The Laugavegur hiking trail is Iceland’s most popular trek. Located in the Highlands, the trail goes all the way from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk. The landscape is so varied and unique that National Geographic listed Laugavegur in the top 20 “Dream trails” in the world. Nowadays, Laugavegur is known worldwide for its magical sceneries. During the hike, it is possible to find colorful rhyolite mountains, black obsidian lava, hot springs, clear blue lakes, rapid rivers, black deserts and finally, a bright green area full of vegetation.
Laugavegur is about 55-kilometer long from Landmannalaugar Nature Reserve to Thorsmork Valley. The Laugavegur trail is the perfect way to explore some of the most remote places in Iceland while enjoying the breathtaking beauty of this country.
Every summer, locals as well as tourists are hiking in the Highlands on this beautiful trek. There is only a short window of 3 months in the year to do it as the trail is available from mid-June to mid-September due to bad weather conditions. The roads that lead to the starting and finish points will also be open for this time period, depending on the weather. In the end of August and in September, there are chances of seeing the Northern Lights if the weather is correct.
Usually, people take 4 days to complete the trail and they do it from North to South (Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork) because it is the easiest way as the trail goes down in that direction. Along the trail, there are so many different landscapes that it is hard to remember that it is still the same country. From glaciers to waterfalls, geysers to volcanoes, everyone will be in awe of this unique trail. There is definitely everything Iceland has to offer in this one trek.
This is the first step. The starting point Landmannalaugar is a geothermal paradise, famous for its steaming hot springs underneath a lava wall and colorful rhyolite mountains. There, you can also see some of the friendly Icelandic horses. At Landmannalaugar, there are accommodations for 78 persons.
The first part of the trek will take the hikers through Laugahraun lava field and then downhill before heading up again to a plateau. Afterwards, meet Stórihver, a lush vegetation spot close to a whizzing geyser. The weather can be really unstable in this area and it is possible to have to cross snow during the trail.
The first hut on the trek from Landmannalaugar is called Hoskuldsskali, at Hrafntinnusker, and can accommodate up to 52 people. It is equipped with all the necessary, however there is no electricity except for lighting, relying on solar cells on the roof.
The distance for this first day is about 12 kilometers, for approximately 4,5 hours walking and an ascent of 470 meters. It is the shortest step in kilometers but with the highest accumulated elevation.
This part of the trail leads through a geothermal area with red and yellow mountains. The beautiful mountains of Reykjafjöll with its gullies are also located on this path. Crossing the wonderful valley bottom is not so hard but there will be some ravines to cross and there can be snow.
On the way, have a look at Háskerðingur, the highest mountain in this area (1,281 meters). Later on, there is a viewpoint from Jokultungur peak above the lake Alftavatn with a rich vegetation. It is also possible to see three glaciers from there, including the majestic Eyjafjallajökull. The fresh water of Grashagakvísl river at the bottom of the peak is pure and really good to drink.
The hut at the end of that path can host 72 people. There is also a camping ground nearby, right at the edge of the lake. Such a good view to have nice dreams.
From Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn, the distance is about 12 kilometers and it takes approximately 4,5 hours to walk between the two huts. What makes it a lot easier than the first day is the descend which is about 490 meters.
The next step is a bit longer than the two previous ones. The first landmark is Hvanngil gully, where there will have a bit of river crossing. Some of the multiple rivers have a bridge but the biggest one called Bratthálskvísl will need to be forded by foot. It is usually not really challenging to cross the rivers but sometimes, in case of heavy rain, the river can grow really fast.
In this area there is another hut with toilet facilities for hikers to use it. During this part of the trek, the hikers will cross a vast black-sand desert surrounded with green mountains. The perfect instagram-friendly environment for a picture with high contrast.
The next hut for the third night is Botnar, at Emstrur. It has 60 available spaces in 3 different cabins.
The total distance for this day is about 15 kilometers, for a 6,5 hour walk and a descend of 40 meters.
This is the last part of Laugavegur trek, and it has a really diverse landscape. From the black sand of Emstrur, the next step goes through a more vegetated zone. The volcanic desert ends here as the Highlands are behind us.
The river of Syðri-Emstruá flows into a narrow deep canyon and there is a bridge to cross it. People who are afraid of heights have sometimes a hard time crossing it but it is totally worth it. Thronga is the last river to cross by foot and is the boundary of Thorsmork. Then, there is a short walk through a beautiful dense woodland called Hamraskógar.
Arriving in Langidalur, at the green valley of Thorsmork, the feeling of self-accomplishment will definitely be present. The distance for this last step is about 15 kilometers for a descend of 300 meters and a walk of approximately 6,5 hours.
The name Thorsmork comes from Thor, who is the Norse God of thunder. It is believed that the fertile valley was created when this god stroke down his heavy hammer to the ground. The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull completely changed and reformed the valley.
Once at the finish point, it is strongly recommended to stay at least three more extra days to explore the surrounding day hikes around Thorsmork, which is a true hikers paradise. Many people even continue the trek after Thorsmork to do the wonderful Fimmvörðuháls trail, which can be done in 9 hours for a 23-kilometer hike. This pass is full of waterfalls, which makes it really beautiful. Then, hikers will go all the way up to Skógar, with the magnificent Skogafoss waterfall. What a great way to end a trek! At Thorsmörk, there is a large chalet with 75 beds available.
For the previous steps, they are all in the 4-day trekking tour. Otherwise, for 2 more days, there is the 6-day tour. The hikers will see a bit of Fimmvörðuháls trail and many other wonders such as Magni and Moði craters, which were formed in 2010 and named after the sons of Thor. The path is going between the two huge glaciers of Eyjafjallajökull and Myrdalsjökull. There will be a goodbye party before the last short day of trekking. This last day consists in hiking up the mountain Valahnukur for a panoramic view over Thorsmork valley. It is possible to spend the day there and enjoy the beautiful and rich nature around, before heading back to Reykjavik.
The strong point of joining a tour is that everything is already planned, the participants will have nothing to worry about. All the hikers have to do is enjoying the nature around them and follow the knowledgeable guide. Indeed, everything is taken care of.
The accommodation in the huts are already booked so no worries about the beds available. Everyone should however take his/her own sleeping bag and pillow. Going by yourself, it is always better to book the huts along the trail beforehand, even several months in advance. The huts are all about 55-60 USD per night (this fee is included in the tour) and are well equipped. Usually, they are heated, have kitchen utensils, toilets, lighters, tables and benches. They normally have running water and hot showers which are charged 4 USD for 5 minutes (this is not included in the price of the tour).
There are tours with camping instead of huts. The tents are of course provided during this kind of tours, as well as thin inflatable mattress. Camping costs around 10 USD per night, and 4 USD to use the hut kitchen. It is strictly forbidden to pitch a tent in a random place inside the Nature Reserve. Everyone has to respect the designated areas, which are all located around the huts, in official camping sites.
About the way to get to the trail and to come back to Reykjavík, there is nothing to worry about either. The pick up and drop off are included! There is no need to look for buses and wait for an incredibly long time at the bus terminals in the capital. Note that the roads going to both starting and finish points are only accessible by 4WD vehicles only. Plus, many people have big backpacks for this long trek. But by joining a tour, we will carry your luggage and all that’s left on your back is a day backpack (25-40L), lighter than a big one.
All the meals are included, no need to cook, or to worry about which food preserves the best and which one to eat first. No need for gas cylinder either. The guides will cook delicious meals for the group in the huts.
Joining a tour also brings safety to the trips. Our guides will always make sure to keep everyone safe and comfortable. The guides will know in advance the conditions of the trail and will be organized in case of bad weather. The trail is well marked but the weather is always unpredictable, even during the summertime. Fog is totally possible in summer, causing very low visibility and areas covered in snow are not rare.
They will tell the hikers about all the stories of the landmarks around the trek, about the environment and folklore tales. They know exactly where to stop to have the best pictures and views. As the daylight lasts forever during summer, the guides will even take a stroll at night with the most motivated ones to discover secret places off the beaten track. Remember that good hiking boots and sturdy hiking gear are a must.