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”
AT A GLANCE
- Iceland‘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
- 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
- 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)
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.
- huts cost about cost about $40 / person / night
- 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.
Most hikers are coming to and from Reykjavik. Our recommended journey is a loop.
Most take a bus from Reykjavik to start. Three main choices:
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
Day 2: Hrafntinnusker – Álftavatn 12km, 4-5hrs
Day 3: Álftavatn – Emstrur (Botnar) 15km, 6-7hrs
Elevation decrease: 40m
Day 4: Emstrur (Botnar) – Thórsmörk 15km, 6-7hrs
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.
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.
- Icelandic Mountain Guides (expensive)
- Nordic Adventure Travel
- Utivist (72,000 ISK or $540 for 5 days in 2015)
- Iceland Tours
- Volcano Huts (68,500 ISK or $514 for 4- 5 days in 2015)
- Trek Iceland
- Landmannalaugar.net – Laugavegur trekking and Fimmvorduhals
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.
Most hikers take a Reykjavik bus to and from the trailheads. Click through to the Reykjavik Excursions website to check times and costs.
- Ferðafélag Íslands (FÍ), Iceland Touring Association – Laugavegurinn
Best Trekking Guidebooks
- Cicerone Walking and Trekking in Iceland 2013 by Paddy Dillon
- Iceland – The Southern Highlands by Uwe Grunewald
- The Laugavegur Trail: A Hiking Companion to Iceland’s Famous Trek 2014 by Brian W Zimmer
- Laugavegurinn – the Laugavegur hiking trail, a booklet by Ferðafélag Íslands, is available in Iceland. And is for sale at each hut. That should be enough for most hikers to survive.
If you are doing more hiking in Iceland, get the Cicerone, a very respected company
Best Travel Guidebooks
Other Recommended Books
- Iceland (Insight Guides) 2014
- Top 10 Iceland 2014
- Iceland: Land of the Sagas 1998 by Jon Krakauer and David Roberts
- Serkort #4 (Landmannalaugar Fjallabak) 1:100,000 topo
Best Web Pages
- Jimmy – Iceland 2009 – The “Laugavegur” Hiking Trail
- wikipedia – Landmannalaugar
- tripadvisor reviews
Best Trip Reports
- Northern Adventures – Fimmvörðuháls & Laugavegurinn
- Andrew Skurka – About the Laugavegur
- David Leffman – Extreme hiking in Iceland: the Laugavegur trail 2013
- Without Baggage – Mission Iceland: A Tale of Two Brothers
- The Hiking Life – Skogar-Landmannalauger 2000
- Jennifer Pharr Davis – Dream Trip: Hike Laugavegurinn Trail
Click PLAY or watch Alastair Humphrey’s highlights on Vimeo.
Click PLAY or watch a July 2015 trip on YouTube. Still plenty of snow.
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