Laugavegur Hiking Trail in Iceland | Online Guide

Laugavegur Hiking Trail in Iceland | Online Guide

Laugavegur is the most famous hiking trail in Iceland

The Laugavegur Hiking Trail is Iceland’s most famous hiking trail and truly one of the world’s most beautiful treks. The trail connects the Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk Nature Reserves and offers a variety of different landscapes along the way. Every day has different views with beautiful scenery of pristine nature with volcanic mountains, lava fields, glaciers, natural hot springs, black arctic deserts and lush forested valleys.

The Laugavegur Hiking Trail has been described as one of the best treks in the world by publications such as the National Geographic and the Lonely Planet, as well as by individual hikers and adventure writers.

Laugavegur Trek in Iceland is stunning

The Laugavegur Hiking Trail is located in the southern highlands of Iceland, north of the infamous Eyjafjallajökull Volcano. Most people traverse the 55 kilometres long Laugavegur Hiking Trail in 3 – 5 days, trekking from north to south. Starting in Landmannalaugar and ending the trek in Þórsmörk. The 24 – 30-kilometre long Fimmvörðuháls & Eyjafjallajökull hiking trail can be added to the trek, connecting the Laugavegur Trail with Skógar, on the south coast of Iceland.

Huts and camping sites along the Laugavegur trail are usually open from the end of June until the end of August, depending on snow and trail conditions. The Volcano Huts in Þórsmörk stay open all year and offer accommodation, catering and outdoor activities. 

Daily scheduled busses drive between Reykjavík and the starting and endpoints of the trail in Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk. The bus stop in Þórsmörk is here at the Volcano Huts in Husadalur Valley in Þórsmörk.

The Volcano Huts offer affordable packages for hikers wanting to trek the Laugavegur Trail, including bus tickets, accommodation and other services.

Laugavegur Trek in Iceland Panoramic Views

NEWLY OPENED RESTAURANT ON THE LAUGAVEGUR TRAIL 

Volcano Huts have now opened up a new restaurant by the Álftavatn camp on the Laugavegur Hiking Trail. The restaurant is the second camp on the trail about 24 kilometres from Landmannalaugar, 12 kilometres from the Hrafntinnusker hut.  The Álftavatn Restaurant is open daily from 7 am - 11 pm and serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks at the bar. 

Daily scheduled busses drive between Reykjavík and the starting and endpoints of the trail; to Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk. Highland bus tickets to the start of the trail and back to Reykjavik from the end of the trail in Þórsmörk or Skógar are included in the standard Laugavegur Trail offer

Busses leave every day during the season for Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk from the BSI Bus Terminal in Reykjavík at 8:00 and 16:00.
Busses leave Þórsmörk every day during the season at with multiple departures for Reykjavik.

Click here to view the bus schedule and book tickets.

Busses can be boarded at Skógar if you intend to hike over the Fimmvörðuháls pass.

Food, water and services

A new restaurant is now open by the Álftavatn camp on the Laugavegur Hiking Trail. The restaurant is located in the second camp on the trail about 24 kilometres from Landmannalaugar, 12 kilometres from the Hrafntinnusker hut. 

Laugavegur Trek Restaurant at Lake Álftavatn

The Álftavatn Restaurant is open daily from 7 am - 11 pm and serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks at the bar. 

The next restaurant is at the Volcano Huts in Þórsmörk at the end of the trail. It is open between 7:00 and 23:00 and offers breakfast, lunch, dinners, lunch packs, coffee & tea, snacks, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks at the bar.

A small shop is also located at the Volcano Huts in Þórsmörk which sells candy, pasta, rice, dry foods, homemade bread, sanitary products and other necessities.

Hikers will have to carry their food along the way.

Cold running water is available at all stops. Any water in rivers, streams, pools and snowmelt is good for drinking. Even though the water carries a little bit of silt or soil it is safe to drink.

When to go

Huts and camping sites along the Laugavegur trail are usually open from the end of June until the end of August, depending on snow and trail conditions.

The Volcano Huts in Þórsmörk are open all year long and visits to Þórsmörk are possible when the Laugavegur Trail is closed. 

In the springtime, some parts of the Laugavegur Hiking Trail can be covered in snow while other parts might be wet and muddy, as the ground starts to thaw. Markings and waypoints might be under snow or may have washed away in floods during the spring melt.

During the summer you are most likely to have good weather conditions and you will experience 24 hours of daylight. During the period between the second weekend of July and the second weekend of August, you will have the most traffic on the trail.

In the fall the huts along the trail are not serviced but camping is permitted. In good conditions, the fall is a very nice time to do the Laugavegur trek with fewer people on the trail. Dusk starts to creep in around midnight in the second half of July and by September the nights are pitch black and no lights insight in the highlands so you might want to bring some lights with you. The climate starts to get cold by the end of August and you may experience frosty conditions.

Weather in the Icelandic highlands can be unpredictable. Very strong winds with heavy rain, hail and even snow can occur with little warning. Always check the weather forecast and make sure your equipment and clothes stay dry in your pack.

Laugavegur Trek in Iceland - Plan Your Trip

Weather and terrain

The Laugavegur Hiking Trail has a variety of different landscapes along the way. Every day has different views with beautiful scenery of pristine nature with volcanic mountains, lava fields, glaciers, natural hot springs, black arctic deserts and lush forested valleys.

The trail is suitable for most hikers but the terrain can be demanding in some areas with steep hills, unbridged rivers and snowy conditions. During the high season, many people start the trek every day and help is usually not far away on the trail. During other seasons there might be days before someone wanders past your area.

Camping sites offer little shelter and in some areas, there is little or no hold for tent pegs to secure your tent.

The trail starts/ends at 600 meters above sea level in Landmannalaugar and reaches up to 1.100 meters on the first/last day. The trail ends/starts in Þórsmörk, at about 200 meters above sea level.

Weather in the Icelandic highlands can be very unpredictable. Very strong winds with heavy rain, hail, fog and even snow can occur with little warning. Always check the weather forecast and make sure that you stay warm and that your equipment and clothes stay dry in your pack.

Icelandic Met Office
Safetravel.is

Laugavegur in winter

Clothing and gear

Your clothing and equipment can make or break your trek along the Laugavegur Hiking Trail. Do it correctly and you will ensure your safety and maximize your comfort, but get it wrong you make the trek much harder and may even endanger yourself and others.

Dressing in layers means you can peel off or put on more layers to control your temperature.
Inner layer: Wear wool or other insulating materials next to your body – underwear and bras included. This keeps you warm and removes moisture away from your body.
Second layer: Fleece or other lightweight materials
Outer layer: Wind and waterproof with some breathing or ventilation – Gore-Tex or similar

Bring one set of clothes to walk in and another dry set to change into at night. It is not always possible to dry clothes in the huts.

Do not wear cotton clothing such as jeans, cotton T-shirts, cotton socks and sweatshirts. Cotton absorbs moisture and sticks to your body, which keeps you wet and cold.

Following is a list of things to bring along. How much of everything is up to you. Some may want to travel light while others are comfortable with carrying heavier packs.

Gear needed for Laugavegur trek in Iceland

Must have

  • Hiking boots
  • Warm hiking socks 2 pairs
  • Woollen or thermal underwear 2 pairs
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Hiking pants
  • Wind and waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Waterproof inner layer inside the backpack
  • Fleece or wool sweater
  • Lightweight shirt or sweater
  • T-shirts
  • Sunglasses
  • Light shoes or sandals to wade rivers and wear if hiking boots get wet
  • Sleeping bag good for – 10°C
  • Swimwear and/or shorts
  • First aid kit with blister kits, pain relief medicine, bandages
  • Survival kit with survival blanket, whistle, knife, matches, shoelaces, tape
  • Sunscreen
  • Drinking bottle 1 L
  • Drinking cup
  • Compass & map, GPS – learn how to use it!
  • Food for the required number of days
  • Campers need to carry tents
  • Campers need to carry cooking equipment and fuel

Nice to have:

  • Hiking poles
  • Mobile phone
  • Diary & pen
  • Earplugs
  • Eyeshades for sleeping / 24 hours of daylight
  • Camera
  • Napkins or toilet paper / toilet paper is provided at huts
  • Share your tips and tricks with other travellers on our Facbook site

Risks and safety

The Laugavegur Hiking Trail is truly a rewarding trek in good conditions but keep in mind that weather, bad luck and insufficient preparation can change your journey into a bad experience. Mobile service is available on some parts of the trail but very limited in others. Electricity to charge mobile phones is not available, except at the Volcano Huts in Þórsmörk.

Weather is a deciding factor and can change very quickly. Very strong winds with heavy rain, hail, fog and even snow can occur with little warning. Sudden change in weather may cause a severe drop or rise in temperature. Always check the weather forecast and make sure that you stay warm, and that your equipment and clothes stay dry in your pack.

Most outdoor-related fatalities in Iceland are related to cold and bad weather, resulting in hypothermia.

Sudden rain or rise in temperature may cause flash floods in streams and rivers. Wait for other travellers to come by if you are unsure about crossing a river. Learn how to cross rivers before you go. Google it, then practice!

Wandering away from the trail can be rewarding in some places but be sure to find your way back to the marked trail. Make sure someone knows about your travel plans and stick to the plan, or inform someone about changes to your plan.

We strongly advise all travellers to list their travel plans online with Safetravel.is and even download the Icelandic emergency App 112 for smartphones.

You can also sign your name at a safety list in all the huts along the trail but listing with Safetravel.is is a far better way to ensure your safety.

Follow these steps and ensure your safety

  • Leave your travel plan online with Safetravel.is
  • Stay warm and stay dry
  • Keep your clothes and equipment dry in your pack
  • Cross rivers where they are wide and with great caution
  • Do not cross rivers if unsure and alone – wait for others to come by
  • Carry a first aid kit and practice first aid procedures
  • Carry a map & compass and/or a GPS – know how to use it!
  • Share your safety tips & stories with other travellers on our Facebook page

Leave no trace

Because of the unique nature of the Laugavegur Hiking Trail, thousands of hikers from all over the world come to experience its wonders. We all want to experience it in its most natural and unspoilt condition, so let's all try to make as little impact on its nature as possible. The soil and vegetation in the Icelandic highlands are especially fragile and any damage to it can cause massive erosion and take years to heal.

Tread lightly and stay on the path, don’t litter and respect the land. Simple as that!

Share your tips, tricks and stories about how to minimize the impact on nature on our Facebook page.

Day to day Itinerary

The Laugavegur Hiking Trail is usually done in 3 – 5 days and in 3 – 4 stages where travellers stay in huts or camp along the trail. You can make your own version and skip stages or stay longer in certain places and go for walks around areas of particular interest to you. Keep in mind your personal fitness and capabilities and remember that this time it really is the journey and not the destination that matters. Enjoy the trek and soak in the natural beauty of the trail.

Times are approximate and will vary according to fitness, the pace of group and weather conditions.

If you intend to do a shorter version, we recommend combining the first two days in one stage (Landmannalaugar – Álftavatn, 22 km) or the second and third days (Hrafntinnusker – Emstrur, 27 km).

Day one: Landmannalaugar - Hrafntinnusker

  • Distance: 12 km, 4 – 5 hours
  • Elevation increase: 470 m
  • Starting coordinates GPS: N63°59.600 – W19°03.660
  • Finish coordinates GPS: N63°55.840 – W19°09.700

Starting the trek from – Landmannalaugar brings you to an easy hike through the lava field of Laugahraun towards the colourful mountain Brennisteinsalda. There you start a gradual climb through dissected hills with views of an incredible spectrum of colours. After 3 – 4 hours you should arrive at the Stórihver geothermal area and hot springs. About 2/3 of the way is likely to be covered with snow until late summer. At an elevation of around 1.000m, you can expect fog to show up suddenly and without warning. The trail is clearly marked but hikers must be careful not to lose the track in poor visibility.

Hrafntinnusker Hut (Höskuldsskáli) will appear suddenly about 2 km past a memorial of a traveller, who sadly died of hypothermia in this area in June 2004.

Evening walks from the Hrafntinnusker hut: 20-minute walk to Mt. Söðull (beautiful views) or 40-minute walk to ice caves. Ask warden for more information.

Day two: Hrafntinnusker - Álftavatn

  • NEW: Restaurant in Álftavatn is open 7 am - 11 pm
  • Distance: 12 km, 4 – 5 hours.
  • Elevation decrease: 490 m
  • Starting Coordinates GPS: N63°55.840 – W19°09.700
  • Finish coordinates GPS: N63°51.470 – W19°13.640

Heading out from the Hrafntinnusker hut the trail takes you through a valley with small ravines that sometimes may be filled with snow. A short and steep incline leads you to the highpoint of today’s walk. If the visibility is good, a side trip to the summit of mountain Háskerðingur (1.281 m) will reward you with a breathtaking view. This is best done from the western slope of the mountain. But take care as you have to cross a glacier on the way. Ask the hut warden for further information.

Soon after you will leave the colourful rhyolite mountains and enter an area with the contrast of dark palagonite mountains and white glaciers. You will also notice a considerable increase in vegetation. The trail down the Jökultungur is quite steep and care must be taken during the descent. The last few kilometres to the huts by the lake Álftavatn are on flat land. The two huts at Álftavatn take up to 52 persons.

Evening walks: Hike up Mt. Brattháls, which takes 1 – 2 hours return. Wet feet are included as it’s necessary to wade the little stream running from Lake Álftavatn. Another good hike takes you up the Mt. Torfatindur (818m), estimated walking time 1 – 2 hours.

Day three: Áftavatn - Emstrur (Botnar)

  • Distance: 15 km, 6 – 7 hours
  • Elevation decrease: 40 m
  • Starting Coordinates GPS: N63°51.470 – W19°13.640
  • Finish coordinates GPS: N63°45.980 – W19°22.480

The trail leads you over the Brattháls Ridge into Hvanngil Ravine, wading across the small Bratthálskvísl River. In the Hvanngil Ravine, you will find two huts, one built for sheepherders in 1963 and one for tourists, built in 1995. As Álftavatn and Hvanngil are only 5 km apart, Hvanngil can be used as an alternate accommodation. The huts have toilet facilities, showers and a small camping site in an old lava field.

Leaving Hvanngil you cross a bridge over the Kaldaklofskvísl River. On the eastern bank of Kaldaklofskvísl River, the trail splits in two. You should take the path leading south to Emstrur and Þórsmörk. The other branch leads east to Mælifellssandur (Road F 210). Soon after that, another river has to be waded.
For a few kilometres, the Laugavegur Trail joins a mountain road. You can stay on the road all the way to the Emstrur hut or take a hiking trail alongside the road.

You will have to cross the powerful Nyrðri Emstruá River on a bridge that the road will take you to. After crossing the bridge you will traverse a few kilometres on flat land until you suddenly find the Botnar huts in Emstrur.

Evening walk: Markarfljótsgljúfur canyon is a 40 to 90-minute hiking tour with beautiful views of the canyons and neighbouring mountains.

Day four: Emstrur (Botnar) - Þórsmörk

  • Distance: 15 km, 6 – 7 hours
  • Elevation decrease: 300 m
  • Starting Coordinates GPS: N63°45.980 – W19°22.480
  • Finish coordinates GPS: N63°41,4 – W19°35,59

In about 45 minutes, after heading out from the Emstrur huts you should be on a steep path leading towards the canyon of Syðri-Emstruá River. The river can be crossed on a hiking bridge in a narrow part of the canyon, with the river raging beneath your feet. From the canyon, you will be walking through a hilly area known as Almenningar with the first view of Þórsmörk insight. At the end of Almenningar, you will have to wade the Þröngá River the deepest on the Laugavegur Trail. When wading it is good practice to go hand in hand and head downstream or to use hiking poles to keep your balance. After crossing the Þröngá River you will enter the forested area of Þórsmörk. Follow the path to an intersection with signs that show directions to different huts in Þórsmörk. From there you should reach the Volcano Huts in Húsadalur Þórsmörk or Langidalur hut in 30 minutes.

Evening walks: In Þórsmörk you will find many possibilities for evening walks such as onto the Mt. Valahnúkur or to the Sönghellir Cave.

Accommodation on the Laugavegur Hiking Trail

Huts and camping sites along the Laugavegur Hiking Trail are open from the end of June until the middle of September, depending on snow and trail conditions. 

Most people travel from north to south, from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk and do the trek in 4 stages. That way you would start in Landmannalaugar and stay at the huts in Hrafntinnusker, Álftavatn, Emstrur and Húsadalur in Þórsmörk at the Volcano Huts. 

Huts and camping grounds are located in the following areas

  • Hrafntinnusker
  • Álftavatn - NEW: Restaurant open daily from 7 am - 11 pm
  • Emstrur (Botnar)
  • Húsadalur Þórsmörk -Volcano Huts 

The huts along the way are basic mountain huts with sleeping bag accommodation in dormitories. All the huts have toilets, showers and basic cooking facilities. The Volcano Huts in Þórsmörk open earlier in the spring and stay open longer into the fall.

At the Volcano Huts in Þórsmörk, you will find a restaurant & bar, natural hot pool and sauna, private and shared accommodation and a camping site. The Þórsmörk bus station is at the Volcano Huts.

Glamping at the end of Laugavegur Trail