Landmannalaugar in Iceland is a geothermal nature reserve in the southern highlands. The region is known for its soothing hot springs, brightly colored peaks, steam plumes, and clear blue lakes. Landmannalaugar means the “peoples’ pools,” named for its unique hot spring pools that have warmed up Icelanders for centuries.
Arriving in Landmannalaugar, you’ll see colorful mountains, ranging from green to blue to black, yellow and even pink. These colors are completely natural, a result of local geothermal activity. It’s an otherworldly experience to hike amongst is to experience the sheer vastness of this raw and magnificent place.
The most famous landmarks inside Landmannalaugar are the mountains Brennisteinsalda and Bláhnjúkur, its natural hot pools and the lava field Laugahraun. Additional nearby showstoppers are the ironically named Ljótpollur (“Ugly Puddle”) and the fascinating Lake Frostaðavatn.
History of Landmannalaugar
Landmannalaugar is a part of the Torfajökulseldstöð volcanic system which has been active for a very long time. The oldest lava field known to have come from the volcanic system is about 400.000 old but scientist believes the system itself but be up to twice that age. Torfajökull volcano last erupted in the year 1477 sculpting the Landmannalaugar area and creating most of the scenery we see there today and the biggest rhyolite stretch in Iceland.
Where is Landmannalaugar located?
GPS coordinates of Landmannalaugar GPS 63.9830° N, 19.0670° W
Landmannalaugar is in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the Icelandic Highlands 188 km (117 mi) from the capital, Reykjavík. To set the scene other driving distances are from Selfoss at 144 km (89 mi), from Akureyri at 269 km (167 mi) and from Egilsstaðir at 544 km (338 mi).
How to get to Landmannalaugar?
There are a few ways one can go about reaching Landmannalaugar. The most common are joining tours visiting the area, jumping on a scheduled bus going there or to rent a car and drive there on your own. If you decide on the latter it is important to keep in mind that the road leading to Landmannalaugar isn’t paved all the way so you need to make sure you are allowed to drive on F-roads before embarking on a self-drive trip. After all, visiting a place in the highlands in Iceland is surely a trip to the wild!
If you are driving from Reykjavík to Landmannalaugar you will begin by following Ring Road one over Hellisheiði heath and through the smoky town on Hveragerði and Selfoss before making a turn off the main road one on to road number 30. This road you follow until you see a sign taking you off it to road number 32. You will follow 32 for a quite a while past Hjálparfoss waterfall and all the way until finding road F26, named Þjórsárdalsvegur which will take you to the Hrauneyjar Highland Center. At this point in time, you need to start to be on the lookout for F208, Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri. You will need to cross a few rivers in order to reach Landmannalaugar so if you aren’t used to doing so follow the lead of parked cars at the widest river and hike the rest.
Hiking Trails in Landmannalaugar
Landmannalaugar Hikes are plentiful, depending on what attractions you’d like to see.
- Start of the Laugavegur Trail leading to Þórsmörk, can be done in 4, 6 or 8-day trips with tents or in Highlands Cabins.
- Hike Mt. Brennisteinsalda for a beautiful view the colorful terrain, lava field and lakes. Takes about 2-3 hours.
- Traverse Mt. Bláhnjúkur for a few of five different glaciers on a clear day. Takes about 3-4 hours.
- Roam around the lowland across Laugahraun lava field to the bottom of Grænagil. Green Gully and back to the mountain hut base. Takes about 1-2 hours.
Major Attractions in Landmannalaugar
Laugahraun lava field came to be in the eruption of 1477 making it one of the very few rhyolite lava fields to have formed after the land was settled. It is a mesmerizing sight to see how the lava must have slowly run its course tightly up against the pastel-colored Brennisteinsalda creating the most stunning contrast. Where the lava field then comes to a stop, a steep pitch black lava wall formed from which hot water now runs filling up the pools we like to soak in while visiting this wonderland.
Mt. Brennisteinsalda which would translate to Sulphur Wave is a rhyolite mountain that formed in a volcanic eruption under a glacier during the last ice age. Its last eruption took place in the year 1961. You can easily hike up the mountain for an exquisite view over the whole terrain but hikers starting the Laugavegur hiking trail go the same path.
Bláhnjúkur, sometimes spelled Bláhnúkur, is a volcano inside Landmannalaugar. Its name Bláhnúkur would translate Blue Peak and comes from the blue-black hues that throne its slopes. Its highest point is 940 meters (3080 ft) and it is a popular mountain to hike when visiting Landmannalaugar. From the top of the mountain volcano, you can see several glaciers!
Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork Hike
The trail from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork is one of the most popular treks in the world. Known as the Laugavegur Trail, this route is a popular stop on every hiker’s bucket list. Hikers cross a distance of about 33 mi (53 km), taking about 4 days. You can sleep in huts and designated campsites.
Hot Spring Pools in Landmannalaugar
Landmannalaugar was originally best known for its geothermal baths, hence the name “People’s Pools.” The area provided both travelers and farm animals shelter and warmth and the baths gave people a chance to fully relax after an immense day of roving. Today the Landmannalaugar hot springs serve the same healing source for tired hikers and trekkers who have enjoyed the hike in the windswept mountains.
The soothing springs come at no extra cost and act as a price for those to reach Landmannalaugar but you will need to pay for restroom use where many like to change to their bathing suits. You can also wear the suit underneath, comfortable for those who aren’t looking to do extensive hiking before the bath.
Weather at Landmannalaugar
The weather in Iceland tends to be erratic, and in the Highlands, it’s even more so. Even in the summer, dress in layers so you can adjust for both sunny days and chilly winds. There is always a chance of heavy rain, hail or even snow. Always check the Landmannalaugar weather forecast before departure.
Camping at Landmannalaugar
Inside Landmannalaugar you have two options for accommodation: Camping or Mountain Huts.
Camping in Landmannalaugar costs 1800 ISK per person and basically gives you access to toilets, running water, a BBQ and cooking facilities.
Accommodation at Landmannalaugar
The black hut with the green roof is running by Ferðafélag Íslands and has 78 beds. The hut is big and cozy, has two floors and is open and manned all year round. A night in the hut costs 9000 ISK and you will need to bring your own sleeping bag.
Landmannalaugar in Winter
Landmannalaugar is a phenomenal winter paradise. First, it is likely that you will have the grounds almost to yourself, secondly, the Northern Lights are known to shine brighter from Landmannalaugar and last but not least, the hot geothermal pool it still hot enough to bathe in – an experience without comparison!
Arctic Adventures offers an excellent 2-day winter tour in Landmannalaugar covering everything there is to see and do in and around this dramatic region.
In winter, we recommend you join a Super Jeep tour. Landmannalaugar is known for its incredible Northern Lights. Don’t miss your chance to view the auroras in the secluded serenity far from city lights.
Check our Laugavegur Treks & Hikes for more tours hiking Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork.
Interesting places near Landmannalaugar
- The Laugavegur Trail
- Frostastaðavatn Lake
- Ljótipollur (Ugly Puddle)
- Þórisvatn Lake
- Langisjór Lake
- Mt. Hekla
- Sigöldugljúfur Canyon Valley of Tear
- Sigöldufoss Waterfall
- Þjórsárdalur Valley
- Hjálparfoss Waterfall
- Þjórsá River
- Þjófafoss Waterfall
- Háifoss Waterfall
FAQ About Landmannalaugar
Can you drive to Landmannalaugar?
Yes, you can rent a car to Landmannalaugar. Depending on which route you take, you’ll need a 4WD vehicle to tackle the F-roads.
How to get to Landmannalaugar without a 4×4?
If you’d want to get to Landmannalaugar without a 4×4, you’ll need to book a tour or hop on a bus. Some bus companies offer transfers to and from Landmannalaugar. They stop at the hiking base of Skogar, Thorsmork or Landmannalaugar. All buses have Wifi.
How to get to Landmannalaugar from Reykjavik?
Landmannalaugar is around 200km from Reykjavik, about 2-3 hours. Drive west on Miklabraut, take a right on Vik exit and stay on Route 1. When you reach the turn to Route 30, turn, exit at Route 32 then continue along Route 27. Watch the road signs to Route 208 all the way to Landmannalaugar.