No destination in Iceland is more mystical than its forbidden-feeling interior. But the top destination in the interior itself? Landmannalauger.
Only reached for two to three months out of the year, Landmannalauger is a landscape of extreme beauty that needs to be seen to be believed. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Landmannalauger, Iceland, and how to get there by car.
What is Landmannalaugar ?
Tucked deep in Iceland’s snowy, glacial interior is the region known as Landmannalauger. This area of Iceland can only be accessed in the summer months and is most famous for its colorful mountains and sprawling lava fields. Translating directly to “people’s pool” in English, this area is also well known for its hidden hot springs and is a favorite place to take a dip for Icelanders.
But wait, there’s more to this Icelandic gem! Nestled within the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Landmannalaugar is a wonderland that seems straight out of a fantasy book. Here, you’ll stumble upon the Laugahraun lava field, an otherworldly expanse formed in 1477. Its rugged volcanic rock and intriguing formations make it a hiker’s paradise. As you wander along the edge of the Laugahraun, you’ll be greeted by the ‘Blue Peak,’ a mountain that looks like it’s playing dress-up with the sky.
Don’t miss the rhyolite mountains of Landmannalaugar, flaunting a spectrum of colors from pinks and greens to yellows and blues. This creates a mesmerizing ‘sulphur wave’ effect that will leave you awestruck. Even the ‘ugly puddles’ here are worth a glance, often reflecting the surreal surroundings in their murky waters, adding to the area’s unique charm.
Every corner of Landmannalaugar invites exploration and wonder, perfectly blending steaming volcanic rock with serene, colorful landscapes. It’s a place where nature’s artistry is on full display, offering affordable and unforgettable adventures. So, lace up your hiking boots and let’s continue our journey to discover where exactly in Iceland this hidden treasure is located.
Where is Landmannalaugar?
Landmannalauger is located deep in the southern highlands of Iceland. While it’s much further into the interior of the country, Landmannalauger is almost exactly due north of the famous southern Icelandic city of Vik. But getting there is an adventure in itself!
To reach this hidden gem, you’ll be traveling along the Icelandic highland roads, known for their rugged and raw beauty. The most common route to Landmannalaugar is via Road F208, a highland road that offers a journey as scenic as the destination itself. Remember, F-roads in Iceland are specially designated for highland travel, and they require a 4×4 vehicle due to their challenging terrain. Road F208 will lead you through a landscape that’s a mix of black sands, lush greenery, and the vivid hues of the mountains.
As you drive along this route, keep your eyes peeled for the ever-changing scenery, from vast, open expanses to the more intimate, winding paths of the highlands. It’s a drive that’s as much about the journey as it is about the destination. Make sure your camera is at the ready; the views are absolutely Instagram-worthy!
Just a heads-up, though: These highland roads, including F208, are only open during the summer months, typically from late June to early September. Outside these months, the roads are closed due to harsh weather conditions. So, timing your visit right is key to experiencing the full splendor of Landmannalaugar and its breathtaking surroundings.
Now that you know, When is the best time to visit Landmannalaugar?
You can only visit Landmannalauger in the summer months. The roads to Iceland’s southern interior open in June, depending on the level of snow and ice pack, and typically close sometime towards the end of September or beginning of October.
Winters in Iceland’s interior are extremely harsh and make the dirt roads to reach this region almost impassable. Some tours do offer a trip out to this region in winter months but you’ll need to go with an experienced guide, it often takes multiple days, and inclement weather can cancel the trip.
How to get to Landmannalaugar Iceland
Getting to Landmannalauger in the summer months isn’t difficult but you must have a 4WD vehicle. Once you leave the Ring Road, you’ll make a left turn on to F-208 and begin heading out to Landmannalauger. All roads become F-roads in this area of Iceland and are otherwise unpaved, gravel roadways. Hence why you’ll need a 4×4 car!
The road leading to landmannalaugar is a combination of gravel roads and river crossing roads, it is a relatively difficult driving road comparing with other parts of Iceland.
Renting a 4WD vehicle for this adventure isn’t a suggestion, it’s actually required by Icelandic law! You can easily rent an inexpensive 4WD rental car through Firefly Iceland Car Rentals and be well on your way to exploring one of Iceland’s most beautiful regions.
How to get to Landmannalaugar without 4×4
It is NOT possible to do a self-guided tour to Landmannalauager WITHOUGHT a 4×4 vehicle. If you don’t feel comfortable driving, several tour operators do offer trips to the region although it won’t be nearly as fun or flexible as having your own set of wheels.
What to Do in Landmannalaugar
● Hike the Trails
Landmannalauger is one of the most popular places in Iceland for hiking in summer. You can finish hiking this area in a one day trip.
Some of the best hikes include the Laugahraun Loop Trail which shows off Landmannalaugars iconic lava fields and is a quick trip at just 2.7 miles long.
If you’re up for a challenge and don’t mind a bit of a strenuous trek, Mount Blahnukur is a 3.8 mile loop trail with multiple day hikes. Although this is one of the toughest hikes in Landmannalaugar, it’s extremely rewarding with views of the iconic, colorful mountains and jaw dropping scenery.
Laugavegur Trail is a stunning example of hiking in the region – although this is mainly for long distance hikers at 34 miles long! Many people choose to hike sections of this trail especially to see incredible sights like Skogafoss and Thor’s Valley (Þórsmörk).
● Soak in the Natural Hot Springs
With Landmannalauger quite literally translating to “people’s pool” you can’t miss out on the chance to soak in a hot spring here.
The most well known hot spring is a bit confusingly also called Landmannalaugar. Water temperature here hovers around a perfect 96°F and is free to the public, although you’ll need to rinse off before entering the fragile hot springs ecosystem. The changing rooms and showers cost about $4 (500 ISK).
Another hot spring that is easily reached by car is Reykjadalur. The entire valley is littered with hot springs and even a hot river.
Be careful to only enter the water where you see other bathers as water in nearby hot springs can be dangerously hot. You’ll need to hike almost 2 miles one way to reach Reykjadalur. There is a parking lot and small restaurant at the start of the trail.
● Go Camping
If you’re making the long trek out to Landmannalaugar, you might as well spend the night and there’s no better way to be fully immersed in this areas incredible natural scenery than camping.
There are several mountain huts that hikers can plan to stay at, with varying degrees of rustic charm, but campers can also bring along a tent or opt for a campervan (just make sure you have the proper clearance for F-roads). Those who do opt for tent camping will need to plan on camping only in designated areas.
Safety rules when visiting Landmannalaugar
Iceland isn’t called the Land of Fire and Ice for nothing. The elements, while beautiful, can also be brutal at times and quickly turn dangerous at a moments notice. Landmannalauger is a very remote region of the country and it’s important to keep safety rules in mind when visiting.
To start, be sure to dress properly. You’ll need sturdy hiking boots with appropriate socks (ideally liners with wool hiking socks) and lots of warm layers that you can put on and take off as needed. Even in the summer months, Iceland can see freezing temperatures!
Always respect posted signage and rules in Iceland. If you don’t you can face fines or worse, death or injury.
Landmannalauger is a mountainous area with cliff faces on some hiking trails. Remember to never leave the designated path and refrain from going near cliff edges.
The rugged terrain of Landmannalauger can cause unexpected road closures to do everything from ice to rock slides. Always double check road closures via road.is to make sure you’re route is safe to drive.
Landmannalaugar is one of the most striking landscapes in an already breathtakingly beautiful country. The best way to experience this rugged terrain though? By renting a cheap 4WD car! You’ll get to explore every nook and cranny of Landmannalaugar at your own pace.
Browse the selection of 4×4 vehicles on Firefly Iceland Car Rentals and rent your own set of wheels to explore Landmannalaugar as soon as possible.