Set in the highlands and formed from volcanic activity, Landmannalaugar is one of the most stunning places to visit in Iceland. Hike over colourful mountains, bath in natural geothermal pools and discover natural wonders in a unique and colourful landscape.
Landmannalaguar is a wild and stunning area in the Iceland highlands set in a dramatic location on the edge of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Situated within a massive caldera, the volcanic eruption that formed the area released rhyolite lava, rather than the much more common basalt.
The result is an area of sweeping colourful mountains stained a burnt orange and red hue; sandy-coloured gravel cut by glacial rivers and bubbling mud pots within steely-black lava fields.
The striking array of contrasting colours and shapes provides the setting for some of the best hiking in Iceland. Trails cross canyons and over narrow ridges; each turn offering remarkable views and abundant photographic opportunities.
Access to Landmannalaguar involves travelling over bumpy rock-strewn tracks and through the occasional river. But getting here is half the fun and there is nothing unachievable for anyone with a suitable 4×4 vehicle.
This guide covers all you need to know about visiting Landmanalaugar including how to get there, breath-taking sights to see on the way, organised tours and how best to enjoy this unique destination in the Iceland Highlands.
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WHERE IS LANDMANNALAUGAR?
Landmannalaugar is in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the southern part of Iceland’s Highlands, about 180 kilometres (111 miles) from Reykjavík. It’s a remote region of Iceland that can only be reached by driving on the mountain roads or F-roads.
The area is centred around Landmannalaugar Campground, which is the starting point for several stunning hikes where you’ll walk along valleys cut by glacial rivers, across lava fields and over colourful rhyolite mountains. Landmannalaugar is considered one of the best hiking destinations in Iceland thanks to the breathtaking scenery.
HOW TO GET TO LANDMANNALAUGAR
Landmannalaugar is one of the best places to visit in Iceland’s Highlands, but to get here you’ll need to travel on the mountain roads or F-roads. F-roads are unpaved gravel tracks that are not regularly maintained and often include river crossings, driving over sand and very bumpy conditions. Only 4WD vehicles are permitted to drive on F-Roads.
There are four ways to get to Landmannalaugar: self-drive, take the highland bus, get a private tour, or hike in from Thórsmörk.
OPTION 1 – SELF-DRIVING TO LANDMANNALAUGAR
There are three routes for driving to Landmannalaugar. For each of these routes you will need a 4×4 vehicle that is authorized by your rental car company to be driven on F-roads. We cover this topic in much more detail in our how to get to Landmannalaugar guide including detailed self-drive instructions.
F26/F208 FROM THE NORTH
This route is the easiest route to drive to Landmannalaugar and one of the easiest F-roads in Iceland. Most of the journey is along easy-to-drive gravel tracks with a few short bumpy sections. There is nothing too challenging and there are no river crossings. Travel time – 1 hour, 30 minutes from the junction of Route 26 and Route 32.
F225 FROM THE WEST
The F225 is not very bumpy or rough, but there are three or four river crossings. In normal conditions, they are relatively easy (not very deep or wide) and could be done in any sized 4×4. Travel time – Allow 1 hour and 20 minutes from the junction of Route 26 and F225 to Landmannalaugar.
F208 FROM THE SOUTH
This is the most difficult self-drive route into Landmannalaugar. The F208 from the south is long and involves three sizeable river crossings which can be deep. In normal conditions, they can be crossed with a large 4×4 vehicle, and sometimes with a medium 4×4 with a more experienced driver. Rangers are often positioned along the road to offer advice. Travel time – Allow 2 hours, 30 minutes from the junction of Route 290 & 208.
Having driven to Landmannalaugar several times, we suggest you take the F26/F208 (easiest) and ask the ranger at the information hut what the conditions are like to return on the F225. If they say it’s OK, you’ll have a great circular trip, if not you can return via the F26/F208
Reaching the camp – Just before reaching Landmannalaugar Camp there is a medium-sized river crossing. If you don’t fancy crossing it, there is plenty of parking just before the river and a pedestrian walkway so you can do the last 100 metres or so on foot.
DRIVING TO LANDMANNALAUGAR MAP
This map contains the 3 different routes you can take to drive into Landmannalaugar. Please note – there is no gas station at Landmannalaugar so make sure you fill up before entering the highlands or at the Hrauneyjar Highland Centre on the northern section of the F208.
OPTION 2 – HIGHLAND BUS TO LANDMANNALAUGAR
If you have not hired a 4×4 or don’t want to drive on the F-roads, a regular bus service operates from Reykjavík called the Highland Bus.
Reykjavík Excursions runs one bus a day each way to Landmannalaugar. It starts in Reykjavík (4 hours 15 minutes) and stops at Hella (2 hours 45 minutes) and Rjúpnavellir (2 hours) before arriving in Landmannalaugar just after 11 am.
The bus makes the return journey in the afternoon departing from Landmannalaugar just before 4 pm. This usually leaves plenty of time to undertake a good hike and soak in the geothermal pool.
Tickets are US$85 return from Hella or US$120 from Reykjavík.
OPTION 3 – TOURS TO LANDMANNALAUGAR
There are some great tours to Landmannalaugar that allow you to see this remarkable landscape without any of the stress of getting there. One is a simple hiking tour, another visits Haifoss waterfall along the way, and the third is a Super Jeep tour where you travel in a modified vehicle that visits places you could not otherwise get to.
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OPTION 4 – HIKE INTO LANDMANNALAUGAR
The most energetic way to reach Landmannalaugar is to hike in from Thórsmörk. The 3-day Laugavegur Trail covers some of the most unique and spectacular landscapes in Europe.
This guided hike tour includes all meals and accommodation, an expert Icelandic guide and luggage transportation – so you only carry what you need for the day.
HIKES IN LANDMANNALAUGAR
While getting to Landmannalaugar is an adventure in itself, the reason most people make the journey is to hike. The trails that spread out from Landmannalaugar Camp are well marked and easy to follow and the views are simply sensational.
You can find more detailed descriptions and route directions of the trails in our guide to the best hikes in Landmannalaugar, but here’s a quick overview.
01. LAUGAHRAUN LOOP
This is a wonderful walk through the lava field behind Landmannalaugar camp. As you pick your way through the black volcanic rock the trail takes you under colourful green, red, yellow mountains and bubbling mud pots. It’s an excellent short and easy introduction to the area.
02. BRENNISTEINSALDA LOOP
Mount Brennisteinsalda is known as the Sulphur Wave due to its slopes of yellow sulphur and red iron. This hike takes you through the Laugahraun lava field then up onto its slopes to the summit. The views are wonderful as is the walk back down the other side. The northern path down was closed on our last visit (July 2022), due to soil erosion so until it reopens you can only attain the summit from the south. Ask at the Warden’s Desk in Landmannalaugar for the latest information before you set off.
03. MOUNT BLÁHNJÚKUR
Mount Bláhnjúkur (meaning blue peak) towers above Landmannalaugar, its blue-black sides and green flanks sit in stark contrast to the red and brown hills that surround it. This remarkable hike takes you to the summit for unparalleled views of the area before descending back into the lava field and along the edge of the Graenagil Canyon. It’s our favourite day hikes in Landmannalaugar, but the path is often steep with precipitous drops on one or both sides. There is also a river to cross at the end which may involve taking off your shoes and socks and wading through
04. BLÁHNJÚKUR & BRENNISTEINSALDA CIRCLE
A great day out is to combine walks 1, 2 & 3. By completing all three loops, you get the trifecta of Landmannalaugar vistas: magnificent views of Bláhnjúkur; the other-worldly sulphurous vents and earthy hues of Brennisteinsalda; and the spiky lava field of Laugahraun. It’s a long day, but very rewarding day. As mentioned above, check the status of the northern Brennisteinsalda path at the Warden’s Desk.
05. LJÓTIPOLLUR LOOP
Ljótipollur means ‘ugly pond’ but don’t let the name fool you. The shimmering blue lake that sits in the red-stained 4-kilometre diameter crater is nothing short of stunning. This is a short, relatively easy walk that gets you close to the unusual landscape of the crater. But, the highlight is the views across to the mountains surrounding Landmannalaugar which are some of the best you’ll find in Iceland.
This hike leaves the crowds behind and takes you to the summit of Sudurnamur, a fine peak on a ridgeline that runs along the northern edge of the lava field. It’s a challenging half-day hike, but once you are up on the ridge there are not only continual views back across to the lava field, Brennisteinsalda and Mount Bláhnjúkur, but also across the entire region. In 2022 the path down Sudurnamur was closed due to soil erosion so until it reopens you can only attain the summit from the east and then return the way you came. Ask at the Warden’s Desk for the latest information.
07. LAUGAVEGUR TRAIL
The 3-day Laugavegur Trail from Landmannalaugar covers some of the most unique and spectacular landscapes in Europe. This guided hike tour includes all meals and accommodation, an expert Icelandic guide and luggage transportation – so you only need to carry what you need for the day.
All the details, including maps, are in our guide to hiking Landmanalaugar.
THE HOT SPRINGS AT LANDMANNALAUGAR
After exploring Landmannalaugar on foot, one of the best ways to unwind is in the geothermal pool. Tucked into a scenic corner under the edge of the lava field and surrounded by green banks, it’s a beautiful spot for a relaxing soak.
The temperatures in this naturally occurring hot spring range from 36°C to 40°C (97°F to 104°F) and you’ll most likely find people huddled near the warmest section towards the far edge of the pool. There’s a wooden platform to change and a partition to hang up some clothes and a towel, but otherwise, there’s no privacy.
With warm water temperatures and brilliant mountain panoramas, these springs are the perfect place to relax after a day’s hike.
FACILITIES AT LANDMANNALAUGAR
There is no hotel at Landmannalaugar nor is there a gas station – so make sure you fill up before you leave. There are however a few basic facilities.
LANDMANNALAUGAR MOUNTAIN HUT
Landmannalaugar Hut sleeps 78 people over two floors in dormitory-style accommodation. There’s a shared kitchen that’s fully equipped with the essentials to make your own delicious meal as well as a toilet and shower block, and a covered communal dining area.
The hut is open from mid-June to mid-September and the campground is first come first served.
The Warden’s Office is next to the hut and staffed by rangers who can provide information about the area including the conditions of the road and the hiking trails. The office is open from 8 am to 7 pm and 8 pm to 10 pm.
SHOP – MOUNTAIN MALL
The Mountain Mall is a large green bus that is set up as a shop throughout the summer period. You’ll be able to buy snacks for your hike including sandwiches, chocolate bars, crisps (chips). After you’ve finished your hike, you can grab a beer from the bus (or a coffee or hot chocolate) and enjoy it on the tables set up out the front. They also have a few essentials such as mosquito repellent, sunblock etc.
WHERE TO STAY
Even if you’re just visiting Landmannalaugar on a day trip, it’s a good idea to base yourself near the start of the F-roads, so you don’t have too far to travel once you’re back on the main roads. This will give you more time to enjoy the area.
NEAR F26/F208 ROUTE — ÁLFTRÖÐ GUESTHOUSE
Álftröð is a great value guesthouse with all the facilities you need for a comfortable stay. The rooms are basic but well-sized and the complimentary breakfast is a good start to the day. It’s very well located for seeing many of the Golden Circle attractions and it has great access to Landmannalaugar via the F26/F208.
NEAR F225 ROUTE — AFTERNOON COTTAGES
Afternoon Cottages are self-contained apartments right under the flanks of Hekla Volcano. Each cottage has a coffee machine and cooking facilities in a compact but well-equipped kitchen. They are well located for access to Landmannalaugar via the F225 from the west and also for visiting Thórsmörk.
NEAR F208 SOUTH ROUTE — GLACIER VIEW GUESTHOUSE
The small but well-appointed rooms at Glacier View Guesthouse are a great place to stay for your Landmannalaugar trip, but the selling point is the excellent home-cooked dinner provided in the communal dining area. It’s well located for accessing Landmannalaugar via the F208 from the south.
WHEN TO VISIT LANDMANNALAUGAR
The best time to go to Landmannalaugar is from mid-June to mid-September when the snow has melted, the roads are generally open and the hiking at its best.
If you plan to self-drive to Landmannalaugar, you can only do this over the summer months as the F-Roads are closed for the rest of the year. The F208 from the north opens around early June and the F225 and F208 from the south opens late June. All F-Roads close when the snow comes around mid-September.
The Highland Bus usually starts in mid-June and runs daily until mid-September.
Super jeeps can make the journey all year round and allow you to see this amazing landscape covered in snow. However, hiking outside summer months is a challenge and the colourful mountains may be blanketed over.
WHAT TO SEE ON THE WAY TO LANDMANNALAUGAR
Landmannalaguar remains one of our favourite places to visit in the highlands. On the journey there, stop off at these great locations to complete a fantastic day out in Iceland.
SIGÖLDUGLJÚFUR CANYON (DETOUR OFF F208 FROM THE NORTH)
Sigöldugljúfur Canyon is a stunning sheer-sided gorge with a turquoise river running along its base. There are several waterfalls cascading over the moss-covered edges creating a scene straight out of a fairy-tale. It’s an easy 5-minute detour off the F208 and well worth a visit.
There’s a car park on the right-hand side of the road from where it’s a 10-minute walk up to the falls – the location is marked on the map above. Alternatively, you can now drive along a new track to the left that takes you directly to the falls, however, there is limited parking in this location.
LJÓTIPOLLUR CRATER VIEWPOINT (JUST 5 MILES FROM LANDMANNALAUGAR)
If you don’t have time to do the Ljótipollur Crater walk, stop off at the new car park just off the F208 and walk up to the rim (about 5 minutes). The blue waters under the red rim of Ljótipollur Crater from the viewpoint are a great sight, as are the views of the Landmannalaugar mountains behind it.
There are no facilities at the car park and the barren gravel landscape is breathtaking, but it’s not really the spot for a picnic. However, the short walk along the section of the rim near the car park will deliver some of the finest views of the day.
HAIFOSS (NEAR THE BEGINNING OF THE F26)
Haifoss is – in our opinion – one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. The River Fossá drops 120-metres as a slender cascade down a sheer layered rockface. A second waterfall, Granni, drops just beside it. It’s a beautiful location in Iceland and an easy detour on the way to Landmannalaugar.
The car park is around 20 minutes along Road 332, off Route 32 (marked in orange on the map above). It’s closer to the F26/F208 route, however, it’s not much further if you’re taking the F225 from the west.
SUGGESTED DAY TRIP TO LANDMANNALAUGAR
Our day trip to Landmannalaugar was long but immensely rewarding and turned out to be our favourite day on our Iceland itinerary.
We spent the night at Brautarholt and headed off early taking Route 30 and then Route 32 eastwards. Just before joining the F26, we took the detour on Route 332 to Haifoss (allow 1 hour for the detour and taking photos), then continued on the F26 turning right on the F208.
We made brief stops at Sigöldugljúfur Canyon (about 30 minutes) and Ljótipollur Crater Viewpoint (about 30 minutes) before continuing to Landmannalaugar. We hiked up Mount Bláhnjúkur and back through the Laugahraun Lava Field (3 hours) before having a well-earned soak in the geothermal pools.
Finally, we had a hot chocolate from the Mountain Mall then returned on the F225 after checking the conditions of the river crossing with the ranger at the Information Desk.
WHAT TO TAKE WITH YOU TO LANDMANNALAUGAR
01 – Weather conditions can change quickly in Iceland and it can be much colder in the highlands. As you will probably be hiking most of the day, bring a waterproof jacket and trousers, as well as good quality hiking shoes or boots with a decent grip.
02 – The weather can change significantly throughout the day so bring warm but light layers including a woolly hat and gloves.
03 – There are snacks available at the Mountain Mall, but it might be wise to bring lunch and other supplies with you.
04 – Pack swimming gear and a towel to use the geothermal pool. There’s no privacy here so either bring a large towel or a changing robe.
05 – Don’t forget to bring your camera.
06 – The insects can be tenacious in Iceland, particularly around water, so bring some insect repellent with you.
DO YOU NEED A 4X4 TO GET TO LANDMANNALAUGAR?
The roads to Landmannalguar are unpaved F-Roads (mountain roads) that are only open in summertime and only 4×4 vehicles are allowed on them. Car hire companies do not let you take 2WD cars onto the F-roads.
IS IT HARD TO GET TO LANDMANNALAUGAR?
As long as you take the F26 and F208 from the north and have a 4×4 it is relatively easy to drive to Landmannalaugar. The road is mainly a gravel track with some stony sections but there are no river crossings and very little sand to negotiate. It’s a great drive even for an inexperienced 4×4 driver.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU NEED IN LANDMANNALAUGAR?
Landmannalaguar can be visited as a day trip, providing you stay nearby. However, there are plenty of walks and interesting sights in the area so you would have plenty to do over 2 or 3 days.
IS IT WORTH GOING TO LANDMANNALAUGAR?
Yes. Landmannalaguar is one of the most spectacular places to visit in the Iceland Highlands. There is a small degree of challenge to get there, but that just makes it more of a rewarding experience. The scenery is incredible, there are several great hikes and a natural geothermal pool to soak in after a long day exploring the area.
OTHER GREAT DAYS OUT IN ICELAND’S HIGHLANDS
While Landmannalaugar is the most popular day trip into the highlands there are plenty of others that are not hard, just as rewarding, and even more off the beaten track. Read about all our favourite places to visit in Iceland’s Highlands, but in particular, you may want to consider the following:
How To Visit Maelifell & Rauðibotn
ICELAND TRAVEL TIPS
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