Laugavegur

World → Europe → Iceland → Laugavegur

One of the best hikes in the world is the Laugavegur

 (Landmannalaugar to Skógar route)

Laugavegur is short for “The Landmannalaugar Trail”

by  clesenne

by clesenne

AT A GLANCE

  • IcelandIceland‘s best hike
  • weird and wonderful landscapes
  • best route is Skógar – Landmannalaugar 77km (48mi) in 4-6 days in either direction
  • shorter options 55km (34mi) or 22km (13.6mi)
  • tent or sleep in huts
  • permits not required
  • steep rough, rocky and slippery slopes
  • in good weather, this trek is only moderately difficult
  • up to 100 hikers starting each day during high season July and August
  • it can be dangerous in bad weather. About every second year someone dies.

Why We Like This Hike

  • gorgeous colours
  • otherworldly vistas
  • hot springs and thermal vents
  • hut wardens take care of guests and are keen to give information and first aid
  • trail is well marked with wooden posts
  • logistics are relatively easy
  • side trip to the ice caves
by  LBidoli

by LBidoli

Considerations

  • be prepared for rain, rain, rain and fog
  • non-bridged river crossings
  • hypothermia can kill. Bring proper clothing and waterproofs.
  • sudden changes in weather that can occur in any season. heavy winds, pitch-black fog or even snowstorm
  • May 16, 1970 three hikers died in a snowstorm
  • be prepared for anything
  • there are swarms of flying insects, though most don’t bite.. Bring a bug net.
  • tents need to be wind and weatherproof with good tie downs
  • a large pack waterproof liner is recommended
  • compass with a good map recommended. Maps can be bought in book shops and petrol stations.
  • GPS is also recommended. Coordinates can be found at the huts.
  • huts usually open around June 25th and close beginning of September.  Weather conditions and snow melt can change those dates
  • no food can be bought in the huts. But small shops MIGHT be open in high season in Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk Langidalur. Don’t count on it, however.
  • shared kitchen with stoves, pots, pans and cutlery
  • running cold water
  • gas heaters
  • showers (except at Hrafntinnusker)
  • flush toilets (except at Hrafntinnusker: outhouse)
  • garbage can be left at some huts
  • no pillows, blankets or bed linen available. You need your own sleeping bag.
  • those tenting can use all the facilities, except for the kitchen
by  James Handlon

by James Handlon

  • stay on the main trails as much as possible, this landscape is vulnerable to overuse
  • obviously, all water sensitive items must be kept in waterproof bags
  • if you can handle the weight, bring a tent as a back-up alternative to the huts
  • the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull disrupted hiking, but everything is back to normal (so far)

Cost

Laugavegurinn is maintained and serviced by Ferðafélag Íslands (FÍ), the Iceland Touring Association (www.fi.is).

Limited accommodation is offered in huts (reservations necessary) or in campsites (reservations not needed) near the huts. Wild camping is not allowed within the nature reserves.

  1. huts cost about cost about $40 / person / night
  2. tenting outside the huts costs about $10 / person / night

If there is space in a hut, tenters could grab a spot last minute, payable by credit card or cash.

Routes

Most hikers are coming to and from Reykjavik. Our recommended journey is a loop.

click for bigger map

click for bigger map

Most take a bus from Reykjavik to start. Three main choices:

  1. Landmannalaugar (northernmost)
  2. Thórsmörk (Icelandic: Þórsmörk)
  3. Skógar (southernmost on highway)

Iceland map

The best hike is Skógar to Landmannalaugar either south to north, or north to south. 77km (48mi) in 4-6 days.

If you have less time, do just Thórsmörk to  Landmannalaugar in either direction. That’s the classic Laugavegur trek 55km (34mi) in 2–4 days..

If you have even less time, do just Skógar to Thórsmörk in either direction. That’s the Fimmvörðuháls route. 22km (13.6mi) in 1-2 days, over 1000m elevation change.

Deciding which direction to hike may depend on your transportation logistics. Easiest place to find a ride is Skógar on the ring road highway, therefore it’s safest to finish there. Bad weather sometimes stops buses from getting to the other two trailheads. 😦

The bus schedule is posted on the toilet in Skógar if you’ve not written it down in advance.

We like the longest option, taking the bus Reykjavik to Landmannalaugar to start.

If you want to stay in huts, you’ll need to book those well in advance. Here’s one popular itinerary finishing in Thórsmörk:

Day 1: Landmannalaugar – Hrafntinnusker 12km, 4-5hrs
Elevation 470m

Day 2: Hrafntinnusker – Álftavatn 12km, 4-5hrs
Elevation 490m

Day 3: Álftavatn – Emstrur (Botnar) 15km, 6-7hrs
Elevation decrease: 40m

Day 4: Emstrur (Botnar) – Thórsmörk 15km, 6-7hrs
Elevation: 300m

From Thórsmörk you can bus out. Or do the extra 1-2 days to Skógar. 

Day 5 : Thórsmörk – Fimmvorduhals hut … or on out to Skógar where tenting is available near the highway.

We prefer to tent. That way no reservations are needed. We’ll stop where we want when we want, depending on the weather and our energy level. We’ll allow at least 7 days, just in case.  🙂

Take the bus back to Reykjavik from Skógar. There’s plenty of traffic on the highway. You may be able to find someone willing to drive stinky hikers back to town. If not, buy a ticket on the bus.

If all that sounds too complicated, consider signing on with a trekking guide.

by  James Handlon

by James Handlon

Trekking Guides

Many carry very heavy packs on this adventure. But you can hike with a light day pack if you hire the right guide. They’ll transport your pack day-by-day.

Logistics

If you’ve signed on with a guide, let them take care of the logistics. This section is for independent hikers.

Flying to and from Iceland in the hiking season has been expensive. But WOW Air started a new discount service, putting pressure on the others.

We recommend tenting and  hostels. One cool option is a package with rent-a-car and hostels both included. Decide where to stay as you drive around the island. There is a LOT to do and see in this tourist paradise.

If you are only doing the  Laugavegur, however, you won’t need a rental vehicle.

hostels

Most hikers take a Reykjavik bus to and from the trailheads. Click through to the Reykjavik Excursions website to check times and costs.

Local Information

  • Ferðafélag Íslands (FÍ), Iceland Touring Association – Laugavegurinn

Best Trekking Guidebooks

If you are doing more hiking in Iceland, get the Cicerone, a very respected company

Best Travel Guidebooks

Other Recommended Books

Best Maps

  • Serkort #4 (Landmannalaugar Fjallabak) 1:100,000 topo

Best Web Pages

by  x@ray

by x@ray

Best Trip Reports

Movies

Click PLAY or watch Alastair Humphrey’s highlights on Vimeo.

Click PLAY or watch a July 2015 trip on YouTube. Still plenty of snow.

Questions? Suggestions? Leave a comment on this page. Our editors will reply.

21 thoughts on “Laugavegur

  1. I’m planning on walking the Laugavegur, and then to Skogar, the second week of September. What side hikes would you recommend if I were to stay one or two additional days at one or two of the huts? I was planning on staying one extra day at Landmannalaugar, but the hut is full and I can only stay one day. You mention the ice caves. Where are they located? Thanks in advance.

    • Hey David, I’m doing the trek on the second week of September as well! When are you starting the trail? I start on the 9th but plan on camping in Landmannalaugar the night before hoping to do some short hikes. I believe that each hut there should have info about day treks in the area, at least that’s what I read on my guide book.

  2. Hi, Great write up. I’m just wondering what weight you got your kit down to if you tented along the route? It seems including food, kit could be quite weighty.

  3. Hi there, this info is very helpful! We are planning to hike the Laugavegur from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork from 6/22/16 – 6/26/16. We’ve reached out to reserve the appropriate huts but it came to our attention that it is unclear as to when the huts will open each year. How far in advance will it be determined if the huts will be available? And, how do you pay in person once you reach the hut or in advance? We’d like to know when we’ll need a plan B in terms of an alternate trek to do while in Iceland during this time of year.

  4. Hi there, this info is very helpful! We are planning to hike the Laugavegur from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork from 6/22/16 – 6/26/16. We’ve reached out to reserve the appropriate huts but it came to our attention that it is unclear as to when the huts will open each year. How far in advance will it be determined if the huts will be available? And, how do you pay in person once you reach the hut or in advance? We’d like to know when we’ll need a plan B in terms of an alternate trek to do while in Iceland during this time of year.

    • My one attempt to do the hike in June was unsuccessful. Still too snowy and muddy.

      But I spoke with the #2 and #3 hikers to get through. They said it was a disaster.

      June is risky.

      • One more Question, Is wildcamping forbidden along all the trail, or just some parts of the trail? we like to have our own camp with some mates.

        Thank you

      • Wild camping?

        Whether allowed or not, I usually wild camp. Discretely. Out of sight.

        Should be no problem in that terrain.

  5. Hi, we are planning the trail in june aswell, we want to start the 25th. Why is june risky? just because its though? or is it really dangerous?

      • Thanks a lot for all the information, we were able to hike from landmannalaugar to skogar in only 4 days due to the good weather. What a mighty beautiful trail, really, it made us different people in a lot of ways, thank you very much

  6. Pingback: Viaggio in Islanda: il Laugavegur - Orizzonti

  7. It is really one of the best hikes in the world. Here is link to video channel: trip to Iceland in 2014 (4 days hiking videos – with english subtitles)

  8. Pingback: Skogar-Landmannalauger | Iceland, 2000 | The Hiking Life

  9. Hi there, this information is super useful, thanks so much! I was hoping you could help me with the the following:
    – if you don’t have a reservation for a hut, are there any kitchen facilities?
    – what kind of food do you bring along the way? Is there fresh water available widely?
    – what’s the temperature like at night?
    thanks again!

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