Iceland is an outdoor lover’s paradise. The land of cascading waterfalls, sprawling lava fields, and challenging glacier treks has something for everyone. What many may not know, however, is that Iceland is also an ideal destination for hikers. The country has some of the best hiking trails on Earth. Landmannalaugar in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve is the destination of choice for hiking enthusiasts who come to our small Nordic island. There are several popular hiking trails in the area such as the Laugavegur trail. Deep, plunging valleys, placid lakes and colorful, rugged mountains made of rhyolite volcanic rock form the breathtaking landscape of this extraordinary Icelandic territory. We’ll look at several favorite hiking trails in Landmannalaugar, but today we want to focus on one: The Laugavegur Trail.
Landmannalaugar and the Icelandic Highlands
Because Landmannalaugar lies in the heart of the Icelandic Highlands, unfortunately, it is not accessible all year long. Between late October and late May, the country’s F-Roads (mountain roads) shut down due to safety concerns. But from June to September you’ll be able to come and take in the breathtaking scenery of Landmannalaugar. It’s definitely possible to explore the area on your own with a rental car or campervan. Just make sure that whichever vehicle you choose has a four-wheel drive. It’s mandated by law for driving in Iceland on F-Roads.
This may surprise many people, but you also want to be sure to pack your swimsuit. The area is known for its geothermal hot pools and hot springs. Landmannalaugar actually means “the people’s pools” in Icelandic. Temperatures range from warm to scalding hot, so test the water and always use precaution and common sense before taking a dip. When staying overnight in Landmannalaugar, you’ll need to find some sort of campsite. There are no hotels in the area. Typical accommodation is at an Icelandic mountain hut and remember; you have to provide your own sleeping bag!
Landmannalaugar Hiking Trails – The Laugavegur Trail
The Laugavegur Trail (Laugavegurinn) is probably the best-known hiking trail in Iceland. Some come to the country just to hike this trail. It takes a bit longer to trek than some others (around three or four days), but the diverse landscapes you’ll encounter are worth it. You’ll find everything from the lush, green meadows of Thórsmörk Valley to the volcanic lava fields scattered throughout the territory. You should plan ahead and book your accommodation at mountain huts along the 53 km (33 mi) route as far in advance as possible to make sure you always have a place to stay. The most popular way to do this segment of a longer trail is to start in Landmannalaugar and make your way to Thórsmörk. If you decide to extend it to Skógar and the South Coast, this adds another 25 km (15 mi) to your trek.
Both Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers are located close by, so perhaps the sight of these icy giants will inspire you to keep heading towards the coast. If you add this option, you’ll continue on the Fimmvörðuháls hiking trail starting in Skógar.
Popular Hiking Trails in Landmannalaugar | The Laugavegur Trail
Next time we’ll cover some other favorite hiking trails in Landmannalaugar such as the Sulphur Wave trail, the Ugly Puddle trail, the Sprengisandur trail, the trail to Blue Peak Mountain, and Hellismannaleið trail. This last trail is especially neat. It goes around the base of Hekla, an active volcano! The vibrant pinks, oranges, and reds of the rhyolite volcanic rock of Landmannalaugar’s mountains will make you want to explore as much of this area as possible. Happy trails!