Backpack the Laugavegur Trail: Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk

34 miles -984.3 ft gain  - Point-to-Point Trail

Added by Greg Balkin

This 3-4 day trek travels through some of the most beautiful land Iceland has to offer. You'll have a chance to experience the Northern Lights, take in snow caps, volcanic rock, cross rivers and enjoy hot springs.

First things first - catch one of the buses to the trailhead at Landmannalaugar. We chose to leave from a small hostel in Hella and ended up riding for just over two hours to reach our destination. If anything is going to give you a taste of what's to come, it'll be driving through the volcanic landscape in a monstrous coach bus, fording rivers and virtually anything in it's path.

Day 1 // Part 1 - Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker (7.5 miles, +1,500ft gain) The trail starts out over some rough terrain, winding you through small hills of volcanic rock until you reach a bit of a clearing. From there you'll make you're way uphill to a plateau that offers views of the small tents dotting Landmannalaugar and the painted hills in front of you. After a few hours of walking (and stopping every 5 feet to take pictures), you'll reach a little hot spring with a powerful smell. If you're feeling a bit cold, I definitely recommend holding your breath and standing in the steam to warm up real quick. From then on out, it's time for snow crossing until you reach the first hut at Hrafntinnusker. You've worked hard to make it here, so take a break for lunch and chill for a bit.

Day 1 // Part 2 - Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn (7.5 miles, -1,600ft loss). Within a few hours of leaving the hut and crossing the end of the snow field, you'll make your way up one final hill to (in my opinion) the best view on the whole trail. On a clear day, you can see for miles and miles throughout this valley filled with rivers, the lake where you'll sleep, and the mountainous landscapes. After some solid photo ops and a quick break, you quickly descend upon your first major river crossing - at least the first where you'll most likely need to take your boots off. The water is cold (obviously), but man it feels good. Luckily for you, it's pretty flat from here on out until you reach the huts at Álftavatn. There's plenty of open space to pitch your tent, although the bugs can be worse by the stream. If you're up for a quick sunrise walk, cross the stream and head up the small hill for some more epic views.

Day 2 - Álftavatn to Botnar (9.3 miles, -130ft loss) Not too long after starting your day, the boots will have to come off for a fairly wide stream crossing (be prepared for a few more today). The trail continues, relatively flat and unchanging, until you hit a few small huts at Hvanngil - a good bathroom break. At this point the landscape is changing again and the shades of green fades into the black volcanic rock. Once you've walked another 30 minutes or so, you'll reach a massive river with a wide bridge built for hikers. We stopped here for lunch and soaked in the views of the muddy waterfall and mist spraying up. On the other side of the bridge, the road splits - we followed the sign straight towards Emstrur (not F210). Luckily from here on out, the trail is nice and flat until you round the final corner to views of Botnar and the massive glacier out in the distance. The nice protected spots get snagged early here, so it's a good idea to get an early start and beat some of the crowd.

Day 3 - Botnar to Þórsmörk (9.3 miles, -980ft loss) Once you're up and over the hill to get out of Botnar, you head steeply back down another valley to a bridge crossing the canyon. It's an awesome view with a large drop below, so definitely make sure to stop and snap some photos. As you make your way out of the valley, things start to open up and the expansive views return. There's one final river crossing separating you and Þórsmörk, but it definitely seemed like the deepest and strongest current, so be careful. Across the river, the trail enters a grove of trees (first on the trail!) and remains in the forest until the end. At one point you'll hit a sign with a few enticing accommodations pointing towards the right. Although it was tempting, we headed uphill to the left, which finally brought us to the small hut waiving the Icelandic flag. Chill out here until the bus returns, then hop on for another fun ride across this beautiful land.

A quick note about the huts - they're available to stay in if you plan your trip out well in advance, but be prepared to pay a decent amount. If you choose to camp along the way like we did, don't expect to use the huts for shelter or eating inside.

Read More


Hot Springs


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Trail Landmannalsugar to Þórsmörk

The most famous hiking trail in Iceland won’t disappoint you! The scenery and is changing constantly! From super flat places to very high peaks! From dessert landscapes to crazy patterns created by many rivers! And of course you want to be around all these volcanos, glaciers, lava fields and hot springs and all the colors of soil !!! Top 5 things to do this in Iceland!!!

Hiking on my own versus organized group

Hi! I'm planning a trip to Iceland in Jun '18, Your article is making my decision of where to hike in Iceland very easy! However I'm having doubts if I can do it on my own staying in prebooked huts every night, or isn't it safe enough and I should think of joining an organized group. Do you find other hikers along the way? Thanks!

Best Hike Ever!

This was honestly one of the greatest backpacking trips we have ever taken. Jaw dropping landscapes, magical waterfalls, relaxing hot springs...this hike has it all! I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. We thought it was truly the best way to experience Iceland's incredible beauty.

Most Magical Place On Earth

The most surreal and inviting place I've ever experienced. So much variety on one trail. Think about Alftavatn Mountain Hut and it's awe inspiring natural beauty almost daily

Favorite stop in Iceland

Landmannalaugar was my Favorite stop in Iceland. The Rainbow Mountains are simply stunning. I wish I had more time to hike there and would love to go back some day. Thanks for the info.

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike Vörðuhnúkur Skalli-Landmannalaugar

    On official map of the base camp this is trek n6 http://www.landmannalaugar.inf... , as you can see there are shorter versions combined with few other paths. You start at an elevation of 574m to climb up to 952m and then back. With a total distanc...

    9.3 miles 2290 ft gain

  • Hike to the view from Bláhnúkur

    The route for the Laugavegur Trail technically leaves the trailhead Landmannalaugar through the Laugahraun lava field—but if you choose not to detour over Bláhnúkur, you’ll miss one of the most visually stunning parts of the entire trail. If you’r...

    4 miles 1640.4 ft gain

  • Backpack the Laugavegur Trail: Þórsmörk to Skógar

    If you are on your way to Iceland to trek the incredible Laugavegur trail, and you've read about the first part of the trek in this article, then don't miss out on the last 15 miles you should be adding to the trek. This trail actually continues o...

    15 miles 3000 ft gain

  • Explore Háifoss

    The waterfall Háifoss is situated near the volcano Hekla in the south of Iceland. The river Fossá drops 122m making Háifoss the third highest waterfall on the island. To get to Háifoss waterfall from Reykjavik drive east on ring-road Highway 1, pa...