The Laugavegur Hiking Trail in Iceland

When it comes to explaining why the Laugavegur trail is so popular, there are too many reasons to count. It could have something to do with the multi-colored highlands or the volcanic springs, both of which showcase a surreal natural world that doesn’t exist anywhere else. This vibrant landscape is enchanting the trail takes you to the heart of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the south Icelandic highlands.

Jan Zelina

What is the Laugavegur Hiking Trail?

The Laugavegur is a hiking trail in the Fjallabak region of the highlands of south Iceland. Traditionally, the Laugavegur trek starts in the yellow and orange rhyolite hills of Landmannalaugar, and winds over rocky terrain all the way through to Þórsmörk. Some tours take you the full way, from Landmannalaugar to Skógar on the south side of Mýrdalsjökull glacier. The classic route runs from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk, and will take between 4 and 5 days to complete. Those hiking from Landmannalaugar to Skógar can enjoy a full 7-day trek.

On the Classic Laugavegur Trek this is the day to day itinerary:

Day 1: Reykjavík - Landmannalaugar - Hike to Hrafntinnusker (Obisdian Skerry)
Day 2: Hike from Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn lake
Day 3: Álftavatn Lake to Emstur via the Mælifellssandur black sand desert
Day 4 Emstur to Thorsmork and final BBQ dinner
Day 5: Thorsmork to Reykjavík

Click to see the full itinerary.

Do I need a guide to hike from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk?

The terrain on the Laugavegur trail is vast and diverse, but luckily, the basic trail is marked the whole way, and is easy to follow. For the more complicated side routes, it is better to follow a guide, who will point out all the natural phenomena that an untrained eye might miss. A local guide will also share with you all the insights about life in Iceland and Icelanders. Besides, travelling in a group of like-minded people from all over the world will add to your experience.

Self-guided option or add Greenland

Those who are confident with their hiking and navigation skills can explore the trail at their own pace when they choose to go on a self-guided option. Other adventurers might want to combine their adventure with a 5 day trek in Greenland.

How do I get to Landmannalaugar to start the Laugavegur hiking trail?

Landmannalaugar is  182km away from Reykjavik, and there are a number of ways you can reach it.
Tour transportation
If you are going on a organized tour with a company a bus transport from Reykjavík is included.
Public bus
A public bus runs regularly from the BSI bus terminal in Reykjavik to Landmannalaugar, taking around 4 hours. During the summer, it takes you through the mountains for some spectacular views. On some guided tours, a pre-selected time will be agreed where you meet at the BSI terminal before departing.
By car
Experienced drivers will relish the chance to have an all-independent trip by driving to Landmannalaugar. The drive will take around 3 hours, and you can absorb the passing scenery at your own pace. Please note that the road is only suitable for 4x4 vehicles. You will also need someone else with you to take the car back once you have arrived. Travel first along Route 1, before turning off at Landvegur on Route 26. Continue on and turn right at Landmannaleið. From here, you will spot signs to Landmannalaugar. Make sure you have the right vehicle and experience with crossing rivers before setting off.

What do I pack for hiking the Laugavegur trail?

You always need layers when visiting Iceland, but days spent hiking the Laugavegur trail mean you will be exposed to the temperamental elements. You will need to pack the right clothes, shoes, and equipment if you want to make the most of your tour. On all Laugavegur trail tours, you will need

Clothing:
Waterproof jacket.
Though you’ll be hiking the trail in the summer, you will still need a light, waterproof jacket to shelter you from the rain.
Sturdy hiking boots. You will be hiking over long distances, making comfortable hiking boots an essential item. It is best if they are waterproof or GORE-TEX.
Layers, outsmart fickle Iceland weather by packing layers that you can easily pull off.
-Thermal underwear.
-Fleece or wool sweater.
-Hiking socks.
Weatherproof trousers. Along with flexible, breathable pants, you will also need some weatherproof trousers that you can quickly pull on when it starts to rain.
Woolen essentials. Summer means warmer days but hiking in the highlands can expose you to biting temperatures. Pack your best gloves and hat to avoid this discomfort.
A swimsuit. There is a possibility for you to bathe in the hot springs at the beginning of the tour, so make sure you keep a swimsuit on hand for this part of the tour.

Other items:
Day pack.
Aside from your larger duffel bag, you will need a light day pack to keep all your essentials close to hand.
Sleeping bag. None of the huts provide sleeping bags, so you will need a thick sleep sack for cold evenings. On the Laugavegar Basic tour, sleeping bags are provided.
Towels. We don’t mean pack your plush bathroom towels, but a lightweight microfibre one.
Sun protection. You’ll be spending lots of time outdoors, so bring some sturdy sunglasses, some sunscreen, and SPF lip balm.
Water container. Do your bit to save the environment by bringing a water container, such as a steel flask, to reduce the use of plastic.
Lunch box. Don’t be surprised if you are hungrier than usual on the trail. Food is provided on all guided tours, but you will need to pack some energy-boosting food for daytime snacks on the go.
First aid kit. Any medical prescriptions, personal care items and blister care packs should make up your first aid kit.

Is there luggage transport available when hiking the trail?

We understand that you don’t want to be hiking the Laugavegur trail with a heavy bag on your back, which is why luggage transport is available on some tour options when you are hiking the trail. This transport is included on the Laugavegar Classic trek, and the first part of the Laugavegur & Fimmvörðuhals combo tour.  On self-guided tours, luggage transport is available on selected dates at an additional cost. On the Laugavegar Basic Trek, you will be using equipment that is stored in the huts. If you want to save time, money, and want a lighter, sportier hike, this is an ideal option for you.

Is the Laugavegur trail family friendly?

Since the terrain along the Laugavegur trail is so challenging, people are always pleasantly surprised to learn that hiking it can be a family activity. Providing children are at least 14 years old, they can accompany the adults in their family on some eye-opening tours across the rolling mountains of Iceland.

On the Laugavegur Trail Self-Guided , the minimum age requirement is 7 years old.

Can solo travelers hike the trail?

Solo travelers are more than welcome to hike the trail. There is no single supplement required, as this group tour is made up of various numbers of visitors. Although you arrive solo, you will be hiking with a small group of keen explorers. Expect to be welcomed into an inviting tour family for at least a few days.

When is the best time to hike the Laugavegur Trail in Iceland?

It is no secret that the Icelandic highland landscape is more accessible in the warmer, summer months, and the Laugavegur trail is no exception. Generally speaking, you can hike the trail whenever the roads to the highlands are open, which is usually from June to September. Catch the hustle and bustle of peak season during July and August, when visitors flock to the trail. To avoid the crowds, you can experience the same golden summer scenery towards the mid-September. You must bear in mind that visiting at this time means shorter days and colder nights.
Bear in mind that the trek is not offered in winter, and huts are closed at this time of year. There is a possibility of visiting Landmannalaugar in winter, but only for cross country skiing or in a super jeep.

Accommodations along the Laugavegur hiking trail

The Laugavegur trail’s length means that travelers can enjoy much more than an abundance of natural attractions. In fact, there are some key accommodation options along the trail:

Huts

A popular option for travelers is getting a space in a bunk in a hut. These huts are sleeping bag accommodation. They save you having to carry a heavy tent on your hike but will also protect you from rainy and windy evenings. Huts are open in the summer season and are located in in Landmannalaugar, Hrafntinnusker, Álftavatn, Botnar and Þórsmörk. You will have no trouble finding them on both guided and self-guided tours. Make sure to book ahead if you are traveling in peak season on a self-guided tour.

Camping

For those who wish to sleep close to nature, designated camping areas can be found along the trail. Make sure to not sleep outside of those areas, as you don’t want to negatively impact the beautiful environment you’re exploring.

Does the Laugavegur hiking trail have hot springs to bathe in?

If there’s one thing every traveler dreams of one day doing, it’s taking a dip in one of Iceland’s soothing, hot springs. You’ll be pleased to know that amongst the steaming lava and mossy hills, there are some natural hot springs at the start of the trail, in Landmannalaugar. Laugavegur literally means ‘Hot Spring Route’ for this very reason.

Hiking and Trekking in Iceland

There are more options for hiking and trekking in the region and in Iceland.