Landmannalaugar in Iceland: all you want to know!
Landmannalaugar is one of the most special places to visit in Iceland. The distinctive orange and brown colored rhyolite mountains in combination with lavafields and fast flowing rivers are a true paradise for hikers and photographers. In addition, Landmannalaugar is the starting point of the famous Laugavegur Trail. I visited this special area three times during my Iceland trips and in this article I will tell you everything you want (and need to) know about it before you travel there. Enjoy reading this blogpost about Landmannalaugar in Iceland.
About Landmannalaugar: location and accessibility
Landmannalaugar is located in the south of Iceland, about 180 kilometers east of the capital Reykjavík and in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve. The Icelanders themselves refer to this area as the inland or the highlands, despite the fact that it is ‘only’ about 600 meters above sea level. Landmannalaugar is only accessibly in the summer months, usually from late June to early September. This depends a bit on the season and the snowfall, so always inquire upon arrival in Iceland what the current status is. Outside the summer months, Landmannalaugar is not really accessible for tourism unless you travel with a winter guide.
Landmannalaugar is relatively difficult to reach. The majority of roads to the region are unpaved, in bad condition and you have to cross some rivers. Rental cars are usually not insured for this, so it’s best to go by bus from Reykjavík to Landmannalaugar, which you can read about further down in this article. If you still want to go with your own car (again: not recommended) then F208 will lead you to Landmannalaugar. Most visitors who go by car choose to park the car before the last river crossing, which is usually not passable by car unless the water levels are extremely low.
More tips about renting a car in Iceland can be found here
Landmannalaugar is located on a (relatively) flat part between the mountains. Behind the Landmannalaugar campsite starts the ‘Laugahraun’, a huge lava field in the most special shapes. A hiking trail runs through Laugahraun and eventually leads you to the famous rhyolite mountains.
Bus to Landmannalaugar
The best way to get to Landmannalaugar is by bus. At the moment there are two companies that offer bus transport to and from Landmannalaugar: Rejkjavík Excursions and Trex. The schedule is re-announced each summer, but usually there is one departure per day. Most buses to Landmannalaugar also stop in other places like Hella along the way. The cost of a one-way ticket is about € 75 per person and the journey takes about 4-5 hours. I have never booked the bus in advance, but always inquire beforehand whether this is necessary on your desired day of travel, partly because Landmannalaugar is becoming increasingly popular among travelers.
Pro tip: the bus from Reykjavík to Landmannalaugar is a 4WD bus but, just like the cars, it has to go through a number of rivers. That is why it is smart to pack your luggage waterproof and/or to put the rain cover around your luggage. You wouldn’t be the first to have their luggage getting wet in the hold because of the high rivers the bus has to drive through.
What to do in Landmannalaugar
Landmannalaugar is a nature destination and apart from a mountain hut there are no facilities. In some seasons there is an old school bus where you can buy some food and hot drinks, but this is not the case every year as from what I’ve been told by locals. If you want to go to Landmannalaugar, bring everything you think you need with you from Reykjavík. Such as food, drinks, gas tanks and camping equipment.
There are basically three things you can do in Landmannalaugar:
– the Landmannalaugar hot springs
– Horse riding
I will tell you more about hiking later in this article because the options are really almost endless. The hot springs are free to enter and are not much bigger than an average living room. You can go in with about 30 people at the same time and the water is wonderfully warm in most places. There are no facilities, so no changing rooms or anything like that. I usually make sure to put on my swimwear in my tent and put on a warm jacket and pants. Be sure to bring a towel and slippers.
I have never done horseback riding in Landmannalaugar myself, but I have been told that it is only for adventurers because you, for example, go up and down considerably and also cross rivers. So inquire on the spot about the possibilities.
Hiking in Landmannalaugar
Remember that if you want to go hiking in Landmannalagaugar, the trails here are not really suitable for inexperienced hikers. You wouldn’t be the first to get lost in Landmannalaugar as the landscape is rugged and deserted. Once away from the campsite, that is. My very first tip for those going hiking in Landmannalaugar is to take a GPS with you. When I went solo hiking in Landmannalaugar a few years ago, I got lost just outside the campsite due to incredible loads of snow (still in August). In addition, it’s often foggy there, so that you sometimes do not see the next marker in the landscape. A GPS is therefore absolutely necessary because the trail (especially over ice fields) is not always clear. Around the campsite you have 4G internet, but beyond that the connection quickly disappears. So don’t rely on your cell phone for having reception.
There are a lot of amazing hikes in Landmannalaugar, from short to long and multi-day. The most popular hike is the one to the top of Brennisteinsalda, the red mountain. This trail is about 7 kilometers long and it will take you 2-3 hours, but probably even longer because it is incredibly photogenic. Another nice hike is the one to Blahnukur, the blue mountain, this one is heavier and steeper than Brennisteinsalda. A fun half-day hike takes you to Ljótipollur, a crater lake north of Landmannalaugar.
In addition, the famous Laugavegur Trail or Landmannalaugar Trail begins in Landmannalaugar. This 3 to 4 day hike to Thórsmörk and possibly further to Skogar is a classic among the multi-day hikes in Iceland and you should definitely do it once in your life (I did it twice and would love to do it again). Read my extensive blog about the Laugavegur Trail here.
If you don’t want to hike with a heavy pack but do want to get a taste of the Laugavegur Trail, do a long day hike to Hrafntinnusker, the first hut on the Laugavegur Trail. It’s about four hours one way, so you can go back and forth in one day, provided you are an experienced hiker. You will most likely encounter snowfields (even in the middle of summer) so bring trekking poles to help prevent slipping. In addition, there are day hikes to, among others, Haalda and Skallí. You can buy a Landmannalaugar hiking map of the area at the FI hut. More information about the most beautiful hikes in Landmannalaugar can be found in this blogpost.
Landmannalaugar camping and mountain hut
The only way to stay overnight in Landmannalaugar is at the campsite or in the FI mountain hut. Since I’m not a huge fan of huts, I’ve always camped. The costs for the campsite are about 15 euros per person/night and 60 euros per person/night for the hut. If you camp, you also get free access to the toilet building and the covered cooking area. A hot shower costs a few euros. There are limited facilities in the hut: bring everything you need with you, although you can sometimes buy food there. But since that’s very pricey, I advise you to just bring everything with you from Ryekjavík or even from home.
Weather in Landmannalaugar
And then finally the weather in Landmannalaugar. To be fair, it’s always cold there. The wind is unrelenting and chances are you won’t see the sun at all. So be prepared and bring the right gear. A warm coat, scarf or buff, gloves and a hat are a must. You typically don’t wear a t-shirt, on the other hand. In general, the temperature in Landmannalaugar is about 10 degrees. In addition, the wind is very strong and the rain, as you may have heard about Iceland before, is often horizontal. Rain gear is therefore absolutely necessary. Check out my packing list for Iceland here.
And also …
Also bring garbage bags as you cannot leave your rubbish in Landmannalaugar. In addition, it’s useful to know that it is a very beautiful but remote area. Tourists may come every day, but as soon as the day trippers have left in the evening, it is wonderfully quiet.
Book your trip!
Do you want to book it all yourself? In that case, I advise you to record everything (well) in advance since, as mentioned, many accommodations are already fully booked in time. In this article you can read my accommodation tips for Reykjavík. I always make reservations at Booking.com – they usually have the cheapest rates and a wide range. Tip: choose the option where you can cancel free of charge until shortly before departure. You can arrange a rental car via Rental Cars and book your flights through Skyscanner for the best price.
If you want to take a day tour to Landmannalaugar, you will find the best options below:
Conclusion and disclaimer
Hopefully you found this article helpful. If anything is unclear, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below. This article contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase or make a reservation through such a link, we may receive a modest commission at no additional cost to you. Want to read more about Iceland? Then check out the Iceland homepage!