Hiking Landmannalaugar, Iceland
Back in August, Josh and I headed off to Iceland for two weeks of adventure and fun. (This is a testament to my laziness since it’s been a month and a half since we got back.) Up in the highlands, our first stop was Landmannalaugar. Our first day in Iceland was a bit of a wash. With ridiculous jetlag, we did nothing but sleep to try to recuperate for the upcoming two weeks. We woke up bright and early our first morning at the Reykjavik City Hostel to catch our bus.
If there’s any one place is a Must Do in Iceland, it’s Landmannalaugar. Landmannalaugar is home to the beginning of the famed Laugavegur trek, in addition to several other lesser traveled hikes. It’s every hiker and photographer’s dream. It’s breathtaking. There are no bad views. There are no words to adequately describe it. Because it’s so popular, don’t expect solitude. In the high season, buses run there fairly regularly. There is also a small shop and cafe called the Mountain Mall, operated out of a converted school bus.
Still fairly jet lagged, we rolled up in our bus a little bit after noon. It was a bit of a mad house. There were tents as far as the eye can see, and a line of cars streaming in and out of the area. It was raining on and off, so hikers were huddled under the picnic area, firing up stoves and making lunch. People were running in their swimsuits to the hot spring.
We had a hut reservation for the evening; it was much easier than checking a tent. We checked in at the Ferðafélag Íslands booth and got our wristbands that said we could use the bathrooms. We dropped off our packs at the hut and went to explore to warm up our legs for the 85km of hiking that lay ahead of us.
I couldn’t tell you where we hiked. We just wandered down the road until we saw a trail that took us above the valley, and we came back when we got hungry. After dinner, we hiked out again, this time following the Laugavegur trail until we split off right towards a meadow and a waterfall.
If you can swing more than a day trip, it’s absolutely worth it. There is a hut and camping maintained by Ferðafélag Íslands, in addition to a sheltered picnic area, flush toilets and hot showers. Day use of the area costs 500 ISK, payable at the FI booth. We really enjoyed staying in the hut because it meant we didn’t have to check our tent or bring a stove (though in hindsight, we should have brought one). All cookware and utensils are provided at the hut. The hut is also split into several rooms with rows of bunk beds with cushy pads on them.
This hut was extremely popular with guided groups hiking the Laugavegur and those guided groups cook elaborate dinners. If we wanted to cook real meals, we would have been dancing around two guided groups of 10+ hikers. Additionally, they took all the tables inside, so there was really nowhere for us to sit except outside.
The hut costs 8000 ISK per person, which allows full use of facilities, while camping costs 2000 ISK per person, which allows access to the bathrooms and drinking water.
How to book the Landmannalaugar hut
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the dates and huts you are looking to book and pray that spots are available. I tried to book Landmannalaugar on March 28 and was added to the waitlist. I checked back in on June 5, July 10, and July 18 to see if spots had opened up.
How to get there
- Reykjavik Excursions — we took a bus because we didn’t want to pay a bunch of money to abandon it for a few days. This worked out really well because I slept the entire ride to Landmannalaugar, and we didn’t have to deal with crossing the river.
- Car — You’ll need a car that is capable of driving F roads. We rented a car through Kuku Campers later on our trip, and the car was not insured for this F-road. Also, depending on the car rental, if you’re caught on an F road without being F-road-worthy, you could be fined by your rental company.
Things to note about Landmannalaugar
- The kitchen is closed between 11pm and 7am. This is enforced. The doors are locked. Bring a stove.
- Guided groups might use up all the tables inside the hut.
- It gets pretty cozy and noisy. Bring earplugs for all the snorers.
- If you’re coming in with a ton of stuff that you don’t want to bring with you, you can store your stuff with Luggage Lockers. We used the lockers at the BSI Bus Terminal, but we got really lucky with snagging a space. It was the only one left, and as we were repacking things for backpacking, lots of people came by and tried to grab the spot.
- Bring a swimsuit! There’s a free hot spring.
Hers: Arc’teryx Kea 45 Pack (similar here), Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid Jacket, Arc’teryx Atom LT Jacket, Arc’teryx Atom SL Jacket, Icebreaker Tech T Lite, Norrøna bitihorn lightweight zip off pants, Salewa Multi Track GTX trail runners, Outdoor Research Petra sweatpants, Western Mountaineering Summerlite bag, Snowpeak spork
His: Osprey pack, Fjallraven Keb Eco Shell Jacket, Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoodie, Avalanche Outdoor Supply shirt, Mountain Hardwear AC Henley shirt, Prana Stretch Zion pants, Therm-a-Rest Questar sleeping bag