Everything You Need to Know About Landmannalaugar

Chris Ayliffe, Founder of Arctic Meta

Nestled in the highlands of Iceland, Landmannalaugar is a geothermal wonderland that captures the hearts of adventurers and nature enthusiasts from around the globe. With its vibrant rhyolite mountains, steaming hot springs, and stunning hiking trails, Landmannalaugar offers an unparalleled experience in the Icelandic wilderness. This comprehensive travel blog will provide you with everything you need to know about Landmannalaugar, from its geological marvels to practical tips for visiting this breathtaking region.

What is Landmannalaugar?

Landmannalaugar, often referred to as the “People’s Pools,” is a unique geothermal area located in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in Iceland’s southern highlands. The name Landmannalaugar translates to “The People’s Pools,” a nod to the natural hot springs that have been a gathering spot for travelers for centuries. This area is renowned for its multi-colored mountains, formed from rhyolite rock, which create a surreal and picturesque landscape that is unlike any other place on Earth. It’s for this tranquility that it is often a major adventure in the summertime for both travellers and locals.

The geothermal activity in Landmannalaugar has created a series of hot springs, making it a perfect spot for soaking and relaxation after a day of hiking. The vibrant colors of the mountains—ranging from pink, red, and yellow to green and blue—are a result of the area’s volcanic activity and the presence of minerals like sulfur, iron, and silica. This dramatic landscape is complemented by vast lava fields, clear rivers, and lush valleys, making Landmannalaugar a paradise for photographers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Is Landmannalaugar Part of the Laugavegur Trail?

The rolling mountains of Landmannalaugar in the Icelandic Highlands

Yes, Landmannalaugar is the starting point of the famous Laugavegur Trail, one of Iceland’s most iconic and popular hiking routes. The Laugavegur Trail stretches approximately 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk, taking hikers through some of Iceland’s most diverse and stunning landscapes. This trail offers an unparalleled journey through geothermal valleys, lush meadows, glacial rivers, and rugged mountains.

Hiking the Laugavegur Trail typically takes four to five days, depending on the pace and the stops along the way. Each section of the trail offers unique scenery and natural wonders, making it a bucket-list adventure for trekkers from around the world.

What Are the Main Stops on The Laugavegur Trail?


Fimmvörrðuskáli, or Fimmvörðuháls, is not a stop on the Laugavegur Trail itself but rather on the Fimmvörðuháls trail, which can be combined with the Laugavegur Trail for an extended hiking experience. This hut is situated between the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull and offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes. Hikers who venture to Fimmvörrðuskáli can witness the aftermath of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption and see the new craters, Magni and Móði.

Þórsmörk (Thorsmork)

Thorsmork region in the Icelandic Highlands

Þórsmörk, named after the Norse god Thor, is a lush, green valley surrounded by mountains and glaciers. It is the final destination of the Laugavegur Trail and a popular spot for hikers to rest and explore. Þórsmörk is known for its dramatic scenery, including the Krossá river, dense birch forests, and panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. The area offers numerous hiking trails, ranging from short walks to challenging climbs, making it a haven for nature lovers and adventurers.


The vast desert-like plains of Emstrur in the Icelandic Highlands

Emstrur is a stark, desert-like area that contrasts sharply with the lushness of Þórsmörk. This section of the trail takes hikers through black sand deserts and past dramatic canyons, including the striking Markarfljótsgljúfur canyon. The Emstrur hut, known as Botnar, provides basic accommodation for hikers and is a great place to rest and take in the otherworldly landscape.


Hvangill in the Icelandic Highlands

Hvangill is a serene spot along the Laugavegur Trail, located near the confluence of several rivers. The area is characterized by rolling hills and grassy meadows, offering a peaceful setting for hikers. The Hvangill hut provides shelter and a place to recharge before continuing the journey. This area is also known for its scenic views of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier.


Álftavatn, meaning “Swan Lake,” is a beautiful area featuring a large lake surrounded by stunning mountains. This scenic spot is one of the most picturesque along the Laugavegur Trail. The Álftavatn hut is situated on the shores of the lake, providing a perfect place to rest and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. Hikers can often spot swans and other birdlife in the area, adding to the serene atmosphere.


Hrafntinnusker is a geothermal area known for its obsidian formations, steam vents, and boiling mud pots. The Hrafntinnusker hut is located at one of the highest points on the Laugavegur Trail, offering dramatic views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. The area is often covered in snow, even during the summer months, creating a stark and beautiful contrast with the steaming geothermal features.


Landmannalaugar, the starting point of the Laugavegur Trail, is a vibrant geothermal area known for its colorful rhyolite mountains and natural hot springs. Before embarking on the trail, many hikers take the time to explore the scenic landscapes and relax in the hot springs. Landmannalaugar offers various shorter hiking routes, such as the hike to the top of Brennisteinsalda or Bláhnjúker, providing stunning views of the area.

How Can I Get to Landmannalaugar?

Reaching Landmannalaugar can be an adventure in itself, given its remote location in the Icelandic highlands. There are several ways to get there, each offering a different experience.

Drive With a 4WD Car

A 4WD car driving through a river on the way to Landmannalaugar

One of the most popular ways to get to Landmannalaugar is by driving. However, due to the rough and rugged terrain, it is essential to have a 4WD vehicle. The roads leading to Landmannalaugar, such as F208, are gravel roads and can be challenging to navigate, especially during adverse weather conditions. The drive offers breathtaking views of Iceland’s highlands, including lava fields, rivers, and mountains. Be prepared for river crossings, as some roads may require driving through shallow streams.

Take the Bus

Taking a bus to the Icelandic Highlands

For those who prefer not to drive, taking a bus is a convenient and stress-free option. Several bus companies operate routes to Landmannalaugar from Reykjavik and other major towns in Iceland. These buses are specially equipped to handle the rough terrain and often include commentary on the surrounding landscapes. The bus ride provides an opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy the stunning scenery without the hassle of driving.

Join a Guided Tour

A guided tour to Landmannalaugar

Joining a guided tour is an excellent option for travelers who want a more structured and informative experience. Many tour operators offer day trips or multi-day excursions to Landmannalaugar, often including stops at other attractions in the highlands. Guided tours provide the benefit of knowledgeable guides who can share insights about the geology, history, and flora and fauna of the area. This option is ideal for those who want to make the most of their visit without worrying about logistics.

How Long Should I Spend in Landmannalaugar?

An aerial view of Landmannalaugar in the Icelandic Highlands during summer

The duration of your stay in Landmannalaugar depends on your interests and the activities you wish to undertake. For a comprehensive experience, spending at least two to three days is recommended. This allows ample time to explore the various hiking trails, soak in the hot springs, and take in the stunning scenery.

If you are short on time, a day trip to Landmannalaugar is also feasible, especially if you join a guided tour or take the bus. However, spending multiple days offers a more immersive experience, allowing you to fully appreciate the natural beauty and tranquility of the area.

For avid hikers planning to tackle the Laugavegur Trail, an extended stay of four to five days is necessary to complete the trek from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk. This longer journey provides an opportunity to explore the diverse landscapes and stop at the various huts along the way.

Geology of Landmannalaugar

The incredible lakes and mountains of Landmannalaugar in the Icelandic Highlands

The geology of Landmannalaugar is one of its most fascinating aspects. The area’s vibrant mountains are primarily composed of rhyolite, a volcanic rock that creates a spectrum of colors due to its mineral composition. The reds, pinks, yellows, and greens are a result of iron oxidation, while the blues and greens come from the presence of copper and other minerals.

Landmannalaugar is located within the Torfajökull volcanic system, one of Iceland’s largest and most active geothermal areas. The region has been shaped by numerous volcanic eruptions over millennia, creating a landscape of lava fields, craters, and hot springs. The most recent major eruption in the area occurred around 1477, forming the vast Laugahraun lava field that visitors can explore today.

The geothermal activity in Landmannalaugar is also responsible for the natural hot springs that dot the landscape. These springs are heated by the Earth’s internal heat, creating perfect spots for relaxation amidst the rugged terrain.

Popular Attractions Nearby Landmannalaugar

People bathing in the famous Hot Springs of Landmannalaugar

While Landmannalaugar itself is a treasure trove of natural wonders, the surrounding area also offers several noteworthy attractions. Here are some of the must-visit spots near Landmannalaugar:


Brennisteinsalda, meaning “Sulfur Wave,” is one of the most famous landmarks in Landmannalaugar. This mountain is known for its striking colors, which include shades of red, green, yellow, and blue, created by the presence of sulfur, iron, and other minerals. The hike to the summit of Brennisteinsalda is relatively short but offers panoramic views of the surrounding rhyolite mountains and lava fields. The trail passes through steaming vents and hot springs, providing a sensory feast for hikers.


Bláhnjúker, or “Blue Peak,” is another colorful mountain in the Landmannalaugar area. As its name suggests, Bláhnjúker is known for its blue and green hues, which stand in contrast to the surrounding red and yellow mountains. The hike to the top of Bláhnjúker is more challenging than Brennisteinsalda, but the views from the summit are well worth the effort. From the top, hikers can see the vast expanse of the Laugahraun lava field and the multicolored peaks of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve.


Frostastaðavatn is a serene lake located near Landmannalaugar, surrounded by rugged hills and lava fields. The lake is a popular spot for picnics and short walks, offering a tranquil setting amidst the dramatic landscapes. The reflections of the colorful mountains in the clear waters of Frostastaðavatn create a picturesque scene that is perfect for photography.


Ljótipollur near Landmannalaugar in the Icelandic Highlands

Ljótipollur, meaning “Ugly Puddle,” is a strikingly beautiful crater lake located a short drive from Landmannalaugar. Despite its name, Ljótipollur is anything but ugly. The deep blue waters of the lake are surrounded by steep red and black volcanic walls, creating a stunning contrast. The hike to the rim of the crater is relatively easy and provides excellent views of the lake and the surrounding highlands.


Dómadalur, or “Valley of Judgement,” is a lush valley located to the west of Landmannalaugar. This area is known for its verdant meadows, clear streams, and rugged mountains. Dómadalur offers several hiking trails that take visitors through its scenic landscapes, including routes that lead to the nearby Hekla volcano. The valley is a peaceful and less-visited spot, making it an ideal destination for those seeking solitude and natural beauty.

Where Should I Stay Near Landmannalaugar?

The Hill Hotel at Flúðir in Iceland during summer

Accommodations near Landmannalaugar range from basic camping facilities to more comfortable mountain huts. Here are some options for where to stay:

– Landmannalaugar Campsite: The campsite at Landmannalaugar is the most popular option for visitors. It offers basic amenities, including restrooms, showers, and cooking facilities. Camping in Landmannalaugar allows you to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area and wake up to stunning views each morning.

– Mountain Huts: Several mountain huts along the Laugavegur Trail provide basic accommodation for hikers. These huts offer dormitory-style sleeping arrangements, kitchens, and common areas. Reservations are essential, especially during the peak summer season. The huts provide a comfortable and social atmosphere for hikers to rest and share their experiences.

– The Hill Hotel: Ok, ok, we’ll be honest, humble brag alert – as the Hill Hotel is located at a convenient stepping stone for travellers either heading to Landmannalaugar or a taking another restful night in a comfortable setting before heading to Reykjavík, it is the perfect stop for a night or two in the heart of the Golden Circle trail. Did we mention we also have discounts on our offers page which you can check out?


Landmannalaugar is a true gem of Iceland’s highlands, offering a unique and unforgettable experience for nature lovers and adventurers. From its vibrant rhyolite mountains and steaming hot springs to the breathtaking Laugavegur Trail, Landmannalaugar provides a stunning backdrop for exploration and relaxation. Whether you choose to hike the iconic trail, soak in the geothermal pools, or simply take in the otherworldly landscapes, Landmannalaugar is a destination that will leave you in awe.

Planning your visit with the right information and preparation will ensure a memorable journey to this magical part of Iceland. Whether you drive a 4WD car, take the bus, or join a guided tour, the adventure to Landmannalaugar is one that will stay with you long after you leave. So pack your hiking boots, camera, and sense of adventure, and get ready to explore one of Iceland’s most captivating natural wonders.

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