak to the park wardens before your hiking in Landmannalaugar begins. The information hut locates right at the meeting and service area so you will not miss it. Always assess the hike-trails conditions before heading out.

  4. Be mindful of the wildlife and vegetation at all times. Use the “leave no trace” motto while camping and exploring the trails as every impact you make, affects future generations. Please be wary of the boiling mud banks when entering the hot pool. Since they are too hot, you could get burned.

  5. If you have a smartphone, download the 112 Iceland App for free. This application will send your location to the emergency services in case something happens and help is needed. Check their website for more details.

Best time to hike in Landmannalaugar

You could visit Landmannalaugar all year round but there are some considerations you should take. Depending on the weather conditions, the access to the area may be restricted before the season is over. Most people visit the area from late June until late September each year. However, the dates are never fixed so do not always rely on previous years’ openings.

If you wish to explore Laugavegur Hiking Trail, you could do so in spring even when some parts of the trek have snow patches. There may be some slippery sections as the ground contains high moisture levels due to melting snow. Always take a piece of safety advice from the wardens seriously before venturing on the trail. All the hut network at Þórsmörk area will be open all year round.

During the fall, you could expect fewer people on the trails and nice weather most days. Some nights may feel colder and darker than others during this season. There are no lights in this mountainous region so pack a portable camping light with you.

Summer, however, is the ideal season to visit Landmannalaugar as great weather conditions are expected then. You should know that the sun will be visible 24h in summer. No wonder Iceland is called “the land of the midnight sun”. Bringing an eye-mask if you are planning to camp on a tent is a must. Since most tourists visit the area in summer, you could experience “people traffic” at the most popular trails in Landmannalaugar.

Tourist hiking in Landmannalaugar around the steamy volcanic lava field

What to wear while a hike in Landmannalaugar

You should know that carrying the proper equipment for your trip is fundamental, especially if you come to Iceland. This island's weather does not follow the season order like in other places. Nature here loves to play around, causing unexpected surprises to fellow travelers. It is not unusual for a pouring rain to appear on a clear-sky day in Iceland. There are some items that will help you have the time of your life when hiking in Landmannalaugar.

Wearing proper footwear is important. Don’t always look for the most trendy ones, but think about the comfort and water-resistant kind. Hiking boots are usually the best choice among experienced hikers. These dry very quickly so they are ideal for any weather.

  1. Pack waterproof, layered and comfortable clothing for the hikes. Proper footwear is fundamental as the temperatures could get too low sometimes. A raincoat, cape or parka are really good items to consider. You could experience all types of weather in the same day, so being prepared is important.

  2. Carrying a dry set of clothes with you does come in handy while hiking in Landmannalaugar. In fact, this is essential as coming in unprepared may cause discomfort during your traverse or worse, ruin the whole trip. Bring a few fresh shirts, socks, underwear and pants so you could change and avoid getting a cold.

  3. Wear sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat on your hike as the sun may get too intense at times, especially when climbing those steep mountain trails. During the winter season, the snow may also cause some burning to the skin so it is better to stay protected.

  4. Don’t forget a pack of batteries or an external power bank, phone and camera charging cables. You will not want to miss a perfect photo while exploring Landmannalaugar. There is electricity in the service areas of the park so you could recharge your electronics. During high season, it may get too crowded there so having your personal source of energy is also great.

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