UPDATED – 22 MAY 2020

Landmannalaugar, deep in Iceland’s highlands, is a wonderland of colourful mountains, steaming sulphur vents and volcanic craters. Here is a breakdown of the best Landmannalaugar hikes. 


I remember hiking in Landmannalaugar from my youth.

It was 30 years ago since I was last here, but the memories are as clear. Deep in Iceland’s highlands, Landmannalaugar is a land that effortlessly combines beauty and desolation. Black jagged lava fields surround colourful red and green mountains; sulphurous vents rise through scarred earth and bubbling rivers meander volcanic craters.

It’s a wild and rugged place that glows in soft Icelandic sunshine – dappled in a peculiar smoky atmosphere.

Dotted throughout this dramatic scenery is a myriad of captivating Landmannalaugar hikes; full and half-day trails that take you into a wonderous otherworldly Icelandic experience.

With a couple of visits to Landmannalaugar under our boots, here is our selection of the best hikes in the area. These range from a straightforward couple of hours, to more strenuous walks that will take most of the day.

It wouldn’t be an Iceland experience without a bit of logistical effort. Fortunately, we’ve put together some information to help you get to Landmannalaugar and navigate the challenging driving conditions in the highlands. The good news is that this is a very achievable adventure and one that will provide an excellent introduction into the remarkable environment of the Iceland highlands.

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6 BEST HIKES IN LANDMANNALAUGAR 


1 / LAUGAHRAUN LOOP

Pick your way through a spiky lava field

2 / BRENNISTEINSALDA

Hike up to this red and yellow ‘sulphur wave’ of colour

3 / BLÁHNJÚKUR MOUNTAIN

Summit this imposing blue mountain for superb views

4 / BLÁHNJÚKUR BRENNISTEINSALDA LOOP

Capture all the highlights on this full-day hike

5 / LJÓTIPOLLUR CRATER

Climb a volcanic crater and glimpse a lake shimmering within

6 / LAUGAVEGUR TRAIL

Begin this infamous 55km multi-day trek

1 - LAUGAHRAUN LOOP

Short easy hike across a lava field to colourful mountains

For a short hike that touches many of the highlights of this magnificent region, the Laugahraun Loop is a great place to start. In under 2 hours cross a lava field, amble past multicoloured mountains and head down a small canyon.

The path leaves the tourist information centre and rises onto the Laugahraun lava field (red markers). In some places, it appears the magma has only just cooled, its deformed shapes covered with the lightest of crusts. In others black jagged spikes look like they have been there for millennia. The trail requires a bit of concentration as the rock is hard and not always even, but it’s not long before you have dropped off the other side.

Following the trail up a small valley and across a moraine you come to the base of Brennistensalda. Also known as the ‘sulphur wave’ this yellow and red mountain rises before you as steaming vents surround it with an eerie mist. Catch it in the sun and its earthy hues glimmer in the light. The path skirts brown bubbling mud pots, before heading back across the lava field (yellow markers) towards Bláhnúkur mountain.

Towering in front of you the green and blue rocks that cover Bláhnúkur’s flanks drop into a charming river that winds its way down the Graenagil canyon (white markers). The path follows a bubbling river along the valley floor and after just 1 hour and 45 minutes you are back to where you started. Perfect!


Distance: 4.3km loop | Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes | Elevation: 200m of ascent and descent | Difficulty: Easy.  

2 - BRENNISTEINSALDA ‘SULPHUR WAVE’ 

A hike to explore the most colourful of volcanic mountains 

Mount Brennisteinsalda is a mish-mash of colour nicknamed the Sulphur Wave. It’s slopes of yellow sulphur and red iron are splattered with spots of blue ash. The base is surrounded by black lava with green grasses and luminous moss.

This excellent hike is an extension of the Laugharaun loop in reverse. However, instead of walking around the eastern base of Mt. Brennisteinsalda, this hike goes over the top. The result is an even closer look at the multitude of colours as well as excellent views over the surrounding landscapes.

Begin at the campsite and head up the Graenagil Valley (white markers) and across the western end of the lava field (yellow markers). Then turn left onto the Laugavegur trail (red markers) and then right to take the steep short ascent up to the summit of Brennisteinsalda (green markers).

The views over the lava field from here are excellent.

The path (green and white markers) heads over the other side and drops gently towards Vondugil. It’s a great section of easy walking alongside a wide valley with great views over the rhyolite mountains that surround it. Finally, reconnect with the Laugharaun loop and take the path (red and white markers) over the lava field back to Landmannalaugar. The hike takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes.


Distance: 6.6 kilometres | Time: 3 hours | Elevation: 310m ascent and descent | Difficulty: Medium  

3 - BLÁHNJÚKUR MOUNTAIN, BLUE PEAK 

A steep ascent to a summit with staggering views

The hike up Bláhnúkur mountain (blue peak) is the most challenging Landmannalaugar hike on this list. But, if you like being up above everything else with majestic views then this is the one for you.

The mountain is bluey black in colour and covered in volcanic ash. The rocky path is steep with lots of small rocks, but there is nothing technically difficult on this hike. It’s simply a matter of crossing a small river and then putting one foot in front of the other as the trail zig-zags its way to the 916-metre peak.

The views from the summit are magnificent if you manage to score a clear day. With blue skies, stare across red-green mountains, black lava fields and a spot an astonishing five glaciers. Sadly, on both of our visits the clouds came in and we saw absolutely nothing.

The hike down the other side is steep and rocky so be careful with your foot placement. For this hike you’ll need decent hiking boots. But before long the path drops to the valley floor, crosses the river again and joins the top of the Graenagil canyon. From here, follow the last section of the Laugharaun Loop back to Landmannalaugar camp.

Please note: This walk requires you to cross a river twice, which in dry conditions is not a problem. However, after rain you may have to take your socks and shoes off to wade across.


Distance: 5.8-kilometre round trip | Time: 3 hours 30 minutes | Elevation: 380m ascent and descent | Difficulty: medium with some challenging steep ascents and descents 

4 - BLÁHNJÚKUR BRENNISTEINSALDA LOOP 

An all-day hike capturing the best bits of Landmannalaugar

If you have a clear day with little cloud and you are up for putting in some strenuous effort, then this Landmannalaugar hike captures all the great things up for discovery in this incredible landscape.

Begin by going over Bláhnúkur mountain as described in walk three. When the hike drops down to the river at the top of the Graenagil Canyon, join walk 2 (instead of heading back to Landmannalaugar Camp). From here, head up to Brennisteinsalda before descending to the Laugahraun lava field, then follow the path back to Landmannalaugar Camp.

By combining all the loops, you get the trifecta of Landmannalaugar vistas: magnificent views of Bláhnúkur; the other-worldly sulphurous vents and earthy hues of Brennisteinsalda; and the spiky lava field of Laugharaun. It’s a long day but what a day it will be.

The whole trail will probably take almost 6 hours with over 600 metres of ascent and descent but with views like this, who’s counting.


Distance: 9.7 kilometres | Time: 5 hours 30 minutes | Elevation: 630 meters ascent and descent | Difficulty: Challenging

5 - LJÓTIPOLLUR CRATER, UGLY PUDDLE 

Easy hike to lake beautiful lake-filled crater 

Ljótipollur means ‘ugly pond’ but don’t let the name fool you. The shimmering blue lake that sits in the 4-kilometre diameter crater is nothing short of stunning. Sitting on the crater edge as the natural forces heat your butt through the clay is a great way to stay warm in this chilly country.

The highlight of this easy walk is the lake filled volcanic crater, but the rest is good too. There are some really nice views over a less colourful but equally endearing part of Landmannalaugar plus a short traverse over a lava field. There is also the possibility of climbing the cone of Stutur, a spiky peak of black lava.

The best way to start this Landmannalaugar hike is by parking at the northeast corner of Frostastaöavatn Lake. From here it is 2 hours and 30 minutes of easy walking on a path well signed with blue markers. But if you don’t have a car you’ll need to walk from the campsite along the road for 2.5 kilometres (5-kilometre round trip) to join the loop. This will add a couple of hours and turn and easy walk into a medium one.


Distance: 7.2-kilometre loop | Time: 2 hours 30 minutes | Elevation: 200 metre ascent and descent | Difficulty: Easy  

6 - LAUGAVEGUR TRAIL TO THÓRSMÖRK 

The first section of one of the finest multi-day walks in Iceland

So, this is not really a half-day or full day hike, but the Laugavegur trail from Landmannalaugar to Thórsmörk is one of the great multi-day walks in Iceland. Taking 3 to 4 days and covering 55 kilometres, it explores some of the finest landscapes in the country. For dedicated hardcore hikers, it’s a feather in the cap.

However, if you don’t have the time, inclination or footwear for a 55-kilometre walk, but want to take part in one of the most coveted outdoor adventures in Iceland, there’s an option for you.

Follow the well-marked path from the tourist centre at Landmannalaugar Camp starting the Laugahraun lava field loop. Pass under Brennisteinsalda and continue west for as long as you like before turning around and retracing your steps.

It’s not the best hike in Landmannalaugar (the circular trails above are better) but it’s a good way to road test the famous Laugavegur Trail and see if it might be for you on another visit.


Distance: 55 kilometres | Time: 3 to 4 days | Elevation: too much to mention | Difficulty: challenging multi-day trek 

HIKING IN LANDMANNALAUGAR

Where to stay

There are no hotels at Landmannalaugar but you can bring your own camping equipment or book a bed in the large hut that accommodates 78 people over 2 floors. You can find all the information you need here.

If you plan on visiting Landmannalaugar on a self-drive day trip, then the closest hotel is the basic but atmospheric Highland Centre Hrauneyjar. A little further afield, cottages are available to rent at Rjúpnavellir or you can go for a bit more luxury and try Hótel Laekur.

BASICS IN HRAUNEYJAR

THE HIGHLAND CENTER


With both private or shared bathrooms and basic facilities, The Highland Centre is a popular option for hikers in Landmannalaugar. At just 18 miles away, you’ll be relaxing in their complementary sauna, and enjoying a hearty Icelandic dinner in no time. Fuel is available on-site.  

CHECK PRICES

COOL COTTAGES

RJÚPNAVELLIR


Featuring self-contained units, each with a terrace and kitchen facilities, Rjúpnavellir is an excellent option if you are self-catering. The rooms are big, yet cosy and feature impressive views of the surrounding landscape. They have a barbeque and pretty good WiFi given the remote location.

CHECK PRICES

LUXE LANDMANNALAUGAR

HÓTEL LÆKUR


Set on a stunning horse farm, Hótel Lækur offers deluxe accommodation with views across the Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull volcanoes. An à la carte menu is available if you don’t feel like cooking after a long day hiking. There is a beautiful lounge overlooking the very photogenic Icelandic horses.

CHECK PRICES

BASICS IN HRAUNEYJAR

THE HIGHLAND CENTER


With both private or shared bathrooms and basic facilities, The Highland Centre is a popular option for hikers in Landmannalaugar. At just 18 miles away, you’ll be relaxing in their complementary sauna, and enjoying a hearty Icelandic dinner in no time. Fuel is available on-site.  

CHECK PRICES

COOL COTTAGES

RJÚPNAVELLIR


Featuring self-contained units, each with a terrace and kitchen facilities, Rjúpnavellir is an excellent option if you are self-catering. The rooms are big, yet cosy and feature impressive views of the surrounding landscape. They have a barbeque and pretty good WiFi given the remote location.

CHECK PRICES

LUXE LANDMANNALAUGAR

HÓTEL LÆKUR


Set on a stunning horse farm, Hótel Lækur offers deluxe accommodation with views across the Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull volcanoes. An à la carte menu is available if you don’t feel like cooking after a long day hiking. There is a beautiful lounge overlooking the very photogenic Icelandic horses.

CHECK PRICES

MAP / BEST HIKES IN LANDMANNALAUGAR 

The map below has an overview of the best hikes in Landmannalaugar. It’s a useful guide to get your bearings but please do not rely on it when you are hiking.

The ranger at the Landmannalaugar information hut can provide advice for hiking and two maps: a comprehensive yet expensive 1:50,000 Iceland hiking Map covering Landmannalaugar, Laugavegur, Thórsmörk & Fimmvörðuháls and a cheap hand-drawn map for 300kr.

If you are doing the low-lying easy walks in good conditions the hand drawn map will do. If you are hiking all day up the mountains you may want the higher quality map.

Finally make sure you have google maps, or maps.me downloaded offline onto your phone before leaving. Although they don’t have all the walking trails, they will at least tell you if you are heading in completely the wrong direction.

BEST TIME FOR HIKING IN LANDMANNALAUGAR 

The hiking season in Landmannalaugar is short, running from late June to mid-September, depending on weather conditions which determine when the mountain roads are open.

Even in the height of summer there may be snow on the paths making the trails harder to see and hiking more challenging. At times trails may be closed, so check in advance before you leave.

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LANDMANNALAUGAR GEOTHERMAL POOL

Landmannalaugar means People’s Pool and there are few better ways to relieve sore hiking limbs than sitting in a geothermal pool. The scorching water that bubbles through the lava field mixes with cold surface water streams and forms a natural pool which varies in temperature.

But find the right spot and it’s a glorious 35 to 40 degrees of muscle-soaking natural bliss.

A narrow wooden boardwalk that crosses a meadow covered with flowers brings you to a wooden pole and railings. Hang up your clothes, get into your trunks and take the plunge. For modesty purposes you can pay 500ISK to use the changing facilities and showers at the campsite.

It’s the perfect way to end your day in this scenic wonderland.

TIPS FOR HIKING IN LANDMANNALAUGAR

1 / Getting to Landmannalaugar can be tricky. You can take a bus or super-jeep tour from Reykjavik. But if you’re feeling adventurous, self-driving over the highlands is the best way to go. All the information is on our getting to Landmannalaugar article.

2 / If you plan to take a day trip, leave early. The drive takes a couple of hours each way and you’ll want to maximise your time there. For more general information on driving the mountain roads, read our article about the F-road in Iceland before you go.

3 / There is a small shop with food available at Landmannalaugar, but if you are day-tripping it’s better value to bring your own supplies.

4 / Check weather conditions and pack warm clothes and waterproofs. The highlands are colder than the coast and the weather can change quickly. It was 5 degrees when we were there in the middle of summer.

5 / Wear good hiking boots/shoes with thick soles and good grip. The paths can be stony and the lava can be spiky. After rain the trails will be slippery and if you are walking up Bláhnúkur mountain, be prepared to take your shoes off to cross the river.

6 / Buy a map at the information centre and download online maps (and our map) for the area onto your phone. Your GPS will work even if you do not have data. It can be invaluable for tracking your progress if the cloud comes down.

7 / Bring swimwear and a towel to enjoy the geothermal pool. There’s no better way to relax the limbs after a good hike.

8 / Don’t forget your camera, the scenery is stunning.

WHERE NEXT?

If you found this guide useful, please head over to Instagram and follow us to stay up to date with our adventures.

This day trip to Landmannalaugar is just one of the days in our 10 day Iceland itinerary. A holiday filled with truly great experiences. You can check out another day trips into the highlands on our Askja article.

Paul Healy

Paul was born in Australia and moved to London in 2008 where he worked as a change manager specialising in organisational design. Now a full-time travel blogger, Paul writes destination guides and articles for Anywhere We Roam.

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Paul Healy

Paul was born in Australia and moved to London in 2008 where he worked as a change manager specialising in organisational design. Now a full-time travel blogger, Paul writes destination guides and articles for Anywhere We Roam.

All articles

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Landmannalaugar, deep in Iceland’s highlands, is wonderland of colourful mountains, steaming sulphurous vents and volcanic craters. Here is a breakdown of the best Landmannalaugar hikes.

Landmannalaugar, deep in Iceland’s highlands, is wonderland of colourful mountains, steaming sulphurous vents and volcanic craters. Here is a breakdown of the best Landmannalaugar hikes.

Landmannalaugar, deep in Iceland’s highlands, is wonderland of colourful mountains, steaming sulphurous vents and volcanic craters. Here is a breakdown of the best Landmannalaugar hikes.
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