The Icelandic summer sun is shining brighter every day, and we encourage you to enjoy the long days. At the end of June, the highland roads open again after a long winter (weather permitting!), and this means you can go on a day tour to Landmannalaugar. Landmannalaugar is part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve. The area is mostly known for its colourful mountains and geothermal river. It truly is home to extraordinary landscapes, and there are lots of long and short hiking trails in the area. In this article, we will show you what a self-drive to Landmannalaugar could look like.
How to get to Landmannalaugar
Landmannalaugar is a 190-kilometres drive away from Reykjavík. If you have a good four-wheel drive vehicle, don’t pause anywhere and if you are an experienced driver, this will take you about three hours. In other cases, it will take more time, as the road to Landmannalaugar can have many potholes and washboard surfaces, and even rivers. If you take road 208 north of Landmannalaugar, you will not have to cross any rivers, but the other roads into Landmannalaugar do have more serious river crossings. Road 208 is not an easy road, though, because it’s usually in bad condition. Always check road and weather conditions, and make sure your car is suitable for driving on highland roads before you head out.
First stop – Stöng
It’s possible to drive to Landmannalaugar in one go, but it’s more fun to pause a couple of times. If you drive straight to it, you miss an interesting historical site. We’re talking about Stöng, an excavated and reconstructed medieval farm about 120 kilometres from Reykjavík, that you can visit for a small fee. The original farm was most likely destroyed by the Hekla eruption of 1104. The replica of the farm is made as exact as possible, and shows how an Icelandic chieftain from the age of settlement used to live. Next to the farm, a reconstruction of a turf-clad stave church is built. The reconstruction is based on carvings on the Valþjófsstaður door – a medieval church door that is now in the possession of the National Museum of Iceland. The church site at Stöng is believed to date back to the 11th century.
Second stop – Hjálparfoss and Þjófafoss
On just a twenty-minute drive from Stöng, you will find Hjálparfoss, a beautiful two-stepped waterfall. The waterfall is called Hjálparfoss (Help Waterfall), because the area was an oasis for travellers after they had journeyed over the barren Sprengisandur route. 45 minutes driving from Hjálparfoss you can visit another lovely waterfall, Þjófafoss, with Mt. Búrfell in the background.
Final stop – Landmannalaugar
Now, it’s time to travel to Landmannalaugar. Take your time for this, as you have to travel over difficult gravel roads. Once you are there, it’s possible to hike for 1.5 to 2 hours, following a well-marked loop of about 4 kilometres. The hike is easy, involves only a little bit of climbing, and will take you past lava fields, rhyolite mountains and geothermal areas. Even if it’s short, it shows you different aspects of this unique area. After the hike, just relax and soak in the geothermal river next to the lava field for a while. Sitting in the river in the sun, with sheep grazing right next to you, is a unique experience that you should not miss.
When you feel energised again after relaxing in the warm water, you drive straight back to Reykjavík.