#brennisteinsalda

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.

Brennisteinsalda hiking trail in Landmannalaugar Iceland

 

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 Iceland.  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, 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 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.

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 a hut 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 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 4X4 is recommended. 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 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. 

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

Below is the location of Landmannalaugar on the map of Iceland

 

Many trails in Landmannalaugar have great view