Remarkably colorful mountains encircle the valley of Landmannalaugar. The rich colors of the slopes strike an outstanding contrast with the glittering obsidian lava fields. What adds even more to its value is the natural hot spring in which visitors can freely bathe all year round. Exploring this extraordinary site is one of the best things any nature enthusiast can do in Iceland.
6- Day Hiking Tour On Iceland’s Famous Laugavegur Trail
Hiking in the Highlands of Iceland
Landmannalaugar is a stunning valley in the Icelandic highlands famed for its colorful mountains and geothermal pools. It’s best known as a starting point of the Laugavegur Trail — one of the top 20 hikes in the world. With its bright rhyolite mountains, warm hot springs, and otherworldly landscapes, it should come as no surprise that Landmannalaugar is considered the Pearl of the Highlands.
Translating to “the People’s Pools” in English, Landmannalaugar was historically used as a remote geothermal retreat. During periods of travel, settlers visited the Landmannalaugar baths to pause and recharge before continuing their long journey. Now, the area’s long tradition lives on through trekkers who relax at the pools after a long day’s hike.
Landmannalaugar is a go-to spot for adventurers who want to get close to Iceland’s most rare and beautiful natural formations. Here are quick facts about Landmannalaugar geography:
Landmannalaugar is a geothermal oasis found in the remote tundra of the interior of Iceland, in the Icelandic Highlands. It’s located in the Southern Highlands within the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, a name that means the “Mountain’s Back”.
From Reykjavík, it is about a 3-hour drive (112 mi. / 180 km) to Landmannalaugar, even though it’s always good to count on having quite a few stops along the way as the landscape is too beautiful to drive past without stopping. Visiting Landmannalaugar can fit in a day trip.
The easiest way to get to Landmannalaugar is to drive south via Road 1 / the Ring Road. After a bit more than an hour’s drive along the South Coast, take Road 26 inland. It is a gravel road that leads by the stunning Hekla volcano.
Follow this road for about 35 minutes and then take the F225, called Landmannaleið, ‘the road leading to Landmannalaugar’. It eventually ends in Road F208. Follow the signs and take Road F224 to reach the basecamp.
Roads leading into the Highlands are only open during the summer months, from late June until early September. As roads in the Highlands aren’t paved and the road conditions can easily change depending on the weather, we recommend using a 4X4 car.
Summer is the best time to visit Landmannalaugar as this is when it reveals its vibrant colors and its landscape is in its fullest glory. The best thing to do in Landmannalaugar is to explore the area on foot and that’s most enjoyable in summer.
Landmannalaugar is just as amazing and inviting in winter as it is in summer, though. However, for those who would like to drive themselves, the area is only accessible during the summer months.
In winter, only specialized Superjeeps can reach the Highlands. That’s why we offer adventurous trips to Landmannalaugar all winter - the weather is never an obstacle. Welcome to the only warm ice in the world.
In winter, the area shows off a completely different side. The mountains and valleys are covered with a thick layer of snow and the campground is empty. The hot spring is still warm, the Northern Lights can appear at any time, and the huts remain open for tour guests. Winter is the best time to visit Landmannalaugar for those who would like to escape the crowds and enjoy the ultimate serenity the Icelandic Highlands have to offer.
Due to their rugged and unpaved terrain, highland F-Roads are only accessible during the summer months (June-September). The bumpy and river-filled F-Roads, unfortunately, make it impossible to drive with a standard vehicle.
Don’t have 4x4 vehicle access? You can get to Landmannalaugar without a 4x4 on one of our guided Landmannalaugar tours with easy transport to and from Reykjavik. Want to explore Landmannalaugar during winter? Gaze up at the dancing aurora while being surrounded by Landmannalaugar nature on a popular Northern Lights super jeep excursion.
Similar to the rest of Iceland, the weather at Landmannalaugar can be unpredictable. It’s possible to face chilly winds, snow/rain, and warm sun all in one day. Yet, while the weather may be unpredictable, Landmannalaugar’s stunning view always remains the same and makes any weather worth your while.
Summer temperatures at Landmannalaugar range between 5 and 15°C (41-59°F). No matter the temperature, we always recommend that trekkers bring warm layers as the strong winds can be brisk. During winter, expect temperatures to hover around -5°C (23°F).
Before heading out, make sure to check the road and weather conditions. If you want to get an even better peek at the weather, take a look through a live Landmannalaugar webcam.
Landmannalaugar Valley’s dynamic terrain and geothermal hot springs create the ultimate trekking environment. To enjoy all that Landmannalaugar has to offer, we recommend going on a day or multi-day tour with knowledgeable hiking guides.
Landmannalaugar is the northern starting point for the Laugavegur Trail — not only Iceland’s number one trek, but also one of the best hikes across the globe. The 55 km hiking trail in the Southern Highlands links Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork (the “Valley of Thor”) and takes around 4 days to complete.
We recommend booking a guided Laugavegur Trail tour to get up close and personal to the famous trail’s snow-capped mountains, green valleys, and remote locations. Our Laugavegur multi-day hikes truly make planning easy—simply walk through Landmannalaugar’s colorful mountainscape while we take care of hut-to-hut luggage transport and accommodation.
For adventurers who want to spend more time exploring Landmannalaugar’s stunning natural wonders, it’s possible to go on a Landmannalaugar multi-day hike. Journey into the geothermal wonderland as you discover the area’s top attractions, including Brennisteinsalda Volcano, Vondugil Canyon, Lake Frostastadavatn, and the Blue Peak of Landmannalaugar.
Only want to spend the day at Landmannalaugar? The area is also an excellent spot for day hikes. The Brennistainsalda (Sulfur Wave) Hike is a 3-4 hour hike that takes you up the colorful Brennisteinsalda rhyolite mountain. The hike is only 6.7 km in length, making it a top option for hikers looking for a short trail to explore.
Another option is the Blahnukur (the Blue Peak) Hike — a beautiful 5.6 km hike that leads you up Landmannalaugar’s famous Bláhnúkur Mountain. True to its name, the mountain’s dazzling blue color makes it worth the steep climb. When you reach the top, a mindblowing highland landscape awaits you.
Landmannalaugar Valley is filled with geothermal hot springs that are unlike any others in the Highlands. With warm water temperatures and brilliant mountain panoramas, these springs are the perfect place to relax after a day’s hike.
Want to add a hot spring soak to your hiking adventure? Our Landmannalaugar day and multi-day tours include guided visits to the best geothermal pools in the valley.
We recommend booking a geothermal bathing tour at Landmannalaugar. Hike through the Landmannalaugar and Hekla Volcano region before bathing in a geothermal paradise. The lava-heated waters and surrounding views are sure to make unforgettable memories.
While there aren’t many hotels near Landmannalaugar Valley, visitors are able to stay at mountain huts and campsites in the area. Staying overnight at mountain huts and campsites is always a great addition to an already thrilling adventure.
When planning your Landmannalaugar trip, keep in mind that the area is a very popular spot. This is especially true for the mountain hut, which requires booking far in advance. If you don’t want to deal with the stress of booking accommodation, our guided hiking tours will take care of that for you.
The Icelandic Touring Association operates a large mountain hut for Landmannalaugar visitors staying overnight. The hut is conveniently situated next to Laugahraun lava field and Landmannalaugar hot springs.
Landmannalaugar hut is equipped with a toilet house and guests are able to use showers at an extra cost of 500 ISK. The hut’s accommodation includes a sleeping hall, bunk beds, and dorm rooms. Sleeping bags and blankets are not provided, so don’t forget to pack your summer sleeping bag!
The hut also comes with all kitchen essentials, including warm running water and a gas stove. And though it isn’t possible to buy warms meals in the area, you can find basic goods at the Mountain Mall — an old school bus now used as a supplies shop.
Aside from Landmannalaugar’s mountain hut, hikers can also tent at a large campground in the valley. There’s a parking lot connected to the campsite, where it is possible to park your vehicle overnight. We recommend campers bring along a therma-rest to make sure they stay warm overnight.
Landmannalaugar’s campsite fee includes access to a heated building with showers and toilets. There’s also an open dining space where guests can mingle and eat together. The site also has a Landmannalaugar Visitor Center, an information point for hikers who want to buy trail maps or get updated on the current weather conditions.
The tourist facilities at the base camp are fairly impressive. A big, two-floor mountain hut is located in the center of the base camp. It is owned by Ferðafélag Íslands, the Icelandic Touring Association. Downstairs is a spacious sleeping cabin with bunk beds, a kitchen, a large hall, and a storage room. Upstairs are three separate sleeping cabins and a small attic.
A large campground surrounds the lodge with space for hundreds of tents. The ground is, however, quite stony so it can be quite troublesome to stake tents there.
The campsite offers roofed cooking facilities and a dining area for campers with excellent sanitary facilities available in another heated building. The warm bathing pool is situated some 328 ft. (100 m) from the showers.
The Fjallabak Nature Reserve is famous for its wild and rugged landscapes with colorful mountains and deep valleys. The glacier-topped volcano, Torfajökull, shaped the area through many volcanic eruptions and a high amount of geothermal activity, which still remains today.
This region’s the largest rhyolite area in Iceland and the second largest geothermal area after Grímsvötn, which is hidden deep within the mighty Vatnajökul glacier. The hot springs and geothermal pools at Landmannalaugar are but one of many signs of the high geothermal activity in the region.
The bedrock of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve is approximately 8–10 million years old. The central volcano has erupted many times over the last 10,000 years, with the last eruption taking place around 1480 CE. This eruption formed most of the sites that we can see in Landmannalaugar today: the lava fields of Laugahraun, Námshraun, and Norđurnámshraun as well as the crater lake, Ljótipollur.
The Fjallabak Nature Reserve was established in 1979. It covers 47,000 hectares (470 sq. km) and protects the land’s natural features so that future travelers will have the opportunity to enjoy them as we do today.
The most remarkable natural attraction is the unique landscape itself. The mountains are made of rhyolite while the other geological elements - such as sulfur, iron, and moss - have painted the slopes in various shades of brown, yellow, pink, red, and blue.
The two most impressive mountains, Brennisteinsalda, the “Sulfur Wave”, and Bláhnúkur, the “Blue Peak”, are located very close to each other. This allows their colors to play off one another. Brennisteinsalda is mainly yellow with patches of red, pink, and some blue, while Bláhnúkur is dark grey and blue with patches of green. The additional patches of white snow add even more contrast to the scene.
The most impressive lava field, Laugahraun, and the neighboring fields of Hrafntinnuhraun and Namshraun were created between 872 and 1480 CE. Colorful mountains surround these lava fields that stretch across the valleys. According to the local folklore, the solidified lava is home to all kinds of hidden creatures, such as trolls and elves. When you walk among the odd rock formations, it feels like being in another world.
From the edge of the Laugahraun lava field, several hot water streams spring up and become mixed with some cold water sources to create a warm river. In the past, people created a bathing area on the warm river that is still in use and free to the public. The word Landmannalaugar translates as the “People’s Pool”, referring to the long history of travelers enjoying the benefits of this warm oasis in the middle of nowhere.
The naturally warm pool is an ideal bathing place all year round with temperature that remains around 36–40ºC (96.8–104ºF) even in the middle of the snowy winter.
There is a picturesque canyon near the foot of Bláhnúkur and close to the base camp that offers very curious natural sights. The walls of the canyon are made of a type of green rock that looks completely surreal. It’s a very easy and rewarding hike to the canyon, suitable for those with a tight timeframe, families with children, and people who are not used to hiking.
The name of this site is absolutely misleading. Ljótipollur is a small crater lake that is not at all ugly. It’s a stunning gem full of blue water with green mosses growing along the slopes of the surrounding crater, surrounded by red lava rock.
Ljótipollur is located 5.6 mi. (9 km) from the basecamp. To go there and back is a nice day hike or just an half-an-hour’s drive.
Landmannalaugar is filled with fascinating hiking trails. The length and the difficulty of the trails are highly varied as well as the landscapes they lead across. The most popular short trails are the ones that cross the Laugahraun lava field and lead up to Brennisteinsalda and Bláhnúkur volcanoes.
One trail starts at the base camp and leads to the peaks of both mountains at approximately 2950 and 3280 ft. (900 and 1000m). The loop hike is approximately 6.2 mi. (10 km) long and takes 5–6 hours to walk as it takes about 2–3 hours to reach each summit.
Landmannalaugar is also the starting or ending point for the famous Laugavegur Trek, which has been listed among the best hikes in the world by National Geographic and many other outdoor magazines. The Laugavegur Trail leads south through the Fjallabak Nature Reserve and ends in the forested valley of Thórsmörk. This much-loved hiking route is about 34 mi. (55 km) long and commonly takes hikers 3–5 days to complete.
For those who plan to hike in the Icelandic Highlands, we recommend the following gear:
The natural environment in Landmannalaugar is as delicate as it is enchanting. Driving off-road is illegal everywhere in Iceland and is subject to heavy fines.
Avoid walking outside of the designated hiking paths and do not step on the moss. Remember to leave no trace! The slightest bit of damage can cause irreversible erosion that can easily spread over a larger area. Do not litter and be kind enough to pick up any trash that others have left behind.
When hiking in the Highlands, it’s crucial to have a GPS device with you. Storms, poor visual conditions, and network coverage problems can occur at any time in this remote wilderness. If you plan on going for a hike alone, always leave your travel plan behind.
Always check the weather forecast, road conditions, and safety warnings before you hit the road. Get more tips at safetravel.is.
Visiting Landmannalaugar could easily be the highlight of your trip to Iceland. Regardless of the season in which you visit, this colorful oasis in the barren Arctic wilderness will surely bring you unforgettable memories!