The Best Hikes in Landmannalaugar, Iceland

Landmannalaugar, Highlands of Iceland
Yevgen Timashov / Getty Images

Famous for rainbow mountains, hot springs, and quick-changing landscapes of neon moss canyons and black volcanic slopes with steaming natural vents, Landmannalaugar’s landscape contains some of the best day and multi-day treks in Iceland, if not the whole world. Located in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the Southern Highlands, it contains the Laugahraun lava field, the Blue Peak, the Sulfur Wave, and the Ugly Puddle, all of which can be day hiked, and the most famous trek in Iceland, the four-day Laugavegur Trail.

Only accessible in the summer (mid-June through mid-September), four F-rounds lead
there which can be accessed by private 4x4 cars or bus. Those wanting to multi-day trek should book a mountain hut (sturdy, large houses heated by geothermal water located along the trails) through the Ferðafélag Íslands association, which also provide safety and gear information. These trails are well-maintained and well-marked, but closures can happen, especially due to erosion. Be sure to check for any route updates beforehand in case a trail has been closed or rerouted.

01 of 09

Laugavegur

scenic view on Laugarvegur Trail in the Fjallabak area in central Iceland
Cavan Images / Getty Images

One of the most famous and stunning hikes in the whole of Iceland, the Laugavegur Trek goes from the FÍ (Ferðafélag Íslands) Tourist Center in Landmannalaugar to Skagfjörðsskáli cabin in Langidalur, Þórsmörk. At just over 34 miles, the average hiking time is four days. Hikers either camp or book spaces in mountains huts along the route. Each day holds a vastly different landscape: rhyolite mountains with winds up to 40 mph and steamy fumaroles, river crossings, ravines, glaciers, a volcanic desert, and a forest with rainbows overhead. Both the trail and huts are clearly marked and well-maintained. Though many people trek this trail, it’s still large enough to have some parts all to yourself at times, though safe enough that you’re never too far from someone should you need help.

Address
Laugavegur, Iceland
02 of 09

Bláhnúkur Mountain (The Blue Peak)

Wooden sign showing direction of bláhnúkur in Highlands of Iceland
Cavan Images / Getty Images

A lone grey-blue peak in a sea of rainbow mountains, Bláhnúkur rises above the Landmannalaugar Campground. Reach it by following the river from the campground to the trailhead, then take the 3.8-mile loop trail counterclockwise
through the lava field and sandy switchbacks to reach the rocky outcrop at the
summit. There you can snap a photo of yourself with the multi-colored mountains in the background, or be still and take in the aching beauty of the place. Though a moderate hike, parts of it can be extremely steep, especially at the beginning. Plan for a two and a half to three and a half hour trek.

Address
Bláhnjúkur, Iceland
03 of 09

Laugahraun Lava Field

Southwest Iceland - Landmannalaugar
kuddl-24 / Getty Images

The most popular hike in Landmannalaugar, the Laugahraun Trail runs around and through a centuries-old lava field. Though walkable in only one and a half to two hours, the landscape changes drastically in that short time: stark moraines, rushing rivers, and the steam tails of fumaroles can all be seen here. Surrounded by colorful mountains, the 3-mile loop trail goes over black chunks of shiny obsidian and basalt, past the Vondugil (Bad Ravines) Valley, through a small canyon, and near the base of Brennisteinsalda, the volcano whose eruption created this landscape. The trail begins from the FÍ Tourist Center. Though rated as easy and a hike which children can do, expect a somewhat steep uphill at the beginning.

Address
Laugahraun, Iceland
04 of 09

Mount Brennisteinsalda (The Sulfur Wave)

Brennisteinsalda
Fyletto / Getty Images

Meaning “Sulfur Wave” in Icelandic, Mount Brennisteinsalda looks as if a celestial painter suddenly dumped their color palate onto the earth: red iron deposits run up against black lava fields and the alternating yellow sulfur and blue ash of the volcano contrast against a landscape of green swaths of moss. Brennisteinsalda's summit can be reached via a 4-mile loop trail that combines parts of other routes. Start from the Landmannalaugar Campground and follow the white markers through Graenagil Valley. From there, follow the yellow markers through part of the lava field, until you reach the Laugavegur Trail (red markers). Go left, then hang a right following the green markers up the steep path to the summit. To descend, take the green and white marked trail towards Vondugil Valley, then get back on the Laugharaun trail to finish. Rated as moderate, plan for two to three and a half hours of hiking time.

Address
Brennisteinsalda, Iceland
Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

Ljótipollur Crater (Ugly Puddle)

High Angle View Of A Crater Lake In Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Landmannalaugar, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Thomas H. Mitchell / 500px / Getty Images

Though known as “Ugly Puddle”, that the Ljótipollur Crater is not. Depending on the time of day and light, circling the crater’s lake on its fairly flat path feels like entering a psychedelic trance made real, with the slopes of the crater a mix of bright pink, red, and orange iron-ore, interrupted with smudges of deep blues and grays. Rated as moderate, the 4.5-mile loop trail can be done in about two and a half hours, if you begin from the parking lot of Frostastaöavatn Lake. The trek can be greatly extended by beginning and ending in the Landmannalaugar Campground though, or adding a trek up to the Stutur Crater. Views of the Tungnaá River, a lava field, and marshland, add to its colorful wonder.

Address
Ljótipollur, Iceland
06 of 09

Sudurnamur

Mountains reflected in a lake, Sudurnamur hike, Landmannalaugar, Sudurland, Iceland
imageBROKER/Christian Handl / Getty Images

The trailhead for this 5.3-mile trail lies just before the river before Landmannalaugar and provides some of the best panoramic views of the whole area, including the Laugahraun lava field, Vondugil Valley, the Blue Peak, and the Sulfur Wave. If you want to see as much of Landmannalaugar’s scenery as possible from one hike, this and the Bláhnúkur Brennisteinsalda Loop are the two best options (though this is the easier one). Rated as moderate, the beginning is steep, but the middle part, along the mountain ridge is pleasantly flat, offering 360-degree views displaying the handiwork of the Torfajökull and Bárðarbunga volcanic systems. The trail then continues through Vondugil Valley where it crosses several streams before connecting to the Laugahraun Trail, leading back to the FÍ Tourist Center. Rated as moderate, plan for three to five hours to complete this hike.

Address
Suðurnámur, Iceland
07 of 09

Bláhnúkur Brennisteinsalda Loop

Blahnukur at sunset from Brennisteinsalda volcanic steam vents, Landmannalaugar, Iceland
Gallo Images / Getty Images

Rated as hard, this trail combines the Bláhnúkur and Brennisteinsalda Trails to provide a route along and through some of Landmannalaugar’s best sights, such as the igneous rock spires of Laugahraun and the rainbow colors of Mount Brennisteinsalda. In addition to summiting both mountains’ peaks, this trail allows for hikers to be much closer to the famous sights than the Sudurnamur Trail does. At 6 miles, the trail takes four to six hours to hike, and begins from the Bláhnúkur trailhead near the Landmannalaugar Campground. Follow the trail over the Blue Peak, but once you hit the river in Graenagil Canyon, take the trail with the yellow markers through the lava field, and follow the same directions for the Mount Brennisteinsalda Trail as written above.

Address
Bláhnjúkur, Iceland
08 of 09

Stútur

Panoramic view of colorful rhyolite volcanic mountains Landmannalaugar in Icelandic Highlands as pure wilderness in Iceland, Stutur volcano crater, summer time, dramatic scenic view
Neurobite / Getty Images

One of the shortest hikes in the area at only half a mile, this trail goes up and around the Stútur Crater, above the blue Frostastaðavatn Lake. The hike can be done in 30 minutes and begins from the small parking lot on F208, just before the main Landmannalaugar parking lot. Translated as “bottleneck” the crater offers far different views and colors in its surrounding landscape (deep magenta-colored hills traversed by blankets of springy moss), than Landmannalaugar’s more famous trails. Stairs at the beginning and ending of the hike are the most strenuous part of this climb, but overall it’s an easy hike.

Address
Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri, Iceland
Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

Háalda

Vondugil & Háalda - Landmannalaugar
© Anouk Stricher / Getty Images

The longest day hike in Landmannalaugar at 17.6 miles, this loop trail goes from the Landmannalaugar Campground to the summit of Háalda, one of Iceland’s highest mountains. Rated as difficult and taking six and half to nine hours to complete, the trail goes through a river and grassy meadows, past waterfalls and hot springs. From the summit, you can see the snow-capped peaks of the surrounding mountains, including Suðurnámur and Bláhjúkur. Start early this trail early, and expect strong winds at the top, as well as some steep sections of gravel.

Address
Haalda, Iceland
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The Best Hikes in Landmannalaugar, Iceland