Do you like hiking? Are you planning on doing the popular hiking trail, Laugavegur, but you need more information? Not sure how to travel to the main starting points? Don’t worry, we can help you figure this out!

Without a doubt, the most popular thing to do during summer is to go into the wilderness in the Fjallabak (the Mountain’s back) area. This is a place that has become very popular for hiking because it’s almost completely untouched by the human hand; rough roads run through un-bridged rivers into only a few places, and between them, there are only hiking trails, campsites, mountain huts, and the wild, wild nature.

The starting points to keep in mind are LandmannalaugarÞórsmörk and Skógar – these are milestones that you can drive to. You can either stay in these places and do day-hikes from there, or you can hike from one to another. The trail from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk is called Laugavegur, and the trail from Þórsmörk to Skógar is called Fimmvörðuháls.

To get to these places, we recommend to go by bus or take a scheduled day tour, depending on your budget and preference.

Popular hiking trail - laugavegur
Hikers at Landmannalaugar.
Photograph by Berglind Jóhanns.

Love to Hike?

Landmannalaugar is one of the most popular hiking trails in Iceland. The reason is the magnificent landscape: surrounding mountains with beautiful colors caused by the soil being rich in sulfur and other minerals, as well as geothermal hot springs. In fact, Landmannalaugar means “the People’s Pools” so if you’re a person, it’s for you.

Are you not ready to hike for a few days straight but you would like to experience the magnificent landscape? A day trip to Landmannalaugar would then be a great option for you!

Contact us for more information. 
Landmannalaugar - popular hiking trail
Photograph by Berglind Jóhanns.

The Popular Hiking Trail Laugavegur

The Laugavegur trail (The Hot Spring Route) is 54 km, or roughly a 3-4 days walk. The starting point is Landmannalaugar (600 m altitude above sea level).

On the way, there are huts to sleep in and campsites. For the huts, it’s wise to book well ahead, as you then have priority over people who just show up. Plus, this route has become so popular that it gets fully booked ages in advance. Wild camping outside the camping areas is forbidden for the protection of nature.

Also, a good reminder, as nature is incredibly sensitive, it’s important to leave no garbage, to use the toilets in the huts as much as possible, and not to leave the marked hiking trails.

The Most Popular Hiking Trails in Iceland
Höskuldsskáli hut in Hrafntinnusker. – Photograph by Berglind Jóhanns.

Landmannalaugar – Hrafntinnusker

12 km. – 4-5 hours – Ascent 470m.

The first chapter of the hike is quite steep at parts, but also the shortest part of the hike. Keep in mind though that the weather is unstable in these areas, there is the greatest risk of fog. It’s important to be careful and follow the waymarks. You’ll also have to walk in snow in some parts, which increases the difficulty of the hike. For this part, you’ll need all the energy you have to get through the first part of the Laugavegur trail.

Rest your legs and enjoy the amazing view.

The Most Popular Hiking Trails in Iceland
Álftavatn lake with Mýrdalsjökull glacier in the background. – Photograph by Berglind Jóhanns.

Hrafntinnusker – Álftavatn

12 km. – 4-5 hours – Descend 490m.

Now, the hike to Álftavatn (Swan Lake) is quite flat in the beginning until the trail goes up and down through a few gorges until it reaches the edge of Jökultungur. From there, the landscape takes a dramatic switch from orange tones to green.

You can see Álftavatn lake in distance and beautiful mountains surrounding the lake, but the trail down Jökultungur is steep and rocky, so be careful, you can easily slip on the rocks.

When you’re at the bottom of Jökultungur and you have reached the Grashagakvísl river you’ll need to wade the first river of the hike. From there the trail is easy and flat all the way to the hut in Álftavatn.

Side note: the water in the river is fresh and good water to drink.

Popular Hiking Trail in Iceland
Looking over Álftavatn. – Photograph by Berglind Jóhanns.

Álftavatn – Emstrur

16 km. – 5-6 hours – Descend 40m.

The trail from Álftavatn to Emstrur is pretty much flat, but there are few rivers to cross on foot. The first river is Bratthálskvísl, which is in most cases relatively easy to cross. The next destination is Hvanngil, we advise you to use the toilet facilities there if needed before you continue.

Next up are two rivers, the first one called Kaldaklofskvísl has a bridge but the second one called Bláfjallakvísl doesn’t. In most cases, it is not so difficult to cross but it matters where you cross it and care is needed, especially during rain when the rivers can rise fast.

Here you can see exactly how to cross Bláfjallakvísl river:  How to cross a river on foot, by Safetravel in Iceland.

Now the trail continues through a land without vegetation. We can say it’s like walking through a grey desert. Be aware, if the weather is dry, with strong wind, the sand can drift. We can tell you from experience, it’s not a comfortable circumstance to hike in. When you are finally about to reach Botnar huts in Emstrur, the cabins won’t be visible until you’re really close.

The Most Popular Hiking Trails in Iceland
Reaching Þórsmörk. – Photograph by Berglind Jóhanns.

Emstrur – Þórsmörk

15 km. – 6-7 hours – Descend 300m.

Last part of the Laugavegur trail. Leaving Emstrur you’ll reach a bridge that takes you over the river Syðri-Emstruá, which flows into a deep canyon.

Soon you’ll reach an area with more vegetation. There will be one more steep hill and after that, the last river called Þröngá to wade. This is the deepest and most rocky river you’ll have to cross, Þröngá is a glacial river and therefore you have to be really careful, you won’t be able to see through the water to spot the rocks and the river changes a lot, so you have to choose wisely where to cross. It’s a good technique to use walking sticks while wading the rivers.

Now you’ve entered Þórsmörk and there’s only less than an hour hike through Hamraskógar, a beautiful Birch forest until you reach the huts in Langidalur, Þórsmörk.

You can also choose to hike to either Básar or Volcano Huts in Húsadalur.

Contact us if you need more information. 

What’s Next?

You can catch the bus out from Þórsmörk if you like, or you could continue down to Skógar from Básar if you want an even longer hike. The trail between Skógar and Þórsmörk is called Fimmvörðuháls and is slightly shorter than Laugavegur, or about 23-25 km. It can be added to Laugavegur, or done on its own.

For the more ambitious you can also hike from south to north, going from Skógar to Landmannalaugar, as it is more challenging to go uphill (many Icelanders do that actually).

If you’re looking for shorter hikes, it’s good to go into Þórsmörk as there are several options for short day hikes or longer ones.

Every hiker should have the Hikers Pass.  You simply purchase one pass and with it you get a bus transfer from Reykjavík to the base of the hike and back to Reykjavík from the hike’s end when you are done.

What Should I Pack for My Hiking Trip?

Hiking trip check list

Are you not sure how much food you should bring with you?

It is really personal how much food you need for a hiking trip, so we would like to share with you a great calculator that should help you with figuring that out.

Calories Burned Hiking/Backpacking | Calculator & Formula

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Contact What's On

The official source for safe adventure in Iceland is safetravel. It’s located in our Laugavegur 54 location.