If you live in a city that is crowded with people and loaded with stressful moments from buses, cars, honking horns, whining sirens, people shouting, the highland of Iceland is a place to visit and experience. It is a place on the other side of the emotional scale of stress and anxiety. It is a place of relaxation, a place of quiet moments, a home of only a few birds that make beautiful sounds, and a place of stillness. A place that is free of predators and dangerous animals.

Kýlingar lake at Fjallabak in Iceland

Landmannalaugar in the Highlands of Iceland is a great place to visit for many reasons. One major reason is there are many exciting hiking trails that are easily accessible for most people. Located in a spectacular landscape, they offer some of the most amazing views you will ever see.

Hiking in Landmannalaugar

A view from Suðurnánmur track towards Bláhjúkur, Brennisteinsalda and Laugahraun (Laugahringur)

For one-day visitors, the most popular hiking trails in Landmannalaugar are the Laugahringur trail, the Brennisteinsalda volcano, the Bláhnúkur mountain, and the Suðurnámur mountain ridge. Of course, there are other hiking trails, but many of them are more difficult and longer. They require more time for preparation and better gear. And then there is also the longest one—the Laugavegur hiking trail that goes to Þórsmörk: 54 kilometers long and takes about three to four days.

One of the best ways for you to visit Landmannalaugar and experience its glory is to take the Hit Iceland spectacular tour with a personal guide.

Laugahringur circle hiking trail

This is the most accessible and most popular hiking trail in Landmannalaugar. It is a “circle” through and around the Laugahraun lava field. In 1477, an eruption from the slopes of the Brennisteinsalda volcano gave birth to this small lava field. Although small, it is one of the most interesting lava fields you can find in Iceland. The regular basalt lava is blended with numerous shining black obsidian rocks—a combination exclusive to only a handful of other fields in the area.

The hike starts at the FÍ (Ferðafélag Íslands) service center. You have to go straight through the lava field to the west on an excellent hiking path. After crossing the field, a breathtaking view of the magnificent Vondugil (Bad Ravines) valley will open up before you. The mountains surrounding the valley are colorful, and the view is absolutely something for the camera.

Laugahringur hike in Landmannalaugar Iceland highland

Laugahringur lava walk is the most accessible and most popular hiking trail in Landmannalaugar

For those who are not up for walking and hiking, this is an excellent point for you to turn around and return.

For the rest, you continue at the west edge of the lava field towards Brennisteinsalda, the volcano. The path is a bit steep, lined with small rocky lava steps all the way up to the open and colorful small sulfur rocks and hot springs that are sometimes covered with smoke. This place therefore has a strong sulfur smell. At this point, you turn and walk east through the lava field again. This part of the lava is a bit rocky and more difficult to walk all the way to Grænagil ravine, but it is shorter than the path through the lava from the service center. From the ravine with a colorful river bed, you will finish the walk at the service center. 

The hike is approximately five kilometers and relatively easy. Everyone able to walk five kilometers should easily finish this hike. As the path is sometimes a bit rough, especially the second part through the lava, we recommend having a good pair of hiking shoes.

For families camping in Iceland with children, this is an excellent hiking trail for especially the children as the lava, geothermal smoke, strong sulfur smell, and the colorful mountains are all healthy ingredients for the imagination.

If you take the Hit Iceland tour the guide will accompany you on this hiking trail.

Brennisteinsalda volcano

Brennisteinsalda (Sulfur hill) is a small mountain/volcano, approximately 800 meters high. On most days, standing at its top gives you a great view of Landmannalaugar and its surroundings, and even a good look at the Icelandic Highlands.

From the service center, since you are already at 600 meters, the elevation is only about 200 meters. The first half of the hike is the same as that of Laugahringur, but instead of turning left or east by the smoking sulfur rocks, you have to continue upwards. The path through the lava steps is a bit steep and narrow, but it grows relatively easy once you are on the yellow gravel path near the top.

Sitting on top of Brennisteinsalda where you have a spectacular view

Sitting on top of Brennisteinsalda volcano towards Vondugil valley

Taking this hike in addition to Laugahringur only heightens the enjoyment of your Landmannalaugar experience—when you turn to the view south towards Hrafntinnusker, the mountains are exceptionally colorful.

The hike from the service center to the top of Brennisteinsalda is approximately five and a half kilometers. So, you should prepare yourself to walk eleven kilometers. This will take about two and a half to three and a half hours. For this hike, it is always better to have hiking shoes since the path is both slightly rough and slippery. Most hiking shoes, compared to sneakers or ordinary shoes, have a better grip as the sole is designed for rougher terrain.

As mentioned above, the Landmannalaugar lava field came from Brennisteinsalda in 1477. It is a very unusual lava field as the crater is barely visible. The magma originated from the Bárðabunga fissure and a volcanic system hundreds of kilometers to the northeast, and not from the massive volcanic surroundings at the Torfajökull glacier volcanic system. This is the reason why this lava field is so much different than the rest of the landforms in Landmannalaugar. It is an illegitimate child of another volcanic system. On the other hand, the mountain itself was formed thousands of years ago like many other rhyolite mountains nearby.

Bláhnjúkur mountain

The Bláhnúkur mountain (Blue Peak Mountain) is probably one of the best known mountains and iconic landscapes in the Landmannalaugar area. As you drive the last part of the road to Landmannalaugar and cross the river, it forms the background of your arrival and offers a magical atmosphere.

This is the most challenging of the four hiking trails—it is the steepest and the most difficult, but it is also the most rewarding one. Look in any direction, and it will give you the best views. It is also the second highest mountain in the area.

Bláhnjúkur mountain in Landmannalaugar

Bláhnjúkur mountain

The elevation from the service center is about 320 meters. Your first hike is up to the lower peak and up a mountain shoulder to the higher one. In addition to being steep, the path, as it is narrow and the slopes on both sides are steep, could be intimidating for those with a fear of heights.

When you are on top of the Bláhnúkur, you will have a great view of the Icelandic Highlands. You might even see, as some have claimed, more than eight glaciers and icecaps. It is a place to pause and enjoy the view. Once you have spent enough time on the top, you can walk the same path back. Or, if you are still in the mood for more challenges, you can take the path that goes down to Grænagil and takes you back to the service center at Landmannalaugar.

Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil

Out of the four trails, this one is the longest and probably the most rewarding. It takes about four to five hours, starting at the sign located on the road just before the river you need to cross for arriving at Landmannalaugar. The first part is a bit steep, but with every step, the breathtaking landscape reveals itself before you. This is the best place to view the Landmannalaugar area in all its glory as you are viewing it from the north to the south. Once you are on top, it is a long and easy walk on a mountain ridge with the ever-changing view in all directions. Here you have many opportunities to take a lot of photos. To your south, you will have an excellent view of the Torfajökull volcanic system that feeds the colorful lava and formed the orange, blue, and yellow mountains. You will also witness the northeast of the landscape and the landform poetry of the vast and dangerous Bárðarbunga volcanic system, the “father” of the Laugahraun lava field. 

Suðurnámur hiking trail in Landmannalaugar

Walking the Suðurnámur hiking trail

From the mountain ridge, you descend a slope down to the Vondugil valley. You will walk through some beautiful and colorful landforms. Once you are in the valley, you need to pass a wet valley and cross small streams. For crossing the stream, you need to find the best way to wade or find proper stepping stones. And finally, you will join the track over the Laugahraun back to the service center.

All or any of those four tracks are interesting hikes that will only make your visit to Landmannalaugar more enjoyable.

If you are interested to have a guide with you from Reykjavík, check out our Hit Iceland Landmannalaugar tour.

Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Landmannalaugar on the map of Iceland

Brennisteinsalda hiking trail in Landmannalaugar Iceland

Sigöldugljúfur canyon is one of the many places in Iceland that is still to be discovered as a major tourist attraction. A beautiful canyon with a connection that is almost magical between vegetation, creeks, waterfalls, and cliffs. It has all the ingredients to become a popular destination as it looks like something in a fairytale. Located at Sigalda by the mountain road F208 a few minutes after you turn from the F26 Highland road and drive to the geological wonderland Landmannalaugar. It is easily accessible when you drive down the slope at the small hill Sigalda.

Sigöldugljúfur canyon

Markarfljótsgljúfur Canyon is a kind of hidden gem in the Icelandic landscape. It is one of our most impressive and stunning canyons but not visited by many.  One reason is the fact that it is placed in the Icelandic Highland and not simple to visit. Although not among the largest canyons in Iceland, it is quite deep, about 200 meters where it is deepest, and the main and most interesting and most accessible part spans about 4 kilometers. The canyon is very impressive and is part of the Highland road Syðri Fjallabak when entered by Emstrur continuing from Fljótshlíð in southern Iceland. It is also part of the popular hiking track Laugavegur from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk.

Formed in a single disaster flood

The canyon is believed to be created in a single disaster flood bursting from the famous volcano Katla in Mýrdalsjökull glacier in an eruption under the glacier.  If that is correct you will be amazed when looking at the canyon of the enormous power a single flood from an eruption under glacier can create and the devastation it can leave behind. This supposedly occurred about two thousand years ago, so other geological factors have contributed to the canyon since then. Through the canyon floods the river Markarfljót which has also given it a name.  A river with a significant place in Icelandic history and geological history.

Access is not simple

Access to Markarfljótsgljúfur is either by a hiking trail from Þórsmörk or on the mountain road Emstruleið F261. This is a challenging and rough mountain road with difficult rivers to cross, so it requires a well-equipped 4WD vehicle.  Another way is to find a good tour operator. To access the mountain road you take a left turn when coming from Reykjavík on the Ring Road by the village Hvolsvöllur to the Road Nr. 261.  From Hvolsvöllur village the drive is about 50 kilometers.

Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Markarfljótsgljúfur canyon on the map of Iceland

Markarfljótsgljúfur Canyon is a kind of hidden gem in the Icelandic landscape.


Landmannalaugar is one of the most remarkable and fascinating places in the Icelandic Highland. It is a place most people fall in love with from the moment they visit this extraordinary creation of Mother Nature. Landmannalaugar is also one of the five most fascinating natural wonders you can visit in Icelandand and perhaps one of the most interesting places you can visit on the planet.  Although this unique place in the Icelandic Highland, located 600 meters above sea level, is best known for its cozy geothermal pool and bath, and as a starting point for the famous 54 km. four days hiking trail Laugavegur, it is much more. Landmannalaugar offers other shorter, exciting, and breathtaking hiking trails with stunning sceneries and landscape.  It is a wonderland for photographers with an endless variety of geological formations, smoking hot springs, lava fields, rivers, creeks, gullies, ravines, canyons, volcanos, and rhyolite mountains that change colors from one hour to the next depending on the mood of the sun and the clouds. It is a remote place only open from the first weeks of July (sometimes as early as the middle of June) until the end of September. A place that is always reluctant to show its colors and beauty outside this period as it is often packed with snow or under attack by severe blizzards and cold during winter. It is a place you should not visit or think about visiting from the beginning of October until the beginning of July, unless you are looking for a major 4X4 winter adventure.

Landmannalaugar volcano Brennisteinsalda

The variety of landform and colors is mind-blowing

A product of a unique volcanic system

Landmannalaugar is part of the unique Torfajökull glacier volcanic system. Just a short distance south of Landmannalaugar is the northern rim of its ancient and enormous caldera.  Part of the famous Landmannalaugar hiking trail is a passage through this old caldera, and the diameter is 12 km times 18 km. The Torfajökull caldera emptied its magma chamber and collapsed hundreds of thousands of years ago.  The uniqueness comes from the fact that the magma was much higher in acid compared to most of the magma, and thousands of eruptions throughout the millions of years of the island’s geological history.  A magma that produced rhyolite lava instead of the most common, basalt lava. Since the calderas collapse geothermal activity, hot springs, erosion, ice, and many other geological phenomena have reshaped and molded the whole area into a stunning, irresistible and unique natural wonder.  Today the landform within the caldera and the nearby mountains like Landmannalaugar is perhaps one of the most breathtaking landscape you can find, view and experience on the planet. 

Landmannalaugar opens for traffic in late June every year

Landmannalaugar opens for traffic in late June every year. Service center and hut seen from the geothermal pool.

Service center and facilities in Landmannalaugar

In recent years Landmannalaugar has become a kind of a Base Camp for people starting the hiking track Laugavegur to Þórsmörk. It is also popular among tourists visiting for a few days to hike the shorter trails and admire this pearl in the Highland. The Icelandic Touring Association FÍ (Ferðafélag Íslands in Icelandic) has a service center in Landmannalaugar.  The service center consists of a hut built in 1969 that houses 80 people, a camping ground, and toilets, showers, and facilities to wash. The service center has hot and cold water and is an excellent place to change your clothes if you plan to take a dip in the geothermal pool.  Some prefer to switch to swimming suits the traditional way outside by the pool.  But here you might take into account that there is no electricity to charge your phone, shaving machine, use a hair dryer or other electronic devices. There is also a tent where you can have a meal and do some minor cooking. The service fee is a modest 500 Icelandic kronur pr. day.

The view from hiking trail Sudurnamur towards Landmanalaugar service center

The view from hiking trail Sudurnamur towards Landmanalaugar service center

The camping site and space for 4X4 campers

The camping ground is a bit rough with tough soil and thus a bit resistant to tent pegs.  You might have to "pin" your tent down with rocks. So usually people camping in Landmannalaugar must fasten their tents with rocks and stones, which are plenty in Landmannalaugar. There is also a good space for 4X4 campers that are also required to pay the service fee.  Even campers and people with tents on top of their car who camp on the other side of the river must also pay the service fee.  It is essential for FÍ to continue to build and improve their service and facilities. 

Camping site in Landmannalaugar

The camping ground is a bit rough with tough soil

Other services in Landmannalaugar

During the summer from late June until the end of August, there is a small convenience store in Landmannalaugar offering basic necessities. It does not mean that you can rely on this store for all your food or need lesser preparation if you are taking the Laugavegur hiking trail or staying in Landmannalaugar for a few days. It is mostly for an emergency.  Also during summer, the Icelandic Rescue Squad has a small service center to increase security in the area and help visitors and hikers that have problems and accidents.

The store or highland mall in Landmannalaugar

The store or highland mall in Landmannalaugar is housed in old green busses

The geothermal pool in Landmannalaugar

Taking a dip in the geothermal pool in Landmannalaugar has been very popular among tourists visiting as well as Icelanders for decades. The pool is only a few steps from the service center at the edge of the lava field Laugahraun.  It is a pool fed by the cold and hot streams coming from under the lava blending in the stream by the pool.  Most visitors take off their cloth and put on their swimming suite by the pool.  It is part of the freedom in the mountains and the relaxed highland experience.  For hikers that visit Landmannalaugar for a day or even a few days to hike the many short hikes in the area, it is very relaxing to dip into the pool after a walk to Brennisteinsalda or Bláhnjúkur. 

You only need to take a short hike to see some spectacular landscape in Landmannalaugar

You only need to take a short hike to see some spectacular landscape in Landmannalaugar

Part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve

Landmannalaugar is part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, which in size is approximately fifty thousand hectares of land in the south of the Icelandic Highland. It was established in the late eighties to protect the sensitive nature in the Highland. The Highland Road Fjallabak nyrðri runs through most of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve and is one of the easiest Highland roads to travel in Iceland, although a larger type of 4X4 is recommended like a Toyota Land Cruiser or a Jeep Wrangler. As always when people are traveling the Icelandic Highland we emphasize that it is a very sensitive area and driving outside market roads is strictly forbidden.

Landmannalaugar geothermal pool

The geothemal pool in Landmannalaugar is a must for all visitors

Finding your way and how to drive to Landmannalaugar

There are actually two main entrances to Landmannalaugar from the west. When you drive from Reykjavík, you find your way to Dómadalsleið Nr. F225, often referred to as Landmannaleið, or Nyrðri Fjallabak mountain road Nr F208.  Usually, Nyrðri Fjallabak opens sooner than Landmannaleið in early summer. We recommended that you rent a good 4X4 vehicle like a Toyota Land Cruiser or a Jeep Wrangler if you intend to drive a Mountain Road in Iceland marked as a F road on maps.  So from Reykjavík, you start from the Ring Road Nr. 1 and drive eastward. Soon after you pass the bridge on the river Þjórsá, you look out for the road Landvegur Nr. 26.  You need to drive approximately 50 kilometers north on Road Nr. 26, and by the mountain Búrfell, you take a right turn on Dómadalsleið mountain road Nr. F225.  If the road is closed, you continue for approximately 25 kilometers on Road Nr. 26 until you come to the mountain road Nr.F208 Nyrðri Fjallabak mountain road. Both Landmannaleið and Nyrðri Fjallabak lead to Landmannalaugar.  Both roads can be a bit difficult and we can only emphasis to rent a 4X4 vehicle. Both roads usually open in early July and sometimes F208 opens around the middle of June. Both roads close around the middle of September.  Both roads require that you cross rivers. 

Landmannalaugar: View from the Brennisteinsalda hiking path

Landmannalaugar: View from the Brennisteinsalda hiking path

The best way to travel to and see Landmannalaugar is to take a tour and hike with Hit Iceland in a 4X4 vehicle with a knowledgeable guide by your side -
Check It Out Here.

The geothermal natural pool has always been one of the major attractions in Landmannalaugar

The geothermal natural pool has always been one of the major attractions in Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar in winter is only for those who are interested in winter sport and highly modified 4X4 vehicles

Landmannalaugar in winter is mostly covered with snow and only for those who are interested in winter travel and highly modified 4X4 vehicles

Hiking near Brennisteinsalda volcano in Landmannalaugar

Hiking near Brennisteinsalda volcano in Landmannalaugar

Below is the location of Landmannalaugar on the map of Iceland

Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Many trails in Landmannalaugar have great view

Einar Páll Svavarsson is a local guide a photo guide and the creator of hiticeland.com. As a political scientist educated at the University of Iceland, I know a lot about the history of Iceland. I have written over 700 articles on my website about places in Iceland that I have visited and photographed.  Towns and villages, natural wonders and places few have visited. Places that are popular like Geysir and Seljalandsfoss waterfall, places that few have visited like Stuðlagil and Rauðufossafjöll as well as spectacular small towns like Húsavík and Stykkishólmur. I am also a photographer and have even received the honor of being published on National Geographic Photo of the day. My photos, in addition to hiticeland.com, can be seen on Your Shot National Geographic .  As I am often writing and taking photos I also write articles for others, webpages and magazines.

In recent years I have also guided individuals, small groups and school groups around the country.  As a knowledgeable and experienced driver and traveler in the Icelandic Highland, I guide people for Arctic Trucks Experience and teach customers to drive the large modified vehicles with 38-inch tires.  I also guide photographic tours with Iceland Photo Tours, teaching customers how to take great photos of our magnificent landscape.

Einar Páll in Stuðlagil in 2016 when he discovered what has become one of Iceland's most popular attractions

Einar Páll in Stuðlagil in 2016 when he discovered what has become one of Iceland's most popular attractions

Travelled the country for more than three decades

I have traveled almost everywhere in the country for more than three decades, in summer and winter, in towns and villages, the countryside and the remote highland, over rivers and on glaciers, up mountains and down into caves. For decades I have owned modified 4X4 vehicles like Toyota Land Cruiser and Hi-Lux with 38-inch tires and am quite familiar with all the types of equipment added to the car for better driving in harsh conditions and remote places.  So I am also a fully licensed tour driver.  I also lived in a small town in the Northern Region for three years.  My main interest for more than 40 years is photography and photographing in Iceland. 

Hiking in Thorsmork spring 2020

Hiking in Thorsmork spring 2020

I have lived in Toronto for a year and in California for six years so I know the English language quite well. In fact, I learned English when I was a child growing up in Keflavik Iceland near the American military base and watching the American television. For the leight years I worked as a web designer and built hundreds of websites. So I have all the necessary know-how and skills to tell people interested in Iceland more about Iceland and Icelanders on the internet. For the last three years, I have worked as a tour guide for Hit Iceland, Geocamp Iceland, Arctic Trucks Experience and Iceland Photo Tours. 

Einar Páll Svavarsson by the 2010 Fimmvörðuháls / Eyjafjallajökull eruption

Einar Páll Svavarsson hiking by the 2010 Fimmvörðuháls / Eyjafjallajökull eruption

Although I have lived in Reykjavík most of my life, among the goals with hiticeland.com is to help people discover the beauty of the towns and villages around the country and get good access to information about all the wonderful places and natural wonders.  Another objective is to present my favorite part of Iceland, the exotic Highland, and how to travel in that breathtaking and sensitive area. And here is a little secret: After all the traveling for decades, this country never ceases to amaze me. 

And although I am wearing more than one hat, I was fortunate to get some help when working on the site.  My daughter, Halla, a graduate in graphic design at Gerrit Rietveld in Amsterdam, designed the look of the web page and came up with the idea of the minimalistic approach. My sister Súsanna is a writer and a journalist, and she wrote many articles and is responsible for many of the interesting interviews. Last but not least my wonderful wife, travel companion and lifelong friend Guðrún handles the finances plus putting in some great ideas. 

Coming down from Langjökull glacier in 1998

Einar Páll Svavarsson here coming down from Langjökull glacier in 1998 in his Toyota Land Cruiser, one of the first fully modified and equipped brand new Land Cruiser on 38-inch tires.  Modified by the company that later became Arctic Trucks

Who is the owner of Hit Icelan?

Hit Iceland is a family owned company, owned by me, my wife Guðrún, daughter Halla who is a graphic designer in Amsterdam in winter and warden in the Iceland highland mountains in summer, and daughter Erna who is a fashion designer.

Einar Páll Svavarsson hiking to the Geldingadalir volcano in March 2021

Einar Páll Svavarsson hiking to the Geldingadalir volcano in March 2021

Probably the most famous hiking trail in Iceland today is the Laugavegur trail from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork. It is a fascinating highland path where people go through all kinds of landscape and many geological wonders. A typical time for the hike is four days and five nights as most people spend a night in Landmannalaugar, the base camp, before starting and one night in Thorsmork, the oasis, at the end. Although the hiking trail is not particularly challenging, it requires some serious perpetration. The trail goes through some difficult terrain, and that requires good shoes.

The most famous hiking trail in Iceland today is the Laugavegur