Most travelers who come to Iceland are drawn by the country’s numerous outdoor activities. For visitors to the Land of Fire and Ice, they are much more likely to want to explore a volcano, hike a glacier, go horseback riding, or go whale watching than visit a museum or go on a sightseeing tour. And for the more intrepid among you, hiking the Laugavegur Trail in Landmannalaugar should be at the top of your Iceland bucket list. Iceland’s Highlands are where you will find some of the country’s best hiking trails. Before you go, let’s review everything you need to know to hike the famous Laugavegur Trail in Iceland.
Resting at the edge of the Laugahraun lava field is Landmannalaugar, which is part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve. A volcanic eruption that happened 500 years ago formed this region and its unique landscapes. The area’s name roughly translates to “route of hot spring” due to the large number of hot springs in the zone. People flock to this area bathe in the geothermal hot springs as well as take in the colorful rock formations of Landmannalaugar.
As Iceland’s most famous hiking trail, the Laugavegur Trail will take you from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk valley. This valley, whose name means “Thor’s Valley” or “Thor’s Forest” is filled with sweeping landscapes and rugged mountains fit for the Norse god Thor. The scenery is quite varied, and you will find everything here, from lush green hills to black, volcanic rocks. Its popularity as one of the best hiking trails in Iceland is rightly deserved.
What’s it like Hiking the Laugavegur Trail?
The 55km (34mi) route typically takes hikers 4-5 days to finish. You’ll find many different types of terrain, so be sure to come prepared with a good pair of hiking boots. With that in mind, none of the trails are too difficult. You’ll be able to really take your time and enjoy the scenery. There are both ascending and descending routes so be sure to plan which ones you’d like to tackle. At one point you can even look out over the valley from the top of Háskerðingur mountain, which is 4,203 feet (1,281 meters) above sea level. Most sections of the trail take between five and seven hours, and the longest can take up to nine.
You have the option of starting your trek from either end of the trail. The two starting points are Landmannalaugar or Þórsmörk valley. Because there is more climbing involved, fewer people tackle to route going from south to north. The more popular option (and one with more hikers) takes you from the north to the south. It really depends on if you’re looking to have more solitude or if you’re more the gregarious type who is inclined to strike up a conversation with fellow travelers.
How and when can I hike the Laugavegur Trail?
It’s important to note that if you are going to hike the trail, you’ll have to do it during the warmer months of the year. Iceland’s Highlands are completely closed in the winter, and you can really only go from mid-June to mid-September. You’ll also want to consider the type of vehicle you take, as the Highlands can only be accessed by F-roads. When driving on these types of roads, a 4×4 vehicle is mandatory. Should you choose not to rent a car or jeep, there are also companies offering excursions to the area. Popular companies include Reykjavik Excursions, Landmannalaugar Tours and Trex.
What clothes should I pack for my hike?
It’s important to dress correctly when visiting Iceland. We advise people to follow the three-layer rule when deciding what clothes to wear. The weather changes quickly in Iceland, so it’s good to have options. A windbreaker is also extremely important as is waterproof clothing.
Hiking in Iceland: Landmannalaugar and the Laugavegur Trail
Enjoy your time in Landmannalaugar and hiking the Laugavegur Trail. Remember to take lots of pictures and share your experiences with us on social media!