In this Guide to Hiking and Camping in Landmannalaugar, we will discover the best time to go, how to get there, what to bring, and the best trails to go for a hike. There was no comprehensive Guide to hiking and camping in Landmannalaugar available when I first planned a hiking and photography trip in 2012. Information on the internet was basic and did not provide answers to the questions I had.
With this in mind, I have created this guide starting from my own experiences and research. Read on to discover what you need to know about hiking and camping in Landmannalaugar.
View of the colorful Landmannalaugar landscape
Table of Content
Guide to hiking and camping in Landmannalaugar – Introduction
It’s hard to say something that hasn’t already been said about Landmannalaugar and its unique geological formations and its landscape. Colorful Rhyolite mountains, lava fields, hot springs, fumaroles and Volcanoes are all part of the landscape.
What I can do is confirm the hype is real. To me, this is an extraordinary place. It’s one of the most stunning locations I have ever visited, not only in Iceland but in my entire life.
What makes Landmannalaugar so unique? Personally, it’s the whole package. The landscape is something between an abstract sculpture and a surrealist painting. It feels like being on another planet, but it’s earth. Just a very unusual type of “earth”. Its desolate and barren but colourful mountains look like an open-air natural museum of wonder.
The top of Brennisteinsalda viewed from the Graenagil Canyon.
One of the several magnificent views on the Sudurnamur trail
Detail of the colorful Rhyolite mountains in Landmannalaugar
The hiking is excellent. The trails are all well marked with color-coded signposts. Both the easy and challenging ones are easy to follow. The scenery will make you forget your tiredness on the trail. You will not want to leave :)!
Last but not least, there is a thermal pool! The pool is in fact what gives Landmannalaugar its name; Landmannalaugar literally means People’s pool.
Hopefully, you will find this Guide to hiking and camping in Landmannlaugar useful. If you have any questions or additional tips, let me know in the comments below.
The Grænihryggur, or Green Ridge in Landmannalaugar
Where is Landmannalaugar
Landmannalaugar is part of the 47,000 hectares Fjallabak nature reserve in the southern highlands of Iceland. It is, therefore, a remote location, with no facilities around apart from the campground.
Its remoteness and isolation are also part of the reason why this location is attractive to many. However, this does not mean it is difficult to reach, but it does require an F-road-rated vehicle.
When to go to Landmannalaugar
Visiting Landmannalaugar is generally possible only during high season and when the f-roads leading to it are open. The dates vary every year and depend on the road conditions.
Transit on the roads leading to Landmannalaugar will only be possible once the roads have entirely thawed out to prevent damage.
Generally, these dates can go from mid-June to early or mid-September. You can check F-roads opening or expected opening times here.
I would recommend going in early July if you can. Unfortunately, due to my work, I can never go there at that time of the year, but that’s the one I would choose.
Why? The nights, or lack thereof. Due to Iceland’s latitude, there still is no night in early July, but only a few hours of twilight and very long sunsets and sunrises. This means two things:
- Provided the weather cooperates, the chance for longer golden hours and sunrises/sunsets.
- Fewer people on the trails. It can be crowded here in summer, and hiking during the Icelandic night, you are more likely to have the trails to yourself.
One of the many gorges in Landmannalaugar
How to get to Landmannalaugar with a rental vehicle
There are a few possible ways to get to Landmannalaugar by car. All of them require an F-road-rated vehicle. Note: it’s illegal to drive a 2WD vehicle on F-roads, and insurance will not cover any damage or roadside assistance that may occur on f-roads. Make sure you have a car suitable for F-roads for any of these itineraries:
- Road 208 North/F224: This is the most accessible option and accessible with any F-roads-rated cars. Road 208 North is no longer an F road, and it is technically accessible by 2WD cars, but it is a rough road. Also, this option still requires an F-road-rated vehicle because the last stretch before the parking area is an F-road (F224). Click here for directions on Google Maps.
- F208 South/F224: I have selected Vik as the starting point for simplicity. This is because to take the F208 from the south, you will need to drive to Vik first and then continue to road 208. From there, you can keep following road 208 until it becomes road F208. You will then reach road F224, which leads to the Landmannalaugar parking area. Click here for directions on Google Maps.
To rent a car, I can recommend Blue Car Rental, If you prefer a CamperVan, I can also recommend CampEasy.
How to get to Landmannalaugar by bus
There are some companies offering transportation to and from Landmannalaugar. In no particular order, the main two are:
Both offer transportation to and from Reykjavik, as well as to and from several other locations along the way, like Hella and Hvolsvöllur. This is a good option not only if you are not renting a car but also if you are renting a 2WD car. You could, for instance, rent a 2WD car and take a bus to the Highlands. This will allow you to save money on a 4WD rental. I did it for my visit to Thórsmörk, parking my rental car at the Hvolsvöllur gas station and taking the bus from there.
Camping in Landmannalaugar
For first-timers, here’s how the camping and facilities are organized:
View of the Landmannalaugar parking and camping areas
The campground in Landmannalaugar is limited to the areas around the reception and the Hut. These areas are clearly marked, and you can pitch your tent anywhere you find a spot.
However, too close to the parking may be noisy due to vehicles coming and going. Too close to the facilities, you may hear people chatting, taking a shower, or just eating and having a few drinks.
- Camping in a tent: you will likely need to weigh down your pegs with some stones. Due to the terrain, pegs tend to come loose, which will be a problem when it’s windy. Pro-Tip: pitch the tent on the rocky area and not on the grassy one. The grassy one is generally wet, while the rocky one is drier. This will get you less condensation and moisture inside the tent.
- Hut accommodation: the Hut provides accommodation in bunk beds and has a kitchen and eating area. The bathrooms are shared with the rest of the campground
- Campervan or off-road camper: if you have rented an off-road camper or campervan, you can camp in the parking – apparently at no extra cost. You will need to pay for the use of the facilities, however. So if you want to use the dining area, bathrooms or showers, you can pay for that at the reception.
I would recommend checking the prices directly on the website of the Camping/Hut Association as they seem to increase by a few hundred Krona each year.
Visitors who are not staying at the camping ground or in the Hut are required to pay a facility fee for the use of the bathroom and other outdoor facilities. You will need to pay this fee at the reception, and you will receive a wristband. You can also purchase this only before getting there – click here to do so.
The Warden’s hut and info point. This is where you pay for camping/accommodation and facilities.
The Hut offers accommodations in Landmannalaugar.
The shared eating area next to the Warden’s booth.
The Restrooms and showers area.
The hot pool
The use of the natural thermal pool is, of course, free. It’s the “People’s pool” after all, isn’t it :)
Food and shopping
There are two old school buses which have been converted to so-called “Mountain Malls”.
Mobile signal in Landmannalaugar
Mobile signal in the camping area is ok, but you will not get any signal in the farthest areas on the trail.
Guide to hiking and camping in Landmannalaugar – What to pack for Landmannalaugar
If you are camping, I highly recommend bringing the following items with you:
- A reliable and strong tent, a four seasons one is recommended as it can get cold here even ins summer. I have spent a couple of nights at 2-3 degrees Celsius here. Additionally, make sure your tent is waterproof enough and is seam-sealed if needed.
- A Sleeping bag liner that can increase warmth. Same as above, it can get gold here, and better to err on the side of caution.
- Tent Footprint: the soil of the camping ground is hard and rocky. Adding the extra layer of protection the footprint provides will help you prevent damage to the tent’s base.
- Hard-ground tent pegs will work much better than standard pegs. As I’ve mentioned earlier, if you don’t have hard ground tent pegs or don’t want/cannot bring them with you, you can put stones on top of each peg. You should find enough around the tent. Be quick when you see one lying around camp, though; they are in high demand ;)!
- A sleeping mat with a good R (insulation) value. Good insulation from the ground will help you stay warmer and sleep better.
In terms of clothing:
- Bring sturdy and waterproof hiking boots if you have them. Some trails, like Sudurnamur, will cross small water streams. Some trails are steep and on irregular gravel-like terrain.
- Dress in layers. If the weather in Iceland can change rapidly, it can change even more quickly in the highlands of Iceland. I usually wear merino base layers, a fleece jacket and soft-shell pants. I always bring a heavier jacket. Bring a windproof one.
- Breathable Rainproof jacket and pants. Yes, there’s most likely going to be at least some rain.
- A Wide-brim hat offers good protection from the sun and light rain.
- Swimsuit! You will need it for the thermal pool. I’d also recommend a pair of flip-flops or water shoes.
For more in-depth recommendations, you may want to check out my tips on what to pack for a hiking holiday in Iceland.
Guide to hiking and camping in Landmannalaugar – Best Hikes in Landmannalaugar
This is the list of hikes I put on my shortlist the first time I visited Landmannalaugar. I will link the dedicated post for each of the hikes I’ve already been to. For the others, I will link the related GPS track so that you can get the information on the trail from there.
- Sudurnamur – (click here for my hike report): my very first hike in Landmannalaugar offers great views over the entire area and the Rhyolite mountains to the north.
- Blahnukur – (click here for my hike report): also known as blue peak, this hike offers fantastic 360 degrees views from the top of the mountain over the surrounding landscape and the Brennisteinsalda Volcano.
- Brennisteinsalda – (click here for my hike report): this is a colorful journey through volcanic landscapes with active fumaroles and great views over the Rhyolite mountains
- Blahnukur-Brennisteinsald loop: If you only have one day and time for one hike, this is the one I would recommend. It merges the two previous hikes on this list and it can be done clockwise or counterclockwise.
- Graenagil Canyon-Lagahraun: this is an easy hike with little elevation, suitable for an easy stroll around the area. I have not done it as a hike per se, but I did hike the trail as part of other hikes.
- Litjopollur: It’s possible to hike to Litjopollur directly from the campsite, but I would prioritize any of the hikes above over this one. It is also an easy stop on road 208 north, as it can be accessed via a side road.
- The Graenihryggur or Green ridge (or Green Backbone) hike (click here for my hike report): This one does not start at the camping ground, and there are river crossings along the trail:
Photography gear for Landmannalaugar
Landmannalaugar is one of these places where I would recommend bringing as many focal lengths and lenses as possible. But, of course, any lens will find its use here.
Personally, I had the most fun shooting with longer focal lengths. My shots are mainly in the 40 to 200mm range – and these are also the ones I tend to like the most. You will have a lot of fun looking for compositions using longer focal lengths, isolating parts of the landscape farther away and looking for abstract opportunities in the Rhyolite mountains. You can check here my Landscape Photography for shooting with a 70-200mm Lens.
Drones are normally not allowed. Landmannalaugar is part of the Fjallabak protected area, where the use of drones is limited or prohibited. If you want to fly a drone here, you would need to apply for a permit here.
The snow usually lasts way into summer and adds a nice layer to the already colorful Rhyolite mountains
Light and shadows over the mountains in Landmannalaugar
Detail of the landscape from the Blahnukur trail.
Another detail of the landscape from the Blahnukur trail.
View from the Sudurnamur trail in Landmannalaugar over the Colorful Rhyolite mountains and the surrounding landscape.
View of the Graenagil Canyon in Landmannalaugar from above, with Brennisteinsalda in the background.
Guide to hiking and camping in Landmannalaugar – Tips to enjoy your stay in Landmannalaugar
- Hike as much as you can :)!
- Earplugs: you may want to use them when camping to sleep
- An eye mask: I don’t bring one, but if you are the type of person who cannot easily sleep in daylight, you may want to bring one, especially if you are visiting anytime from late June until late July.
- Hike early in the evening or very early in the morning. You will enjoy very long golden hours in the early summer. This one should not be much of an effort if you are coming from across several different time zones and are jetlagged.
- Bring your swimsuit! I think I may have mentioned this already :)
- Bring your own food and cooking equipment: the mountain malls are more expensive than regular markets and don’t have a wide selection of items. Make sure you bring some with you before heading to Landmannalaugar. Bring your gas canisters too. You can purchase them at almost any gas station along the ring road.
- Last but not least, Stay Safe!
Other points of interest close to Landmannalaugar
Waterfalls on the road:
- Haifoss and Granni: Haifoss is one of the tallest waterfalls in Iceland and is a sight not to be missed. Granni is the smaller waterfall next to Haifoss. Accessible from Road 32, turning into road 332.
- Gjain: close to Haifoss, it’s a spectacular area with several waterfalls. Also accessible from Road 32, turning into road 327.
- Sigöldugljúfur: this is a small canyon with several waterfalls dropping into it. Also called “Valley of tears”. Accessible from Road 208 north.
Guide to Hiking and camping in Landmannalaugar – Useful Links
Car or Camper Van Rentals
I can definitely recommend two companies here:
- Cars: Blue Car Rental, which is the largest Car rental company in Iceland, and for good reasons. Free Cancellation, Unlimited mileage, 24-hour break assistance, SCDW, CDW, TP, and GP insurance are included in the price. Blue Car Rental is also located within walking distance of the Keflavik Airport, so you can be on your way to explore Iceland right away. I’ve always been happy with my rentals there, which is why I’m happy to recommend their services here on my blog.
- Camper Vans: CampEasy.With CampEasy, you can rent 2WD or 4×4 campers alike. With a raised Chassis, larger tires, and extra insurance with reduced liability for river crossing, their 4X4 campers are the best choice for your trip into the Highlands. Their Website also provides extensive information about roads you can take and instructions on river crossings. Perfect choice for a hiking holiday in the highlands!
These are my two favourite companies in each respective rental area, which I why I am happy to recommend both here. If you also like this blog, booking through them is a great way to support it. I’ll get a small commission fee at no additional cost, so you can essentially support the running costs of this blog for free too.
I hope you enjoyed my guide to hiking and camping in Landmannalaugar, or at least I hope you have found some useful information. In case of questions, feedback or comments, please let me know in the comments section below.